Sunday, February 29, 2004

Back To The Future

There are two things that you see on virtually every baseball site at this time of year - useless predictions that all look the same, and rookie lists that pretty much look the same. I've got an allergy against writing about things that everyone else is writing about (as well as better ways to use my time), so you won't be seeing either of those things here. But it occurs to me that there's a whole class of players - young kids who aren't rookies - that everyone kind of forgets about. They've got a proven track record, and are entering their most productive seasons, yet no one seems to be getting excited about what's up ahead.

I made a list of the top players in the major leagues who are under the age of 25 and have played a full season. The full season requirement knocks off some fantastic athletes, like Miguel Cabrera and Jose Reyes. So why bother? The reason is because of what I'm doing next, which is taking the list of players and checking them out at, which gives you lists of statistically comparable players of the same age throughout history. If I take Cabrera and Reyes, there's not enough data to find comparable players. But don't worry guys, I'll get you next year.

Here we go. I'm listing them in order of the greatest comparable player, everyday players who are under 25.

1. Albert Pujols - Right away we have an asterisk. There are plenty of arguments about Phat Albert's true age, but for now he's under the limit. He's got the same comparable player for every age of his career - Joe DiMaggio!

2. Rocco Baldelli - Would you believe Tris Speaker?!

3. Hank Blalock - Most comparable is a contemporary, and one of my favorites, Scott Rolen.

4. Corey Patterson - Jimmy Wynn. This one was a surprise to me, but Reggie Smith is second, and Dave Winfield and Dwight Evans are in the Top Ten, so Patterson is doing something right.

5. Adrian Beltre - Ron Santo. Another surprise, but it's come up Santo four straight years, so there most be something to it. Is Beltre underrated, or is Santo too fondly remembered by Cubs fans? Beltre only makes the age cut by a week.

6. Mark Teixeira - Bob Robertson. This one is a stumper until you realize that Robertson hit more than 50 homers between the ages of 23 and 24. Will Teixeira's bat stand out if he plays his career as a first baseman? This gives us two Texas Rangers on the list. Honestly, which infield would you rather have for the next three years - Jason Giambi, Enrique Wilson, Derek Jeter, and ARod, or Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Young, and Hank Blalock? You might choose the Yankees, but it's real close.

7. Austin Kearns - Rondell White. You would have expected someone with more power. Rafael Palmeiro is second on the list, and Billy Williams is fifth.

8. Sean Burroughs - Red Smith. Talk about surreal. Red Smith played in Boston during the glory years - for the WRONG TEAM! He gets traded to the Boston Braves during the 1914 season, and hits .314 with a .401 OBP the rest of the way. The Braves go to the World Series, and leave him off of the roster! The guy who replaces him hits .125 as the Braves sweep the Philadelphia A's. Smith spends the rest of the decade on Comm Ave complaining about the neighboring Red Sox, who win several World Series. Hopefully, Sean Burroughs has more to look forward to than this.

9. Adam Dunn - Pete Incaviglia. The year before, Darryl Strawberry. Dunn already has the prerequisite oddity to his game, a refusal to swing at anything that doesn't have home run potential, to be compared to these characters.

10. Carl Crawford - My favorite. The most comparable player of all time to Carl Crawford is Jake Gettman, who last played in 99 - 1899! That's right, you have to skip the entire 20th century to find the most comparable player to Crawford. Gettman played in only 19 games that final season, when he was 22. When he was 21, he played in 147 games for the 11th place Washington Senators (Yes, they were awful even back then) batting .277. You can see the similarities. It would seem as though Gettman would have received another shot somewhere else, but maybe he could make more money outside of baseball. My guess is Crawford won't have that temptation.

So there it is, a look ahead, and a look back. This is one of the things that makes baseball so great, the way that everything that happens is part of a larger whole. So appreciate these young guys, without considering whether or not you can steal them in a fantasy draft, or find their rookie card on Ebay. Their stories have just begun to be written.

Next time, I'll do the pitchers.

Dave's Email

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Passion Is No Ordinary Word

I'm not sure if I've ever written an article that had absolutely nothing to do with sports or competition before, but I had something I wanted to share, and this is my only venue. James Carroll is my favorite editorial writer, a man with deeply-held Catholic convictions who is maybe the only public person in Greater Boston willing to talk openly and sensitively about race, religion, war, and just about any other hot-button topic you can think of. The following story appeared in this morning's Boston Globe, and has to do with the Mel Gibson movie. I'll never see it, and having virtually no knowledge of the New Testament, couldn't offer an informed opinion on it, anyway. Carroll though, he's perfect for the job. So if you have any interest, here it is:

Obscene Portrayal of Christ's Passion

Dave's Email

Monday, February 23, 2004

Another Voice Heard From

Things I was thinking about in Florida when not shopping for houses:

Count me among the Sox fans who aren't scared by the ARod signing. Soriano is no ARod, but he's a serious offensive threat, and when you consider that ARod will be played out of position, and that Enrique Wilson is in the everyday lineup instead of Aaron Boone, I don't know, it just doesn't seem like the Yankees are THAT much better than a month ago. The season will still come down to the health of Kevin Brown, and the ability of Javier Vazquez to adapt to the big leagues.

Danny Ainge is a genius. He's smart enough to know that there is no honor in winning the Eastern Conference Championship and getting smoked in the Finals. The only thing that matters is the big prize, and while everyone in Boston is moaning, Ainge has the Celts in the draft lottery, and a lot of young, talented, offensive players around.

Ralph Nader will have no impact on this Presidential Race. It will essentially be a Yes or No vote for Bush as long as the Democrats have a palatable candidate, which they will. I expect a ten-point gap in the final tally, although it could go either way.

Frank McCourt was the guy I wanted to get the Red Sox, complete with the new waterfront park, when Bud Selig gave it to his pal John Henry. The Henry team are Gods around here right now, but McCourt's hiring of Paul DePodesta (a big boost for the Paul DePodesta Medal of Honor) gets him off to a big start. It will be interesting to watch the development of both teams with McCourt and Henry in charge of two of the more prestigious franchises in baseball.

Dave's Email

Saturday, February 14, 2004

On Vacation

See you in a week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Gators Win! Gators Win!

Pandemonium broke lose on the Fenway Park field as the Gators won tonight by the score of 4-3, clinching their first World Series Championship. Bobby Abreu won it with a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, his first RBIs of the series.

"It's an amazing feeling, just amazing!" shouted Abreu, as champagne was poured over his head in the jubilant Gator locker room. "We've worked so hard for this, and now it's ours. Yeaaaahhhh!!!!"

While Abreu's heroics will live in the memory of Gator fans forever, the team was hardly short of heroes before his dramatic blast. Among them were:

- Scott Rolen, who hit a grand slam to give the Gators the lead for good in Game 4, and also hit a game-tieing homer in the 16th inning of Game 3. Rolen finished the entire round of playoffs with 6 homers.

- Lou Merloni,who hit .500 for the Series, played a flawless shortstop, and set up Abreu's blast by getting hit by a pitch with two outs in the ninth.

- Toby Hall, who homered in the Game 1 win, drove home the winning run in the 18-inning Game 3, and was stellar behind the plate.

- Milton Bradley, who went over the bullpen wall to stop a homerun in the ninth inning of Game 3, and scored the winning run in that game.

- The Gator bullpen, led by Mariano Rivera, who gave up only four runs in 22 innings of work.

- Steve Spurrier, who pressed all of the right buttons as manager of the team.

"The Bridegrooms are a great team, and they have nothing to be ashamed of," said Spurrier. "Our team has been pulling out wins like this all year. We just never quit."

In the end, the decisive factor may have been the Bridegroom's bullpen, who weren't able to contain the Gator offense. The Gators also had the amazing stat of being 8-0 after Game 3 of any playoff series. Finally, they are well stocked for next year, with only one every day player and one starting pitcher over the age of 31, and two first round draft picks.

There's a team available in my league!

Dave's Email

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Gators Win Game 1!

My fantasy baseball team, the Gators, won the opening game of the World Series last night. Playing on the road at Coors Field, we beat the team owned by the Commissioner (really!) that has swept it's first two playoff series. Here's the boxscore:

Gators 4 Bridegrooms 3
Gators ab r h bi bb so avg
Abreu RF 4 1 2 0 0 1 .500
Bradley CF 4 0 1 1 0 1 .250
Rolen 3B 4 0 1 0 0 2 .250
Floyd DH 4 0 2 0 0 0 .500
Sexson 1B 4 0 1 0 0 0 .250
Bigbie LF 4 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Ellis 2B 4 1 1 0 0 0 .250
Hall C 4 1 1 2 0 0 .250
Merloni SS 3 1 1 0 0 1 .333
Izturis SS 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Totals 35 4 10 3 0 5

Bridgrooms ab r h bi bb so avg
McMillon LF 3 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Alfonzo PH,3B 2 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Lofton CF 3 1 1 1 0 0 .333
Payton PH,LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Sheffield RF 4 0 2 1 0 0 .500
Helton 1B 4 1 1 0 0 0 .250
Guiel DH 3 0 0 0 1 0 .000
Boone 2B 3 0 1 1 0 1 .333
Cora PH,2B 1 0 0 0 0 1 .000
Tejada SS 4 0 1 0 0 0 .250
Pierzynski C 4 1 2 0 0 0 .500
Counsell 3B 2 0 0 0 0 0 .000
Michaels PH,CF 2 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Totals 36 3 8 3 1 5


Gators 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 - 4 10 0
Grooms 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 - 3 8 0


2B - Merloni (1),Sheffield 2(2) ,Lofton (1),Helton (1),Pierzynski (1)
HR - Hall (1)
RBI - Bradley (1),Hall 2(2) ,Sheffield (1),Lofton (1),Boone (1)
GIDP - Rolen (1),Bradley (1)

Gators ip h r er bb so bf era
Hernandez W,1-0 6.0 7 3 3 0 2 25 4.50
Marte 2.0 0 0 0 1 2 7 0.00
Rivera S,1 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 4 0.00
Bridegrooms ip h r er bb so bf era
Brown L,0-1 3.2 7 4 4 0 2 17 9.84
Remlinger 0.1 1 0 0 0 1 2 0.00
Clemens 0.2 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
Wheeler 1.0 1 0 0 0 1 4 0.00
Redman 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.00
Riske 1.2 1 0 0 0 1 6 0.00
Shuey 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
Mussina 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
Inherited Runners-scored - Marte 1-0 (1-0) ,Clemens 1-0 (1-0) ,Redman 1-0 (1-0)
WP - Hernandez (1)

My league is the coolest. Every road game you get a box score just like this. Every home game you get to make every decision, and you get a running play-by-play. It's 24 teams and an 160-game season, so you've got to be good for the long haul to win. Also, its Real Time, meaning it uses the current season's stats, about two months behind. There's a team available in my league, if anyone's interested. In the meantime, I'm going to post World Series results here all this week, including game summaries of the home games, so enjoy.

Dave's Email

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Things that crossed my mind nursing a sore back injured while cleaning sewage out of my basement. Trust me, you need diversions.

Here's the Webster's online definition of dynasty:

1 : a succession of rulers of the same line of descent
2 : a powerful group or family that maintains its position for a considerable time

The Patriots don't fit this description yet, but with one good Super Bowl blowout win, they'll be there.

Ellis Burks rejoins the Red Sox. I'm fairly certain that Ellis would have been gone from baseball a decade ago had he spent another second being steamrolled by Mike Greenwell in left-center week after week.

LeBron James doesn't make the all-star team? People seem to think that the NBA knows something about marketing, but apparently that's just NIKE.

John Kerry is showing a level of determination that he never needed as the junior Senator from Massachusetts. I'm sure he's causing some worries in the White House.

I'm probably the only person who thinks that signing Ivan Rodriguez was a brilliant move for the Tigers. Before you can worry about contending, or building a champion of the future, you must keep yourself from being a laughingstock. IRod will bring confidence and respect, add a bat to the middle of the order, and stabilize a key defensive position on a team with a very young pitching staff. I have much more doubt about the Rondell White and Fernando Vina signings, but I do think Jason Johnson can have a big year in that park as well.

Janet Jackson? Who cares? I'm always amazed that there is no uproar over the 100 fictional murders you witness on TV on any given night, but reveal one female breast for three seconds and you have a national controversy.

Dave's Email