Thursday, November 30, 2006

The (Alleged) Steroid Users Hall of Fame

Now that Mark McGwire is going to be on the 2007 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, it's caused all kinds of controversy about whether or not he is a first ballot hall of famer, or a hall of famer at all, due to his purported steroid use. There are compelling arguments both for and against McGwire, and it’s sparked all kinds of unnecessary controversy.

Why unnecessary you ask? Because I’ve solved the problem in a way that is amenable to both sides of the debate. Let’s open up a new Major League Baseball Hall of Fame exclusively for (alleged) steroid users.

Think about it. Guys like Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and of course, Mark McGwire would be first ballot guys. But the problem with them is that those guys (with the possible exception of Sosa) would probably have been Hall of Famers either way. What about those other guys, the fringe major leaguers turned All-Stars who shined so brightly—and inexplicably—but then burned out so quickly? The Bret Boones and Rich Aurilias of the world (though it looks like Aurilia may have found a way to circumvent the testing. Maybe he should give Boone a call and save his career).

There could even be a special wing for guys who played for the Colorado Rockies and were lucky enough to be able to shrug and say, “thin air?” You know, the Vinny Castillas, Dante Bichettes, Todd Heltons, and, of course, the Andres Galaraggas.

More after the jump....

I also think there should be a whole room dedicated to the magnificence of Brady Anderson and his ‘magical’ 1996 season that showed the whole world the wonders of steroids. How great would it be to relive all those old articles wondering where the sudden surge in power came from as a 32 year old leadoff hitter who had never hit more than 21 homeruns in a season suddenly jacked 50 in one year, and then attributed it to a better diet and workout regiment. The best part of the room would be marveling at the utter mediocrity of Anderson’s career before and after that magical season (he never hit better than 24 homeruns and 81 RBIs before or after 1996) in which he set career highs in homeruns, RBIs, batting average, Runs, Slugging percentage (by almost .200 points over his previous and future bests), OPS, total bases, and hits. And we all just shrugged our shoulders and smiled at the beauty and curiosity of baseball.

The Brady Anderson room could segue into a baseball writers’ room, where we could all relive the incompetence and blind eyes turned towards what was going on in the game. Writers chalking up huge power surges to all kinds of absurd and hard-to-swallow reasons, never mentioning the dreaded ‘S’ word. That could be followed by the ‘Hall of Righteous Indignation’ in which we’d get to view the more current work of these same writers, who now self-righteously blame the players, owners, and management of baseball for not acting sooner. It’d be nice to see the juxtaposition of their glowing articles on the brilliance and amazing dominance of Barry Bonds alongside their scathing criticisms of him and his defiling of the game of baseball.

Finally, we’d need a room or two dedicated to the “Steroid Pioneers,” specifically Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti. These guys are most certainly first ballot Steroid Hall of Famers, but, more than that, I think they are most responsible for helping the public understand the need for a Steroid Hall of Fame. Without them, we’d have all kinds of silly debates on whether or not steroid users should be in the real hall of fame (oh, wait). In fact, I’d feel quite comfortable calling the Steroid Hall of Fame “The House That Canseco Built,” and I’m sure he would too. It’s about time that Canseco got some positive exposure for alerting the public of the rampant issues in baseball. And, of course, Caminiti and his infamous expose in Sports Illustrated brought some credibility to Canseco’s claims. He too, then, is deserving of a special place in the Steroid Hall of Fame.

So then, if I had to create an inaugural induction, it would probably look something like this*:

1st Ballot Steroid Hall of Famers:

Barry Bonds
Mark McGwire
Sammy Sosa
Rafael Palmeiro
Luis Gonzalez
Jason Giambi
Jose Canseco
Ken Caminiti
Gary Sheffield
Roger Clemens
Brady Anderson
(due to the sheer legendary WHAT THE F*#&-ness of his ’96 season.)

2nd Ballot Steroid Hall of Famers

Bret Boone
Rich Aurilia
Ivan Rodriguez
(he’s a borderline 1st ballot guy, but I’m on the fence.)
Juan Gonzalez (tough to tell with him, but his career fell apart so abruptly that I’m inclined to include him on the list.)
Andres Galaragga (mainly due to his inexplicable success in Atlanta in 1998)

3rd Ballot Steroid Hall of Famers

Richard Hidalgo (check out his career statistics. Now sing it with me: Which of these things doesn’t belong? Which of these things is not like the others?)
Preston Wilson
Javy Lopez
Adrian Beltre (for the sheer WHAT THE F*#&-ness of 2004.)
Brian Giles
Shawn Green

That’s my list. Can you think of anyone else worthy of induction? Remember the key factors—a sudden and inexplicable spike in Homeruns and RBIs, usually followed by an equally sudden and inexplicable drop in production, often followed by retirement.

*Please note that this list is entirely speculative and in no way designates these players unequivocally as a steroid user. It’s just my humble opinion as a longtime baseball fan.

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BTBS: Improved/Declined Hitters

Over at Beyond The Box Score, a stat head's dream website, Cyril Morong takes a look at those hitters that helped their cause the most and those who took the most away from what they did in 2005. This is just an interesting article to look at based on the fact that you'll always be surprised at some of the names you'll see. Nobody will be stunned to see Justin Morneau's name on the "most improved" list, but how about Scott Hatteberg and Mike Lamb? I'm also sure most people were dissapointed with Bobby Crosby's year, but did anyone expect to see Jason Varitek and Palcido Polonco on this list? Keep this in mind when trying to figure out who's on the rise and who may be on the way out in 2007. Are these guys setting trends or were they just aberrations? Any thoughts?

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Minor League Ball: Ryan Zimmerman

John Sickles over at likes to take young players and project how he feels their entire career will shape up. It's a bit of a step up from the normal "one year projections", and of course it's not always going to be 100% acurate, but Sickles is a pretty damn good scout if you ask me and he knows what he's talking about. It's also a great tool for those in keeper leagues. Take a look at how he sees Ryan Zimmerman shaping up over the years. Could he actually break the mold of the every-day Major Leaguer and play for the same team his entire career?

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RotoWorld: Winter Meeting Preview

The MLB Winter Meetings are around the corner, and Aaron Gleeman of hasn't wasted any time trying to figure out what may or may not happen this December in Orlando. You may want to check this out, especially if you're in a keeper league and want to figure out if you should sell high on someone that may get traded to a not-so-friendly ballpark or buy low on a player that may just need a change of scenery.

I found the idea of a Joe Crede for Chone Figgins trade interesting, namely becasue it could open the door for Josh Fields to play 3B instead of the LF in 2007. Josh could/should be considered a candidiate for the AL ROTY Award in 2007, so keep an eye on what position he ends up playing. If you're lucky, he could be available to play both OF and 3B in your league.

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EFB: Derek Lee

Over at Extreme Fantasy Baseball, Aaron Baker decided to tackle the task of projecting what Derek Lee will do for the Cubs with new teammate Alfonso Soriano in the mix. I'm not sure I would have tackled this one so soon, at least not until it was sure Julio Lugo wasn't going to to join the offense. I'll be interested to see if these numbers change if another bat is added to the Cubs before the season starts.

Also, I still wonder if Soriano is going to lead off and play centerfield. My recomendation to the Cubs would be to allow Felix Pie to enter the mix. With the addition of Soriano and the health of Lee no longer a question (hopefully), there's less pressure for Pie to be a big star that everyone hopes he'll end up being. He's a great defensive centerfielder and has a potential All-Star bat. Not to mention would make a good lead off hitter with the speed he's already developed. He's no Soriano in the lead off spot(yet), but wouldn't you want Soriano's power closer to the middle of the line up protecting the likes of Aramis Ramirez and Derek Lee?

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RotoAuthority: Doug Davis

Tim's back at RotoAuthority and for his first article since getting hitched he's decided to bring out his 2007 projection of Doug Davis as an Arizona Diamondback. It's interesting to see how a guy who could have possibly have been worth at least $5-$10 at one point with his 200-K potential could fall to just $1 based on all his other stats. Enjoy.

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

Andy LaRoche

Once again, over at RotoAuthority I've got an article up comparing Andy LaRoche, the probable starting third-baseman for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2007, to Eric Chavez in his final two season in the minor leagues. Andy should have the starting job in LA next season, barring any unforseen trade or injury.

Note: I'll be posting directly to Game Four soon. Tim Dierkes, editor of, is currently on his honeymoon and had asked me to keep the site updated while he was away.

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Second Half SLG

Over at RotoAuthority I take a look at some young hitters who excelled in SLG during the second half of 2006. It's a great way to figure out which young hitters have the potential to hit many more home runs next year, and in future years, once they develop their double power into home run power.

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Friday, November 17, 2006

2007 Awards: NL ROTY

Over at RotoAuthority I take a look at the 2007 ROTY race and I think many of you will be surprised to see who my pick is. Enjoy.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Matsuzaka Joins the Red Sox—But How Does That Affect Me?

It’s official—the Boston Red Sox have landed prized Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, for the low, low price of $51 Million. Well, almost. There is still the whole matter of hammering out a deal with the dastardly Scott Boras in 30 days or less, or their money back. Thank goodness for guarantees.

All told, the venture will likely end up costing John Henry and partners in the neighborhood of $100 million if everything goes according to plan. That’s a steep price to pay for a guy with a shaky injury history who has never pitched in the majors.

But that’s chump change for the Red Sox. We’re here to talk about you, the decidedly un-rich potential owner of Daisuke Matsuzaka in your fantasy baseball league. Is he worth the high draft pick you’ll almost certainly have to expend to get him? Or is he just another high-priced, over-hyped pitcher?

There's much more after the jump...

In fantasy baseball, everyone is looking for the edge. That’s why so many owners find their eyes getting wide any time a new hyped up young prospect or Japanese import finds their way to the big leagues. But more often than not, with these types of unknown quantities, it’s a crapshoot. (You 2006 Felix Hernandez owners know what I’m talking about.)

I’d love to sit here and tell you that Daisuke Matsuzaka is a once-in-a-lifetime can’t miss pitcher who is going to strike out 313 batters next season while winning 23 games and posting an ERA of 2.07 and a WHIP of 0.92, en route to the Cy Young Award. But the fact of the matter is it’s just as likely he’ll put up a mere 158 Ks, 16 Wins, 5.01 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. It happens. Not every Red Sox acquisition is going to be Pedro Martinez. Some turn out to be Josh Beckett.

Here are the facts: Matsuzaka is a 26 year old RHP who has flat-out dominated the Japanese league competition in his 6 years in the league, accumulating almost 1,000 strikeouts, 14 shutouts, posting 76 wins, and a career ERA of 2.94, including a 2.30 ERA last season. For comparisons sake, let’s compare him to the most dominant pitcher of Major League Baseball, Johan Santana. Santana is a 27 year old lefty who has compiled 1146 strikeouts, 3 shutouts, 78 wins, and a 3.20 career ERA, including 3 straight sub 3.00 seasons. Obviously that’s a pretty favorable comparison.

Now, obviously we can’t reasonably expect Matsuzaka to be the Japanese Johan Santana. But what can we expect? The Hardball Times ran an article projecting a couple of different scenarios for Matsuzaka, the worst-case scenario pinning Matsuzaka at an ERA around 3.50, which would be very respectable here in the states, but not necessarily worth $100 million, or a high draft pick. However, the great Matsuzaka Watch ran their own analysis using Jim Albright’s formula and came up with the following numbers: 17 Wins, 181 Ks, 2.52 ERA, and 1.04 WHIP. Pretty impressive stuff. If Matsuzaka can put up those types of numbers then he’s absolutely worth a high draft pick, say round 3 even. However, there’s one factor we haven’t looked into yet: injury history.

Now, Matsuzaka’s durability is the stuff of legends in Japan, mostly due to a game in high school in which he threw 250 pitches in 17 innings in a prominent baseball tournament, and then went on to record the save in the next day’s game and throw a no-hitter in the third game of the series. Impressive—but a bit scary to think of the Red Sox prized acquisition throwing that many pitches on such a young arm. Indeed, it doesn’t look like things got much better once he graduated to the Japanese League.

Check out this great article on Matsuzaka Watch detailing his Pitcher Abuse Points (PAP). In sum, Matsuzaka would be the most abused pitcher in the major leagues last season—by far. Even perpetual Dusty Baker victim Carlos Zambrano and the rubber-armed Livan Hernandez don’t come close to putting up with the kind of arm stress that Matsuzaka went through in Japan. Additionally, Matsuzaka’s slight frame (he’s listed as 6’0” 187) also seems to bode poorly for Matsuzaka’s health.

Matsuzaka has had only one major arm injury, an elbow problem that kept him out the majority of the 2002 season. However, the injury did not require surgery and he came back stronger and better than before. Given this, it might be safe to assume that he’ll probably be fine for the long haul. With elbow injuries though, you never know.

So what’s our conclusion? In a word: caution. Matsuzaka could be great, but odds are he’ll be overvalued come draft day. There is really no comparison to Matsuzaka coming over here. Some have compared him to Hideo Nomo, others to Hideki Irabu, but the bottom line is that neither pitcher had the astounding success in Japan that Matsuzaka did. Therefore, there is really no way of knowing how the transition from Japan to one of the biggest—and most unforgiving—baseball markets in the world will treat him, and that makes him difficult to project. After all the number crunching and statistical analysis is done, we have to remember that not everyone can perform in Boston, regardless of how their stats should look (right Edgar Renteria?). My suggestion is that Matsuzaka will be worth taking in the early-middle rounds of a one year league, say the 5th or 6th rounds where you’re drafting your 2nd or 3rd starters. In a keeper league, it’s probably a good idea to go riskier and spend an even higher pick on him, depending on how deep the league is. In a 4 or 5 man keeper league, I’d go ahead and use a 2nd or 3rd round pick on him. In deeper leagues, he’s worth the first round pick. But remember the lesson of Felix Hernandez, Cole Hamels, and Matt Cain—just because a prospect is hyped as the next big thing doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll do it immediately.

Be careful overvaluing Matsuzaka, as adjustments are bound to happen, while a sub 3.00 ERA may not be.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

2007 AL ROTY Winner

I'll be posting some fantasy articles on RotoAuthority in the coming weeks, so make sure to check me out over there as well. Right now I've got an article predicting the 2007 AL Rookie of the Year.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Barfield/Kouzmanoff Trade Fantasy Implications

On Thursday, the San Diego Padres shipped 2nd baseman Josh Barfield to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for 3rd baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Andrew Brown.

Besides being a great move by Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro (the move clears the way for Andy Marte to take over at 3rd, and also cements an infield in which the average age is only 24 years old), the trade also helps Barfield on the fantasy diamond as well.

More after the jump....
Although Barfield put up more than respectable numbers as a rookie (.280, 13 HRs, 58 RBIs, and 21 SBs), check out his home/road splits:

Home: .241 Batting Average, .361 Slugging, .641 OPS
Road: .319 Batting Average, .484 Slugging, .838 OPS

Those numbers obviously represent a stark contrast, and show just how much Petco Park repressed Barfield’s numbers. Given the friendlier confines of Jacobs Field, combined with the continued maturation and progression of Barfield as a major league hitter, fantasy owners should expect a nice boost in Barfield’s numbers next season. I wouldn’t necessarily anticipate a mirroring of Barfield’s road stats next season (although that could be the ceiling), but somewhere around .290-.300 batting average and a 20/20 season is not at all out of the question. Considering Barfield is expected to hit higher in the lineup than he did in San Diego, Barfield could also get up to around 75 RBIs as well, making him a nice sleeper for 2007.

Another important factor to keep in mind for Barfield for the long-term is the quality of his defense. While other young fantasy second basemen, such as Rickie Weeks (and to a lesser extent, Howie Kendrick), have struggled with defense and may not be able to stick at the position long-term, Barfield is an above-average defender who should provide many years of above average production at 2B.

Kouzmanoff is an intriguing commodity. He is coming off of an amazing season in the minors where he combined to hit .379 with 22 HRs, 75 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.093 between Double and Triple A. He also acquitted himself well in a brief stint in the majors, hitting a grand slam in his first major league at-bat. That said, while Kouzmanoff should provide decent production for San Diego, he is relatively untested in the majors and should struggle to adjust during the season. Combined with the Petco Park factor, Kouzmanoff shouldn’t be much more than league average at third, with a ceiling perhaps looking like Mike Lowell’s 2006 campaign (.284 Ave, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs, .814 OPS). At a deep position like third, it’s probably best to avoid Kouzmanoff in ’07.

Brown put up impressive numbers in short relief for Cleveland’s Triple A affiliate. While he has a live arm and a fastball that touches the mid-90s, he’ll probably be used as a 6th or 7th inning setup guy in San Diego, maybe moving up a notch in the bullpen if Scott Linebrink is traded over the off-season. He has little fantasy value either way.

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