World Series – Who Wins?

Ah, its the month of October, College Football is in full swing and the baseball playoffs are at the pinnicle of their season.  Typically, we should be sitting back watching our beloved Yankees winning another championship.  Unfortunately, it is not the case this year and hurts the pre-season prediction of a Yankees vs Cards World Series. 

However, the Cards did make it and are facing off against a tough bunch of youngsters from Detroit.  In looking round at the "experts" predictions Detroit should simply walk away with the series.  Take a look:


WhatIfSports.com  St. Louis  4 – 1 (computer simulation)

FOX  Ken Rosenthal St. Louis 4 – 3

FOX  Dayn Perry  Detroit

FOX  Kevin Kennedy  Detroit 4 – 2

SI.Com  John Donovan  Detroit 4 – 2

CBS  Scott Miller  Detroit 4 – 0

CBS  Charlie McCarthy Detroit 4 – 1

CBS  Adriane Rosen Detroit  4 – 1

CBS  Eric Mack  Detroit 4 – 2

ESPN  Steve Phillips  Detroit 4 – 1

ESPN Buster Olney  Detroit 4 – 1

ESPN Jim Caple  Detroit 4 – 1

ESPN Jerry Crasnick  Detroit  4 – 2

ESPN Keith Law  Detroit 4 – 1

SPORTING NEWS  Stan McNeal  St. Louis 4 – 2

SPORTING NEWS  Tom Gatto  Detroit 4 – 1

SPORTING NEWS  Chris Bahr  Detroit 4 – 3

SPORTING NEWS  Kyle Veltrop  Detroit 4 – 2

SPORTING NEWS Ryan Fagan  St. Louis 4 – 3

SPORTING NEWS Erin Farrell St. Louis 4 – 2 

MLB.COM   Mike Bauman  Detroit 4 – 2

MSNBC.COM  Tony DeMarco   Detroit 4 –2

USA TODAY Bob Nightengale  Detroit 4 – 0

AP News  Detroit 4 -2

Basically it came down to this

Detroit wins in 5 – predicted by 7

Detroit wins in 6 – predicted by 7

St. Louis wins in 6 – predicted by 2

St. Louis wins in 7 – predicted by 2

Detroit wins in 4 – predicted by 2

St. Louis wins in 5 – predicted by 1

Detroit wins in 7 – predicted by 1

St. Louis wins in 4 – predicted by nobody

Essentially, Detroit was predicted to win by 18 "experts" with St. Louis getting the call only five times, one of which was a computer simulation.  And its not hard to pick on those "experts" who selected Detroit to win.  First, they took out our vaunted offense of our Yankees 3 games to 1.  They then mowed down Oakland in four straight games.  The Tigers were also one of the hottest teams of the year, minus September. 

St. Louis on the other hand did a pretty good job manhandling a tough San Diego group and then took out the NL’s best team in a life or death cage match against the Mets.  The Cardinals were lucky to even be in the playoffs let alone the World Series.  Lucky for them they play in the worst division in baseball.  Their pitching outside of Carpenter was something you’d see out of a Texas Chainsaw movie and yet, they found a way to sneak into the World Series.

So when making my prediction, who do I go with.  The majority of the experts or streak along my own path?  Before the playoffs I often said the AL wins the series reguardless because the NL just cannot compete.  This pretty much stuck in my mind right up until the Cards knocked out the Mets.  It was then something happened.  I am not sure what it was, but for some reason, it just seemed like the winds shifted.  **** might have gotten quite a bit colder and a blue moon must have appeared, because for the first time during this entire season, I have to side with the NL and those pesky "shouldn’t be there" Cards.

I have five good reasons to justify why. 

1.  The Tigers are coming of a 7-day vacation.  I know everybody will say the Tigers will be well rested and their young pitchers would benefit the most from the time off.  I say, it ruins a perfectly good momentum swing.  Simply, its too much time.  Maybe they should have let the A’s win a couple instead of embarrasing them.

2.  The Cards have Albert Pujols,  a superstar in the middle of his prime and who could very well win his second MVP in a row this year.  The Tigers have some good players, but nobody of a Pujols caliber.  Players like Pujols shine on the big stage and often times are the key ingredient to winning a championship.  Just like Derek Jeter for the Yankees.  These players carry a special something.

3.  The Cards actually have pitching outside of Carpenter.  Who would have thought that trouble make Ponson and former Yankee mud flop Weaver would seem to find their game just at the right time.  These two have been actually better than Carpenter who lost both of his games against the Mets.  Where was this Weaver back during the Boston series?  Then, you’d think the cards would be hurting when their All-Star closer goes down for the season and yet Wainwright seems to be the next big thing.  Go figure!  The fact is, while the Tigers have that amazing staff, the Cards pitchers seem to be a roll and momentum is a key in October.

4.  Tigers offense was not really all that special to begin with.  Sure they started out fast, but you know they hit a wall when they decided to trade for Sean Casey and send Chris Shelton down to AAA.  Its about this time, the Tigers decided to try and survive on the homerun ball rather than driving up pitch counts and getting players on base.  They were lucky the Yankees bats seem to dissappear during the first round, because there was no way the Tiger bats would have been able to keep up.  The Tiger bats were quiet against the A’s who we all know have no bats outside of the Big Hurt.  The fact is, the Cards offense is better than the Tigers and when Ponson and Weaver decided to become the big time pitchers everybody talked about at the beginning of their careers, the Tigers were finished.

5.  Tony LaRussa.  Yeah I know the Tigers have that other old guy, but lets face it, LaRussa is still the better Mgr. of the two.  The fact he kept the Cards from imploding at about 162 different points during the season is amazing.  Sure they won only 83 games and they played in a horrible division, but what counts is in the playoffs and the Cards were ready and that means their fearless Skipper got them ready. 

So with my five reasons, I must admit this will be a close series.  Then again either team is capable of a sweep.  But, I think in the end the Cards have all the planets lined up just right and as a result they will take out the Tigers in a very wild 7-game series. 

Suggestions for 2007

    Okay, so were at home watching the Tigers take out the A’s.  Maybe the Tigers were for real?  I guess we won’t know for a little while longer, but while were watching teams other than our Yankees, I thought it might be time to address some key questions the Yankees should address during the off season, heading into the winter meetings and spring training.  And boy do we have some questions to answer.

    First and foremost the issue of Joe Torre has already been resolved.  George Steinbrenner cooled his jets and will give Torre one more year.  I think this is a fair response and given the abundency of issues Torre has had to face the past couple of years, he has earned one more year.  While I have already talked about this issue in my previous post, I think this is clearly a good sign of how things have changed during the past few years and the "right" direction the Yankees as an organization are moving forward.

    Like I said, there are some key issues to deal with.  Some of the suggestions may be fairly realistic, some may be considered a nice wish list.  The point in either case is to offer up some ideas in the hopes this time next year we will be cheering the Yankees onto their 27th world championship.  So without further delay…

Suggestions for 2007

Starting Rotation

First and foremost the Yankees must address the pitching, both the starting rotation and the bullpen.   The past couple of years, the importance of having a solid starting rotation and bullpen has been quite clear.  The Yankees seems to have had half the picture in place with the other half being a horror show waiting to happen.  This year, Wang has clearly demonstrated even though he dosen’t have the over powering, blow you away fastball, he is clearly a winner going 19-6 with a 3.63 era.  After two years in the bigs, Wang has an impressive record of 27-11 and a 3.77 era pitching 334.1 innings.  After Wang, Mussina clearly showed he deserves to have his contract extension picked up.  His record of 15-7 with a 3.51 era was impressive and when given a little rest, can still be quite effective.  Mussina could also be considered the elder statesman of the team. 

After Wang and Mussina, things get a little fuzzy.  Sure Johnson won 17 games this year and flirted with a no hitter on several occasions.  However, Johnson also sported a hefty 5.00 era which is the highest of his career since 1989 with the Expos.  Johnson has also been one of my favorite pitchers, but in 2007 he will be approaching 44 years of age, no knees and a bad back that has now been reported to need surgery.   Sure he can be effective… at times.  But, he also ineffective nearly half the time.  If I were the Yankees, it would be time to sit down with Johnson and talk about retirement.

Except we still have three openings in the rotation after Wang and Mussina and Johnsons retirement.  Cory Lidle should be the 5th starter in the rotation.  His numbers have never been impressive, but he can put in a good game and eat up innings.  Though, he should be warned if his numbers dont improve, we have another option (discussed in a moment).  The next suggestion is to go after Barry Zito who is a free agent when the A’s finish their season.  This year Zito went 16-10 with a 3.83 era.  More importantly Zito’s career record is 102-63 and an era of just 3.55.  He also has pitched over 200 innings since 2001.  He has never missed a start and will only be turning 29 next year and is in his prime.  Zito is as about as sure as you can get now days.

After Zito, its time to bring the Yankees number prospect up and into the bigs full time.  Of course were talking Phillip Hughes.  He has dominated at every level in the minors, sports amazing control and three strong pitches.  With the Yankees scoring behind him Hughes should have a pretty strong rookie year.  Its time.  So the starting rotation would look like this:

Zito
Mussina
Wang
Hughes
Lidle

What about Pavano?  He hasn’t played in over 18 months and sports more injuries than a punching bag.  Pavano, lets face it has been a major bust of prolific portions.  Who knows if he will be back next year, I wouldn’t count on it.  Dotel who had Tommy John surgery can back faster than Pavano.   The other suggestions is to work Steve White and Tyler Clippard into the rotation here and there.  These two have done nearly as well as Hughes in the minors with Clippard even throwing a no-hitter.  Its time to get their feet wet.

Bullpen

Ah, the bullpen.  Rivera is good as gold, but he is getting a little older and could use a little more rest now days.  The problem has been having somebody strong enough to get through the 8th without having to bring Rivera in to clean up the mess.  Farnsworth is a hit or miss guy and this year he was 3-6 with 6 saves and sported a not to clean 4.36 era.  Though, I think Farnsworth and Dotel splitting time working the 8th inning would be a fairly good option.  Don’t look at Dotel’s numbers this year and frown, he was just coming back from Tommy John surgery and it takes time to get your groove back, plus I got the feeling the Yankees were being very cautious this year in the games he did appear in. 

Scott Proctor a starter turned reliever is a great 6th/7th inning guy who can also come in the 8th if Farnsworth is giving up too many homeruns.  Proctor this year went 6-4 with one save and an era of 3.52 while pitching 102.1 innings.  I have always liked Proctor and I think he is an essential key for the Yankees in the future in the RP role.  I would also think about keeping Villone who peformed well most of the season, but worn down along with Brian Bruney who I think suprised some people this year and has a lot of great potential.  Now here is the kicker, Jaret Wright should be a long relief pitcher.  He was lucky to get through 5 innings this year and has been inconsistant.  I don’t believe he is starter quality any longer, but would be a nice innings eater if one of the starters leave early or if you need a spot start here and there.  The next thing I would do is bring up and keep on the roster Sean Henn has a long reliever and JB Cox who should start working towards being the setup man for Rivera with the thought that one day he takes over the closer role.

Defense, First Base and Sheffield

Heres the thing.  How much offense does one need?  It was clear despite having an all-star line-up in the playoffs, you still may not hit.  One of the painful issues affecting the Yankees over the past 3-4 seasons has been defense and errors.  Lets face it, Giambi can’t play 1B effectively any longer, but I like his bat.  This would make him a great full-time DH canidate.  So who plays 1B?  Sheffield is the name people have brought up because of the Abreu trade.  Sure having Sheffs bat is nice, but he is over 38 now and at $13 million would be an expensive 1B who may not be too strong in the field.  Unless Sheff is willing to accept a much lower salary, I think the Yankees should let him go and work on finding a strong defensive canditate.  Personally, I wouild hand the job over to Andy Phillips.  He has earned it and can hit, even if he dosent match Sheffields numbers, the Yankees don’t need him too.  His role will be a defensive one.   The point here is, don’t worry about the offense when the defense is what is lacking right now. 

The Outf
ield and Bernie

Ironically, one nice problem the Yankees have is too many outfielders.  Let’s be blunt, unless an unfortunate injury occurs, the starting outfield will be Mastui, Damon and Abreu.  This leaves Cabrera, possibly Williams and possibly Sheffield.  As I stated its time to cut the string with Sheffield.  Williams is a Yankee and he was a tremendous asset for the Yankees this year.  But, unfortunately years of hard playing and injuries have taken a toll on his OF abilites making him more of a liabiity than anything else.  With the DH spot going to Giambi, where does Williams fit in?  I say offer him another year, min salary and turn him into a player/coach.  He is a great role model/teacher for Cabrera, Cano and other youngsters.  Williams can spot DH and spot the OF position when needed, but his biggest role will be the coaching part.

With that I think Cabrera is your 4th outfielder who should play on a daily basis rotating between Matsui, Damon and Abreu giving them each rest.  Cabrera really came through this year and has earned a full-time spot, unfortunately, their are some very talented veterens ahead of him, but that dosen’t mean his role should be dimished any.  After Cabrera its time to give Kevin Thompson some time in the OF.  In only 19 games, Thomson hit .300 and pulled out a HR.  Another young kid who I believe has earned his shot with the big boys.

The Bench Players

The bench is nearly as important has any other position.  Where the bench needs to be addressed is the infield now.  I believe five players could fit this role of infield and even some of backups.  Youngsters Andy Cannizaro and Nick Green both performed well when given the shot, Aaron Guiel who seem to find himself once he put on the pinstripes, Craig Wilson who can play both 1B and OF and Will Nieves at catcher.  I know some will wonder about Miguel Cairo, but Miguel has never been an offensive threat and actually cost the Yankees more runs than help.  I don’t believe there will be any real FA’s worth paying the money they will want who would be any better than the ones I have mentioned. 

When its all said and done

I don’t think the Yankees need to rewrite the books on having a successful 2007.  In fact, there are many positives from the past two years to show we are headed in the right direction.  The Yankees have a lot of the right pieces to complete the championship puzzle.  Primarily, the focus should be on getting younger by cutting the old weight, improving the defensive and sticking with the youngsters.  If they do these simple things, the Yankees should have a great 2007 and that elusive 27th championship is all but guarenteed.

Joe Torre – Too Keep or Not To Keep

    Joe Torre is coming under fire as a result of the latest heartbreaking punch to the Yankee gut by the Detroit Tigers.  Of course, managing the Yankees sort of always keeps you under fire and somehow Torre seems to have survived under owner George Steinbrenner since 1996.   Which is something concidering how often Steinbrenner likes to go through coaches.  In Fact Since Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees, the following have all coached under Steinbrenner…

Ralph Houk – Bill Virdon – Billy Martin (several occasions) – **** Howser (two occasions) – Bob Lemon (three occasions) – Gene Michael – Clyde King – Yogi Berra – Lou Piniella – Dallas Green – Bucky Dent – Stump Merrill – Buck Showalter  – Joe Torre

    Joe somehow has lasted 11 years or typically 2-4 different managers under normal Steinbrenner’s standards.  But, the question now after another failed post season is whether or not Joe should go.  There is no doubt George is fuming as we all are and the target of our wrath is always the manager.  The question is, now we have had a few days to recover from defeat, whether or not its time for Joe to go. 

    Do I have the answer?  No, I am torn between the yes and the no.  So, instead I have decided to look at both the reasons why Joe Torre should be fired and the reasons why not. 

Reasons Why Joe Torre Should be Fired

1.  For the third straight year the Yankees appeard to be flat.  Let’s face it, with the except of a certain Derek Jeter and maybe a couple of other players, the Yankees seem to have been asleep at the wheel for the past three post seasons.  How on earth does the most dangerous line-up the game has seen, not score any runs, let alone get people on base.  The managers job is to light a fire under the players if they are sleeping and for whatever reason Torre, who is a players coach, seems to have lost that ability to get under the players nails and light a stick of dynamite to spark some assemblence of life. 

2.  Joe Torre has made some highly questionable decisions in the playoffs for the past couple of seasons.  This year, in game four he moved A-Rod to 8th in the line-up.  Sure A-Rod was stinking up the place, but to move him to 8th is a massive slap in the face to quite possibly the greatest player who has ever played.  Torre would have been better off to bench A-Rod to make a point, not put him 8th on the list.  Pitching Wright in game four is another questionable decision.  Wright has been lucky to get past the 5 inning this year, Lidle hasn’t done much better.  Torre would have been better off to throw Wang in on short rest or at least Karstens who has proven himself over the past month and a half.  Using Sheffield at 1B  would be a questionable move  and while Sheffield gives the line-up another bat, its a painful excuse for defensive purposes.

3.  Joe Torre is mis-used the relief staff for the past couple of years.  This may be a pretty good debate about the over use of the relief staff.  Proctor this year logged in just over 100 innings pitched, which is a lot for this day in age.  Villone was beginning to show signs of slowing down after a great start and we can’t forget the over use of Small and Sturtze in 2005 which lead to their injuries this year.  Rivera is getting older and was still being asked to pitched two innings several times throughout the season, which may or may not have caused the elbow pain.  Then again, much of this over use could be blamed on the ancient pitching staff and the struggles the old timers have had.  Either way, Torre still makes the final decision on the bullpen and some believe he has blown out a few arms over the years through over use.

4.  Torre who did so well managing the Yankees during the 96-2000 season, has struggled with the high profile and quite expensive players since.  The whole A-Rod issue this year is a sort of microcosom of the problems Torre has had with a $200 million dollar salary.  While we don’t know the whole story of what went on behind the scenes, Torre’s job is to fix it, one way or another on the field.  And as I stated in reason number one, the players don’t seem to be "with it" during the post season.  Granted, Torre is limited by how much he can do.  You can’t bench $150 million in players for youngsters with more fire in them, but at the same time, something needed to be done to wake this team up.  Compared to the Tigers or A’s, the Yankees seemed to be very oh hum about the entire playoff approach. 

5.  Simply its time for a change.  11 years is 3 lifetimes worth managing in a Yankees uniform.  Torre has done a great job for the Yankees and brought us 4 championships and 9 straight division crowns.  However, much like the old college football coach, there comes a time where the effectiveness wears off and a change is needed to respark the desire and winning spirit.  Thank Torre for a great job and move on.

Reason Why Joe Torre Should Keep His Job

1.  Okay, the man has one over 1000 games in 11 years, including four seaons with over 100 wins.  He has guided the Yankees to five world series, winning four of them.   I can think of 29 other teams who wouldn’t mind a manager with this kind of record.  Success stands for itself and given the issues this year with injuries and what not, the fact the Yankees even made the playoffs is demonstrative of Torre’s ability to keep things rolling.  Look at Baker with the Cubs.  He loses a couple of players and they become the worst team in the NL, I mean, come on… worse than the Pirates?  Joe loses nearly every player at some point and yet still carries the team to 97 wins.  That is impressive.

2.  Joe Torre isn’t paid $20 million plus to throw a ball and hit it once in a while.  The players are.  At some point, the players on the Yankees need to be held accountable for forgetting what got them to the playoffs in the first place.  This year, it seemed only Jeter remembered and proceeded to hit .500 during the series with Detroit.  Giambi, A-Rod, Sheffield, Damon, Matsui, Cano and Abreu all forgot basic hitting concepts and the fact this was suppose to be a patient line-up who could drive up pitch counts.  In game four against Bonderman, after 5 innings of work Bonderman has thrown less than 50 pitches.  The bullpen seemed to prefer giving up runs rather than stopping them and nobody seem to have any fire.  As they say in football, 3 up, three down and that was the Yankees in games 2 – 4.  With the exception of a very small group of players, these are well-versed veterans who should know better and blame should not be placed on Torre for their inaction.

3.  Steinbrenner should take some heat for making some bad decisions, tying Torre’s hands from having the kid of players he would prefer.  Sure, its great having an all-star lineup, but they still have to field the ball.  Remember Scott Brosius a tremendous defensive player, but not exactly a top  of the line hitter.  Which, didn’t matter, the Yankees still had Jeter, Williams, O’Neill, Strawberry, Martinez and Posada in the line-up.  Brosius didn’t make errors and got the job done in the field.  Pitching has been in shambles since the Yankees let Pettitte and Clemens go.  Torre has somehow had to find one replacement start after another to put together some sort of patchwork rotation in order to win games.  Its hard to blame Torre when the the weak rotation dosen’t peform in the playoffs along with the other "all-stars".

4.  Like it or not, Torre is a great buffer between Stei
nbrenner and the players.  Half the problems during the 80’s was a direct result of hiring managers who were just as worked up as Steinbrenner.  Torre is cool, calm and collected under fire.  The players respect Torre because he is a staple of collected strength to get the job done.  Torre has worked with what he has been given and after trading away some great talent for over priced and aging vets, one cannot really blame Torre when the owner over rides solid baseball decisions.  Torre deserves another year to work in some more of the young talent while shedding some of the dead weight picked up in the past few years.  The players love him, the fans love him and he has earned the right for at least one more chance.

5.  Is there anybody who can really step in and do a better job?  A major component of the Yankees problems the past few years stems from too many aging, high priced super stars who’s production is going down.  The fact is, the Yankees are in transition to refocusing on youth again and 2006 clearly demonstrated why.  When you have a team of grandfathers, they are not going to have the same spirit a team full of youth will have.  This isn’t something Torre can control.  What he does control is the maintaining inflated egos and weathly millionaires from exploding into a segment from The View.  The issue here is the fact that you need somebody who has the respect of the players, who can remain calm and understands the environment everybody is working in.  Sure you can bring in a fire starter like Sweet Lou, but how would a Sheffield deal with Lou telling him he needs to kick it into second gear?  Or how about a now fragile Johnson who is giving up homeruns in bunches that he needs to miss a start because his body is actually old?  Lets face it, million dollar egos don’t handle fire breathing managers very well and this is why Joe Torre is the perfect man for the job until at the very least some young blood is brought in.

Bernie Williams The Post Season Master

    Bernie Williams has had a great carear playing with the Yankees.  We have been lucky to have a player like Bernie with the team, year after year.  In the modern era of massive egos, media darlings and drama queens, Bernie goes about his business, quietly, without drawing attention to himself and simply doing what he does best.  Play baseball.
Bw_portraitNow at the twilight of his carear, the talk about HOF credentials fills the minds of most sports writers and broadcasters.  If you hear them talk, they will say plenty of great things about Bernie.  He is a great team player, a quiet leader, talented, has some great years both in the field and at the plate.  Then, comes the, "but".

But, his carear number are simply not HOF numbers.  In a time with HR’s and RBI’s dominate everybody’s discussion, Bernie doesn’t stand a chance.  If players like the Goose, Jim Rice, Tommy John, Lee Smith, Andre Dawsom and of course Don Mattingly can’t get in, Williams dosen’t stand a chance.  Which is unfortunate.  The way the HOF voting has been lately, you are better off trying to break into Fort Knox for some gold than trying to get voted into the HOF. 

I will argue, while Bernies carear numbers wont blow you away, he has put together a pretty impressive carear and let us not forget, many of the years Bernie was trying to play through two bad shoulders and knees.  Like a trooper, however, he kept plugging away.  Where would the Yankees be if Bernie wasn’t there all these years? 

Where would they be indeed.  Going into this post season, I decided to take a little look at some numbers.  We all know about the great history of the Yankees, 26 rings with at least one in each decade since the 1920’s.  We know the stories, the history and all the tremendous memories.  We even know about those other players not on the Yankees who have had some great post season efforts to go with a pretty solid carear.

    All this is nice, but when it comes to the post season, Bernie’s production blows everybody away.  Name any great, the Babe, Joe, Lou, Reggie, Jeter and Bernie tops them all in sure performance.  I always knew Bernie was one of the clutch "go to" guys we’ve had throughout his carear.  Except, his post season tallies are downright astonishing. 
Oct22_williamsJust look at what hey has done.  Going into the 2006 post season Bernie Williams is:
# 1 in games played at 120
#1 in number of at-bats with Jeter at 462
#1 in number of runs scored at 83
#2 in the number of hits at 128 (Jeter is #1 with 142)
#1 in total bases at 223
#1 in the number of doubles at 29
#1 in the number of HR’s at 22
#1 in the number of RBI’s at 80
#2 in the total number of walks at 71
#2 in the total number of singles at 77 (jeter is off the charts in this category)
#1 in extra base hits at 51
#1 in times on base at 202

What is impressive is these rankings are all-time for every player and team ever to play in the post season.  To think about all the greats who have played this game and yet Bernie trumps them all.  Sure you can argue he has played in more games, he does rank number one in the category.  But, he not only plays but produces when he does play.  Some of the Yankee greats have been to many a world series and Bernie trumps even them with his numbers.

Bernie ranks number one in nine categories and number two in four more.  Name another player who can say the same thing.  Ironically, Williams closest competitor in post season performance is his very own teamate and a sure lock on the HOF, Derek Jeter.  And with Jeter only being 31, he will most likely pass Williams in many of the categories mentioned above.  This shouldn’t diminish William’s impressive standing right now and we all know Jeter is down right alien in talent, espicially in the post season.

So people can say all they want about HOF credentials.  Given some of the players who are qualified and yet waste away on one ballot after another, Williams most likely will not get a nod from the ignorant voters.  The fact is, when a  team needs a player the most, which is the post season, Bernie is in a class all by himself.   Maybe people would think differently if he took on a more prima donna persona we see so often now days.   Then again, it just wouldn’t be Bernie.  The quiet leader who continues to drive opponents bonkers year after year after year.  In my opinion Bernie deserves the HOF just for his post season numbers alone because if we include his regular season stats, the vote would be a slam dunk in the affirmative. 

Making The Case For Wang’s CY Young

    A few weeks ago I made the case for Derek Jeter to win the MVP.   I still believe this is the case and the ongoing MVP voting poll at ESPN would agree with me.  However, Jeter isn’t the only Yankees player who deserves an award for their performance this year.   How about the quiet kid from Tiawan, Chien-Ming Wang. 

5051027241482ss He dosen’t get the accolades of a J. Santana, R. Halladay or even the Yankees own Mike Mussina.  In fact you would be hard pressed to find anybody bothering to mention Wang in the same sentence with Cy Young.  Which is a shame because Chien-Ming Wang has put up a Cy Young caliber season.

Look at Wang’s numbers this year.  18-6 record with an ERA of 3.57 and even pulled out a save for the Yankees prior to the All-Star game.  Wang has has thrown 212.0 innings this year, the most of any pitcher on the Yankees staff.

You could make the case Wang has earned himself as the Yankees number one pitcher.  Johnson, for example has a record of 17-11 and a bloated ERA of 5.00.  Mussina has had a good year going 14-6 and an era 3.57 as well.  But, the Moose was recently shut down and has pitched nearly 30 innings less than Wang.

The other Yankee starters have had mixed games all around.  Wright, Lidle, Ponson (waived) to name a few.  Heck, $40 million injury machine Pavano hasn’t even pitched since last year.  Small has been on DL since eternity and even then it wasn’t as if he continue the mastery of last years amazing season. 

When you look at Wang compared to the other starters, you see why this young, shy kid from overseas has been such a boon for the Yankees.  The problem for Wang stems from a couple of issues.  The first being strike outs.  he has 72 K’s to 51 BB’s.  His strike out ratio will rank down around one of the lowest in the history of the game.  Wang is also one of the most stunning groundball to flyball pitchers the game has seen.  Something many of the so called "experts" are waiting to blow up on him.   You would think after a year and a half pitching for the Yankees, people would finally accept the fact he is doing just fine.  The biggest problem is Wang is not flashy, dosent put up gaudy numbers and is over shadowed by more dominating personalities on the Yankees Squad.                                                                                    
    So the question is Wang’s competition for the Cy Young award.  If you listen to all the shows and read the newspapers and the online articles, most would say the race will come down to J. Santana, R. Halladay, J. Garland and old man Kenny Rogers.   So lets compare the numbers between these five players to see who should be this years Cy Young award winner in the AL. 
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Player          Wins  ERA  CG  SHO     IP     HR   BB   K
J. Santana 18-6    2.79    1     0     225.2   24   47  240
C. Wang     18-6   3.57     2     1    212.0    12    51   72
J. Garland  17-6    4.37    1     1    197.2    25   38   103
K. Rogers   17-6    3.63    0      0    198.1    23   58   97
R. Halladay 16-5   3.19    4      0    220.0    19   34  132

Pretty good race between those five pitchers above.  The one player who may not really have the best chance would be J. Garland.  While the record is there, compared to the other pitchers mentioned, there is nothing standing out which would separate him from the others and teh fact his era is 0.74 higher than the next highest of Rogers, Garland dosen’t stand a chance.   

The next pitcher we can most likely eliminate would be Kenny Rogers.  The numbers are there, but if your going to attack Wang for a low K total, Rogers is in the same boat with only 97, which isn’t setting the world on fire by any means.  The other issue for Rogers is the fact he is pitching for Detroit and is not even the best pitcher on the team.  Verlander and Bonderman are better pitchers than Rogers and with the exception of the win/loss totals, Rogers was out performed by the youngsters  in Detroit

Wang’s biggest challenge will come from Santana and Halladay.   Halladay may be the one who could complain teh most if he dosent win because his numbers are quite solid.  The problem is he pitches for Toronto who will most likely finish 3rd in the East for the 9th straight year.  Halladay’s performance this year, while steller didn’t do much to carry the Blue Jays into the playoffs.  Not his fault and if he wasn’t there the Jays may not have had a chance for a record above .500.  Except his presence didn’t really push the Jays into contention either and he has had some nice run support.  You could also knock his strike out totals as he only recorded 132 of them and it seems like the voters want big K totals.  Halladay would not be a suprise but it is unlikely because he was not any better than Sanatana.

So, now we are down to Santana and Wang.  My baseball mind says Santana wins hands down and it would be hard to argue against it.  The Twins have thrived on Santana’s consistency and continual performance of one dominating game after another.   However, Sananta’s clearly benefited having Lirano being allowed to start and the resurgance of Silva and Radke.  Santana also sports a strike out total of 240 batters to only 47 walks.  His one negative would be the 24 homeruns allowed, which isn’t to painful considering Santana’s era is a sick 2.79 and being in the run happy American League, this is impressive.

    Except Wang has done a few things himself.  First of all Wang has pitched two complete games to Santana’s one.  With the Yankee bullpen pitching so many innings this year, the fact Wang has thrown two complete games is huge.  Wang also threw a shutout, which Santana has failed to do this year.  Wang has only given up 12 homeruns on the year.  Santana doubles that.  However, all these numbers are tangable.  Meaning you can compare them, provide analysis.  What about the intangables?  What does Wang bring to the table which would enable him to win the Cy Young?
   
    Piece of mind for one.  Joe Torre has commented on many occasions how lucky he is to have Wang pitching for him.  He has come to rely on Wang to pull out a tremendous performance and bring about a victory for the Yankees.  Teams worry about many things when playing the Yankees and Wang is one of those biggest problems.  Despite being in his second year, teams still cannot figure out how to  beat this kid.  If anything Wang hurts himself more than opposing teams.  If he leaves a breakingball or slider up in the strike zone, even Juan  Pierre could hit it out of the park.  But, what is impressive about Wang is the fact his performance has carried the yankees this year and many of his stellar outings have come after Yankee loses.   

    Sure Chien-Ming Wang does not have the better numbers compared to Santana or even Halladay.  But, look at what Wang has done for the Yankees this year and you realize how valuable he has been.  Awards should be about more than just wins/loses or strikeout totals.  You have too look at the whole picture and when you look at Wang, his picture is quite impressive and that is why he should win the 2006 Cy Young award.

Chien_ming_wang

A Salary Cap Would Ruin Baseball

Salary cap would ruin baseball.

The thought behind the cap is that parity in baseball is ruined and the same teams keep winning over and over.  But, really?  Lets look deeper into this fallacy.

WS winners past 6 years

2000 Yankees
2001 Diamondbacks
2002 Angels
2003 Marlins
2004 Red Sox
2005 White Sox

Or the divisional breakdown is
AL East 2
AL Central 1
AL West 1
NL East 1
NL Central 0
NL West 1

In otherwords, not  only has 6 different teams won the WS in the past 6 years, 5 out of 6 divisions were home of the WS Champion. The only other streak where a different team won without winning again is 11 years between 1978 and 1990.  At no other point in the 100 years of the WS has there been more than a 3 year span in which a team has not appeared again.

From 1926 through 1956 only 7 different teams won the WS.  In fact you look at the WS played from 1919 to 1965 only 11 different teams won the WS with 57% being won by either the Yankees or Cardinals who won 27 WS out of the 47 year span.  In 36 of those 47 years the same 11 teams were also on the losing end of the WS.  Of which 61% of those 36 losing apparences were by either by the Dodgers, Giants or Yankees.

To make my point further, in the 47 year span between 1919 and 1965, the 11 winning teams comprised of 89% of the total number of teams involved in the WS.  Of which 4 teams (Dodgers, Giants, Cardinals and Yankees) took 53%of of the total 94 win/loss possibilites for the WS. 

During this same time period 22 different franchises had the opportunity to win a WS.  They were:

AL
Chicago White Sox
Cleveland Indians
New York Yankees
Detroit Tigers
St. Louis Browns
Boston Red Sox
Washington Sentators
Philadelphia Athletics
Baltimore Orioles
Kansas City Athletics
Minnesota Twins
Los Angeles Angels

NL
Cincinnati Reds
New York/San Fransico Giants
Chicago Cubs
Pittsburgh Pirates
Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers
Boston/Milwaukee Braves
St. Louis Cardinals
Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets
Houston Colt 45’s

Meaning out of the 22 frachises only 50% actually won the WS.  Of the group of 11 franchises who did not win a WS, 6 actually made it and lost (Chicago White Sox – St. Louis Browns – Boston Red Sox – Chicago Cubs – Minnesota Twins – Philadelphia Phillies)  Of those 6 teams they appeared in a total of 9 WS with the White Sox and Cubs appearing in 6 of the 9.

Compare these numbers to the past 6 years.  From 2000 through 2005, 10 different teams have appeared in the WS.  The Yankees being the only team to have appeared more than once.  Meaning only 17% of the time has a team repeated an appearence in the WS.  A far cry from baseball past. 

In fact, by simply looking at the numbers, as the difference between teams payrolls has increased, so has the parity of baseball increased as well.  Proving that money can buy players, but not championships. 

BTW, you can look at other sports with a salary cap and you will see less parity in those sports than you see in baseball. 

If you want parity, you don’t want a salary cap.

Making The Case For Jeter

    Its that time of the year again, the playoff races are getting down to the final bell, teams are checking out young players and the debate of the awards begins.  This year the AL MVP is a tight race, which has been heated up after David Ortiz decided to whine and moan about feeling left out because he is only a DH and poor Jeter gets to hit in heaven called the Yankees lineup.  Whah!  Did Ortiz forget his bottle his bottle on Sunday?  So lets forget the insanity of his crying and simply point out the newly self declared prima donna has just slammed his teamates for being less than himself.  I guess Manny’s .300 plus BA, 30 plus HR’s are nothing to Ortiz sitting on the bench for half a game pulling splinters out of his DH behind.

    Unfortunately, there are writers, who have votes in this deal, who will side with Ortiz.  Let’s not forget a few things.  In 2004 the voters awarded the NL MVP to Barry Bonds despite Albert Pujols having better numbers.  Its the same year Clemens won the CY Young despite Carpenter having better numbers.  To fix this problem, in 2005 the voters awarded Pujols the MVP despite Andrew Jones having better numbers and Carpenter the CY Young even though Clemens actually had better numbers in 2005.  In 2005 the voters awarded the MVP to A-Rod because of some supposed bias against the DH and Ortiz lost out as a result.  Naturally, the voters always being a year behind will want to fix the supposed slight from 2005 and vote for Ortiz.  But, does he deserve it?

    The way I see it and basically from all the talk we hear, there are four primary canidates for the MVP.  Namely, Derek Jeter, Jermaine Dye, Justin Morneau and David Ortiz.  For fun, I added Joey Mauer who has received some slight talk despite putting up one of the best offensive catching years in MLB history.  Now, lets take the five players mentioned and look at their numbers.  We could goes into fielding stats, but Mr. DH dosen’t have anything and would naturally rank last among our canidates.  This is a whole other issue and the biggest reason why the DH should not win the MVP unless the numbers simply blow baseball records out of the park. 

    So, because of Mr. DH, we need to look at only the offensive numbers.  Now according to Mr. DH, we should only look at homeruns and RBI’s.  Hum, interesting, he leads in those categories and he should, being a DH and all.  But, why dosent he mention any of the other ones?  Maybe its because he dosen’t far as well as the other contestants.

    Basically the numbers as of yesterdays (9-11) games looked like this:

Player    TEAM    POS    G    AB    R    H    2B    3B    HR    RBI    TB    BB   SO   SB   OBP   SLG  AVG    SF/SH
J Mauer     MIN     C     125    463    75    162    32    4    11    78    235    72    44    8    0.433    0.508    0.350    7
D Jeter  NYY     SS     137    555    99    192    36    3    13    91    273    63    91    29    0.419    0.492    0.346    11
J Dye    CWS     OF     131    486    93    158    26    3    41    112    313    52    105    7    0.392    0.644    0.325    6
J Morneau  MIN 1B    138    514    84    165    31    1    33    118    297    47    80    3    0.377    0.578    0.321    10
D Ortiz   BOS   DH    133    504    103    145    26    2    48    127    319    96    105    1    0.402    0.633    0.288    5

    By taking the numbers and then ranking the players from 1 through 5 we can make some overall rankings.  To find their average rank we add each category and then divide it by 16 (total number of categories).  In doing so Derek Jeter comes out far ahead of the other players.  The final tallies look like this…

Jeter               2.375 ave
Ortiz                 3.000 ave
Mauer           3.125 ave
Morneau        3.125 ave
Dye                    3.188 ave

Basically, while the other four players are all bunched up, Jeter out paces them all.  Out of the 5 players, Jeter ranks number one in At Bats – Hits – Doubles – Stolen Bases – Sac’s.  Jeter then ranks second in Games played – Runs – Triples – OBP – AVE.   Out of 16 categories Jeter ranks either first or second in 10 of them.  None of the other players can duplicate that.

    Another interesting note is hits and batting average.  Jeter, Mauer, Morneau and Dye al are hitting .321 or higher.  Where is Mr. DH, at a low .288 or basically over 40 points behind.  Ortiz has the 3rd highest number of AB’s and yet the lowest number of hits.  In fact Jeter has only 51 more AB’s than Ortiz and yet has 47 more hits.  Jeter has 10 more doubles, one triple more and 28 more stolen bases.  Ortiz leads in Home Runs… whoopie.  What is even scarier is Jeter has 33 fewer walks than Ortiz and yet Jeter’s OBP is .419 verses only a .402 for Ortiz. 

    So lets see.  With Mr. DH you get basically one of two options, homeruns or walks.  With Jeter you get hits, walks, sacs, doubles, and occasionally a triple and a homer.  Not to mention Jeter has earned another 28 more bases for his stealing ability.  In the RBI’s category Jeter hits in the number two spot and yet still has 91 RBI’s.  This is pretty darn impressive he also has scored 99 times or now 102 after tonight 🙂

    Ortiz?  What is he complaining about, he has Manny hitting behind him and Ortiz only has 103 runs scored.  Maybe its because Ortiz is on base far less than Jeter, giving Manny far few options to knock him in.  48 of Mr. DH’s runs scored are from his HR’s meaning, he has scored only 55 runs outside of the HR’s.  Jeter, he has 13 homeruns but, now 102 runs scored.  Basically Jeter has scored 89 times outside of the HR’s.  Naturally Mr. DH whines about the fact Jeter has Giambi, A-Rod and gang batting behind him.  I guess he forgot about all those injuries and illness or the slumps.  Maybe its because Jeter gets on base to keep the inning going and puts himself in a position to score more runs.  Maybe Jeter is more valuable because of this.

    Oh, did we even talk about the number of runs Jeter has stopped because he actually has the guts to take the field?  How many has Ortiz stopped?  NONE!  So when your looking at a MVP, how can you award it to a part timer?  Ortiz shouldn’t even be mentioned as a possibility for MVP because h
e dosen’t even play a full game. 

    Jeter’s biggest competition should come from Morneau or Dye.  Ironically Morneau has better numbers accross the board and Dye isn’t exactly the best OF.  But, in either case I could live with it because both players have done amazing jobs this year and can make a good case.  But Ortiz… he is a great hitter, but not an MVP because you can only count on him half the time.