Wednesday, August 22, 2007


I don't bite. I'm an open guy, feel free to contact me. Feel like discussing an opinion in more detail? Have a suggestion for my next write-up? Want to rip on ESPN and all of its ventures with a kindred spirit? Email me! And tell your friends to do so as well!

Wednesday Quick-Hits

Hello, gracious visitors. I haven't given you much material lately, and I'm going to serve up excuses like their stock is flying.
Damn, my bad. I forgot, nobody wants to hear about those. They're petty and irrelevant anyway, you readers are fortunate that I abstained from them.
To the point. There's not much out there I'd want to write about. For instance, the Cowboys have looked good lately. But It's the preseason.
And the Rangers have been noteworthy as of late, displaying an incredible aptitude for impatience at the plate. But because their new talent is unsavory, I'll give it no more than a cursory mention and hope it disappears just as quickly and mysteriously as my sunday paper.

Instead of an extended, boring post on Marcus Spears' dominance of third string Broncos, I'll briefly mention that Marcus Spears is a large, powerful human being and move on to other quick notes.

I like Kevin Milwood. I liked the man in Atlanta, I felt a contemptous fear toward him in Philly, and admired his work in Cleveland. After a solid first season, Milwood looked like a shadow of his former self throughout a large portion of the '07 tour of duty. However, he's starting to round into form as the #2 starter we all know he can be and remain unsatisfied with. He's put forth consecutive VERY solid outings, and I expect much of the same from him for most of his time in Texas.

I have a great feeling about the Bovine Brethrens' running game this year. Two players playing for their big contract, both of whom have showed significant promise in the past. An offensive line said to be on the rise. A receiving game that will surely draw defenders from heavily defending Messrs. Jones and Barber. I fully expect these two to unite and form what will become a very feared tandem of runners.

I don't know if Chris Webber is coming to Dallas or not. A few weeks ago, it seemed like a sure thing. But evidently, he's taking some time to evaluate his options. I do know this, though: He'd be a better complement to Dirk than any other big man the Mavericks have played beside or in place of everyone's favorite German. He sets picks, he passes well, and he has an inside shot. The only trait shared between the two is a mean midrange jumper and a lack of defensive presence. As long as he's not a full-time player, I'd be happy with the addition. 20 minutes a game, most at power forward but some scattered across the 5 for added offense sounds very good to me. Give me that over the squishy, scared, talent-deprived play of Austin Croshere.

I think Marlon Byrd is semi-legitimate. He's not the .350 hitter who was inciting gaping maws, but he's maintained an average in the .315-.320 range for long enough now that I can consider him a keeper for next year. I'd be supportive of abstaining from the plentiful FA Centerfield market and sticking with the inexpensive, productive Marlon Byrd who could outplay them all. I know, I sound like a fool here. It's Marlon Byrd I'm speaking of, not KGJ in his prime or the incredible Ichiro. But I really like him, both offensively and defensively. Call me a sucker, easily convinced by a mirage, delusional. You've got a perfect right to, but I like Marlon Byrd.

Michael Vick is an asshole. In addition, he's either had god awful advice or is borderline retarded. You've been granted physical tools to make us mere mortals wallow at your feet, granted an opportunity to make something huge of yourself. And you ruin it all by making decisions stupid enough to have an award show commemorating idiocy coined in your name. I don't know how to feel about Mike Vick; There's plenty of disgust, surrounded by mounds of wonder, all dwarfed by pity.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Ranger Notes

Merry Wednesday. I apologize for my leave of absence, but the lull in activity presented a perfect opportunity for me to get certain affairs in order.
What I'll be doing today is running off numerous bullet points that pertain to recent Ranger events, and then offering analysis on them individually.
Botts and Cruz promoted from Oklahoma, Sosa and Wilk delegated to the bench. This flurry of announcements came directly subsequent to the Teixeira deal. The trade was more than an exchange of players; It was a move signifying a complete change of philosophy within the organization. It was the official declaration for what everyone knew 20 games in: The allotment of players currently running out there are not the allotment of a winning ballclub. It heralded an era of rebuilding, an era which every franchise hopes will be short and productive. But production in this case does not refer to the win column; Rather, It's more contingent on the clubs' gaining frequent mentions from guys like Jim Callis or John Sickels. Young, cheap, controllable talent.
Let's begin the assessment with players that will immediately impact the club. Cruz comes to mind immediately in this category. He's 27, immensely talented in every aspect of the game, and struggling as always. The man can hit a ball harder than anyone on the team, has a Howitzer, can run, and has even started taking some walks. But he's still striking out at a positively alarming rate, and beyond his short hot streak directly after being called up, he's been the same AAAA Nelson Cruz who's elicited drool from scouts and consternation for team officials.
Botts is more of a mystery. Jason hasn't been playing in the league for as long as Cruz, but is roughly the same age. He records his share of whiffs and hits for power, just like Nelly. Where do they differ? One of Botts' truly redeeming characteristics is his patience. The anomalous right fielder mentioned before him had long been known as a free swinger to match Vlad Guerrerro in quantity, while lamentably lacking his quality. Jason Botts, however, has long frustrated pitchers with lengthy plate appearances and a consistently stellar on-base percentage to accentuate his pop.
Neither has been terribly impressive in the big leagues. But if I had to select one over the other right now, I'd pass on the immensely talented dude and take big, dependable, Jason Botts. Frankly, he hasn't had the same opportunities in this league as his colleague. It's very possible that the man lacks for nothing but polish to become a Travis Hafner of Mini-Dunn.

CJ Wilson takes a stab at the closer role.
After Eric Gagne was traded, the question was posed to both Jon Daniels and Ron Washington. With the logical inheritant on the DL, which terrific young reliever would be assuming the role of closer?
Joquin Benoit and CJ Wilson have both put up breakout years this season. Benoit was another of the countless pitchers who bounce around in their respective organizations for years and years, always showing flashes of dominance but rarely manufacturing their stuff into production. He took his game to another level this year, however, and has been excellent in 63 innings of relief work. Wilson was a 5th round pick in 2001, a young lefty who had recorded a 3-12 season at Loyola Marimount. After suffering through numerous setbacks, the greatest of them being Tommy John surgery, Wilson has burst into the limelight. The straightedge Taoist intellectual has a 2.17 ERA, has pitched out of the pen in every role imaginable, and-get this-is schooling left handed hitters to the tune of .088.
The manager and his young counterpart in the front office both stated that they had yet to arrive at a decision; that the job was up for grabs. CJ Wilson got his chance on the first Save Opportunity following the departure of Excellent Eric, and he has maintained a grasp on that chance comparabl to that of an provoked Grizzly.
Any guesses as to how CJ Wilson has pitched in his last 10 appearances?
12 and a third innings.
0 Earned Runs given up, 0 total runs given up.
3 walks, 16 strikeouts.
1 win, 5 saves.
How many hits given up? It's between -1 and 1.
I've been called various bad names due to doting over CJ like I do. But that line is more than filthy. It's beyond ridiculous. It embodies dominance of a degree very, very rarely seen.
Needless to say, CJ Wilson can't keep pitching like Sandy Koufax on a good day. But if he can anywhere near this good...
'The position has been Filled!'

Beavan and Ramirez sign, Borbon, Gast, and Nash remain uninked.
I like Blake Beavan. I've liked him ever since Evan Grant started talking about him- around a year ago. It's hard not to... he's a big, projectable local kid with an incredibly confident demeanor who put up CJ Wilson numbers in high school. I did, however, agree completely with the Rangers in their contractual philosophy-don't overpay unless you're going to have to. In the end, things came down to this: The Rangers wanted Beavan. Beavan wanted the Rangers. Regardless of whatever crap he spewed about his stock potentially rising at Navarro junior college, everyone knew that it was almost preordained. Beavan stood very little to gain by neglecting to agree to terms, and the Rangers would suffer through a major embarrassment. So it made perfect sense for the two sides to come to terms on a deal for $1.5 million, a reasonable sum for a player of Beavan's talent. Don't expect to see much of the Irving righty this year, he'll likely do nothing more than get his scheduling in line with the Rangers' requests before the offseason rolls around. He should start at rookie ball next season, and expect him to progress through the system at a pace comparable to Eric Hurley's.
Ramirez is a different animal. He has similar fastball velocity to the local kid, but lacks refinement on his secondary pitches. He doesn't have the marketability or reputation of Beavan, and signed a deal worth around a half million less. He should progress through the minors at a greater pace than Beavan, though, as he shrugs off his lesser upside with refinement uncanny in a high schooler.
Julio Borbon, unfortunately, seems unlikely to sign with the Rangers before tonight's deadline. The Rangers took him 35th overall, and he was widely believed to be the top centerfielder available of this year's crop. The Tennessee product, however, hurt his product in the eyes of most teams by suffering an injury late in this past collegiate season. His advisor, the nefarious Borass, believes that Borbon can be a top 15-20 pick in next year's draft if he remains in school for his senior season. Obviously, then, getting him to agree to slot money is a pipe dream. If the Rangers offer comparable money to Beavan, which I sincerely hope is not the case (Borbon is a leadoff hitter who can't or doesn't walk, can't hit the longball, and has a puny arm in center field).

According to reports, Borbon has inked a major league deal with an $800,000 bonus, while fourth and fifth roudners John Gast and Garret Nash both went unsigned.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Uh, Barry? You missed something.

Let's allow bygones to be bygones. There's a reason that I hadn't addressed the home run debacle until it was absolutely necessary- other than fervently praying that Barry Bonds would blow out his knee playing a game of pickup street hockey. The situation's just too complicated. The extenuating circumstances involved in this whole scenario are too numerous to list, and I'm sure you've heard them all reiterated ad naueseum.
What's done is done. Henry Aaron can no longer be officially associated with the home run crown, and It's a damn shame.
But all of the flaxseed oil in the world, all the brilliant chemists in San Fransisco, and every strength trainer lodging in Federal Correctional Facilities is insufficient to bring Barry Bonds a title just as respectable, just as admirable, and even more impactful than the one he now holds.
2297.Get used to seeing this number at the top of the list, folks. Henry Aaron played 23 major league seasons, and was the very embodiment of integrity, of passion, of perseverance.
And a tremendous hitter in every sense of the word. And that collection of numerals is his career RBI total, a number which Bonds cannot hope to approach.
A home run is a wonderful thing. With one swing of the bat a player can completely change the current of a game. The inherent greatness, of course, of the mightiest of blasts is the fact that not only the hitter but everyone who may have occupied the basepaths at the time of the shot comes around on the play.
But how is one to gauge the player's run production as a whole?
OK, that was a rhetorical. We all know the answer. But I'll repeat it anyway, just in case Alfonso Soriano is wondering what it is that's missing from his stat sheet. We call them 'Runs Batted In'.
See, this is the thing. Certain players, like the aforementioned once-reluctant Left Fielder, put up very gaudy longball numbers but manage to steer their teams mysteriously clear of the win column. Why? They launch what we like to call meaningless home runs. Solo shots, Drives when the game's outcome is preordained. And they fail to bring runners in any other way. Michael Young, for instance, has had two guys named Clarence from the guitar store hitting in front of him all season long. In addition, he's hit only five home runs throughout the entirety of this year. How many RBI is he on pace for? 90. Because the man knows when he needs to hit, when is team truly needs him to punch out another liner to left field. And he comes through in those desperate situations.
Barry Bonds, in contrast has 22 home runs and a league-leading on-base+slugging percentage (OPS, for baseball geeks like me) of 1.064. And how many runs is the famed slugger on pace to drive in?
Try 75.
There's a reason that people like to perpetually launch insults at Barry, while simply oozing with respect and adulation for Hank Aaron. And it has nothing to do with hat size or media receptivity.Aaron was simply a better player.
If you're not convinced by the plain RBI numbers, compare playoff statistics. Henry Aaron has a world series ring. He has a .363 postseason average, with 6 home runs, 16 RBI, and a .705 slugging percentage in 17 games.
One need only look at one stat to gauge our chemically augmented friend's struggles in prime time. Batting average in 48 postseason matches: .245.
The man of cream is hitting .250 in that most crucial of situations. So for all my kin, all ye like minded, all who look beyond the abstract and waste hours a day on, Pay heed. For we no longer need to resort to the overused steroid arguement.
2296, people. A record that will stand a little while longer.
And the elusive world series ring? True champions only, Barry. End of the line.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The inevitable occurs

I am sorry, Henry Aaron. I truly am.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Mavericks sign Eddie Jones

Does that photo haunt you? That mysterious veteran bench contributor clad in black and red? Get used to seeing his face, albeit in friendlier garb.
Per the DMN, the 13-year veteran has agreed to a 2-year term of service. He will be paid 1.83 million during the first go-around.
This signing was one anticipated by many. It simply made sense for both sides; The Mavericks, once known as a team of jump shooters, were in dire need of one to come off the bench while providing decent play on the other end of the court. Jones has made his money, and is now searching for jewelry at the tender age of 35.
One may look at the Maverick stockpile of rotating 'swingmen' and regard this move with confusion. There is quite a quantity of prepared contributors at the two relevant positions, so why bring in an aging shooting guard way past his prime? Because they all fill the same role. Inconsistent scorers if at all, 'gritty', fairly good defensively. Jones is by no means a spring chicken, and he's not the all-NBA defensive player he once was. He's not a 20ppg scorer as was true in the late 90's. But Eddie Jones still brings a substantial amount to the table. The man's a capable scorer and a good passer, as demonstrated by his play after the injury of everyone's Least Favorite Flopper Dwayne Wade. And his defensive play is adequate, he's no embarrassment.
I don't expect the newest Maverick acquisition to play significant minutes, he'll get 15 at the most. But he'll be the ranking sparkplug behind Stack, providing instant offense from behind the arc when necessary. Because beyond Dirk and the Jet, there really is nobody on this team truly trustworthy when it comes to lobbing up 3s.
Now you can add a 35-year old swingman to this select group. For 1.8 million dollars, such an acquisition is a steal.