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March 26, 2004

Can Of Corn

'Bag Man

by Dayn Perry

I'm going to type "it's time to answer some reader mail" into AltaVista's Babelfish, translate it from English to German, from German to French and then from French back to English. Then, I'll take what comes out of the wash, translate it from English to French, French to German and then back to English. And we have: "it is a time, in order to answer to the station of the reader." This entertains me.
Great article on L.A. hitting. According to your theory, Jeromy Burnitz was a keeper who should have been re-signed? Or do you recommend a high OBA to balance the HR emphasis?

--J.O.

Howdy, J.O. Your latter inclination is the correct one. Although Burnitz fits the power component of the Dodger Stadium prescription, he does not, as you suggest, pass OBP muster. Burnitz's seasonal OBPs since 2001 have been .347, .311 and .299, which is not what you want from a corner defender--even one with good power. So, yes, the Dodgers were right to let Burnitz take his decline-phase endeavors elsewhere.

And here's one more on the Dodgers piece...

I know that you're all individuals at BP, but it seems that the consensus on the Rockies is that they should focus on getting good players rather than players that fit their home field. The position appears to be based on the historical results for Rockies hitters at home and away. From what I gather, they always hit well at home and strangely poorly away. Maybe the Dodgers don't exhibit the same qualities, so the answer for them is different, but it seems that there is an explanation needed regarding your possibly divergent opinion.

--Josh Blakeley

Howdy, Josh. I really don't think my opinion is all that divergent since we're talking about different teams playing in wildly different environments. The problem with garden-variety Rockies cure-alls is that they advise investing in a breed of player that's not all that valuable under normal conditions.

What you'll often hear is that Colorado needs to lard up on contact types who put the ball in play and cut down on strikeouts. While there's nothing inherently wrong with making contact and putting the ball in play at a high rate, such hitters often have a lack of skills in other, more important facets of the offensive game. Namely, commanding the strike zone and hitting for power. To boot, they're often ground-ball hitters, which is not what you want in Coors. Put another way, a lineup full of Juan Pierres is going to lose to a lineup of Sammy Sosas almost every time, in any park.

In contrast, what I'm recommending for the Dodgers are hitters who knock the snot out of the ball and draw walks. Batters of that ilk will be just fine no matter where you're playing.

Just looking for more info. In your article you showed the projected standings of the AL East and projected run scored and runs allowed. I would be interested in seeing the numbers for the AL Central and AL West. Is that info on the Web site somewhere?

--S.R.

Howdy, S.R. (By the way, S.R.'s referencing a recent Can devoted to the fortunes of the '04 Blue Jays.) The PECOTA division breakdowns can be cobbled together by taking a peek at the uber-cool BP Fantasy Depth Charts, but I'll save you the mouse-work. Here's how PECOTA, which has a particularly soothing female British accent oddly reminiscent of an NPR foreign correspondent, sees the division races shaping up:


AL East 

Team            Record    RS      RA      
Yankees         105-57    920     654           
Red Sox         105-57    922     661           
Blue Jays       84-78     856     826            
Orioles         82-80     789     773            
Devil Rays      64-98     712     900

AL Central

Team            Record    RS      RA
White Sox       81-81     827     824
Twins           81-81     795     793
Royals          79-83     870     893
Indians         73-89     698     776
Tigers          65-97     726     896

AL West

Team            Record    RS      RA
A's             92-70     791     686
Mariners        85-77     795     756
Angels          84-78     756     723
Rangers         78-84     845     883

NL East

Team            Record    RS      RA
Phillies        94-68     835     705
Braves          82-80     774     761
Expos           80-82     884     891
Marlins         78-84     693     723
Mets            74-88     708     772

NL Central

Team            Record    RS      RA
Astros          91-71     810     712
Cubs            91-71     728     636
Cardinals       88-74     782     710
Reds            74-88     781     857
Brewers         68-94     718     846
Pirates         68-94     669     799

NL West

Team            Record    RS      RA
Padres          84-78     740     716
Giants          82-80     767     759
Diamondbacks    82-80     781     774
Rockies         73-89     808     896

And here's a missive on the piece I wrote comparing a hypothetical Yankees-Red Sox All-Star team to the rest of civilization:

I was reading your Can of Corn article and was wondering something. How does Tom Gordon have such a high "value over replacement", higher than Foulke, Dotel, Rivera??? Those three have had better stats than Gordon each of the past four years, with way less injuries. Ask any GM who they would rather have and I bet Gordon would be on the bottom of that list. Just wondering.

--Chris Hatfield

Howdy, Chris. While I can't speak for PECOTA, I tend to agree with you that Foulke, Dotel and Rivera are better relievers at this juncture and certainly better bets for success in future seasons. If you own a copy of BP '04, you'll have a good idea of how PECOTA reaches its projections. I'll just say it's a fascinating process.

As for Gordon, well, he's been a highly effective reliever for years now. In his career as a reliever, he's posted a 3.31 ERA in 546 innings with 624 strikeouts and 251 walks. He's also coming off a fine 2003 with the White Sox: 74 IP, 3.16 ERA, 11.1 K/9, 2.94 K/BB. Not bad, eh? I can't say why PECOTA sees Gordon as being the most valuable reliever on NY-BOS United, but, given his fine track record, it's certainly conceivable. Signing Gordon was a great, if roundly overshadowed, signing by the Yankees this winter.

You said in your chat that there will be pizza feeds in Austin and Houston. About time!!!!! When and where?? How much does it cost? Are girls welcome, or do we have to show up in drag?

--L.G.

Howdy, L.G. Yes, indeed: we do have bookstore feeds tabbed for Austin, Dallas, and Houston. They'll all be at Barnes and Noble, with the Austin feed on April 6, the brand-spanking-new Dallas feed on April 15, and the Houston feed on April 16--7:00 p.m. on both counts. Cost? The pizza and the author signatures are free, and BP '04 is a nifty $17.95. Get the details right here. So, yeah, all you BP readers in Texas, come on down and let's chow down, talk some baseball and win some street cred for the flyover states. And yes, females are most welcome at all BP events.

Related Content:  Jeromy Burnitz

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