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March 15, 2005
There are a number of things on my mind on this, the Ides of March. So, beware:
Those Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
I did a chat on the BP site last night. They're always a lot of fun and this one was no different. One of the questions was about the damage Darin Erstad was doing to the Angels by playing first base. My response was that they could go to the World Series in spite of having him there. As we all know, the trick is getting to the postseason in the first place. Once you're there, lady luck is often your dominatrix and all bets are off. Teams have made it that far with greater albatrosses than Erstad.
I'd be willing to concede the division to the Angels right now if they would install Casey Kotchman as their first baseman instead of Erstad, but that isn't going to happen. That could be worth two or three wins, but it's hard to bench a player who makes what Erstad does. If the Angels lose the division to the A's by one or two games, then this will be a crucial error. If nobody else runs at them, though, then their success will be, at least partially attributed to Erstad's anchoring the infield. Strange, that.
More Angelic Musings
According to the latest depth charts, the Angels' fourth and fifth outfielders will be Jeff DaVanon and Juan Rivera. I'm wondering if these are the best combined fourth and fifth outfielders in the game. My guess is that they are. Who would be better (understanding that some situations might change between now and the start of the season)?
B.J. Surhoff and Jay Gibbons, Baltimore
How to Read BP 2005
When one takes possession of the new BP, there is a tendency to dive right in and start reading at random. This is a mistake. I know, because I did it and I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to recover from it. The problem with reading a book of this nature randomly is that you are going to miss a lot of stuff, maybe 15%-20% of the content. For those of you who haven't gotten or started reading your copies yet, do not do what I did! Read the book systematically. I'm not saying you have to read it like a novel from front to back, marking your place with a $100 bill. I'm saying you need to work a system that will ensure total coverage. If you feel that the back-to-front thing is too repressive, devise a system of your own. Start with your favorite team and work their division from there, then their league. Do it geographically. Keep a checklist, though, otherwise, you'll end up like me, skipping around randomly and never getting the proper coverage.
Will Carroll on The Big Idea
Will Carroll appeared on Donny Deutsch's Big Idea on CNBC last night. I liked it when the Mr. America guy said he could tell when a person was juiced and when he wasn't and Will suggested that baseball should hire him in lieu of instituting a testing program. Speaking of steroids, I'm wondering if Jose Canseco's book will go into a special printing after he dies prematurely in the not too distant future. I mean, I don't want him or anyone else to die earlier than usual, but isn't there a pretty strong chance that he's already punched his own ticket?
Promise Left to Ripen
I swore I wouldn't discuss PECOTA projections anymore, but I thought it would be fun to look at the rookie position players who have the best shot at making a splash in 2005 who probably won't get a shot at making a splash in 2005. Keeping in mind that PECOTA relies on statistical (three-year weighted averages where available) and physical (height, weight, age) information to make its predictions, without the benefit/curse of human input on playing time. That said...
33.1: Dustin Pedroia, Boston (ss)
28.9: Carlos Quentin, Arizona (rf)
22.4: Ben Zobrist, Houston (ss)
22.4: Daric Barton, Oakland (c)
Skroo Upps (Skroo Upps is a copyrighted feature of this author)
In my last column, I discussed four-decade players and managed to leave Tim Raines off the list. I don't know which is more embarrassing: that I made this oversight or how I made it. While a lot of players barely played on the back end of their fourth decade, Raines had an incredibly short stint on the front end: just six appearances in 1979. All six were pinch-running stints. He ran for, in order: Gary Carter, Tony Perez (twice), Rusty Staub, Larry Parrish and Ellis Valentine. That's two Hall of Famers, a player with Hall of Fame talent (Valentine) and a guy who would have 3,000 hits with a slightly different career arc (Staub). Raines stole two bases in two tries, scored three times. The Expos went 5-1 in those games. At the time of these appearances, his son, Tim Raines, Jr., had only been alive for two weeks. A couple decades later the two Raineses would roam the same outfield.