March 21, 2006
Lefty Duos, Revisited
In response to my column on the best lefty duos since 1972, a number of you wrote in wondering why that cut-off date was used and, if it hadn't been, where Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles would have ranked. The reason '72 was the starting point for the list is that is how far back the BP database reaches at this juncture. You'll see that date on a lot of BP studies. I, too, would have assumed McNally and Cuellar would have made the grade as lefty tandems. I asked Keith Woolner to calculate their VORP figures for the years just prior to 1972 when they were at their Earl Weaverian peak. This is how they look:
1969: Cuellar, 64.9; McNally, 43.6
Their combinations for 1969 and '70 are pretty close at 108.5 and 107.9 respectively while 1971 does not meet the minimum standards I established wherein both pitchers had to contribute at least 40.0. How would this rank with the lefty duos since 1972? 18th and 19th--just ahead of Mike Flanagan and Scott McGregor of the 1979 Orioles and Bob Knepper and Vida Blue of the 1979 Giants.
Yes, I thought they would have ranked higher, too.
Spring Training: Hassle-free zone
"Torre says he's not concerned about Mussina's performance"
Is this even newsworthy? Isn't that what spring training is for, to get the kinks worked out? Of course Torre isn't concerned. How about a headline that reads "Torre says he's not concerned that sun rose in east yesterday"?
On Saturday, Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir had a rough start against the Twins, not getting out of the first inning because he walked five of the seven men he faced. When the game was over, Kazmir had a lot of explaining to do.
"They were close pitches," he told the Associated Press. "I didn't feel like I was completely all over the place. I felt like I was letting it go pretty well. It was just minor things. I felt like I was barely missing by just a hair."
His manager, Joe Maddon, was in full defensive mode, too. "I believe he's going to be fine," he said of Kazmir. "If he was not healthy, then I would be worried. Honestly, I'm not worried at all."
Seriously, until he starts beaning the octogenarians in the sixth row for three or four games running then it's a non-issue.
Can we please have a moratorium on this kind of thing?
A fine mess
There are those who will side with management on just about any issue for the simple reason that they believe players are overpaid and spoiled and should do anything--up to and including taking the sweeper out into the stadium parking lot for a bit of tidying up. That crowd will say that, for 10 big bikinis a year, Soriano should do anything and everything his employer asks. It misses the point, though--Soriano was brought in from the outside to do this thing without his new employer bothering to check first if he might be up for it. This is not a case of Ol' Vet taking the hit for a long-time employer. He's a hired gun.
Without getting into any of Soriano's defensive infamies and offensive shortcomings (well-covered in Baseball Prospectus 2006), the Nats are about to put themselves into a tiny little corner by placing the Recalcitrant One on the disqualified list. When that occurs, their leverage with possible trading partners will slip a few notches below its already precarious perch. I would imagine the Nats are going to have to pay at least half of Soriano's salary to whichever club gets him out of their hair.
Any team that doesn't demand that Washington pick up a significant portion of the tab is foolish because Soriano at $5 million per year is much closer to his real value. Going down this road could lead to a long and unnerving discussion about the receiving team already contributing to the portion of Soriano's salary the Nationals agree to pay since they are still owned by the 29 other clubs.
Anyway you look at it, Bowden has outdone himself this time. If he can find a patsy, there is still a chance for absolution, however.
A passion for bunting
Can we watch?
Trouble at home