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July 30, 2009

Prospectus Today

Review and Reset

by Joe Sheehan

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One June 11, 2008, the Pirates started the following lineup against the Washington Nationals:

Nate McLouth CF
Freddy Sanchez 2B
Jason Bay LF
Ryan Doumit C
Xavier Nady RF
Adam LaRoche 1B
Jose Bautista 3B
Jack Wilson SS
Ian Snell P

403 days later, just one of those players, Doumit, remains on the team. Seven of the nine have been traded in deals that have revamped both the Pirates' major-league roster and their farm system. Facing a relentless chorus of complaints from the veterans on his team and the fans in hit city, Neal Huntington has executed a tear-down of a condemned franchise and started over at the bottom, making the kind of bloodless transactions that his predecessors never did. As all GMs are, Huntington will be judge by what goes up in its place, but make no mistake about this: He did his job. Huntington was hired to do exactly what he's done, reboot a baseball team that had been in fail mode since the winter of 1992. Whatever you think of the plan, you can't argue anything but that he executed it wholeheartedly, and that alone puts the Pirates ahead of a third of MLB teams.

The latest deals may be the best of the bunch. Yesterday, Huntington flipped the last of his veterans for more talent, a mix of upside and current ability that makes the Pirates-the relevant ones, the ones from 2011 onward-better. He flipped Freddy Sanchez to the Giants for Tim Alderson. I wrote about Alderson the other day; he's a top-40 prospect going into next season, a hurler who doesn't have the big fastball to mark him as a high-upside guy, but whose command and arsenal will make him an effective major-league pitcher once he arrives. The downside of a guy like this is Ian Kennedy, who I think has been abducted by aliens, but the more likely path is that of a credible #3 starter, at a low cost, for six years. You can build around that.

The Pirates won the Alderson deal handily. It's less clear that the margin on the Wilson deal is significant, but as the world's last remaining believer in Jeff Clement-maybe it's a USC thing-I love this deal for the Pirates. Clement has been badly mishandled by the Mariners, who made him the #3 pick in the 2005 draft and immediately stopped liking him. Well, not immediately, but it seems that once Clement struggled upon an aggressive promotion to Tacoma in 2007, he fell out of their plans. Injury problems and below-average defense behind the plate haven't helped matters. Now he's 26, with a career line of .284/.372/.495 at Tacoma, and he's only played about 70 games in the field the last two seasons. I like the 252/155 K/BB at Triple-A, and see him less as Mickey Tettleton-the home-run power isn't there and more as Brian Harper with more walks and less average.

The Pirates already have a so-so defensive catcher who can hit a bit in Ryan Doumit, but if they can use the next two months to figure out where Clement fits, give him the extended major-league playing time he's deserved for a while, they might end up with a very inexpensive catcher would allow them to shop Doumit, or they might find out that rotating the two behind the plate and through first base is a better idea than just handing that job to Steven Pearce. As far as the pitchers are concerned, I can't say I know a ton about them, and they seem like scouting picks rather than performance ones. If the three combine for 250 major-league innings I'll be surprised, with Brett Lorin the favorite to have a career.

Rebuilding is a process, a plan, and it can take years. Pirates fans, so accustomed to losing and frustrated by it don't want to see more of it. Give Huntington credit: he traded the players he traded at or near the peak of their value, rebuilding the talent base in the system. The Pirates are better off now than they were 403 days ago.

I was open to the idea of the Giants trading Alderson, so I can't be overly critical that they did so. Still, this doesn't seem like enough for him; I wanted to deal him for a four-win upgrade and adding Sanchez, even with his strong defense, might be worth two wins at the outside. They did deal a lesser prospect for Ryan Garko, who might be a win better than Travis Ishikawa over two months, but on the whole, I think they undersold an asset in Alderson. As will be a theme in today's piece, we can never really know the road not taken, and if the bigger deal wasn't available, maybe this was the best Brian Sabean could get for Alderson. If that was the case, I think the Giants would have been better off keeping him; it's not enough of a gain, and honestly, the variance in acquiring a guy like Sanchez, whose value is in his batting average, swamps the projected performance gain.

I'm less sure what the Mariners are doing, although it looks better when you see it as the end of years of mishandling Clement. They blocked him with the Kenji Johjima extension, then by signing Ken Griffey Jr's. ghost. There was no plan to play him, ever, so this is at least a use of him that picks them up an asset. Jack Wilson is having a good defensive season, and will help a team that needs to win 3-2 every night. That won't make them a contender, but you can see a plan where they want to maximize defense next year as well, bringing along more pitching, and he's someone who helps with that plan. See also, Rafael Belliard and the 1991 Braves. I think getting Snell is the more interesting play; Safeco sets up well for him, and we know he has talent. He could have a good bounceback in that park.

The biggest trade of the day was the Phillies' acquisition of Cliff Lee, in lieu of Roy Halladay, for a collection of prospects. It's interesting…there was a scroll on ESPN stating that the four (Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Lou Marson and Jason Knapp) were the team's #2, #3, #4 and #10 prospects, per Baseball America. Now, that's technically true, but clearly misleading; that reflects a ranking from December or so, and we have much more information now both on those four and on guys like Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown. The Phillies, as I see it, got 85% of Roy Halladay for 65% of the cost, and a lot of financial savings. That's a good trade, and if you remove it from the context of the Halladay conversation, it holds up as a move they could make given Lee's contract status and the depth of their system. Next to the converation about Halladay-and again, we don't know what really happened-it looks fantastic.

That's not to say it was a bad deal for the Indians, who got three guys who will be contributors come next spring. A middle infield of Donald and Asdrubal Cabrera will be inexpensive and productive for a number of years, with Donald taking over at what will be his best position, second base. Marson is an effective bridge from Victor Martinez-who now has to be traded in the next two days-to the Carlos Santana Era. Carrasco is another midrotation guy, in my opinion, but you'll find people who think he can be better than that. In any case, the Indians added a lot of value in exchange for one player (and Ben Francisco, who's a fourth outfielder).

With those trades down and about 27 hours to the deadline, let's reset things.

  • Roy Halladay is still available, although with each passing hour it becomes less likely that he gets dealt. I've stuck by the idea that the White Sox are first in line, and I continue to do so. Here's the thing: if you think Alexei Ramirez is a shortstop, and you're not going to play Gordon Beckham there, you may as well trade Beckham, who isn't going to be anything special at third. By putting him into the package they traded for Jake Peavy, the Sox can get Halladay, which would make them the favorites in the AL Central.

    From J.P. Ricciardi's standpoint, he does need to trade Halladay, but not necessarily this week. If the right deal isn't there, he's better off auctioning off Halladay in December in Indianapolis than accepting a bad deal. The Twins had to trade Johan Santana when the did because of the pitcher's aggressive threats to use his no-trade clause, and that deal hurt the franchise because it didn't return value. Making that kind of deal would be the worst outcome for the Blue Jays.

    Regardless of whether he trades Halladay, Ricciardi should look to dump all the veterans he has who are having their best seasons in quite some time. Scott Rolen, Marco Scutaro and Lyle Overbay haven't had this kind of trade value in a while; the GM needs to capitalize on this to acquire talent and free up resources.

  • As mentioned, the Indians pretty much have committed to moving Victor Martinez. The interesting thing here is that Martinez has played so much first base that teams with solid catching situations have been in on him. Acquiring Martinez to play first is a waste, but this factor does improve the Indians' chance of getting value back for him. Everybody out there needs a bat, but the Red Sox have been the team mentioned most often. The Dodgers, suffering through Russell Martin's nightmare, would get a huge boost by adding Martinez, psychically completing the Santana deal from last summer in the process.
  • The Orioles and Nationals still have bats to move, and the Orioles have George Sherrill as well. It would be a waste if the two teams go to August 1 with all their veterans, as none of the players in question are a part of either team's future. Sometimes, you have to just get something, especially at a time in the game when offering arbitration as a means to collect draft picks is a very dangerous proposition.

  • 19 of 30 teams-the Mets are on that side of the line-can be described as "playing for this year." Thirteen of those have yet to make a deal. Lots of moves could still happen. My sense is that we'll see a number of second-tier deals-I've already been asked more questions about Kevin Correia this morning than in my entire life to date-and one blockbuster, probably from off the radar.

    Man, this is fun.

--

This morning, The New York Times is reporting that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are on the list of 103 players who tested positive during anonymous survey drug testing in 2003. I'll leave the rending of garments to others. I just want to point out that running this story today, when there's no doubt that the list has been in various hands for some time, might as well have been planned by Roger Goodell. This should be a bright time for baseball, with the focus on the pennant races and the trade deadline, and instead we're going to get nothing but "steroids" and "cheaters" and the same tired mock outrage we've gotten for years.

The argument for releasing the list is to avoid just this happening, over and over again. These names came out at the trade deadline. I'm certain, absolutely certain, that the next names will be of players on postseason teams and the story will break in October. The next ones will come out during the winter meetings, then as pitchers and catchers report. We will have a constant cycle of gotcha stories until the names are no longer sexy.

Until and unless baseball controls the story, it will be controlled by people who at best have no concern for baseball, and at worst have an interest in its embarrassment. I don't take any pleasure in advocating that a hundred baseball players be treated this way, but that process is inevitable, so MLB and the MLBPA have to find a way to own the process.

In other news, somewhere a 6'2, 320-pound man who plays a popular sport professionally for a living ran very, very quickly on a hot summer day. Nobody cared.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Deal,  The Who,  The Process,  Victor Sanchez

82 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

DiscoInferno

I completely agree that Sabean overpaid. I actually like Sanchez, but he's a 31 year-old 2nd baseman who doesn't hit for power and can't steal a base. I would've rather seen the Giants make a move for a younger guy with power and a future, like Brandon Wood or maybe even Jake Fox. Another mediocre deal for Sabean's resume- I don't think even Sabean thinks Sanchez is any kind of difference-maker. I can only assume that a) Sabean thinks Sanchez's good habits will rub off on a team of free-swingers without power, or b) he and Garko will add just enough offense to squeak the Giants into the wildcard and save Sabean's job.

Jul 30, 2009 10:58 AM
rating: 3
 
phuturephillies

Does the Lee deal now give the Phillies a shot at the division or are you sticking with your Mets prediction from a few weeks ago?

Jul 30, 2009 11:09 AM
rating: 0
 
antoine6

Still the Mets' division to lose. Phillies are playing too far above their heads. They should probably sell by tomorrow.

Jul 30, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: 1
 
antoine6

I'll say this: If the Mets do pull off a miracle, you'll at least be able to say you were probably the only person in the world who actually believed it could happen.

You're like a every Mets fan I know, except exactly the opposite.

Jul 30, 2009 11:10 AM
rating: -2
 
ElAngelo
(942)

Doesn't the fact that Halladay could demand a trade and thus void his contract this offseason change the analysis of who should trade for him and how much you should give up for him?

Jul 30, 2009 11:19 AM
rating: 1
 
tballgame

Joe, I'll play your Goodell suggestion another way. The Times story could have been planted by a Red Sox owner (yes, I know). It was going to come out at some point. Sandwich it within big trades and accept that it has come out after ARod has already been outed this year and this is Manny's second outing of the year and this could result in NFL-level mock outrage.

If you wanted attention, the time to run the story was at the start of the All-Star break, when there are no other sports stories to report. This story gets pushed to the backburner and forgotten with a Haladay trade. The timing is counterproductive to a splash. Spring training (after football and before March Madness), playoffs, the break, and any other occasions when most/all teams are not playing baseball, that's when small stories get big headlines.

If you the Union chief and you agreed to release the 103 player list, when would be the ideal time to release it so that it didn't have legs? A few days before the Super Bowl (it would probably initiate football steroids talk)? Dec. 23rd? The day of the play-in game for the NCAA tourney? When something big is going to happen that most people would rather pay attention to.

Jul 30, 2009 11:27 AM
rating: 1
 
akachazz

I don't get the last paragraph.

Jul 30, 2009 11:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

There's something called the NFL, which I don't really know much about due to its obscurity, and I think their teams might start practicing right about now.

Jul 30, 2009 11:52 AM
rating: 1
 
Ben Solow

And there may be some unsubstantiated rumors about NFL players using steroids, like the entire league more or less. And their team doctors providing them, if you play for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jul 30, 2009 11:58 AM
rating: 1
 
akachazz

Alright, alright.

I knew it was going to be a dumb question.. I just don't follow the NFL that closely to know when the preseason begins. Sorry. I think about football when it gets a little colder...

Jul 30, 2009 12:04 PM
rating: 0
 
cbirkemeier

i.e. a football player

Jul 30, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: 0
 
dsc250
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

With the Phillies aquiring Lee, the Mets have the Phils right where they want them, right Joe?

Jul 30, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: -10
 
John Collins
(110)

You're the third commenter to make this tired joke. Give it a rest go back to posting on the Phillies fan site.

Jul 30, 2009 15:25 PM
rating: 10
 
akachazz
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Great post Joe.

One thing though: can we please stop pretending there is no difference between baseball and the NFL? Baseball is all about taking turns and individual stats and records. Football is all about teamwork, and focuses more on team stats. If a bunch of NFLers juice and their team wins, it seems less.... selfish.

I know it's not the greatest argument, but it shouldn't go unmentioned...

Jul 30, 2009 12:07 PM
rating: -14
 
nateetan

Steroids are bad because they are a health problem. Period. Therefore the type of sport the players are in is irrelevant.

If steroids had no drawbacks, then they'd be just like weight training or watching video or the myriad of other things that make todays athletes superior to ones of the past.

Jul 30, 2009 12:43 PM
rating: 4
 
RaysProf

I argue that it is illogical to claim that the health implications of anabolic steroids is reasons we do not consider them as acceptable in sports

Society is more than willing to accept and celebrate activities/sports which have far worse health implications than steroids. For example, people pay to watch individuals attempt to cause brain damage or death to each other (boxing, cage fighting, etc); in American football, the crowd cheers when a player places a hit on an opponent which causes the opponent to experience brief unconsciousness (more brain damage), and those who scale Mt. Everest are saluted even though their probability of dieing while descending is nearly 5%.

There is a high probability that someone each of us knows is, or has been, prescribed a type of anabolic steroid. I find it ironic that sportswriters worry about the "side-effects" of these chemicals while making decisions about their own lives that generate the same, most common steroid induced side-effects: hypertension and increased production of LDL cholesterol.

Have another bacon-cheddar cheese burger, T.J. Simmers (signed another annoyed LA Times reader.)

Jul 30, 2009 21:07 PM
rating: 8
 
Dr. Dave

NFLers don't juice so the team can win. They juice so that they can earn/keep jobs in a league with few guaranteed long-term contracts and more competition for every roster spot than MLB has(*). Shorter careers, and you only get paid when you're still good enough -- that's a powerful motivation.

(*)This is easy to see from both the caliber of players released and the smaller dropoff in quality when "replacement players" show up during strikes.

Jul 30, 2009 12:44 PM
rating: 7
 
akachazz
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

You are avoiding the point. Sure everyone juices for their own selves, but let's be clear here:

Baseball is a much less team-oriented sport than football. A lot of it is about individual achievement. The numbers 755, 56, .400 stand out in baseball. Not similar in football. We compare players across generations more in baseball.

Let's just not pretend this isn't worth considering.

Jul 30, 2009 13:04 PM
rating: -5
 
eighteen

It's not worth considering.

Jul 30, 2009 14:48 PM
rating: 4
 
akachazz

So apparently I'm not allowed to express a contrary opinion to the hive mind at BP. This comment policy is disgraceful. I get that people disagree, and click the negative button. Ok. But then why is my comment hidden?

Look. What you and Sheehan say is right, but we can't be blind to the kind of conversations and perceptions that happen in the real world out there. People hold individual baseball records and statistics up high like in no other sport this side of this olympics. That's just a fact. People really REALLY care about individual stats in baseball, and like them to compare them to previous eras.

This makes football different from baseball.... FROM THE PERSPECTIVE, WHICH IS BEING DISCUSSED HERE, OF THE NATIONAL CONVERSATION AND PERCEPTION STANDPOINT. This just matters.

But whatever. Hide my comment again.

Jul 31, 2009 06:47 AM
rating: -3
 
John Collins
(110)

Everyone reads the "hidden" comments, don't they?

Jul 31, 2009 13:10 PM
rating: 3
 
JAChurnin

For what it's worth, Keith Law gave a rather pessimistic view of Alderson compared to the report in this article. Apparently, his curveball has regressed and his strike outs are way down. Some now see him as a #4 or #5 type of starter in a best case scenario. A guy who is still a good prospect, but by no means elite in the range of Bumgarner and Posey. If this view was held by Sabean and the Giants, then I can see how they justified making the deal.

Jul 30, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: 4
 
brems321

Joe, you really havn't been watching Gordon Beckham play the last month and a half, his makeup, instincts, plate discipline, and lately power (on the road no less) speaks volumes if you've been watching him. He is the real deal, and he is going to be all-star lvl 3rd/2nd/ss wherever they play him. I would love if kenny wanted to get a great 3rd basemen and move gordon to ss or 2b depending on where alexie ends up (he is a tad better at 2nd than ss even though he's not amazing at either) and have getz be more a utility guy, but alexie got hurt yesterday so thats going to make things intresting. Anyway gordon is special and I wouldn't trade him straight up for halladay right now, since it won't help us more than just staying put and praying pods doesn't relapse to sucking, and our outfield defense gets lucky and Q stays healthy.

Jul 30, 2009 13:07 PM
rating: 5
 
Fresh Hops

This is the reply I was about to give: a 23 year-old with an .846 OPS and a 15% K rate, in his first MLB season with no glaring luck indicators to his performance, capable of playing the infield, and you're talking about how he's nothing special?

Jul 30, 2009 14:04 PM
rating: 2
 
Dr. Dave

Please read the whole sentence. Nothing special AT THRID BASE. Which is true -- a player who might be a perennial All-Star at shortstop or second could be a completely mediocre third baseman. The offensive standard is higher.

Jul 30, 2009 17:20 PM
rating: 1
 
danbrod11

Beckham is 305/376/470 as a 22 year old in his first full year of pro ball. Even if he is DH only that is pretty special. He is playing 3B now b/c that was where the White Sox had the greatest need, I suspect he is either at SS or 2B next season. I don't think I would trade Beckham straight up for Halladay, never mind adding the rest of the Peavy package.

Jul 30, 2009 20:06 PM
rating: 3
 
ClubberLang

The Sox's problem isn't their pitching Joe. Trading one of their more productive bats, especially a young infielder, makes utterly no sense for them. If they send out Beckham in a Halladay deal they still miss the playoffs when Halladay ends up at .500 because he gets jack for run support in half his starts for the Sox.

As of last night Ozzie had moved Beckham to the 2 spot, by the way, which will help their offense a lot. Swapping out Ramirez's .330-ish OBP for Beckham's .375 or so means more likely a guy on for Dye/Thome/Konerko. And with Ramirez down now, even less likely that the Sox can trade Beckham.

Jul 30, 2009 15:40 PM
rating: 0
 
greensox
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

It's likely that Joe doesn't hasn't really checked out Beckham's stats.
After all, he's the same guy who said Buehrle didn't belong on the all star team, when he clearly did.

Jul 30, 2009 20:52 PM
rating: -4
 
ragerd

if you have to tell me the Mets are 'still playing for this year', they aren't.

Jul 30, 2009 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
hessshaun

Why does ANYONE care about steroids? Seriously, who cares? I know I don't, I just flip off ESPN and then I don't hear about it 35 times a day. They are the only outlet that creates the tension and they feed into these reports in time lines. No one else runs with these stories like they are a revelation.

There was an article on Ortiz slumping a little while back and someone tried to tie him to his injury, protection, eyes, whatever.......... Come back to reality. I remember commenting on the story that Manny's dealer left with him to LA and it was quickly deemed an inappropriate comment. It was reality and I am not even close to Nostradamus. It's just common sense, but the more we keep feeding into this "non mystery" the more it feeds into the hype machine.

People, you love the greatest sport on earth. There is nothing we can do about the roids and there is nothing we will ever be able to do about the roids. It's part of the game. It's really not even worth the time that you think about it because no matter what, there isn't a safety net that can contain it.

Jul 30, 2009 14:02 PM
rating: 3
 
sockeye

Meh. Lots of things can be fixed. I don't subscribe to your can't do attitude, and I hope MLB fixes it before too many other fans subscribe to this "acceptance of degraded conditions as the norm".

Jul 30, 2009 16:08 PM
rating: 2
 
hessshaun

I hear you but we all know it took government intervention just to get the testing in place. We also know that they cannot test for many components of steroids or related products because they are not required to supply blood samples. Years ago we were told the Olympics were the standard of all testing, only to realize years after that their system was exploited as well. It's still being exploited and the technology is driven by dollars. Testing is not.

With that being said, they can clone your family pet.

Aug 03, 2009 07:00 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

The fight against steroids is kind of like security measures against hacking.. by it's very definition, the technology of the inventors of new undetectable steroids will be ahead of the testing procedures... because you can't test for something that is so new, you don't know about it.

Aug 03, 2009 08:18 AM
rating: 1
 
hessshaun

So then you absolve the abusers for what they have done. MLB doesn't test, so therefore we don't care. HGH isn't something we don't know about. I get your point but it's really invalid in this context.

Aug 04, 2009 13:41 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

I don't know where you read anything about "absolving" into my comment. I was just using an analogy to demonstrate the problem of why tests are reactive to the current technology of PEDs, and it takes time to adapt new tests to new PEDs.

Basically, you're saying "Why didn't we have a AIDS/SARS/Avian flu/etc. vaccine?" Well, we don't know what AIDS looked like until the outbreak happened. Just because I say that, though, does not mean I don't care about AIDS (or potential future disease/viruses.

So you really didn't get my point.

But to answer your question/assumption, I don't really care about PEDs all that much. I think baseball has bigger issues than PEDs like beanball wars. I care much more about people throwing objects at other people's heads than whether 5-25% of a person's home runs should be wiped out of the record books for PED usage. Also, the PED debate leads to a lot of hypocrisy in a sport where people cheat by throwing spitballs or scuffing the ball, tipping off pitches (ala Rodriguez's "slump breaker" tactics) and stealing signs.

Aug 05, 2009 09:53 AM
rating: 0
 
ddrezner

Can I humbly sugggest assigning Kevin Goldstein the task of evaluating all the the players Pittsburgh has acquired in the past year to see what they actually have? A lot of these prospects (Tabata, Clement, Milledge) have potentially great upsides, but all of the underwhelmed their former franchises for one reason or another.

Jul 30, 2009 14:30 PM
rating: 7
 
ttomae8833

Joe, noticed this comment in your opening salvo:

"The downside of a guy like this is Ian Kennedy, who I think has been abducted by aliens"

In actuality, Kennedy underwent surgery a few months back to remove an aneursym from his pitching arm, specifically, on his biceps.

According to a recent AP report, he "made 50 throws at 90 feet" a week or two ago and by Kennedy's own account, he's saying it "doesn't feel like anything happened".

Hopefully he can regain his ability from before the surgery and return to a normal and healthy career.

Jul 30, 2009 14:34 PM
rating: 2
 
eighteen

"Until and unless baseball controls the story, it will be controlled by people who at best have no concern for baseball, and at worst have an interest in its embarrassment."

MLB does control the story. Sadly, MLB itself is controlled by people who have an interest in embarassing the game. The more the steroids non-issue harasses and persecutes the players, the more Selig and the owners stand to gain financially at the players' expense.

Do you really think a group of billionaires can't put a lid on Roger Goodell if they want?

Jul 30, 2009 14:56 PM
rating: 2
 
soBC

I don't understand the need to point to the NFL every time a steroid issue comes up. Baseball should focus on getting rid of drugs within their own game because its the right thing to do, and forget about what other sports do (or don't do) about drug use amongst their players. To point fingers at the NFL and complain of a double-standard is childish. Why not point the finger at the WWE, or professional bodybuilding? It shouldn't matter what anyone else is doing. If my neighbor sells drugs and doesn't get caught, it doesn't mean I can sell drugs and complain when the police bust in my door. Life isn't fair. Get over it.

And its not like MLB is at the top of the list when it comes to people trying to control illegal drug use. Just ask the United States Anti-Doping Agency what they think of MLB's testing program, and its penalties.

Talk up Roger Goodell and the steroid-lovin' NFL all you want, but baseball could learn something from the NFL's recent Personal Conduct policy. NFL players can - and have been - suspended for an entire year without pay for their conduct outside the lines. A couple of years ago, Brett Myers hit his wife in the face and dragged her down the street by her hair, and he pitched the next Saturday. And what did Pat Gillick have to say after it happened?

"He's been our best pitcher and I think it's in the best interests of the club that he does pitch"

It took MLB players, coaches, and owners 30 years to take illegal drug use within their own sport seriously, and the majority of those who have been identified as users still won't take responsibility or hold themselves accountable. Nobody within the game of baseball should be pointing fingers at anyone but themselves.

Jul 30, 2009 16:44 PM
rating: 4
 
Dr. Dave

Excellent point on the non-drug unacceptable behavior. I care a lot more about the Wil Corderos and Brett Myerses and Elijah Dukeses than I do about the alleged effects of alleged steroid use. One wonders whether Michael Vick would be back on the field today, had he been an MLB star rather than an NFL star.

Jul 30, 2009 17:27 PM
rating: 1
 
dtoddwin

Joe, real Pirates fans get tired of hearing "how upset the fanbase is, with all these trades." We still have to see the results, but most of us are all for the process. Thanks for recognizing it.

Jul 30, 2009 17:10 PM
rating: 1
 
Richard Bergstrom

There's another addendum to the recent Ortiz thing flaring up a bit over on the ESPN boards. In response to the Ortiz report, someone got a hold of Canseco and asked him if he was surprised about Ortiz. He said:

"When you tell me something I didn't already know, I'll be surprised," Canseco told ESPN. "And I'll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who's used."

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4367025

So now, over on ESPN's conversation boards, another witch hunt is brewing wondering which Hall of Famers juiced, from Rickey Henderson (recently inducted, and along the lines of what Joe was saying on the timing of the released reports) to Warren Spahn (because he happened to have a three year perk).

Between amphetamines and quack doctors around since the birth of baseball, I wouldn't really be surprised by anyone in the HoF. Overall, I'll never know nor do I really think it is the biggest issue in baseball. It might be nice if the list was released, but I doubt the questions would stop there. The question that I wonder about, though, is if the BBWAA will change their stance on current PED users if they have already elected one to the Hall of Fame. Or, will they live be considered either a) hypocritical by refusing to allow more in, or b) as baseball writers, lose credibility for not doing their job and investigating/reporting/writing about drug usage before this decade. In theory, that's the BBWAA's job, right? To report and write about baseball...

Jul 30, 2009 19:01 PM
rating: 2
 
greensox
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The White Sox trading Gordon Beckham for Halladay is pure insanity. He's the Sox best hitter right now.
Starting pitching is a strength of the Sox.
Otherwise, rebuilding is for suckers. Pitt's been doing it for 15 years, the great and wonderful Indians for 10, and on and and on.

Jul 30, 2009 20:46 PM
rating: -5
 
jayman4

I cannot judge the quality of traded players and leave it to the experts like Joe. That said, I do get a bit tired of the acceptance of "rebuilding". I can recall Joe admiring Beane when he traded Swisher because that was the right, tough call. Now heralding the Pirates "rebuilding". I am not saying that these GM's are doing the wrong thing given the environment, but it saddens me that the economics of baseball require teams to relinquish good talent because they cannot afford them while other teams can. There are rarely prolonged rebuilding campaigns in NY, BOS, LA, Chicago. OK, reality, but it is a sad reality, not a one that is one to be trumpeted.

And it is with almost equal glee that Joe will trumpet a major market team stepping up and signing a major player to big bucks. At least he trumpeted Texiera signing last winter. To me, it is sad that some teams can afford to spend like that while others get to take their shot and then rebuild.

When this issue comes up, people always seem to jump up and say "Yeah, but a cap/rev share deal will just make the owners richer at the players expense." I am thinking there are ways that does not have to be true (rev share is the more important piece, not caps), but the current climate is disheartening to me.

Jul 30, 2009 21:13 PM
rating: -1
 
Richard Bergstrom

It's not just the economics of baseball that leaves payrolls tight, it is the quality of the management of the organization. Good organization would most likely have more flexibility and less bad contracts than bad organizations. Though big-market teams give a team more room for error, a badly run organization in a big market, like the Orioles from a few years ago, still have issues with financial flexibility.

Take at team like the Pirates in a smaller market and a bunch of mediocre players signed to above-minimum contracts and it starts to add up.

I'm of the theory that the Pirates are planning for 2011/2012. They've traded everyone not nailed down to add a lot of organizational depth and to try to get some value. More importantly, they opened up the major league roster so that their 25+ year olds who have been stagnating between AAA and the majors also get some major league playing time. Those 25+ year olds will get flipped over the next year or two in conjunction with that newly found organizational depth to get some actual star players.

Look at it this way, if a player like Sanchez can get a top arm in return, then if you pick up a bunch of organizational depth, you have a better chance of getting someone who produces like he does.. then you either trade him in a package for a star or hang onto him as a league-minimum starter instead of signing a Pat Meares/Kevin Young?Derrek Bell type.

Jul 31, 2009 06:38 AM
rating: 2
 
jayman4

Clearly the Pirates are rebuilding and I am sure their GM is doing it as thoughtfully as I could even after a long time to think about it.

I will concede that there is variation in management quality at all types of teams: big and small. The Pirates appear to be woefully managed for a long time.

My larger point is that we have basically two tiers of teams:
-Small market, who cannot afford to field a team where the bulk of the value comes from free agents/arbitration eligible.
-Large markets who can field teams with a blend of young, farm-bred talent and free agents.

Clearly the latter is a lot easier. Some teams will be do better than others in both tiers, but the structure between the tiers makes it a very uneven playing field.

I am a Padres fan and the collection of Tower, Alderson and DePodesta is about as good a team as one could hope. I am not saying they made perfect decisions, but, I think they made intelligently thought through choices. Some were good, some were bad. But they made those choices at a significant disadvantage to the larger teams.

The tone on BP seems to ignore this fact, or, to accept it as part of the game. That frustrates me.

Jul 31, 2009 18:46 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

jayman, I agree with what you are saying. One of the little tidbits I picked up in Moneyball was that small market teams had less room to make mistakes that larger market teams can more easily absorb. It used to be that the big market teams didn't focus as much on their minor league system. These days, even the Yankees have found value in having prospects at the minor league level. Moreover, if a move tanks for a large market team and they don't have someone on the farm to replace them, they can pick up salary and trade for a star, where a smaller market team can't. Larger market teams also have room for marginal upgrades. Can you picture a small market team picking up LaRoche, then flipping him once a better alternative in Martinez became available? Either way, small market teams have much less margain for error, especially as the larger market teams start getting smarter.

I like the Padres management and Towers fielded some very competitive teams. They've been to the World Series more often in the last 25 years than my Cubs. Yet, even then, I think the divorce really tied Towers's hands.

Jul 31, 2009 19:37 PM
rating: 0
 
jayman4

It sounds like we are saying the same thing. I was thinking an interesting analysis would be to see scatter of VORP vs. salary for free agents, one for each year going back 10 years. My guess is that the correlation is starting to improve pretty strongly, suggesting the FA market is getting much more efficient.

Jul 31, 2009 20:20 PM
rating: 0
 
amazin_mess
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If the Yankees win the Series this fall, I know the first thing I'm going to say.

BOUGHT IT

Jul 30, 2009 21:37 PM
rating: -11
 
Brian Cartwright

I'm a Pirates fan and I try to look at these trades objectively. I can say that trading LaRoche, Sanchez, Wilson, Morgan, Hinske, Snell, Gorzellany and Grabow was not 'relinquishing good talent they cannot afford'. All of these players were no better than average, and were getting veteran's pay scales to be average. McLouth was the only player traded this season who was better than average for his position. Some of the immediate replacemnts are not as good, but it won't be hard to replace the production at a much lower price. Thing is, we as fans want better production than before, we want to actually cheer for a winning team. I believe the Pirates will quickly have a good starting rotation, but the offense may take awhile, as I do not believe Milledge, Clement, Tabata or Gorkys Hernandez to be better than average for their positions either. Only Pedro Alvarez, if he can stay at 3b.

Jul 30, 2009 22:54 PM
rating: 2
 
JasonC23
(97)

Brian, to bring two discussions in this comment thread together, I was wondering what you think of Gordon Beckham as a 3B.

Jul 31, 2009 06:35 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Brian, to not bring two discussions in this comment thread together, are you going to do some BP writing?... :) With Matt and Ken around, I was hoping you (and Tim and others) were also going to get some BP columns.

Jul 31, 2009 06:39 AM
rating: 0
 
phuturephillies

What the Pirates are doing is exactly what a smart team should do. When you realize that you're not winning, and you're not going to win in the short term (1-2 years), then the best thing to do is trade any and all players you have that will not appreciate in value over the next 12 months. The Pirates, unfortunately, did not have any star players to trade, or even above average regulars (sans McClouth) either. But they have basically assembled a collection of talent that can probably win 73-78 games next year for $30M. They spent, what, $10M on the draft last year? They plan to do the same this year, and they are still the front runner for Sano, who will cost them $3M. Everyone wants to trade their average/slightly below average regulars for stud prospects, but in this environment, teams are protecting their blue chip prospects. The Pirates got very few studs in this cleanout, but they weren't exactly trading studs in LaRoche, Sanchez, Wilson, and Grabow. The return on the McClouth deal might have been higher, but I think his defense in CF is vastly overrated (if people even rate it highly), and his bat plays even less in the corners. He's a solid player, but he wasn't going to be in his prime when Pittsburgh emerges from their rebuilding, so he's gotta go.

They should have tried to deal off Duke (4+ years of service post 2009) and Capps (3+ years of service after 2009), but they can wait on those two. Doumit is signed to a nice deal through 2013, Maholm is signed to a nice deal through 2011 with an option for 2012, and you can easily see those two guys appreciating in value, and at the very least, not significantly depreciating in the next 12 months.

Teams with bigger payrolls (75-80M) have a hard time buying their way to the postseason through free agency, even harder for a team with a 50M payroll, which is what Pittsburgh started the year with. If they continue to spend 10M a year in the draft and they spend wisely in Latin America, in 5 years they'll emerge with a big batch of talent that's cost controlled for years, and they'll have used the collection of average players with 0-2 years of service that they got in this year's purge to get there.

Its the model lots of teams should follow. When you're going to tear it down, anything not nailed to the floor for the next 4+ years should be torn down with it.

Jul 30, 2009 23:43 PM
rating: 3
 
phuturephillies

note, I forgot to add "$3-4M" for Sano, instead of just 3M, but whatever, the point stands.

Jul 30, 2009 23:44 PM
rating: 0
 
RayDiPerna

Joe: "I don’t take any pleasure in advocating that a hundred baseball players be treated this way,"

Look, I know you're recommending this relucantly. But as I said on another site, the names aren't going to be officially released, and it's silly at this point for people to seriously believe that the names would be or could be. There are legal duties involved. There's a fiduciary duty the union owes the players. The players are also owed a duty of fair representation. Players could bring private causes of action for a breach, or could ask the NLRB for relief. *The players were promised that their names would be kept confidential.* The players would see their reputations harmed, and suffer financial damages, and the union would open itself up to huge liability.

People who believe that the names might be officially released, or think that this is a viable option, are simply missing the boat. It won't happen. It can't happen.

Jul 31, 2009 00:04 AM
rating: 3
 
Mountainhawk

No, but MLB could have a 'front office type' person leak the entire list anonymously to a reporter or two that the league trusts, and they could release the list.

You are right that Selig is never going to have a press conference announcing the 103 names, though.

Jul 31, 2009 05:36 AM
rating: 0
 
Mike Kastellec

I got the feeling that Joe was saying that the owners AND the MLBPA could agree it was in everybody's best (read:long term financial) interest to release the list. If the players agreed, there would be no legal issue.

Jul 31, 2009 12:14 PM
rating: 0
 
gluckschmerz

Hey Joe-

Rather than raising a family/living in a major market like New York or Boston, or LA or Chicago, perhaps you might consider what it is like for fans raising a family/living in a mid- or a small-market city like Pittsburgh. We live our lives and/or raise our families and root for our baseball teams just like you big city folks. But here in Pittsburgh after 17 years of losing baseball it kinda starts becoming a drag. We ask why the Steelers can win (and not the Pirates...). We ask ourselves why the Penguins can win (and not the Pirates...).

It seems like this time of year that the buyers are big-market teams and the sellers are small-market teams. When the Brewers acquired Sabathia last year it was such a glaring exception to this pattern that analysts used it as the exception that disproved the rule.

Would some sort of mechanism to level the playing field really be such a bad idea?

Jul 31, 2009 04:47 AM
rating: 2
 
Mike Kastellec

Why? Cause the NFL and NHL have salary caps. While I'm sure the citizens of Pittsburgh and other "small markets" would be happier if there was a similar cap, and therefore similar parity, in baseball, the argument against it is that too much parity makes the game as whole less entertaining (see Basketball, National Association of). Don't forget, too, that "some sort of mechanism to level the playing field" already exists in the form of revenue sharing exists. What you have in Pitt is bad ownership/management (until recently), sorry.

While on on the topic, let me open another can of worms. Looking at Nate's numbers (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6182), you'd have to combine the populations of the bottom 5-7 teams (including your Pirates) to add up to the Yankees population share. The Yanks have 6 times the TV market of the Pirates. Couldn't you make a utilitarian argument that Yankees fans "deserve" to win the title at least 6 times as often as the Bucs? 26 to 5 to date--wait a minute, you owe us 4 ;) Somewhat seriously, it reminds me of the electoral college, or the house vs. the senate--why should the people of Pittsburgh have disparate importance just because they're a small market. In other words, speaking as an ex-pat New Yorker, why *shouldn't* New York control America and the MLB?

Jul 31, 2009 12:43 PM
rating: 1
 
Luke in MN

My outrage is not "mock," Joe. I REALLY think it was--and is--cheating to take steroids and play baseball. I REALLY think cheating is bad. Is this so difficult to understand? Do we really need to go through the grade-school lessons of why cheating is bad, who it hurts, what it undermines, etc.? Or is the contention that using steroids wasn't cheating? Please.

I implore you to stop treating each steroids story as an indictment of those who criticize steroid users, instead of an indictment of the people who actually, you know, cheated and profited from it?

The analogy of the NFL to the WWE is right on. It's a freak show, and anyone who cares about baseball wouldn't point to the NFL as any sort of relevant comparitor.

Jul 31, 2009 06:52 AM
rating: 4
 
sbnirish77

"I implore you to stop treating each steroids story as an indictment of those who criticize steroid users, instead of an indictment of the people who actually, you know, cheated and profited from it? "

STANDING OVATION


Jul 31, 2009 08:22 AM
rating: -2
 
soBC

Amen. The house is on fire, and everyone keeps pointing at the firefighters.

Jul 31, 2009 13:35 PM
rating: -1
 
Dr. Dave

I will believe your indignation is not "mock" when you are clamoring for Gaylord Perry to be kicked out of the Hall of Fame.

Aug 01, 2009 15:52 PM
rating: 5
 
strupp

STANDING OVATION!

Aug 01, 2009 17:33 PM
rating: 2
 
Mike Kastellec

You're right but you're wrong. The problem that those of us who think like Joe have is with the media slobbering over the stories when the majority of the published offenses that have caused such a furor occurred *before steroids or other specific PEs were against MLB's rules*. Thus, not cheating.

Jul 31, 2009 12:19 PM
rating: 1
 
soBC

Forget about cheating then. How about illegal? Steroids are illegal, like any other banned drug.

The rules of MLB are not the only ones that I expect athletes to follow. I also expect them to obey the laws of the country they live in, just as the rest of us are expected to do. I expect them to stop at red lights, not drive after drinking, and not buy, sell, or use illegal drugs.

Jul 31, 2009 13:39 PM
rating: -3
 
RaysProf

"Steroids are illegal, like any other banned drug. "

We can assume you are not an M.D. There is a high probability that you know someone who is or has been prescribed anabolic steroids. In many countries, you can buy them over the counter.

Jul 31, 2009 14:57 PM
rating: 1
 
soBC

Yes, I know that the term steroid applies to many different types of products, some legal and some not so much. I was referring to the anabolic steroids (and other drugs) that have been banned by sports like MLB, NFL, and the like. I thought that was implied given the topic being discussed, but I should've been more clear.

I also know that you can get certain steroids legally in other countries over the counter. Honestly though, I dont care what the laws are in countries other than this one. You play in the U.S. so you can make the big bucks, you abide by U.S. law like everyone else.

Lastly, no I'm not a doctor but I did play one on T.V. Im an engineer by trade...

Aug 01, 2009 12:57 PM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Just because a steroid has been banned by a sport does _not_ make it illegal from a federal law standpoint.

Steroids are a controlled substance, but they can be obtained, legally, with a doctor's prescription. Of course, doctors can fill out false prescriptions, but that too is illegal if it the doctor is then seen as an accomplice to distribution.

Anabolic steroids are on the list of Schedule III drugs. The schedule determines the "legality" of it. Other drugs on that list include hydrocodene / codiene (found in Vicodin), marinol (a synthetic version of THC, used to treat nausea in chemotherapy cases and appetite loss to AIDS patients), and Ketamine (milder form of PCP< used as a veterinary and pediatric anasthetic).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schedule_III_(US)#Schedule_III_drugs

Aug 01, 2009 16:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Mike Kastellec

That's a much more reasonable argument than decrying "cheating", I'll admit. And I'm with you you on drinking and driving (or spousal abuse, for that matter). But I just don't get worked up over illegal drug use, sorry. I think our drug laws are so wrong-headed as to be ignorable. But that's my libertarian streak peeking out from behind my otherwise stolidly left-wing persona.

Anyway, can we just agree to move on? The drug testing that's now in place is at least decent, right? And better than any other US professional sports', right? So go ahead and excoriate those caught under the current program, if you feel the need. But the witch-hunt for past users is ugly and annoying.

Aug 03, 2009 11:54 AM
rating: 0
 
LouisArighi

I understand that there are people who are actually upset about cheating, and about steroid users, but why are people spending more time wondering if Ricky Henderson ever used steroids than raising a hue and cry about Mike Cameron still being allowed to sully the game, or Mike Morse, or any of the other PROVEN steroid users? It seems like all people care about are players who were good, regardless of any evidence. So, if you are mad about all steroid users, go right ahead, and I will respect that. If you are only mad about suspected users who are also good but have never had any negative tests or admitted guilt, then I'm less sympathetic.

Jul 31, 2009 14:23 PM
rating: 2
 
hagan311

I think you are on drugs saying that Gordon Beckham will be nothing special at third, if he sticks there. The kid just came out of college and is already in the majors, and putting up solid numbers .310/.379/.476. With a giant hole at third, the white sox would have to be crazy to trade Beckham in a deal for Halladay.

Jul 31, 2009 08:35 AM
rating: 0
 
ClubberLang

The thing is that is good but not great at 3rd. It's outstanding as a middle infielder though, and that's almost certainly where he's going to end up. At least we all hope. Getz has been better as of late but he's just a guy, they should be able to find something to play at 3rd better than Getz, certainly more easily than it would be to find someone with a good bat at 2nd.

I think the Sox would have moved Beckham to short given Ramirez's injury but I think they don't want to move him and add any stress to him since he's been whacking the ball all over the last month, month and a half. I still think they should inquire on Rolen and move Beckham to second post-trade. Rolen sticks at 3rd through 2010 and by then they should have figured out whether Viciedo is going to be able to play third base or whether he's eaten his way off the position. He's obviously not going to be ready for 2010.

Jul 31, 2009 09:08 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77
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So whats the better book 'How Red Sox got smart, won a World Series and set a blueprint for winning'

or

"How the Red Sox rode two juicers to the World Series and looked smart as hell in doing so?"

BP authors made a lot of money off the first one, but I doubt anyone here will be penning the second.

As I have said before, facts which reinforce BP views get applauded, while those that run counter get buried, ignored, or dismissed. The truth lies in EMBRACING ALL THE FACTS.

Jul 31, 2009 08:37 AM
rating: -8
 
Richard Bergstrom

Your lack of truth has to do with your lack of understanding context. If the Yankees had beaten the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS, they would've sent three juicers off the top of my head to the World Series (Giambi, Clemens, Pettite). If the Yankees had in 2007, they would've sent four juicers since Rodriguez had joined that team. At this point, you could pick almost any team that's been to the World Series in recent years and find players tainted.

BP seems to welcome constructive criticism and critique, not your firebrand shouting-at-the-wind spiel. As I said before, if you know better, come up with your own research, analysis or at bare minimum, _some_ kind of evidence that you tested your hypothesis by considering evidence. Write a comment or article about what you think is wrong with BP and back it up with statistics or evidence besides quoting snippets out of context. Prove that the Red Sox won the two World Series solely, or even primarily, because of steroids, by predicting what Manny and Ortiz would've hit if they had been clean.

Nah, guess it's easier for you to keep yelling.

Jul 31, 2009 09:58 AM
rating: 6
 
sbnirish77

The point isn't Yankees vs Red Sox - its whether the steroids Manny and Big Papi were taking had more to do with the success of the Red Sox than any smarts of their management.

One viewpoint embraces the view by BP of the Red Sox as a sabermetric darling while the other runs counter to BPs dismissive attitude towards the benefits of PEDs.

If the numbers of Big Papi before and after his positive test aren't the most clear delineation of the benefit of steroids, I'm not sure there will ever be any numbers to convince you otherwise.

Those closest to Red Sox Nation, along with several other sources (see www.bostondirtdogs.com) have checked in with their opinions and the suggestion of whether these championships are tainted is nearly unaminous.

For those yet who remain unbelievers with respect to steroids - where are you on the list of

The apologist's Bible ...

1. Steroids have no effect upon perfromance.
2. The effect of steroids can't be quantified.
3. Even if the effect of steroids could be quantified on an individual basis, there is no way to quantify the effect across MLB.
4. Even if we could quantify the effect across MLB, the numbers of users is so small that its not worth worrying about.
5. Even if the numbers of users was large enough to make a difference, both pitchers and hitters were users, so the effect is a wash to the game.
6. Even if steroids did have an effect on the game, isn't it better for the game if we just turn the page and move on?
7. Who Cares?

BP made a nice tidy sum writing a book that told you the Red Sox were smarter than everyone else.

Isn't it time that they at least consider that some of that success was fueled by the duping by Manny and Big Papi on all of us?







Jul 31, 2009 11:36 AM
rating: -1
 
sbnirish77
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"while those that run counter get buried, ignored, or dismissed."

see above

Jul 31, 2009 09:31 AM
rating: -7
 
eighteen

Please don't feed the troll.

Jul 31, 2009 11:11 AM
rating: 7
 
Brian Cartwright

Richard - I love baseball, discovering new things, sharing with everyone, and hopefully make a little money. I have several options right now. I have been talking to Christina, and I hope BP is part of my future.

Jul 31, 2009 11:57 AM
rating: 0
 
Richard Bergstrom

Glad to hear Brian :)

Jul 31, 2009 14:59 PM
rating: -1
 
IAPiratesFan

As a long time Pirates fan, I have to say that I really like what Huntington's done with the Pirates so far. He inherited a real mess when he took over in September 2007. Besides Jason Bay, the Pirates were a collection of below average to average ball players that hadn't lost fewer than 94 games since 2004. The farm system only had Andrew McCutchen and Brad Lincoln as the standouts. Look at the farm system now and it's like night and day. I'm not saying that they're going to start winning championships, but I think they're closer to a winning season than at anytime since 1992.

Aug 01, 2009 00:53 AM
rating: 3
 
airlifting

Gordon Beckham is absolutely murdering his 90% PECOTA projections. 3B or not, what he's doing plays anywhere.

Aug 03, 2009 14:21 PM
rating: 0
 
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