Jonah sits down with Lee MacPhail, the Director, Baseball Administration/Special Assignment Scout for the Washington Nationals. Among the items they discuss: old-school scouting, the situation of the Expos/Nationals, and the team's recent draft strategy.
Lee IV has worked in the Orioles, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins and Montreal Expos organizations. He now holds the title of Director, Baseball Administration/Special Assignment Scout for the Washington Nationals. MacPhail recently chatted with Baseball Prospectus about his family legacy, the challenges of working under uncertain conditions with the Expos and Nats and other topics.
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The Yankees' Mark Newman returns for part two of his conversation with Jonah Keri, and discusses the objective side of scouting, quantifying defense, and The Boss.
Baseball Prospectus: In looking at a database of MLB executives, your name isn't in there for 2003. There were reports that you had a falling-out with George Steinbrenner--are they accurate? What led to you leaving your position, and what did you do during that time before you came back?
This March, Baseball Prospectus will release its second non-annual title. Editor Jonah Keri describes the exciting new book.
Deep into the offseason, long after the winter meetings but still weeks before pitchers and catchers report, the Hall of Fame debate suddenly gave fans a jolt of interest. On Tuesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced its voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2006. The entire class consisted of just one player, Bruce Sutter.
"Finally!" yelled Sutter supporters. A late-inning force in the 1970s and '80s, Sutter was a star for the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals, helping to define a new role for the ace reliever. From 1977 to 1985, Sutter averaged more than 30 saves a season. He won a Cy Young Award, was a perennial contender for the Rolaids Award given to the game's best relief pitcher, and provided late-inning assurance to his teams for about a decade. As if that weren't enough, Sutter also helped pioneer the split-fingered fastball, turning the vanishing pitch into a deadly weapon that would change the face of pitching in the 1980s.
Jonah sees plenty of surprises in a Sox-on-Sox drubbing in Chicago.
But while the Chicago White Sox face the same question marks about their
lack of left-handed pop, the Boston Red Sox have question marks in their
starting rotation, their bullpen, and multiple spots in their order not
occupied by David Ortiz and Manny
Ramirez. With neither team an odds-on bet to advance, the
statement I made five days ago stands: "Sox fans could be in for a wild
scenario: Their chance at the first World Series in 88 years could rest in
the right hand of Jose Contreras." The only difference is now you can make
that statement about both Sox.
The media's been making a big deal out of the White Sox' collapse, but they clinched the AL Central on Thursday.
That the Sox got well during the month against the league's weaker
sisters, including the Tigers and Royals, misses the point; the Indians
did the same for much of the month, then in the last few days the Indians,
Red Sox and Yankees have all struggled at times against similarly weak
Jonah takes us through the Inning of the Week as the Astros try to win the wild card with very little offense.
CF Willy Taveras
2B Chris Burke
3B Morgan Ensberg
1B Lance Berkman
RF Jason Lane
LF Luke Scott
SS Adam Everett
C Raul Chavez
P Wandy Rodriguez
It's been a career year for Morgan Ensberg, and Lance Berkman has bounced back after a slow start to the season because of an ACL injury. Other than that, this is exactly the kind of lineup that narrows your margin for error substantially every time out. With Craig Biggio and his Father Time-defying season on the bench, you're looking at a lineup riddled with holes. Jason Lane hit 20 homers and slugged a shade under .500, but he's sitting on a .306 OBP. He and Willy Taveras have been decent considering their youth and low salaries, but both are no more than one win better than replacement level. Meanwhile Luke Scott, Chris Burke and Raul Chavez are all putting up numbers that are worse than your basic Triple-A lifer or waiver-wire fodder would be expected to produce.
Checking back in with a team covered earlier in the season proves illuminating for Jonah Keri in this week's Game of the Week.
When we last left the Indians seven weeks ago, for
instance, the team looked like a fringe playoff
contender, buoyed by a solid core of offensive talent,
above-average starting pitching, and players such as
Aaron Boone and Casey
Blake who by dint of sheer regression to the
mean figured to add to the team's second-half success.
Yet that day's column focused
more on the demise of Randy
Johnson as a top-flight pitcher than on a
possible Cleveland playoff run.