No prior major-league managerial jobs, no coaching experience, no problem.
Early in the World Series, my girlfriend wondered aloud why FOX was showing so many reaction shots of the same St. Louis player. “Which player?”, I asked. “That one,” she answered, the next time the broadcast cut to the dugout camera. She meant Mike Matheny.
It was an understandable mistake. Matheny can pass for a player because he’s not that far removed from being one. His playing days were done after 2006, his age-35 season, and he’d been retired officially for only five seasons when he was hired to take over for Tony La Russa. Given 25 years and approximately 20,000 packs of cigarettes, a fresh-faced manager like Matheny could come to look like Jim Leyland. (Okay, maybe not Leyland, who looked like this at Matheny’s age.) But that’s a long way away, and Matheny doesn’t smoke.
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Bidding adieu to several players who won't get their moment in the sunset in the upcoming Baseball Prospectus 2011.
As a rule, the Baseball Prospectus annuals are forward-looking, focused on what you can expect to see in the season ahead. Squeezed for space despite a 600-page waistline, we don’t have room for lengthy farewells to players who have stated their intention to hang up their spikes and wave goodbye. It’s always tempting to squeeze in a look back at a departing great or two among the mid-career veterans and 20-year-olds, but we just can’t lest the book require a “two-man lift” warning on the cover. That is why I’m going to say my farewells here to a few fellows who won’t be in Baseball Prospectus 2011. While we still don’t know if we’ve said farewell to grizzled chaps such as Jim Edmonds, there are a few players who seem to be certain in their intentions. Here is what I would have said had we been able to bump a few Bryce Harper types from the book.
Michael Jong reports on the injury replacements for Russell Martin in Los Angeles, the second base battles for the Dodgers and Cubs, and playing time changes in Tampa Bay.
Russell Martin was bound to regress a little after the fantasy nightmare that was the 2009 season. After posting batting averages in the .280-.290 range in each of his first three seasons, he batted .250 thanks to a career-low .284 BABIP. After hitting double-digit home runs in those three seasons, he hit just seven homers in 2009, posting a puny .079 ISO. And after averaging 20 steals in his last two full-time seasons, he only swiped 11 bags. Martin probably isn't the home run hitter he was in 2007 (HR/FB% of 12.2%), but neither is he the popless guy of 2009 (5.4% HR/FB%). With a regression to his career HR/FB% and BABIP, you could once again expect something close to the 2008 version of Martin.
But that will have to be put on hold as Martin will be out 4-6 weeks with a groin pull to start the year. Martin's replacements are fantasy duds. A.J. Ellis will get the bulk of the time at catcher, with Brad Ausmus serving his honorary backup/mentor role. In the minors, Ellis was known for one thing: drawing walks. In 1795 minor league PA, he's drawn 273 walks while striking out 248 times. He also has a minor-league ISO of just .100, with only 17 home runs. Essentially, he walks like Adam Dunn, with Juan Pierre power and Bengie Molina speed. Ausmus is a man who needs no introduction, because he should never be on your fantasy team.
As in the AL, the Central division is as tight as can be, while in the East two Mets are predicted to take home some hardware along with their division flag.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the National League, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
There's a rising favorite in the AL Central, as our experts weigh in on everything from division winners to Matsuzaka's line.
Our annual predictions arrive this year as our Hope and Faith series comes to an end. While the beauty of spring training is that every team can think it has a chance, somebody has to take the losses. For today, we concentrate on the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American League. Tomorrow we'll conclude with the National League predictions, along with the staff picks for the World Series.
Each author's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division, plus the results of our preseason MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year voting. A slight shift at the bottom of the AL East rankings, a rising favorite in the AL Central, and anarchy in the AL West highlight our staff's guesses.
Derek follows the Phillies' pursuit of the wild card as they try to shoot down the Rocket.
Voters indicated that the Astros game was appealing as much for the visiting team as for the living legend on the mound. Coming in, the Phillies are alive in the wild-card race, tied with the Giants and trailing the Padres by 2 1/2 games. Since they traded Bobby Abreu to the Yankees, the Phillies have posted a 25-17 record, Ryan Howard has hit 21 homers--one every other game--and driven in 51 runs. Since the All-Star break, Howard leads all batters with a 1320 OPS, head and shoulders above the next man on that leaderboard--Atlanta's Adam LaRoche, with an OPS of 1174. The Phillies have the top offense in the league by runs scored (773), are second in OBP (.344), and third in SLG (.445). They have hit the third-most home runs in the league (195), largely on the strength of Ryan Howard's 56 homers. Abreu or no Abreu, they're an offensive juggernaut.
A rematch of the World Champs and the NL pennant winners is what Derek's clicker dials up this time around.
It's been a busy week for both ballclubs. The Astros had the season debut of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens on Thursday, making the decision to have Clemens go against the Minnesota Twins at home, rather than pitch against the White Sox in Chicago. Clemens was hardly dominant in a game where young phenom Francisco Liriano emerged victorious.
The difference between going home and going on is so very, very small.
There were the three inches that were the difference between a Brad Ausmus home run and and a game-ending fly ball. Then there were the six inches between where Andruw Jones' 11th inning line drive landed and the left-field foul line. Think about the two inches between Julio Franco's foot and the first-base bag, inches that were the difference between safe and out in an inning where it all began to go wrong.