Who could be the surprise player of 2011, and could he rival the Jays' breakout ballplayer of 2010?
Last week in this space, among my random wishes for the upcoming season, I mentioned my desire for there to be another Jose Bautista in 2011, i.e., another veteran player who suddenly and unexpectedly puts up a monster year. Virtually no one predicted that the Jose-Bot would suddenly go all George Foster on the American League, but anyone that could have would have had a huge advantage in their fantasy or sim leagues last year.
Looking at players from two defensive positions on this year's Hall of Fame ballot.
Like ballotmate Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin and Alan Trammell are overwhelmingly qualified for the Hall of Fame, but didn't gain entry last year. Larkin made a strong showing in his first year on the ballot, one which suggests he'll reach Cooperstown sooner or later, while Trammell continued to receive a puzzling lack of support and watched his odds of election grow even longer. Today, we'll use JAWS to re-examine their Hall of Fame cases, and with just a week until the ballot results are announced, we'll also take a brief look at the backstops on the ballot—catching up, if you will.
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Every once in a while you have a day or a week that flashes back to other, older days and weeks.
Last week, the United States and Great Britain signed a treaty pledging to protect the wreck of the Titanic, which sank beneath the waves in 1912; Roger Clemens and Mark Prior faced off in a pitching match-up that was a descendant of one in 1912; and a boob from Texas mistreated a four-year-old fan in a way that made one wish it was 1912. John McCain even had an opportunity to bolt the Republican Party last week, but apparently no one told him that Theodore Roosevelt had done so with honor back in 1912, because the Senator refused to go along with the 1912ness of things. Baseball, though, was unabashedly singing
Last week, the United States and Great Britain signed a treaty pledging to protect the wreck of the Titanic, which sank beneath the waves in 1912; Roger Clemens and Mark Prior faced off in a pitching match-up that was a descendant of one in 1912; and a boob from Texas mistreated a four-year-old fan in a way that made one wish it was 1912. John McCain even had an opportunity to bolt the Republican Party last week, but apparently no one told him that Theodore Roosevelt had done so with honor back in 1912, because the Senator refused to go along with the 1912ness of things. Baseball, though, was unabashedly singing "When the Midnight Choo Choo Leaves for Alabam", hip-hopping to that non-funky 1912 groove.
Continuing from Part I of the discussion with Paths To Glory authors Mark Armour and Levitt...
BP: Reading about certain teams--the '97 Marlins immediately come to mind--there seems to be a strong preference among some people for teams that build from within instead of buying a pennant. Having covered both kinds of teams in the book, is there a way that strikes you as more effective? Is one way somehow more noble than the other? Levitt: My take is that the aim of the game is to win. As long as you don't cheat, however you do it is fine. Building through the farm system is a good way to do it because it's cheaper. But when (Charles) Comiskey bought Eddie Collins and Joe Jackson in 1914 and 1915, he was taking advantage of the economics of the time; other teams could have done the same, and didn't. I don't feel that one way is the noble way and one way is the evil way. Good organizations will use any and all methods to build a winner. Armour: One reason we chose to write about the Marlins was that history has mistreated them. Some of that is because they went on a spending spree, then won. Then the team was torn apart. They deserved to be criticized for being torn apart. But the way they were built was brilliant. They were an expansion team, and they had the right approach. They built a strong farm system. Then they identified what they needed. They decided they needed a cleanup hitter and third baseman, a left fielder and a starting pitcher. So they got the best player available for each job, Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, and Alex Fernandez. It's not that it's not noble to spend and win, just that it's hard. A lot of teams have gone out and tried to spend a lot of money. But it's hard to find three good players to fill three holes, or five to fill five. The Marlins did this really well. Levitt: The problem with modern free agency and buying players that way is that great players often only become available when they're in their 30s. People don't realize that Bonds and Maddux are the best of the free agent signings, and that it's hard to get a real impact player that way, let alone someone like Bonds or Maddux. There's also a lot of thought that buying a bunch of players is a new idea, but it's not. Tom Yawkey in the 30s did it with the Red Sox, and the Yankees also did it in the 30s. Comiskey did it, and so did the Boston Braves in the 40s. The great teams have almost always acquired a bunch of their players through purchases. If you look at a team like the Pirates in the late 40s though, after Bing Crosby bought the team, they spent a lot of money on a bunch of old players, including Hank Greenberg, and that didn't help them at all--they still finished last every year.
Baseball Prospectus: You covered a large number of teams over a period of 100 years for the book. What kinds of research materials did you use to get your information, especially for the oldest teams?
In honor of the Mets' rethinking their philosophy on Roberto Alomar, the corresponding White Sox dump of D'Angelo Jimenez, and that inevitable day in the future when Alfonso Soriano plays a bad center field for the Mets, here is a top 10 list of 11 trades and transactions involving some of the best keystone commandos ever to play the game. Note that most of these moves are spectacularly lopsided; apparently it's a rare thing to come up with a two-way second baseman, but rarer still to recognize what you have, or know how to hold on to him.
Presented in reverse order of inequity:
11. Eddie Collins from A's to White Sox for $50,000 (December 8, 1914)
Re-signed INF-R Benji Gil and DH-L Brad Fullmer to one-year contracts.
Signed OF-R Eric Owens to a one-year contract, and LHP Rich Rodriguez, 2B-R Adam Riggs, and UT-R Oscar Salazar to minor league contracts.
Avoided arbitration with 2B-L Adam Kennedy, INF-B Scott Spiezio, and LHPs Jarrod Washburn and Scott Schoeneweis.
Claimed C-R Wil Nieves off of waivers (from the Padres).