Taking a look at the most valuable players taken among the top 50 picks in the draft, Cy Young pitchers improving after winning the award, and more
In this week’s mailbag, we’ll investigate pitching matchups that involved players with long surnames, Cy Young winners who were actually better in the year that followed their award-winning campaigns, and the most productive players selected among the top 50 picks of the Rule 4 draft. As always, if you have a question you would like to see answered in this space, please send me an email (remember to include your name and hometown).
The last names of Sunday’s starting pitchers, Jordan Zimmerman and Jeff Samardzija, total 20 characters. What game has featured the most characters in the last names of the starting pitchers?
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Mike speculates about the trade deadline, remarks on the messy situation in Chicago, and tries to figure out how the Mets bullpen will shake out.
My team might be 11 games under .500 and mired in the midst of a beyond embarrassing courtroom scandal, but it’s still my favorite time of the year: trade deadline season. Among closers, Heath Bell and Leo Nunez seem to be the most likely to be moved, though we could see some surprises in places like Washington and Kansas City as well. That, of course, means that some current setup men could soon be pushed into new roles over the next week.
Mike analyzes the fallout of the K-Rod trade and the messy situation in Cincinnati.
When I realized my column this week landed on the final day of the All-Star break, my first thought was, “Hooray! No worrying that some closer will get bombed or hurt out in Seattle or San Diego at 2am ET, long after I’ve submitted the article.” That was quickly followed by, “Argh, there probably won’t be much news after four days of inactivity.” Well, so much for that, because the news of Francisco Rodriguez’ trade to Milwaukee was a bombshell. Neither Rodriguez nor John Axford are eligible for inclusion here since they’re owned in nearly every league, but I’ll still weigh in with my two cents: unless Brewers GM Doug Melvin has completely lost his mind, Axford should still be the closer. He’s simply been a better pitcher, and the Brewers won’t want to be on the hook for the $17.5m option Rodriguez will be in line for if he closes enough games.
The three powerhouse teams in baseball's strongest division jostle for control, while the bottom-est two trade places.
With the emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays, the American League East has become the game's toughest division, a status only reinforced by the pair of financial heavyweights in New York and Boston. Yet while the Yankees spent nearly enough money to bail out a Wall Street investment bank this winter, the rest of the division took a much more modest approach to the free- agent market, with an average expenditure that would rank fourth among the six divisions.
Some teams still try and some decide to punt. The day-after hangovers of the trading deadline.
However, Isringhausen can state one fundamental fact about his team's chances of repeating as World Series champions. "We're still mathematically alive," Isringhausen said. "Until you're eliminated, you always have a chance. And if you have a chance, then there is always the possibility of something good happening."
Will shares a few things he'll miss about Spring Training, but moves right into the injury news that affects the regular season, with updates on C.C. Sabathia, Jason Isringhausen, Mark Prior, Luis Ayala, and more.
You know what I'll miss about Spring Training? Day games. The way the schedule works out in the spring is great for me, as everything is wrapped up well before prime time. There's the downside of having to deal with the morning people, those sick people who think calling me at pre-caffeinated hours will do anything. But at this time every spring, people are packing up their stuff and heading home. There are more and more teams making a stop somewhere for exhibition games, but the trucks are headed back, and Opening Day is just days away. The "Turk" has finished most of his difficult work around the league while the reaperesque figure of Injury is just beginning his work. Teams spend these last days just before the season starts living in fear, just a bit, of injury coming to visit. Powered by Daring Fireball, on to the injuries:
The class of '06 goes into the books as one of the least-accomplished, most overpaid groups in recent history.
Now that everyone of any significant value has signed or rejected a lifeline, we can look back at the past winter and put this crop of free agents into context. When we do, we find that it was, indeed, the least accomplished free-agent class since the 1994-95 strike, with more money buying less accomplishment than in any other offseason in that time.
The comparison includes the ten free agents with the highest contract value in each offseason from 1995-96 through 2005-06. The unit of comparison is career WARP3 at the time the contract was signed, on both a cumulative and yearly-average basis. Although players do get paid going forward, we know that their salaries are primarily set by their work in the years leading up to free agency. This fact, actually, is one of the reasons why most free agents are disappointments for their new teams. By evaluating the players based on their careers at the time of free agency, we can better evaluate the caliber of the crop as it seemed at the time, rather than in retrospect.
Jason Lane makes a claim for a regular job in Houston, Matt Morris bounces back strongly in St. Louis, and Texas' Chan Ho Park aims for adequacy in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Life with the Fast Lane: Jason Lane has spent the past three seasons looking for a way to crack the Astros lineup. All he’s done is hit the ball at every level he’s played at, but the Astros’ campaign to field the oldest team east of San Francisco has kept Lane on the bench or in New Orleans long after it was apparent that he was ready for an everyday job in the majors.