Our new Thursday staple, previewing the the pro prospects of tomorrow and the action to come on college diamonds around the country.
Normally, the presence of four Top 25 teams would be enough to make a six-team weekend tournament the highlight of the weekend. This weekend's San Diego tournament--hosted both by Rich Hill's San Diego Toreros and Tony Gwynn's San Diego State Aztecs--will indeed bring together those two programs in a four-cornered contest with Missouri and Fresno State. However, the weekend tournament promises to not only be exciting but also historic--never before has such a collection of high-profile arms been brought together for one regular season tournament.
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If you could sit down and watch a bit of every playoff race, where would you go? John's the man with a plan. Plus records, rumors, and more.
Jim Leyland has always insisted that the pennant races don't begin until August 15th. While Leyland has never given a definitive reason for why he has arbitrarily picked that date, the Tigers' manager understands pennant races, having lead Pittsburgh to three straight division titles from 1990-92 back when the Pirates still mattered, guided the Florida Marlins to the World Series title in 1997, and taken the Tigers to the World Series last year.
The Pirates are one of baseball's most inept franchises. Does the small market excuse carry any weight?
Of course, Pittsburgh is a small market club. The real question is how small relative to the other markets. Here's a revised and updated version of the population section of the "Take to Your Beds!" table:
Bryan Smith wonders about the draft pick/free agent tradeoff, and considers how the Padres specifically may have fared had they let all three star players walk this winter.
In the end, veterans Giles and Hoffman gave the Padres the "San Diego discount," while Hernandez opted into the richest deal he could find. There are certainly concerns that the Padres let the youngest of the three leave, while investing $43.5 million into two players older than thirty-five. The arguments against these contracts are centered around the fact that the team could have spent its money on younger players, while simply collecting first-round draft picks for their losses.
Historically, however, this would have been the Padres worst move. Not only were Giles and Hoffman two of the best free agents at their respective positions, but also because San Diego has a spotty history at cashing in on draft picks. I went back and looked at the last ten San Diego drafts (prior to 2005, which is simply too recent to judge), in hopes of finding whether Jacque Jones, Bob Wickman, $22.5 million and four draft picks was a better option than the one Kevin Towers took. The findings, to say the least, do not support such a claim.
David Wells looks to buck the Fenway curse on left-handers, the Reds try to replace Barry Larkin, and a look at the Padres productive farm system--all in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
In the last five years Wells has thrown 945.1 innings of 4.00 ERA/4.34 RA ball, and only once in the past nine years has he made fewer than 30 starts. Add it all up and you've got a guy who shows up for just about every start and throws something between league average and slightly-above league average ball. For a short-term deal between $4 million and $9 million, in this market, that sounds fantastic.
Is there more than defense involved in the Nomar Garciaparra trade? What do the Reds have for the future? And who's got the best-rested staff in baseball? Answers to these questions and more news from Boston, Cincinnati, and San Diego in your Thursday Prospectus Triple Play.
Unfortunately, old-school platitudes about the supreme importance of leather don't carry much weight with the analytical crowd, and we here at BP have reamed Epstein for the deal--going so far as to speculate that he's not really in control of the team and accusing him of caving to mob mentality. Here's another thought: Epstein at the microphone looks an awful lot like the legions of politicians who descended on Boston last week. He's not lying, he's just trying to promote the fan-friendliest of many explanations for the move. Might we have been taken in by Epstein's public message, when he's keeping his real reasons for the trade private?
Red Sox Nation shouldn't panic just yet. The Reds' Adam Dunn is a historial oddity. The Padres park has played to extremes. All of this and more news from Boston, Cincinnati and San Diego in your Thursday Prospectus Triple Play.
The Sky Isn't Falling (Today): Perhaps the toughest thing about writing about the Red Sox is trying to gauge the mood of the Nation without foreknowledge of the next game's final score. What have you done for me lately? More like what did you do for me yesterday. No joke: While getting swept in groin-kick fashion in the Bronx, then wrapping up a 1-5 road trip, Dan Shaughnessy called Nomar Garciaparrawashed up, expressed surprise that Theo Epstein still believes in this team, and filed a Derek Lowe smear piece called An All-Time Low. One day later, after an 11-0 trouncing of Barry Zito and the Oakland A's back at Fenway Park, the sports page headline was Straight A's.
The Red Sox head to the Bay for an interleague tilt. The Reds are still playing way over their heads. The Padres could be a key player in the Carlos Beltran sweepstakes. These and other news and notes out of Boston, Cincinnati and San Diego in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
SMACK FOR MATCHUP JUNKIES: Interleague play adds a wrinkle
to the schedule next week, as the Sox venture to previously uncharted
Colorado and San Francisco territory. It's entirely possible that the
series with the Rockies, patsies of the West, will earn a mention in
next week's edition of Prospectus
Matchups as the biggest mismatch, so let's ignore it here.
The Red Sox could be in a dogfight with the Yankees all year long. Dunn and Casey are carrying the Reds' offense. Akinori Otsuka has been a steal for the Padres. These and other news and notes out of Boston, Cincinnati and San Diego in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud: Baseball news in Boston
these days is nothing but good. The sun is shining, the Sox are in
first, Curt Schilling is the ad- and media-friendly "true
ace" of the Red Sox, and Manny Ramirez is not only a
"new guy," he's also a new
U.S. citizen. (Note: Fly to Florida to say the pledge of
allegiance, OK. Miss a game because you're sick, then have dinner at home
with your best friend, not so OK.)
The Red Sox won't be using David McCarty on the mound again any time soon. The Reds hope their hot pitching can continue. The Padres' bizarre Ryan Klesko usage patterns continue. These and other news and notes out of Boston, Cincinnati, and San Diego in today's Prospectus Triple Play.
Careful What You Wish For: Two weeks ago, the argument was advanced in this space that David McCarty could bring value to the Red Sox roster as a two-way player even if he only pitched in blowout games, since the Red Sox tend to have so many of those.