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Ben and Sam discuss Baseball Prospectus 2014 and Mariachi A-Rod, then answer listener emails about quality of competition, contract clauses, PED placebos, and more.

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BillJohnson
1/26
A little research on the late-career pitching start by Babe Ruth sheds some light on what was going on there (and in an even later, and theoretically more remarkable, start three years later). Both of these late-career starts were at the very end of the season, against Boston Red Sox teams that were ghastly to begin with, and had several of their regulars (such as they were) on the bench and rookies or part-timers starting. In one he gave up 3 runs against a ragtag lineup, but still got the W and the CG; in the other it was 5 runs, again with W and CG. In other words, the opposition was a team that was poor even by the standards of his day, probably wasn't highly motivated, and still almost managed to beat him. These games are more in the line of the proverbial dog walking on its hind legs than anything to judge talent on: the marvel isn't that the dog walks well on two legs, it's that it can do it at all. So also Ruth. He didn't have to pitch well to win those games, he just had to make it through without his arm falling off. That is no small feat in itself; try throwing 150 pitches even at 70% and see how your arm feels. But I would not draw, from those games, the conclusion regarding quality that you guys did. They weren't "serious" games. Baseball was like that back then, too.
JPinPhilly
1/27
You guys may like the Rays. FanGraphs may like the Rays. A lot of people out there on the interwebz may LOVE the Rays but I seriously doubt that Cliff Lee or Max Scherzer would be all that giddy about making the minimum to help them win a World Series in front of a half-empty stadium. They would be an instant fan-favorite. All 10,000 fans in attendance would swoon. The Rays are smart and there are a lot of people who root for teams that spend $50M and win as many, if not more, games than the teams spending over $100M. But, don't forget, they're internet darlings. Players may think that it would be cool to be one of the guys that helps the Cubs finally win but most of them probably don't care if the Rays ever win a WS. Nor should they.