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TheHardball Times Baseball Annual 2007 is overflowing with articles on baseball history, the 2006 season, and sabermetric analysis. It also has stats and graphs you can't get anywhere else. Read Tony's Review for more info.

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Previous News and Notes

2006
August and September
June and July
April and May
January-March
Richard's DN&N

2005
August-December
June and July
April and May
January-March

2004
2003




December 26 - Keith - What the Halo are they thinking??

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have as much major league-ready talent stuck at Triple-A as any other team in baseball. Their Salt Lake Bees won their division by seven games, led on offense by 2B Howie Kendrick (.369/.408/.631), 1B Kendry Morales (.320/.359/.520), 3B Dallas McPherson (.250/.307/.596), and outfielders Tommy Murphy (.302/.351/.453) and Nick Gorneault (.283/.343/.499). 1B Casey Kotchman, a career .325 minor league hitter, sat out most of 2006 with an injury.

But thanks to a couple of ridiculous signings, only Kendrick among these players is assured of a starting job come spring. You know about GMJ and his $50 million contract, but the Halos just added 31-year old Shea Hillenbrand to the mix for a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Hillenbrand has never hit more than 21 homers in a season, and has a career OBP of .325. His career fielding percentage at third base is .938. Even Mike Piazza grounds into double plays less frequently than Hillenbrand does.

With every at bat that Hillenbrand receives, Angels fans will know that they could have had several players perfoming better for about one-fifteenth of what the veteran will make.

December 20 - Eric - No more Radke fantasies -

Brad Radke retired at the age of 34 due to shoulder ailments that have been plaguing him for the past two seasons. Like Sandy Koufax, Radke finallly decided that the pain wasn't worth it anymore. Unlike Koufax, Brad Radke wasn't much of a fantasy baseball performer, writes guest contributor Eric Freeman Jr.




December 19 - Asher - The Best Deal of the Offseason?

Could Marcus Giles be the steal of the off-season for the San Diego Padres? That all depends on Giles’ health, and where the Padres intend to put him in the batting order. The conventional wisdom regarding Marcus Giles is that once Rafael Furcal left the Braves for Los Angeles, putting Giles in the leadoff spot clearly made him uncomfortable. True, Giles was injured for part of the season, and his injury apparently nagged at him. But Giles would seem to be a classic number two guy in the batting order, and it is entirely possible that Giles may have become consumed with trying to be a table setter when that simply isn’t what he is.

December 11 - Keith - Baker's gone, but a cloud of Dust remains

Dusty Baker used Cubs relievers on back-to-back days 165 times last season. Not only was that the highest amount for the year, but the most since Baseball Info Solutions began tracking the stat in 2002.

How did it affect the Cubs' overworked bullpen? Scott Eyre (74 games pitched) took a 2.38 ERA into the All Star Break and posted a 5.49 mark in the second half. On the other hand, Bob Howry (84 games) and Ryan Dempster (74 games) did not appear to suffer any ill-effects.

We'll see how that rubber-armed trio fares in 2007.

Pick up a copy of the The 2007 Bill James Handbook for a complete breakdown of managerial tendencies season-by season.

December 9 - Tony - Pettitte Back in Pinstripes

Andy Pettitte is now a 34-year old, which is no spring chicken, but he still has some gas in the tank. Yesterday the New York Yankees gave him 16 million for '07, and a player option for ’08. If you count Kei Igawa, they now have 3 left handed pitchers in their rotation, which is great since Yankee Stadium favors lefties so much.

In fact, Tony believes that Pettitte was the best signing the Yankees could have made for their starting rotation.

December 8 - Keith - Ode to Uribe

He only stood at 5'10" tall, yet his middle name was "Alta."  Okay, so that was short for Altagarcia, but you get the idea; Jose Uribe was the type of ballplayer who always stood a little taller than the roster guide showed, and always got a little more talent out of his body than you might expect.

The former Cardinals, Giants, and Astros shortstop was killed Friday in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic.



December 7 - Keith - The Best Rotation in the NL?


Once the Dodgers' 3-year $47 million contract with Jason Schmidt was finalized, the club boasted one heck of a rotation. Schmidt has established himself as one of the best starters in the NL ever since he joined the San Francisco Giants.

He joins Derek Lowe, who has thrown 440 innings of 3.62 ERA baseball since joining the Dodgers. Brad Penny, who has a 3.85 ERA over the past three years, and recently-acquired Randy Wolf, one of the league's brightest young pitchers before injury problems set in over the past few seasons, fill the #3 and #4 spots in the rotation.

22-year old Chad Bilingsly posted a 3.95 ERA in one of the most extreme hitter's parks in the minor leagues before showing some promise with the major league club. Together, these five pitchers comprise a starting rotation unequalled in the senior circuit, pending further offseason moves.

Discuss the NL's starting rotations in the Baseball Evolution Forum.

December 3 - Keith - Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins

Alex Gonzalez had made us exceptionally happy here at BaseballEvolution.com.  After once again declining like a ski run this past year, Asher had more validation for making him the poster boy for second half tumbles.  His injury-plagued .695 OPS season made Tony happy since he's a Yankees fan, and it made Keith happy because there would be no way that a team would sign such a player to a multi-year deal, meaning that his Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award could keep its name.

What Keith wasn't counting on was the unrelenting idiocy of the Cincinnati Reds, who were apparently still dazzled by Alex's production during the first two months of 2003, and thus signed him to a three-year deal worth $14 million.  Can we still call it the Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins Award?

December 3 - Tony - The Class of '39 -

The Rookie Class of 2006, particularly in the National League, has been lauded as one of the best of all time. While there's no arguing that point, these young prospects certainly do not compose the greatest rookie class ever, reports Tony. That distinction belongs to the class of '39.




November 30 - Asher - What does "Most Valuable" Mean? -

The Associated Press is reporting out of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic that Albert Pujols stated at a press conference that he felt snubbed by Ryan Howard winning the National League Most Valuable Player Award when Howard’s team did not even manage to get into the playoffs.

While Pujols certainly has a right to his opinion, and may in fact have been snubbed by the Baseball Writers Association of America, the organization responsible for MVP voting as well as some other awards, Pujols is mistaken as to the traditional understanding of the Most Valuable Player Award. While the majority of players who have won the award did in fact take their teams to the post-season, observing a rule, whether formally or informally, requiring a playoff berth as a pre-requiste for the Most Valuable Player award would be improper and unnecessary.

November 28 - Asher - The 2006 Dave Kingman Award -


It is time once again to give out the most anticipated of the post-season trophies, the Dave Kingman Award. Asher writes that this year, he had his Kingman Award winner picked out by the All-Star Break, only to find that by season's end, the 2006 Dave Kingman Award winner turned out to be a surprise.

November 21 - Asher - Free Agent Craziness! -

Asher wants to know what in the name of Darren Dreifort is going on in the baseball world these days? He really thought that general managers had finally grown wise to getting screwed by giving out huge contracts to marginally talented players. He really thought that watching Billy Beane put together small market winners had cooled the market, and eliminated wasteful big money contracts. It seemed to Asher that the rate of increase of the average free agent contract was not only slowing, but the size of the average contract was actually getting smaller.

However, Asher says that the signing of Alfonso Soriano by the Chicago Cubs shows that teams are once again ready to start spending money like crazy to sign the game’s brightest stars, and the signings of Carlos Lee and Gary Mathews Jr. shows that teams are willing to simply spend money like crazy.

November 21 - Asher - My Money Is On Ortiz! -

Major League Baseball announced the American League Most Valuable Player Award was Justin Morneau Tuesday at around 2:00pm Eastern Time. But David Ortiz and Travis Hafner had already known that neither of them had won the award for 2006.

As part of the lead-up to the announcement of the award, MLB.com ran the article-caption lead-in above, tipping their hand a bit with respect to who is in the running, and more importantly, who is not.

Sorry, David. Sorry, Travis.

Tony Aubry had the field narrowed down even further, and decided that the voters got it wrong.

Meanwhile, Keith thinks that the real crime is not the exclusion of Hafner and Ortiz, but rather that of Carlos Guillen. Tony disagrees.

November 19 - Keith - Managerial Madness! -

After the Oakland A's hired Bob Geren, all of the outstanding managerial vacancies this offseason have been filled. A total of five new managers will enter the 2007 season with no previous major league managerial experience. Let's break down who the winners and losers of these hot potato swaps were, beginning with Mr. Wheelhouse himself, Bob Geren.

November 15 - Keith - The DeRosa DeBacle -

It's business as usual for Jim Hendry and the Chicago Cubs. Career utility infielder Mark DeRosa signed with the Cubs for 3 years and $13 million. This stays true to the new Cubs tradition of signing old players coming off career years to lucrative three-year deals before a market value for such players is established. By doing so, the Cubs have driven up the dollar value for every available middle infielder, starting or otherwise, just as they did with relief pitchers last year through early 3-year offers to Ryan Dempster, Scott Eyre, and Bob Howry.

November 14 - Tony - Gary Sheffield Traded -

For once, the Yankees were not dealing from a position of strength. For once, the Yankees decided to trade an established veteran for promising youngsters. As ever, Tony Aubry analyzes the transaction. As ever, he believes that the Yankees made a favorable swap.


November 9 - Keith - Josh Barfield Traded -

The Padres and Indians kick-started this offseason's wheeling and dealing with an intriguing three player deal. The Padres dealt Josh Barfield in exchange for Kevin Kouzmanoff and Andrew Brown. The trade made sense for both teams, and serves as a fitting appetizer for blockbusters that are sure to come.

November 3 - Keith - The Inaugural Mark Redman Award -

The Gold Glove Awards have been distributed in both leagues, which means that it's officially Award season for baseball. Since the Gold Glove winners are largely predictable and undeserving, let's turn to a more interesting accolade.

Mark Redman, like Alex Gonzalez before him, probably never thought that he would ever have a major postseason award named after him. But here at Baseball Evolution, we were just crazy enough to do it. Behold, if you dare, the Inaugural Mark Redman Award.


November 1 - 2006 Prediction Review -

It's November, and that means it's time to reflect back on how well the Baseball Evolution staff did in predicting how the season would go. Overall, the analysts did pretty well in gauging a season in which so many conventional picks went awry. So let us begin with those picks that we were most proud of and work our way towards the ones we'd rather not remind you about.

We will also review our Individual Leaders Picks once the award season has finished.

October 30 - Tony's Top 100 Introspection -

Tony Aubry sat down, perused his Top 100 List, and in some cases, did not like what he saw. Our Junior Correspondant has crunched the numbers and re-analyzed his position on several players, including Warren Spahn, who Tony believes is underrated by the rest of the BaseballEvolution.com staff.



October 26 - Keith - Worst World Series Winners Ever? -

The 2006 St. Louis Cardinals became the team with the worst record ever to win the World Series by defeating the Detroit Tigers four games to one. They were only the fifth team under a 162-game schedule to make the World Series with fewer than 90 wins. Here's how they fared:

2006 Cardinals (83-78) Won 4-1 over the Detroit Tigers (95-67)
2000 Yankees (87-74) Won 4-1 over the New York Mets (94-68)
1997 Indians (86-75) Lost 3-4 to the Florida Marlins (92-70)
1987 Twins (85-77) Won 4-3 over the St. Louis Cardinals (95-67)
1973 Mets (83-79) Lost 3-4 to the Oakland A's (94-68)


October 20 - Keith - To Hedge or Not To Hedge? -

Before the season started, Scott was extremely high on the Detroit Tigers, projecting them to win 88 games and the AL Wild Card. While Keith certainly did not share his enthusiasm, when Keith noticed that the online sportsbook Keith uses was giving 100:1 odds on the Tigers winning the World Series, he brought this fact to his brother's attention. After some urging, Keith convinced Scott to put a dollar on the Tigers. Why not?

If Scott decides to wager money on the Cardinals now, he can get nearly 2:1 odds in doing so. Keith considers the issue of whether Scott should hedge his season long Tigers bet with a countering bet on the Cardinals?


October 18 - Keith - No Experience Necessary -

Not only did the playoff newbie Tigers handle the experience-riddled Yankees and A's, but going into the World Series, players with little or no postseason experience have dominated the individual leaderboards. Carlos Delgado, Curtis Granderson, and Craig Monroe hae been among the postseason's best hitters even though none of them have been there before. Chris Young, Jeremy Bonderman, and John Maine each turned in impressive outings in their postseason debuts. Even those players known for choking in the playoffs, such as Frank Thomas, Jeff Weaver, and Kenny Rogers, were able to succeed this postseason despite their playoff histories. We yet again find postseason history to be a poor predictor of future postseason success.

October 10 - Keith - Playoff Chokers? -

One week after nearly every Yankee fan believed that their team was entirely unbeatable, these same fans now want their bust of a team dismantled for its incessant choking in the postseason.

A playoff team has a 12.5% chance of winning the World Series in the current Wild Card format. The Yankees have made the playoffs every year under these rules, and won the World Series 4 times... a 33.3% rate. So they would need to make the playoffs and not take the World Series trophy 20 more times to even hit the break even mark of probability. It seems that reports of the Yankees floundering in the playoffs are quite unfounded.

According to Richard, however, Yankee fans have every right to disdain Alex Rodriguez for his lack of clutch play.

Why do Yankee fans boo Alex Rodriguez? Guest Contributor Brad Harris thinks he has the answer, as he revisits A-Rod's Yankee career.

Along a similar wavelength, Asher takes a closer look at the postseason numbers put up by Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.



October 8 - Keith - Little League, Big Dreams -

As the World Series approaches, Keith takes a moment to review a book about the 2005 Little League World Series. Charles Euchner's Little League, Big Dreams deals with several issues pertinent to the development of baseball. The most riveting portion deals with how Little League coaches overwork their young pitchers far more egregiously than you would ever believe.



October 4 - Keith and Asher - The Real Life Rachel Phelps? -

The Florida Marlins fired Joe Girardi after just one season as manager of the club. This move comes as a surprise to no one, as Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and General Manager Larry Beinfest never saw eye to eye with Girardi.

But Asher smells a conspiracy of Hollywood proportions. The classic Baseball movie Major League may tell us all we need to know about the reality of the situation.

Or does it? Keith still believes that the wrong person is getting credit for the Marlins' productive season, and that person may have simply been the Salieri to Girardi's Mozart.

October 2 - Keith - The Seeds of Apathy? -

In the final day of the season, four teams had clinched a postseason berth but still had a shot of winning their respective division. Those teams trotted out Eric Stults, Carlos Silva, Woody Williams, and Jeremy Bonderman as their starting pitchers. Williams and Bonderman are good pitchers, and probably the best available to the Padres and Tigers, but Derek Lowe and Johan Santana were each available for the Dodgers and Twins respectively. Clearly, some managers do not really care about playoff seeding; they would rather just make certain that their best pitchers are available for the postseason.

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