April 28 - Time To Move The Captain -
The staff of Baseball Evolution is used to looking at things from an unusual angle, challenging conventional wisdom, and putting a new spin on old ideas. In this feature - The Elephant in the Clubhouse - we point out things which seem blatantly obvious, and we simply aren’t sure why teams are aware of these things. Notions such as ending the Jayson Werth/Geoff Jenkins platoon in Philadelphia, moving Miguel Cabrera to a position that does not require defense in Detroit, not batting Carlos Gomez leadoff in Minnesota , and so forth.
We begin the series on a topic that has been beaten to death - but still, nothing has been done to remedy the situation: Derek Jeter is not a competent major league shortstop.
April 28 - Week 4 Pepper -
John Smoltz, Troy Percival, and Trey Hillman get lauded, Brian Sabean and David Littlefield get chastised, and Manny Corpas receives a pat on the butt as Gregory Pratt reviews the past week in baseball. Gregory also re-tells a story about the Bambino that you may not be familiar with.
Matt Morris Gets Teased, Then Russ Ortized -
Matt Morris, who has become the latest symbol of Pittsburgh Pirates front office ineptitude, began the 2008 season 0-4 with a 9.67 ERA. He will likely end the season there as well. The new Pirates regime released the 33-year old right-hander on Sunday, still owing him more than $11 million. Morris is mulling over retirement.
That figure is roughly half the $22 million left on Russ Ortiz' contract when then-new GM Josh Byrnes decided that the Arizona Diamondbacks could not compete with the former 20-game winner on their roster. Although there is a disparity in the financial figures, the numbers that instigated these moves look pretty similar:
|Ortiz '06 (Az)
|Morris '07 (Pit)
Okay, okay. Russ Ortiz was still worse. But not by all that much.
April 25 - Who are you, and what have you done with Cliff Lee? -
Through three starts, Cliff Lee had put up some pretty incredible numbers – 3-0, 0.40 ERA, 20 K, 2 walks, one earned run allowed. Surely the bottom was about to fall out on this guy. But on Thursday night, in the second half of a double header against the Royals in Kansas City, Lee needed only 120 pitches to hurl a three hit shutout, striking out nine and walking none. His numbers have gone from great to plainly sick – 4-0, 0.28 ERA, 2 walks, 29 strikeouts. And his rate stats are out of control – nearly 10:1 strikeout to walk ratio. 0.411 WHIP. Nearly a strikeout per inning. And here’s the clincher: his ERA+ currently stands at 1563. Yes, four digits. Yes, closer to 2000 than to 1000. Cliff Lee is out of this world right now. Of course, this being Cliff Lee, he is probably also guaranteed to win the Mark Redman Award for the American League in 2008. But for now, Cleveland fans are truly in for a treat.
Read about Cliff Lee and more from this past week, as Asher has so much to say that it won't wait till Sunday.
April 23 - Reds Fire Wayne Krivsky -
Whoever the general manager was that took over the Cincinnati Reds two years ago and rebuilt them, essentially from scratch, getting rid of some bad seeds and replacing them with good prospects, and moving role players in and out of the roster in an attempt to find the best fit for the team, and patiently letting young guys develop into major leaguers, all while being saddled with Ken Griffey, Jr.’s enormous, ill-advised contract, has done a very good job, and should be commended.
This just in: The Cincinnati Reds fired General Manager Wayne Krivsky today, and announced that former St. Louis Cardinals General Manager Walt Jockety is set to take over his duties.
April 22 - Asher's Weekly Roundup -
Asher presents his brand new Weekly Round-Up, a division-by-division look at Major League Baseball: who’s hot, who’s not, and where the teams are generally trending. This week, Asher is surprised by the Indians' pitching staff, the Orioles' apparently successful off-season, the Cardinals' outfield, and the Cubs' approach at the plate. He is less surprised by Adam Dunn, the Washington Nationals, the proper defensive alignment for the Detroit Tigers, and he has just recently remembrered not to be surprised by the Colorado Rockies.
April 21 - Week Three in Baseball -
It was truly a red letter week in Major League Baseball. A shortstop aged two years overnight, an organization decided that they had no use for one of the best hitters of all time, and a rival organization made an unprecedented commitment to a player with all of one week's major league service time. Gregory tackles all these issues, as well as Jose Canseco's steroid allegations, in his weekly review.
April 20 - The Big Waste -
Last month in the Baseball Evolution Fan Forum, Keith chastised the Toronto Blue Jays for signing Reed Johnson to a $750,000 contract in the spring, then releasing him without trying to trade him very aggressively. There's no debating that this was a poor financial decision by JP Ricciardi and company, but as we all know, $750,000 amounts to little more than chump change to a Major League Baseball club.
But today, we are seeing the Toronto Blue Jays organization make the same error on a grander scale. Frank Thomas was due $8 million this year and $10 million in 2009 if he made 376 plate appearances this season. He had no trade protection on his contract, but rather than trade the man after he hit three homers in the first week of the season, the team waited for him to hit a slump, benched him, and bought out his contract while receiving nothing in return.
April 18 - Injured Albert, Better Albert? -
After an off-season rife with speculation regarding season-ending elbow surgery, the decline of a young legend, and the end of the start of a brilliant Hall of Fame career, Albert Pujols’ surprised all his doubters and cynics, as well as his adorers and fans, by jumping out to an enormous start. In this one-page report, we address the question: Has Albert Pujols’ injury made him a better hitter?
April 18 - 22-Inning Marathon! -
The Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres played Thursday in San Diego – ironically, the “get-away” game of their three game series – and ended up playing for over six hours. What was billed as a matchup between two of the National League’s best pitchers – the dominant Jake Peavy and the underrated-and-thus-far-under-performing Jeff Francis – in one of the game’s best pitchers’ venues, Petco Park, lived up to the hype as neither team scored a run until the fourteenth inning and neither team scored a second run until the 22nd.
April 17 - Streaky Secret Weapon? -
Reader Darrell Norris wrote in to confirm Richard's vociferous labelling of Pedro Feliz as an inconsistent, cherry-picking hitter. Darrell's email got Richard thinking about Feliz' inadiquacies in a different way than before.
Rich's take then finally got Keith to let go of his tongue on this issue. He's not sure that Feliz is significantly streakier than we should expect him to be, and believes that Feliz certainly isn't quite the cherry-picker that Rich makes him out to be.
April 15 - Four Unemployed Superstars -
In his review of week two in the 2008 Major League Baseball season, Gregory anticipates milestones from Ichiro Suzuki and Greg Maddux, laments the cancellation of a landmark pitching matchup, and bashes both Gavin Floyd and the Detroit Tigers with a single swing of the bat.
Gregory also believes that Barry Bonds is among four ex-superstars that have been blackballed by major league owners. Guest contributor Rufus Tarragon counters by declaring this quartet unfit to play Major League Baseball.
April 11 - Shaun Marcum vs. Ian Kennedy -
An interesting trade came across Asher's fantasy baseball desk yesterday, and he has been trying to reconcile how he feel about it ever since. The trade involves me giving up Shaun Marcum in exchange for Ian Kennedy. The idea behind the trade was that Asher's opponent was trading future production for solid pitching now.
Upon closer examination, Asher isn't sure that Kennedy's future is brighter than the underrated Marcum's.
April 10 - D. Tigers, E. Jackson Better Than You Think They Are -
In a pair of quick hits, guest contributor Rufus Tarragon explains why the Detroit Tigers' slow start shouldn't cause panic and examines whether Edwin Jackson has finally hit his stride.
April 8 - First and Only Power Rankings for 2008 -
In Asher's pre-season preview for the Detroit Tigers, he noted that the Tigers have all the makings of one of history's great offenses, but despite their off-season moves, they arguably did not address any of their needs - namely, pitching and defense. He predicted that this could give the Tigers issues when they least expected it. Little did Asher know that the Tigers' pitching and defense would immediately give them issues, and they would fail to win a single ballgame in the first week of the 2008 season.
Despite everything you have seen, however, this is still a very talented team, and they will be back. And despite everything you may heard about how rarely teams that start 0-5 (and now 0-6) make the playoffs, this team is more likely to prove to be the exception rather than the rule. They'll win their first game soon enough, and should be back in the race by the middle of May.
View Asher's complete Week One Power Rankings
April 7 - Week 1 in Review -
Gregory Pratt has volunteered to begin a weekly column, running every Monday, chronicling his thoughts on the past week in baseball. This week's column analyzes popular sentiment towards baseball's new Japanese sensation, examines whether Trevor Hoffman is really finished, and whether Carlos Guillen will win a Gold Glove after moving to first base.
April 1 - Baseball Evolution Staff Predictions -
When the staff of Baseball Evolution sets out to prognosticate the upcoming season, we don't just phone it in. A half dozen acute baseball minds set out to divine the exact win total for each club, map out how the postseason will play out, award the best (and worst) players in both leagues, and peg the leader boards for every major statistical category, and then some.
Our willingness to go against the grain has produced some gems in the past. We had staff members correctly predict division titles for the White Sox in 2005, the Tigers in 2006, and the Diamondbacks in 2007. Don't let Phil Rogers tell you that no one saw these teams coming.
We're also not afraid to admit when we've goofed. Last year, we all overestimated what the always-pretty-on-paper Dodgers would do, and none of us gave a lick of credit to the Washington Nationals, who finished in fourth place with a palatable 73 wins last year.
Among the surprises you'll see in our predictions this year: Tony says the AL West will be won with a .531 winning percentage, and not by the team you expect. Keith and Eric disagree on where the Reds will finish by a whopping 21 games. Scott Kazmir may miss all of April, but Asher thinks he'll pitch well enough in the following five months to win a Cy Young Award. Rich expects the 25-year old Justin Verlander to win 23 games, the highest total baseball has seen in five years. Scott has a pitcher eclipsing even that win total, and pegs Shannon Stewart as the American League batting champion...
Okay, maybe that doesn't qualify as a surprise anymore. And none of us will be surprised when the Boston Red Sox repeat as winners of the American League East; they were our only unanimous division winner. Enjoy our in-depth predictions for the 2008 season, and feel free to praise or criticize them in the Baseball Evolution Fan Forum.