News and Notes from
Around the League

May 31 - The Rocket Has Landed -

The Astros have done what Karl imagines a majority of knowledgeable baseball fans figured they would do, and signed Roger Clemens for the remainder of the year. He’ll earn a little less than $13 million, which is the prorated value of the $22 million contract he’s agreed to. The immediate question now is, “How long will it take him to get back into playing shape?” The next question involves how much this is going to help the Astros; How much does Clemens have left in this, his 23rd season?

Karl answers these questions, and lets us know whether the Tigers and the Mets are for real.


May 29 - Mr. Overglorified -

On Friday night, Derek Jeter recorded his 2,000th career hit. While the New York media had a collective orgasm, Tony Aubry let out a protracted yawn. The 2,000-hit plateu is nothing special, he writes, and this grand celebration is just another example of the overglorification of Jeter.

The reason that the Yankees continue to win despite their depleated lineup may have more to do with contributions from the Melky Cabreras and Robinson Canos in the order than with Jeter's incredible start. Read all about it in Tony's Yankee Chronicles.

May 28 - Keith - UnBaylieveable!! -

There's no hotter hitter in baseball right now than Jason Bay. Not only has he homered in six consecutive games, but he's hit 10 total in his last 10 games. Jason has hit safely in 17 of his last 19 contests, and is hitting .384 (30/78) during that span.

Despite his best efforts, the Pirates continue to lose. Pittsburgh is currently five games beneath its Pythagorean record, and have 15 one-run losses (5-15), the most in baseball. Manager Jim Tracy maintains that he is putting his players in the best possible situations to win, and that the players' lack of execution is to blame for the dismal start.


May 25 - Keith - Addition by Subtraction -

The Toronto Blue Jays made two transactions after Wednesday’s game that are destined to be referenced anytime a baseball writer uses the phrase “addition by subtraction.” Josh Towers (1-8 9.00) and Russ Adams (.258 2 16) were both sent down to AAA Syracuse. The Blue Jays immediately become the favorites to win the AL East. The biggest question right now is, “What took them so long?


Save the Royals! - A once proud franchise has become the punching bag of the American League. Despite the unrelenting idiocy of GM Allard Baird, firing him is only part of the answer, writes Richard Van Zandt. In order to save the Royals, a business move must be made. And in business, it all starts at the top.


May 23 - Keith - Are Strikeouts Overrated? -

Jake Peavy had struck out 16 Braves through seven innings on Monday, but had also thrown 114 pitches. His chance at history was therefore forfeit, as his previous high in pitches for the year was 115, likewise versus Atlanta. Sadly, he also wound up with the loss due to a 2-run homer he allowed to Ryan Langerhans.

Meanwhile, Aramis Ramirez hasn't been missing much. He hasn't whiffed in his past 28 at bats, and has just a dozen strikeouts in 147 at bats total. Impressive as that is, A-Ram's batting .238 with just 21 RBI.

Are Peavy and Ramirez the victims of bad luck, or are strikeouts overrated?

May 18 -

Richard has completed his analysis of the Giants' pitching staff...and the results don't look good. But there are reasons to expect improvement. Read about them in the Giants Quarterly Report for pitchers.

Giants Quarterly Report - Batters

Eric Freeman Jr. is back discussing his favorite subjects (Barry Bonds and the Chicago Cubs). But he also attempts to elucidate the mystery of the Detroit Tigers and provides a Requiem for Juan Cruz as he gets back into the swing of things.

May 18 - Keith - They've Got Wood! -

Kerry Wood made his 2006 debut on Thursday, taking the loss in a 5-3 Washington victory. The bad news is that he allowed three homers in five innings of work, including Damian Jackson's 30th career homer in well over 2,000 at bats. The good news is that Wood had excellent stuff, and more importantly, excellent command. His fastball was clocked in the low-90's, and both his curve and his slider looked sharp. He threw first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 19 batters that he faced, threw 52 of his 71 pitches for strikes, plus whiffed six and walked none. Keith thinks that Wood will be just fine...until he gets hurt again, that is.

What bothers Keith is a Cub manning first base, wearing #17, and not being Mark Grace. In fact, Keith thinks the fact that that number probably won't ever be retired by the Cubs is quite a disgrace.


May 10 - Asher notes that the high number of walks given up by major league pitchers on Tuesday was not a one time thing, but rather a continuation of a season long, and possibly record breaking, trend.

May 9 - Karl - What's Happenin' Now, Raj? -

After a terrific April and a solid start to May, the Astros are probably the second most surprising team in their division, right behind the Little Red Machine. After a closer look though, I wonder why this early-season performance comes as such an unexpected development. Take a look at last year. The lineup that nearly brought them to the summit of postseason glory last October is the same one you see on the field now (minus Burke, plus Wilson, of course). So, its gotta be the pitching that is performing above expectations. This, put mildly, is an understatement. The Astros starters began the week with a NL-best 3.57 ERA, despite a 2-4, 5.06 ERA start from Andy Pettitte. This means that Oswalt, Rodriguez, Backe, and Bucholz have come through on the mound and the ‘Stros have a solid rotation top to bottom. So, the obvious question at this point is, "Who needs to pay $3 million a month for Roger Clemens’ services?"

Guest Contributors | The Sportsfarm

May 8 - Asher - Market Share Homeruns! -

In the wake of all the recent discussion about "markets," Asher sat down to his computer and started looking at (yet) another article about Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth, and who was better, and why. And without even really thinking it was odd, he thought to himself, "Whose homeruns were more valuable, Bonds' in 2001, or Ruth's in 1927. I wonder who had the larger share of homeruns. Hmm." What came next shall be known as Market Share Homeruns.

And if you still aren't Bonds-Ruth satiated by now, check out the ratio of ratios.

Contrary to popular belief, Barry Bonds is NOT the only hitter on the San Francisco Giants. In his Quarterly Giants Report, Richard evaluates all of the Giants' batters over the first 35 games. ____________________________________________________________________________

May 8 - Asher - Out of things to say? -

As you all assuredly know by now, Barry Bonds hit homer 713 on Sunday, putting him one away from the Babe. It is possible, though, that the major sports news outlets are running out of ways to talk about Bonds' chase of Ruth, because on Monday morning, ran the following headline:

"Bonds Hits Homer 713; Moves One Closer to Ruth"

This fact, while true, is actually insignificant. In fact, it is a truism. Anytime a player hits a homer in the majors, it can be said that he moves "one closer to Ruth."

You kind of wonder what the headline they didn't go with was. Perhaps:

"Bonds Hits Homer 713; Has One More Than He Did Yesterday"


May 7 - Keith - The New King, Man -

Jim Thome hit his 443rd career home run on Saturday, a jaw-dropping bash to dead center. In doing so, Thome surpassed his idol, Dave Kingman, on the all time home run list at age 35. This was slightly more momentous than when he passed Kingman on the all time walks list in '99 at the age of 28.

Kingman Award Winners

May 6 - Keith - Not The White Stuff -

Rondell White began the 2006 campaign by hitting .136 in April. The good news is that he is currently on a four-game hitting streak. The bad news is that he has still neither walked nor homered this year. 105 at bats, 0 walks, 0 homers, 16 hits. You hear about empty average players, and you try to avoid them. But here's an empty average player with a .152 batting average. Yet Alex Sanchez can't find a job.

We've always lumped Cliff Floyd and Rondell White together as outfielders who might make a fantastic platoon if they could ever stay healthy. Coincidentally, they've both been perfectly healthy up to this point, but are both off to horrid starts.


May 5 - Keith - Pitching Staff Composition -

Minor league strikeout king Rich Hill made an inauspicious 2006 debut Thursday, allowiing five runs in four innings in a 6-0 loss to the Diamondbacks and ex-Cub Juan Cruz. Along with rookies Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman and veterans Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano, Hill forms an entirely homegrown Cub rotation; each of the five were drafted and developed by the Chicago Cubs. Other pitching products of the Cub system around baseball besides Cruz include Jaime Moyer (Mariners), Andy Sisco (Royals), Steve Trachsel (Mets), Kyle Farnsworth (Yankees), Kyle Lohse (Twins), Jon Garland (White Sox), Jon Leicester (Rangers), and about half of the Florida Marlins pitching staff.

Not to sound like a scratched CD, but has anyone noticed that the Minnesota Twins don't like to walk batters? Carlos Silva (of all people) allowed the Twins' first walk in four games on Thursday. Their staff currently has twelve fewer walks allowed than the next lowest team. Despite all of this, Minnesota has the worst pitching in baseball right now.


May 3 - Oakland Opportunities -

With Rich Harden and Esteban Loaiza both on the 15-day DL and virtually every other starter struggling to a degree, there could be opportunities opening up for Oakland's high-level pitching prospects on their 40-man roster. Dan Meyer you know, but unless you sleep with a copy of Moneyball undrneath your pillow, you may not have heard of Shane Komine.

That's where Oakland Clubhouse comes in. Oakland Clubhouse provides insider coverage on all of Oakland's hot prospects with player journals, exclusive interviews, prospect rankings, and more. In an example of their quality work, Senior Editor Melissa Lockard sits down with Komine, who is listed at 5-9 175 only when on his tiptoes with rocks in his pockets, and discusses his size, velocity, determination, and recovery from Tommy John Surgery.

Richard: Billy Beane's Perfect Draft

Keith's reply

April 30 - Scott - Improvement is Afoot -

Kevin Mench was in a rut. He hadn't hit a home run in 2006, and nothing was going right at the plate. How to get out of the slump...more time in the batting cage? Study more film? No, for Mench the problem was more base. He visited a podiatrist who told him his shoes were too small. He should be wearing a 12 1/2, not a 12.

The result? Mench set a major league record for right-handed hitters by homering in 7 straight games after changing his shoes.

Maybe a new pair of adidas are all that you need to hit at the major league level, lazybones.


April 24 - Richard - Name That Ballpark

'When the stadium opened in 2000, it was an instant love affair between the fans and the new park. With all its wonderful amenities and unique features, it was generally regarded as one of the most beautiful ballparks in the entire country.'

What's the name of this great stadium that the Giants play in? Pac Bell? SBC? AT&T? Wal-Mart? Aaargh! It's enough to make you want to jump off the Empire State Building, eh Bonds? Never fear... Richard waxes nostalgic before offering a solution to this tedious problem.

April 24 - Keith - Thome's Run Run Ends

Jim Thome's consecutive games with a run scored streak stopped at 17 on Sunday, one shy of the all time record shared by Red Rolfe (1939) and Kenny Lofton (2000). Amazingly, despite Thome's streak, he does not currently lead the majors in runs scored. That honor belongs to Cleveland's Travis Hafner, who, like Thome, is just having a superlative season so far.

Thome - 9 18 .346/.541/.923
Hafner - 7 14 .343/.463/.731

Asher's Predicted Leaders | Keith's Predicted Leaders

April 20 - Asher - Patterson Plays With His Tools

The Orioles-Indians series which just concluded today in Baltimore was perhaps the wildest of the early season and may be the wildest we see for a while. (Warning - cross-sport cliché coming) The Indians won the first game by two touchdowns, 15-1, behind the solid pitching of Jason Johnson, of all people, a former Oriole who went 26-46 in four seasons with the O's. The series looked like a wash, but things changed in the bottom of the third inning of game two. That is when none other than Corey "Tools" Patterson came to the plate to lead off the inning. As Asher writes, that is when the truly unexpected happened - Corey Patterson came to play.

April 19 - Karl - Don't Fiesta Yet, Pedro

It seems everyone is jumping on the New York Mets’ bandwagon this spring. After posting a 10-3 mark early on - their best season start in franchise history - coupled with the Braves’ and Phillies’ slow starts – affording them a cushy, albeit early 4 game lead in the division – the Mets are ready for the glory of the postseason. As Karl points out, the only problem is, its April 19th. Well, that’s not the only problem, but it’s a good starting point.

Tony - Was It Worth It?

Speaking of early, the Giants are currently playing their 11th game of the season, and Barry Bonds currently has zero dingers, an average under .200, and one RBI. Tony reacts to this and more, and wonders if Bonds feels it was all worth it.

April 17 - Keith - The Leo Mazzone Factor -

We realize that it's early, But the Atlanta Braves pitching staff currently ranks 28th in baseball with a 6.42 ERA as compared to ranking 11th with a 3.98 ERA last year. Conversely, the Leo Mazzone-led Orioles staff now boasts a 5.05 team ERA, good for 16th in baseball. This represents an improvement of sorts over 2005's 4.56 ERA, since it then ranked 23rd in baseball.

We'll be updating this throughout the season. Whatever the results are, we'd like to thank Leo for allowing us a better understanding of what has made the Braves pitching staff so great for the past 15 seasons.

April 16 - Asher - Going to Church on Easter - Twice -

Its good to be back. 
Well, well, well. What a difference two weeks makes. Nearly two weeks to the day after the Nationals announced that Brandon Watson would be their opening day centerfielder, and that Ryan Church would begin the season at Triple A New Orleans, the Nationals reversed course on Thursday by sending Watson back down and recalling Church.

The Nationals, mired by a 2-9 start, won the second game of Church's return on Saturday. Then, today the Nationals beat the Marlins behind a splendid day from the Church man. He hit two homers, drove in four runs and scored thrice.

It would appear that Church is back to stay. However, with Jose Guillen hurt and out indefinitely, and Jose Vidro already nursing a minor ailment (Marlon Anderson played second today), Brandon Watson may find himself back with the big club, and right beside Church, before we get too far into May.

The D.C. Daily Diary

April 15 - Richard - Prince Fielder - Updating a previous item, Richard notes that Prince Fielder has gone 15 for his last 34 with 'only' 6 strikeouts since beginning the season 0 for 9 with 7 Ks.

April 12 - Keith - Scott Hatteberg, Pickin' Big Red Machine -

While the current Red offense certainly rivals that of the mid-70's Big Red Machine, their current defense looks like a Big Red Mess.

This was never more apparent than in Wednesday's loss to the Chicago Cubs. The Reds committed five errors in the first three innings, several of which occurred because 1B Scott Hatteberg failed to live up to his Michael Lewis-imposed nickname, "Pickin' Machine." Most egregiously, after failing to stay on the bag for a slightly errant throw, Hatteberg then failed to apply an easy tag to Derrek Lee after he had overrun the base and made a baserunning move towards second.

Cincinnati now leads the majors in errors by a wide margin. Adam Dunn looks Glenallen Hillish in left, and Griffey can't do more than jog after balls in center. They are currently trying to trade Austin Kearns, their one plus-fielder. At least they have a lot of high-strikeout, high-groundball pitchers to make up for their terrible defense and pitcher's park, right?

April 10, 2006 - Keith - D Lee and D Ortiz are Wealth E

Two 30-year old slugging first baseman each signed multi-year contract extensions worth $13 M per year on Monday. Lee gets five guaranteed years and a no-trade clause, while Ortiz receives four and a team option for the fifth year.

Derrek had the superior numbers last year, but that marked the first time that he had slugged over .510, whereas David has slugged over .590 in each of his three seasons with the Red Sox. Derrek is faster and better with the glove.

It looks pretty even right now. Ask us in four years which team got the best deal here.

April 7, 2006 - Scott - Arms and the WBC

At this early place inthe season, there are some interesting things to note: Johan Santana has tanked his first start. C.C. Sabathia pulled an ab. Peavy had a fabulous first start, but Pedro struggled. Michael Barrett was short spring AB due to the WBC, but had a fine AB for an RBI versus the Cardinals today. I'd continue, but what am I getting at? Suprise, there seems to be no correlation between a player's early season performance and his participation in the WBC.

I'd make a bigger deal about it and bust out some statistics, but no overarching trend has emerged, so I imagine that each player has different appreciations for more or less playing time and more or less competitive games say nothing of whether their preference is actually good for them. I haven't seen much made of this in the media, but if they start crying foul because of WBC time, you can bet I'll take them to task here.

And the watch will be on for September busts/spurts among WBC participants too.

In other arm news, Matt Murton doubled Juan Encarnation off 1st from deep left field today. The throw was immediate and reached Lee on the fly. Such alertness will more than make up for his less than average arm strength and--gods of Mel Hall willing--should help make Matt Murton a complete ballplayer.

April 6, 2006 - Keith - The Battle of the Pedros

In an April battle between Big Pedro (Pedro Martinez) and Little Pedro (Ramon Ortiz), both pitchers tanked it. However, in both cases, Keith does not believe there should be cause for concern, as both should rebound to have career-average seasons. Read Keith's analysis of the Pedros, and then check out Asher's coverage in the D.C. Daily Diary.

April 4, 2006 - Asher - The Pace

After two games, Prince Fielder is now 0-9 with 7 strikeouts. If he bats 540 times this season, he is on pace to finish with 420 strikeouts! Good luck, Prince! At the other end of the spectrum, after one game Cardinal first baseman Albert Pujols is on a pace for history.

Whether it was the look on Barry's face as he picked up the syringe that had been thrown at him, or his memories of Barry Bonds as a skinny power-speed Pirate in the late 1980s, Asher has decided that it is time to lay off of Barry Bonds, and enjoy the history that he is about to make.

This prompts Tony and Eric to get into their own skirmish concerning Bonds. Continue the debate at Our Affiliate Forum.

April 3, 2006 - Keith - News and Notes from Opening Day

After allowing just 12 homers in 186 innings last year, Scott Kazmir ponied up three dingers in just four innings on opening day, including one to Luis Matos, who had hit just ten in his previous 721 at bats.

Tony LaRussa decided to bat Juan Encarnacion in the #2 hole despite his .316 career OBP. They still managed 13 runs against Jon Lieber and the hapless Phillies. Other poor #2 choices:

Luis Matos, Orioles: .316
Orlando Cabrera, Angles: .315
Abrahm Nunez, Phillies: .314
Jack Wilson,Pirates: .304
Jose Lopez, Mariners: .272

The Reds' opener also provided Baseball Evolution with two new nicknames: Jacque Junk and Ken Griffey Jogger.

April 1st, 2006 - The Last Nine Innings -

Is Game Seven of the 2001 World Series the best game of all time? It's up there, but one things for sure: it makes a heck of a skeleton to write a book around. Charles Euchner has done just that with The Last Nine Innings, using that game as a vehicle for exploring the many facets of modern baseball. Keith explains further in his full review.

Speaking of the 2001 World Series, Series co-MVP Randy Johnson takes the mound for the Series loser New York Yankees today as their Opening Day starter. While Johnson is almost certainly a lock for the Hall of Fame, Asher explores other questions that linger as Johnson heads into his 19th season.

See News and Notes from the first three months of 2006.

See News and Notes from the second half of 2005.

See News and Notes from June and July of 2005.

See News and Notes from April and May of 2005.

See News and Notes from the first three months of 2005.

See News and Notes from 2004.

See News and Notes from 2003.

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