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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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February 27 - Royal Flush Full of Young Talent

The Kansas City Royals have celebrated just one winning season in the last thirteen and lost 93 games or more eight times in that span, including 100 or more four times in just the last six seasons. Can this 2008 squad founded on young talent surprise and challenge for a playoff spot? If not, can they at least finish above the AL Central cellar for the first time since 2003? Rich gives us the lowdown on the Kansas City Royals.

February 26 - Previewing two ALDS Rivals

The Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees of 2007 each enjoyed outstanding regular seasons before disappointing in the playoffs. So what did each of these teams do to push themselves into the World Series in the offseason? Absolutley nothing. Does the lack of notable roster changes give these units a stabilizing sense of cohesion or do they mean that the teams simply didn't address their needs?

Find out, as Asher previews the Cleveland Indians and Tony gears us up for the New York Yankees.

February 24 - Once Again, Beane's Perfect Draft

Last week, Jeremy Brown, the infamous "Blue Plate Special" of the 2002 June Amateur Draft, went down the garbage disposal. With his retirement fresh in our minds, what better time than now for Richard to re-examine the controversial Moneyball draft?

Richard not only weighs Billy Beane's success rate from a variety of angles, but also evaluates the best and worst drafts from that year. He invites you to judge for yourself by visiting the Baseball Evolution Compendium and examining the 2002 Draft Statistics that he has compiled.

February 22 - A Ray of Hope

One can not help but to be tempted by the new and improved Tampa Bay Rays of 2008. This franchise has remade itself, not only in name (dropping the Devil and adopting new logos) but also in spirit. After seeing its talented pitching staff get victimized by a young and porous defense, watching talented hitting prospects develop into empty average, low on-base/high strikeout problem children, and watching high-priced-but-moderately-successful acquisitions fizzle, the Rays have finally designed their team with an age-old proposition in mind. The 2008 squad will be built around pitching and defense, and it is hard to not get excited.

February 21 - Phillies Phlub Phirst Base

Ryan Howard became the first player of 2008 to win an arbitration hearing - and he won bigtime. The Phillies offered Howard $7 million, and he instead got $10 million, breaking the record amount set by Alfonso Soriano in 2006, his last season before becoming a free agent.

Unbelievably, Howard will not become a free agent until after the 2011 season. Until then, he will continue to break his own record arbitration numbers unless the Phillies trade him or sign him to a huge contract.

It is amazing how poorly the Phillies handled the Ryan Howard situation. Had they traded Jim Thome after his stellar 2004 season and not his injury-plagued 2005 season, they probably wouldn't have needed to give the White Sox $22 million and two of their best pitching prospects to take Thome off their hands. (Howard had combined for 48 homers and 136 RBI in 2004). Then, instead of signing Howard long-term immediately after trading Thome, they elected to wait for him hit 105 homers and drive in 285 runs over the next two years, then insult him with an offer of $7 million this season.

So this year alone, the Philadelphia Phillies will pay a combined $17 million to Jim Thome and Ryan Howard. Nice going, Ed Wade and Pat Gillick.

February 19 - Pittsburgh Pirates: Content in the Cellar

If you're like us, you're happy to consume just about any baseball coverage you can get this time of the year. That is why we begin our 2008 Spring Preview coverage with the team that has endured the least interesting offseason in baseball: the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hey, it's quality baseball coverage in February. You've gotta read it.

February 18 - Remembering Harry Caray

On September 12th, 1995, Hideo Nomo made his Wrigley Field debut. In the pre-game hype, Harry casually interjected, "Well, I've got slanty eyes, Steve, how about you?" His partner, Steve Stone, went on with his pre-game analysis without missing a beat.

After the ensuing uproar from political correctness leaders, Harry refused to apologize for his incendiary comment. "I thought it was funny," Harry insisted. "Where the hell has humor gone in this country?"

Today marks the 10-year anniversary of Harry's death. Instead of reveling in a world free of racially insensitive remarks, the staff of Baseball Evolution finds themselves wondering, "Where the hell has play-by-play broadcasting gone in this country?" There are still some great baseball announcers left out there, but none injects the life, enthusiasm, and unpredictability into every game that Harry did. If we're listening to a nationally televised game, we often have difficulty identifying the play-by-play man, as so many of them lack any idiosyncrasy in their vocal timber.

Ten years after his passing, Harry is still more well-known than any active broadcaster today. Re-live some of Harry's greatest moments with an audio tribute from WGN Radio play-by-play man Pat Hughes and post your favorite memories of Harry in the Baseball Evolution Fan Forum.

February 13 - Buyers Remorse, Anyone?

Think some of the early biters in the free agent pitching market might be experiencing some buyer's remorse? Livan Hernandez just signed with the Minnesota Twins for a $5 million, one-year contract that could match his 2007 salary of $7 million if he reaches all of his performance bonuses.

Compare this to, say, the four-year, $48 million contract given to ex-Twin Carlos Silva by the Seattle Mariners in December. Over his four full seasons, the soon-to-turn-29 Silva has gone 49-47 with a 4.42 ERA over 773.2 innings. Livo, allegedly 33, has gone 50-49 with a 4.33 ERA in that same four-year span totaling 911.2 innings. Silva has struck out 3.6 batters per nine innings and walked 1.3 per nine over those past four seasons, while Livo has countered with a K/9 of 5.4 and a BB/9 of 3.2.

You could make an argument that Silva is likely to outperform Hernandez this year, particularly pitching in Safeco Field. You could not make an argument that the disparity in these two pitchers' contracts is warranted based on their credentials. Congratulations to the Twins, who found a mentor and an innings-devourer at a ridiculously low price in today's market.

Baseball Evolution Elects Its 2008 Hall of Fame Class!

Tim Raines | Ray Dandridge | Bill Foster | Frank Selee | Darrell Evans | George Sisler | Tony Lazzeri

Have you been depressed for the past month because the Baseball Writers Association of America failed to elect Tim Raines into the Cooperstown's Hall of Fame? Never fear, the Baseball Evolution Hall of Fame is here! We are proud to announce that Tim Raines has been unanimously, and without reservations, elected into the Baseball Evolution Hall of Fame, a proper recognition of his status as the second best leadoff hitter of all time.

Addtionally, Frank Selee, Ray Dandridge, Bill Foster, George Sisler, and Tony Lazzeri have gained election into the Baseball Evolution Hall. Selee and Dandridge made particularly strong showings, each gaining election in the 2008 class after having received just three of six possible votes in 2007, which gives hope to all of the other holdovers on the Baseball Evolution ballot.

Full coverage of the Class of 2008

February 3 - Royal Turbo Tankings

Thanks in part to frequent Fan Forum contributor yankeefan, we now have 108 Turbo Tankings logged in the Baseball Evolution Compendium.

In poker, a Royal Straight Flush is the rarest hand you can get. In baseball, a Royal Turbo Tanking is the most common way for a starting pitcher to hit the showers before the end of the first inning. In these 108 games, the Royals have authored a dozen (11.1%) of the first-inning barrages that have sent starters packing.

Coincidence? Perhaps. Stay tuned as we sift through game logs and discover more Turbo Tankings. In the meantime, the next time you're feeling good about starting your fantasy pitcher against the Kansas City Royals, remember in the back of your mind that you are actually taking quite a gamble.

January 28 - Linear Saves

Keith has often wondered how to evaluate the relievers of today versus the relievers of the 1970s and early 1980s, who often had to pitch two or more innings to earn their saves and were often used in important non-save situations. Or among today's closers, how would anyone reconcile Billy Wagner's dominant ERA with Trevor Hoffman's dominant save totals? And how can anyone justly compare a dominant reliever with a short career to a steady but unspectacular reliever? These questions have just become easier to answer with Keith's invention of Linear Saves.

January 23 - Expansion Franchises Expanding Baseball Minds -

Only four new franchises have graced Major League Baseball over the past 30 years: The Diamondbacks, Rays, Rockies, and Marlins. This foursome has enjoyed varying degrees of success, but with recent emphasis on stockpiling young talent, all four have revolutionized player management philosophies and appear poised for prolonged excellence.

January 21 - The Fabulous Fifties

Baseball in the 1950's has always been regarded as pretty fabulous; it was if you were a fan of a New York team, anyway. So the unexpected happens when one of the biggest Yankees fans around chronicles the decade from a New York point of view: he finds evidence that the decade may not have been all whipped cream and cherries. Read Tony's epic account of New York baseball during the Fabulous 50's:

1949-1951 | 1952-1954 | 1955-1959

January 19 - Small Market Strategies -

Asher and Keith awoke from a collective nightmare the other day.  During the shared dream, they envisioned themselves running a Major League Baseball team that had sparse talent, no budget, and jaded, unsupportive fans.

That's right, they each dreamt that they were Neal Huntington, the new general manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After the initial shock, requisite scream, and a change of underwear, the Baseball Evolution Co-Founders decided to face their fears.  What would a Neal Huntington, or those like him, need to do to field a competitive team?  How does one go into rebuilding mode without tools and construction material?  After much thought, they came up with five rules to follow if you are a general manager of a depraved small market franchise.

January 8 - Pitching a New Game -

Don't be shocked if Brian McNamee recants his allegations of Roger Clemens' steroid use. Don't be moved by it, either.

Following the Mitchell Report, baseball writers wondered whether or not Roger Clemens' Hall of Fame bust had been destroyed or merely sullied. Fans who had never given any thought to Roger Clemens being a steroid user were shocked by the notion. If Clemens is to be believed, his wife and children have become distraught by the media onslaught. Unlike others named who apologized and "confessed," like his good friend Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens decided to go on the offensive against the Report, and his intentions are clear.

January 5 - A Swish or a Miss? -

The A's made their second blockbuster trade of the winter, and once again, the consensus is that they made a shrewd move. This time, however, poupular sentiment has Billy Beane's trade partner getting fleeced, while everyone thought that the Diamondbacks did well to acquire Dan Haren.

Asher agrees that the White Sox made a terrible move, while Keith believes that the Sox actually fared better than the Diamondbacks did.

January 1 - 2007 Prediction Review -

With the new year upon us, it's time to forget about the past and look squarely ahead, right? Wrong! This is, not The staff of Baseball Evolution has taken an in-depth (and sometimes painful) look at our pre-season predictions last season. We've evaluated them honestly, and present our findings.

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Ron Santo: Cubs Legend

Pat Hughes and Ron Santo were the Chicago Cubs' WGN Radio announcing team for 15 seasons. Their unique on-air chemistry became known as "the Pat and Ron Show" with fans tuning in as much for their eccentric banter as for Cubs baseball itself.

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