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January and February, 2010

In some ways, the American League is boring, as the same four teams seem to make the postseason just about every year. Not so in the National League, where the best team in the league tends to falter the following season.

In 2009, the Los Angeles Dodgers had the best record in the league with 95 victories. We need only look at their 2010 roster to know that they won't come anywhere close to that total this season, but the Curse of the NL's Best portends an ill fate as well.

The Minnesota Twins have never employed an opening day payroll as high as $72 million. Their recent history has been hallmarked by their star players departing, but the team somehow scrapping together enough bits to compete.

This year is different. The revenue expected to be generated by newly-constructed Target Field has allowed the 2010 opening day payroll to exceed $100 million. Rather than enduring their perennial deficit of talent, the Twins have made three key acquisitions without losing anyone of real importance.

But they did lose some THING of great importance, and that was the HHH Metrodome.

February 22, 2010 - What Does a 40-Save Closer Mean for Your Postseason Chances? - Billy Wagner was recently quoted as saying, "If I get 40 saves, there is a great chance the Braves are going to the playoffs." Wagner's motivations for the quote aside, let's evaluate its merit. Is a team with a 40-save closer really much more likely to make the playoffs than the average team?

February 14, 2010 - Derek Jeter, second best shortstop ever? - We used to find Boneheaded Sportswriters a bit more frequently than we do now, which is probably because we've geared ourselves away from reading Boneheaded Sportswriters as much as we once did. Nevertheless, after coming across yet another article that heaps blind praise upon Derek Jeter, we are reminded that, anytime we short on material, we can always find New York sportswriter to put into the hopper. Perhaps we should start a feature called the "Boneheaded Jeter Article" Award. This one argues that Derek Jeter is already the second-best shortstop of all-time. When it isn't busy contradicting itself, that is.

2/11/10: Glavine and Thomas Make It Official - After not having played at all in the 2009 season and receiving no interest as free agents this winter, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas have both officially retired from baseball.

Both players finished with some elite statistics. Glavine is one of 24 pitchers to win 300 games in his career while Thomas is one of 20 players with over 1,000 games played who is in the 3-4-5 club. Barring a revelation connecting them to performance-enhancing drugs, both will eventually become Hall of Famers, even though Thomas spent 1,311 of his 2,322 career games as a designated hitter. --KG

January 28, 2010 - Mark Redman Follow-Up - Baseball Evolution first unveiled the Mark Redman Award in 2006, meaning that we have some follow-up data for half a dozen Redman winners. We know who the 2009 winners are, but what does that mean for their 2010 campaigns and beyond? The answer may not be quite what you expect, although it still isn't good news for Edwin Jackson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

01/26/2010: A Harden Act to Follow? - Rich Harden made his major league debut with the Oakland A's in 2003. The A's went 493-407 (.548) from the beginning of 2003 through Harden's departure on July 8, 2008 including 58-31 (.652) in Harden's starts. Since then, Oakland has gone 101-132 (.433). Harden would seem to have almost as much impact on Oakland winning as the also oft-injured Kerry Wood has on the Cubs.

But Harden signed with the Rangers earlier in the offseason and Kerry Wood is under contract with Cleveland. If only there were another talented-yet-constantly-injured right-hander on the market that Oakland could add to return to their 90-win ways... oh that's right! Ben Sheets signed with the A's for a one-year, $10 million contract today even though he missed all of last year following elbow surgery and averaged 24 starts per season in the four years prior to that. He might be just what the A's need! .  --KG

January 21, 2010 - The Mark Redman Award is given annually to the pitcher in each league that most personifies crashing back down to earth after a strong start to the season. We find a plethora of candidates in each league for the 2009 Mark Redman Award, making the winners not as clear-cut as in some past seasons.

1/11/10 - McGwire Admits to Steroid Use - Mark McGwire has confirmed what most of the baseball world has suspected for a decade or so by admitting to steroid use throughout his baseball career. He remains one of a select group of players from the past two decades not to have lied about being clean and becomes one of an elite few who admitted to his misdeeds without someone holding hard evidence against him.

While McGwire's character remains commendable, several points about his confession leave a bad taste in the mouth. McGwire said that steroids were "readily available" as early as 1989, which may open the eyes of some people who believe that the Steroid Era did not begin until the mid-to-late 90s.

More importantly, knowing now for sure that McGwire used steroids for most of his career, we will never know what kind of a career he would have had without them. McGwire's best-ever home run rate of once every 10.6 at-bats will be forever questioned, and whether McGwire would have been forced to retire at the age of 37 just 17 homers shy of 600 if he hadn't been using steroids should be forever questioned. --KG

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