Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crispy Fried

[[Switching to first person]] By my count, I've written 600 or so posts here since the middle or late in Spring Training. By tagging a few posts, I believe my average word count is around 500 words. That comes out to about 300,000 words. I averaged about 20 posts every seven days for four months. I'm not complaining. I've enjoyed every solitary minute of it. There are few things I would rather do than write about baseball. But the Fan...I...feel a little crispy fried.

It doesn't help that business has picked way up. I'm not complaining about that either. The purpose of starting a company is to make it grow, right? Things are falling into place and the company is starting to go. That's a great thing. But I'm at that awkward stage in my business where there is too much for one person to do and not quite enough income yet to hire somebody to help.

I had to laugh the other day. I was sitting at my booth in the mall (yes, it's that time of year) and this wonderful fellow from Mars Hill, Maine, came in to contract with me to print a book about Mars Hill's history. It's a great project. But remember, it was at the time, November 17. So I asked him when he was expecting delivery (he is ordering 200 books). He says that he wants them for Christmas. What!? It's November 17th!

But one thing a new business never does is say no. So yes, I can do that for you. That's on top of the 200 cookbooks a local library wants printed and 1000 books a children's book maven wants and the 600 calendars a local business wants and the 3 calendars some grammy wants for her adorable grandson. Plus, I am fighting like crazy to get three of our own titles out in time for the season. So yeah, I am crispy fried at the moment.

A blogger who is a paid baseball writer has the luxury of just doing this for a living. An average schmo like me is only paid by the good friends my readers become over time. No complaints. I told you. I love doing this. But I'm also half Sicilian, and so I have an immense amount of guilt that I've only written three posts this week. Or was it four? Anyway. You get the idea.

So, this half-baked Sicilian, nearly over-the-hill, new business owner feels the need to apologize if you've come by and haven't seen a new post in a while. I guess in fairness to you, I'll have to express the obvious, that things will slow down here a bit until after Christmas. I'm not giving in totally to the obvious. Maybe I'll surprise you (and me) and after a little blip, continue the torrid pace that you've become accustomed to. Heck, if I get caught up, what else am I going to do at the mall, right?

So anyway, hang in there. I appreciate your patronage, except you don't buy anything. Hey, you know we do (funny how I always say, "we," when referring about the company when it's just an "I") great personalized calendars. Just send me 13 pictures and you too could give the gift sure to produce all the "AHs" this season. But you do invest your time. And time is money so they say. And I'm happy you do. This isn't a curtain call. This isn't even an intermission. This is just a blip in real time. Hang in there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

AL Cy Young Award - Zack Greinke

The voters for the Cy Young Award in the American League got it right. Zack Greinke was baseball's best pitcher last year. He didn't win 20. He didn't win 19 or 18 or even 17. He won 16. And the big fear in this corner was that his win total would keep Greinke out of the running for the only pitcher who should have been considered. Those fears were ungrounded as the right guy won.

Greinke was unbelievable in 2009. He led the league in ERA, ERA+, WHIP and a whole bunch of other statistics. He gave up only 11 homers all season. He struck out 242 in 229+ innings of work. His strikeout to walk ratio was 4.75. His Pythagorean won/loss record was 21-6. His FIP was 2.42. Just about every way you look at his season, he comes out a winner.

Felix Hernandez also had a wonderful season that would have garnered the award in many other seasons besides this one. But for this season, he was the second best pitcher

The only problem with the results are what it will mean for the attention that Greinke gets for winning the award. Some of his words after winning show the extent of his anxiety at the new found attention he will be receiving. He seemed more anxious about winning the award than thrilled at that's a bit worrisome. But hopefully, so day down the road, he can look back at this time in his life and really enjoy his accomplishments.

Zack Greinke was the best pitcher in baseball in 2009. And he won the Cy Young. How cool is that?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Award Gone Bad

A while back in this space, this writer did a complete analysis of the rookie candidates for Rookie of the year. After looking over that piece, this writer is still convinced the conclusions were correct. But those choices were not the players who won the Rookie of the Year honors: Chris Coghlan and Andrew Bailey. Both had excellent freshman campaigns. But they weren't the best rookies in their league. In Bailey's case, he wasn't even the best rookie on his team.

Let's start with Coghlan. His offensive year was brilliant, no doubt about it. He just kept getting better and better as the year progressed. But his defense was awful which is understandable considering he was playing a position out of his experiences. Left field is usually where you put your worst outfielder. Left fielders never get Gold Glove awards. And to be rated a poor fielder for a position that is rife with poor fielders should have been given more consideration in this vote. The award should have gone to a pitcher.

While the Fan could go on all day about how Randy Wells only got one vote from all the writers for this award, the analysis shows that it should have been a horse race between J. A. Happ and Tommy Hanson. The Fan gave a slight edge to Hanson who finished the season stronger.

In the American League, the award went to a closer. We have gone round and around in this space about the value of closers. It's been stated clearly here that there is no way the Yankees win five championships since 1996 without Mariano Rivera (four with him as closer and one as a setup guy). But just as clearly stated in this space is that Rivera should never win a Cy Young award because the innings he pitches just don't add up in value as much as a starter's innings.

Andrew Bailey certainly had a remarkable first year in the majors. His stats were lights out across the board. They were better than Rivera, better than Nathan, better than Jonathan Papelbum. But he saved 26 games for a low ranked team and his save total wasn't anywhere close to the leaders. Meanwhile, his teammate, Brett Anderson came in sixth place for the award despite having the 8th best FIP for starting pitchers in the American League.

This is another case where baseball writers look at a guy's record of 11-11 and think that tells the whole story. If Brett Anderson had better luck, or better guys playing offense behind him, he might have gone 16-6 or something and would have been given the award. But instead, the writers took the easy way out and overvalued a closer, granted, a superior closer, at the expense of a really good starting pitcher.

This award season is not shaping up very well. We've had Gold Gloves made out of tin, Silver Sluggers made out of aluminum and now the ROYs look pretty cheap as well.