Saturday, March 15, 2014

BBA Linkfest - General Marchmellow

Welcome to another installment of the BBA Linkfest where I take a romp around the sites of the General chapter of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. The General chapter is not beholden to any team or theme, but writes about baseball from all angles. So pour another cup of coffee and get ready for some good reading because here they come!
Shawn Anderson's Hall of Very Good has always served up interesting things on his site. This week, he catches Bryce Harper being a Good Samaritan.
TheNaturalMevs has been heavily preparing for this season's fantasy baseball drafts over at Diamond Hoggers.
Over at The Sports Banter, Mike Spiciarich dreams of what to him would be the perfect trade.
Hans Weisse of Dugout 24 looks at four great hitters to help you to become a better hitter yourself: Ty CobbPete RoseHank Aaron and Alex Rodriguez.
Livan Hernandez officially retired this week. Michael Clair of Old Time Family Baseball recaps Livan's career "highlights."
Sully of Sully Baseball has to be the most consistent and prolific baseball podcaster of all time. There is nobody even close. And the quantity does not hurt the quality.
Baseball Cisco Kid Style really likes what the Braves did to lock up their young talent.
My buddy, Dan, of Left Field really loves Daylight Savings Time.
Mario Salvini of Che Palle! has a story of a Babe Ruth homer that occurred one hundred years ago.
Dan Day of The Ball Caps Blog has come full circle on the Chief Wahoo debate.
For a great preview of the 2014 Chicago White Sox, Mike Viso's of Through the Fence Baseball is thoughtful and well done.
Very few people have done more high-quality thinking on the Hall of Fame than Bryan O'Connor. His post on Replacement Level Baseball on the subject is outstanding.
Matt Whitener of Cheap.Seats.Please. has a very thorough 2014 preview of the AL East and is very informative and interesting.
Nobody can replace Mariano Rivera. But somebody has to be the Yankees' closer. Chris Carelli of The Baseball Stance gauges David Robertson's chance of succeeding in the role.
Justin Jabs of Baseblog introduces us to a new website that piques my interest.
We have already seen a preview of the AL East. Now we have the AL Central covered very well by Sean Morash of Off the Bench.
Speaking of the AL Central, Payoff Pitch drills down to give a preview of the 2014 Kansas City Royals.
I have misspelled Kenneth Matinale's name three straight times. His very good addition to the General Chapter, Radical Baseball, doesn't deserve that. Sheesh. Anyway, check out his post on Barry Bonds.
Spring has finally arrived for David over at I am jealous as I look out at 18 inches of fresh snow delivered over the last three days. David's post is fantastic though.
The always entertaining, highly informative High Heat Stats is also educational. For an example, check out Doug's college seminar on Run Shares.
Taylor of MLBeef made sure he will be watching baseball this summer.
I was tempted to link Clayton Richer's link to Keith Olbermann and that jerk's tirade on Barry Bonds. But instead, I went with a more fun link to a Jose Reyes rap linked on Baseball Hot Corner.
Justin Miller of insidetheMLB has a very interesting look at how many stars a team has to have to win the World Series.
I do not understand how baseball betting works. As such, Chuck Booth's piece over at MLB Reports on the Tampa Bay Rays' odds of winning the AL East confused the heck out of me. But if you get that kind of stuff, this post is for you.
Cover Those Bases has a nice retrospective on Rick Ankiel's career. Ankiel recently announced his retirement.
Pepper's Niko Goutakolis had a major announcement on his site the other day. Very cool for him and congratulations!
Last but the least, my last post was on the Cleveland Indians. Thank you kindly for your attention and I hope you clicked on a lot of these links because they deserve your support.
Have a great weekend.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Yankees versus the Orioles

I wrote a full length article of how the Yankees match up with the Orioles over at It's About the Money. Both teams seem to be undervalued by projection systems and both will play a lot of games together.
Position by position match-ups and more. Check it out!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are the Indians this good?

I struggle between thinking that Spring Training means diddly to seeing a team like the Cleveland Indians being 11-2 so far in their spring schedule and wondering if I should be impressed. I think that if everyone expected the Indians to be terrible--and they don't--then I would think nothing of the record. But in light of a surprising 92-win season in 2013, maybe the spring record means something and looks ahead to the season to come.
At first glance, the Indians did not seem to improve over a year ago. In fact, some notable subtractions lead you to wonder if the team's pitching will be weaker than a season ago. Gone are Ubaldo JimenezScott KazmirMatt AlbersRich Hill and Joe Smith--all to free agency.
Jimenez and Kazmir accounted for 61 starts and 23 wins and Kazmir was the team's only left-handed starter, something the team has none of this season. Joe Smith was one of their best relief pitchers in 2013, Albers had a good season and Hill was a LOOGY with occasional successes and failures.
The current rotation projects to be Justin MastersonCorey KluberZach McAllisterDanny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco. That has the potential to be a pretty solid rotation. Salazar has to take the next step in his development and Kluber and McAllister have to consistently show what they did in flashes a season ago. Masterson is not your typical ace and can be anywhere from terrific to mediocre depending on the start.
For depth, Tyler Cloyd has looked good this spring, Shaun Marcum has to come back from injury, T.J. House was already optioned, but he is the only left-handed option. And Trevor Bauer continues to baffle with why he cannot break through in the Majors.
The bullpen will benefit from a healthy Vinnie Pestano, who is very hard to hit when he is on, John Axford, who needs to find his old Brewers form and Josh Outman and Mark Rzepczynski from the left side. Rzepczynski must stay in baseball because his nickname, "Scrabble," is among the funniest ever!
The bullpen could be and should be as good as last year's model. If not, they are fairly easy to rebuild.
The only real upgrade on offense should be David Murphy in right field. Murphy, if you discount last year as a fluke, is a big offensive upgrade on what Stubbs gave the Indians last year.
The other offensive upgrades should come from within the team itself. To consider the team won 92 games with Nick SwisherMichael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera all having seasons below their career norms. If two of the three bounce back, a lot more offense will be created.
Jason Kipnis has turned into a star, Michael Brantley is reliable and predictable and should have some new-found confidence with his new contract. Yan Gomes has taken over behind the plate and excelled last season while former starting catcher, Carlos Santana will play third if Lonnie Chisenhall cannot figure it out, or DH.
The bench should be very strong with Ryan Raburn mashing from the right side, Jason Giambi walking more than hitting and good utility options with Justin SellersMike Aviles and funnyman, Elliot Johnson.
The pitching can be as good as a year ago or it could be worse. I cannot see it being better than 2013. But if it can be as good, then the offense should be better just with internal options having bounce-back seasons.
The wild card here is Terry Francona. I happen to think Francona is in the group of top five managers in baseball. His record with the Red Sox and with the Indians last season speak volumes of somehow getting his players to perform better than the average team.
Fangraphs has the Indians projected at 82 wins. That is a full ten wins less than a season ago. That is a pretty big drop-off. I am hard pressed to think they can repeat 92 wins, though I can never discount the Francona-effect. I cannot see them losing 80 games either as predicted.
I am pretty sure this is a good enough team to win 85 to 88 games. That will put the Indians in the hunt. Just don't expect the Indians to win 82% of their games, which the team is doing this spring.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Are the Phillies as bad as they look?

Spring Training results are meaningless. The statistics mean nothing. There is nothing to see here. At least those are the things we are told. But what if miserable Spring Training results follow a miserable season and do not even look up to snuff to reach the miserable win projections the computers have in store for them in 2014? Maybe they are not so meaningless.
The Phillies of 2013 lost 89 games. The pitching, which just a couple of years ago looked dominant for years, finished fourteenth out of fifteen teams in earned run average. The offense, which was considered worse than the pitching, finished twelfth in OPS. That is hardly a recipe for good things to happen.
And what has the team done to bolster its 2014 chances? They brought in A.J. BurnettRoberto HernandezMarlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu. I don't know about you, but that wouldn't make me slap my knee and say, "Hot dang!" if I was a fan.
Burnett had better years for the Pirates, but he is just a few years from being run out of New York. Roberto Hernandez could not be fixed by the always fixing Tampa Bay Rays last season and was awful. Abreu is old and a wing and a prayer and Marlon Byrd rose from the dead last year for a very good season. Can he repeat it?
Top it off with Cole Hamels still being out of action all spring and shut down again recently and things are not looking good. So when I see a Spring Training record of 2-9-2, I do not see meaningless.
Cliff Lee is still slinging them from the left side and has been very good, but as usual, he has gotten no run support. Roberto Hernandez has looked okay but Burnett and hold-over, Kyle Kendrick have gotten cuffed around. Yes, it is early. It is always early. But it sure is troubling. Without Hamels, there is no fifth starter.
And then you get to the infield. So far this spring, the second basemen, shortstops and third basemen are a combined 25 for 176, a .142 batting average. Chase Utley has three singles and a walk in twenty plate appearances. Jimmy Rollins has two hits so far, one of them a homer. Cody Asche has three extra-base hits. But those are his only hits and he has struck out over 30% of the time. Freddy Galvis is batting .136. Kevin Frandsen is batting .158 and on and on it goes.
And then everyone is looking at the big guy at first base. Will he be platooned this season since he has lost the ability to hit lefties? Ryan Howard is batting .182 with two doubles and no homers and has struck out 37.4% of the time this spring. Meanwhile Darin Ruf is killing the ball. Good luck with that situation, Mr. Ryne Sandberg.

The outfield has been a slightly better story. least for two thirds of the outfield. Marlon Byrd and John Mayberry, Jr. are hitting well. But Domonic Brown is batting .091 with just two singles and a 30% strikeout rate.
Bobby Abreu was a nice story when first heard, but he is not hitting and looks old. And old describes many parts of the team. Rollins and Utley can still play up the middle, but their best years are behind them. Ryan Howard has not earned his keep in years with injuries and a bat that swings and misses way too often. Byrd will have to prove that despite his age, last year was not a fluke.
The bullpen should be okay, though Jonathan Papelbon has the bad habit of opening his mouth too often. But the overall pitching staff does not look promising at this point.
The projections have the Phillies finishing the same as a year ago with 73 wins and 89 losses. This is now Ryne Sandberg's team, but how much will that make a difference? He doesn't pitch and he doesn't bat. And the team did not get a significant boost when he took over last season.
Spring Training doesn't mean anything. That is what everyone says. And so I often have to caution myself from making too much of what I see. But what I see currently is a team that will be very fortunate to win 73 games. The 2014 Philadelphia Phillies look dreadful and it might be a very long season.