Archive for November, 2006

Pujols P.O’ed Over M.V.P.

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, November 30, 2006 01:18 PM Comments: 0

I always adored Albert Pujols for being an unselfish player since watching a piece on ESPN profiling his MVP season in 2005. Even after bombing the Houston Astros that year in the NLCS, he was discouraged at himself, saying that he could have done more to help the club reach the World Series.  When I read the article from the AP about his bitterness of losing out on the MVP voting I was shocked.

            "Someone who doesn’t take his team to the playoffs doesn’t deserve to win the MVP."

I don’t know why I’m uneasy about the fact that a professional athlete in 2006 is selfish? Isn’t winning the World freakin’ Series good enough for you? But hey, I’m sure he was looking forward to banking 200,000 dollars for winning the MVP . I guess now he has to fly the family to the Bahamas instead of St. Tropez this winter.

Maybe he is right. In the age where ‘team players’  have been replaced by ‘hired mercenaries’ this shouldn’t shock me. But, I thought that Pujols was the one of the last ‘team first’ guys left.

The second after the final out is made at the World Series the debate of who the MVP of each respected league is debated.  Defining  "MVP" is different to each sports writer who contemplates its meaning. MVP is such a vague term whose hazy requirements for candidacy makes it such a difficult trophy to award. What are the guidelines for the ‘Most Valuable Player’ if any?

Nicholas Buonome believes that media bias and geographical location helps propel a certain player to the top. He finalizes that Win Shares should be the determining factor for declaring MVP’s and Cy Young winners.

Or you could go the traditional route, statistical comparison. Dayne Perry at Foxsports.com makes the argument that statistically Ryan Howard should be second fiddle to Pujols in 2006. Furthermore, he continues to say the AL MVP Justin Morneau isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team. He even goes as far as to declare Morneau’s winning the MVP vote as "one of the worst MVP selections in history."

Since MVP voting is about as clear as defining 1st amendment rights an undisputed winner will never be crowned.

So I ask you, can the NL MVP please stand up?


Eaton In, Wolf and Dellucci Out

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, November 28, 2006 03:25 PM Comments: 0

The Phillies rotation is experienced a slight makeover yesterday as the Phillies signed Adam Eaton and Randy Wolf skipped town for Los Angeles.  Eaton, who was originally drafted by the Phils in 1996 but traded for Andy Ashby in 1999, is 54-45 with a 4.40 ERA over seven injury-plagued seasons with San Diego and Texas.  The right-hander is expected to round out the rotation with Myers, Lieber, Hamels, and Moyer.  Unlike last season, the Phillies appear to have an Opening Day rotation already set well in advance of the season with very few rookie question marks.  In fact, Baseball Reference compares Eaton to a Brett Myers or Jason Marquis.

Eaton is suspected to have signed a three-year contract worth somewhere in the ballpark of $24 million.  A mutual option for a fourth year is believed to have been negotiated as well.  It breaks down as follows:  Eaton will make $6.875 million in 2007, $7.635 million in ’08, and $8.5 million in ’09. He has a $1 million signing bonus and there is a $500,000 buyout of the mutual option for 2010. There are incentives clauses for each year, with $250,000 for 200 innings pitched, and an extra $250,000 if he surpasses 220 each year.  The deal will become official once Eaton passes a physical today.

Keith Law from ESPN Insider feels Philly may not have been the smartest move for Eaton (or for the Phils for that matter).  

Citizens Bank Park isn’t a very good fit for Eaton, who is a slight fly-ball pitcher with a chronic home run problem. Citizens Bank Park was plus-20 percent for home runs last season and plus-29 percent in ’05; Eaton gave up 11 bombs in just 65 innings in ’06 and has been homer-prone for his entire career despite spending 2004 and 2005 in one of the best pitchers’ parks in baseball (San Diego’s Petco Park).

The consensus is though that Eaton has more potential than what he has shown thus far:  he could be a 20-game winner or another overpriced dud.

Randy Wolf, meanwhile, is returning home to California to pitch with the Dodgers.  Well, not yet anyway.  There is a strong possibility Dodger’s GM, Ned Colletti is stocking up on pitching as trade bait to land a slugger.  Regardless, the Wolf Pack has left the park as Randy signed a one-year deal worth $8 million – not much less than what he was getting in Philly.  Also flying the coop is David Dellucci, who signed with Cleveland for 3-years/$11.5 million.


Ryan Howard wins NL MVP

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, November 20, 2006 01:28 PM Comments: 0

You heard it here first, Ryan Howard has been selected as the 2006 National League’s Most Valuable Player.  In a race that pitted him against World Series-winner Albert Pujols, Howard’s home runs and unmatched offensive production came out on top.  This will add another honor to Howard’s nascent MLB career.  Just this season he has garnered the following awards:

  • National League MVP
  • MVP of the Japan All-Star Series
  • Silver Slugger Award
  • Hank Aaron Award 
  • Home Run Derby Champion
  • The Sporting News Player of the Year
  • August and September Player of the Month 
  • Player of the Year Award and the National League Outstanding Player Award, as determined by his peers.  

The official announcement will come today at 2pm on ESPN.  More details to follow.  Congratulations, Ryan!

More DetailsBaseball Writers’ Association of America MVP Ballot

From the results, it appears the race was not as close as many people thought it would be.  Ryan Howard received 20 first-place votes and 12 seconds (no third-place voters) which totaled 388 points; while Albert Pujols went 12-19-1 for 347 points.  Ryno finished the season with 58 homers,149 RBIs and batted .313. 

This means that Howard is the second player in MLB history to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards in back-to-back seasons; Cal Ripken is the other.  Cal and Ryan also both won the home run derby and MVP in the same year.

Two other Phillies were represented on the ballot.  Chase Utley finished with 98 points for 8th place and Jimmy Rollins, surprisingly, was awarded 2 points placing him 22nd.  This means that the Phillies as a team finished with 486 points, the most total points out of any team. The Mets had only 402 points among 4 players.


Cubs Give Soriano 136 Million Reasons Why

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, November 19, 2006 03:09 PM Comments: 0

Chicago’s ESPN affiliate is saying that Alfonso Soriano has reported inked an eight year, 136 million dollar contract with the Chicago Cubs. This earmarks an already active Cubs team who resigned both Kerry Wood and Aramis Ramirez and included Mark DeRosa as another key addition. I’d imagine that the news will be confirmed by The Tribune through team officials on Monday but it leaves the question of ‘What Now’ for the Phils?


Wes Helms Third In 2007

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, November 16, 2006 05:46 AM Comments: 0

Sometime over the course of today, Wes Helms will finalize a deal which will make him a Phillie through 2008. He’ll bank 5.5 million with the opportunity of a third year option of up to 8 million dollars.

Congratulations Wes! You’re .329 AVG over the course of 140 games last year has propelled you to almost double your total career earnings , 6.68 million since 1998, in just two years of play. Good for you. But, what can you expect from a team that may wish to find itself into the ’07 post season?

You’ll be penned as the opening day starter in 2007 with minimal expectation from the fans. You’ve only played 267 innings of third base over the last two years and only 88 1/3 in 2006. If someone asked me which third baseman in 2006 had a .938 fielding percentage and 3.06 range factor, I would immediately say David Bell. Of course I would quickly be corrected because it is you who has such David Bell-like fielding numbers. Don’t be discouraged Wes. I’d imagine that with a Phillies lead heading into the later innings you’re going to hit the showers early. You’ll get the Burrell treatment and get replaced by Abe Nunez who is always eager to  perform  the mop up duty for  the defensively inclined position players he spells late in the game.

On the days you’re not playing you’ll be a huge upgrade to the non-existing Phillies bench. Down the stretch last year we counted on "Sausage Beater" and "Phillie Killer" to provide pop to set pace for the array of bench speed. Ask around and you’ll see that the "Phillie Killer" did just that even though he now wears the P on his hat.  Mike Bourn, Chris Roberson and resent demotee Joe Thurston had trouble creating any offense of their own. But, I know you’ll set the table for them. Hitting frozen rope doubles in the gap then make the turn for the bench as your fleet footed replacement takes over for you.

But it’s ok. You’re not hear to win games with you’re glove or speed. You are a guy who sees the ball well and can hit the ball in the gaps, evident by your 24 extra base hits. If the Phillies go into spring training with you as their top free agent signing then we all may as well just look forward to the 2008 season instead.


Trivia – University Challenge

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, November 14, 2006 03:04 PM Comments: 0

Which Pennsylvania university has produced the most MLB players?


Minor League Team Gets a Name

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, November 14, 2006 10:14 AM Comments: 1

A story we’ve mention from time-to-time, the AAA move from Scranton to Allentown (with a layover in Ottawa), took a funny turn today.  It has been reported that the team will be known as the Lehigh Valley IronPigs.  Now, I’m not from the land of Crayola so perhaps the reference is lost on me, but I think this is a bit ridiculous nonetheless.  (Actually, the name refers to pig iron, the area’s historic industry)  This new development comes in line with the new name of the Phillies’ New York-Penn League team, the Williamsport Crosscutters

I understand that from a marketing perspective, there is some value in branding your team with a goofy name that will sell hats to frat guys.  IronPigs co-owner Joe Finley defended the choice.  "There really is a science behind this. We made a $14 million dollar investment in the team, so it’s not a bunch of guys sitting around picking something out of the air. A lot of research and analysis went into this."  Really?  Then, I would ask for my money back.

Before IronPigs can take to the field for the 2008 season in Allentown, the team formerly known as the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Red Barons will have to play a season in Ottawa, under the banner of the Lynx.  So for those who were wondering, in minor league migration situations such as these, the players move to the new city along with the affiliation.  This will undoubtedly cause the Phillies front office to rethink their player personnel decisions.  Unlike last year, where starters were often shuffled between Scranton and Philly, it will be a bit more difficult to call a guy one morning in Ottawa and expect him to pitch that night in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark.  Then there’s the whole issue of passport control.  Also, though, I would seriously consider the possibility that the colder weather north of the border (7-10 degrees lower in April and May on average when compared to Scranton) might affect pitching arms.  Although I agree with the decision to upgrade the Phillies AAA facilities and bring team closer to Philadelphia, the steps taken in the meantime have been quite questionable.


Sheffield Gets Served, Soriano On The Horizon

Posted by Brian Michael, Sun, November 12, 2006 01:59 AM Comments: 0

Gary Sheffield could only sit and watch as Bobby Abreu claimed his place as the best right fielder in New York (No disrespect Shawn Green). After his trade deadline arrival from the Phils, Bobby A batted a Mantle-esque .330, paired with 7 home runs, 42 RBIs, and slugged a Ruthian .507. He was one of the few stars that shined in the dim lit sky that was the Yankee’s postseason offense by hitting .333 while reaching base in all four postseason games. Abreu’s exceptional play during the final half and postseason forced Brian Cashman to flip Sheffield to Detroit in exchange for three minor league pitchers a.k.a. 2007 in-season trade bait.

I’m sure Shef is eager to improve upon his dismal 2006 season. Making his return to the field on September 22nd, Sheffield batted .250 with two homeruns and collected only 6 RBIs for the remaining 9 games of the season. It was apparent the hand injury still lingered even after his return. Subtracting his 2 bombs, his only other extra base hit had been a double. Furthermore, his 6 RBIs came at the expense of the forgotten element of the AL East – Tampa, Toronto, and Baltimore – who were auditioning minor league pitchers for the following season. His lackluster offensive production followed him into the postseason where he only could manage one hit. Sheffield’s RBI single in the 1st inning of Game 1 tamed the feared middle lineup combo, featuring Sheffield, Jason Giambi and A-Rod, combined to go 1-34.

Starting Sunday the Phillies can tender offers to players who filed for free agency. Priorities for the Phils during the off-season are to improve the bullpen, acquire a player who can bat behind Ryan Howard and to get rid of Pat Burrell at any cost. Targeted prospects of the Phils, made by various sources, include outfielder Alfonso Soriano, pitcher Miguel Batista and infielder Mark DeRosa.

Raise your hand if you want Alfonso Soriano playing left field for the Phillies in 2007. For all of you who didn’t then you must have read Bill Conlin’s column in the Daily News on Friday. He chronicled the continuing problems of strikeouts and runners left on base with Soriano plugged in the lineup in place of Burrell. His point was well delivered in the scenario of what if Howard, Soriano and Utley loaded the bases. He indicated that Howard running in front of Soriano is like having driving a Chevette clogging up the fast lane. Also, who drives those three guys across the plate if a situation like that occurs?

Despite his well articulated argument, I’m going to have to disagree with it. Conlin’s attitude toward acquiring Soriano is comparable to the Phillies outlook on acquiring superstar caliber players. Instead of pondering the worst possible outcome of a situation that hasn’t even happened yet, try to embrace the positives of having a quality high priced player, i.e. Soriano, on this team.

He is an offensive powerhouse who can hit to all fields with power who can separate the lefty combo of Howard and Utley, he can bat anywhere in the lineup and is leaps and bounds better defensively than Pat Burrell. How many times has Pat Burrell’s inability to track down and/or field a baseball hurt this team? There isn’t a number that exists to add up his failure. How many times did you leave your seat to get a hot dog when Pat Burrell stepped to the plate with runners on base? You might not be a psychic but you knew the outcome of his at bat before everyone else did.

Now, plug Soriano into those situations where Pat Burrell has failed. Even if Soriano comes out successful in only 30 percent of the time, the Phils are playing in October.

Hopefully, by this time next week I can cross Alfonso Soriano off my Christmas list.


Aaron Arbitration

Posted by Brian Michael, Sat, November 04, 2006 06:03 PM Comments: 0

Aaron Rowand certainly made a big splash in Philadelphia last season.  After ramming her face into the center field wall and winning the praise of fans everywhere, he soon fell out of favor after successive injuries arose from his hard-nosed style play prevented him from being effective offensively.  Now the indecisiveness in the field is also on display at the negotiating table.  Both the Phillies and Rowand last week declined the mutual options for 2007 that were in his original White Sox contract.  The potential 2007 deal concerned either a $3.25M player option or $5M club option.

It is likely though that Rowand will stay in Philadelphia under a new deal.  "He’s going to be here," Gillick said. "It’s just that there’s a difference of opinion of what his compensation should be."  In other words, Rowand’s 2007 contract will be decided by an arbitrator since he is now eligible for salary arbitration as a five-plus player.  Now although Gillick said Aaron would return, he did not say for sure he would be starting in center field.  Shane Victorino has shown that he is more than capable of playing and contributing everyday, so perhaps Rowand might be relegated to bench duty.  This would not be such a bad idea despite the approximately $4 million salary he will be earning.  It has often been said that Rowand’s biggest contribution to the team is his gritty attitude and playoff experience.  A bench role would allow Rowand to continue this role while also preventing his reckless play.  His offensive numbers were not stellar last year, but he still could provide some pop off the bench.  It will be interesting to see what happens to him in the off season, not only in terms of his contract, but also because he has still not officially recovered from his broken left ankle.