Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Cubs' Lineup

Banter-favorite, Buster Olney recently posed a question to his readers: How would you construct the Cubs' lineup?

Olney's Lineup

2B Mike Fontenot, L
1B Derrek Lee, R
RF Milton Bradley, S
3B Aramis Ramirez, R
CF Kosuke Fukudome, L
LF Alfonso Soriano, R
C Geovany Soto, RS
S Ryan Theriot, R

Banter's Lineup (vs. RHP / LHP)

The signing of Milton Bradley gives Lou Piniella the flexibility to do a number of different things. However, he would be best suited using these two lineups.

2B Fontenot / SS Theriot
3B Ramirez / LF Soriano
1B Lee
RF Bradley
LF Soriano / 3B Ramirez
C Soto
CF Fukudome
SS Theriot / 2B Fontenot


*If after all the money the Cubs have spent and all the deals they have made this offseason Kosuke Fukodome finds himself in a major RBI spot in the batting order, they will have accomplished nothing.

After July 31 (excluding playoffs), Fukodome's stats looked like this:

AB: 128
HR: 2
RBI: 18
R: 12
SB: 2

His post-All Star Break splits were .217/.314/.326 also known as Willie Bloomquist territory.

As bad as that was, his postseason was worse. He mustered only a single in ten at bats while whiffing four times.
*Sure, the lefty-righty alternation can be an advantage, but the Cubs right handed batters handle right handed pitching relatively well aside from Soriano.
Soto hit 18 of 23 home runs off righties.
*Why alternate Soriano and Ramirez in the 2 / 5 holes against? Check out the numbers:
Soriano's splits against LHP / RHP last season: 351; .404; .710 / .252; .319; .460.

Ramirez's splits against LHP / RHP last season: .239; .333; .388 / 305; .394; .560.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

In the Eyes of the Mets: Lowe vs. Perez


Coming into the offseason, the New York Mets had a gaping hole in the bullpen and the middle of their rotation. GM Omar Minaya addressed the bullpen early by signing Fransisco Rodriguez away from the LA Angels and acquiring J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. Incidentally, Minaya may have also improved his bullpen by trading away Aaron Heilman in the Putz deal, but we will save that topic for another day.

Rodriguez, as even casual fans know, set the Major League record for saves in a season (62) last year. Unfortunately for the Mets, Rodriguez was labeled as a Type A free agent meaning the team that signed him - in this case the Mets - would have to surrender its first round pick (assuming the signing team's first round pick fell outside the top 15 picks). In addition, the team "losing" the Type A free agent receives a supplemental first round pick. Because of this, the Mets' first pick will be (approximately) number 66 overall.

Lowe vs. Perez

After strengthening the 'pen, the Mets honed in on Type A free agent Derek Lowe of the LA Dodgers and their own Type A free agent, Oliver Perez. Who should the Mets have signed?

Assuming that the Mets could only afford either Lowe or Perez, it would seem to me that Lowe should have been the choice.

As mentioned above, by signing K-Rod, the Mets were forced to surrender their first round selection. So, if they would have signed another Type A free agent, they would have "only" sacrificed their second round choice. Let's assume this Type A free was Derek Lowe. The Dodgers would receive pick 66 and a supplemental first rounder from the league. Using logic from above, the Mets would not have been able to re-sign Perez.

The team signing Perez would then owe the Mets its first round pick (or second round pick if it picked outside the top 15). For argument's sake, let's assume the Atlanta Braves who actually signed Lowe decided to sign Perez with all their excess cash. The Mets would receive the Braves' second round pick (approximately number 50 overall) and a supplemental first round (approximately number 41).

Let's play a quick game of multiple choice. Which package would you rather have:

A) Oliver Perez and pick 66; or
B) Derek Lowe, pick 41 and pick 50 (with the possibility that this pick could end up being a late first rounder if a team picking outside the top 15 - possibly the Diamondbacks or Dodgers - signed Perez).

The Mets' farm system can be described as mediocre at best. (Keith Law ranked their system 17th best in the Majors, but that seems awfully kind.) Letting Perez sign elsewhere would have been an intelligent way to recoup some draft picks. Now, Omar Minaya's hand is somewhat forced. He will probably have to re-sign Perez, because without him, the rotation would be in shambles.

When trying to replenish a farm system that has been somewhat depleted by trades, it would have made more sense to pursue Lowe more aggresively rather than re-signing Perez.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Notes from the World's Most Famous Arena

I went to an Islander-Ranger game with my father a few weeks back at Madison Square Garden and was struck by four things:

  1. Ranger fans still chant "Potvin sucks" in reference to Denis Potvin, the hated Islander defenseman who retired 21(!) years ago. I think it's about time to rally around something else.

  2. There's no chance the Islanders lose the race for worst record in the NHL.

  3. The City of Philadelphia's Tourism Agency has put an enormous advertisement on the west side of the Garden (example 4,581 the US is in a Recession). How desperate can the Garden be for revenue that they allow the home of two despised rivals - 76ers and Flyers - to advertise on the outside of it?

  4. During each intermission, two kids were selected to ride on the zamboni. As cool as that must have been for those kids, it was equally uncool, and borderline pathetic, that they they were forced to wear helmets. Were these kids a threat to jump off the zamboni without notice? Have there been zamboni catastrophes before that I don't know about? Are kids in danger of having objects heaved at them? Are these kids' parents petrified their babies will be tossed off the zamboni during a hairpin turn? So then, why do these kids need helmets? This is another reason we, as a country, can be perceived as being weak. There is zero chance kids in Russia or any other badass country would make kids riding on zambonies wear helmets. And, what's next? Kids on playgrounds wearing helmets? Kids on Ferris Wheels? Where does it end? So many questions, no good answers.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Don Cheadle

I'm not much of a pop culture guy but how far has Don Cheadle's career fallen? A few years ago he was nominated for Best Actor in Hotel Rwanada. Now, he's starring in Hotel for Dogs.

Who is Cheadle's athletic equivalent? I'd vote for Shaun Alexander.

Both peaked in 2005. Cheadle nominated for Best Actor. Alexander won NFL MVP.

Both seem like standup guys. Cheadle does charity work for the people of Darfur. Alexander has his own charity (The Shaun Alexander Foundation).

Both were put in situations to succeed but struggled when depended upon to perform without a supporting cast.

Both have completely fallen off the map (of relevancy) in 2009.

It's a shame.