Saturday, February 28, 2004

Talkin' Baseball and Blogging

I had a fun conversation with Jeremy Heit tonight. Jeremy writes the aptly-named Jeremy Heit’s Blog. He focuses mainly on the Mets, but is not averse to commenting on anything and everything baseball-related. Give him a read if you haven’t already.

The back-and forth was entirely off-the-cuff and unplanned. It has been edited to make it readable by humans. We started out by talking about a report we got describing Scott Erickson’s performance throwing batting practice down in Port St. Lucie. Word has it that his sinker looked wonderful…

Jeremy Heit: It’s nice that his sinker is really good... until his arm falls off in two months.

Scott: Well, it was BP. Unlike Vinny, I can see why the Mets might want to take a look at him. Any sinkerballer has a good shot to do well in front of that infield D.

Jeremy Heit: I've actually been a proponent of Erickson's, mainly because he's a groundball pitcher. If he wins [the fifth starter spot] I won't go crazy. I just like to make fun of him because I'm convinced his arm will fall off by June

Scott: Oh, no, I agree that his arm's likely to fall right off of his body by June. No argument here. I'd like to see the kids get into the rotation ahead of him - I just think it's worthwhile to bring him to camp, just in case Trachsel's head blows up or something.

*Then we moved onto the impact of blogging on the mainstream media. More to come tomorrow on why we started discussing that topic. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer runs a Mariners blog on their website.…*

Jeremy Heit: I saw an article on Mariners bloggers... I think more mainstream newspapers are starting to recognize them…

Scott: I think they're going to have to recognize bloggers more. I get better analysis from blogs than from mainstream publications. It's just a matter of knowing which to read. Sooner or later, quite a few bloggers are going to be carried in local papers - by way of some cheap syndication agreement. That's my feeling, anyway. I mean hell, for now we're all doing it for free, and many of us are kicking the papers' asses.

Jeremy Heit: Very true. We probably don't write nearly as well, but we make up for it by not fluffing things up and using tired ideas (or not backing ideas up)...

Scott: Right, because we do it in an open forum, and are available to be called out, right in our own space... for those of us who have comment sections. Cliff has poked me a couple of times, and it definitely made me react.

Jeremy Heit: That's absolutely the best part and something people I think, would appreciate more. We are reachable if you disagree...

Scott: Exactly. Vinny and I go out of our way to be reachable, what with the AIM names and such. We need more readers, though, so people will actually take us up on it.

Jeremy Heit: I mean, seriously, where else could you get a ringing endorsement for Homer Bush to be the starting second baseman for the Yankees?

Scott: Hahaha... Pinto at Baseball Musings would like to see it... I really don't care who plays second this year. I'd prefer a glove man, of course, but I hope it's just a place-holder for Jeter.

Jeremy Heit: I think that's the problem with the papers. All they want to do is call for a trade, instead of realizing in house candidates might be decent. Or they just like to bash people like Cedeno and call him disinterested when you can see that most of his problems come from his loss of patience at the plate (and a little bit of a dipping average and lost speed... but the discipline plays a big part).

*Unavoidably, we came right back to the game on the field, somehow tying together Roger Cedeno and Alfonso Soriano.*

Scott: Right, Roger Cedeno used to be a very very very effective offensive player - you're dead on about why he's declined.

Jeremy Heit: Or they would have you think Soriano and Cedeno are the worst defensive players ever at their position while Jeter is good.

Scott: Yeah. According to Avkash's stuff, Soriano is about average. I'm not sure I buy that, but, believe it or not, that may be because I've watched him too much. His underhanded flip on the DP really pissed me off. When he fields the ball, he just looks clumsy. I guess maybe he gets the job done, but it sure looks like he just can't hack it out there.

Jeremy Heit: It's sorta like Cedeno... they look bad, so we think they stink. I think both are slightly below average because they have terrible hands. But to the point they are bad is overrated.

Scott: Now that you say that, I think I sense Billy Beane's ears pricking up ;-)

Jeremy Heit: Why’s that?

Scott: As soon as somebody is undervalued in some way, he's all over it. I wonder if he wouldn't part with a prospect or two in order to pick up a guy like Soriano.

Jeremy Heit: Soriano's defense, though not great, is undervalued. His offensive value is overrated and underrated in different circles, but he [Beane] can't possibly pay him if he wants to keep Chavez. And Soriano would piss him off twice as much as "Mr. Swing at Everything." You also see how much BA [Baseball America] picked on Billy and Moneyball in their opening to their top 25 prospects list on ESPN.com. That's all they do. ELIAS and BA seem to have agendas against all saber teams, but especially Billy (the Productive Outs article mostly spent its time poo pooing on those type teams (especially Oakland) yet endorsing OBP, a thing saber teams like. The “Moneyball isn't about OBP" thing is a whole different rant.

Scott: I know what you mean. However, Soriano has two arbitration years left. I would think the A's would be among the top teams at putting together an arbitration case, and having Alfonso in the Coliseum would drive down his numbers to the point that he would appear to most to be less valuable than he is. As teams wake up to the whole "OBP is important" thing, Beane is going to have to move on to something else to find undervalued players. If he gets into a pitchers' park now, especially given his sudden "aging," I think Soriano is actually likely to be undervalued for the next couple of years. Then Billy can trade him or let him go, getting the draft pick. I'm not saying it's likely, but I have to wonder.

Scott: I also wonder when he's [Beane] going to get around to defense and speed…

Jeremy Heit: I think he's actually bouncing OBP a little bit for defense. Right now I think he's building a team with guys who play good defense and are OBP inclined. Look at Mark Kotsay. Does anyone think he's a top defensive CF? Yet, he ranks 1 run higher than Mike Cameron on UZR (6th overall). I don't know if he'll ever really get into speed, but I think he's building a good defense, great pitching and a decent lineup, hoping for a little out of Dye. I'm very high on Durazo myself, but that's a personal opinion. Then again, according to I believe it was Schwartz, Durazo wasn't helpful at all last year. [Don’t know the reference, sorry. Jeremy – feel free to post the link in our comments. I’d like to see it, and will edit the post to include it.]

Scott: I know what you mean... although I suspect the Kotsay move probably began as "Who will take Terrence Long off my hands" and then evolved into "I can get Kotsay? Sweet." Kotsay, of course, is also a fairly decent OBP guy, much better than Long. Byrnes, though I like him, seemed to show last year that he's stretched as an everyday player. In the same move, he also let Ramon Hernandez go, which isn't awful considering he replaced him with Damian Miller.

Scott: Now I want to check salaries between Miller and Hernandez...

Jeremy Heit: Adam Melhuse, at least in my opinion, will be doing some catching. I think he's got a pretty decent bat

Scott: Miller, $3M gross for one year, Hernandez, $2.38M annually for two years. So a gradual switch to Melhuse actually saves him money, it would seem.

Jeremy Heit: Hernandez gets another year of arby too, right?

Scott: Melhuse was great in 77 ABs last year, that's certainly true... He's been a force in the minors too. Off the top of my head, I'm not sure about Hernandez's arbitration status. I'll believe you if you say it's true, but is that 2005 or 2006? He's signed through next year. (Hooray for Dugout Dollars!)

Jeremy Heit: Oh yeah, Billy signed him. He's the smart one who avoids arby with young players.

So there you have it. We start with Scott Erickson’s sinker and end by sucking up to Billy Beane, with a few departures along the way. You might not find this all that interesting, but I had a great time, so I decided to waste your time with it.

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