Sunday, March 14, 2010


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Steve Phillips molds an argument in defense of abortion by creating a situation where someone is plugged into a dieing violinist in order to keep the violinist’s kidneys functional, thus keeping him alive. However, that person is only plugged into the violinist because an orchestra that wants the violinist alive kidnapped them against their will. This situation attempts to parallel what happens to a female when she is impregnated without her consent (raped). The kidnapped person and an impregnated rape victim face a dilemma: unplug their body from the other person and concede the death of the other person (have an abortion) or stay plugged into the other person, which would keep them alive (continue with pregnancy).

Comparing a fetus to a living human being is a grossly weak analogy. Thomson weakens her argument because a fetus depends more on the mother than the violinist does on the kidnapped person. A fetus relies entirely on someone else to survive and potentially become a human being. The violinist is a living human being whose health has failed him and now relies on someone else to avoid death. A fetus relies completely on someone else to even be given the chance to survive autonomously while a human being relies on someone else only to delay death. Someone who is against abortion would argue that we have a greater moral responsibility for the fetus than the violinist.

Let’s assume you wake up on morning to have a small puppy on your front doorstep. This puppy’s eyes have not yet opened; it looks to be near death, it does not know where to find water nor food for survival. Now let’s assume there is an older dog digging through your trash on your back doorstep. If you take the trash from the dog the dog may die from starvation. Under the violinist argument we would hold the same moral responsibility for the puppy to the grown dog. I feel this argument is weak in this regard as people will disregard it in lieu of feeling a fetus depends on its mother more than the violinist depends on a person.

The People Seed
Phillips’ people seed analogy is an adequate analogy in defense of abortion. The analogy does not limit itself to a situation in which a woman is impregnated by rape like many pro-abortion arguments tend to do. The analogy questions whether one is morally obligated to see to the development of a people seed (a fetus) that happens to fly into one’s apartment window (a female body). Even if the apartment owner freely knows the risk of a possible people seed flying into the window (getting pregnant) but is addicted to natural breeze and refuses to close the window (not using contraception) does she hold a moral obligation to see to development of the people seed because she knew the possibility it may happen?
Let’s say a female freely has sex without the use of birth control, but she does not want a child. Should she be obligated to live with the burden of childbirth simply because she pursued self-happiness, even though she has the option to abort the birth? Unprotected sex is an action that brings her happiness, yet the action has a consequence that may bring about undesired consequences. I feel a person’s personal rights to the life they want to lead holds no moral substance as long as it does not affect the rights of another living human being. Abortion is therefore morally neutral.
One who opposes abortion would argue that abortion does not affect only the mother, but also the fetus and the father. I simply do not view a fetus as a human being, thus cannot acknowledge that a fetus has a right to life. I cannot perfectly prove this argument for someone who views a fetus with the same rights as a living human being. That leaves us with only one other person directly affected by the abortion, that is a father who in opposition of aborting a child. I have developed an answer to this objection.

Jack's Personal Property Argument
A fetus is attached within a woman’s body. I argue that anything that is directly attached to a person’s body is their personal property. A fetus is not a human being, therefore a fetus can be “owned” by a human being. Therefore, a fetus is the personal property of the impregnated female. Either destroying your own personal property is morally permissible or immoral. Destroying personal property has no moral value; it is morally neutral. Therefore a person has the right to destroy their personal property. So, a mother has the right to destroy her own fetus and that action is morally neutral.

Let’s assume a man, Bob, has an ulcer growing within his stomach. Bob loves chicken wings that his wife makes him every day for lunch and the constant hot sauce in his stomach caused the ulcer to appear. The doctor informs Bob this ulcer will cause him great pain for next nine months and he may miss work, not be able to do many things he enjoys, and could possibly get very ill or even die from this ulcer. The doctor also tells Bob that this ulcer has a special cell on it that in nine months will multiply into a cell that could bring about a human life. Bob elects to have the ulcer removed because he declares that it is his ulcer and he can remove it if he wants to, it his right to do with his ulcer as he sees fit. That ulcer is Bob’s personal property and he has the right to destroy his ulcer just as he has the right to spit out his saliva.

Bob’s wife is upset with this decision. She says that she has a right to decide what happens with the ulcer because she made the chicken wings that Bob ate. She feels that cell has the prospect of becoming a human being and she does not want Bob to destroy it. However, Bob and Bob alone reserves the right to determine what is best for himself. Simply because a fetus may become a human being within a female’s body, does not mean her right to personal property ceases to exist.

Ultimately, Thomson’s people seed argument is the only one in which I view as a legitimate defense of abortion. Morality in respect to time I feel is a weak argument as well as the violinist argument mentioned earlier in this essay. We cannot allow religious beliefs and/or false interpretations of a human being to trump individual rights. To ban a morally neutral action would be immoral. To force an impregnated woman to continue with pregnancy is no different than forcing an individual to become a slave.

2010 MLB Predictions (or facts)...
WS Champ - Mariners
NL Champ - Giants
AL East - Yankees
NL East - Phillies
AL Cent - White Sox
NL Cent - Cardinals
AL West - Mariners
NL West - Giants
AL WC - Rays
NL WC - Braves
AL MVP - Ichiro Suzuki
NL MVP - Roy Halladay
AL Cy - Jake Peavy
NL Cy - Roy Halladay
AL Manager - Don Wakamatsu
NL Manager - Bobby Cox
AL Comeback - Chad Cordero
NL Comeback - Troy Glaus

Thursday, March 11, 2010

We're Back

The Wren's Nest-After that first series against Philly last year The Power's That Be felt over confident in the team and went off for a weekend in Vegas. Unfortunately this ended with Martin in a sex rehab clinic in Alabama and myself stuck in a Chinese work camp shoveling horse shit. In short, we fucked this thing up. We'll be back this year to try to provide consistent coverage and insight as well as gratuitous laughs, mostly about bullpen management. This is assuming that Monsieur Machiavelli doesn't get arrested while in Germany. We have 4 potential aces and a number five starter that could be most teams three or four. We have a bullpen good enough and deep enough that Petey Moylan may not break 60 appearances until after the all-star break. Here's to Bobby's last run, and solid season ahead.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nick Adenhart Dead

ANAHEIM- Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim starting pitcher and top prospect Nick Adenhart was killed Wednesday night hours after notching his first major league win. Adenhart was killed by an alleged drunk driver on a felony hit and run charge along with two others who were slain and one who was critically injured.

Adenhart, long touted as the top pitching prospect in the Angels organization and for a time all of baseball, came into the Angels organization out of high school at age 18. In his minor league career he posted a 3.87 ERA over 91 games, striking out 430, walking 206, and posting a 1.409 WHIP in 506.2 minor league innings. After a shaky cup of coffee in 2008 in which he gave up 12 runs in 12 innings while averaging three innings a start, Adenhart won a slot in the rotation out of spring training and figured to be a cog in LAA for years to come. His bright future came to a tragic end Wednesday after earning his major league win in which he allowed no runs in six innings, striking out five.

Adenhart's final major league numbers read 1-0, 6.00 ERA, 18 INN, 9 K, 16 BB

Series Review: @ Philadelphia 4/5-4/8

Philadelphia- Over the course of the season Jack's Broken Bat will review each individual series and in some cases individual games. Our initial season review covers the season opening series against the division rival Phillies.

In taking two-of-three from the defending World Champions the Braves served notice that they are not going down quietly this year. The offense showed up in every game, posting 19 runs in the three game set. The starting pitching that was the achilles heel of the team last year provided three quality starts. Derek Lowe set the tone early going eight strong innings of two hit shutout baseball. Jair Jurrjens, trying to build off a very impressive rookie season, followed Lowe's outing by throwing 5.2 innings of shutout baseball while allowing 4 hits and 7 total baserunners. New acquisition Javier Vazquez made his Braves debut in game three, yielding three runs in six innings while striking out five and in combination with a heavy hitting Braves offense giving Atlanta a solid shot to sweep.

The backend tandem of Soriano and Gonzalez looked good if not sharp during the series, giving solace that the late inning collapses of the Danny Kolbs, Jorge Sosas, and Chris Reitsmas are long gone. The middle relievers left much to be desired, however. Eric O'Flaherty had a solid outing in game two, netting four outs and holding the fort down. He was unable to follow up this solid performance in the rubber match as he was responsible for starting the inning from hell. O'Flaherty, Blaine Boyer, Jorge Campillo, and Peter Moylan struggled mightily in the seventh inning, walking a combined 6 batters while giving up 8 runs. This being Moylan's first outing since recovering from Tommy John surgery, his struggling out of the gate can be expected a bit. Hopes are that these bad outtings by the rest of the pen can be chalked up to a bad day or the cold weather affecting their control.

As mentioned, the offense was solid. Led by All-Star backstop Brian McCann, who belted two homers in the series, and rookie-sensation Jordan Schafer who provided two bombs of his own, the offense put up at least four runs in each game and launched 8 homers. For a team that was supposed to lack power coming out the spring, they certainly put up their fair share of dingers in Philadelphia. Schafer provided immediate dividends for the coaching staff's faith in him with a 3-10, two homer, series, providing hope that center field will not be a black hole for offense and specifically slugging this year.

New CF Jordan Schafer launches his first career homer off of Brett Myers

All told, the Braves were able take 2 of 3 and rightfully should have swept if the middle of the pen could have found the strike zone at all. Next up: the Nationals come to town for the home opener with Derek Lowe on the hill again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chipper Extended Through 2012

THE WREN'S NEST- The sudden departure of John Smoltz this past offseason left many Braves fans feeling slighted by the front office and jilted by a long time legend. In the wake of Smoltz' departure some fans began wondering about the future of the last remaining fixture of the Team of the 90's, Chipper Jones.

Over the weekend Chipper and the Braves hammered out a three year extension worth at least $42 million that will keep him in the only uniform he's ever known through at least 2012. In spite of his obvious injury concerns, he remains one of the most feared hitters in the game and apparently has only gotten better with age. Even with a typical age regression, Chipper's numbers and defense still justify his $13 million annual salary. Though the free agent market this offseason slowed the flow of large, multi-year contracts, $13 million for a franchise player who is still quite capable of posting MVP numbers is a bargain considering the extensions given to guys like Mark Ellis and the $25 million given to the mercurial Manny Ramirez. With this extension, Mets fans can look forward to Chipper giving the new Citi Field a proper introduction to the hell he put Shea through over the years.

Anderson to Tigers: Immediate Reaction

ATLANTA-Over the years John Schuerholz established certain GM's with which he had special relations with. And by special relations I mean in the sense that he continually went back to these individuals when he felt he needed to rape and pillage a team of it's assets for $.25 on the dollar. Schuerholz guy was Jim Bowden, the now disgraced former GM of the Nationals. Deion Sanders for Roberto Kelly, Mike Kelly for Chad Fox, and Neagle, Rob Bell, and Michael Tucker for Mike Remlinger--a key bullpen arm for years--and Bret Boone come to mind. Low and behold Frank Wren has found his beotch--the esteemed General Manager of the Detroit Tigers Dave Dombrowski.

In a little over a year Frank Wren has lied, stolen, and swindled his way into Double D's heart from his perch in the Wren's Nest, coming away clean with last year's unquestionable staff ace in kid sensation Jair Jurrjens and now flipping a spare part in Josh Anderson for a potentially dominating bullpen arm in RHP Rudy Darrow.

Josh Anderson came into the spring competing for the starting center field job with top prospect Jordan Schafer and Gregor Blanco. In limited major league duty Anderson had proved quite capable, compiling a .315 average and showing outstanding speed and range. Had he performed even adequately this spring instead of throwing up a decidedly unimpressive .283 OBP he was expected to win the job outright while Schafer would go to AAA Gwinnett for further development (and the all-important stalling of his arbitration clock) where he would also be joined by Blanco. As it stood, Anderson was out of options, looked to be nothing more than a spare part, and was likely to be designated for assignment or outright released at the end of the spring. His ability to hit for average was his lone asset, as his speed was often negated by his inability to take a walk (13 walks in 203 PA), a real deficiency considering he was likely to be the team's leadoff hitter. At best, he was Juan Pierre without the fat contract and with less speed, albeit he carried a little more pop in his bat. The Braves should not have gotten anything of value for him unless he was being over-valued based on his inflated average (Absolutely unsustainable. His career BABIP is .379. Color me skeptical.). Luckily, Wren had Dombrowski on speed dial.

Schafer wins CF battle

One of these men will be breaking camp with Atlanta. Josh Anderson is not that man.

For a guy who would be very lucky to have made the roster out of spring training Wren managed to nab an incredibly high upside arm. Rudy Darrow is a 5'10", 180 lb RHP out of Nicholls St. Coming from an odd sidearm slot at 94-95, he reminds me a hell of a lot of one Joey Devine. At 25, it's time for him to step up a level and prove himself after two rock-solid full minor league seasons. Though stymied by surgery early on, Darrow has put up a career 2.52 ERA in the minors to date, with 101 K's in 103 innings, 37 walks, and one (1!) homerun. Darrow figures to start the season in AA Mississippi where he, as well as Stephen Marek, could be one of the first bullpen arms called up in the event of injury.

Video of Darrow's delivery:
Rudy Darrow/Justin Smoak - Arizona Fall League - 2008-10-31

In my book, this is one of the more impressive trades Wren has pulled as he took a spare piece who was unlikely to make the roster and garnered a potentially great bullpen arm.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Outlook 2009

ATLANTA--After a long layoff, the Powers That Be are finally back and gearing up for another season. While we're not at liberty to discuss the nature of our two-month disappearance, we can tell you that we were not in LA and were not caught defecating on the car of one Paul Kinzer.

The march towards 2009 officially began last week with Camp LeoRoger, a yearly tradition that this year features many of the new faces brought in this offseason. Last years make-shift rotation that featured 10 different starters is revamped with the addition of workhorse pitchers Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez. Both can consistently deliver quality starts and perhaps more importantly are almost locks to make 32 starts and toss up 200+ innings a year. Also joining the rotation is Japanese free-agent signee Kenshin Kawakami, who features an arsenal consisting of a low-90's fastball and a hammer curve. Kawakami once won the NPL's equivalent of the Cy Young, but given the often tough transition from NPL to MLB (Igawa, Kei), he'll likely be a solid if not spectacular third starter, which is exactly what the Braves need him to be. Jair Jurrjens will look to build off the success of his rookie year and provide solid pitching from the number 4 spot. The fifth starter battle will come down to a host of candidates including Charlie Morton, Jo-Jo Reyes, James Parr, Jorge Campillo, and uber-prospect Tommy Hanson. Of course, all of that could be shot to hell if the Braves sign Tom Glavine's corpse and run him out there every fifth day.

The bullpen will be largely unchanged, with Mike Gonzalez entrenched at closer, Rafael Soriano setting up (provided he can stay healthy), and Blaine Boyer as a primary middle relief man. Peter Moylan, a rock in the bullpen in 2007, should be a great help in the late innings if he returns strong from shoulder surgery. The rest of the bullpen will be comprised of parts and pieces from last year and the minors. Likely candidates include Jeff Bennett and Buddy Carlysle, who have both been terrific as mop-up men and spot-starters the last two years, worthy leftovers of the Reyes/Morton/Parr rotation battle, The Arsonist--Manny Acosta, and a slew of capable young talent in Steven Marek, Kris Medlen, Phil Stockman, and Anthony Lerew. The LOOGY battle should be interesting in that all available candidates currently on the roster have either proved nothing or proved that they are terrible. One of Eric O'Flaherty, Jeff Ridgeway, and the unilaterally despised Boone Logan will be the guy called on to attempt to minimize the damage caused by Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Delgado, Adam Dunn, and to a lesser degree Jeremy Hermida. All in all, the bullpen should be substantially better this year given the return of Moylan and the (hopeful) higher contributed innings by starters. No starter broke 200 innings last year, with Jurrjens 188 setting the bar. With the addition of two workhorses, Blaine Boyer and The Arsonist will no longer have to live in fear that their arms will detach themselves out of spite by the All-Star break.

The infield is unchanged from 2008 inspite of numerous trade rumors swirling around the middle of the infield. Escobar is still a Brave despite being dangled in Peavy trade talks for a month, and with Rafael Furcal spurning the Braves for the Dodgers while giving Frank Wren a firm middle finger salute, Kelly Johnson is at 2nd Base rather than left-field. Other than Kotchman at 1st, the infield can once again be expected to provide a bulk of the offense, with everyone but Kotch providing OPS+ over 100. Having Omar Infante as a backup to Chipper in the likely event he's out for 20 to 30 games is a luxery if he is able to perform to his numbers last year.

The outfield is a mess with no clear cut starters in left and center field. Not that having a clear cut starter in RF is a good thing given Jeff Francoeur's stellar 2008. Center field figures to be a battle between Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson, and top-prospect Jordan Schafer. Schafer lit up the Grapefruit league last spring only to be sent back down and serve a HGH suspension. If he lives up to his potential, he should undoubtably be the starter as his ceiling is miles above anything Anderson and Blanco can provide. Blanco's real strength is in his OBP and ability to work a count, but he's purely a singles hitter, isn't an efficient basestealer, and is probably the least effective defender of the three. Anderson is a very effective basestealer and has hit well in his short time in the majors. He's likely to be the starter out of spring training until Schafer proves he is ready. Atlanta is actively pursuing Junior Griffey to (hopefully) platoon with Matt Diaz in LF. Diaz has proven he can rake in the majors if he's healthy, and Griffey still mashed righties last year inspite of his knee injuries. A platoon of Diaz and Griffey is probably the best way to go given the FO's inability to see the value in Bobby Abreau, Adam Dunn, or anyone else that carries any kind of offensive ability. Jeff Francoeur needs to revert to his 2006/2007 "not great, just mediocre, but you think I'm doing a hell of a job" form in order for the Braves to contend in 2009, which--to me--is scary as shit.

Given the massive overhaul of the rotation, the Braves stand a chance in 2009. The outfield will have to excede any and all expectations, but with the same pitching and defense concept that won in the early 90's, Atlanta should be fighting to the end. PECOTA has the Braves sitting in the 85-90 win plateau with this offseason's moves, which is not out of reach. As long as they can pull through in 1 run games for the first time since 2006, the playoffs are not out of reach.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Into the Sunset

LAS VEGAS--As the 2008 Winter Meetings opened, a great chapter in baseball came to a close. As Greg Maddux took his place in front of the podium to deliver his farewell speech, the world was confronted his by greatness, humility, and humor.

Maddux will retire the greatest right hander of his era, having completed a magnificent career that spanned twenty-three years and three decades. The current active wins leader edges Roger "The Rocket" Clemens by a single win, his 355 wins a feat accomplished under the dark cloud of the steroids era while never having his cleanliness doubted once. Then again, who would've dared insinuated that this wily pitcher who lived on guile, location, and an eighty-five mile-an-hour fastball was juicing? No, Maddux is one of the last of his kind, a true "pitcher" in an age of scouting reports driven by radar-gun readings and not results.

As much as Maddux will be remembered for the scope of his career--the four Cy Youngs, the miniscule ERAs, and his years of dominance with the Atlanta Braves--he'll also be remembered as one of the great personalities of his era. Maddux entertained the fan with his dry humor and down to earth persona as much as he did with his patented back-up two-seamer for strike three. In a time in which baseball was riddled with the dark, no non-sense, anti-media personas of the Kenny Rogers, Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds types, Maddux was undeniably a breath of fresh air.

Maddux was a class-act, a living legend, a comedian, and an undoubtable first ballot hall-of-famer. As he rides of into the sunset of the Las Vegas skyline, the magnitude of his accomplishments will only grow as we slip deeper into the era of 5 inning starters and stunning mediocrity.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Would the Real Hall of Famer Please Stand Up?

Sorry Bert, like your career, you can't do this fuckin thing over again.

MINNESOTA -- The fact the pitcher Bert Blyleven does not have a plaque in Cooperstown is as grandiose of a joke as Rosie O'Donnell getting her own variety show on NBC. Bert is a Hall of Famer through and through. And with the Vet Committee enshrining the likes of Gotham City Police Commissioner Joe Gordon, not enshrining Bert becomes more and more ludicrous by the year.

Bert ranks fifth all-time in strikeouts (3,701) behind only Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton. His 60 career complete game shutouts ranks 9th all time. Playing for a slew of poor teams left Bert 13 wins shy of 300. Yet he piled up 242 complete games. He also showed off a rubber arm. At age 22 he compiled 25 complete games, and 13 years later he led the league with 24 complete games at the age of 35.

Bert pitched 21 games in the Minor Leagues. He would be called up less than two months removed from his 19th birthday; he would never appear in a Minor League uniform again. At age 19, the Rookie of the Year started 25 games and came on in relief for two. In nearly 5,000 innings of work he would go on to relieve just five more times after age 19. That's 685 starts, and 7 relief appearances over 22 seasons.

In Bert's first four full seasons in the Majors he maintained an ERA under three, averaging 18 wins, and 240 strikeouts. He notoriously pitched on horrible teams and was constantly requested to be traded. That misfortune resulted in him being traded five different times in his career; generally from shit team to shit team. In 1973 he lossed 17 games despite posting a 158 ERA+ (almost a run and a half better ERA than the league average). Bert had a rubber arm. At the age of 22 he hurled 325 innings, and at age 38 compiled 240. Despite pitching deep into games his career ERA+ was a very respectable 118.

Bert's most comparable pitcher is Hall of Famer Don Sutton. Sutton's career ERA+ was 108 (10 less than Blyleven), with 200 less strikeouts, and 64 fewer complete games. Bert's ERA+ is also better than Cooperstown's Phil Niekro, the 80's version of Jamie Moyer, who joined the 300 win club at the ripe age of 84. Blyleven retired at 41. He was considered washed up with only 8 wins in 1992. However, had he repeated his washed campaign just two more times he would have had 300.

Niekro and Sutton, age 86, 90 respectively.

Blyleven managed to win two World Series despite only being on a playoff team three times in his 22 year career. He was 4-1 with a 2.47 ERA in six postseason starts. His most memorable game was a complete game, nine strikeout performance in 1979 against Cincinnati; a game in which he chalked got a hit (making him a .333 career LCS hitter). He was undefeated in World Series games, posting a 2.35 ERA. With the Rangers in 1977, two weeks removed from a groin injury, Bert mounted a no-hitter against the Angels.

ESPN tool Chris Berman referred to him as Bert "Be Home By Eleven" Blyleven. Well eleven years have past since Bert's initial Hall eligibility and Bert's still not home. In that span Niekro, Sutton, and three men known better as relief pitchers in Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, and Goose Gossage were all enshrined. Eck's ERA+ is 116, two less than Bert's. Sutter pitched 1,042 innings in his entire Major League career. Blyleven eclipsed that by age 22. That's right, Bert had more innings under his belt a year removed from the legal drinking age than Sutter's entire Hall of Fame career combined.

Goose was a mediocre reliever turned failed starter, turned great closer, turned poor reliever. Goose's only season of starting brought about a 9-17 record with an ERA+ of 91. Bert pitched into his 40's despite averaging 245 innings a year for 22 seasons. Gossage's last year of 60 or more innings was at the age of 34 (also the last year he would finish top 10 in saves), yet pitched until age 42. That's eight years of mediocrity and averaging less than 5 saves per year. Without those years, he would not have surpassed 300 saves. The great Tom Hanks retired with a save more than Gossage and an ERA+ of 156 (30 points better than Goose). Oops, I mean Tom Henke. Tough to remember relief pitchers who don't have a badass mustache and pitch for the Yankees.

Dennis Eckersley was no longer cutting it as a starting pitcher. He was traded to Oakland in 1987 where prophet Tony LaRussa intended to use him in relief. When Oakland's closer went down, Eck was promoted to the closer's role. Eck would thrive in the role, managing to pitch into his 40's as a dominant closer. In 1989, Blyleven (age 38) would win 17 games with a 2.73 ERA. Eckersley, in 174 fewer innings, posted a 4.16 ERA at age 38.

Gibson: "Yaaaaaaay! I just hit a walkoff World Series home run against a washed up starter turned relief pitcher."

What's the difference between Niekro / Sutton and Blyleven? The trivial 300 win plateau. What's the difference between Goose/ Sutter / Eckersley and Blyleven? Bert was good enough to start for 22 seasons.

What if Blyleven was a career closer?
Gossage (age 24) *only year as a starter*...
9-17, 91 ERA+, 135 K

Blyleven (age 24) *one of 22 years of starting*...
15-10, 129 ERA+, 233 K

Or simply retired at age 22...
Bruce Sutter (entire Hall of Fame career)
1,042.3 IP, 68 W, 861 K, 309 BB, 2.83 ERA

Bert Blyleven (first four seasons in MLB, age 19-22)
1,054.6 IP, 63 W, 845 K, 242 BB, 3.06 ERA

Ozzie: "Dude, we're fuckin' G's. You were a reliever for 12 years and I had a career OPS+ of 87. Bahahahaha."
Bench: "Yeah, you guys can't my hold my jock. I can't believe I'm standing here with the white Roberto Hernandez and the black Cesar Izturis."

What if Bert was demoted to the bullpen in his 13th season and finished his career as a closer?
Statistics of the first 12 seasons of starting for Eck / Bert (Eck was demoted in year 13).
Eckersley (career ERA+ 116)
151 W, 1,627 K, 3.86 ERA

Blyleven (career ERA+ 118)
167 W, 2,357 K, 3.27 ERA

If Blyleven was clearly more dominant and effective than Eck as a starter, wouldn't logic lead you to believe he would at least be Eck's equal as a closer?

Bert just wasn't terrible enough to get demoted to the bullpen. Too bad for him, as it may cost him Cooperstown.

Why the 300 win benchmark is trivial...

Sutton: "Sure Blyleven is better than me, but my haircut is the shit."

Seasons with an ERA+ greater than 100.
Niekro - 18 (115 career ERA+)
Sutton - 18 (108 career ERA+)
Blyleven - 19 (118 career ERA+)

Innings Pitched Per 162 Games
Niekro - 232.3
Sutton - 234.7
Blyleven - 245.3

Seasons Pitching With A Winning Team
Niekro - 11
Sutton - 16
Blyleven - 10

Complete Game Shutouts
Niekro - 45
Sutton - 58
Blyleven - 60

Wins In Their 40's
Niekro - 121
Sutton - 44
Blyleven - 8

Career Innings Pitched Before Age 40
Niekro - 3,436
Sutton - 4,570
Blyleven - 4,837

What about the postseason...
We recently saw the worst Vet Committee selection, Joe Gordon, since Bill Mazeroski. His main reason for being elected was his five World Series rings. So do rings really weigh that heavily into consideration? If so...

Postseason Stats
Gossage - 5-2, 8 S, 2.87 ERA in 19 games (1 WS ring)
Sutter - 2-0, 3 S, 3.00 ERA in 6 games (1 WS ring)
Eckersley - 5-6, 15 S, 3.00 ERA in 28 games (1 WS ring) *8.44 ERA as a starter*
Niekro - 0-2, 3.86 ERA in 2 starts (0 WS rings)
Sutton - 4-5, 3.68 ERA in 14 starts (0 WS rings)
Blyleven - 4-1, 2.47 ERA in 6 starts (2 WS rings)

Sutton: "Sure Blyleven equaled my postseason win total in eight fewer starts and won two rings to my zero. Sure I played on 16 winning teams and never won a World Series. Sure, I lost two games in the 78 World Series, but my haircut is the shit."

Sorry Bert, your ERA was just too low for 300 wins, your teams were just too atrocious to get you 13 more wins over 22 seasons of work, and you shouldn't have averaged nearly 250 innings a year for the 21 seasons preceding your 40th birthday, maybe you could pitched a few years of average ball and got those 13 wins.

Maybe if you did not aspire to pitch 242 complete games your arm could have withstood one or two more years into your 40's. Sorry Bert, you're just too damn good for the Hall of Fame. In your next life, either call it quits after 6 innings of work, become a closer, or sign with a team that wins games. But sorry, we're live, can't start this fuckin' thing over again.

One last thing. What measures a pitcher's dominance? Would you say strikeouts? If so, Bert ranks 5th all-time. Of the 16 pitchers who have had 3,000 or more strikeouts, Bert is the only eligible player not in the Hall of Fame. Or, you may say complete game shutouts measure dominance. Excluding the dead ball ERA, here is the top 10 shutout list.
1. Warren Spahn - 63*
2. Nolan Ryan - 61*
2. Tom Seaver - 61*
4. Bert Blyleven - 60
5. Don Sutton - 58*
6. Bob Gibson - 56*
7. Steve Carlton - 55*
8. Jim Palmer - 53*
8. Gaylord Perry - 53*
10. Juan Marichal - 52*

* = member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Bert: "I just fucked this thing up..."

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Irate Blogger Hates the Media, Assaults 90-Year Old Man on Own Blog

ATLANTA--Denizens, take a good look at the man above. At first glance, he appears to be a genial, kindly old chap, slightly resembling what I expect Anthony Hopkins to look like when he turns 95. Do not be fooled, as this man, Furman Bisher, a member of the AJC's staff of "sports columnists", is something much, much more cynical (not to mention senile).

In his latest attempt at journalism, Bisher attempts to state a case that the Braves farm system is barren, and Frank Wren is to blame. I'll spare you the gory, ignorant details, but if you find yourself short of alcohol and want to kill a few brain cells, read the piece.

I, R. Fukuoka Henderson, am sort of a masochist myself, and thus submit myself to such journalistic folly as often as possible. I would tell you I feel bad for my following assault on this 90 year-old (unconfirmed) man's thought process, integrity, and general view on whatever pops into his head at the moment, but unlike Mr. Bisher, I do not like to provide false information to my audience.

The following are the highlight's of Bisher's senility and/or stupidity, and my corresponding response, which I hope forces him into retirement out of realization that his life as a journalist is a sham.

There comes a time in the life of any guy . . . that he is seized by this urge to take over the management of somebody’s baseball team. In this case: The Braves. While most everybody else is looking in the direction of some football conflict, perhaps I can reply to the seizure without hurting somebody’s feelings. In this case: Frank Wren’s

Blaming Wren for not keeping the system stocked is extremely weak considering he’s been through one amateur draft. Add to that that there is still exceptional to quality talent in the system in Tommy Hanson, Jason Heyward, Jordan Schafer, Freddie Freeman, Cole Rohrbough, Julio Teheran, Jeffrey Locke, Kris Medlen and Cody Johnson.

The prospect of facing the next season with Jair Jurrjens as ace of the staff seems to have present management so perturbed that they went out and signed another pitcher with a losing record and an inflated ERA, Javier Vazquez.

You can knock on Vazquez’s inflated ERA, but it’s somewhat mistelling in that he consistently has great control numbers, is relatively difficult to hit, and has some of the best FIP numbers out there. The guy consistently throws up 200 innings and 200 K’s. And if you’re ignorant enough to knock his being a sub-.500 pitcher, the guy once went 10-13 while throwing up a 3.91, followed by a mere 13-12 after throwing 3.24 ball all year for terrible Montreal teams. Next to saves, wins are the most worthless “statistic” out there.

In the past season the Braves have traded away a busload of prospects for, in one case, a mere flirtation with Mark Teixiera, who was merely passing through town. They did happen to pick up an inexpensive Casey Kotchman in the deal, but back to Vazquez again, they traded a hot number with power, Tyler Flowers, for him.

As much as I hate to see Flowers go, he had nowhere to play as he was blocked by McCann, Freeman is a comparable to better 1B prospect, and Flowers was 22—23 next year—and still in A ball.

Even though in retrospect the Tex trade looks bad, consider that Andrus was and still is blocked by Yunel Escobar, Salty was blocked by McCann and he was probably an average bat at 1B at best, and Feliz was an 18 year old fresh off his first season of Rookie ball, and as most anyone can tell you projecting young pitchers from A-ball up is a crapshoot given the attrition that an organization can take. Doesn’t make the trade any better now, but the move was and to some extent still is justified.

As if they didn’t learn a costly lesson from [Hampton], they are now leaving their calling card with A.J. Burnett’s agent, 31 years old and twice under the knife. Oh, but for the likes of the young and handsome Adam Wainwright.

If you want to compare Burnett’s injury history to somebody, choose someone better than Adam Wainwright, who lost 12 to 13 starts to the DL last year, missed most of 2004 in the minors with an injury, and has misses time here and there throughout his minor league career. Sure it’s not Tommy John, but I would say he compares better to the infamous Mike Hampton and his strained quads/pecks/shoulders more than Burnett’s reconstructive elbow surgery. That, and without J.D. Drew in 2004, who had an All-Star and perhaps even MVP type year, the Braves likely miss the playoffs.

Not to malign Senor Vazquez, but such signings as these have not worked out to the glory of the cause, and I cite here Russ Ortiz, Albie Lopez and the most costly of all, Mike Hampton.

In addition, of Bisher’s examples, only Lopez was a signing. Vazquez (TR CWS-Flowers), Ortiz (TR SF-Damian Moss), and Hampton (TR FLA-Spooneybarger) were all acquired with pre-existing contracts using pieces of this so-called weak farm system. It’s incredibly difficult to have any journalistic credibility if you 1: don’t know the extent of the talent currently in the system that you are openly criticizing and 2: can’t even provide solid facts in your argument.

Honestly, AJC, as the most prominent newspaper in the South, you owe it to yourself to do a hell of a lot better than Furman Bisher, Terrance Moore, and Mark Bradley. At least you have your one saving grace in Dave O'Brian, the one source of anything pertinent or logical in your publication.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Good Riddance to Mike Hamstring

HOUSTON -- Braves oft injured left hander Mike Hampton turned down a more lucrative deal from Atlanta to sign with the Houston Astros. Mike had some prosperous seasons in Houston, and remains close friends with many former Astros who reside in the area. This move also allows him to be closer to his family in Arizona. Due to a divorce, he cannot relocate his family, thus, he has to be close to them in Arizona. Atlanta spent millions upon millions of dollars on Mike, who was basically injured throughout the latter stages of his contract. It became a comical scene to see Mike's latest injury. One time he was a few warmup pitches away from making his first start in years, and out of nowhere he tears a pectoral muscle. I recall Braves Hall of Fame announcer Pete Van Wieren publicly asking Mike "when is enough, enough?" and begging for Mike to call it quits.

Mike's stint with Atlanta, and his career for that matter, reminds me of Rocky. For awhile there, I pictured him as Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. Before the bout against the genetically jacked Russian, Apollo demanded that Rocky not throw in the towel, under any circumstances, on his behalf. The Russian went on to murder Creed in the ring. I pictured this as Mike's fate, re-habbing his injuries until an arm fell off, or he spontaneously combusted. With the never quit attitude of Rocky and Apollo.

But now, he's suddenly Rocky, not Apollo. Rocky came out of retirement in Rocky IV to take on the Russian and to avenge the death of his friend Apollo. Despite the bone chilling words, "I veel break you," Ivan Drago whispered to Rocky, his competitive spirit and drive to win brought him victory. Mike is a former top pitcher with one of the first lucrative pitching contracts of this era; he turned into mediocrity, and then near retirement. But a late surge in 2008 where he showed flashes of his former self, made him a fairly marketable free agent pitcher. So what will Mike's final chapter be? Will he, like Rocky, have the drive to pitch until no one offers him a contract? I believe so. Mike is a bulldog and a competitor, and while I loathed his existence for a few years in Atlanta, his departure left a bittersweet feeling.

Mike Hampton will never retire; he will never throw in the towel. His departure from the game will be the day no one offers him a contract. While I picture his career ending in a less than Hollywood fashion, part of me feels he has a great run somewhere still ahead of him. While I breathed a sigh of relief, knowing the headache that is Mike Hampton will no longer be there, a cloud of disappointment also fell over me. The Braves will not be along for the ride when Mike begins to knockout the opposition, however short of time that may be.

Left handed
Ht - 5'11"
Wt - 190 lbs

Left handed
Ht - 5'10"
Wt - 195 lbs

Where's JULIO? 1.0

Dear John - Letter One

December 5, 2008

Dear John,

This letter is in response to your request of an asterisk on the Major League Baseball all-time and single-season home run records. Barry Lamar Bonds is widely believed to have been on performance enhancing drugs during the latter seasons of his record-breaking career and during the season he broke the single season record. While your request was well noted by my colleagues and the media alike, it has been declined.

An asterisk is to be reserved for a side note of noteworthy substance, not to vent your self-righteousness. Performance enhancers have been used throughout the history of baseball and the game of life. Do we put an asterisk on players with records attained on cocaine highs? Or better yet, what about players who take cortisone shots to weather an injury and play in a game. Are you aware cortisone is a steroid? You praise Curt Schilling, but loathe Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and the like? Maybe we should also put an asterisk next to Greg Maddux, who was a known user of eye contacts during his dominating seasons in the 1990's.

Perhaps your argument is not that he used a performance enhancer, but that the nature of his conditioning provided him with an advantage past players did not have. Do we also put an asterisk next to Cy Young's name because he pitched against guys who had the skill level of a JV high school utility infielder? Should we put an asterisk next to pitchers who win a game under the blind umpiring of CB Buckner?

Maybe your argument is that he violated some set of moral standards, and then lied about his actions. As if there is some sort of objective moral code in this country. If so, who follows it? Would cheating on your wife be a violation of morals? If so, many beloved presidents and political figures, including John F. Kennedy and Senator John McCain, cheated on their spouse. Are we to hold our athletes at a higher standard of morality than the men leading our country?

An asterisk is to be used for extreme scenarios of variance that should be noted. For example, a strike shortened the 1994 baseball season, therefore an asterisk should be used for 1994 to note such a fact. You would have a better argument giving an asterisk to those players who served in World War II, since they lost key seasons in their careers. Cecil Travis for example, batting .359 with 210 hits at age 27 in 1941. He did not return until age 31, and out of the game by age 33 due to constant complications from war injuries. Do those players who played during the War not deserve an asterisk?

Also, my colleagues and I would like to ask you a personal question. Have you ever cheated on a test? Kept change when a cashier gave you an extra bill? Called in sick when you really were not? Would you not object to taking a lie detector test? Maybe your degree or high school diploma should be denoted with an asterisk on your job resume, where a key would read "cheated." Maybe for your next date, an asterisk should be placed upon on your left testicle for its infidelity history.

While the economy was crumbling before their eyes, American presence in international relations worsening, and other nations' economies growing at the rate of bacteria, what did our Congress spend its priceless time on? Baseball. Are you aware that in 2005 Congress spent more days in session investigating steroid use than the Iraq war? Our own president, who ironically enough was an owner of a team with a slew of steroid users, mentioned in his State of the Union address that steroids must be stopped and ridden from the game! Like a magician with a fancy card trick, he pushed a war under his podium while dangling a syringe in our face and pointing at baseball and screaming "that's the bad guys!"

So John, your request has been adamantly denied. In the world of sport, may the ambitious competitors thrive and bask in glory, and the genetically weak or unmotivated parish. This is America, land of the cheater and home of the backstabber. And we like it that way. So get off your pedestal, look in the mirror, and get fucked.

We will all laugh at gilded butterflies,


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Immediate Reaction: Vazquez to Braves

ATLANTA--Yesterday, various sources confirmed that Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan were on their way to Atlanta, as Brave's GM completed the long rumored acquisition from his home in the Wren's Nest. At first glance, this move helps solidify a shaky rotation and marks an item off the list of parts that needed to be picked up this offseason. Chicago's side of the deal is all but confirmed, pending physicals and a press conference. There are many conflicting reports as to who Atlanta gave up to complete the trade, as reports the deal as SS Brent Lillibridge, LHP Jo-Jo Reyes, and a minor leaguer., Sportline, and MLBTR (via the AJC's Dave O'Brian) all indicate a four-player swap, in which Atlanta would hand over Lillibridge, C Tyler Flowers, 3B Jon Gilmore, and Rookie-League pitcher Santos Rodriguez.

I find it odd that the would include Flowers in a package for Vazquez, as it seemed that his inclusion is what caused the Peavy deal to fall through. Flowers, one of the hottest hitting catching prospects this year, posted 17 homers and a .921 OPS in Class A Myrtle Beach this year and followed that up by mashing 12 homers in 20 games with the Mesa Solar Sox. He's shown the ability to play 1B, long a position of continuity that has eluded the Braves, and it would make sense to keep him in the system as insurance that 18 year old phenom Freddie Freeman doesn't pan out.

The first scenario, though seemingly much more unlikely as more reports come out, is much more favorable to Atlanta, though Flowers is still likely to be a part of the deal. Reyes, the Braves' best major league ready prospect at the beginning of 2008, struggled with his control and homers throughout the season, though he did show flashes of brilliance. Still, his loss could be afforded by a team relatively thick with low-expectation, major-league ready pitching in Charlie Morton, James Parr, Chuck James, and, if healthy, Anthony Lerew, not to mention the dominant Tommy Hanson.

The second scenario is a little tougher to swallow, as the Braves not only give up Flowers but also Jon Gilmore, the 19 year-old 3B prospect out of Iowa. Gilmore projects to have great raw power and plate discipline once he develops while already being a consistent bat, hitting .291 over two seasons including .337 in Danville before getting a cup of coffee with low-A Rome. Losing a low-A, projectable player is generally an acceptable cost; however, the Braves now have to find another player in the draft to replace Gilmore and his gifted athleticism as the heir-apparant to an old and frequently battered Chipper Jones. Gilmore figured to break in around 2011--about the time Chipper hit 40, and the two prospects above him in the pecking order--Van Pope and Eric Campbell--each have their flaws. Pope possesses an outstanding glove, but struggles at the plate, hitting .237 in Mississippi this year. Campbell has exceptional talent and athleticism, but has struggled off the field, including a suspension handed down by the organization, and is being exposed to the Rule V draft (though unlikely he'd be taken given the off field troubles).

As for Javy Vazquez being a Brave--I'm elated. He's a guy who showed great stuff and the ability to eat innings while toiling for terrible Montreal teams. While he's not the ace, or likely even the number two, that Wren was looking for, he's a solid addition. He continues to eat innings (would top 200+ nine straight years if not for coming two short in 2004) as well as still having great stuff, as he still averages over 8 K's per 9 and usually only walks 2-3 per 9. He's generally hard to hit (Top 10 in H/9 3 times since 2001) as well as posting good WHIP numbers from year to year. Furthermore, a return to the senior circuit where he could face a pitcher three times a game as well as not facing the stacked offenses of the AL could do him significant good.

The other piece the Braves receive, Boone Logan, is a guy I hope I don't have to write about much when the season begins. I can see myself getting pissed off everytime he enters the game. Think 2008 Royce Ring. But with a weaker beard, a weaker name, and weaker stuff. I see him being inducted into the HOS by July.

This trade should do the Braves some short-term good over the next two years, as Vazquez is likely to deliver 200+ innings of sub-4.00 ball, while posting close to 200 K's and around 60 BB's, all while making a manageable $11.7 million a year. The Braves gave up three guys who weren't going to see the bigs by 2010 or 2011, and a utility infielder who was blocked and fell off the cliff last year splitting time between AAA and Atlanta. The long-term assessment depends on how Flowers and Gilmore develop. If these two become even .270/20 guys, this deal may be much harder to swallow three or four years from now if the acquisition fails to help lead Atlanta back to the playoffs.

Bullshitters Notanonymous - Bush League

CRAWFORD -- The title of this blog, I Am Jack's Broken Bat, is inspired by the narrator's voiceovers during the bad ass existential film, Fight Club. During the onset of the film, the protagonist frequently attends self help groups for diseases and problems he does not have. Seeing others in misery helps him become at peace with his own hatred of self. So the powers that be have elected to start a self help group for people who really do need it.

The group - Jack's Bullshitters Notanonymous. Except, well, you're not anonymous, as the first step to becoming a non-bullshitter is for everyone to know you're a bullshitter. Confused? Well the fact is, a bullshitter does not want help. So publicly showing he is a bullshitter may provide some ample motivation to cut the bullshit. As George Carlin put it, most people are either stupid, insane, or a bullshitter. In baseball, the stupid people would be the general managers who trade Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano. Or the guys who hire Dusty Baker to manage a young pitching staff. The insane are the owners who would willingly pay Ryan Dempster fifty million dollars. And the bullshitters? The majority of bullshitters are those agents who bullshit their player from mediocre pitcher to multi-millionaire ace.

But there are other bullshitters on the planet from every arena. We have decided to not give the first BA member title to just anyone. No. The first bullshitter must be the ultimate bullshitter. A bullshitter of epic proportions. While this blog is largely revolved around subjective baseball journalism, we intend to delve into all facets of life. After all, baseball is simply a metaphor to life and the American dream.

... Drum role ...

The first member of Bullshitter's Notanonymous is...

George W. Bush

I would go into detail about why the Governor should be recognized with this honor, but would it not be trivial and obvious? Stay tuned for future bullshitters to be announced soon.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Welcome to the Hall Reg

STERLING--After much deliberation, The Powers That Be have decided upon our Hall of Shame inductee for December: Reggie Sanders. The other candidates put forth quite a compelling case, but the damage Reggie did to the Atlanta Braves not only in 2000, but down the road as well put him over the top.

In the offseason of 1999 Reggie Sanders was traded to the Braves as the Padres centerpiece of a six-player trade, with the Padres receiving Bret Boone, Ryan Klesko, and Jason Shiell and Atlanta receiving Quilvio Veras, Wally Joyner, and Reggie. The trade looked promising, as Boone struggled in his only season in Atlanta and Klesko was blocked by Andres Gallaraga and never developed the consistency or big-time power that made him a major prospect with the Braves. Sanders, meanwhile, was expected to replace the eternally mediocre Gerald Williams in left field and be a big veteran bat in the middle of the lineup, having come off several above-average seasons.

In 2000 Sanders, and the weight of his expected contribution, manged to hit .232/.302/.403--good for a 76 OPS+. The man whose production Sanders was traded to replace, Gerald "Ice" Williams, amassed an 86 OPS+. After two to three months of mediocrity he was uncermoniously dropped to 7th or 8th in the order, as the Braves effectively conceded that Sanders sucked.

As is the cases with many Hall of Shame candidates, the damage done to the organization went much deeper than the feebleness of the players themselves. Much of the damage is done in what it took to acquire these floundering veterans. The pieces the Braves traded to acquire Sanders went on to do much greater things. Klesko went on to post three consecutive seasons of an OPS+ of 136 or better, and then of at least 110 in the three years after, all while splitting time between first base and left field--the position Reggie failed to provide any production for whatsoever. Bret Boone--steroids allegations and all--proceded to OPS+ 94 with the Padres but then put up insane numbers for three years with the Mariners, including two seasons of at least 35 homers and two top-ten MVP finishes. Furthermore the trade ate up more than $10 million of payroll between Sanders, Veras, and Joyner, with Sanders making $4 million to put up some of the worst numbers for a starting outfielder in the majors that year.

Thanks to his single season of non-production and the years of cost-effective, MVP-calliber players he cost the Braves, Reggie Sanders earns his spot in the Atlanta Braves Hall of Shame.

The Case for Mark McGwire

NEW YORK--After failing in his first two years of eligibility, Mark McGwire will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the third time. After retiring, McGwire seemed to be a lock for a first ballot entry into the Hall. He was the single season record holder for home runs in a season, was eighth all-time in career homers, and amassed a 162 OPS+ across sixteen storied seasons.

All of that changed when the steroid rumors hit full tilt in 2004. Writers began openly questioning the merits of McGwire's candidacy, linking him to performance enhancing drugs and renowned users, including former team-mate and Oakland Bash-Brother Jose Canseco. In spite of McGwire's adamant demands that he never juiced, there is little doubt that he did in fact use PED's during his career--a fact made all the more apparent by his embarrassing testimony in front of the Senate Committee.

Many feel McGwire should never be let in for his alleged use of steroids. However, if one were to look at the circumstances of the time it becomes much harder to say he truly doesn't belong. Baseball's ban of steroids and subsequent testing policies were not ex post facto law. That is: those who used before were not subject to penalties if they were clean afterward. Since baseball didn't implement proper testing until after McGwire's years, it seems to reason that his using is inconsequential. Furthermore, the substance McGwire is most commonly linked to--Andro--was not formally banned by the controlled substance act until 2005, meaning his use was absolutely legal.

To put this in context, suppose that in 2015 baseball and/or the government were to ban creatine and advanced protein supplements. One couldn't possibly deny an entire generation of baseball players entrance to the Hall based on a law put in act years after they left. Yet that is what is happening today. According to Canseco and numerous other players, more than half of the players in the 90's juiced, casting a shadow over the whole generation. While some players certainly used after the ban (I'm looking at you, Damian Moss), the fact that so many players used then-legal supplements during this so-called steroids era should level the playing field in the eyes of voters (especially when numbers suggest that more pitchers juiced than position players).

On the basis of his counting and rate stats alone McGwire deserves to grace Cooperstown. 583 homers, an unreal .392 OBP, a career .982 OPS, a 162 OPS+, and (for what it's worth, if 2008 shows you anything) numerous All-Star appearances, Silver Sluggers, and massive MVP consideration year after year speak on McGwire's behalf. Hopefully the writers will man up and realize that not having one of the most dominant players in the 90's in the Hall of Fame is a travesty to baseball and to his generation.

The Curious Case of John Jaha

With a promising film by David Fincher set for release on Christmas Day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, starring Brad Pitt, it got me thinking. Pitt's character, Benjamin Button, ages backwards throughout life. Meaning he starts out as an old man and slowly grows younger throughout his life. The F. Scott Fitzgerald classic mimics what happened to many Major Leaguers in the 90's and early 2000's. The most blatent example of what I will coin the Benjamin Button reverse aging disorder is John Jaha. Jaha dominated for the Oakland A's in 1999, but his numbers did not logically follow suit with his career numbers.

In 99 Jaha hit 35 homers, had 111 RBI's, a .414 OBP, and an OPS+ of 152. He was top ten in seven different offensive categories. Jaha's only good full season was in 1995 with Milwaukee. All other seasons were mostly plagued with injuries. In 2000 and 2001, he combined for a total of one home run and his -6 OPS+ in 2001 led to his retirement. So how does one go from MVP consideration to flat out one of the worst hitters in baseball in one year? I mean, even the decline of Andruw Jones was more subtle than this.

John Jaha (39) in 2005

To me, it seems obvious to think Jaha was a steroid abuser like most of that 1999 Oakland team, highlighted by admitted user Jason Giambi. Actually, that year Jaha made the All-Star team and Giambi did not. Giambi ended the year with 33 HR, 123 RBI, and an OPS+of 153; almost identical to Jaha's numbers. Who else was on that team? Well another proven juicer, Miguel Tejada. Also, Matt Stairs and Ben Grieve had power surges that season. Grieve is another guy who had his power numbers magically disappear like the fried chicken platter at Bob Wickman's family reunion.

So how does one magically hit his prime at age 33, then becomes washed up at age 34? Well there is one of two scenarios. Either Jaha juiced more than that girl from the Welch's grape juice commercials from the 90s, or he is a medical marvel. We are all quick to label certain guys steroid users to explain their dramatic decline. However, what if this is more common that we may think? If this was simply a case of natural dropoff, shouldn't teams be more weary of other such late bloomers? I mean lets say on some distant reality Jaha naturally hit his prime that late.

Why would a team right now give someone a huge contract who hit their stride late in their career? For example, why would the Cubs give Ryan Dempster a huge contract? Or why would St. Louis give Kyle Lohse millions more than he deserves? Can anyone say Carl Pavano? Lohse had an ERA+ of 113 last season, the best of his entire career. Four years, 41M, and a full no-trade clause? What! He has a career ERA+ of 97, less than league average.

Maybe certain players do bloom late, however, I would be willing to bet not many stay blooming. Just as Benjamin Button hit his prime later than others, his decline to child-like performance should be noted among GM's in baseball. When a GM finds a diamond in the ruff for one season they should feel thankful, but not committed. Thankful to find such a bargain, and also thankful someone else is about to waste payroll on signing this guy. Mark my words: Kyle Lohse will go down in history next to the names of Darren Dreifort, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright.

Three different organizations gave up on a Lohse before his 29th birthday. Yet the Cardinals gave the man 41 million dollars because he had an above average season. That is catastrophically stupid. Oh and get this, Lohse will make about three million less than Albert Pujols next year, the best player in the league. Ironic eh? Pujols should have played his cards right and bloomed during a contract year.

"Kyle could have obtained a more substantial contract on the open market, but decided to settle for a lesser contract and stay in St. Louis."
-Scott Boras, Professional Conman

Sunday, November 30, 2008

My Bad Milton

You know, now that I set my formula for 500 plate appearances. I checked... and Milton Bradley had 510 plate appearances, which means he does qualify for the MVP. But A-Rod still has it...

The AL MVP Qualifiers
1. Alex Rodriguez - 59 points (8th)
2. Milton Bradley - 49 points (17th)
3. Kevin Youkilis - 46 points (3rd...hey there is one right!!!)
4. Carlos Quentin - 38 points (5th)
5. Joe Mauer - 36 points (4th)
6. Josh Hamilton - 34 points (7th)
7. Justin Morneau - 32.5 points (2nd...yeah, 2nd on his team)
8. Grady Sizemore - 31.5 points (10th)
9. Nick Markakis - 31 points (NO VOTES!)
10. Dustin Pedroia - 25 points (1st...not even 1st in Boston)
Pedroia won. Making this a total wash of an MVP. Pedroia barely made the list and although this is an acceptable MVP choice, it is a pretty bad grade and near failure. Writers get a D.

I think of all those, the most interesting find was that Bradley was more valuable than Hamilton. However, Hamilton finished ten spots ahead of Bradley in voting. Both have had troubled pasts. Hamilton was on enough crank to increase productivity in a Chinese toy factory by 600 percent. Bradley has had his share of problems, but most of them come from anger.

Bradley grew up a poor black kid who chose to dedicate his life to baseball which is uncommon in the black community. Hamilton grew up a wealthy white kid who was groomed to be the next phenom baseball player. However, drug and alcohol problems derailed his climb to the Majors. Bradley's anger issues halted him from having lucrative contract offers and made him unwanted by many teams.

So has Milton Bradley overcome more or Josh Hamilton? Hell the man overcame my 500 plate appearance requirement, so I say Milton by a landslide.

The AL top list is intriguing. It has a pair of American Latinos, three men cast off by their first team as lost causes, an angry black man, a few ex football players, an ex hockey player, a guy not offered a division one scholarship, a catcher, a crackhead, a DH, a caveman, a hard-nosed fidget, and a top prospect now voted off a 40 man roster. Thus proving that the game of baseball is the exemplary, definitive metaphor to the American dream. Where height, race, body fat percentage, attitude, and addictions are nothing but side notes and prefaces to living like a rock star and getting paid like a oil tycoon.