Tuesday, January 06, 2004


25th all time in wins.

13th all time in innings pitched.

5th all time in strikeouts.

35.4% of the vote.

What the hell is the Hall of Fame for?


I think maybe Joe Morgan is writing ESPN's Offseason Power Rankings. I don't know any other way to explain how the Orioles manage to grab the no. 2 spot. Outside of signing Miguel Tejada (Joe's perennial MVP pick) they haven't done much. Oh yeah, they also signed Javy Lopez, he of the 1.065 OPS, to a 3 year 22.5 million dollar deal. If you think a 34 year old catcher whose OPS was declining each of the four years prior (.908, .821, .747, .671) to the 2003 season leaving the Braves lineup for the Orioles is likely to come close to that feet again then raise your hand. Not you Javy. You either Mr. Morgan.

I was having a conversation at my new favorite greasy spoon in the Greek section of Toronto, the New York Cafe*, with Jurgen and we mused about how one of the advantages of having a limited budget, in this case we were talking about the Jays, is that you have to eliminate substantial risk from your decision making process. Ergo, you don't sign 34 year old catchers to 3 year deals just because they had one good year when they have a pattern of declining not-so-good years. (I'm willing to concede Javy had a great year.) It could work out for the Orioles, but it is also more than likely to blow up in their faces and become an albatross around their necks. Sound familiar Oriole's fans?

The only other significant move made by the Orioles is their recent signing of right handed relief pitcher Mike DeJean. Mike had a 4.68 ERA last year between the Brewers and Cardinals. However, the Orioles lost right handed relief pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg (to the Jays) who had a 3.34 ERA. Not only did they not keep Ligtenberg, they also lost or gave up Pat Hentgen, Jason Johnson, and Scott Erickson. Not to mention that they traded arguably their best starter, Sidney Ponson, to the Giants last year and still haven't found an adequate replacement for him. That leaves them with a pitching staff where either Rodrigo Lopez or Kurt Ainsworth is their no.1 starter and God knows who's filling out the rest of their rotation. There is no quicker way to the AL EAST cellar than having Rodrigo Lopez as your no.1 starter. HALLADAY. MARTINEZ. MUSSINA. LOPEZ. Let me say it one more time for you... LOPEZ. (I'm giving the D-Rays a bit of a break here because at least they will concede to you they are in the rebuilding phase and that they don't have a kagillion dollars to spend. And for the record I'll pick them to reverse the AL EAST standings trend and finish 4th in the division. You heard it here first.)

Another thing I noticed in the ESPN Power Rankings is that the Yankees recently went from near the bottom of the list to the no.4 position. You know what the Yankees have done to vault themselves to such a coveted position? They added Kenny Lofton and Tony Clark. Whoever is writing this thing notes that, "Tony Clark had more homers than Nick Johnson last season in 70 fewer at-bats.". What they fail to mention is that Tony hit .232, had 59 hits, and only walked 24 times. Nick Johnson hit .284, had 92 hits, and walked 70 times. I think the Yankees have made some good moves this offseason, adding Kevin Brown and Sheffield, revamping their bullpen, but adding Tony Clark and Kenny Lofton is not amongst them. I will add this though, I think maybe the signing of Lofton, rather than Mike Cameron, is an indicator that the Yankees are still keen on making Carlos Beltran their CF. That may also explain why the Yankees held on to Soriano, rather than dealing him to Montreal, for possible inclusion in a future deal with KC.

To the phantom writer of ESPN's rankings I have but one thing to say: Show yourself coward!

If I was assembling my own offseason power rankings I would probably have Boston at the top of the list despite the A-Rod debacle. Signing Foulke and adding Schilling are monster moves.

Let's not forget about KC either. As Jurgen noted, Alan Baird has risen from his cocoon and is well on his way to becoming a front-office butterfly. (Try that analogy in a crowded MLB locker room.) Today they signed Juan Gonzalez to a one year 4.5 million dollar deal. That's a low-risk/high-gain deal if I ever saw one. Take note Flanagan. You too Beattie. (Joe Morg... I mean, ESPN ranks the Royals 20th in offseason moves.) The Royals have also made a few other good moves that should put them solidly in AL central contention.

I have also been happy with most of, if not all, the moves, J.P. and the Jays have made. Adding Miguel Batista, Pat Hentgen, and Ted Lilly to the rotation means that Roy Halladay doesn't have to worry about being a one man pitching staff anymore. The Jays also added some solid arms in the bullpen signing the aforementioned Ligtenberg and bringing Justin Speier (a respectable 2.87 K/BB) over from pitcher hell. If both the Yankees and Red Sox contract chronic mono and/or are called upon to travel to Afghanistan to hunt down Bin Laden then I think the Jays have a shot. Yeah!

* It's right at the Broadview subway stop. I had the all-day breakfast (it was 11pm) for a very affordable 4.25 (CDN). Jurgen had the, "biggest hamburger I've ever gotten for five dollars" with a side of fries. If you are a fan of greasy spoons I highly recommend it. Disclaimer to American readers: Whilst I enjoyed my low-cost/high-value meal at the New York Cafe, I wouldn't recommend coming all the way to Toronto just for that. I can't help but feel that you might be a little underwhelmed in the end. I wouldn't want that. Plus there's that whole SARS thing too. Don't let them tell you there's no more SARS. That's just what the media want you to believe! Spend your tourist dollars elsewhere! Tell Conan to stay clear! I hear footsteps... it's Toronto mayor David Miller! Hey, I voted for you! What are you doing with that axe?!?! Wha.... ahhhh...... arghhh.... dying... tell.... Larry... Bowa... I love him...

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