Sunday, August 27, 2006

The 2006 Scouting Report, By The Fans, For The Fans

There is the link to the Fans Scouting Report. It's done by Tangotiger, a renowned Sabermetrician and co-author of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. He basically wants each person who watches a team play more than 10 games to rate the players they saw on how good of fielders they are. Pretty simple stuff, theres 7 categories (Reaction/Instincts, Acceleration, Speed, Hands, Release/Footwork, Throwing Strenth, and Throwing Accuracy). You rate them on a 5 point scale(5 = great, 1 = terrible). I really like the idea, so I encourage anyone reading this to spend 5 minutes and do it. And one very important thing to remember that is pointed out in the link:

Try to judge "average" not as an average player at that position, but an average player at any position. If you think that Chone Figgins has an average arm, then mark him as average, regardless if you've seen him play CF, 1B, 2B, or 3B.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Blog update

I apologize to the probably 2 people who still check this about my lack of posting the last couple weeks. I just haven't had much to say. I will start posting more again as I have a renewed energy for writing about sports. With 3 different messageboards and this, I just got a bit burnt out on writing about it. Only lasted two weeks, so I'll be fine, and so will this blog. The "Monday Random Comments" will start up again next Monday. Also be on the lookout for my NFL Preview sometime this weekend. And please read my diatribe about Dusty that is right under this post. Also, I welcome any comments you have about anything I write, I do check back to every post to see if anyone commented.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Cubs Failure, Episode XCVIII: Dusty Strikes Again

In a rather routine article on, I cam across this nugget:

Next year: Do the Cubs need to improve their on-base percentage next year? They currently rank last in the National League with a .318 OBP.

"On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me. The problem we have to address more than anything is the home run problem."

The Cubs have been outslugged at home, 101-58.

It's well known that Dusty doesn't like players that walk. His comment in '04(which I cannot find a link to) about not wanting slow guys that walk because they clog up the bases has been quoted into the ground since then. He's stated on numerous other times that he doesn't value walks at all and that you "hit your way on base". While thats incredibly idiotic and at times makes me wake up in the middle of the night in pure rage, lets try to ignore that for a second and look at the entire quote. He's essentially saying that the Cubs offensive problems aren't because we don't get guys on-base, its that we don't have guys to hit homeruns when those guys don't get on-base. So lets take a look at that.

2005 Cubs

703 Runs (9th in NL)
194 HR (2nd in NL)
.440 SLG% (2nd in NL)
.324 OBP% (11th in NL)
Record 79-83

2004 Cubs

789 Runs (7th in NL)
235 HR (1st in NL)
.458 SLG% ( 2nd in NL)
.328 OBP% ( 11th in NL)
Record: 89-73

2003 Cubs

724 Runs (9th in NL)
172 HR (8th in NL)
.416 SLG% (11th in NL)
.323 OBP%(13th in NL)
Record: 88-74 (Made Playoffs)

So the two years before THIS one, the Cubs hit tons of homers. They slugged the ball like crazy. They were still average or below average offenses. Why? Because there was no one on-base for those guys to drive in with their extra base hits. Yes, the power was nice and helped the offenses not suck in epic proportions(see the 2006 Cubs), but even with all that power, they were still average at best.

Back to his whole comment, his logic has a giant freakin' hole in it. He keeps saying that he doesn't like slow guys that walk because they clog up the bases for the fast guys. He then says the biggest problem is that we need more guys to hit the ball out of the ballpark. Last I checked, you didn't have to be fast or slow to circle the bases on a homerun. Having 3 slow guys on base for a homerun is just the same as having 3 Olympic sprinters.

It is just mind boggling to me that Dusty, and Hendry, can be so blind when the answer is obvious. You don't need to be a stat-geek to see it. You don't need complicated metrics to see it. You just need one very simple and easy to find metric(On-base percentage) and a little bit of common sense. Baserunners, no matter how fast or slow, are a good thing! Not making outs, also a good thing. Working the count to tire opposing pitchers, also a positive. I could go on, but I won't.

I just can't figure out why they can't see this. "Clogging up bases" is a GOOD thing. You want people on-base so when there ARE hits, people can score. If they're that worried that some slow guy that walks a lot gets on-base in the late innings and costs the team a win because of his slowness, keep a couple of the very medicore but very fast players(Pierre, Izturis, Cedeno, Pagan, Bynum. Take your pick) on the bench to pinch run. That'd actually make too much sense. It'd minimize those guys' weakness. The fast guys we have now can't hit, and the hypothetical guy who walks a lot, is slow.

It's just so aggrivating being a fan of this team. SERENITY NOW.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Well if you are, you have to wait till the regular season starts in a few weeks. Right now its just pre-season football, which isn't the most exciting thing in the world. I love that the NFL Network is airing a lot of the games this year. I've got to watch a few games so far, so here's a few notes so far.

1. Jamaal Branch, RB, New Orleans Saints. I was very very impressed with this guy. Aaron Stecker got hurt, so Branc may claim the #3 RB job after camp. He'll make the team regardless if he plays like he did against the Titans. He's a big guy (5'11" 240 lbs) for a RB, but he has very good speed as well. What impressed me even more was his field vision. He seemed to see a lot of the field and always made the right cut where a lot of RBs probably wouldn't have. And when he cut outside, he had the speed to make it out there. Its just one game of course, but he's someone to watch. Barring a spate of injuries, he won't get much of a chance during the regular season, but he seemed to have all the skills needed to make it in the NFL.

2. Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans. In that same game I got to see prized QB Vince Young. I was very vocal that he didn't have the skills needed to be a NFL QB. I even rated him as a WR in my draft rankings. I just didn't feel he had the throwing skills to make it in the NFL. I also felt it'd take him a long time to learn an advanced offense after the bare bones offense he ran in Texas. I got to see him in about two series. I saw some things I liked, and some things I didn't like. He seemed to be willing to stay in the pocket and go to his 2nd or 3rd or 4th read instead of just taking off soon as one wasn't open. I did not like his throwing motion at all. He just bends his elbow back and flicks his wrist. He did throw an absolutely beautiful 50 yard bomb with that motion(though it was dropped), but he seemed very inconsistant in his throws. He did have one nice scramble, in what seemed like the perfect time to run. There was no one on the left side and he was able to gain quite a few yards and momentum before anyone got near him. He didn't seem to make anyone miss or power through them, but there wasn't much to go from in the game. I still don't think he can be a NFL QB, but if he can get more consistant, he might just prove me wrong.

3. The Entire Jacksonville Jaguars team. Their game against the Dolphins is winding down as I type this and the whole team has been impressive. Byron Leftwich seemed like himself, standing in and getting clobbered by a LB and throwing a TD bomb. Matt Jones made the catch on that play, made someone miss instantly and scored. David Garrard looked pretty good, he threw a 60 yard bomb to former Hawaii star Chad Owens, then he made a fantastic scramble/throw to Maurice Drew(rookie from UCLA), who took it 55 yards for a TD. Just an amazing play all around. The defense was very aggresive. Their backup DLine seems to be learning from their probowl DTs or the Jags just have a fantastic system for their defensive line. Either way I was very impressed by just about their whole team.

4. The 49ers Defense. Sure, it was just the Bears offense, but for a team as bad as San Fran was last year, their defense seemed much improved. I loved how they attacked the ball instead of waiting back on their heels (I just hope Lloyd Carr and Ron English took note of that..). No one in particular stood out, but I could see this team improving quite a bit this year. Not only on the defensive side, either....

5. Alex Smith, QB, 49ers. Smith was absolutely awful last year. Just.. terrible. According to Pro Football Prospectus 2006, Smith's season last year was the worst of any QB since 1997. Their KUBIAK system projects an improvement for him, but not that much. However, he looked like a completely different QB against the Bears. He was composed. He stood in the pocket and threw when he needed to, and he scrambled when he needed to. He didn't seem to panic against that great Bears D and really just tore them up. Just one game, but if its any indication of the work he's done since last season, he could blow his projections away. I don't think the 49ers will have a great season, but I'd be shocked if they were picking in the top 8 next year.

6. Chad Greenway, LB, Vikings. Poor guy tore his ACL in his first preseason game, he's out for the year. I had him rated just behind A.J. Hawk and DeMeco Ryans in the draft, so I definitely think he has the talent. I just hope he's ready for next year. I hate to see Big Ten guys go down like that.

7. I don't get why people are going on and on about the new referee jerseys. I've watched probably 3 or 4 games now and haven't even noticed them at all. Whats the big deal? I don't get it.

Lions/Broncos game starting now. I may add more later. Comment away!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mike Leach: Crazy Man or Genius?

Mike Leach Article

That link is a fantastic article, written by Michael Lewis(author of Moneyball), about Texas Tech head coach, Mike Leach. I've always been a fan of Leach and his rather unorthadox methods. I remember hearing about him at Kentucky when Tim Couch was the next big thing. I then remember being amazed at how he helped out Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, and then of course his move to Texas Tech. I really hope the guy gets a chance with better talent, either by moving to a bigger school or just attracting those talents to Lubbock. I don't really have much more to add, just that everyone should read that whole article. It's very well written and really shows what a unique guy Leach is. Scarily enough, he sounds a lot like me...

Monday, August 07, 2006

Monday's Random Thoughts (8/7/06)

I hope to do this every week, just post some random thoughts that aren't long enough for their own article every Monday. Also, don't forget that you can leave comments to anything I post by clicking on the "comments" link at the bottom of each post!

1. Football is back! The Hall of Fame game was last night. I was told both teams played terribly, which is hardly surprising since its early in the preseason and, well, it was the Eagles and Raiders. Neither team will do anything this year.

2. On a Fantasy Baseball note, I hate the world. I just recently traded Carlos Zambrano for Ichiro Suzuki in my PLUS league because I was loaded at SP. Well, since the trade went through 3 of my 6 starters have went down with injuries. Brandon Webb and Justin Verlander were the unexpected ones, while I wasn't really surprised that Ben Sheets left his game in the first inning, it still really hurts. I doubt I could reverse that trade now. :(

3. Atlanta Braves catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia is turning his season around finally. He's 14 for his last 34 with 6 XBH and 11 walks. I'm not a Braves fan, but here's to hoping this continues, if only because it'll be funny to see how announcers screw up his name when he makes the majors.

4. Michigan's Recruiting Class is shaping up nicely. Ryan Mallet is the obvious star of the class thus far, but they're still in on quite a few top players. This may turn out to be their best class in years.

5. I hate you, Jim Hendry. That is all.

6. I now hate you even more, Jim Hendry, after reading that you really want to resign Juan freakin' Pierre. Anything over $3 million/year is overpaying him, and you'll probably give him $36 million over 4 years. Or more. At least I think your plan is starting to become clear:

1. Acquire/keep fast players that can't hit
2. ?????

7. My copy of Pro Football Prospectus came in the mail at the end of last week. Its really a fantastic read, and if you're in a fantasy football league that hasn't drafted yet, its a must buy. Its written by the great people at, who are basically the football equivalent of Baseball Prospectus.

8. Matt Leinart is an idiot. He gets drafted in the PERFECT spot, a team with two of the best receivers in the game and one of the best RBs in the game. The QB is a stiff and if the wind blows wrong he might get injured. Leinart is as close to NFL ready as any QB this side of Peyton Manning coming out of college. He needed to tell his agent "I don't care what you do, but I have to be in camp when it starts". Its looking like he's going to have an extended holdout and it could kill the first couple years of his career. Maybe it'll work out for him in the long run, but it seems really stupid right now.

9. Finally, congratulations to The Ewoks of the Coca-Cola Adult/Youth League at Arrowhead Bowl on winning the league. After a fierce battle for first place through the whole league, The Ewoks faced off against the mighty Pink Ladies in a battle to end all battles last night. The Ewoks prevailed by taking the first and third games, along with the series. So, way to go guys! ...I'm sure me shooting 107 pins over my average helped a bit, too. Hehe. Also, Jimmy Buffett still rules and I still hate Jim Hendry. Goodnight.

Evan Longoria is pretty darn good

Evan Longoria is amazing. No, not the model(though she ain't bad herself), the ballplayer. I was a bit upset when the Devil Rays took him with the 3rd pick in the draft. I wanted a college pitcher and felt they should have grabbed Andrew Miller or Brandon Morrow. I would have even be happy with Tim Lincecum. But instead the Rays went with the 2B/3B from Long Beach State, Evan Longoria. It wasn't that I thought Longoria wasn't any good, I just didn't feel it filled a need, while a pitcher did. Lots of draft experts said the same thing, although nearly everyone had Longoria as the best position player in the draft. Evan signed quickly and got to playing professionally very quickly. Well, it has worked out pretty well so far as he has probably been the most impressive player in the entire minor leagues since then.

Tampa started him in the New York-Penn League to get his feet wet. All he did was hit .424/.487/.879 in 33 at bats. Wow. But thats only a short season league and a polished college hitter like Evan should be able to destroy the pitching there. So they aggresively promoted him to the Visalia Oaks of the California League. High A ball. Although its a much higher scoring league, pitching is a lot better there. It should be a challenge. Not for Longoria, who cruised through the league hitting .311/.390/.544 in 90 AB. Thats just darn impressive. He did cool down as that league wore on, going 5-29 in his last 7 games in Visalia, but thats still an amazing hitting job for someone who was drafted just a couple months ago.

Tampa then continued its aggresive approach with Evan and promoted him (and fellow Visalia Oak, SS Reid Brignac) to AA Montgomery. In 3 games there he's 3-12 with a double and a homerun. He seems to just keep hitting wherever he goes, and if he can keep this up the rest of the year in Montgomery, he may enter next year as one of the top prospects in all of baseball. I don't know who he compares to yet, though his #s are starting to look similar to Scott Rolen's in the minors. Rolen is a bit taller(6'4" to 6'2" for Evan) but I think Rolen is his upside. I haven't read any scouting reports on his defense, but he played at SS mostly in college, so I imagine his D is pretty good and will be very good at the hot corner if his bat holds up in the higher levels.