Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems: The Cliff Lee Story

December 15, 2010

Remember when he was on Cleveland? 4 teams ago.

So, Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies much to the dismay of the Yankees and Rangers.  It seems that in the dying seconds, the Phils swept in and grabbed Lee with a 5 year deal.  Despite the fact that Lee took less years from Philadelphia in the offer that he accepted, he took what was the best deal overall.

Most of the articles written about this signing and many of the sports radio guys down here in the DFW (everyone but the Ticket) are groaning about the fact that Lee is giving up astronomical amounts of money to go to Philly.  The fact of the matter is, he isn’t.  Lee is still getting $24 mil a year for five years.  A sixth year is either going to be a vested $27 mil or a $12.5 mil buyout, so he basically has 6 years for at least $132 mil, if not $147 mil.  The Yankees offered him about $22.5 a year, the Rangers offered about $23 mil a year, but would not guarantee a seventh.  So…. In conclusion, they all offered roughly the same thing.  The seventh year did not matter, and Lee wanted to create a monster rotation for the Phillies.  Which brings us to….

Are the Phillies now the World Series favorites?

I am usually wrong in my predictions.  By that I mean, I have never been right, but I do not think Philadelphia is the strongest team in the Majors for 3 reasons:

1. Their Offense.
The Phils were 12th in the majors in batting avg. (which I take very little stock in), 13th in OBP, and 12th in slugging.  It is important to note that all of those numbers were good enough to be tops in the NL East.  In what is a big name offense who led the Phillies in OBP last year?  Carlos Ruiz.  OPS? Jayson Werth.

Ryan Howard’s walk numbers have plummeted since being named MVP in 2006, and his power numbers have fallen off as well (most likely a direct result using Dick’s Sporting Goods shit gear).  Jimmy Rollins hit .243 in fairly limited time.  If this offense stays healthy and returns to old form it is the best in the NL East, but with that rotation it is not about the East.  It is about a pennant… Which brings us to October and reason #2.

2. Recent Playoff History.

Projected top 4 in the Phillies rotation next year: Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels. 
Anyone watch the playoffs last year?
NLCS- Giants beat the Phils in 6 games beating Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt in the process, but they didn’t have Lee.

hmmm…
World Series- The Giants beat the Rangers in 5 games beating one Clifton Phifer Lee not once, but twice in the process.

Maybe it was a team of destiny or some such nonsense, but they knocked around this dream staff pretty good.  No pennant for the Phillies.

Does adding Lee make them the team to beat in the NL?  Yes, probably, but….

3. There is a monster in the AL, too.

The Red Sox are the best team in baseball.  I was actually saying this before the acquisitions of Crawford and Gonzalez, but they just furthered the point.  Prior to the signing of Cliff Lee by Philly, the Sox had far and away the best staff in baseball.  Bucholz and Lester both had Cy Young caliber years last year.  Josh Beckett is a stud, and he is only 30, and John Lackey won 14 games in his 1st season with the Sox.  Say what you want about Dice K, but that is a pretty solid option at #5 (if ever healthy).

The Sox have a complete lineup, and a solid defense.  With that staff and those bats they have to be the preseason favorite.

With the Sox being so deep, and Cliff Lee (and his spit coated wife) going elsewhere, what are the boys in Bronx supposed to do?

Well, first thing’s first. Don’t shit your pants, Cashman.

Who knew George Costanza still worked for the Yanks?

Here’s to hoping that Brian Cashman does not feel a need to go out and flex his pinstriped nuts on the trade market.  The Yankees have actually been semi- prudent in holding onto prospects in the last couple of years, and it could pay dividends.  Their catching prospect, Jesus Montero has shown promise, and is poised to get time in throughout 2011.  Today’s acquisition of Russell Martin is hopefully not a sign that they are trying to make Montero expendable, but that would not surprise me in the least.

There are still a few guys available that could help the Yankees out a bit, but this might be a situation where they have to offer about 10 guys deals and have them compete.  They just signed Mark Prior to a minor league deal.  This is extremely low risk, but it would be nice to see him and Kerry Wood back together again.  Wood is someone they have to sign as he was invaluable down the stretch.

Amongst the other available names, Brandon Webb and Chris Young are the two that stick out, but neither is a proven commodity.  Jeff Francis might be a low risk lefthander to take a chance on, but only because there are no other lefty starters out there.

I would not be surprised to see them go out and grab Magglio Ordonez now that they have been snakebit by the other free agents.

There is still hope in the East for the Bombers as Tampa liquidated, but I don’t think a trade for an arm (Greinke) would be the answer right now.  Get Andy to come back and play one more year, something inside me wants to see the Yankees win(or lose) with their own guys for once.


2010 Blue Duck MLB Awards Spectacular

November 12, 2010

2010 Blue Duck Major League Baseball Awards

I wrote most of this about a month ago.  All the picks were done before the playoffs.  Without further bullshit:

AL Rookie of the Year-
Neftali Feliz

22 years old

The only real no brainer of the postseason awards.  Feliz breaking the rookie saves record isn’t what impresses me.  Feliz throws hard, but more importantly has balls.  He has filthy stuff, but his out pitch is predominantly his fastball, and a closer who doesn’t have to rely on a secondary pitch, is deadly.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t turn into a Father-in-law beating slop thrower like the guy his career most notably mirrors right now.

NL Rookie of the Year-
Buster Posey
Jason Heyward will win this award.  I don’t know if Posey is even eligible, but Posey has meant more to his team than maybe any rookie in recent years.  The only stat Heyward has him on is OBP.  Posey plays in a bigger yard, at a more important position, on a team with less weapons.  Posey was the best catcher in the National League this season.

AL MVP-
Miguel Cabrera.

Miguel being Miguel

Another pick that I doubt gets the award.  I picked Miggy last year as my MVP, and he sobered up and had another solid season.  All of his numbers got better this year, but the Tigers faded and this is what will ultimately kill Cabrera’s chances.  What worries me is this guy is arguably the best overall hitter in baseball (yeah, I said it, better than Pujols.) and he may never win an MVP.

Last year, I showed a comparison of striking similarity between Cabrera statistics up to age 26, and Ken Griffey’s to the same age.  He stayed on that Griffey pace.  The reason Cabrera is the MVP, though, is the lack of help in his lineup.  Hamilton had Nelson Cruz, Vladi, Michael Young, and Ian Kinsler at different times of the year.  Cano had the Yankees.  Cabrera’s lineup is among the deepest if all healthy, but Carlos Guillen played less than 70 games, and Magglio Ordonez played right around half the year.  No one else had more than 15 hr’s for the Tigers.

Further proof:  Cabrera had 32 intentional walks, Hamilton 5, Bautista 2, Cano 14.

The Rangers win a closer West without Hamilton, the Yankees finish third without Cano, Tigers finish 20 games below .500 without Miggy.  He had the biggest impact on his team.  He should be the MVP.

2nd- Josh Hamilton
3rd- Paul Konerko
4th- Robinson Cano
5th- Beltre/Bautista

NL MVP-
Carlos Gonzalez.
This is a tough call.  The late surge by Troy Tulowitkzi and the late fade of the Rockies hurt him at the end, but his numbers are staggering.  CarGo (terrible nickname) finished first in the league in hits, total bases, and batting average, 2nd in RBI’s and slugging, and 3rd in OPS.  All this while swiping 26 bags, and playing well at all 3 outfield positions in a rather expansive Coors Field outfield.

Pujols and Votto sort of cancel eachother out, but I think Votto will get the award.

It should be a Venezuelan clean sweep for MVP.

2nd- Votto
3rd- Pujols
4th- Aubrey Huff.  He’s the fuckin’ man.
5th- Tulowitzki’s numbers in 122 games would’ve made him a favorite if he played say, 20 more.  Also, would’ve made the Rockies a playoff team.

AL Cy Young-
Felix Hernandez
CC is the pick right now, but King Felix has all the numbers.  Well, all the numbers except a clear lack of wins.  The debate will always rage on over whether MVP and Cy Young award winners can come from bottom of the barrel teams.  It tends to factor in more for offensive players than pitchers, but Felix will get knocked for this.  Anyone who picks someone else for this reason alone didn’t look at the stats.

Hernandez had 13 wins on the season.  This wouldn’t be all that impressive if his wins were against teams from the lowly AL West, but he actually struggled within the division.  11 of his wins were against teams with winning records, and he pitched the Yankees better than any other starter in the league.

His season line against the Yanks.  3-0….2 Complete games, 1 Shutout, 0.35 ERA, a WHIP under 1 and 31 K’s in 26 innings.

Hail Venezuela.

2nd- Clay Buchholz
3rd- David Price
4th- CC Sabathia

NL Cy Young-
Roy Halladay.
Just better than everyone else.  Pitching names come and go and Halladay puts up the same stats every year.  Why is he the Cy Young, though?  Well, the Phillies were falling apart midseason.  The shit was hitting the fan, and their one steady performer took the hill every 5 days.  The pickup and performance of Roy Oswalt at the deadline ended the NL East race, but Halladay kept his team in position for much of the year.

2nd- Josh Johnson
3rd- Adam Wainright
4th- Roy Oswalt

Too bad Carlos Zambrano didn’t have a good year.  Would have been a banner year for the land of Hugo Chavez.

Throw in Awards:

Hit the Showers, Wife Beater.

Closer of the Year-
AL- Mariano Rivera- still got unbelievable numbers, still only has one pitch.
NL- Carlos Marmol- not the best, but unbelievable year for K’s.  16K’s per 9 innings.

Comeback player of the Year-
AL- I don’t care.
NL- Don’t care either.

Manager of the Year-
AL- Ron Gardenhire- The Twins have no pitching, and a thrown together lineup.  Ron did a lot with this squad.
NL- Bobby Cox- Give the old guy a good send off.


MLB, Day 3: The Orel Hershiser Medal for Pitching Excellence

October 1, 2009
You have to be tough to survive High School with the name Orel.  I know, my first name is Fellatio.

You have to be tough to survive High School with the name Orel. I know, my first name is Fellatio.

The old baseball adage, “Good pitching beats good hitting” has proved true since the days of Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson.  Having even one great pitcher can level a playoff series like no other position on the ballfield.  So we at BlueDuck thought of a great idea.  Since the MLB doesn’t honor the top pitchers in the league each year, we have to take it into our own hands.

So we set out.  After hours of statistical and encyclopedic research, we came up with a name for the award.  Then it took us 3 minutes each to pick our winners.  The First Annual Orel Hershiser “Bulldog” Medal for Pitching Excellence goes to:

NL
Carebear
Tim Lincecum

He looks like the kid from Rookie of the Year.  Or a kid in a halloween costume, but he throws 95 with a massive hook.

He looks like the kid from Rookie of the Year. Or a kid in a halloween costume, but he throws 95 with a massive hook.

You know until like the mid-1930’s you could only win the MVP award once in your career.  This means that Babe Ruth (who owns like 5 of the 10 best statistical seasons of all time) only has one MVP award.  So people are slow to give guys awards two years in a row if its close, but I think the opposite way.

Lincecum took the Cy Young last year, and had a target on his back all season.  He led a pretty mediocre team on a very strong effort to reach the postseason, and this team will build around Tim in years to come.  His ERA is 2nd in the league, 1st in K’s, and 4th in WHIP.

The only knock on Lincecum is the 14 wins, but he also has 10 no decisions.  In those ND’s, the Giants were 4 and 6, and in those 6 losses, Tim gave up only 11 runs.  That tells you the Giant’s offense is pretty pathetic, and with a little help, Tim could have gotten 18 or 19 wins.  Another little stat, Tim Lincecum’s Giants lost 6 games this season that he went at least 7 innings, and gave up less than 2 ER.  Best pitcher in the NL.

Boomer
Adam Wainwright (P) StL

His first BlueDuck award, and he reacts like this.  Act like youve been here before, Wainwright.

His first BlueDuck award, and he reacts like this. Act like you've been here before, Wainwright.

Maybe I’m a closet Cardinals fan, having picked Carpenter as Comeback Player, Franklin for NL Closer, and now Wainwright as Cy Young.  But when looking at the numbers, its not even close.  He has 19 wins, the second lowest ERA in the league (2.58), led the NL in innings pitched, and 200+ strikeouts.

Pitching for a team that didn’t know what they had for a pitching staff, Wainwright has served as the anchor.  He locked the award up while clinching the division for the Cards on Saturday, going 8 strong, striking out 11 in a 130 pitch effort.  His team needed the win, and he powered them through.  He has won a World Series as a closer, is this the year he wins it as an Ace?

AL
Boomer
Zack Greinke (P) KC

If Greinke and Lincecum both win the Cy Young, it will mark the first time two pitchers have won the award before their 15th birthdays.

If Greinke and Lincecum both win the Cy Young, it will mark the first time two pitchers have won the award before their 15th birthdays.

The field of candidates in the AL is deep, with Halladay, Verlander, Sabathia, and King Felix.  But the pick should go to the best pitcher, not the pitcher with the most wins.  Last year’s award to Lincecum finally illustrated that we shouldn’t penalize a player for pitching on a miserable team.  Sabathia led the league in wins, but he limped out of the gate while sporting a respectable 3.21 ERA.

But Greinke has been flat out filthy all year long.  He has only 16 wins, but pitches for Kansas City where wins are sparse.  An ERA of 2.06 over an entire season is simply disgusting, accompanied by 237 strikeouts.  He’s even better when considering he allowed only 60 runs all year (23 less than Halladay, the next closest pitcher).  And let’s face it, a pitcher’s job is to prevent the other team from scoring.  They can’t help it if their team cannot score runs to back them up.

Grienke did his job, giving his team a shot to win each time he toed the rubber.  Imagine if he pitched for a playoff team?


Carebear
Felix Hernandez

Kings been laughing at AL Hitters all season.

King's been laughing at AL Hitters all season.

King Felix had a huge year, the kind of year we have been expecting from him since he came up, and the kind of year you can expect him to recreate the rest of his career.  Electric is the only way to describe the stuff that Hernandez hurls up at hitters.  King finished 4th in the league in K’s, 2nd in ERA, and 2nd in wins.

Felix did this all with the Mariners, though.  The 23year old had 4 games where he gave up 2 or less runs and went 7 innings, and the M’s found a way to lose.  His control gets away from him at times, and his 70 walks led to his 1.15 WHIP, but the ERA shows that those runners do not score.

Hitters batted only .237 off of Hernandez, third in the AL, but they slugged only .321 off of the young righty(1st), so he never gets hit hard.  Only Greinke gave up fewer HR’s in the AL, but King gave up 16 less doubles than Greinke did in 11 more innings.

I call it a wash between the 2 guys.  They had the best years, but Roy Halladay is still the best pitcher in the AL.  Orel would be proud of all of them.

Tomorrow’s the last day of the BlueDuck MLB Awards Ceremonies.  It will conclude with the MVP Award.

Comeback Player was on tuesday, and Best Closer was on wednesday.  We don’t care about rookies.


Steve Phillips Needs To Stop Talking

July 22, 2009
Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesnt have credibility.

Steve Phillips is another sportscaster who just doesn't have credibility.

So I was just watching Baseball Tonight on ESPN, and the topic of trading for Roy Halladay came up.  Karl Ravich asks Steve Phillips his opinion on the situation.  He proceeds to say that if he was a GM in the game, he would sell the farm for Halladay.  Now I have no problem saying “I’d trade almost anything for him,” because Halladay is among the best pitchers in the majors.  But Phillips didn’t stop there.  He proceeded to name every single top young pitcher in the bigs and offered them to Toronto.

This isn’t shocking, coming from the former New York Mets GM who has a long track record of trading future stars for short-term help.   He obviously doesn’t value prospects, which is fine to an extent, because they are not guaranteed to succeed.  But he didn’t name just prospects.

Steve Phillips named the Dodgers as a team that needs to trade for Doc, offering Clayton Kershaw and others for the Blue Jay’s star.  Another team Phillips feels should trade for Halladay is the Phillies, offering every prospect in their system.  He even said that the Yankees should give Toronto, a division rival, anything they wanted including Phillip Hughes and Joba Chamberlain.  He went as far as saying, “if I was the Yankees, I’d pack his bags and drive Joba to the airport.”

My problem with his thinking is that its not practical, and it perfectly showcases the reason he’s the former GM of the Mets.  Consider his Dodgers proposal: trading 21-year old lefty Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.95 ERA, 104k, 1.22 WHIP) for 32-year old Halladay (11-3, 2.73, 113k, 1.07).   We’ll leave out a breakdown the “others” Phillips would give up (Tony Abreau, Blake DeWitt, James Loney, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp to name players sure to be requested by Toronto).  Let’s just compare the pitchers that would be swapped.  What exactly do the Dodgers gain in this?  Sure, Halladay’s peripheral numbers are slightly better.  But when you consider the cost, both in terms of talent and cash, does this deal make sense?  Halladay is on the hook for the remaining of his $14m+ for this year, and $15.75m for next year, after which he’s free to go as a free agent.  Kershaw, on the other hand, is under team control for another 5 years at very cheap salaries.  Common sense tells us that Kershaw is on the upslope of his promising career, while Halladay is at the top of his game but 11 years older.  How much longer does he have before decline?  Sure, the Dodgers are World Series favorites (along with Philly) in the senior circuit, but does Halladay improve their odds in October?  He’s got the same number of October starts as Kershaw, ZERO.

As Philly is running away with the NL East, do the defending World Series Champs need Halladay?  At the cost of a starting fielder and top prospects Kyle Drabek and Jason Donald?  As is, they are on their way to a deep October run.  Do they mortgage the future hoping that Halladay wins them the title, something that nobody can guarantee?  Do the Yankees, already short on starting pitching, deal Joba and Philthy Hughes (shout out to carebear) for a pitcher with several times more wear on this tires than the two players offered for him?

When we consider Steve Phillips track record on trades of any kind, he loses all credibility.  Let’s take a look:

He traded Carl Everett (MVP candidate 2 years after being traded) for John Hudek (1-4 for the Mets). –> Lose

Sure, when he traded AJ Burnett for Al Leiter, he got 85 wins and 2 playoff appearances, including a World Series           appearance from the old guy.  But Burnett is younger and has won 95 games since then, including a World Series Title.  –> PUSH

Jason Isringhausen (283 saves since) was traded for Billy Taylor, who was 0-1 in 18 Mets appearances with an ERA over 8.0.  — > Lose

Looking for a short-term fix in 2000, Phillips nabbed Mike Bordick for 56 games and a .260 average.  Ironically, he traded a young Melvin Mora, who was hitting .260 at the time of the trade.  Unfortunately for the Mets, Mora has gone on to hit over 150 home runs with a .281 batting average over the past 10 seasons for the Orioles, including a couple of all-star appearances, a Silver Slugger award in ’04, and an MVP candidate in ’04.  Bordick left after his lone season, returning to the Orioles.  –> Lose

In ’02, Phillips gave away Gary Matthews Jr. for John Bale (who?).  ‘Nuff said.  –> Lose

Phillips traded a minor league Jason Bay for middle reliever Steve Reed.  Bay is a top corner outfielder, which is a historically weak spot for the Mets,  Steve Reed was decent but a free agent after the year.  –> Lose

Sure, he had a couple good trades (Piazza, maybe Mo Vaughn), but overall, Steve Phillips was the meth addict of baseball general managers; he traded long-term pieces for short-term fixes.  In the end, he had 2 playoff appearances to show for all of his awful trading.

So Steve, stop doling out the advice to GM’s who still have jobs in the game.  Nobody has even interviewed you for a GM position since you were canned, so perhaps they agree that you were a terrible judge of talent.  Just stop giving us your opinion on trades just because you are on ESPN.  Only talk about subjects which you have credibility with, like what kind of hair product I should use to get a ‘do like yours.


Philthy Hughes

July 18, 2009

On Friday night, the Yankees beat the Tigers 5 to 3 in a pretty ordinary game.  AJ Burnett started the game for New York, and was relieved by Phil Hughes at the start of the 7th inning.  Hughes gave up 3 hits in two innings, but struck out the other 6 hitters he faced.

It was just another good appearance out of the pen by Phil Hughes who is looking more and more comfortable in that role.  He has quieted the Joba to the pen cries as well, and has shown a power fastball and harder breaking stuff in the shorter stints.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

He is a toolbag, but he may be the bullpen savior the Yankees need.

Since going to the pen Phil has pitched 20 1/3 innings, given up just 10 hits, struck out 25 batters, walked only 5, and given up just 2 earned runs.  If you discount his first appearance out of the pen, where he relieved Chien Ming Wang in the 3rd inning of a game against the Red Sox, Hughes hasn’t given up a run.

Hughes’ Bullpen Line: ERA: 0.88, WHIP: 0.73, K/9: 11.08

Hughes could be a huge commodity for the Bombers either in the pennant race or in a deal for ace sinkerballer Roy Halladay.