Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on July 04, 2009
Manny Ramirez returned to the Dodgers' lineup last night after a 50-game suspension, and the response was overwhelming. Fans were actually cheering for him. The road boos Barry Bonds and many others linked to steroid usage just weren't there.
It's sickening to see such a response. Not because Ramirez didn't deserve it, but because it showed those fans are either hypocrites or morons. It's a shame they fall under those labels, but this isn't a false dichotomy.
True baseball fans don't want to see baseball ruined by steroids. We already have the all-time home runs record ruined by steroid usage, as well as the single-season record. And now we have someone suspended for using illegal substances being openly cheered.
True, Ramirez wasn't suspended for anabolic steroids. But he did use something that was illegal according to baseball rules and hinted strongly at steroid usage.
Let's not forget what a clubhouse cancer Ramirez is.
In his final days with the Red Sox, he sat because of injuries MRI scans couldn't bring up. And then he goes on to hit near .400 with the Dodgers, never going on the disabled list or sitting an extended period of time with knee trouble.
If you don't realize it by now, Ramirez was just lying so the Red Sox would trade him. It was part of his ploy to escape the two, $20 million options he had for the next two seasons. This would allow him to renegotiate a new contract.
And that leads us to another point. Ramirez only cares about money. There were reports floating around that he was looking for a four-year deal worth in the neighborhood of $100 million during the 2008 season. And he certainly wasn't going to get that by having the Red Sox exercise those options in his contract. He would've only gotten $40 million. Poor thing.
Ramirez is the perfect example of overpaid, spoiled athlete in that he hustles when he wants to. He's loafed to first base on groundouts countless times. It appears he's made no effort to become a stronger player in the field. Who knows how many boneheaded plays he's made out there?
It's time for the media, the fans and everyone else to keep giving Ramirez second chances and more opportunities. Why not treat him for whom he actually is -- the perfect example of a spoiled, overpaid Major Leaguer who is a cheat?
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on June 21, 2009
The Mets have struggled to score runs, and it certainly hasn't helped that they've been without Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes. But then again, it didn't help that they had a few below-average positions offensively to begin with.
Outside of first, short, third and center, didn't the Mets need to desperately upgrade somewhere -- anywhere -- to been seen as legitimate contenders in the National League East? I'm not just talking about Gary Sheffield upgrade but a high-end upgrade.
Bob Klapisch writes the Mets offense has reached code red-stage desperation.
It's an inspiring scenario for Met fans - the bolstered lineup makes a second-half charge straight to the playoffs - but in its current state, Jerry Manuel's team remains mired in mediocrity.
The manager openly wonders about the "fatigue" factor that's wearing on Wright and Carlos Beltran. There's no help in sight, not unless general manager Omar Minaya can pluck, say, Adam Dunn from the Nationals before the trading deadline.
But with one crisis extinguished, another one comes roaring to the forefront. How much longer before Wright and Beltran crack from having to carry the lineup?
Beltran, in particular, appears close to breaking down, revealing that he's undergoing an MRI on his right knee Monday. The ramifications are, of course, beyond critical. Manuel says, "Carlos assures me he can play," but you can flip the calendar to 2010 if the center fielder is out for any length of time.
As it is, the Mets' lack of offense is at code red. They're 10th in runs in the National League in June, and tied for last in home runs. Take Beltran out of this equation and there's no reason to believe the Mets won't be caught by the Braves.
A lot of publications, including Sports Illustrated, picked the Mets to go a long way in the postseason. I was a little skeptical about them. I understand their rotation is fronted by Johan Santana, but in a seven-game series, both Oliver Perez and John Maine would likely start two games for them. That shows the lack of depth in their rotation.
But the offense was where things could've gotten messy in a hurry. Luis Castillo has had a bit of a turnaround this season, even if he isn't hitting the ball with authority (.321 slugging percentage). Other than that, the Mets are stocked with mediocre types like Daniel Murphy, Fernando Tatis and Ryan Church taking at-bats.
It seems as if general manager Omar Minaya is in a position to justify his job. The Mets have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, but they have collapsed epically the last two seasons. Their rotation has never been fixed despite the money, and the team still relies on too many spare parts.
Written by At Home Plate Staff (Contact & Archive) on June 20, 2009
Scott Boras spoke about Magglio Ordonez's situation in Detroit in a recent piece by Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.
Scott Boras, Ordonez's agent: He began warming up for a possible showdown before the arbitrator when he launched into a 10-minute, phone-line indictment of the Tigers for making a "myopic" decision to sit Ordonez.
"I admit to you that Magglio had a rough April (.240) batting average," Boras said. "But if you want to talk about why his production is down in 2009, it's about one thing and one thing only: His home runs are down by seven. I submit to you that's not compelling information for declaring failure."
Here's what good agents do: They look at some evidence and try to spin things his way.
Yes, Boras in right in saying Ordonez's home runs are down by seven from this point last season. What he failed to mention is that Ordonez only has two home runs this season, as opposed to nine last year. Nine's not a terribly big number and two is even worse, especially for someone hitting in the middle of your order.
But let's dig a little deeper, deeper into the numbers Boras conveniently neglected to mention.
Ordonez's bread-and-butter has been his ability to get on base. His career OBP is .370, which is an excellent figure for a player over a full season by any measure. This year, Ordonez is down to a paltry and barely passable .347 mark.
Now, you'll see players with that figure in the majors all the time. But remember: Ordonez is supposed to be a highly paid, middle-of-the-order bat on a contending club. He's not some No. 7 hitter for the Seattle Mariners. There's a big difference there.
Another number Boras is failing to mention is the precipitous drop in Ordonez's slugging percentage. Last season, it was a quality .494, but it has fallen to .343 this season. That .151-point decline is a huge drop.
Whether or not Ordonez had a huge option on the table, it's no wonder they decided to bench Ordonez. He's a terrible hitter right now. Too bad Boras doesn't realize that.
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on June 19, 2009
Are you dumb? I don't mean to be crass, but, well, let's just see what 'HR' said:
"And one of the stats that has become real popular is OPS. On-base plus slugging. All of a sudden, it's this stat that defines whether a guy is a good ball player or not. And the fact of the matter is, if you're a power hitter then the situation will dictate what a pitcher does with you - either walk you or pitch you real careful. So more than likely you're going to end up on base and therefore you On-base percentage goes up. This is my mind has become the stat the everyone thinks is the be all and end all. It is not. If you have a ball club that's a great offensive team then that changes everything. But if you have a guy like Adrian Gonzalez, for example, his OPS is going to high - he's got a lot of home runs and walks a lot...because you're not going to pitch to him!"
Not to curse, but the what the f*ck does that even mean?
So, um, a slugger's OPS will be high, because he hits a lot of homers and draws plenty of walks, and that's because the pitcher won't pitch to the batter?
What the f*ck does that even mean?
Harold, my friend, I guess I thought you were smart because you sat next to this joker, but, as it turns out, you aren't.
Okay, let me help. You only get on base through hits, walks, or being hit by a pitch. I guess two out of those three can reasonably be created in the event of a pitcher 'not pitching' to a batter. But to suggest that home runs come as a result of a pitcher 'not pitching' to a batter is ludicrious. In fact, Harold, in the event of a home run, it would seem that the pitcher threw a pitch and the batter not only swung, but connected, and the force behind the swing drove the ball far, far away.
But I wouldn't expect you, the one being paid to talk about baseball, to know that. I mean, talk about high expectations!
Did you pass high school English?
Adam writes two pieces a week for AHP and also muses about lots of stuff on his blog. So, you know, please read it.
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on June 17, 2009
And another leak from the 2003 tests: According to the New York Times, Sammy Sosa, then with the Cubs, tested positive for an unknown substance:
The 2003 test that ensnared Sosa was the first such test conducted by Major League Baseball. Under guidelines agreed upon with the players union, the test results were to remain anonymous but would lead to testing with penalties the next year if more than 5 percent of the results were positive.
That is indeed what occurred. But for reasons never made completely clear, the test results were not destroyed by the players union and the 104 positives were subsequently seized by federal agents on the West Coast investigating matters related to the distribution of drugs to athletes.
The lawyers who had knowledge of Sosa’s inclusion on the 2003 list did not know the substance for which Sosa tested positive. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified as discussing material that is sealed by a court order.
... he was fading as a player when he traveled to Washington in March 2005 to testify with Palmeiro and McGwire and others at a hearing called by a House committee to examine the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
At the hearing, Sosa testified that “everything” he had heard “about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are bad for you, even lethal” and that he “would never put anything dangerous like that” in his body.
“To be clear,” he added, “I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything.”
Frankly, I would be really surprised to learn that more than literally a handfull of players from the 90s and early 2000s did not use steroids. This is a multi-million dollar industry and if you did not play by the rules and juiced, you did not play. How many bankers could elude the dubious practices of their craft the last years? Pretty few, I would guess, because that is how the game was played. Eat or be eaten.
If you are looking for untainted heros of that decade, be careful to put too much faith in the precious few names who still appear to be clean. Would you really bet your fortune on Jim Thome or Ken Griffey Jr. not take anything? At least for a short time? A try? Not that I'm accusing them of anything, but seriously, how much would you wager?
We should instead recognize those talented minor leaguers that refused to take that final step that may have pushed them into the bigs and whose names therefore are long forgotten. They were the ones who are the real role models.
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on June 16, 2009
First off, kiddies, read this. Bill James and Joe Posnanski are two of the best sports writers in the world, so reading them will be daily material. There will be a quiz.
The title of the post is 'on pitch counts' for a reason. James is absolutely correct when he says that teams have went effing bonkers with the pitch count 'rules', in particular the magical 100. There really isn't any reason to stop at 100.
It would appear that each situation is different depending on the pitcher, first, and his history, the stress of the game, the location and weather, the opponent, and the pitcher's performance. It must be a hands-on decision, because it's a hands-on situation.
I'm excited to see where Nolan Ryan's ideas run, and if he ends up succeeding or if he buys land next to the Dusty Baker Graveyard.
Adam writes two pieces a week for AHP and also muses about lots of stuff on his blog. So, you know, please read it.