Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Lebowski Urban Achievers (NL Awards)

Ok now for my rundown of the NL:

1) “Whereas what do we have hear? A bunch of fig-eaters wearing towels on their heads trying to find reverse on a Soviet tank. This is not a worthy adversary.”

Excusing the racist undertones of Walter’s outburst, can you really think of a better quote to apply to what is going on with the NL at the moment? I mean, it’s basically: take a random Sox player, move to the NL, add water and *poof* you got a league leader. As I post, Pedro and Nomar are followed by Freddy Sanchez , Edgar Renteria, Hanley Ramirez, Arroyo and Tom Gordon as former Sox players lighting up the NL. I mean, Pedro and Nomar, sure, both make sense, but the rest of these guys were decent but unspectacular in the AL or B/B+ grade prospects.

It’s getting silly. The way Pedro manages to throw 200+ IP these days is by keeping the velocity low and using movement and location. The Pedro of old would beat you first with velocity, and then when you were dialled in for the heat, he would drop a silly curve or a backward bending changeup on your knees. But now Pedro, when healthy can just cruz through seven innings no problem, facing pitchers and bottom of the order hitters who would be in AAA for a decent AL team.

Now take Bronson Arroyo, currently tearing through the NL. Let’s look at his peripherals from over at FraGraphs.
  • link

  • Ok the first thing to notice is I haven't figure out links yet. Besides that, what does it tell you? Well the only differences between Bronson this year and Bronson last year are a spike in K rate and that he is leaving much more men on base. The increase in strikeouts was a given, to ballpark it, you can basically automatically assume that a guy going from the NL to the AL will add about 1.5 K/9IP. The LOB% implies a couple things, one is, his ERA is due for a bit of a rise.

    For a different perspective, take the two guys the Sox got coming from the Marlins over the last two years. One was supposed to replace Pedro the other was compared often to Roger. I might never trust an NL starting pitcher again. That’s how good they are. I think of the NL as a good suburb, nice place to raise the kids, you know they can hang out in the yard and the world won’t challenge them much. To make it, they eventually have to grow up and move out on their own into the real world of the big city, or they could stay at home forever, like that buddy of yours from high school.

    2) “So if you could just write me a check for ten percent of a million dollars... five grand...”

    To the Cincinatti Reds, who botched a move to get ten cents on the dollar. Seriously, selling two of the brightest young position players in baseball for middle relief, and this is all you could get. I cannot understate how bad I think this deal is. I don’t even think the usual ‘traded for a bucket of balls’ jibe here is appropriate. Remember that movie Sandlot, where the kids play baseball in the beat up field, and every once and while someone hits one into the next-door yard, and the beast of a dog has basically eaten the ball? Or maybe I am thinking of Beethoven. Anyway, I feel like if you took the all the baseballs that were used in those scenes, all eaten with dog drool all over them, take them, put em in a burlap bag, and THAT is the bucket of balls that Austin Kearns and co were traded for. Did you ever think major league GMs would make so many trades that, were they to occur in fantasy baseball, would be vetoed without a peep from the gallery?

    For some perspective, Kearns is currently 4th in the NL in VORP for Right Fielders, hitting .274/.351/.492. Oh and he can play good CF as well. The worst part about the whole thing is I wouldn’t shut up in the off-season about the Sox going after Kearns instead of Coco. I like Coco, but in a couple years it will be obvious that Kearns is the superior player, and they would not have to give up future All-Star Andy Marte to get him.

    3) “Am I wrong?”
    “No you're not wrong.”
    “Am I wrong?”
    “You're not wrong Walter. You're just an asshole.”

    This one is for you Mr. Bonds.

    Thing is part of me feels bad for Barry, I mean, how would you feel if you cheated in the same way as everyone else, but because you were so much better to begin with, you got nailed to the cross for doing it because it turned you into Babe Ruth with a big forhead? It stinks the way the guy has been scapegoat. But you know what? We don’t care anymore. We don’t care that you cheated, and you obviously did, we don’t care about chasing records and we certainly don’t care that you cry on TV. Why, cause when you are a year away from retirement and mired in a PED scandal, we might see through your puerile attempts to change the image you earned over decades in baseball. Sure the media is presumptuous and they can make people seem worse than they are, but when they try to lynch genuinely nice guys, the truth always comes out. You, Barry, are a jerk, and I just don’t care anymore.

    Oh and by the way, thanks for almost single-handed killing my fantasy baseball season. I can’t describe how frustrating it is to see these weekly stat line:
    3 games, 4 walks, 2 hits and maybe a homer for a line of 430/480

    4) “By the way, do you think that you could give me that $20,000 in cash? My concern is, and I have to, uh, check with my accountant, that this might bump me into a higher, uh, tax bracket.”

    It seems like, baring the A’s, that the Florida Marlins are the only ones who understand how playing the game as a cheap team is supposed to work. Think about it this way, when you get any general manager simulator, be it football, baseball, whatever, what is the first thing you always do? I immediately sell all the old decent players for young guys with potential. Too many teams try to contend by being mediocre and hoping for a miracle. Maybe because it is easier to play .450 ball and say ‘it wasn’t our year’ than the blow it up and make a real run, but it doesn’t make it any less forgivable. I can only commend the Florida Marlins for their moves in the offseason. They understood that the team wasn’t going anywhere as currently comprised and sold everything in the cupboard that would be stale or gone by the next time they were competitive. Quick review:

    - Beckett and Lowell for Haley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez and Jesus Delgado
    -Lowell looked dead and Beckett was gone after 2006, in the process they net a contender for Rookie of the Year in Hanley, albeit bolstered by an unreasonably hot start, and a pitching prospect who was in the same league as Lester and Papelbon this time last year.

    -Carlos Delgado moved to the Mets for Yusmerio Petit and Mike Jacobs.
    -Jacobs is currently exceeding most projections and looks like a great bet to be a decent cost-effective middle of the order hitter for a couple seasons and Petit’s got lots of potential. Oh yeah, and all they gave up was a guy signed to a free agent contact less than 12 months prior for full value.

    -Sold Lo Duca, Castillo and Pierre for a slew of young guys with upside. Clearing space for the young guys to play and getting some potential value down the line.

    Just textbook all around, I probably couldn’t do better in Baseball Mogul 2006. And now they are surprising all the mainstream media idiots by being in contention for the Wild Card.

    5) [On video] “You must be about ready to fix the cable?”
    “Lord. You can imagine where it goes from here.”
    “He fixes the cable?”

    Where is Soriano going? Big question? Not to me. I don’t know about you but I see only one outcome from Sorianos’ resurgence and inevitable trade. And when the Yankees buy the rest of his season from the Nats for Tabata or Phillips, I for one will be enthused. Can you know the last time the Yankees acquired a corner outfielder mid season and it worked out well for them? Yeah, me either. I fondly remember them getting the Rondell White’s and Raul Mondesi’s of the world and watching them turn in Tony Clark-esque performances. I remember when it seemed like everything the Yankees touched turned to gold, especially in the pitching department, but they have been totally inept at finding decent corner bats at the trading deadline. This maybe because of their well-known tendency to empty the farm for anything resembling a live body during the trading deadline and maybe because it has gotten very difficult to break rookies in at Yankee Stadium, either way, it makes me happy.

    Soriano is the type of player who was figured out in the AL: don’t pitch him anything to hit, and he will swing his way into a 310 OBP. When I predicted his demise in RFK, I forgot the paucity of legitimate baseball in the NL, which is not a mistake I will make again. I welcome his return and inevitable choke in big games against superior pitching.

    6) “Are you employed, sir?”
    “You don't go out looking for a job dressed like that? On a weekday?”
    “Is this a... what day is this?”

    To the Braves, who showed up for the season without their usual game face on. It took a long time, but it seems the Braves run atop the division is finally dead (counting from 1995 mind you, les go espos!). The only question remaining is whether they are going to take it lying down or are they going to fight for the wild card. You have to hand it to everyone over their in Atl….well actually, I have to do no such thing. Let me be the first to say: The king is dead, the king is dead. Good riddance, and take your southern racist chop with you.

    Last month I was about to agree that the Tomahawk Chop has no bigoted undertones, but then I got distracted by the reflection from the confederate flags in the back window of your pickup trucks. As a completely tangential aside, I’ll believe racism in the south is dead when that flag stops appearing on state buildings, when Rove can’t sink a persons campaign with push polling on an adopted black baby, and when George Allen has no more political career.

    7) “Darkness warshed over the Dude - darker'n a black steer's tookus on a moonless prairie night. There was no bottom.”

    Terrible time to be a Phillies fan. For the first time in recent memory the Braves don’t have the division sown up, and the Mets finally realize how to spend money and are going to walk away with it. At least they are going to make the right move and blow it up. If they do a good job of it, they could get competitive right as the Mets success cycle winds down. They have a decent core of kind of position player although Howard (26) Utley (27), Burrell (29), Rowand (28) and Rollins (27) are surprisingly up-their in age and all pretty much as good as they are going to get, not that there is anything wrong with that. The pitching side of things is a little younger but thinner with Myers (25) and Hamels (22) really the only two guys who you could consider ‘building around’. Basically, looking forward, the team is Howard, Utley, Burrell, Rollins, Myers and Hamels. Not a bad core, but as we can see now, if you just fill in the rest of the team with your average major league baseball talen, well, it doesn’t get you to the playoffs, which as I keep stressing, is the end goal in all this.

    The Phillies are in one of those bad middle places where their core isn’t getting any younger, but not yet old and they have significant holes, especially with their pitching. So what do you do, well, if it were me, I would sell anything of value not bolted down and over the age of 27. Sell Gordon, sell Abreu, sell the mascot if he is getting on there, but due to the horizon we are looking for the best they can hope for is to find someone willing to give up guys close to the majors or in the majors. Similar logic to why depleted farm systems might want to draft college players applies here.

    9) “You have got to buck up, man. You cannot drag this negative energy in to the tournament!”
    “F**k the tournament... F**k YOU, Walter!”

    “F**k the tournament? All right, I can see you don't want to be cheered up here, Dude. Come on Donny, let's go get us a lane.”

    Unfortunately, this one goes to my man Brad Lidge. Not since BJ Kim has a closer had such a bad hangover from getting rocked for a couple of bombs in the playoffs. Sure part of it may just be he randomly got control problems, baseball is a gruelling sport, especially for pitchers. But part of me thinks he just hasn’t gotten over being abused by the aforementioned coolest player in baseball like he was throwing wiffle balls. Then to top it off, Podsednik hit his only homer of the season off Lidge in the World Series. That’s humiliating, I mean, not as pathetic as dropping a 3-0 lead in a league championship series or anything, but definitely notable.

    9) “The Dude Abides”
    Coolest line in the movie goes to the most-chill superstar in the league, Albert Pujols.
    What could I possibly right about this guy.
    Best pure hitter in baseball in terms of power, average and patience? Check.
    Begs comparisons to Joe D and Teddy Ballgame incessantly? Check.
    Most disturbing loss of hair in a 26 year old? Check. Best name to get women to randomly look up from a fashion magazine and say “heyyyyy, his name is Poo-Holes! That’s great!”….Unfortunately, check.

    Seriously, steal the Poo-holes joke from Sports Guy. No one reads him or anything.
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