Friday, March 31, 2006

Yankees set 25 man roster

The Yankees are all set for the season as it was confirmed that the club will carry three catchers unless anything dramatic happens. Wil Nieves is out of options and will not be put through waivers as Brian Cashman explores possible trade options for the backup catcher. Also making it to Oakland is Scott Proctor, who despite his wildness will be carried whilst Carl Pavano and Aaron Small open the season on the DL.

So no real major shocks by the Yankees, but to be honest we aren't really a club who deals in surprises. Those to watch out for in AAA include Kevin Howard who came over in the Tony Womack trade, I really liked the look of him in ST and will be interested to see how he fares down in Columbus.

The 25 man is as follows:





Thursday, March 30, 2006

2006 Season Preview - AL East, Those Devil Rays

Tampa Bay Devil Rays
2005 Record: 67-95
Position: 5th

Neil H ended his Baltimore Orioles preview with, 'I think that 2006 may be the year that the Rays finally climb off the bottom of the AL East,' well as I'm doing the Devil Rays preview he'd best hope I agree otherwise we are going to look rather stupid. Luckily for my NY dwelling friend, he and I are on the exact same wavelength, this is the year the Devil Rays start to actually make strides towards a winning season, don't think they'll make it just yet but this is a team that should win 75-80 games this season.

The reason is they have a stacked lineup who can compete with the best in the game. Crawford is a genuine five-tool player and the return of Rocco Baldelli helps this team in many ways. Aubrey Huff can hit, we all know that and last season saw two huge surprises to those who are not avid watchers of either the Rays or Minor League ball as Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu performed far better than the casual fan would expect.

Then of course we come to Delmon Young. My good friend Pete J has been banging on about this kid for what seems like an eternity. From what he tells me this kids ceiling is about up there with the Petronas Tower in Malaysia. He has it all and can do it right now but will start at AAA for some bizarre reason that no-one understands. Obviously it is because they have too much depth in the OF, well trade away someone and get some pitching Devil Rays because your starting pitching is rather, erm, suspect. For suspect, see shit.

Beyond Scott Kazmir who I think is a stud, they have no-one that'll frighten the life out of your average Major Leaguers, heck they don't have stuff that would frighten your average Minor Leaguer, or Little Leaguers, or Girls softball leaguer...You catch my drift. Edwin Jackson was a nice pick up if he can harness his stuff and my bold Jeff Niemann pick in a keeper league over Justin Verlander is looking dumber by the day, Oi Niemann, get fit!

If they had an average rotation and an average BP then this team could win 90-95 games, the hitting could be that good, however the rotation is lacklustre and the 'pen is shakier than a building built on sand in the middle of a 9.2 Earthquake.

2006 Projection: 77-85
Position: 4th
Devil Rays Link Blog - D Rays Bay

2006 Season Preview - AL East, Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles
2005 Record: 74-88; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Ramon Hernandez, INF / OF Kevin Millar, OF Jeff Conine, OF Corey Patterson, SP Kris Benson
Minus - INF Rafael Palmeiro, OF Sammy Sosa, RP Jorge Julio, RP BJ Ryan

It seems almost impossible to believe, but here, as late as June 25th, the 2005 version of the Orioles had just fallen out of 1st place. In my over / under response I even had the Orioles as a potential Wild Card team, which seemed mildly clever in April, May and June and just stupid come September. In the early part of the season the Orioles young starters pitched well, Brian Roberts turned his double power into home run and double power, and the team had Rafael Palmeiro moving toward his landmark 3,000th hit...

What went wrong - well the Palmeiro / Tejada thing certainly didn't help. Palmeiro pointed fingers at Congress, then less than 80 games later became the highest profile player to test positive, in murky circumstances. It has been well documented that Tejada produced the worst second half of his career following Palmeiro's statement that Tejada's vitamin injection might have been the source of his failed steroid test... and while that may have just been Palmeiro playing a desperate game of pin the blame, Tejada's lack of production was a big (but lets not get carried away, not the only) part of the second half fade. As an aside ... seriously... hands up in the audience those of you who drop their pants in the office and let your cubicle buddy pop a needle in you... anyone... anyone... in the back??

What else went wrong... the starting pitching caught up with itself... Ponson was a disaster... Sammy Sosa - yeh that signing worked out well... by August the Orioles had decided that Lee Mazzilli was a better bench coach than field manager and Sam Perlozzo was installed - though that should be a good thing right? And then, in the off-season Miguel Tejada requested a trade, then rescinded, then requested, then announced himself embarrassed and ready to play for the O's again.

What do the Orioles have to look forward to in 2006? That really is a tough question - the addition of Mazzone creates a true real time experiment that the baseball community is looking forward to with genuine interest. The Mazzone 'effect' has been calculated as 0.5 runs off the ERA of the 'average' pitcher under his control - now we find out if it was the pitchers or the pitching coach - if the results are repeated in Baltimore, surely more teams have to start applying his principles? The team's major off-season acquisitions were Ramon Hernandez and Kris Benson - both will help, but neither makes this team competitive, while the loss of Ryan will hurt, but again, it won't be a change that makes the team less competitive. The team also has the Kevin Millar experience to look forward to - you know - great character, declining hitting skills?

I think that 2006 may be the year that the Rays finally climb off the bottom of the AL East - it does need a combination of events to occur, but I really do think that the O's could be that bad in 2006. There doesn't seem to be a plan, a way forward for this team - grim viewing for the Birds.

2006 Projection: 70-92; Position - 4th
Orioles blog link - The Orioles Warehouse

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A middle of the road dilemma

The Bombers have a stud lineup 1-9, of that there is little doubt. Johnny Damon will lead off and Derek Jeter will hit behind him. Jorge Posada will hit in the seven hole with Bernie Williams and Robinson Cano behind him, the big question is how Joe goes in the 3-6 spots.

Last season it was Jason Giambi who ended up hitting in the #3 spot after a rise up the batting order throughout the second half of the season. His high OBP along with a rise in his power numbers and his batting average leads me to think that he is the man that will start in this spot yet again.


The Yankees have this guy called Alex Rodriguez, he's only the reigning AL MVP. A complete hitter who hit .321 with an OBP 100 points higher at .421. He only drove in 130 runs with 48 round trippers and it was clear he felt extremely comfortable at the plate after his transition to both 3B and New York. He would be a fine #3 hitter anywhere but I have him at #4.


There is this guy called Gary Sheffield, who is arguably the most dangerous hitter in the whole of the game. If Sheffield wants to get a hit and is extra determined he says he will, he is very clutch and can turn on the best fastball anyone can throw at him. Not the guy you want to face when the game in on the line, a borderline Hall of Famer, just like Giambi, a good end to his career might push him over the top, also he's playing for a contract for 2007, arrogant, mean, ruthless, fearless, that's Sheffield, I have him at #5.


The man they call Godzilla. He averages 110 RBI in three years in the Bronx and he a complete hitter although very streaky. This guy will probably start at #6 which is a scary thought for any opposing pitcher.

The Bombers lineup is stacked from top to bottom and is a modern day murderers row, they say pitching wins in October and they are right, but in 2002 the then Anaheim Angels won it all by battering through the opposition, the Yankees will need to be similar as they do not have great starting pitcher, it's on the good side of average but not by much, but with this lineup, if they give away five runs a game they could win it all, and that is quite a thought.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

2006 Season Preview - AL Central

Home of the World Series Champion White Sox - why have more teams not taken the hint - the New York Blue Sox anyone?

Chicago White Sox
2005 Record: 99-63; Position 1st

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Jim Thome, SP Javier Vazquez
Minus - INF/DH Frank Thomas, OF Aaron Rowand, SP Orlando Hernandez

As a bitter twisted Red Sox fan I have to 'fess up - nothing would have pleased me more than Ozzie Guillen following through with his "if I win the WS, I will quit" threat - please Ozzie, make baseball a quieter, pleasanter place again. Last year, I had the White Sox no better than 3rd... as they went on to win the WS with an 11-1 record in the post-season. This year the Sox have brought back the majority of the winning 25, with improvements at DH and in the already strong rotation, with a slight weakening in CF, with rookie Brian Anderson replacing Aaron Rowand. Given what else has happened in the Central, I find it hard to look beyond the Sox as repeating champions.

2006 Projection: 94-68; Position - 1st
White Sox blog link - ChiSox Daily

Cleveland Indians
2005 Record: 93-69; Position 2nd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - OF Jason Michaels, SP Paul Byrd, SP Jason Johnson, RP Danny Graves, RP Steve Karsay, RP Guillermo Mota
Minus - OF Coco Crisp, SP Kevin Millwood, RP Bob Howry, RP Arthur Rhodes

A lot of change for a team that came within 5 days of making the play-offs. The last week collapse eased the Red Sox / Yankees path to the play-offs, not that it did either of them much good. When I first started watching the Sox, the Indians were the team that I feared most - a combination of excellent young hitting, with average pitching was a formula for success, but not that final success. The Indians were very bold in disbanding that team - really when Manny made the decision to leave for Boston, the Indians made the decision to retool, and made some excellent trades, and fine drafting to repeat the model. But the loss of Millwood and Crisp has to set this team back a little, and while the team is young, it is difficult to imagine a great deal more upside from some of those players...

2006 Projection: 90-72; Position -2nd
Indians blog link - Let's Go Tribe
Minnesota Twins
2005 Record: 83-79; Position 3rd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Luis Castillo, INF Tony Batista, OF Rondell White, DH Ruben Sierra
Minus - OF Jacque Jones, SP Joe Mays

Some very strange moves by the Twins - Castillo - good, Batista - bad, White - ok, Sierra - not so ok... This team does have Santana - the AL's best pitcher since the Pedro years, and fans have the emergence of Baker and Liriano to look forward to, but it is difficult to see where the Twins will get enough offense to be competitive with the White Sox, or Indians, over the course of a season. The Twins aren't far away - possibly needing one big bat (Ortiz would have been ok), and one other 'plus bat' to be a very serious threat, but it is difficult to see Ryan making the moves that would bring those rewards.

2006 Projection: 88-76; Position - 3rd
Twins blog link - the blog that started it all for me!
Detroit Tigers
2005 Record: 71-91; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - SP Kenny Rogers, RP Todd Jones
Minus - OF Rondell White, SP Jason Johnson

The Tigers biggest off-field move was the recruitment of Jim Leyland, while on the field, fans can look forward to newly improved, anger managed Kenny Rogers. The signing of Jones, so soon after the Tigers had both Urbina and Percival on the roster tends to suggest that the lessons of those signings weren't quite clear enough - will anyone be at all surprised if the Tigers are looking to sign a FA veteran closer during the winter break in 2006/07?

2006 Projection: 73-89; Position - 4th
Tigers blog link - The Detroit Tiger Weblog

Kansas City Royals
2005 Record: 56-106; Position 5th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Doug Mientkiewicz, INF Mark Grudzielanek, OF Reggie Sanders, SP Elmer Dessens, SP Joe Mays, SP Scott Elarton
Minus - does Jose Lima count?

Wow... the Colorado Rockies of the AL made a serious commitment to putting a 60 win team out there this year... and I still don't think they will make it. The strange loss of Grienke doesn't help, though replacing his 2005 contribution shouldn't be a stretch for say... Neil M? It is difficult to know what to make of this organization - instead of Bud Selig threatening to award Kansas City the All Star game if they get a new stadium, why not award them the game if they put out back-to-back winning seasons?

2006 Projection: 59-103; Position - 5th
Royals blog link - Royals Authority

Monday, March 27, 2006

The 2006 AL West Preview

So we are back in the AL, hurrah! We are starting out West in what I believe will be one of the hotly fought divisions in all of Major League Baseball.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
2005 Record: 95-67
Position: 1st

Major Off Season Moves:

In: Jeff Weaver SP
Out: Paul Bryd SP, Jeff DaVanon OF, Bengie Molina C, Jarrod Washburn SP

The Angels let a few go but they are a strong team and with a strong nucleas of players at high levels in the minors, players like Casey Kotchman and Dellas McPherson might be ready to really turn it on in the bigs, and with mashers like Brandon Wood ready to burst out, this team should be good. Ervin Santana and Kevlim Escobar are two much under rated pitchers and with that bullpen they'll be there or thereabouts.

2006 Projection: 94-68
Position: 2nd
Angels Link Blog - Angels Dust

Oakland Athletics
2005 Record: 88-74
Position: 2nd

Major Off Season Moves:

In: Esteban Loiaza SP, Frank Thomas DH, Milton Bradley OF
Out: Octavio Dotel RP, Erubiel Durazo 1B/DH, Scott Hatteberg 1B/DH, Ricardo Rincon RP

I like the A's, I really do. Got some stellar young starting pitching, have added the Big Hurt who in his last 300 ABs over two years has actually gone deep 30 times, Milton Bradley could be ready to have a good year and a fully healthy Bobby Crosby leads me to thinking they'll win the West.

2006 Projection: 95-67
Position: 1st
Athletics Link Blog -
Athletics Nation

Texas Rangers
2005 Record: 79-83
Position: 3rd

Major Off Season Moves:

In: Brad Wilkerson OF, Kevin Millwood SP, Erubiel Durazo 1B/DH, Akinori Otsuka RP
Out: Alfonso Soriano 2B/OF, Kenny Rogers SP, Richard Hidalgo OF, Steve Karsay RP

They got rid of Soriano and his $10m salary and actually got some real talent back for him, that's quite a steal. Kevin Millwood is a bonafide ace but he is being overpaid. This team will win a lot of games but they will lose a lot too, they won't be challenging when all is said and done but it wouldn't shock me if they made a run at some point in the season and people will sit up and notice.

2006 Projection: 86-76
Position: 3rd
Rangers Link Blog - Lone Star Ball

Seattle Mariners
2005 Record: 69-93
Position: 4th

Major Off Season Moves:

In: Kenji Johjima C, Carl Everett DH, Matt Lawton OF, Jarrod Washburn SP
Out: Miguel Olivo, Pokey Reese IF

The Mariners have improved this off season of that there is little doubt. The lad Johjima may be a great signing, Lawton and Everett are decent signings but nothing more than that, they still have Ichiro of course but they need more. They'll be better but they won't be challenging better.

2006 Projection: 77-85
Position: 4th
Mariners Link Blog - Caffeinated Confines

Now on to the Central...

Sunday, March 26, 2006

2006 Season Preview - NL East

Finishing off the NL - the very interesting NL East.

Atlanta Braves
2005 Record: 90-72; Position 1st

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Edgar Renteria
Minus - INF Rafael Furcal, RP Kyle Farnsworth

Well here goes... Atlanta are 14 and done - they will not win the NL East in 2006. I think it is fair to expect some of the young guys that broke through in 2005 to regress slightly (though I am not thinking anything major), and I think that Atlanta may realize there really was something to that Mazzone guy. That is one of the big surprises of the off-season to me, the way that the Braves organization first let him walk, then subtly let it be known through the media that he wasn't that great anyway.

2006 Projection: 88-74; Position - 2nd
Braves blog link - Tomahawk
Philadelphia Phillies
2005 Record: 88-74; Position 2nd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - OF Aaron Rowand, RP Arthur Rhodes, RP Tom Gordon
Minus - INF Jim Thome, SP Vicente Padilla, RP Billy Wagner

In any season when your subtractions are more noteworthy than your additions, I think you have gone backwords. Given that the subtraction of Thome allows Howard every day playing time that may not be a bad thing, but the replacement of Wagner with Gordon can only hurt. I think the fact that the Phillies have been shopping Abreu in an attempt to get a true #1 starter says that the Phillies know themselves that they are not a true WS contender.

2006 Projection: 86-72; Position - 3rd
Phillies blog link - Beerleaguer
Florida Marlins
2005 Record: 83-79; Position 3rd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - RP Joe Borowski...
Minus - C Paul LoDuca, INF Carlos Delgado, INF Louis Castillo, INF Mike Lowell, INF Alex Gonzalez, OF Juan Pierre, OF Juan Encarnacion, SP Josh Beckett, SP AJ Burnett, RP Todd Jones

Just an incredible off-season for the fish, with the Marlins dumping vetrans at an alarming rate as they look to purge payroll - using the "we can't get a massive tax subsidy to help build a stadium" excuse. And let's be honest, the Marlins weren't dumping massively over-priced veterans (except Lowell) - but at least they did pick up some impressive (volume of) talent - Brinkley, Bowyer, Delgado, Garcia, Hernandez, Jacobs, Mitre, Nolasco, Petit, Pinto, Ramirez, Sanchez, Tyler and more. I really do think that the Marlins season will be determined by its start - if they start badly, we could be looking at a historically bad season, with Cabrera and Willis shopped at the July deadline. If they start ok (and ST has shown that they could), the young team that they put out may have the confidence to remain respectable.

2006 Projection: 65-97; Position - 5th
Marlins blog link - Marlins Today
New York Mets
2005 Record: 83-79; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Paul LoDuca, INF Carlos Delgado, INF/OF Xavier Nady, RP Chad Bradford, RP Billy Wagner
Minus - C Mike Piazza, OF Mike Cameron, SP Kris Benson, SP Jae Seo, RP Roberto Hernandez, RP Braden Looper

The Mets have improved at C, IB and closer - but they have not done as much as you might have expected to upgrade the bullpen, and, to me anyway, they have left themselves very thin in the rotation... but... The Mets season will largely be driven off the toe and, lets not forget, right shoulder of Pedro Martinez. If Pedro doesn't break down, then you have to believe the Mets have enough offense, combined with enough average pitching, to win the East. One other thing in their favor? Minaya is clearly in 'win it now' mode, backed by the Wilpons - a trade for SP at the deadline has to be on the cards.

2006 Projection: 91-71; Position - 1st
Mets blog link -
Washington National
2005 Record: 81-81; Position 5th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Marlon Anderson, INF Alfonso Soriano, INF Royce Clayton, SP Ramon Ortiz
Minus - INF Junior Spivey, OF Preston Wilson, OF Brad Wilkerson, SP Esteban Loiza

The Nationals had a very active off-season, with 14 free agent signings of various quality. But the off-season is probably summed up in one transaction - taking on 2b Alfonso Soriano for OF Brad Wilkerson, OF Termell Sledge and a minor league pitcher, when the team already had a strong 2b, and the world seemed pretty aware that Soriano wasn't keen on moving to the OF in his FA year. That has been solved for now, but the moves that Bowden has made just make you scared that he was one of the guys that the Sox interviewed post Theo. Hopefully this season will be remembered for the fact that the Nationals were sold at last, and that a new owner was strongly committed to a new stadium and a winning team in the seasons ahead.

2006 Projection: 78-84; Position - 4th
Nationals blog link - Capitol Punishment

Saturday, March 25, 2006

2006 Season Preview - NL Central

I get to do the NL Central so I can talk about how great the Rocket is and how he's not going to return to the Astros but make a stunning comeback to the Yankees to pitch a perfect game in Game Seven of the World Series at Yankee yes...

St. Louis Cardinals (Or the Parrots as my Mum calls them)
2005 Record: 100-62
Position: 1st

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Juan Encarnacion OF, Braden Looper RP, Sidney Ponson SP
Out: Reggie Sanders OF, Matt Morris SP, Julian Tavarez RP

The Cards pounded their way to 100 wins last year but they failed in October when the surging Astros beat them despite that shot by Pujols off Lidge. They have had a quiet off season with no major moves meaning they are rightly still the favourites to win the NL Central and the NL in general this season.

2006 Projection: 103-59 and 1st place
Cards Link Blog - Cards Fan

Houston Astros
2005 Record: 89-73 (W/C)
Position 2nd

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Preston Wilson OF
Out: Roger Clemens SP (For how long?)

The Astros behind a stellar rotation of Clemens, Oswalt and Pettitte managed to go all the way to the World Series, where upon their inability to score runs finally caught up with them. Having lost the Rocket for now, they look like a team struggling to make it back to the playoffs and with Bagwell seemingly throwing the towel in today, part of the ballclub seems to of died.

2006 Projection: 81-81 and 4th place
Astros Blog Link - The Dugout

Milwaukee Brewers
2005 Record: 81-81
Position 3rd

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Brent Abernathy 2B, Corey Koskie 3B
Out: Lyle Overbay 1B

The Brew Crew are a decent outfit, finishing at .500 last year was impressive but this time around I think they might kick on. Prince Fielder will be the every day first baseman and everyone is hoping for big things from him, although this team will go as far as Ben Sheets, Chris Capauno and Doug Davis will take them.

2006 Projection: 88-74
Position: 3rd
Brewers Blog link - Brewers Bar

Chicago Cubs
2005 Record: 79-83
Position: 4th

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Scott Eyre SP, Bob Howry RP, Jacque Jones OF, John Mabry OF, Wade Miller SP
Out: Jeromy Burnitz OF, Nomar Garciaparra IF

The Cubs are all about those arms. If (and it is a big if) Prior and Wood go 60 starts this season they'll be there or there abouts, even 50 starts between the pair and they can be in the Wildcard chase, anything less and they'll be nowhere.

2006 Projection: 90-72
Position: 2nd
Cubs link blog - The Cub Reporter

Cincinnati Reds:
2005 Record: 73-89
Position: 5th

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Bronson Arroyo SP, Chris Hammond RF, Tony Womack, IF
Out: Wily Mo Pena OF, Ramon Ortiz SP

The Reds play in one of the most Homer friendly parks across the land, if only they could get a good pitcher or two they might be pretty good. They have the classic swing of Junior and the brute power of Dunn but after that not too much else.

2006 Projection: 70-92
Position 5th
Reds Blog Link - Reds Reporter

Pittsburgh Pirates
2005 Record: 67-95
Position: 6th

Major Off Season Moves:
In: Jeromy Burnitz OF, Joe Randa 3B
Out: Jose Mesa RP, Ty Wigginton 3B

What do the Pirates have to look forward to in 2006? Not a great deal, if they finish in 5th they'll of had a good season. Oliver Perez should be back and he could be an outside shot at the NL Cy Young.

2006 Projection: 63-99
Position: 6th
Pirates Blog link - Buried Treasure

Want Baseball Clips?

We have today added a new link to a website that amongst other things provides baseball clips that are free to view. Go and check out the Baseball Clip Site and let us know what you think, we think it could be a good source of material for all those who don't sign up for things like

Oh for the love of...

The season hasn't even started yet and already the Yankees have injury problems that are starting to look problematic. Last year both Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright spent far too long on the DL and they both may start 2006 on it, the Yanks are not getting value for money from them two, not by a long shot.

Two bp members are also set to begin 2006 on the DL, we all knew Octavio Dotel wouldn't be ready for the start of the campaign but losing last years hero Aaron Small is a blow for the Yankee cause.

Now the latest incident sees Jorge Posada struggling to make opening day after his backup catcher hit Posada with a baseball whilst the All-Star catcher wasn't looking. Posada's nose was broken and it has been set back into position and although its highly unlikely he'll need a trip to the DL, he may not be ready to start the season.

This in turn means that the Yanks will have to carry Wil Nieves for the first few days of the season meaning one spot less in the pen. Nieves and Proctor are the two most high profile players who weren't assured of making the 25 man roster who had no options left but the recent spate of injuries seems to give them both one last chance to stick with the big club.

Nieves would probably make it through waivers to be optioned back to AAA but despite Proctor's unpredictability, I suspect someone would claim him because he clearly has a live arm.

Still on the positive side Johnny Damon will return to the field today after suffering from a shoulder condition.

Friday, March 24, 2006

2006 Season Preview - NL West

Neil and I will do a more in-depth review of the AL East prior to opening night, but for the other (read lesser ;-)) leagues, we thought we would stick to a brief, informative format - really who looks at a Red Sox / Yankee blog for our thoughts on the Colorado Rockies? And to help you out we have added links to a blog on each team so that you can read the thoughts of someone who does know each of these teams.

So to start off that process - the NL West -

San Diego Padres
2005 Record: 82-80; Position 1st

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Mike Piazza, INF Vinny Castilla, OF Mike Cameron, SP Chris Young
Minus - INF Mark Loretta, SP Adam Eaton, RP Akinori Otsuka

It appeared at times last year that the Padres didn't want to win the NL West - 13 losses in 16 games just after the All Star break just wasn't pretty. The moves the Padres have made seem a little mixed to this observer - I struggle to believe that Piazza, Castilla and Embree will help in '06, but the (re) signings of Cameron, Giles and Hoffman together with continued strong contributions from the likes of Peavy, should help ensure that the Padres remain competitive in the relatively weak West.

2006 Projection: 81-81; Position - 2nd
Padres blog link - Ducksnorts
Arizona Diamondbacks
2005 Record: 77-85; Position 2nd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Orlando Hudson, OF Chris Young, SP Orlando Hernandez, SP/RP Miguel Batista
Minus - INF Troy Glaus, SP Javier Vazquez

OK, so Neil and I are talking about how we will structure this review, and having blinked myself, I asked... where did the D'backs finish in '05 - needless to say neither of us guessed 2nd. The loss of Glaus and Vazquez clearly hurts in the short term, but helps the team financially in the long term, and the addition of one of the AL's best defensive 2B helps as well. Perhaps in a few years we will look back at 2005/06 and see the biggest on field move as the addition of Young, the D'backs CF of the future, while the key off field move (and the most interesting from a Sox viewpoint) for the D'Backs was the appointment of Josh Byrnes as GM - adding another team to the sabermetrics school.

2006 Projection: 75-87; Position - 3rd
D'backs blog link - AZ Snakepit
San Francisco Giants
2005 Record: 75-87; Position 3rd

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - OF Steve Finley, SP Matt Morris, RP Tim Worrell, RP Steve Kline
Minus - INF Edgardo Alfonzo, INF JT Snow, SP Brett Tomko, RP LaTroy Hawkins

The key number for the Giants in 2005 - 14 - the number of games that a certain LF played in last year. Is it fair to say that as goes Barry Bonds 2006, so goes the Giants? I think so - if Bonds hits as we know he can, and plays in anything over 120 games then the Giants are in the mix. If he doesn't - either because of renewed injury, or because of action by Bud Selig (unlikely and unfair) or the court system (likely and... who knows), then the Giants can look forward to a final shrinking of the Bonds era world series opportunities. From my projection below, you can tell where my thoughts point.

(And I only put Finley in as a major move so I could giggle!)

2006 Projection: 73-89; Position - 4th
Giants blog link - Jay's Giants Blog
Los Angeles Dodgers
2005 Record: 71-91; Position 4th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - INF Nomar Garciaparra, INF Rafael Furcal, INF Bill Mueller, OF Kenny Lofton, SP Brett Tomko, SP / RP Jae Seo
Minus - OF Milton Bradley, SP Jeff Weaver

Well the D'backs may have added a team to the sabermetrics school, but Paul Depodesta was a high profile casualty from the same school in 2005. Ned Colletti has put his stamp on the team with a number of significant FA signings and trades, as well as hiring a new field manager - Grady Little (Neil H now stops blogging for a while to get over the shakes...). The Dodgers farm system is highly rated at the moment and the moves he made were achieved without sacrificing much at that level. I may be crazy here, but I think the Dodgers will win the West in '06, which the LA press will celebrate as a victory for old school baseball, regardless of the truth. The signings they have made will help, the return from injury of Gagne will help, and the continued weakness of the West will do the rest.

2006 Projection: 85-77; Position - 1st
Dodgers blog link - Dodger Thoughts
Colorado Rockies
2005 Record: 67-95; Position 5th

Major Off-season Moves:
Add - C Yorvit Torrealba, RP Jose Mesa, RP Ray King
Minus - OF Larry Bigbie

Isn't that a glorious list of changes for a 67-95 team... but at least they re-signed BH Kim, who showed in the WBC that the glory days are here again (that is a little harsh, BH pitched well enough for the Rockies in 2005). The Rockies are reliant on the continued improvement of the younger players on their 25, and a hoped for bounce from Todd Helton - aside from that... But I am a polite guy, I will give the Rockies a 3 game improvement in '06, just don't use me as your betting line guide.

2006 Projection: 70-92; Position - 5th
Rockies blog link - Up in the Rockies

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

So Sori - Alfonso shifts to the OF

Later today the Washington Nationals will take the field for a Spring Training game but the big question was whether or not Alfonso Soriano will take the field. The former Yankees second baseman had initially refused to make the transition to the Outfield and if he didn't agree to the shift today then it was likely that the club would place the four time All-Star on the Disqualified List.

However a club spokesman has just revealed that the player will play in LF tonight against the Cardinals and although the player is still clearly extremely unhappy, he will get on with the job in hand.

Soriano had previously stated that the only team that he'd suit up for in the OF was the New York Yankees but clearly the thought of losing $10m and the right to free agency after the 2006 season wasn't one which he wanted to see turn into reality.

I had some sympathy with the player, however most players, even the hated A-Rod left a position where he was fully on his way to becoming the greatest SS of all-time because that is what he was asked to do. Soriano will be paid $10m bucks this year, just think about that, ten million, and all he has to do extra is run a few extra yards, not the worst deal ever in my book...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Sox deal Arroyo, $ for Mo Pena

Just the other day I was talking to Neil H about whether or not Arroyo was trade bait and I come home today to news that he has been dealt. The 24 year-old who took a home town discount on his new contract signed in January was dealt along with cash considerations for Wily Mo Pena of the Cincinnati Reds.

Mo Pena, who crushes left handed pitching is expected to split time with Trot Nixon over in RF this season in a move that I would say significantly improves the Red Sox offense. I have been a fan of Mo Pena for a while and think he could be a good slugger despite his .251 average last season.

Arroyo is a player who Neil H will confess I thought was over rated, your average bottom of the rotation starter and I think the Sox have got the better player in this deal but it does fill holes for both franchises. With Arroyo and Womack on their roster next season I fully expect the Reds to go nowhere and fast!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The final word on's MLB coverage?

I doubt this'll be the final word and blogging about the UK TV rights has been a big side issue away from blogging about the Yanks and Spring Training but it is something being a Brit I've had to address.

Five have the rights to all ESPN Nationally Televised games under the new contract between MLB and ESPN starting this year. This includes games on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday night. From the start of the season Five will show the Sunday game live, or as near to live as they can unless Five have something really important like six month old Triathlon or World's Wildest Nose Picks to show.

They will also be showing the Monday night game either on tape delay or live again depending on the scheduling. As for Wednesday Night games, again we'll have to wait until the Ice Hockey season finishes and again we'll have the Wednesday games and alas as we are getting used to it depends on other programming as to whether it will be live or on tape delay.

As for the World Series, I suspect we'll have to wait until opening night for the show to confirm coverage but I fully expect the World Series to be shown live on both NASN and

Now on to more 'Gammons is a prat' posts...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Getting round to the Red Sox

I really haven't written much about the Red Sox for a while - not really sure why, but I would put it down to the combination of events associated with Theo's departure, the Jed and Ben day's, the Beckett trade, the Renteria trade, Damon's defection / betrayal (you choose) and Theo's eventual return - none of these events interfered with my sense that the club was still headed in the right direction. When Theo arrived, he claimed that the mission was to turn the Red Sox into a $100m, player development machine - nothing that has happened this off-season has changed that mission.

And then as Spring Training arrived, the full team was really only in camp for a couple of weeks before the participants in the WBC departed - and here we are with a couple of weeks to Opening Night (the first opening night in three years that won't involve our Sox) and the full team still isn't in camp, and ST which is essentially meaningless in a win / loss kind of way, is even more meaningless in terms of trying to get a feel for how the season will go.

The problem with (normal) ST is that players that will influence the season are mostly gone by the 3rd inning in week 1, by the 4th inning in week 2, and even now if they are still in there by the 5th / 6th, you get the feeling they are being punished for something! Clearly part of that is getting a look at players - particularly pitchers from outside the organization, but as a guide to the season...

The Sox record in ST so far:





















































































So, the Sox Major League roster is... just as bad as the rest! Well, clearly the loss of Timlin, Varitek and Ortiz (and essentially Manny for the first week or so) accounts for part of it, but still... so what? Does it really tell us anything? Particularly at this stage? Particularly without those three players?

It really doesn't - players are just finding their swing, building strength, working on new pitches... fans should just be working on tans... or frostbite today if you are in, or north of, NY.

Over the next few days I will take a look at the Sox roster, and how they have performed between ST and the WBC - but lets be honest - history may not be an indicator of future performance, but then neither is ST.

Friday, March 17, 2006

WBC - Improvements for 2009

Well I have just watched Mexico eliminate themselves... and the USA from the WBC. Watching the last few innings, it is hard to argue that this hasn't been a far greater success than anyone connected to the tournament could hope - a stunning atmosphere, and it clearly mattered to both sets of players.

I have really enjoyed the games that I could watch... and that can start the list of improvements.
  • fans have to be able to see all games, live, on a normal TV. is a fantastic tool, but cutting from SportsCenter to live updates from the USA game at 10.30pm, which was shown later on tape delay at 1.00am, was just bizarre. Given the press coverage on the ratings for the key 18-34 male audience (and you have no idea how much that hurts me to write that) there is no way that this mistake is repeated in 2009.
  • umpires have to be able to get the calls right. Another game involving the USA, another terrible call that went in their favor - how many people watching that game didn't think that was a HR? Let's guess at...4! Clearly the preference would have been for MLB umpires, but that would still leave the home-team issue - yes there is an issue of trust, but surely the umpires working in Japan, Korea and those that work in the Caribbean Series would be acceptable?
  • ditch one-off games. I appreciate that the one-off, winner takes all is part of the excitement, but that isn't baseball. I would suggest reducing the Classic to 8 teams, with the format changed to a seeded draw, with 3 game series, with the winner advancing to the next round. At most, this would mean the winner playing 9 games - the winner this year will have played 8 games, so no real additional workload. The biggest advantage of this approach is that it removes the ridiculous tie-breaker that we had tonight... Mexico could qualify if they won 3-0... in the 13th inning... so as they were batting last, a solo home run would have eliminated them... as it was they eliminated themselves with a single run in the 3rd inning.
  • keep the pitch count limits. This is one of the most common arguments belittling the WBC - how can it be real baseball if the pitcher gets pulled at a pitch limit? But given the teams have been playing one-off games, I think the pitch counts actually help the competition - no team can throw out Santana, or Clemens, or Son and then rely on one hot arm - if a team has no pitching depth, it cannot win - if the competition stays in the current format, I think that is a good thing.
  • consider the timing. No, not the in-season thing, nor the extended all-star break thing, nor the post season thing, nor the post, post season thing - but why does it need to finish two weeks before spring training finishes? If you do a search on this time last year, you would find numerous reports of players, and managers, stating that spring training is too long... so why have the tournament over and done with two weeks before the season starts? To let the players get back to their clubs presumably, but the players we are talking about aren't typically guys fighting for 25th roster spots - isn't a week enough? If that were the case, players, hitters especially, would have been a week more ready, with a week more AB's under their belts, which might have helped avoid some of the low scoring games that we have seen.
Anyway... go Dominica... or Korea... or Cuba... or Japan... well not quite so much Japan, as Ichiro's whining has been a bit off-putting... but seriously, it is difficult not to root for any of these teams - let's just hope for tight, exciting games through the weekend.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

MLB and NASN sign five-year deal

On Tuesday Major League Baseball and the North American Sports Network announced that they that reached an agreement for the channel to broadcast up to 275 live games a year over the next five years. They have broadcasted up to 250 games a year for the past three years but now they have added 25 games and more importantly have the rights to show the World Series live.

This news has received a mixed response from baseball fans in Europe. On the one hand it is great that a channel has shown such commitment to the game but it is tinged with sadness as most of the fans from this side of the pond have been brought up on a diet of channel five coverage with the studio coverage fronted by the excellent Jonny Gould. Five have yet to confirm they have the rights to Sunday Night Baseball (the nationally televised ESPN game) but the producer of the show has stated that the channel will be showing the weekly games as per usual.

NASN Europe now shows all four major US Sports and NASCAR as well as NCAA Football and Basketball, NASN in the UK shows all that except live NFL which is still shown on Sky Sports. I do subscribe to the channel and don't mind the extra few quid a month to see games but in all honesty I watch most games via NASN however is value for money with the extra programs including Baseball Tonight, Around the Horn and my new favourite new PTI.

The future of the Major Leagues in Europe is secure with this multi-country deal and hopefully they can help promote the sport but it needs a home on the terrestrial networks. Should the World Series not be on Five anymore and the game isn't broadcast on any free to air channels then baseball will never make it as a popular sport in the United Kingdom and across Europe.

Whilst this deal is exciting for the baseball fan, it is worrying for those hoping to move the sport more into the mainstream in this region.


Mike Mussina went tonight for the Yankees and I have to say I was really impressed by him. He is playing for a contract for next season as there is little to no chance that the Yankees are going to pick up his $17m option for the 2007 season.

He was spotting his fastball impressively as well as painting the corners with his curve. Phil Garner commented that he 'looked in mid-season form' and was clearly impressed with the projected #2 starter on the Yankees.

The club will only go as far as their starters will take them so it was good to see Moose perform well tonight. When you couple that with a nice start from Randy last night until he got tired then it is certainly encouraging for Ron Guidry and his pitching staff. With Chacon looking good so far this spring and Wang playing himself into the rotation, it leaves the injured Pavano and the rubbish Wright vying for that final spot in the rotation. I just hope that Pavano gets healthy quick sharpish as any love I had for Wright is receding at a rate of knots.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Red Sox DNA... I can't help it

Watching the WBC game between Japan and the US yesterday...

It was nice to see A-Rod coming through in the clutch...

Like all players in Spring Training, it was good to see A-Rod getting all the bad things out of his game before the season starts...

Not one Yankee fan in my office today was able to resist making a quip about his ability to perform in the clutch!

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Donut Burger...

Our good friends over at have come up with this story and it has really tickled my fancy. Whilst Neil H is discussing the Barry Bonds saga and the possibility of Barry having swung his bat for the last time is the bigs, I'm going to talk about the donut burger.

"The ballpark sandwich will include a hamburger topped with sharp cheddar cheese and two slices of bacon -- all between a "bun" of Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donuts." So whilst I am liking the concept, with my distaste of cheese this doesn't look like one for me. So I thought I'd write about what would be my ideal donut burger.

How about a nice juicy burger, with onions on top with a criss cross layer of bacon, I think the donut roll would be too soft to take a squirt of chilli sauce, so it would need a more substantial sauce, how about a bottom layer of horseradish sauce to give it that added kick? It sounds like a possible business opportunity, the donut burger in many different varieties, I can see my future now, and it ends with me being bankrupt.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Bonds Legacy?

Perjury n. pl. per·ju·ries

1. Law. The deliberate, willful giving of false, misleading, or incomplete testimony under oath.
2. The breach of an oath or promise.

I am hardly breaking news here, but Sports Illustrated, under the banner headline "THE TRUTH","BARRY BONDS AND STEROIDS", has decided to publicly have the conversation that would have dominated the 2006 baseball season as Bonds approached 714 and 755. The magazine is running a lengthy excerpt from Game of Shadows, by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, a book to be published in March, that details Bonds alleged use of performance enhancing drugs from as far back as 1998.

While it will take a while to read, and very much longer to absorb, I really do believe that it is time well spent for any baseball fan.

If - and while I may be sitting on a fence here, let's all take a second and stress that small word if - this story is true, Bonds is facing more trouble than I guess he ever believed would be possible - and the decisions that may be taken by MLB concerning an *, or striking his records, or suspending him, will pale compared to any custodial sentence that may be imposed for perjury.

Perversely, a perjury sentence may actually make MLB's decision easier for them - if this evidence never finds its way to court in a case against Bonds by the US Government, or in a case against Fainaru-Wada and Williams, brought by Bonds, I really see no way in which MLB can take action against Bonds. He broke no MLB agreement, he has failed no test that we know of - how can they possibly punish him in good faith?

If he is punished for perjury, they may be able to make the case that while he failed no test, this evidence, backed up by a conviction, is "proof" enough that he conspired to defeat the testing environment in 2004 and 2005, and that any punishment relates to those actions - again though, would that hold up... would Bonds be brave enough to challenge such an MLB ruling from the comfort of his cell? More significantly, would the MLBPA look to defend, not so much Bonds (how many friends does he really have in the MLBPA given his decision to exit the collective marketing arrangements), as the principal that no player can be punished for "no crime"?

On the other side of this argument we will hear from those who believe that Bonds is the victim of a media inspired witch hunt - that envy has turned to jealousy, as a man that people (99.999% of whom have absolutely no knowledge of the man at all) have generally decreed to be unlikable, approaches a hallowed record. 755 really is a special number, held by a special man, who endured an outpouring of hatred as he approached and broke 714 - how dare anyone break such a special mark in baseball fans' hearts? I do think this argument is weak, but again, until there is a conclusion to this, this debate will go back and forward and there will be no satisfaction either way.

As unfair as it may be (and that is particularly the case when someone would appear to have as little baseball time left as Bonds), if Bonds wants to restore his reputation, he has to aggressively pursue a case against these journalists, or accept the fact that this is damning evidence against him which will be discussed as fact. He cannot hide behind 'no comment', he cannot hide behind 'here to talk about the future, not the past' - he has to be aggressive, or accept that his legacy is beyond redemption, regardless of any records* that he holds when he finally retires.

Baseball needs closure on Bonds - one way or another, lets hope that this book flushes out the issue to a definite conclusion.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bah humbug...

Just because they have revenues the size of a small European country... say Andorra... doesn't make the Yankees a generous bunch.

Steinbrenner has made his feelings on the WBC very clear, and now the club as a whole made this announcement to fans appearing at Legend's Field in Tampa. You do have to wonder how Jeter, A-Rod and Damon feel about such a positive announcement concerning "certain players" - you have to think that Steinbrenner is currently mulling stripping Jeter of the captaicy for such a clear betrayal.

Given the Grinch type support the Yankees have shown for the WBC, expect more announcements in the weeks ahead providing evidence that Santa Claus isn't real, that tooth fairies don't exist and that the Harry Potter novels are fiction.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Yankees lose opener

I came in from work to be confronted by baseball, and by the Yankees and the Phillies. Spring Training is well and truly getting underway and the Yankees start their campaign with a loss.

Major Points

Chacon and Small looked impressive on the mound. Henn gave up a two run bomb but settled after that to retire four straight. J Brent Cox looks good when he keeps the ball down in the strike zone, the one pitch he left up left the yard.

As for the hitters, well Damon got a couple of hits, Andy Phillips mashed one out as he competes with Bernie Williams for the starting DH spot and speaking of our erstwhile former CF custodian, he played RF, a position he may well get to play quite a bit this season as Sheffield gets his half days off DHing.

The Pitchers are the ones that interest me more as hitters don't need as much time to find their stroke. I have repeatedly claimed that Aaron Small was a fluke but I liked his stuff today, and that great voice from the booth Michael Kay informed us that Mel taught him a new way to throw his sinker last season and that helped him a lot. Maybe Small is for real and maybe Mel wasn't as bad as George kept making him out to be.

This update was brought to you by the official 3,079 Miles... Yahoo Pool Champion.