Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
There have always been whispers that Albert Pujols real birth date may not actually be January 16, 1980, however there has never been any kind of proof that would turn those rumors into allegations. Some may say, “What’s the big deal? The guy is still clearly in the prime of his career and shows no signs of slowing down.” It’s obviously a big deal though, when considering potential ten year contracts. It even becomes a big deal for something as insignificant as fantasy baseball. While Pujols real age may not affect re-draft leagues, it has the potential to change one’s valuation of Pujols in a keeper league.
I think this graph makes a pointed argument for Pujols being older (I’m guessing four years older) than his birth certificate says he is. Graphed above are the wOBA’s of Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Miguel Cabrera, three of the greatest sluggers of our generation. You’ll see that the .450 wOBA mark is rarely reached, even for hitters such as these. However, you’ll also notice that Pujols put up the highest wOBA of his career (.462) in his age 23 season. Pujols next highest wOBA of .458 came in his age 28 season of 2008. If my conspiracy theory is correct, that would have put Pujols at age 32 in 2008, a year that many players will see one final power peak before settling into a decline stage. I just find it very hard to believe that the greatest hitter of our generation peaked as a 23-year-old. He hasn’t grown smarter or stronger since then? Or has he both matured as a hitter and added strength, only to have it offset by the cruel toll of the aging process on an athlete’s body.
Pujols next two seasons after 2008 have seen successive declines in wOBA. Is it just a coincidence that Pujols has been trending downward since his “age 28” season, or is he really 35 and seeing the first signs of breaking down? Honestly I think Pujols will continue to be a beast no matter how old he is, at least for the next five years. For the fans, five more years of Prince Albert filling the stat sheets is worth a huge contract for a declining player. But the team that’s on the hook for the second half of his contract is looking at 5 years $150 million for a player who may be a shell of his former self. Whichever team this is will also be severely handcuffed when trying to make the necessary moves to compete.
I do not expect Pujols to sign in Chicago if he does become a free agent, but if he did I would be absolutely thrilled, as any fan of the Cubs would be. No matter who signs Albert though, I think they’re going to end up with a 45-year-old earning $30 million in the final year his deal.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
MLB Network has a series I enjoy called Prime 9 where they (drum roll please) countdown the nine best teams, position players or in this case, the greatest infields of all time. #1 on the list was the 1914 Philadelphia Athletics "$100,000 infield" led by Eddie Collins at second, Jack Barry at short, Frank Baker at third and Stuffy McInnis at first.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Thursday, February 24, 2011
I read this in an ESPNChicago article and thought it was just classic,
Marmol doesn't worry about pressure in his role.
"I don't think about anything much," Marmol said. "I go out there, get my three or four outs, help the team win, go into the clubhouse, put my headphones on and go home."
Well when you put it that way...
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Unknown Mortal Orchestra came on Sirius XMU, by chance right as I was pulling into the neighborhood one afternoon. I’m not sure what it was but the sound really hit a chord in my brain and I could not stop singing the song on my way inside. The DJ had graciously provided a website for the band and I assumed if I took the time to type in the website I would be rewarded with a free download, so I hopped right on. Amazingly at the website you can listen to, but not download the songs. Not even pay for them. With my brain craving more, I pressed play next to the song on the radio, “How Can U Luv Me?” and fell immediately back in love with it.
For some reason I had to leave right away, so I quickly pre-ordered the EP and then forgot all about the band. Until today, because walking through my doorstep this afternoon I was surprised to see a small square parcel, courtesy of Her Majesty’s Royal Mail. Perplexed but intrigued I tried not to think of what it could be as I walked down into my garden, dungeon, floors-cracked from the extreme cold unit. I love surprises, and hearing “How Can U Luv Me?” be followed by equally indelible “Nerve Damage!” was one hell of a surprise. Listen to the full EP for free at the band’s website.
They have a throwback guitar style that some have made popular lately, but these songs are uniquely crafted and incredibly catchy. Can’t wait to hear what “Thought Ballune” and “Ffunny Ffrends” sound like.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Yesterday not only did the Cubs lock up the one and only Carlos Marmol for his final two years of arbitration and his first year of free agency for a cool $20 million, but Radiohead also dropped a bomb on the world, announcing their eighth full-length album The King of Limbs would be released digitally this coming Saturday. Scott Plagenhoef at Pitchfork sums it up nicely:
So Radiohead have set aside the "pay what you want" patronage model that dominated the conversation surrounding the In Rainbows release, yet have retained that album's more important business aspects: Packaging their music as a high-end collectable and controlling and monetizing its leak, which has the effect of creating what these days is a rare, worldwide, collective listening experience. Once again, we all know exactly when we're first able to hear a new Radiohead record and therefore will largely all experience it together, something almost completely lost in today's pop music landscape.
Marmol submitted $5.65 for arbitration while the Cubs had countered with $4.1. For the sake of argument, the Cubs would have been on the hook for about $4.875M in 2011 if they settled before a hearing. In 2010, players saw an average arbitration increase of 107%, meaning Marmol would have seen a raise likely nearing $8 million in 2012, and his worth on the open market for 2013 would have been around $10 million.
Marmol received a $1 million signing bonus as a part of his $3.2 million salary for 2011. Marmol will receive $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013. Add it all up and the Cubs saved a few million dollars by locking up their closer and buying out a year of free agency. While there is always a risk of injury for someone who throws as many sliders as Marmol, he has been essentially injury free as a pitcher and this looks to be a low risk deal.
Also seemingly low-risk is pre-ordering the new Radiohead album, which I did immediately upon hearing the news. Billed as a “Newspaper” album, I honestly do not have a clue what that means. The world will find out Saturday, February 19th.
Pre-order @ http://www.thekingoflimbs.com/
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I was taking a look at Carlos Marmol’s player page at Fan Graphs last night and noticed an encouraging sign for the future and a partial explanation for Marmol’s historic 16 K/9 ratio in 2010. Here is Marmol’s First Pitch Strike % for the past four years:
First Pitch Strike %
Swinging Strike %
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It is not a stretch to say that when Marmol gets ahead in the count he is nearly unhittable. Pitching coaches always make a point of emphasizing the importance of getting ahead in the count and for some pitchers this is a natural advantage that is easily exploited. However, for a guy who can lower his walk rate by nearly two and still not bring it to 6 BB per 9, it’s a much more difficult task.
Hopefully Marmol can build on last year’s progression in this area and permanently change his approach on the mound, rather than regress as he did after the 2007 season. It should be painfully obvious to the Cubs and to Marmol the importance of him getting strike one in as many at bats as possible.
Friday, February 4, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
In the immortal words of the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl video that we would always watch in Mike Gresher's basement, (and thanks to him for randomly sending this to me). I absolutely love this quote from an old school Bear:
"When you came to play the Bears at Wrigley Field...and you're up against guys like Doug Atkins, Ed Obradavich, Sam Morris, Richie Pettibone....Wh
They were going to put a physical beating on you. That is exactly what this team needs to, and intends to do on Sunday. I love it....."you gonna know you in the damndest game you ever been in your whole life..." I sure hope the Packers know it on Monday.
Monday, January 17, 2011
With excess pitching depth after trading for Matt Garza, Jim Hendry was able to clean up some of the slop that will make up the back end of the 2011 rotation by trading Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals for three prospects. While effective for the Cubs last year, Gorzelanny is the definition of diffidence on the mound, his 4.68 career ERA and 4.54 FIP reeking of "blah."
In return Hendry was actually able to grab a decent prospect in former 1st round pick Michael Burgess. An outfielder with a strong arm, Burgess is described by The Hardball Times as having "exciting power and does a solid job of taking walks. There is still concern he will hack his way to obscurity, but don't discount a 22-year old with downright dangerous power."
THT ranked Burgess as the National's 9th best prospect and while strikeouts have been an issue in the minors, he lowered his K-rate to 23.1% in A+ this year and tore up AA after 87 plate appearances to close the season.
Of the other two prospects, right-handed pitcher A.J. Morris looks interesting with a 3.02 career K/BB, 1.21 WHIP and 3.64 ERA in 128 innings.
As for the Cubs starting rotation, hopefully Andrew Cashner has developed his change-up enough to step up and take a rotation spot, leaving Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and lost cause Jeff Samardzija to battle it out for the final rotation slot.
Good move for the Cubs. I’m cautiously more optimistic for this upcoming season than most with the only real hole on the team appearing to be second base. If Carlos Pena is solid, Zambrano sane, and Garza improved by the league change, I think this team can compete in 2011.