Tuesday, March 30, 2010

2010 Season Preview: Cincinnati Reds

More Exile on Clark stuff.


2009: 78-84 (4th)

So Long: IF Danny Richar, OF Willy Taveras, IF Adam Rosales
Welcome: OF Josh Anderson, P Jose Arredondo, SS Orlando Cabrera, 2B Miguel Cairo, P Aroldis Chapman, 2B Aaron Miles

Projected Starting Lineup (courtesy of rototimes.com)
1. Drew Stubbs, CF
2. Orlando Cabrera, SS
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Brandon Phillips, 2B
5. Scott Rolen, 3B
6. Jay Bruce, RF
7. Ramon Hernandez, C
8. Chris Dickerson/Wladimir Balentien

Rotation - Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Matt Maloney, (Aroldis Chapman)
Setup - Arthur Rhodes, Nick Masset
Closer - Francisco Cordero

I will *never* forgive him for this.An admission: I had all the best intentions of getting this bad-boy out by last Friday (when it was scheduled to be put up), but my non-EoC life took me by the metaphorical balls and twisted. Then, when I finally sat down to write this, I saw that somehow Bronson Arroyo is considered a #2 caliber starter and had to fight to keep my brain from exploding like John Cassavetes at the end of The Fury.

Once my cerebellum stopped trying to eject itself out of the back of my head, I took a cold hard look at this team. And it...really doesn't seem that bad. I mean, they've got a lot of decent young players like Votto and Bruce, and several vetarans that could still have some degree of ability left in the tank (assuming 35-year-old Scott Rolen's 87-year-old spine doesn't start acting its age, for example). I don't think they're amazing, mind you. But this is the NL Central. Pretty much any team (except the Pirates) could probably put together a run while the other teams are slumping and sneak into the postseason.

But god help them, they might have some problems with pitching. While checking on this team's roster, I spotted this article, which kind of points out that they play in a bandbox, and have a mostly flyball-focused rotation. Good luck on keeping balls in the park, guys. Especially after Dusty Baker has you all tossing 155 pitches a game.

I expect the Reds to hover around .500 this year, and maybe even post a winning season if they get a lot of breaks going their way. And frankly, as a Cubs fan, I think that's more than they deserve.


If this team were a disease/ailment it would be: Addison's Disease. This insidious disease creeps slowly up on the sufferer, usually a member of the starting rotation, normally beginning with fatigue, dizziness, weakness, joint and muscle pain, and an inability to stand up. I believe it's name comes from where it was first sighted, at 1060 W. Addison in Chicago, between 2003-2006.

The "Mark Prior Award For the Player Most Effectively Destroyed By Dusty Baker": Gotta go with Aaron Harang. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like ever since Dusty brought him in to pitch four innings of relief on two days rest, he's gone from a "potential ace" to a "not too shabby pitcher." There's still plenty of time for him to go from there to "AA Pitching Coach."

The "Was It Worth Breaching the Embargo?" Award: Defecting from Cuba only to sign with the 'Reds?'Aroldis Chapman. A rumored 102-mph fastball, a decent slider, and a change-up that...exists, combined with control problems? Interesting gamble. Is he a superlative version of Carlos Marmol, or a Farnsworth that knows how to get his hands on some really good Robustos?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is This Really the Best The Cubs Can Do?

EoC archives.

'I'm bringing home a ba-by bum-ble-BEE!'Last night, while working late no less, I learned that Lou has made up his mind that Ryan "The Ryan" Theriot is going to be the Cubs official, no-turning-back leadoff hitter this year. I was too furious to think straight at first, so instead of posting a string of unrelated swears, I let myself sleep on it.

Having given it some thought, I'm not so much furious as just sort of confused, wistful, and sad.

Now I'm not a total stats expert. I don't really understand the high end stuff. But I do know enough to know that the leadoff hitter's job (as the man on the team with the most plate appearances per season) is to get on base for the next couple of hitters to move him over. By hook or by crook, if the leadoff hitter is doing his job right, he should be sitting on first at the end of his at bat, and (depending on his teammates) crossing home before the end of the inning. So, need #1 of a good leadoff hitter is a high .OBP. Theriot's isn't too bad. It's also not outstanding, either. His career average of .356 is decent, but I'd be a lot happier with someone hovering at least around .380.

Moving along (and this is where I really, really get annoyed): a lot of people judge a leadoff hitter by how many bases he steals. Well, no one on the Cubs steals worth a damn. Theriot's 21 last year led the team, with second place being 9 - by Alfonso Soriano, a man whose legs were replaced by al dente linguine some time mid-season. However, just putting a guy in leadoff because he has the most steals is asinine when those 21 steals were achieved in 31 attempts. That's a success rate of less than 70%. That means failure in the school district I came out of. And THAT was in SOUTH FRICKING CAROLINA.

In my opinion, the #2 skill of a good leadoff hitter is to STAY ALIVE ON THE BASEPATHS UNTIL HE CROSSES HOME PLATE. What the hell is the point of putting a guy on base if a full third of his stolen base attempts are poorly conceived and just send him right back to the dugout? Theriot -- and I apologize to Sarah Palin in advance -- is retarded on the basepaths. He doesn't throw the pitcher off his rhythm, because he's not scary to them. All he does is waste my fucking cheers for his at-bat by making it another meaningless single. I highly doubt many of those 21 steals were game-changers, and I'm pretty sure the ten times he was sent packing were mostly meaningless as well - except for, you know, losing a baserunner and one of only 27 chances to bring another hitter to the plate.

My confusion was caused by the fact that taking all of the above into account, Lou locked Theriot down in this position in the order. I'm not saying Lou won't change his mind later in the season, but why not think about this a little more now, before the goddamn games count?

My wistfulness and sadness is caused by the fact that really there aren't a lot of tremendously better options. But there is at least one that might work a little better: platoon leadoff. Because of, you know...lefty-righty splits?

You see, despite his disappointing performance so far and his ridiculous windmill strikeouts, there is one Cub who really gets on base well against right-handers: Kosuke Fukudome. The 'Dome had an .OBP of .387 against northpaws last year. That's like...a good leadoff hitter's .OBP (as opposed to Theriot's almost Soriano-esque .339). Of course, against the sinister, he had a sub-Soriano .299 .OBP, so you definitely don't want Fuku facing anyone who had to use those weird padded scissors in elementary school. But...and here's the interesting thing...Ryan Theriot gets on at a .361 clip against lefties. Much better. Not amazing, but not embarassing.

So my one, very humbly delivered suggestionto the Cubs this year: why not try the following in leadoff this year:
  1. Put Fukudome at the top of the order against right-handers, and slide Theriot down a bit.
  2. Put "Ther Iot" in leadoff against left-handers, and slide Kosuke WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY down the lineup.
  3. DO NOT EVER GIVE THERIOT THE GREEN LIGHT TO STEAL. EVER. If you have to, install a shock collar that delivers a few hundred volts every time he starts "giving second the glad eye" at a bad time.
See? Nothing too revolutionary. Just a slight tweak. Let's see how that plays out before just handing out at bats to a decent, but not awesome hitter, ok?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 Season Preview: San Francisco Giants

The Exile on Clark archives continue:


2009: 88-74 (3rd)

So Long: 1B Rich Aurilia, 1B Ryan Garko, P Bob Howry, P Randy Johnson (retired), P Noah Lowry, P Brad Penny, P Merkin Valdez, OF Randy Winn

Welcome: OF Mark DeRosa, 1B Aubrey Huff, P Guillermo Mota, P Horacio Ramirez, P Todd Wellemeyer

Projected Starting Lineup (courtesy of rototimes.com)
1. Aaron Rowand, CF
2. Freddy Sanchez, 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
4. Bengie Molina, C
5. Aubrey Huff, 1B
6. Mark DeRosa, LF
7. Nate Schierholtz, RF
8. Edgar Renteria, SS

Rotation - Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner
Setup - Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo
Closer - Brian Wilson

One of the few people that makes me glad for Jim Hendry.Well, after a solid year of therapy, I am once again reminded of the existance of the NL West, and the hated Giants. I've been working on some deep breathing exercises and taking medication, so hopefully, I will not accidentally make this entire post about my hatred of Will Clark this time.

Okay: time to man up and admit I sorta lost track of the Giants mere moments after hitting the "Publish Post" button last year (though to be fair it only took about 4 months for me to stop watching the Cubs, a team I actually give a damn about). So I will check the internet and see what it has to say. Back in a moment.

Okay, I'm back. Sorry about the delay; I totally got caught up in some youtube video of Christoph Waltz doing the TROLOLOLOLOL guy.

Apparently, according to the internet their publicity stunt of hiring a panda to play third base has worked out surprisingly well, they somehow managed to put a stake in Randy Johnson's heart, and Brian Wilson is following up his critically acclaimed Smile album with some decent closing work. I'm stunned, but apparently they had a winning record last year. But then again, I'm stunned the west coast actually has baseball and that almost every other EOC writer actually cares about soccer, so my "stunned threshold" might be low.

Of course, once again Brian Sabean's strategy of "surrounding the best player in baseball with a team of basically solid-to-below-average players" is probably going to tank slightly, as Barry Bonds used up all the available steroids already. And once again, no one in the organization seems to have a problem with putting out a cleanup hitter with only a bit of power, almost no ability to discern the strike zone, and who would be hard pressed to outrun Jabba the Hutt to first.

As far as pitching goes, Tim Lincecum can get as stoned as he wants with the stuff he has. And Cain is solid. But, to paraphrase the old line, it's "Lincecum and Cain, and pray for rain." Zito, Sanchez, and Bumgarner all project to be fair to middling starters this year. The bullpen looks decent enough, but my research on this consisted of 28 seconds on Fangraphs, so don't hold me to it.

Oh, and they rolled the dice with Aaron Rowand leading off again this year. Let's see what happens. My guess: he'll be average-to-disappointing. He's 48 years old (okay, 33 - what do I have to do math now?) and his OBP was only .319 last year. Eh. Not as bad as putting Molina in cleanup, I guess.


Bitter? Oh, a tad.If this team were a disease/ailment it would be: Lingering Bursitis. This team just sits there: crawling along painfully, never dying, but never really going anywhere (Okay, I totally shoehorned that in to make a lame, semi-esoteric TMS reference, but at least I didn't just use Erectile Dysfunction again. Yet).

The "Do They Have Trixies In San Fran?" Award: Mark DeRosa. Oh, he'll put up solid, journeyman numbers this year, but will the aging supersub win the hearts and minds of the people who don't really come to the ballpark to watch the games? Only time will tell.

The "Kenny Lofton Memorial Team Loyalty"Award: Edgar Renteria. Starting a SECOND CONSECUTIVE SEASON with the same team? Kudos, Edgar. Not sure why people still allow you to play shortstop, or (for that matter) professional baseball. But kudos, nonetheless.

Oh, and Will Clark: why haven't you died in a fire yet?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Milton, It's Not Chicago That Wants You To Choke On Your Own Tongue...

I don't have a middle finger long enough to shoot the bird you deserve....it's ME.

According to professional whiner and overpaid bench jockey Milton Bradley:
"Two years ago, I played, and I was good," he said. "I go to Chicago, not good. I've been good my whole career. So, obviously, it was something with Chicago, not me."
He then goes on to bloviate:
"Just no communication," he said. "I never hit more than 22 homers in my career, and all of a sudden I get to Chicago and they expect me to hit 30. It doesn't make sense. History tells you I'm not going to hit that many. Just a lot of things that try to make me a player I'm not."
Yeah, well Milton, all I personally expected from you was a great OBP, some decent pop to your bat, and for you to be less of a shitsouled headcase than LaTroy Hawkins.

You let me down on all three counts, you neurotic bag of human garbage. I hope you hit worse than Aaron Miles next year and then try to accuse racist Seattle fans of running your kid out of daycare. At least OJ had a Hall of Fame Career and some Naked Gun movies under his belt before he played the race card. And that was to keep from frying like a Hendry breakfast doughnut for a double homicide, not to explain away getting paid more than the GNP of Poland to play half a season of Todd-Zeile-level baseball.

I hope when you're finally run out of the league and have to play in Japan, Matt Murton beats you death with a shovel. Seriously. How can you be so hateful that Carlos FUCKING Silva suddenly seems worth it?

This was, of course, an Exile on Clark Street archival entry.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

1979 Season Preview: Oakland Athletics

Thunder Matt's Saloon was renamed and repurposed as Exile on Clark Street for the 2010 Season. This is the first archived post after the change.

I still technically write for EoC, but like most writers, I seem to be on hiatus. Damn this team for sucking so bad.

Note: We here at EOC made the mistake of assigning some team reviews to Wolter, not realizing that he barely even pays attention to the Cubs, much less Ban Johnson's upstart "American League." Also, he's hung up on the past. One year in particular. When told his review was 31 years out-of-date, he snarled "what I say stands." So here we go:

Oakland Athletics

1978: 69-93 (6th in AL West)

So Long: P Pete Broberg, DH Rico Carty, P Steve Renko, C Bruce Robinson, P Elias Sosa

Welcome: P Dave Hamilton, P Jim Todd

Projected Starting Lineup
1. Glenn Burke, LF
2. Miguel Dilone, RF
3. Mitchell Page, DH
4. Jeff Newman, C
5. Dave Revering, 1B
6. Mike Edwards, 2B
7. Tony Armas, CF
8. Mickey Klutts, 3B
9. Rob Picciolo, SS

Rotation - Rick Langford, Matt Keough, Mike Norris, John Henry Johnson
Setup - Jim Todd, Bob Lacey
Closer - Dave Heaverlo

The future Face of the Franchise, folks.Hoo boy... The A's have been stinking up the Bay Area ever since Charley Finley began dismantling his powerhouse team 3 seasons ago in 1976. Long gone are legendary players like Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, Vida Blue, and Sal Bando. In their place are a bunch of washed up losers and "never was"es.

Frankly, if the A's want to get the kids out of the discoteques and off the Galaxian games, they're going to have to play exciting, purposeful baseball. Right now, there are literally only hundreds of people showing up to A's games. And who can blame their fans for leaving in droves. What kind of masochist would want to see a team that's clearly assembled out of the rejects from other teams' farm systems because their cheapskate owner won't pay for a real star? If I were an author, I could do worse than write the story of Charley Finley's destruction of this team. I'd call it "Moneyed Ball," because he's too concerned with holding on to his money than building a winning team.

The one bright spot on this team, in my opinion, is left field. Really, the whole future of the organization rests here. Glenn Burke is a gamer, a cultural touchstone ( his celebratory "high five" is sweeping the nation), and I think this is his year. He's got grit, determination, and plays the game the right way (and the ladies love him). If Finley cares at all about winning, he'll lock Burke down to a long term contract, and trade away a minor leaguer, maybe that brash young hothead Rickey Henderson, for some decent starting pitching. You already have some speed with Burke (15 bases last year!), and Mike Edwards and Mitchell Page could easily combine for 50 bases. And it's not like Henderson could top that, no matter how speedy he is.

All in all, this is a weak team, but I doubt they could be worse than last year. That would be as unthinkable as George Lucas making a bad movie!


If this team were a disease/ailment it would be: Alzheimers. It's like they forgot how to be a good club just a handful of seasons after being considered a dynasty. At this point they'd either need to pump their players full of performance enhancing drugs, or hire some super-genius GM with some sort of slide rule or "personal home computer" (if such a thing existed) just to make this team win.

The "Man I'd Most Like to Hire" Award: Backup catcher Jim Essian. He's such a strong presence behind the plate, he'd no doubt be a great skipper one day. But is Major League Baseball ready for an Armenian manager?

The "Third Time's The Charm" Award: The entire Oakland infield. Did you know the Oakland A's (Despite their current nickname, The Triple A's) have yet to have a triple play since moving West? I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that there's no way this team lets the 70s end without getting at least 3!