The Southpaw
south·paw (southpô) n. Slang A left-handed person, especially a left-handed baseball pitcher.

Thursday, May 29, 2003  

More "Moneyball" Madness

Stephen Shelby pointed me towards an article by David Cameron (from called Funnyball, which I finally got around to reading today.

This review comes from someone from the minor league trenches, so to speak. David focuses more on the minors then the majors, so he has a very interesting perspective of "Moneyball". As he states, some people are reading this story now, while some followed it last year.

David updates us on the status of seven of the A's draft picks from 2002, and why the new drafting philosophy isn't the cornerstone of the Oakland franchise (it's the pitching, of course).

Clearly, it is too early to judge the success of the A's new draft philosophy. This is not meant to condemn the drafting of college players, or even the specific players that the A's selected. However, Lewis' writing suggests that Beane has found the Holy Grail of player development. At this point in time, its just as likely that he's simply found a wooden cup.

And on the same topic, David Pinto linked another review of Moneyball, written by Dr. Manhattan over at Blissful Knowledge. He starts out by calling the book "a combination of a business case study, an intellectual history and a morality play". It is very well written, and goes into the pitching development aspect deeper then Lewis.

Specifically, he talks about the development system in place at ALL STAGES of the A's farm system, which also helps to explain Oakland's favoritism of college pitchers over their high school counterparts.

[The A's] have an extensive program at every level of the organization regarding pitching mechanics and pitch counts, and they have a fascinating program in the lower minor leagues regarding pitcher usage. As Lewis describes in the book, the A’s do not believe in drafting high school pitchers (pitchers aged 18-22 are the worst injury risks in baseball, by several orders of magnitude). The A’s are loaded with pitching prospects in their minor leagues, and they apparently did not have a single major arm or elbow surgery all of last year (the Yankees, by contrast, should have qualified for group discounts on such surgeries).

Two good reads that have add depth to Lewis' story.

To expect someone to write a book with an absolute answer to the question of success in baseball (by anyone, including the Yankees - hint: it's not just the money) is crazy . . . so the more input we get from other sources, the more complete answer we can conclude.

Look for my review in the near future (hopefully I can add something good to the collection).

4:41 PM

Practice What You Preach

I recently picked up Michael Lewis' "Moneyball" and Rob Neyer's "Big Book of Baseball Lineups". I suggest you do the same.

I've been jumping through Rob's book for the last couple of days, and it's a great book for stat-heads and casual fans alike. I recommend it for any baseball fan.

And I've decided that there will be no links on the right for products that I do not currently own . . . so if you see it there, then I own it and recommend it. If you want to buy it from a store, great! (That's how I buy most of my stuff.) But if you're going to order it online (from Amazon) then feel free to click through here, or at any other great blog that you want to support (here's two: Only Baseball Matters & Aaron's Baseball Blog), as we get a small - roughly 5% - profit form all click-through sales. The best part is that the prices aren't raised to cover that cost, so it doesn't affect the purchase price!

Support local music (just because), and support great blogs (with click-through purchases)!

3:06 PM

No Mo

Mo Vaughn is going to hang 'em up, according to an report. Watching Baseball Tonight last night, they reported that if he had surgery that his career would be over, which was why he was trying to rehab . . . since he wanted to play baseball again. Here's what a Mets official had to say:

"My understanding is that he will need surgery just to walk normally, never mind play baseball. He's in rough shape."

Rough shape indeed. Here's hoping that he can live a normal life after baseball, or at least as normal as an ex-athelete can.

8:39 AM

Sunday, May 25, 2003  

Down on the Farm

Stephen Shelby (SS's SF Giants Diary) was at the Fresno Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Rivercats game Friday, and got to see Jerome Williams in action.

Before the game, my friend and I stood above the Fresno bullpen to watch Jerome Williams warm up. His control in the pen looked pretty good, but he struggled with his control once the game started, allowing two walks and a hit in the first inning before escaping the jam.

Jerome Williams opened the game with fastballs of 86, 86, 87, 88, 88 and 89 mph. After that his fastball was typically in the 88-90 mph range, although he did hit 91 a couple times. Williams best pitch tonight was his changeup, which he threw generally 69-71 mph. He got a lot of swing-throughs on that pitch. I remember only a couple curve balls, both to lefty 1B Graham Koonce with runners on 2nd and 3rd base before walking him in the 4th.

The 3 runs scored in the 4th inning. The first batter reached on an error, bumping Williams at 1B during the play. Williams next pitch was the wild pitch in the box score. Several batters later a run scored. The other runs scored on ground ball past the diving 1B Tony Torcato with the infield drawn at least half-way in.

Jerome Williams did feel his position very well, once getting a bunt to get the lead runner at 3B and another time jumping high in the air to field the bouncing ball with his bare hand.

Jerome Williams' line for Friday:
(L,3-2) 4IP 7H 3R 2ER 3BB 2SO 0HR 2.52YTD ERA

Since I'm going to the game today, hopefully I can have something equally interesting to say about the A's-Giants AAA matchup (if not I'll just have Stephen write something for me, since we'll be meeting up at the game). Unfortunately, I already missed Williams, and Rich Harden is pitching Monday. Today's pitching matchup is scheduled to be Aaron Harang (Sacramento) vs. Kevin Pickford (Fresno).

Go Grizzlies RiverCats Grizzlies RiverCats Grizzlies!

Editor's Note: Aaron Harang was called up to Oakland on Saturday, so he was unavailable for Sacramento to start.

10:22 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2003  

That's not how I would've said it

Steve Shelby, of SS's SF Giants Diary, clued me into an article over at the Contra Costa Times. The article is mostly about Neifi Perez, which I'll get to briefly, but a quote from Rich Aurilia was the intended reference.

Appearantly, Aurilia is already looking into his Free Agency, and has named Arizona as a possibility.

In the long run it's not my decision, but they would be an attractive alternative. They're attractive because I could live at home and stay here. But at the same time, I like it here (San Francisco). My No. 1 choice would be to rejoin the Giants.

Aurilia lives in Scottsdale, AZ. He also currently plays with Superman. My quote would have looked something like this:

"I'd love to re-sign with the Giants. If I had it my way I'd spend the rest of my career hitting in front of the best batter of my lifetime. Hopefully money doesn't tie things up."

... and at least Neifi keeps me laughing

Also in the above mentioned article, Neifi Perez recalls his days in Colorado, and talks about how Dan O'Dowd was so terrible to him. My favorite quote:

He offered a B.S. contract -- $7.8 million for four years. I said no to that. ... I told him I wanted a contract similar to (fellow shortstops) Edgar Renteria and Rey Ordonez. That's the only part that made me upset.

First of all $7.8 million for 4 years is still high for Perez (that's almost $2 million per!). Second of all, basing your salary on other overpaid players isn't the best stategy.

I wonder if there's a player out there who says, "I want to get paid. I'm talking Marvin Bernard-type dollars."

2:44 PM

Monday, May 19, 2003  

Other People's E-mail

Rob Neyer answers e-mails about "Moneyball", and some really interesting things are brought up.

Especially interesting to me was the balance of OBP, Slugging % and the combination of the two (OPS).

OPS is a crude tool, a blunt object that shouldn't be used when precision is critical. But you know, most of the time precision isn't critical. We don't need to modify OPS to know that J.T. Snow and Doug Mientkiewicz probably don't deserve to play every day, and we don't need to modify OPS to know that Alex Rodriguez should. Nor do we need modified OPS to know that Chris Singleton doesn't seem to fit into the Oakland lineup.

I always wondered about the equality of those two stats, but never could put my finger on it. This helps to put into words what I have wondered for a while now.

Editor's Note: What I failed to include is the discussion in which Billy Beane considers OBP 3X as important as Slugging, and Rob Neyer uses the formula of OBP*1.4 + Slugging for a more accurate Adjusted OPS.

11:47 AM

Early Trade Info

Peter Gammons has his trade rumors up, and while nothing specific is around yet, he's got some laundry lists for teams and players out there.

He had positive things to say about the Giants, which is always good to hear.

The Giants will wait, as they always do until the right fit, at the right price, comes along.

There might be some big names on the trading block this year, depending on the number of teams that stay in their respective playoff races.

While Kansas City is expected to test Carlos Beltran's market, they, the White Sox, Expos, Rockies and Diamondbacks are in the races. For now. But if the ships start sinking, the names Bartolo Colon, Curt Schilling, Byung-Hyun Kim and Javier Vazquez could all change the October landscape.

Jason Stark disagrees with Schilling's name being on that list. He does, however, understand the rumors . . . and so does Schilling.

Privately, Schilling has done that math himself. He knows Johnson is signed now through 2005. He'll have a year left on his contract, at $12 million, next winter. And he has a full no-trade clause. So to some degree, he can control whether he goes, stays, signs an extension or becomes a free agent.

Trading Schilling would be devastating to Arizona . . . as a Giants fan I hope it happens (I knew it was terrible news for the G-men when Schilling was traded to the D-backs), but as a baseball fan it would be terrible.

11:47 AM

Pac Bell (Pitcher's) Park

Tim Kurkjian writes about Pac Bell Park, and explains - to those who don't already know - that it is in fact a pitcher's park . . . despite the fact that Superman plays there.

Last season, only 114 home runs were hit at Pac Bell, the fewest of any ballpark in a full season since 1992 -- the season before the beginning of this offensive extravaganza in baseball. Opponents hit only 42 homers. ... By comparison, 245 home runs were hit last year at The Ballpark In Arlington, more than twice as many as Pac Bell. This year, 67 home runs have been hit in 22 games at Cincinnati's new Great American Ballpark. Reds' opponents have already hit 31 home runs.

As teams with pitchers parks succeed, I have to wonder if the trend to build hitter's parks will turn towards pitcher's parks.

If your team's not great (Detroit, Milwaukee, Tampa Bay), wouldn't you want the games as low scoring as possible? This would give you a better chance to win games . . . at least in my uneducated opinion.

11:46 AM

San Francisco's Other Closer

I need to go to Iowa. I need to go to Iwoa to see the AAA Iowa Cubs play, but more importantly, I need to go to Iowa to see Rod Beck. You see, he's living in an RV just outside of the ballpark, and he's hanging out with any and all comers. He's in Iowa pitching on a minor-league deal with the Cubs (after reconstructive elbow surgery), and looking to get back into the majors.

Beck said three teams have called his agent with major league offers. But he's waiting for the right fit and won't pitch for the major league minimum of $300,000. He's 34 saves away from 300 and is convinced, "if you tell me that I'm your guy and you give me the ball everyday, I can get you 35 to 50 saves a year. Guaranteed. I just need the opportunity."

The article mentions the Cubs (who would be his perfect fit), and the BoSox (who need some bullpen help) . . . but no mention of the San Francisco Giants (who lost their all time saves leader Rob Nen). The article says that he played for the Giants (who is second in all time saves for the G-men), but doesn't even mention the fact that they are sans their primary closer, and may be looking for bullpen help.

Although he won't pitch for the makor league minimum, I'd imagine that he would still be fairly cheap . . . which is good since the Giants are tied in with Nen's contract, even though he's done for the year.

And besides, save 300 would be great in the same uniform that he became a closer in.

8:53 AM

Friday, May 16, 2003  

Gone Fishin'

The Southpaw won't be updated this weekend.

I'm going camping with my wife and my parents.

Go Giants, and go Kings!

12:42 PM

Thursday, May 15, 2003  

More Beane

Eric Neel has an interesting article over at about how practically no one is willing to jump on Billy Beane's bandwagon . . . at least not entirely.

I saw two arguments that made sense to me: fielding and pitching.


When looking at stats such as OBP, fielding skill may be overlooked. To me, this just means that you go after players with the stats that you like, and also look for good defensive players to fill holes for players who aren't as good defensively.

The Brewers' Doug Melvin suggests one of the major splits between the ways small-market teams do business is in whether they privilege defense at the expense of offense, or vice versa. If you're the Yankees, maybe you get both. If you're the A's or the Brewers, you most likely have to compromise.

The extreme end of this argument, however, ends up with your team signing Neifi Perez . . . so I don't know where the line needs to be drawn.


The best argument I've heard against turning your franchise upside down to match that of Oakland is simple. Oakland's Cy Young contending trio of Zito, Mulder, & Hudson allows them to concentrate on hitting because their pitching alone makes them a contender.

At the end of the day, though -- numbers and philosophies aside -- Melvin said the real key to what the A's have accomplished recently isn't at the plate, it isn't in the draft room, and it isn't in Billy Beane's head. It's in the lightning in a bottle sitting on the Network Associates Coliseum pitcher's mound. "If you take Mulder, Zito and Hudson," Melvin said, "those three are for me the main reasons for the success of the Oakland A's."

While I agree completely that pitching wins championships, how does that affect the scouting of the other 8 positions?

The only valid point that I can see is that Billy Beane's style is working because of the pitching. By this I mean that with the trio that Oakland has, they are winning . . . and winning is all that really matters. Which brings me back to Alex Belth's "Moneyball" Book Review post.

All the A's marketing studies showed that the main things fans cared about was winning. Win with nobodies and the fans showed up, and the nobodies became stars; lose with stars and the fans stayed home, and the stars became nobodies. Assembling nobodies into a ruthlessly efficient machine for winning baseball games, and watching them become stars, was one of the pleasures of running a poor team.

So now the question is, how well does Beane's philosophy really work? If a team is competitive because of its pitching, then wouldn't the traditional style of management keep them competative just as well as this new style? It's a chicken-or-the-egg type of question, really; did Beane's philosophy get them winning or did the winning validate Beane's philosophy?

The answer is simple. Pitching may have gotten the A's competitive, but Beane's philosophy has kept them competitive. The A's have lost player after player (Giambi, Damon, Isringhousen, Koch, etc.) because of their budget, and yet they routinely trade for low-priced high-talent players (Damon, Dye, Lilly, Durazo, etc.) without hurting the team. It's Beane's philosophy that allows them to draft marketable players that they can then turn into major leaguers via intellegent trades (trades using this same philosophy).

I think it's only a matter of time before this philosophy catches on everywhere, but I don't think that it will be used verbatum. There will always be a need for scouting of some sort, because you can only learn so much from statistics. Some teams will use more then others, but the time will come when the A's won't have the competative advantage that they now enjoy . . . and Paul DePodesta knows it.

"I hope they continue to believe that our way doesn't work. It buys us a few more years."

They'll get their few years, but eventually teams will start turning around, and we'll start to see more teams balancing out . . . Seligula be damned.

2:10 PM

A Must Read

Alex Belth's Bronx Banter has a fantastic review of Michael Lewis' "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game".

I have heard a little about this book, and decided that I will be reading it . . . and if there was any doubt, Alex's review has removed it.

Great work.

9:51 AM

Wednesday, May 14, 2003  

Plan B Options (Guerrero Talk part 5)

Got some more e-mails from faithful readers Jurgen Maas & Stephen Shelby. I love it when we can keep this stuff rolling.

Stephen takes the "dream OF plus 3 scrubs" idea and expands.

From what I had been told (by someone who watches more of the AL), Cruz is a definitely below average CF. That is one reason I have been so pleasantly surprised by his defense in RF. To go a little further with your idea, the Giants could try either Torcato or Linden at 1B next year. Those are definitely inexpensive options.

If they sign Guerrero, they can put whomever they want at 1B. And at Pac Bell, I think Guerrero's arm would make him a good choice for CF there, so it's the road games that it becomes a problem.

He also thinks that Giles will make a great fit in his native CA, but his contract makes him hard - for Pittsburg - to trade him.

A fan at Pac Bell last year told me that Brian Giles was his dream player. I can't see a trade, though. Giles' contract is way too modest, so the Pirates do not need to dump his salary. Giles is a California native. I was also told that his contract includes a no-trade clause, except for about six teams, most of whom are California teams.

Giles is in year 2 of a 5 year $45 million deal (averaging $9 million per). If the Pirates get really bad, really fast, they could look to offload that cash (especially since it probaby starts low and ends high), so a trade isn't out of the question . . . just unlikely.

Jurgen has his own idea for Plan B.

I was scanning MLB Contracts, and I realised that Sheffield is a free agent at the end of the year. Two things: 1) if he doesn't resign, then the Braves'
OF isn't up to the same lofty standards, and 2) might the Giants make a play for him if they lose the Guerrero sweepstakes? Obviously you'd prefer to have Vlad, if only because of the age difference, but if Sheffield continues on the Barry Bonds program of age defiance he could still be a hugely productive player.

Due to the fact that MLB Contracts is not up to date, I'd like to know (a) if anyone knows about Sheffield's Free Agent status (has he signed an extension, is he giving the Braves "first right of refusal", etc.); and (b) if anyone knows where I can find detailed contract information (with yearly breakdowns, deferrments, signing bonuses, etc.).

I would be willing to put something together if the information is only available as a spreadsheet or database . . . and I would probably even find a way to host it. Please let me know.

But if he is available this summer, remember that the Bonds and Sheffield are good buddies, so they might pull an Eric Davis/Darryl Strawberry move to play together . . . and we know Bonds isn't going anywhere.

The question then becomes, "Who plays CF?" If you sign Sheffield, you probably don't sign Cruz, because niether can really play CF. And that means another hole that needs filling . . . with practically the same amount of money.

With the status of the Braves pitching, I don't think they'll let Sheffield go without a fight, and I don't see the Giants putting up that kind of fight.

Jurgen also agrees that Guerrero will most likely stay in Montreal with the Expos, for one really big purpose.

For the record, I think MLB would be INSANE to let the Expos trade/lose Guerrero and Vazquez before the club's been sold. If I'm buying the Expos, I want the bill of sale to include the best young outfielder in the game. The fact that MLB is dragging its feet despite several interested parties is an embarassment to the game.

I agree in part, but my gut says that Vazquez is already as good as gone.

And MLB is insane for dragging its feet, but not as insane as it was when it bought the team (and burdoned every other team) in the first place.

5:00 PM

Best Ever? (Guerrero Talk part 4)

Reader Jurgen Maas checks in with some interesting comments regarding the best OF trio in baseball.

Assuming Superman regresses to mere .950-1.000 OPS levels, an outfield of Bonds (LF), Cruz (CF), and Guerrero (RF) would likely still edge Atlanta (Chipper, Andruw, Sheffield), Cincinnati (Dunn, Griffey, Kearns), and St. Louis (Pujols, Edmonds, Drew) as the best in the game--unless the Cubs pull off the Big Trade for Beltran that Joe Sheehan has been talking about (Alou, Beltran, Sosa).

First of all, I need to get out, because I haven't heard about the Beltran rumors . . . but second of all, I think that a Bonds-Guerrero combo would instantly put them into any conversation about best OF in baseball . . . even if the other guy was Marvin Bernard. Going forward I would watch Cincy's OF trio, because I think that Griffey has the possiblity to play well with age (similar to Bonds, but nobody is Bonds), Dunn can blast, and I think that Kearns is even better then Dunn (and he was drafted higher too!).

But if Bonds continues to defy biology and Cruz is really and truly finally living up to his .850-.900 OPS potential, might the '04 Giants have the best offensive outfield of all time?

If Cruz is the real deal and Guerrero signs on, these guys could have a strong argument in their favor for Top 5, and possibly even best ever. I'd love to hear from some people who know a lot more about past teams then myself to form a for/against (well, both actually) argument about this, because I find it increadibly interesting.

If any playoff team could afford to waste at bats with Neifi at SS, it might be this one: Durham, Alfonzo, Bonds, Guerrero, Cruz, plus three scrubs sounds good enough to me.

Torreabla is a decent player so it would be 2 scrubs at most, and 1B could be filled with a servicable player . . . so we're only really looking at Neifi (unless we can find someone better).

But again, the key is signing Guerrero . . . which is a longshot at best.

9:04 AM

Tuesday, May 13, 2003  

Keep The Streak Going

I just received this e-mail from Daniel J. McCarey. I'll let it speak for itself.

To whom it may concern:

I'm not sure if you are aware of this or not, but on February 22nd, 2003, Carl Riccio, my cousin, a 17 year old junior at Watchung Hills High School in NJ, broke his neck during a high school wrestling match. Carl was an undefeated wrestler and a star baseball player. This tragedy made headline news across the country. These accidents occur only twice a year in the sporting world.

Carl is currently listed a a quadraplegic and the doctor's have given him a 1% chance of recovering. Luckily, he is at one of the best spinal care facilities in the country now, The Kessler Institute in West Orange, NJ.

It would mean a great deal to him if you could post a get well message to him on his website, a fellow member of the baseball community.

This is the website address where you can read all about Carl and his story. It should have all his contact information there. But if it doesn't here is is contact info: Carl Riccio, c/o Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, 1199 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052 (973)731-3600. The Riccio's home address is (edited for privacy).

Even if all you can do is post a message on his website's message's board, it would mean a heck of alot to him.

Each night, his parents read all the website's, messages from around the country to him and his face lights up. Thanks again advance, Daniel J. McCarey

I have already posted a message, as has Alex Belth (Bronx Banter), the gang from Baseball Perspectus, Alan Schwarz (ESPN), and even teams such as the Stockton Ports (Texas Class A team) and the Modesto A's.

Plus, the Modesto A's have even offered him to throw out a ceremonial first pitch when he recovers. I'd go to see that.

The Southpaw is happy to know that Carl's Undefeated Streak continues. He simply can't be beat.

4:55 PM

Contracts and Signings (Guerrero Talk part 3)

Got some reader mail to keep the debate going (my favorite kind).

First was Doug Hutchinson from Westwood Blues. He makes some great points about available dollars next year.

I wanted to add a couple of points to your discussion about contracts. While it is true that there is a lot of money coming off the books at the end of this year, it is also true that there will be a fair amount of salary added to the books in the form of raises. The Giants front office knew they would have greater flexibility after Snow's contract and Benard's albatross expire at the end of 2003. The Giants have already used some of this flexibility to backload the contracts of some of the players they signed the last two offseasons.

He goes on to point out some big jumps in salary, which are all true. All numbers are from Doug, and I verified Bonds and Schmidt through MLB Contracts, which I use primarily. If you know of a better source for contract info (html, db, spreadsheet, etc.), please e-mail me. (I know about the salary info on Doug Pappas' data downloads, but he only lists the current year's salary, and I'm looking for info on entire contracts).

Bonds goes from $16.5 million in '03 to $20 million in '04 (but stays at $20 million in '05). Schmidt jumps from $5.75 million in '03 to $8.5 million in '04 (but only $8.75 million in '05). Edgardo Alfonso goes from $4 million in '03 to $6.5 million in '04 (including signing bonus). Jose Cruz Jr. has a $4 million mutual option in '04, but he'll get paid regardless. Durham gets $5.2 million in '03 to $7.2 million in '04 (if his bonus is equally distributed over 3 years). I also know that some of Woody's money was deferred into his extension, but I'm not sure what the amounts are.

As you can see, there are some big jumps in 2004 contracts, but these are the kinds of jumps that happen in pretty much every contract, and in most cases the change from '04 to '05 is minimal. There will be room for another player, unless all current players are brought back, in which case the Giants will return the same team that's playing this year (which may or may not be a good thing).

Doug's realistic about the Giants' offseason moves, but he's still crossing his fingers.

I believe the Giants priority this offseason will be to lock up Cruz to a long term deal. So I think an outfield of Bonds, Cruz, and Vlad is just to good to be true. But it's fun to dream.

Yes it is. And with that OF, they could pretty much sign anyone to play 1B, as long as they were good with the glove.

And finally, Stephen Shelby checked in again. He thinks that Brian Giles would be a better (or at least more realistic) option for the Giants, since he'll become a free agent in 2006 ($45 million over 5-years - '02-'06), which pretty much coincides with Bonds coming off the books for 2007. And he agrees with me that Aurilia will probably re-sign with the G-men, but had another possibility as well.

I don't know where else [Aurilia] would go, but I don't necessarily sense that he wants to stay. I think he'll be open-minded. Maybe Dusty tries to get him to come to the Cubs. I was a bit surprised to seriously suggest Guerrero. I wonder if the Giants might try to make a run at Brian Giles when he becomes a free agent in a few years.

Good point (and besides, by then we'll know if Guerrero will sign or not!).

Keep those e-mails coming!

10:15 AM

Monday, May 12, 2003  

A Life's Work

Ralph Wiley has a great column about Sam Lacy, a baseball writer who died recently at age 99. He sounds like the kind of guy you would love to watch a game with, and even more impartantly learn from.

Sam had seen Rube Foster, Turkey Stearns. He knew there was no real mystery to the game, so why try to act like there is? Of any male population, a certain infinitesimal percentage could become big leaguers. Period. Sam Lacy was a baseball writer. Sam wrote all sports, knew and talked to other Immortals, like Jesse Owens and Joe Louis, watched them perform, but at the end of the day -- a very long day, in Sam's case -- his greatest passion was big-league baseball, and his baby was Jackie Robinson. Sam not only covered Jack Roosevelt Robinson in the big leagues, stayed with sometimes, Sam helped get him there.

Sam Lacy was the one who championed Jackie Robinson for the MLB. Good thing someone listened.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

Editor's Note: If "The Southpaw" is still active when I'm 99, I'd be ok with that. Would you still be reading?

4:41 PM

Corrections (Guerrero Talk part 2)

Thank goodness I have readers, or I may not have even known that I'd messed up. Stephen Shelby of SS's SF Giants Diary found a glaring error in both of my posts today. Thanks Steve!

(1) Vinny Castillo had the check swing no-call in Game 2 (not Javy Lopez as previously reported), but Lopez did hit the HR.

(2) Woody signed a 2-year extension at the beginning of the season, meaning that his $4.75 million isn't coming off the books . . . I can't believe that I forgot that, especially after John over at OBM wrote in detail the fact that they basically chose Woody over Ortiz.

Steve also has this to add to the money debate:

I tend to agree that there is not nearly as much payroll as John Shea suggested. I would be in favor of Torrealba and Trey Lunsford (now hitting over .300 at Fresno) handling the catching duties next year. Also, why does everyone keep saying it is so likely that Aurilia will resign with the Giants? I see no reason to assume that, particularly from a team that saw fit to spend $4+ million on Neifi Perez and another $2+ million on Grissom. I also think that Cruz may have a player option, not a team option, for next year. The way he is playing, I would not expect Cruz to exercise the option.

I'm not sure about Cruz's contract, but I think that you're right. I used MLB Contracts for my information, and they're still a little behind on some of the newer contracts (for players not names Thome). According to Doug Pappas' 2003 Opening Day Salaries, Jose Cruz Jr. is getting $2.5 million this season, so we could theoretically add that to the pool (assuming he won't take his option and will test the market), and our numbers come out close to what they were with Woody's $4.75 million ($2.25 million isn't a substantial difference in the big picture).

I think that the fact that the Giants gave Neifi Perez $4 million is more reason to believe that Aurilia will be re-signed then not. And besides, I think that Aurilia would sign for significatly less then top teir guys like Nomar and Miguel to stay in SF, and that could sway the Giants into signing him earlier rather then later.

The Perez signing, btw, is too similar to the Bernard signing, which leads me to believe that there are still a few bad deals in the Giants' future, I guess to balance out all the great ones. Now if the Perez signing was a precurser to a Guerroro signing . . . I think I could live with that.

Editor's Note: I think I fixed all of my errors in the Guerrero post . . . let me know if I didn't.

4:16 PM

More Guerrero-Giants Talk

Baseball News Blog led me to this article from the San Francisco Chronicle (written by John Shea) about the G-men going after Vlad the Impaler.

Guerrero can be a free agent after this season, and the Giants will be off the hook with several big contracts, allowing for the possibility that they can add perhaps the game's best all-around player while not dramatically increasing their payroll.

He also talks about how that Giants may have the inside track with Vlad's connection with Alou, and that it pretty much mirrors the signing of Bonds back in '92.

The first problem I see is that he gives no explaination of this non-dramatically increased payroll. In fact, he does quite the opposite:

Guerrero, 27, can do it all, like a modern day Roberto Clemente, and would be the most prized free agent since Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year contract with Texas for $252 million before the 2001 season. He won't get A-Rod money, but his agents will seek more than last winter's top free agent, Jim Thome, who received $87.5 million over six years from the Phillies.

Let's look at what the Giants have available for next year.

Marvin Bernard's $4.0 million comes off the books. JT Snow's $6.85 million comes off the books (unless the $6.5 million Team Option is exercised). Rich Aurilia's $5.25 million comes off the books next year, but odds are that he'll be re-signed, and probably for more then $5.25 mil. Kirk Rueter's $4.75 million comes off as well, but he'll be in line with Aurilia for another contract. (Correction, Woody signed a 2-year extension earlier this year, but Jose Cruz Jr.'s $2.5 million will be off the books if he has a Player Option for 2004 that he does not exercise). Benito Santiago will also be looking for some dollars after the $1.5 million he'll make in 2003. Todd Worrell's a free agent ($2.0 million in '03), and Felix Rodriguez will make $5.0 million (Team Option) or $3.05 million (Player Option) depending on which option is picked up, and Rob Nen will be paid $9.0 million, whether or not he throws a pitch next year.

Bonds & Schmidt are locked up until 2006 for $81.25 million (unless Schmidt's 2006 Option isn't picked up, in which case just subtrack his $10 million contract and add a $3 million buyout), which averages out to about $27 million just for the two of them.

So let's look at what we've got, starting with the blank slate (before any re-signs).

Bernard, Snow, Aurilia, Woody Cruz, Santiago, & Worrell will clear $24.35 22.1 million of payroll going into 2004, but will also leave holes at C, 1B, SS, SP OF, & RP/CP (depending on Nen's recovery). That's a lot of holes to fill for $24 22 million.

If you give Vlad about $14 million per (similar to the Thome deal), then that still leaves you with five four holes to fill for $10 8 million. Let's try.

First we'll fill some holes internally. Torreabla can start behind the dish, with another prospect coming up to fill the hole in the rotation (Williams, Bosner, or even Jensen) as well as the relief spot. I'm not sure who we've got that's ready to fill in at 1B (Travis Ishikawa?) or SS (Neifi is NOT the answer (or is he?), nor is Cody Ransom from what I hear), so I'll look elsewhere for now.

Here is the list of available SS this winter (assuming they aren't re-signed before the off-season). * inducates arbitration eligible players that may be too expensive for their current team
Nomar Garciapara
Miguel Tejada
Rich Aurilia
Barry Larkin
Jose Valentin
Kaz Matsui (Japan)
*Orlando Cabrera
*Carlos Guillen

That's a lot of talent available at SS, not to mention the 2B's coming into Free Agency (Castillo, Alomar, Vina, Reese, *Polanco, & *Vidro).

It's a bad off-season to be a middle infielder, but it's a great off-season to be shopping for one.

Free Agents available in 2004 (same assumption as above).
Rafael Palmeiro
J.T. Snow
*Derrek Lee
*Erubiel Durazo

Not as deep, but in general it's easier to fill a hole at 1B then at SS, so that's good to know.

With $10 8 million available, the Giants could sign one of those SS's and still find a suitible 1B to fill out the roster, and they actually could sign Vladimir Guerrero without hurting the payroll too bad. Wow.

But then reality sinks in, and the odds are: (1) new ownership (D.C.?) of the Expos make signing Vlad priorities 1, 2, & 3; (2) the Giants re-sign Aurilia, Woody Cruz, Santiago &/or Worrell . . . making any significant moves unlikely; or (3) another team (NYM, LA, etc.) swoops in and overbids for the Impaler.

But then again, if we knew what was going to happen, it wouldn't be fun to speculate!

Editor's Note: Thanks to Stephen Shelby for correcting me on Woody's contract extension and that possibility of Cruz Jr. not being back in '04 if his option is a Player Option, as opposed to a Team Option.

12:24 PM

2 Tough Losses

The Giants lost their last two games against the Braves this weekend, and it was rough to watch.

Ray Durham sprained his ankle sliding into third on a triple (putting him on the 15-day DL), Javy Lopez looked like he owned the Giants' pitching staff (4-for-24 before the series, 5-for-7 during), and one non-call may have been the deciding factor for both losses (explained below).

In Game 2 of the series, the Giants were tied at 2-2 (they were actually leading 2-1 before Nathon gave up a rare HR to Chipper) in the bottom of the 7th with Javy Lopez Vinny Castilla at the plate (one on, two out) and Joe Nathon pitching. With 2 strikes (I forget the count) Javy Vinny checks at a ball, clearly going too far. As most of the Giants are heading off the field, the call is appealed to the first-base umpire, who calls "no swing". What seemed like a dozen pitches later (as Javy Castillo faught off a lot of pitches into foul territory), Castillo singled up the middle, and was followed by a Javy Lopez at bat in which Nathon left a fastball up in the zone and Lopez belted it to center for a 2-run shot (4-2 Braves). (Thanks to Stephen Shelby for correcting me)

And then in the 8th, with Ryan Jensen in (when realistically Nathon should still have been pitching - if Lopez would have been called out on strikes in the 7th), the Braves rallied for 2 more (6-2 Braves).

The Giants made an effort to come back in the 9th off of John Smoltz, but only got one (Braves win 6-3).

In Game 3 of the series, the Giants are again up (3-2 in the 5th) with rain comming down and a delay/called game emminent. Just as Kiper and Krukow were talking about rushing a game to get in the manditory five, only to get hit for rushing, the Braves rally for 2 in the bottom half of the 5th for a 4-3 lead (just as play stops for rain with 2 outs, Brave up 4-3).

They finished the game (kudows to Fox Sports Net for jumping between the Giants and A's, with what looked like 30 minutes of commercial-free baseball), with the duo of Brower & Erye shutting the Braves down for 2 , and Rodriguez finishing the game with only Javy Lopez's 3-run HR in the 8th (7-3 Braves).

Here's how that one call may have cost them the series:

With Nathon pitching in the 8th in a tie-game, maybe the Braves don't rally, and if they do it's only a 2-run game instead of a 4-run game going into the 9th. Different mindset, different result? Perhaps.

Because of the extra pithes that he threw, Alou said that he wouldn't be using Nathon in Game 3. So one call (or no-call, as it were) prevented Nathon from pitching in the final game of the series (along with good handling of pitchers, imho).


Editor's Note: With a dodgers win, the Giants Magic Number is stuck at 120. The Kings Magic Number (Ewing Theory Watch), however, is now at 10.

9:29 AM

Saturday, May 10, 2003  

Ewing Theory Watch

I have added my Kings Ewing Theory Prediction Watch on the right, and since it's not baseball related I haven't taken down the Giants Magic Number Watch.

Go Kings!

7:13 PM

I Hope I'm the First to Say It

Chris Webber will be out for the remainder of the playoffs, and The Southpaw is "Officially Predicting" a Ewing Theory Championship Run for the Sacramento Kings.

You heard it here first (I think).

7:07 PM

Friday, May 09, 2003  

How do you say that in French?

Our good friend Steven Shelby wrote in a great little story about Tiger Stadium, or at least about the Tigers.

I went to college in Michigan, about two hours from Detroit. I never made it to Tiger Stadium. I remember once remarking to a friend when we were on the streets of Detroit near Greektown that we should go see a Tigers game sometime. Some street bum started laughing at me. "Who goes to see the Tigers? No one," he said.

I wonder if the same thing happens in Montreal . . . and what language would it be in.

Editor's Note: I don't understand the lack of fans at sporting events . . . even when the team sucks (Tigers/Lions/Nuggets) or routinely screws up (Expos/Bengals/Clippers). When the Kings moved to Sacramento, they were practically selling out every game . . . while almost NEVER winning. I understand that since the team was new that the decades of losing or screw-ups weren't really a concern, but even when they sucked for years the fans were always there. I always loved how Sacramento Kings fans were considered to be some of the best fans in the nation when they had probably the worst team. Teams can turn it around with a little support, and a lot of competance. Chicken or Egg, you decide.

3:26 PM

Another Stadium I'll Never See

Mudville Magazine has a great commentary about Tiger Stadium. ("An American Ruin" - no perma-link available)

There was no majestic skyline view, no Rocky Mountains, no San Francisco Bay. In Tiger Stadium you had baseball, and that's all that anyone wanted. ..... Why not make Tiger Stadium a ruin of baseball's mighty past, an American Coliseum? No other sport is as indebted to its past as baseball, and wouldn't a ruin give us that connection to a supposedly simpler time? Someday, Fenway Park will vanish, and probably even Yankee Stadium, and the American League will have not a single monument to its heyday (Wrigley Field probably won't go anywhere). It was the Detroit Tigers and Tiger Stadium that helped to make baseball great.

One day I plan on travelling the country to hit as many stadiums as I can . . . it's just sad that I probably won't get to see baseball played in the great Tiger Stadium (and I think that lots of people would watch minor league baseball games there, if only to see them at Tiget Stadium).

11:06 AM

Couldn't You Hook Him Up With A Link?

Aaron Gleeman & Aaron's Baseball Blog were mentioned today on Jayson Stark's Rumblings & Grumblings . . . but there was no hyperlink. What's up with that?

He was, of course, talking about A.J. Burnett.

It's undeniable that Burnett's pitch counts were higher than any young starter in the big leagues. As Will Carroll, of Baseball Prospectus, and Aaron Gleeman, of Aaron's Baseball Blog, have meticulously documented, Burnett threw 110 pitches or more in nearly two-thirds of his starts last year (63 percent) and 120 or more in over a third of them (37 percent).

Way to go Aaron, you've got some famous readers.

9:48 AM

Thursday, May 08, 2003  

Please Stay Tuned

I'm working on some template changes (as you may notice on the side). If anything isn't working correctly, please e-mail me.


6:25 PM

Sleeping with the Enemy

I got an e-mail from Robert Tagorda who runs a site called Priorities & Frivolities. This will be my new source of information on the War in Iraq, as he is keeping tabs on the Top 55 Most Wanted (and what the best poker hand is with confirmed captures), and primary because I haven't been paying much attention lately and this will give me a good excuse to keep up to date.

Unfortunatley, he's a dodger fan. But we won't hold that against him, except when I put him at the bottom of my links.

Editor's Note: BwaHahahahahahahaha!

5:18 PM

More Hits Then (insert Ike Turner joke here)

For the thralls of you coming over from Aaron's Baseball Blog, thanks. I hope you like the site.

And to pass the goodwill along, I'd like to add a new link to the gallary . . . Westwood Blues is a blog of a Giants fan living trapped in Los Angeles. I've been there, and dodger dogs aren't really that good (contrary to popular belief). I love the Neifi Alert System, btw.

I'll try not to hold the fact that he's a Stanford alum against him (they've got a good baseball program there). Go SC!

Editor's Note: Correction, that's UC Santa Barbara - "The Stanford of Southern California", by the way.

12:17 PM

Some Followups

Part 2 of Bronx Banter's interview with Rob Neyer is up.

Here are parts two and three of the Black Sox Scandal (better late then never).

And here's another how to fix the Mets article, also from At Home Plate.

And while we're looking At Home Plate (pun intended), here's Opening Day in SF, Barry Bonds: Greatest Player Ever?, and Teams We Love To Hate (featuring the Giants and dodgers) for your Giants reading pleasure.

Finally, let's link Aaron's Baseball Blog just because he gave me a huge plug today (in a very rare "short" post). Thanks Aaron!

12:01 PM

Just Go Away

Jose Canseco named A-Rod as one of the players who told him that he was being blackballed by Major League Baseball.

When asked about it, A-Rod said that he didn't remember saying anything of the sort to Canseco. When asked if Canseco was being blackballed, he had this to say:

I have no idea. I haven't really thought about it.

At this point Jose Canseco's credibility is almost non-existant . . . so his "tell-all" book (which he hopes to have released around the Playoffs/World Series) will still make headlines, but won't be taken seriously.

Editor's Note: I know someone who was blacklisted from baseball for punching his minor league coach (knocking him out cold) and from what I understand, it's not really a secret when it happens.

11:33 AM

Fuel for the Fire?

In other Closing Pitcher-related news, Armando Benitez was rumored to be Ray Sanchez's barber during the infamous in-game haircut.

In New York, where rumors spread faster then poisen ivy, could this be fuel for the "trade Benitez" fire in NYC?

Luckily - with Nen's recovery now a likely reality - I don't see the Giants making any desperation moves, although as John Perricone over at OBM says, this could handcuff Sabean come this year's trade-deadline.

9:48 AM

Not Done Yet

Rob Nen's surgery went better then expected, and he should be ready for Spring Training '04. Great news for the Giants, as Nen will undoubtably exercise the 2004 Player Option of his contract.

Here's what Stan Conte had to say:

He didn't feel that it was as serious as we may have thought. It came out better than we expected. He won't be throwing for four months, but Dr. Morgan is very optimistic. He should be ready to go by spring training next year.

Good news from the guy who repeatedly referred to this as "career-threatening".

Conte also said that Nen is upbeat and that "[h]is mental outlook is the best I've seen in six months".

9:38 AM

123 (or so) To Go

I've replaced the no-hit watch with the Giants' Magic Number Countdown. This is simply the mathematical number of games that are required for the Giants to win the NL West (in this case: 162 total games - 32 games played - 7 games ahead = 123 games needed to elimiate the closest team).

If you've got a better idea, e-mail me and your request could be the new "watch box" on The Southpaw!

9:31 AM

Wednesday, May 07, 2003  

No-Hit THIS . . . Tracker

Well, with the new Site Meter, it has become glaringly obvious that eXtReMe Tracker has failed me. My "no-hit watch" was un-needed, and should have been called the "tracker watch".

I am now accepting submissions for what I should replace the no-hit watch with.

5:44 PM

Baseball By The Bay

I'm surprised that I haven't seen this before . . . but now I have. Baseball By The Bay is a great site that chronicles both sides of the bay, with A's and Giants coverage.

The Giants have always been my team, but as I've mentioned here before, I adopted the A's as my AL team after the fire sale (didn't think it'd pay off this quickly though).

Great site, you may crack the Starting 9 pretty soon.

5:34 PM

Tuesday, May 06, 2003  

Not Good Times, Bad Times

ESPN reports that Nen's done for the year.

"This is serious,'' team trainer Stan Conte said before Tuesday night's game against the Florida Marlins. "Is it career-threatening? Yes, it is. Robb knows that.''

The Mets haven't called yet . . . have they?

5:40 PM

Slow Day = Lots of Posts

The Southpaw was in rare form today, with nine posts today (including this one). Getting e-mail from readers (and having a slow work day) sure fire me up for writing.

As it turns out, the readers are there . . . eXtReMe Tracker just doesn't feel like counting them. Site Meter has opened my eyes.

Thanks to everyone for letting me know that you're out there. Looks like I'll be pulling down the "No-Hit Watch" sooner rather than later. Good times.

If anyone has suggestions for what I should replace it with, e-mail me.

5:33 PM

Great Question . . . Equally Great Answer

I found this exchange (perma-link broken) over at The New Giant Thrill (they've got comments, I'll have get in on that).

The question:

Runners on first and second, starting pitcher gets pulled. The 2 runners are now obviously inherited runners to the relief pitcher. The next batter hits a slow roller to short, the runner is out at second and the runner is safe at first on a fielders choice. Is the runner on first now an inherited runner? Or does he belong to the relief pitcher?

The answer, courtesy of "Carey C":

According to the MLB rule book, section 10.18 (g): When pitchers are changed during an inning, the relief pitcher shall not be charged with any run (earned or unearned) scored by a runner who was on base at the time he entered the game, nor for runs scored by any runner who reaches base on a fielder's choice which puts out a runner left on base by the preceding pitcher. -- so...the run would go to the starting pitcher....

My first impression was that inherited runners were literal, but this rule makes sense. I'll have to keep an eye out for stuff like this during the next game I watch.

Thanks guys!

5:27 PM

I'll Take The Southpaw

Waiting for Boof has this (perma-link broken) to offer:

There are two groups of people who follow the Giants' minor leaguers: those who prefer Aaron Sobieraj, and those who prefer Aaron Hornostaj. There is no in-between. The sooner you decide, the sooner you can get on with your life.

The title says it all. Let's move on.

5:15 PM

Gettin' My Proppers (that's "Props" for my Gen Y readers)

Baseball News Blog linked me for my MVP Baseball 2003 Review (which is also listed in Southpaw's Best).

Listed just above my reference was the Rob Neyer Chat Wrap. Check out this quote:

No Yankee is indispensable, and I find the notion that Jeter's indispensable pretty silly, considering how well the Yanks have played without him. If there's an indispensable player in the majors, it's Barry Bonds, as he's the only player who turns a good team into a great team.

I couldn't have said it better myself. The idea that a single Yankee is indispensable is crazy to me, because they are LOADED with weapons. I may even go so far as to say that Mike Sweeney is more indispensable to his team then Derek Jeter, if for no other reason then the fact that the Royals don't have a lot of weapons in their lineup.

A-Rod is the second best player in baseball, but he doesn't affect his team the way that Bonds affects his. Like him or not, he's the best player of most of our lifetimes.

5:03 PM

Bronx Banter . . . at it again

Alex Belth over at Bronx Banter has another great interview, this time with Rob Neyer (he even got a plug on Rob Neyer's Home Page!). Check out Part 1 here (perma-link broken).

Grab some popcorn . . . it's a long one.

This has been a very NY-oriented day here at The Southpaw.

I complain that there's no good Giants info out there . . . maybe I should be writing some.

3:58 PM


In what has to be a record here at The Southpaw, I have already received feedback on my Mets column. Maybe I'm writing about the wrong team!

Liam over at The Liam McEneaney Experience agreed with me, and had this to say to sum up life as a Mets fan.

It's very frustrating, as on paper they have an excellent team.

So does my Fantasy Team, but when you're only playing against 11 others, it's not too hard. It's teams like the Mets (as well as the Toronto Raptors, New York Rangers, and Oakland Raiders) that make video game fans giddy . . . because they'll domonate a Franchise on the small screen without all those "real life" problems that end up bogging them down on and off the field.

He also has a funny little post about the Mets on his site (perma-link broken). He helps out the Mets PR guys with some slogans for the 2003 season:

Come for the Overpriced Players,
Stay for the Overpriced Hot Dogs

There's more, so check it out!

Editor's Note: Liam McEneaney is a comedian who you may have seen on Comedy Central's Premium Blend (although it looks like they jacked him off their list). I haven't, but you might have. I'll definitely keep an eye out now that I know he's a reader!

3:49 PM

New Counter!

We've added a new site counter kiddies, and it's called (get this) Site Meter.

I recommend it because you can set it to ignore all hits from your IP address, which gives you a better estimate of how many people (other then yourself) are visitng you site.

Editor's Note: In my case that should be in the high single digit range.

3:15 PM

Speculation Time: Where Everyone's A GM!

Everyone knows that the Mets are in a bad situation: Last Place; $120,000,000 payroll; etc. Peter Gammons has his take here, while in one of my personal favorite styled columns, Bob Klapisch has some suggestions if he were the GM.

These are my favorite columns because they deal with my favorite subject in sports: "Trade Speculation". Trade Speculation is pretty much what got The Southpaw started (as you can see by reading some of Southpaw's Best). It's so simple to have all the answers when you're not the one making them. YOUR job isn't on the line, YOU'RE not being hounded constantly when the team isn't succeeding, and everything is guesswork until it really happens (will they thrive on a new team? in a new city? with a new manager?).

So let's see what The Southpaw would do if he were spending other people's money, and if the other teams would even BITE on this stuff anyway (Klapisch did it in 5 steps, so I'll do it in four).

(1) Trade Roberto Alomar & Mo Vaughn to KC for Carlos Beltran
I'll jump right into something crazy, because again, it's not my money. First of all, KC is looking to fill a hole at 2B. Alomar has had much better luck in the AL then the NL, so sending him back to the league that he flourished in could be the key to unlock the juvenation machine.

The Mets have been rumored to be looking to dump Vaughn so that they can move Piazza to 1B. The catch here is that the Mets are also rumored to be looking to ship him out while still paying his salary. A small market team like KC that's having an Anaheim-02 type of season could use a free bat, even if it means sending out one that they already have.

Beltran would be a great fit with Piazza for a rebuilding NY to stay competitive, and if not, the Orioles have been actively pursuing trade talks with KC for the chance to audition him (he's a free agent after this season).

The Orioles have been trying to pry Beltran from the Royals for months, particularly after Beltran rejected Kansas City's three-year, $25 million offer of a contract extension in December. The trouble is, the teams may not be compatible trading partners, meaning a third club may have to be introduced to the deal if it's going to work.

The dollars would break down like this...

Roberto Alomar:
2003 - $7,689,684.00
2004 - Free Agent
Mo Vaughn:
2003 - $17,166,667.00
2004 - $15.0M
2005 - Team Option $14.0M or $2.0M Buyout
$30-35 million for Vaughn's salary & possibly the difference in Alomar's salary (to Beltran's)
Carlos Beltran:
2003 - $6,000,000.00
2004 - Free Agent

KC plugs Alomar in at 2B and Vaughn at DH, while paying about the same about as they would have otherwise, and now they've got a chance to audition and possibly re-sign a productive Roberto Alomar, where they would not be able to re-sign Beltran.

Obviously there would be some prospects included to seal the deal, but I don't think that there should be a reason for a prospect to become a deal-breaker if the Metropolitans plan on sending that much currency to KC.

Flame me now . . . I know 99% of people will think that this is crazy, but isn't that the point of armchair GM-ing?

(2) Trade Armando Benitez to SF for Pitching Prospects
Let me preface this by saying that as a Giants fan I wouldn't like this deal, but it would make sense for the Mets and is a feasible possibility.

Again, the Mets would need to absorb most of Benitez's contract, but if they did, they could get some live arms out of the San Fran organization. And with Rob Nen looking to be out for the season, I could see the Giants sending out a few prospects for a one-year run with Benitez until Nen is ready next season (which would also allow them to not have to rush him if the playoff race gets tight).

If NY could grab one "name" prospect like Boof Bosner, Jerome Williams, or even jump on Clay Hensley after his perfect game in Class-A Hagerstown, then they could throw in a couple of mid-level prospects to round out the deal.

Dollars involved...

Armando Benitez:
2003 - $6.75M
$5-6 million of Benitez' salary
Salary = "Much, Much Less"

Again, I wouldn't like this as a Giants fan, but if they didn't give up too much, I could at least live with it.

(3) Trade Roger Cedeno & Jeremy Bernitz to ANYONE
Bernitz's salary goes from $11.5M to $12M if he's traded, so the Mets would have to eat a lot of that to dump it, unless he got hot and a team wanted him for a championship run (he's a Free Agent after this season). Mid-level prospects or another bad contract at best.

Roger Cedeno's contract is a little more manageable ($4.5M in 2003, $5M in 2004 and again in 2005), but he'd need to get hot to be worth much, and again, I don't think he'd bring back a lot of value. One option would be to include him in a deal to KC, but it's a contract that a small market team doesn't need in a non-superstar. Maybe some mid level prospects for the privilege of taking him off the payroll.

(4) What to do with Mike Piazza?
Keep him on for PR reasons, unless he starts to lose his PR value. If he needs to be traded, then ship him out . . . but the best thing to do would be to build some players around him - while the prospects are coming up - just to stay competitive, if not actually competing. This may also ensure that Piazza goes into the HOF as a Met, which would also be a big PR boost, as their last HOF-er was Tom Seaver.

Questions, comments, flames?!? E-mail me and tell me how smart/idiotic I am!

2:17 PM

The Plot Thickens

Although my counter tells me that there was one unique visitor yesterday, which it said before I posted anything, and one today . . . how can you explain the two e-mails I got about my post?!?!?!?


One of those e-mails was Michael from View From the 700 Level, who both compliments The Southpaw and gets a dig in on my Giants.

Have no fear. I still check in on a daily basis. Millwood may no-hit the Giants, but this Phillies fan is trying to give you a hit of some sort. :)

Ouch. And just so you know (segue warning), the Phills traded Pat Burrell to Toronto for Kelvim Escobar in my MVP Baseball 2003 franchise . . . so I scooped him up while Bonds is on the DL. How do you like them apples?

By the way, nice review of MVP Baseball 2003. I haven't had a chance to play it for almost 3 weeks now, and I'm itching for some free time.

Here's a perfect example of why there should be an online option. We could settle our grudge match with a Millwood-Foppert (downloaded from a new roster list perhaps?) rematch!

Maybe they'll include that in the 2004 version.

Editor's Note: I have set up a second counter to see if there's just something wrong with the first one. There are two icons in the tracker section, the first is the original, and the second is the one I set up today (May 6). For those of you who are interested in this little development, we'll see if they match in a couple of days.

9:22 AM

Monday, May 05, 2003  

Good thing I've been busy

Apearantly, the local baseball coverage has been worse that I had previously thought. Here's an article from the Sacramento Bee about how hard it is to watch the Giants or A's if you live in Sacramento (credit SS's SF Giants Diary for the link).

This is atrocious. I'm about to switch over to a mini-dish, and have been thinking about ordering the Extra Innings package. F-that. I'd rather get NFL Sunday Ticket or NBA's League Pass then pay to still not see local baseball. I'll stick with WGN (Cubbies) and TBS (Braves) for out-of-town baseball coverage and save the cash.

Add this to the list of things that Major League Baseball is doing to UN-market itself as the National Pasttime.

Seligula & Co. should look at this before they come out and talk about how bad off baseball is. Try promoting it, not demoting it. Not good times, bad times.

5:47 PM

Reader (singular) Response

I heard from my reader today! Gordy Hulten (a Giants fan in Champaign, IL no less!) reminded me that I'm not the only one who visits The Southpaw.

As one of your two daily visitors, keep up the good work! Go Giants!

Fight On Gordy! Go SC! Beat the Irish!

I also heard from Stephen Shelby of the perma-linked SS's SF Giants Diary.

No-hit for 15 days? That has to be a bit discouraging.

Yes. Yes it is.

I guess he'd be my other visitor.

But worry not Stephen and Gordy - or Gordy and Stephen if you prefer - The Southpaw will post for two thousand or just two.

The man can't hold me down!

5:32 PM

Finally, The MVP Baseball 2003 REVIEW

Being that I'm almost at the All Star Break in MVP Baseball 2003 for the PS2, I thought I should finally get down to putting up the review that I previously promised.

First of all, this game is playable out of the box. There isn't a big learning curve to get started, which is always a bonus. This isn't an indication of the difficulty, however, or is it?

I have been avoiding a new baseball game due to some of the new "features" that baseball games have been getting over the last few years. Many comapnies think that the more "realistic" a baseball game is, the better it will be received by the public. While this may be true in thoery, I am living proof that it doesn't quite work in reality.

One of my biggest pet peeves in baseball games is having to warm up your relief pitchers before bringing them in. While this realistically mimics the reality of baseball, it doesn't translate well for me in a video game setting. This is a feature that I have found some takers for, but most that I have spoken to aren't thrilled with this "feature" of baseball games.

MVP Baseball 2003 does not have this feature. (+1 point)

Another common feature that I feel is a still in its infancy is the "guess the pitch" feature while batting that most next-gen games have. If you're not sure what I'm talking about, I'm talking about the fact that you have to move your cursor over where the ball will be pitched to get solid contact. This is a great idea, but in practice it seems a little more like guesswork then skill.

MVP Baseball 2003 also does not have this feature. (+1 point)

First take a look at this short article I found for a quick rundown of changes (this is NOT a Triple Play remake). Now, on to the nitty-gritty.

The gameplay is smooth, even if it struggles a little bit when you're batting with the bases loaded (too much going on at once - with baserunners and all). There are options for seeing the vector lines of balls put into play (so you can judge distance and speed) and halos for where balls are going to land (to put your fielders into position for fly balls). Fielding is fairly easy to understand, and puts more of the control of errors into the players hands as opposed to luck (or more likely unluck) deciding when an error happens. Throwing is the best example of this. When you field a ball in play, you will obviously need to throw it. To throw the ball, you have a meter for how hard you want to throw it (the farther into the meter, the harder the throw). There are three things I like about this: (1) if you want to throw it hard, the player will take longer to throw - the meter needs to fill; (2) the exception to Rule 1, if you KNOW where you want to throw the ball ahead of time, you can start charging your throw while the ball is being fielded (great for quick DP turns or slow rollers); and (3) the end of the meter is red, which may or may not cause an error. If you need to throw someone out at the plate, you can choose to max out your meter, but the throw might be off target a little, a lot, or even get past for an error. Now YOU control the chances of an error, not the computer. Plus, the picture-in-picture baserunning makes taking leads and controlling baserunners more intuitive then ever. (+1 point)

The one glaring problem with the graphics are the fans. Pretty much every baseball game since the dawn of time has had this problem, but in the new 3D style these games are in, it has become glaringly obvious. I counted half a dozen different fans copied and pasted into the 10,000+ seats of each stadium (if only it were that easy for Montreal). Oh, and the players on both benches are cardboard cutouts as well. But the stadiums are great, with all the features one would expect to see at each stadium intact. The water in KC isn't a nice as I would have liked, and when you hit a foul ball into McCovey Cove you can watch it bounce(?!?!?!?), but the details are there, and the game looks good. Most of the player faces are recognizable, which is pretty cool as well. (even)

Hosted by the SF Giants' announce team of Duane Kiper and Mike Krukow, it was great to play a baseball game with my local announcers. They even rip into players pretty good and have some more "adult" comments (i.e. "Swing the bat, MEAT!" & "He nutted that one!"). It's fairly humorous. The music follows in EA Sports' Madden 2003 with a variety of newer bands (rock and hip hop) performing songs you might not have heard on the radio, which os great (but even with the large number of songs, still gets repetative after a while - although a HUGE improvement over menu music). (even)

Distance driven HR Derby, Tournament, Playoff, and Franchise modes, and more computer-to-computer team trades then any sports game I've ever seen make this a keeper. The options are plentyful, but don't add up quite like the Madden series (give it another year or two and it probably will). (+0.5 points)

Yeah, but is it any fun?
In a word, YES. In many more words, I've had this game for about a month or so now, and I'm already rapidly approaching the All Star Break. I've made more trades then I can count, have had two of my best players take some time on the DL (Schmidt & Bonds) and yet I'm running away with the NL West while ALL FOUR teams behind me are within 2 games of each other. Good times. (+1.5 points)

Totalling up The Southpaw Arbitrarty Point Total, MVP Baseball 2003 scored an impressive 5 points! Using a standard 5-star system - I give it 4.5 . . . and using a percentage scale - it scores an easy 92%.

An online option would have been great, but people skip out of Madden when they're losing, so I can't really see the mass-marketing appeal of online baseball . . . but it'd be great with friends!

So there you have it. If you made it this far, you must be interested, so go out and buy/rent/steal/download/copy/borrow it today!

3:36 PM

Thursday, May 01, 2003  

And still I push forward

I added a "No-Hit Watch", isn't counting the days between Millwood's performance and the next No Hitter. It is a running total of consecutive days that The Southpaw has received 5 or less Unique Visitors. When/if this oddity goes away, I'll probably put something else up there, most likely baseball related. Credit others who have done it before me (The Cub Reporter, Elephants in Oakland, etc).

Oddly enough, the Baseball News Blog plug falls in the middle of this drought, so it seems as though The Southpaw is falling off the face of the earth publicly.

For the two of you still reading, fear not, for I will be continuing to post in my usual manner (which by the looks of things might drive both of you away as well).

Ah, the logetivity of the internet.

Editor's Note: Aaron Gleeman is definitely NOT having this problem. Congratulations to Aaron's Baseball Blog for passing the 65,000 visitor mark in only 9 months. Even more impressive is that it has grown EVERY SINGLE MONTH it has existed. As he is a much better baseball writer then myself, I hope that you go there now if you're not one of the 65,000 that already has.

12:39 PM

Does that league have a wild card too?

Tim Kurkjian has his April wrapup over at and here's the highlight:

April gave us many injuries, proving again that there are three leagues today: AL, NL and the DL.

For some reason, that was the funniest thing I've seen a "professional" sportswriter say in a while.

12:23 PM
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