Monthly Archives: July 2013

Detroit GM’s Let Me Down.

First, on Brandon Jennings. I feel the same now as in my rant of despondency last night on ‘It’s Just Sports.’

http://www.1230foxsports.com/player/?station=WCWA-AM&program_name=podcast&program_id=EricChase.xml&mid=23522036

Now, as for the Iglesias deal.

Is he a fantastic defender? From all accounts, yes.

Was the baseball world in awe Iglesias was hitting .415 to begin July? Very much so.

We’ve all wondered how much better the Detroit Tigers pitching staff would be with a better defense behind them. Once Delmon was taken off the field, LF immediately improved. Infante’s had a fine season at second, after some yips late in ’12, and Hunter isn’t what he once was, but he’s help improve things.

Iglesias could, or should(!), be so good defensively, to make up for his shortcomings I’ll explain in a moment, that Miguel Cabrera should be able to sit in a lawn chair at 3B because Iglesias can cover so much ground. I hope.

I’ll concede, it’s going to be exciting watching Iglesias play short for the Tigers for the foreseeable future. Maybe he can take some of the defensive spotlight away from the Braves Andrelton Simmons, who has reminded me of Rey Ordonez (a guy who reminded many of Ozzie Smith) with his range and athleticism.

Like Simmons (.659 OPS in ’13), Iglesias CAN’T HIT. Pretty much at all. The 23 year old had a .622 OPS in 1209 plate appearances in the minors. If he cracks .700 at the Major League level for a season, he deserves a Silver Slugger award and will likely be a PED suspect. Kidding, kind’ve.

At least he can defend!

Well, what about his speed…he can bring some excitement to the Tigers’ basepaths right?! Granted, Hernan Perez has twice the plate appearances that Iglesias has in the minors, but it’s Perez 87 steals, to Iglesias’ 37. In 317 PA for Boston, Iglesias has 4 steals. Look, I know stealing bases depends on a variety of uncotnrollable factors, but if he was that speedy and that adept at stealing bases, regardless of counts and placement in lineup, Iglesias would’ve stolen more bags. As they say though…

You can’t steal first.

If this was about defense, why not keep going with Perez, or even the older Argenis Diaz. Speed and defense are definitely more important to an MLB team than they’ve been since before the PED era, though those traits should ALWAYS be cheap to procure. Not at the cost of one of your organization’s upper tier prospects.

For what he’s to be, I like Iglesias, I’m in despair having had to give up Avisail Garcia for him. I expected Garcia to be an above average outfielder, with a plus arm, and somewhere in the range of .275 with 20 HRs, 75+ RBIS and double digit steals. He could mimic the numbers of the guy in Chicago he’s probably going to replace, Alex Rios.

I will miss Avisail Garcia. Good luck!

What frightens me in the short term is the Tigers offense. Or lack of it. Fully healthy and firing I’ve got no fears, but…

We have no idea when Infante will be back.

The end of the Tigers lineup will be Avila/who ever is at 2B (Santiago, Perez)/Iglesias. Add in subpar years for Austin Jackson and Prince Fielder, and for now you’ve got a banged up Cabrera.

Based on that, I’d say the Indians have had themselves quite a deadline and should be quite pleased with their chances to run with the Tigers longer than we expected.

Other things to watch for…

ESPN’s Jim Bowden’s been pleading for Castellanos to come up. Though he’s tumbled back down to .278 after sitting around .300 for a bit.

Would he be a better alternative in LF than Andy Dirks. I’ve got no qualm there, but Castellanos’ potential contributions against LHPs may be no better than what Matt Tuiasosopo has surprisingly provided this year.

The Tigers got murdered in the WS last year by the playoff emergences of Brandon Crawford and Marco Scutaro. All the little things those two did were irritants that help properl the Giants to another World Series. It’s possible, with a hopefully healthy Infante, and now Iglesias, the Tigers can play more NL style ball when needed. You know I love me some bunts. If you think they’re always a sure waste of outs, I refer you to the season ending circus the Phillies showcased at Comerica on Sunday.

If the Tigers patch themselves up, Iglesias’ repeated easy outs won’t be a troublesome issue, but in the near term, I think the Tigers have some warts that are going to make it an interesting and tense AL Central race as we navigate the final third of the MLB season.

On Braun.

I only care about one thing in regards to the Ryan Braun fiasco.

What are his numbers going to be in 2014. Is he going to look like a weakling until his deal ends in 2021?

In over 4100 plate appearances, Braun’s accumulated 211 home runs, 130 stolen bases and notched an OPS of .938.

Over the course of a mostly healthy career, those numbers would make Braun a great of his time.

But, he cheated, and he’ll wear a scarlett S (for steroids), P (for PEDS), or A (for asshole) for the rest of his time connected to the game of baseball.

What percentage of Braun’s stellar stats were generated by earnest means?

What additional stats, skills and merits were achieved by Braun’s use of PEDs?

We should find out next year, and really that’s all I care about, because quite candidly your hollow opinions amuse me.

Bartolo Colon, suspended for 50 games last year, may brazenly have used again in the offseason and that’s why he was an All Star this year, and sits at 13-3 with an ERA under 3 and an AL leading 3 complete games and shut outs.

Are most of Colon’s 184 wins completely disingenuous? He collected most of those victories during the prime days of the PED era in MLB, and capped it off with a 21 win season in 2005, and a Cy Young. Is it legitimate?

While Braun defies the somewhat embarassing conventional wisdom that seemingly most users came from Latin America, Colon IS from the Dominican Republic, so I apologize if you view me as a profiling Colon, or other players of his skin color moving forward. It’s convenient to profile those players, but really, you can just drape an umbrella of doubt over all of the game.

MLB’s collective actions, or inactions, in regards to PEDs in the game over the last few decades is what’s ignited the fire on my witch hunt of cynicism.

That’s right. You’re the foolish one who now feels cheated by what Braun did, not me.

If the Brewers players who rode Braun – and others – to the playoffs multiple years feel cheated and embarassed, feel free to give back your playoff share. Take down the ’08 and ’11 playoff banners, without Braun those likely don’t hang.

As a fan, if you feel that you’ve been deceived…well, where the f&*k were you during the muscled up 90s, and then the early and mid 00s?! You’ve probably lambasted MLB in the past for its inability to be open minded and progressive. At THIS very moment there’s likely not a single fan who doesn’t want expanded replay implemented before the weekend! Yet, MLB moves…at…a…snail’s….pace.

Didn’t you doubt their strength and preseverence to rid the game as much as they possibly could of cheaters? Players union or not, testing has been weaker than it could’ve been.

You think MLB has a difficult time getting out calls correct, and you expected them to nab complex hustlers in their game?

LOL.

You’re a parent who has to explain to their child that one of their favorite players accomplished what he did by cheating? Ok? And? I don’t have kids, but I think that’s called parenting and I think it’s 99.8% of your responsibility once you assume that role in life. Why are you letting a game, and Ryan Braun ‘parent’ your kid. It’s been said dozens of times since Tuesday, but yea, Barkley was and IS STILL right.

Colon was banned 50 games last year. Yet he was selected as an All Star this year…I’m uncertain, but it was either by the players – many, who anonymously despise and loathe cheaters (or is it really just gloaters like Braun) – or the manager. The A’s closer, Grant Balfour was equally deserving of making the ASG, which he eventually did as a relpacement, but yet where’s the outrage for Colon being selected, which essentially amounts to a celebration of his skills and merits. (I’ll repeat my thoughts of a few weeks ago, if you’re a player is suspended for PEDs, you forfeit your right to participate in future All Star games.)

God, you people.

Colon was one of the game’s finest pitchers for a solid half decade.

Melky Cabrera was fourth outfielder most of his career.

Then he was playing for a big contract in 2011 when he reached 706 plate appearances and a shockingly high OPS of .809 for the Royals.

From meddling fourth outfielder to All Star Game MVP last year. Well, that’s surprising. Then he got suspended. Now, on a TWO YEAR $16 million dollar deal for the Blue Jays Cabrera is back to being what he always was. Average.

If your suspicions weren’t peaked during Melky’s first few months of last year, then I have some stock in a football team in Cleveland to sell you. A Bay Area reporter thought something was rotten in the state, tweeted about it, got obliterated for it, and then woops, turns out he was right! Google that story.

Phillies fans couldnt wait for Carlos Ruiz to get back into the lineup after his 25 game suspension for Adderall. Ruiz was ‘breaking out’ with a .935 OPS at 33(!) last year. I enjoyed it for my Phillies fan friends, but last year my eye brow was arched so high it was like it was regenerating my hairline.

The same Tiger fans destroying Braun, are suddenly discovering religion to avoid a Jhonny Peralta suspension. Yes, the Peralta that lost a bunch of weight after a dreadful ’12 campaign and has been raking since spring.

You’re ignorantly idyllic for thinking MLB was going to totally rid itself of cheaters and users in the post-Mitchell Report world.

Not to defend A-Rod, but the Yankees, speaking of naivete (and a setting rife with PED players over the years), placed historical milestone incentives in his re-upped ’08 deal, in my mind enabling and empowering his devious ways. I think this is one of those, don’t hate the player, hate the game moments.

As long as there’s much to gain, and often little to lose (Braun is still due $117 million from the Brewers & I doubt Colon cares much for his reputation), various players, not all though, across all sports will constantly try to gain an edge.

You can be pissed at Braun for his pompousness and arrogance after he skated from the first 50 game suspension, but you have only yourself to blame in the future if you fall in love with a player’s performance or success, only to be numbed with disappointment if it turns out his skills weren’t as genuine as you’d thought. And, sorry, because of the culture baseball has enabled it over the last few decades, no one is safe from MY cynicism. I run a 24/7 witch hunt. My closet has nothing but brooms of all colors, shapes and sizes.

I think your outrage at Braun is feigned. You feel that way because YOU allowed yourself to get suckered. YOU don’t want to explain life to your kid.

Braun can immediately renounce himself as the 2011 MVP and cede his award to Matt Kemp. I’m certain many of you with boiling hatred would instantly turn into Braun sympathizers, which would be fine because that would be a magninimous gesture, and a truthful first step towards redemption…because damn don’t we like second chance stories in our culture. (As cynical as I am, I may just think Braun is doing it to quickly regain fans, not in such a noble way I suggested).

Braun was banged up this year, and has only played in 61 games. Was he so filled with impenetrable hubris that after dodging a 50 game suspension, did he continue to use? Or was his 61 game .869 OPS an honest one?

So what will it be next year Mr. Braun?

Can he possibly maintain his career output? There’s NO WAY he’ll keep trying to cheat and beat the system.

Will Braun become just an average everyday MLBer?

Or will Braun become something less, something more Melky-like? Or worse.

I can’t wait to find out.

I know this went in a maniacal zig zag of directions, but you don’t really care that Braun cheated, it’s that he attackingly beguiled his words afterwards.

People lie everyday. Don’t be a sucker.

Mo’ Observations.

There are times you could rightly accuse me of being TOO open minded. I happen to think it’s quite a sharp personal skill to be able to acknowledge two completely separate points of view.

Jim Leyland using Mariano Rivera in the 8th inning of the All Star Game was a non-troversey to me. But that’s the type of thing that arises out of a humdrum game with just 3 runs and 12 total hits. (Aside from the endless middle and late inning pitching changes – for the obvious reasons – hurler dominance is my kinda game!)

In his final All Star Game, Rivera couldn’t have been more deserving of the in game accolades and reverence from everyone in that stadium. Players, coaches, fans, and everyone with eyes fixated at home on TV.

Rivera is the greatest closer ever. (More on that shortly)

Back to me being TOO open minded. Have you heard the Indians’ Brett Myers criticism of Rivera receiving the game’s MVP award?

When I woke up the next morning – I didn’t watch the end of the game – my reaction was a ‘huh.’ Actually it was more like a comtemplative ‘hmmmmm.’

Then I reviewed the box score thoroughly. No player had more than a single hit, nor a single RBI. The game winning RBI came on a pedestrian sac fly off the bat of Jose Bautista in the the 4th inning. If not for Rivera’s ‘ceremony,’ the game would’ve offered zero compelling drama.

So Brett, I getcha! While Rivera didn’t really deserve the game MVP on merit, ummmmm, no one else did either.

Whether Mo got it by default of the night’s events, or as an All Star career achievement award, it’s not something I’m going to fiercely stake the flag of my opinion in the ground over. But I get Myers’ point.

Like I said, take Mo out, the night’s a snoozer.

You know I’m a fairly stauch proponent of WAR. It may be difficult because of its complex nature to understand, but I appreciate the baseline it provides. THAT, I can understand, and I hope you can too.

I need to preface this mild criticism by pointing out that on Baseball Reference playoff WAR is not calculated. Not that I can see anyway.

You know whose value WAR is not too fond of?

Closers.

Like, really really really good ones. Named Mariano Rivera.

In fact, I’d suggest NOT using WAR at all when it comes to measuring the value of closers. I know the formula of WAR does its very best to dissect so many statistics than account for what we’d define as intangibles, but it can’t measure the certain fear that comes with Rivera entering the game to Enter Sandman. I like WAR a lot, but I think you’ve got to drill dip into it to see where the psychology of the game is measured.

Miguel Cabrera’s career WAR is 53.

Verlander’s is 38.9.

The greatest pitcher I’ve ever seen, Greg Maddux, has a WAR of 104.6 in 23 seasons.

OK, you’ve got a snapshot.

In 18 and a half years Rivera’s WAR is 55.4. If you further operate on that, Mo’s about a 3 win per year player.

The uncontested greatest closer in the history of MLB (let’s be mindful closer is only a three decade old position.) is akin to the seasonal output of…

(According to ESPN.com in 2012)

Asdrubal Cabrera

Desmond Jennings

Josh Willingham

Billy Butler

#WARFail

Again, BR doesn’t do playoff WAR, look for yourself.

Let’s allow the primal stats to do the talking.

141 career postseason innings.

8-1 record.

42 saves.

.70 ERA

.75 WHIP.

Mariano Rivera’s highest single season WAR? A 5.0 in 1996, when he’d yet to become the Yankees closer. Rivera MAY be the game’s most exceptional postseason performer EVER. Move over Reggie.

Remember 1992 when Dennis Ecklersley had 51 saves, 93 strikeouts to just 11 walks and an ERA of 1.91. He won both the Cy Young AND MVP. Eck’s WAR that year was 2.9.

If you ever run into a discussion about the greatest closer in MLB history and/or anyone arguing WAR with you, if you want to go on the offensive against it, remind them it’s very unfriendly to closers. Especially the greatest in history,

Good thing we can still WATCH THE GAME.

*For the sake of thoroughness, I couldn’t access postseason WAR on Fangraphs either.

I’m not anti-RBI, but what about RD%

I’m no obnoxious and irritating SABR evangelist like Brian Kenny has become since his arrival on Twitter, and yes I do believe the RBI statistic is overvalued these days. Open your eyes and you’ll see Cabrera’s RBI total is so astronomical at this point, because he’s had a viable #2 hitter in front of him through 3+ months – as opposed to Boesch & Co. last year – in addition to Austin Jackson being as productive as he was in 2012 AND until he went down two weeks ago, Omar Infante was hitting .300 just 3 batters before Cabrera’s place in the order.

There may be one out there already on Fangraphs, or Baseball Prospectus or another stat-centric baseball site, but I think I’ve devised an easy to accept potential replacement for the RBI.

MLB is average friendly, right? Batting AVERAGE. Earned run AVERAGE. Etc…

Averages are percentages, you know that, right? Miguel Cabrera is hitting .365, which means he’s getting hits in 36.5% of his at bats. He’s reaching base in nearly 46% of his plate appearances, and so on.

To replace RBI, may I offer percentage of runners driven in. Or runners driven in percentage.

RD% makes for a nice clean stat.

I realize it’s not perfect.

Are we going to dissect it and isolate into further nuances? For instance RD% with RISP? Or will it live simply as a stat with any runner on base.

The advanced stats industry often likes to eliminate the batter from the HR. I suppose my new RD% would need to do that also. So we’ll have to count traditional RBI’s from home runs in the conventional or potentially add a layer of match to my RD%

Look, I know this creation isn’t perfect, BUT, I think it does a nice job marrying the old and new worlds. Which is really all I’m trying to do, live with one foot in the ‘I WATCH THE GAMES(!!!!!!!)’ crowd, and one in the unstoppable and soon to be ubiqitous world of analytics.

Contenders Christmas in July.

Minor league ball parks, department stores and bars/clubs all seem to run Christmas in July promotions, right? Yes.
 
Let’s apply that theme to the final frenzied two weeks of July when hopeful MLB playoff participants attempt to shore up their weaknesses.
 
Red Sox – They’ve already jumped into the trade market by acquiring the once nearly unhittable lefty Matt Thornton, from the White Sox. He’s not as electric as he once was, but he’s a quality upgrade for the Red Sox bullpen, and this year lefties aren’t even hitting .175 against him. Boston could still use a closer, but they’ve had unfortunate luck once they’ve arrived with Joel Hanrahan’s busted elbow and Andrew Bailey’s busted closing skills. Let’s grab the Rockies Rafael Betancourt who comes with an inexpensive mutual option for 2014.
 
Rays – Unlike typical Rays team, their bullpen was disaster for a large part of the first half of the season. Now it’s fixed, and David Price has regained his health, Matt Moore has overcome his recent struggles over the last month, and Evan Longoria continues to trooper on through a foot injury. The Contender Santa Claus (CSC) just needs to bring the Rays good health and steadiness, since he’s already blessed them in the offseason with a useful James Loney. Then again, Tampa is where careers are reborn. A small part could be added to offset the expected regressions of Matt Joyce and Kelly Johnson, but I see it as unlikely.
 
Yankees – They could use an upgrade at catcher, but since Carlos Ruiz doesn’t have a legal prescription for ADD, he’s been mostly worthless, and his receiving skills haven’t done much for the Phillies staff as in the past. The Yankees steady pitching has kept them in the AL East race. CSC needs to keep A-Rod away, limit the distractions of Jeter being back but bad, or inconsistent, and getting Curtis Granderson back should suffice. Acquiring Michael Young for his revered intangibles, and ability to be a super utility guy works too. Plus, he’s age appropriate for the ancient Yankees.
 
Orioles – They need an ace. It doesn’t appear that they’re the front runners for Matt Garza, but they should be. Kevin Gausman for Garza, and sign him and his vested AL East experience to a comfortable free agent deal. Gausman may be special one day, but the O’s are an ace away from being potential Series front runners. And Chris Davis not getting suspended, if you’re into that kind’ve pretty baseless accusation.
 
Tigers – I’m off the Papelbon thing, but they still need a reliever. K-Rod is up to 22 innings pitched with an ERA just over one. He can setup, and he brings playoff closing experience. The Phillies were scouting in Toledo last week; possibly in preparation for a Peralta suspension (Rollins) or Omar Infante’s leg being seriously jacked up (Utley).
 
Indians – Can they out ante Texas for GarzaGarza vs. the Tigers.
 
Athletics – First Michael Young, maybe Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and more as part of the great Philly exodus. Slide Jed Lowrie over to second and make Jimmy Rollins the Oakland SS. He’s about worn out his welcome in Philly, his contract is managable, he returns to his Bay Area home, and I think he’d be reenergized back in a playoff race with a less chafed fanbase supporting him.
 
Rangers – It feels like they want Garza or Cliff Lee, but Matt Harrison should be back soon and along with Yu Darvish and Derek Holland, and potentially Alexi Ogando and Neftali Feliz, they’ve got a viable playoff staff. The thirst to finally win a title after having been so close may have them relentless chasing their white whale. I don’t take a megamove off the table. David Murphy’s been terrible this year, so call the Cubs about Nate Schierholtz to usurp Murphy’s LH at bats, OR bring back Alfonso Soriano, who’s on his annual pre-deadline summer tear.
 
Angels – A time machine. Either to send Pujols and Hamilton back in time to their more productive selves, or to erase those deals in place of more prudent ones.
 
Astros – Bud Norris isn’t that good. You’re better off keeping him, trying to turn him at least into an innings eater, rather than getting $0.50 for the dollar.
 
Braves – Even without Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, they’ve got the number one bullpen in baseball. So, someone, anyone who can put the ball in play. It doesn’t even have to be a regular, but only the overmatched Astros have struck out more than the Braves. That’s going to be a devilish albatross  to defeat in October.
 
Nationals – Rickie Weeks used to be a 2-3 win (WAR) player. Perhaps a scenery change will help him regain that form, and the Nationals are absolutely desperate for offense.
 
Phillies – It should’ve been SELL, SELL, SELL, after Ben Revere broke his foot on Saturday night, but now they genuinely need a centerfielder unless they want every fly to the outfield to be accompanied by circus music. Delmon Young and Domonic Brown are there to hit, not defend. Being back at .500 I’ve advocated a buy/sell approach for the much maligned (by me) Ruben Amaro Jr. To remedy the Revere absence, he’s inexpensive because he’s not a free agent until 2017, but the AstrosJustin Maxwell is also nearly 30, and he’s not part of the future in Houston. A nice stopgap for the Phils and a bench player in the future. (For the record I’ve shipped off Young and Rollins. More to come.)
 
Marlins – What!? Why are they here. Because I have some advice for the Fish. The recovery project has been more successful at this point than initially expected. If you haven’t noticed, the 20 year old Jose Fernandez is putting up a Trout-type season on the mound. Marlins or not, the kid is a deserving All Star. More quality youth is on the way (Christian Yelich), so capitalize on the relative exuberance and see if Giancarlo Stanton is amenable to signing away his arb and early free agency years. I know they’re spendthrift but something 7/100 seems like a comfortable place to compromise at.
 
Cardinals – They’re so well rounded, and so stacked with elite prospects, they can just c-block any rival in the NL if they’d like.
 
Pirates – The Stanton thing bandied around recently was an imaginative idea, but unrealistic. It won’t do much for the average or strikeouts, but desperately requiring improved right field production, Josh Willingham for $3 million for the rest of this year, and $7 million for 2014 is solid investment. The staff could use a boost as well. The pipe dream is acquiring James Shields and replenishing what the Royals gave Tampa for him. More likely targets to land could be Shields’ teammate and free-agent-to-be Ervin Santana. Also a free agent in training, and healthy, but getting clobbered by AL pitching is the once very special Josh Johnson.
 
Reds – The sabr community would simply say stop batting Todd Frazier and Zack Cosart in the 2 hole.
 
Diamondbacks – Prospects Tyler Skaggs and Archie Bradley come up and round out a young gauntlet of playoff starters. And even though Martin Prado just signed a heart offseason deal – he can move to 2B – and their #2 prospect is a 3B, check San Diego’s price on Chase Headley, who’s numbers are WAY off from last year’s surprising MVP campaign.
 
Dodgers – They already brought in Ricky Nolasco, so nothing really. But they’ve got money engulfing their pockets in flames, so I expect another sizeable transaction.Chase Utley makes a ton of sense. And it’s probably one of the few places – because it’s home for him – that would snare Utley away from going back to the Philly in the offseason. In other words, if the Phillies want Utley until he retires, best not send him to Los Angeles.
 
Rockies – One year I’d love to see Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez both play 150+ games (and have an Ace of aces). Their offense could rival the Miggy/Fielder 3, 4 combo in Detroit. Their prospects aren’t special, but if they decide to buy, make a play for Kyle Lohse; as I’m sure the Brewers would love to get back something for him since he cost them a first round pick.
 
Whew. That was exhausting playing faux GM for more than half of MLB. 

Torii was an All Star, really? Well, I guess so…

Without even counting exactly who the six Tiger all stars were…

I went Cabrera, Verlander, Fielder, Scherzer, Peralta, yea, yea yea. 

Then a few hours after the announcements I read that Torii Hunter was an all star as well. Wait, what!? 

Brian Kenny’s been getting REALLY curmudgeonly towards traditional stats on Twitter, but here ya go…

No stat – just a smile – of note other than a nice .300ish average, most of which was fortified with his .370 April. 

We all know this isn’t the defensive whiz that Hunter once was, so his right field prowess didn’t secure him a spot in the game.

I know that Leyland is the manager, and with being the ASG manager you get a pass for playing favorites. Some managers abuse that latitude more than others. Bruce Bochy selected Marco Scutaro who’s a hundred OPS below what he did for SF last year upon his arrival. But he’s going to NY precisely for what he did when he became a Giant. His giant, World Series winning heroic. See, I’m OK with that. 

Back to Hunter and his .760ish OPS before yesterday, and his mic dropping (on me) blast to tie up the game at 6. 

Hunter’s OPS isup to nearly .800 now, which is much more all star worthy than how he began Saturday. 

There’s no way on statistical merit Hunter deserved to be an all star. Leyland wasn’t throwing an old timer a bone either. Hunter’s been a four time all star, including the most memorable catch in my years of watchin the ASG. Baseball’s retired version of Spider-Man has 9 gold gloves, and has received MVP votes in three years. 

Why is Hunter an All Star!?!?!

(Looks around the AL OF landscape…)

Oh. OH. OHHHHHHH. THAT’S why. 

The outfield options, and I’m assuming Leyland’s definitely going to utilize the Rays lone participant, Ben Zobrist, all over, including in the outfield. *Note! Longoria was more deserving than Zobrist, but if Zobrist isn’t taken you probably dig deeper down the list of are-they-deserving AL outfielders.*

Here’s what Leyland had to choose from. 

Daniel Nava, who’s quietly had a stellar first half for Boston. 2.0 WAR and .828 OPS. But who wants to reward the Red Sox!?

Chris Carter of the Astros. They’re lucky the archaic every-team-must-be-represented rule still exists. He’s at replacements level WAR thanks to 120 K’s. The second the league is emancipated from that absurd and no longer justifiable rule, we can have a REAL All Star Game. 

Colby Rasmus? Ha. Not sure when Leyland had to make the final decision, but moving on. 

Austin Jackson? Over Torii? Can’t do that. 

Now we’re outside of the top ten of OPS among AL OF.

The two that caught my eye on Saturday night, again before Hunter said ‘Eric STFU yesterday afternoon,’ were AL stolen base leader Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner. Ellsbury’s power is all but gone, but .301, 55 runs and 36 SBs are worthy. Gardner, a veteran, unininjured Yankee position player – which is practically an extinct breed – has a respectable .762 OPS and a 2.6 WAR, and is surely a key part of a Yankee team that’s almost worthy of sympathy for how they’re using mud and leaves to patch together a 90 win pace. 

I love how we get so worked up over a game most people say has lost their interest in recent years anyway. 

On that note! I can’t believe WE ALL didn’t think of this. Tom Verducci has a BRILLIANT way of resurrecting interest in the HR derby. Though he excludes STEP ONE, REMOVING BERMAN. 

Seriously, I’m the one that says you can’t keep expanding the NCAA Tournament because you’ll ruin the comfortable 8 x 11 integrity of the bracket. No one wants to pick 119 games, on -8 Comic Sans font. To the Tournament, the bracket is everything. 

Verducci bracketized the derby. 

Other ASG thoughts

– Puig SHOULD be in the game if you want the best players to help you win HFA. I get that being on the final ballot is a quaint compromise plus it gets MLB.com slammed with votes and fun web metrics!

– I’m all about the overlooked middle reliever, but five of them on the final ballot is ridonkulous. It won’t happen, but Steve Delabar and Brett Cecil in the ASG, just how the Blue Jays drew it up after their blockbuster winter.

– I hope this is a breakout season for Josh Donaldson and not a flash in the pan. He’s got all star numbers. The AL could have FIVE third basemen rightfully on the squad. 

– Justin Verlander is going to destroy the AL in the second half. Just a hunch. 

– If it weren’t for the legendary Mariano Rivera, we’d be reveling how uncanny Joe Nathan has been and still is.

– If it weren’t for Trout, Harper, Machado, you’d see how sick of a 20 year old season the Marlins Jose Fernandez is having. A ball to the Majors, and a deserving all star. 

– Bautista’s body didn’t change, just his stats did. I get the suspicion. Chris Davis has always been a Hulk, no raised eye brows here. Good for figuring it out!

– Bartolo Colon. Awesome, suspended, awesome, all star. Unreal. 

– I LIKE the ASG, because of the level of talent, the games are usually very close and competitive. 

Oh my Machado!

Smith Or Iguodala. Iguodala Or Smith. How About Neither.

Josh Smith or Andre Iguodala. 

I wanted no part of Smith when he hit restricted free agency several summers ago. (As a Sixer fan, we enjoyed the carnage that was Elton Brand over yanking Smith from the Hawks)

When rumors surfaced that Iguodala might opt out of his current deal with the Nuggets, I also panned the idea of the Pistons adding him to the roster. 

Those reasons I disliked Smith back then, still reside in my NBA cerebrum. You expect Monroe at the 4, so that bumps Smith (happily I think, in his mind ) to the 3. From there you have spacing issues between he, Monroe and Drummond or ask him to roam the wings and the perimeter, which is probably reason number one he’s a very risky signing. The very valid criticism of Smith throughout his career is that he’s too in love with taking 3s. Even worse, he misses…a lot of them. He’s never made more than 33% of them in a season, and this past year, he shot more of them than he has at any time in his career (2.6 per game) and failed to hit 30% of him. 

And you wanna give that guy the freedom to play the wing? Ugh.

Signing Smith likely means less of Drummond and Monroe on the court together. Drummond off the bench isn’t the worst of strategies, but maximizing his size with Monroe’s is probably the Pistons best bet to better fortunres. 

Another reason to stay the hell away from Josh Smith is the potential for attitude issues; depending who you talk with and what you Google. The Pistons have enough issues when it comes to their level of talent, they surely don’t need anymore malcontents rocking the ship, especially under Mo Cheeks who isn’t the fiery, domineering authoritarian type as a head coach. It shouldn’t be totally definitive as to his ability to control the asylum, but Iverson and Chris Webber DID NOT SHOW UPto Fan Night at the end of the ’06 season under Cheeks.

Alright, so Iguodala is the way to go right?

Well, no.

I’m certain one way or another Josh Smith would help remedy the Pistons inability to get easy points. It wouldn’t be the most efficient 18 to 20 (or more) a night, but I think Smith would be a viable weapon in a variety of ways for the Pistons. 

Iguodala on the other hand, who’s built more like a traditional 3, doesn’t have a way to get easy points outside of vicious transition dunks. He’s one of the league’s five or so most explosive players on the break, but in the halfcourt he’s got difficulty creating his own shot and knocking down open jumpers. ’11-’12, his final year in Philly, Iguodala had a flukishly astonishing year hitting 3s when he hit 39% of them. In Denver, he crashed back to reality around the 31% mark that personifies his career. 

Further data about Iguodala porous jumpers.

The last three years from 10-15 feet he’s hit 36% of those shots. Including his scalding hot ’11-’12 where he was at 47%, that obviously inflates that 36.

From 16-23 feet, same time span, Iguodala’s hit 33% of those shots.

For comparison, we’ll use Lebron’s last three years. 

10-15 feet 44%

16-23 feet 43%

Jumpers were so clanky at times in Philly, this is what you get from Sixers fans about Iguodala, as the best part of the Bynum trade (before he missed the year) was getting rid of Iggy’s rim bangers…

In a conference with Rose, James, Anthony, Wall, George, etc…Iguodala’s sensational defense – and his stoic veteran presence – would be an immense asset to the Pistons. 

Even recognizing that it’s going to take the Pistons more than a summer to make enough transactions to get back in the East’s top four, if Iguodala is the big money, splash signing, the Pistons are still going to struggle to score. Especally late and close when you’re stuck in the half court and SOMEONE ANYONE!!!!! has to get a bucket. 

Smith and Iguodala certainly have strengths, but after considering their weaknesses and playing ‘which would I rather’ for the last 36 hours I’ve come back to this footnote thought I’ve had.

But first…

While the Rondo rumors are alluring, know that you’re going to give up some of the few assets you own AND you’re likely getting stuck with Gerard Wallace’s problematic contract – though, he may not be the worst thing in the universe at the 3. 

Oh, that footnote. 

Go buy restricted free agent Jeff Teague out of Atlanta. 

Based on PER, Teague’s improved each of his four seasons with the Hawks. He’s an excellent free throw shooter, an acceptable overall shooter from the field and 3, and I think you’re looking at a player who is now, what the Pistons hoped Brandon Knight would be. 

#2 free agent PG here. #2 here as well. 

Yes, I know they’d still need a 3. I can only solve one conundrum a day. 

If you’ve got a better idea, I’m all ears.