Tag Archives: willie bloomquist

The WBC, a Popularity Contest

Bud Selig is not impressed.

Let me preface this by saying that baseball is the king of my brain .  Batman may be my noggin’s silent protector but Baseball reigns supreme.  It should surprise no one, then, that I really dig the World Baseball Classic.  That said, I’m no dummy.  Despite Bud “Sisterkissin'” Selig’s best efforts, using everything from Greg Maddux to Aviici’s ‘Levels’ to increase buzz, the WBC is not nearly as popular as the higher-ups had hoped (both Maddux and that song are probably past the point of ‘sexy’ relevance to most fans now, but beside the point.  Also an intriguing band name – Sexy Relevance & the Semicolons coming to a blues house near you).  The move from ESPN to the not-as-established MLB Network certainly accounts some for the average viewership dropping from 1.6 million to 252,000 per game,  but not all (thank you SB Nation).  By the same token, however, the WBC is certainly a bigger success than “This <retch> Time <urp> it Counts <vomit>.”  That’s what it sounds like when I say that phrase out loud.

The WBC situation seems perfect. As much as I love baseball, I have to be honest – unless I am there, in a stadium, I don’t last much past 2 or 3 innings of random Spring Training baseball games. If, say, there is a particular young pitcher I’ve never seen in real time, sure, I might tune in… But those games become well organized scrimmages in a hurry. And mean little to the players who are often QUITE LITERALLY going through the motions in spring. Pitchers work on repeating their deliveries or a new pitch. Batters are seeing uncharacteristic pitches and are themselves working out the kinks. Not competitive baseball.

The lack of intensity is fine. Truly, I get it. But I must say, these WBC games are a treat at the other end of the spectrum. Say what you will about who is on the teams, by golly do they play hard. Did you see Andruw Jones react after the Netherlands beat Cuba AGAIN?! He was pumped and trash talking like a champ.

Got the old man FIRED up!

There is a gleeful mix on many of these teams between grizzled vets (see Mr. Jones) and young players excited to be playing on this competitive stage – some who will no doubt be in an interesting position not knowing whether they have a spot with the Big Club, knowing their performance matters not only for their country, but immediate career as well.

I had this thought and the tone of this post was initially going to be a get-more-scrappy-scrubs tilt. But after looking at the US roster, I no longer think that is the issue.  Sure, some folks complain about the lack of superstars on the WBC roster but I’m not so sure that isn’t a strength  of the competition.  Many of the players worked their way through the USA Baseball Program, which is kind of cool if you think about it – it’s own little farm system. Furthermore, the team actually has a nice mix of recognizable stars (a tainted Braun, Wright who’s becoming a legend, Joe ‘Great Hair’ Mauer) and major leaguers you want to root for, folks only the more passionate baseball fans appreciate (I’m looking at you, Willie Bloomquist).

Currently on sale for $600,000.

I’m calling out those out there who say there are’t enough stars on the team or whatever crap like that and this lack of pull leads to the lack of popularity in the U-S-of-A.  Pitchers are creatures of habit, I understand why someone like Justin Verlander might prefer his routine.  That’s the only area I will acknowledge the US could attempt to bring in a few more names – their starters.  But seeing as the pitches are limited, why bother?  Lack of recognizable pitching names is not what is holding the WBC from really gaining traction.

So why isn’t the World Baseball Classic a National sensation?  It is our national pastime, right?  Well that last bit is wrong.  Baseball is more like soccer now, I would argue, in that there are seriously devoted pockets all around the globe.  Baseball has succeeded in their attempts to take the game global.  Back to the initial question, then: why don’t we like this tournament more, as Americans?   I mean this answer in the least cynical way possible: we need to win.

not helping.

This notion could be bastardized in a number of exaggerated anti-American ways.  I do not mean it in any of them.  I mean it very practically.  As a nation, we assume that since we have the MLB, that we should win the damn thing!  Losing is disheartening!  Despite the percieved lack of stars, we have more stars, right?  Where Italy has Lorenzo Avagnina (giggle), we have Adam Jones, heck we have Shane Victorino.  These guys are All-Stars!  How can Amurrrica lose to a bunch of Jabronies!?  Here is where those two initial questions tie together.  Baseball is played worldwide.  And guess what?  Unlike basketball, there are a BUNCH of countries that are really good at this sport!

So how can the World Baseball Classic truly catch on in America?  Simple.  As a famous American Philosopher once said, “Just win, baby.”

AL DAVIS

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Cajones, MLB, Opinion, Spring Training, World Baseball Classic

Fantasy Mustache: Shortstop

Babyfaced Shortstop pf the Future: Didi Gregorius

i (1)

There is a bit of pressure on Didi Gregorius.  Not so much due to the Diamondbacks’ need for him to be a superstar – Gregorius is NOT that – but due to the fact that he is stellar in an otherwise unspectacular position (side note: remember the late 90’s when there was that crazy boom of SS who were just all out nasty?  How much  of that was steroid related, huh?  Sorry for any childhoods ruined.  Damn you, Nomar).  Bauer might be good, for sure, but Gregorius plays a position where few organizations have any sort of competent depth.  As other-worldly prospect hunter Mike Newman put it over at Fangraphs, “In Gregorius, the Diamondbacks found a cost controlled shortstop of the future when their best internal option was suspect prospect Chris Owings.”  And no, Chris Owings is not Micah Owings batswinging alter-ego.  I don’t know who Chris Owings is either.

Gregorius may very well spend much of 2013 in the minors.  A recent elbow injury assures he will be slow out of the gate.  Hence, the Fangraphs Steamer projections:

13 2B / 5 3B / 4 HR / 30 R /32 RBI / 4 SB / .234 AVG / .277 OBP    (in 346 PA)

Womp womp.  That’s lame.  That is not gonna cut it.  Those aren’t franchise stalwart numbers – I don’t care if you’re 23. I love Willie Bloomquist and all, really I do, but the D-backs need Gregorius to be an MLB shortstop sooner rather than later.  You know what the glue of franchises has resting oh-so-manly on their upper lips?  What his (former franchise glue) manager Kirk Gibson once ROCKED?  What his hitting coach (and former franchise glue) STILL ROCKS?

Have you guessed?

Yup.  A kick. Ass. Mustache.

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

Sure, Didi (is he in the running for silliest first name for a professional athlete?) will start the season slow with a bum elbow but while rehabbing that, let us assume he also rehabs his naked lip.  Then take a look at the numbers he puts up.   Fire up the Mustache Predictorator 4000!

20 2B / 9 3B / 6 HR / 55 R /40 RBI /15 SB / .279 AVG / .312 OBP  (now with 460 PA)

That’s how you start a very solid, shortstop-of-the-future career.  These numbers are not so far off from Elvis Andrus’ and he ain’t half bad.  With excellent defense and these mustache-enhanced numbers, Gregorius is ready to roll.  Those numbers could shoot up with better health and some confidence from his manager (leading to more AB).  And hey, Kirk Gibson knows the power of the ‘stache:

fear. my. facial. follicles.

fear. my. facial. follicles.

stay groomed,

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Posted, shortstop, Sleepers

Weekend Hijinks: Why Baseball is Great

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE.  I’VE JUST BEEN HANDED A PIECE OF BREAKING NEWS: BASEBALL IS BACK AND IT IS AWESOME.

As I sit here watching the opening weekend of the new baseball season, I cannot help but think about how much I love this sport.  Fantasy baseball has only expanded this love, as now I actually have a reason to care about Willie Bloomquist’s day-to-day game log.  Fantasy baseball comes out somewhere around #115 on the list I have in my head of why baseball is great.  So in honor of the REAL opening day(s) (sorry, Japan), here are a smattering of reasons why baseball is great that are floating in my brain right now.  Enjoy.

#8,536,443,213,991

that’s Chewbacca.  On a pitcher’s mound.

#999,888,777,666 – Laughing at people who don’t get it.

#66 – The Lingo

If the name of our blog wasn’t a clue….

Baseball has a whole dialect, a whole different set of idioms, analogies and traditional phrases that simply don’t make sense.  I made this a general topic so it would include everything from home run calls to dugout talk because it is all great.

2 out hits get you to heaven.

#42 – BASEBALL CARDS!

In his day, he was a handsome man.

They’re going out of style, sort of, but man do I love baseball cards.  Every parent has a story about them.  Seriously, go ask.  They’re the only sports cards that are cool.

Do you know someone, old or young who collected baseball cards?  I’m sure you do.  Do you know anyone who isn’t a complete goof who collected another sports card?  They’re probably weird.  Just sayin’.

#24 – George Kenneth Griffey Jr.

This is meant to be a light and silly post, so I will not spend nearly the appropriate amount of time gushing about one of my favorite players in any sport of all time.  He was a joy to watch, both offensively and especially defensively in his heyday and brought such crazy goofy joy to the sport it was hard not to root for him.  He grinned like a kid every time he made one of his signature up-the-wall catches as if he was surprised by his agility too.  And damn, those catches.  You can see him narrate some of them in a cool MLB.com clip here.  Or MLB.com’s top ten memories here.  Or do a Google search to pull up any of his dozens of jaw-dropping web gems.  He also had one of the greatest baseball games of all time, for N64

classic classic classic

#13 – The Seventh Inning Stretch.

Mr. Caray loved his job

I feel this needs little explanation.  Do other sports take a break and have the whole stadium sing?  I rest my case.

#10 – Peter Gammons

the mustache presented without comment.

Peter Gammons is a national treasure.  I honestly cannot tell you a single negative thing I’ve heard about the guy.  He’s professional, witty, beyond knowledgeable and overall a nice, likable guy.  Oh, and he jams.  He is the baseball reporter reporters strive to be and has been for decades and is a constant in the sport.  So why doesn’t he have a theme song you ask? Oh wait, the fine Youtube user mhouchin created this gem:

Simply splendid.

#9 – Ted Williams (okay, Joe DiMaggio too)

I’m a baseball history junkie and these two players, any and all admitted bias aside, are simply two of the most fascinating men to ever play the game.  If you’ve never read Richard Ben Cramer’s book What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now?  I’ve linked to it for you (click) so you can buy it on Amazon.  Just a revelation on what made Ted tick.  He is a truly unique and uniquely quotable man.  As for DiMaggio, it goes without saying you should learn about him.  From the streak to Marilyn Monroe to having this song written about him (and curiously called out by Simon and Garfunkel.  Joe’s response to Ms. Robinson? “I just did a Mr. Coffee commercial, I’m a spokesman for the Bowery Savings Bank and I haven’t gone anywhere!”  Heh.).  Joe DiMaggio lived a life most of us only dream about and both he and Williams were figureheads of the defining era of baseball, in my opinion.

#5 –   The Sandlot. More generally, baseball movies.

Without baseball, we would never have the greatest sports movie of all time.  We also wouldn’t have this one

Or this one

3 of my favorite quotable scenes of all time.  Thank you, baseball.

#2 – The Knuckleball

Other sports copy it.  Millions try to imitate it.  For me, there is something delightful about the pitch so few can throw.  It kind of makes them like Jedi.  It defies gravity and logic.  It also is my way of cheating and tying in Wiffle Ball into the discussion, as despite what history might say, I’m going to assume someone invented the Wiffle Ball in an attempt to recreate a knuckleball on a smaller scale.  That’s just what I’m choosing to believe.

I’ve sat here trying to think of another sports equivalent and am generally coming up empty.  What else is so odd, rare, yet effective as a knuckleball.  Well, this:

But that only matches in oddness.  Anyone can learn to shoot a free throw like that.  I bet you can’t throw a knuckleball.

#1 – The Fans

Awwww.  Will, you’re such a softie!  No, not exactly.  Baseball fans are such an interesting mix to me.  Some of the smartest minds in the world become complete buffoons when talking baseball and some of the biggest buffoons in the world can instantly make you feel small with their impeccable baseball knowledge.  With the emergence of sabermetrics and advanced statistics, the blending has become even more pronounced.  I don’t think other sports have the same diversity in types of players, employees, and fans.  One of my favorite examples is in Texas, where the Rangers spend millions on Latin players, have a GM who looks like he’s 16 who was a nerd at Cornell, and are owned by one of the most firery farmboy flamethrowers of all time.  There are plenty of things you could tell me are wrong with baseball, but the smash-up of cultures and personalities has always been (and hopefully will continue to be) what makes the sport so deeply fascinating to me, beyond even the game itself.

he owns a team, folks. and the guy getting whupped manages one.

There’s my smattering of reasons.  It is by no means a thorough list (The real list goes on and on in my head.).  To any readers and all people accidentally reading this page in the hopes of finding actual ducks on water, why do YOU like baseball so much?  Let us know in the comments or hit us up on Twitter.

Happy season, everyone.

-w

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Filed under About the Blog, Baseball, MLB, Posted, Random Thoughts, video, Weekend Hijinks

Shortstop ADP: The Position You Hate to Love

my favorite non-Batman movie of all time.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012.  It’s crazy to think everyone can get a superstud to start at first,it’s a matter of numbers- everyone can’t have Pujols or Votto – just as it’s crazy chasing Amy– it’s just a matter of statistics (and gender preference, but I mean, just watch the movie.  C’mon.).  We don’t all get what we want, just ask the Rolling Stones, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we need.  And what you need is good value.

There are 3 Shortstops worth actively seeking in a draft, and one of them is going to play Third Base (whoops, didn’t really mention Hanley “Wah-Wah’ Ramirez in my 3B post…).  After that, there are a series of relatively boring guys who fill a position you need (Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexi Ramirez all fit the ‘usable-but-unspectacular’ mold in declining amounts of value), aging players not worth the draft position based on the past (Rollins, Jeter), and a bunch of one-trick ponies (Elvis Andrus, Dee Gordon come to mind).  For most people’s teams, shortstop is going to be a drain, plain and simple, compared to other positions.  I’m no Nostradamus, but I’m betting Asdrubal Cabrera doesn’t hit above 20 homers (there is no reason in his past to expect that).  Nor do I think Jhonny Peralta will sniff batting .300 again.  Shortstop is the best exercise in finding value.  In larger leagues, you’d consider yourself lucky to wind up with J.J. Hardy or Stephen Drew.  But really, do either of those players excite you?  And they’re already going pretty late in drafts.  When it gets down to the rinds, why take Jason Bartlett when you could roll the dice?  Shortstop’s your chance to take a, well… chance.  It’s not like most of the guys you’d draft are going to wow you anyway- you won’t be overwhelmed, you might not even be underwhelmed.  Maybe you’ll just be whelmed.

Bam. Streak alive.  You know you hate how much you love this movie.

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

SHORTSTOPS

Shortstop is a funny position.  Since Cal Ripken Jr., there has been a revolution of middle-of-the-order hitters playing the position.  In fantasy terms, there are shortstops now who provide just as much value as, say, a top outfielder.  There was Nomar-Jeter-A-Rod.  Now there’s Tulo-Reyes- and, until recently, Hanley Ramirez.  But shortstop is also one of the most important defensive positions on the field (the other two being Catcher and Centerfield, in my opinion), so a guy like Omar Vizquel can be equally valuable to a team in terms of the runs they save.  Sadly, most leagues don’t have a ‘Web Gems’ category, otherwise Rey Ordonez would have been an absolute stud.  So we have a mix in fantasy.  At the top, there are the studs, in the middle some very solid all-around players and towards the bottom?  Defensive specialists and young, unproven talent.  When is that next trio of top-tier talent arriving?  Again, I’m no Nostradamus.  So while we wait for the next big thing, here are some stopgaps.  Who knows?  Maybe someone will surprise you.  LIKE HEATH LEDGER DID IN THE MOVIE!!! It all comes full circle, folks!

P.S. I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that scene is my favorite.

Ian Desmond (WAS) -ADP 253

#awesomesauce

I guess I have a man-crush on Ian Desmond, for fantasy purposes.  I snagged him in countless mock drafts and several of my leagues.  On the face of it, he is not really worthy of such fascination.  However, consider the rising Nationals and the power of good vibes.  Over the past two years, Desmond has demonstrated that he is very capable of hitting double digit homers and 20+ steals.  What kills Desmond’s value is the holes in his swing.  His poor OBP, high K rates, and overall lack of discipline hurt what appears to be an untapped fantasy talent.  He hits doubles, with speed for triples.  His minor league numbers suggest his untrained eye is a function of his adjustment to major league pitching (very high OBP in AA and AAA).  There is a seriously good feeling going into the 2012 Nationals.  Ryan Zimmerman will be back healthy.  Jayson Werth has to be better, it’s a borderline statistical fact.  And, of course, the inevitable coming of Bryce Harper, prospect extraordinaire.  It is not unreasonable to think the Nats offense is bound to improve, and I think Desmond is going to be part of that.  At base level, without any improvement, Desmond gives similar production to Stephen Drew (who is going over 100 spots earlier) without the injury risk.  Given an improvement, Desmond could jump up a level in fantasy shortstop value.  Part hatred for the Drew clan, part unabashed drinking of the Washington Nationals Kool-Aid, but Ian Desmond has my Fantasy Spidey senses tingling this year.  Wait around folks, don’t sell yourself short and draft J.J. Hardy.  There are more valuable players to snag while you wait for shortstop.  Either you get one early or you don’t.  Wait for Desmond, and enjoy his breakout 2012 campaign.  Mistress Cleo told me so.

Mike Aviles (BOS) – ADP 244

no one sits by Mike when he doesn't change his 'lucky' socks...

I’m going to keep this one brief because I don’t want to waste space when Bobby Valentine inevitably pushes Jose Iglesias into the shortstop void in Boston.  That’s an entirely different story, and my personal feelings are that Jose should get one more (partial, maybe) year to refine his offense before being unleashed on the big-league diamond.  The kid was imitating MLB players’ swings for chrissake!

Anyhoo… Mike Aviles was impressive in limited time with the Sox in 2011.  Defensively, he doesn’t hold a candle to Iglesias.  Offensively, he strikes me as a good line-drive pull hitter who could benefit ENORMOUSLY from batting towards the bottom of a potent Boston lineup.  Will he hit .325 as he did in his rookie year, 2008?  No.  But given the time (with utility-wunderkid Nick Punto) in a good lineup, it seems like Aviles could be a sneaky source of a .280-ish average with 80 runs (and double digit steals).  Saltalamacchia scored 53 runs in 386 PA last year and he hit .235!  Aviles, as is the case with the following players, will be on a sliding scale of value in 2012 based on playing time.  His versatility adds value, the opportunity adds numbers.  He’s definitely one to track through spring training to see if Valentine loves or sours on him.

Forgive the ADP disparity but these two are in very similar situations…

Eduardo Nunez (NYY) – ADP 309.17  &  Sean Rodriguez (TB)- ADP 261.46

both of the baseball players are pretty ugly. real weasel faces. so here's a dramatic picture of the awesome Craig Ferguson, on weeknights @ 1235 on CBS

Both of the men mentioned above have value in versatility.  The could get time at second, short and third (in addition to the outfield), depending on team needs.  But they’re elligible at SS and that’s what matters for our purposes.  Where they play for their ‘real’ team is not nearly as important as where you can plug them into your virtual lineup.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Where they play on their real team does matter, and here’s why; the Yankees are old and the Rays’ alternatives are underwhelming (what a useful word).

Nunez gets to play the ‘super-utility’ role on a New York team that has A-Rod and Derek Jeter.  Both need rest.  On top of that, at their age, and with A-Rod’s history, it is highly likely that either one or both is shut down for a period of time due to injury.  Enter Mr. Nunez.  Now you may be saying, ‘that already sort of happened last year, why’s he of value?’  The man stole 22 bases in only 338 plate appearances and only got caught 6 times.  That’s nice.  In the dwindling rounds of a draft, Nunez could be an absolute steal (pun intended), especially if due to circumstance he gets 400+ at bats.

Sean Rodriguez is a favorite of Dave’s, which makes me dislike him as a player.  But I am putting my bias aside for your benefit.  Rodriguez demonstrated excellent power as a prospect for the Angels but has not seen the same production in the bigs.  I’d blame a lot of that on his inconsistent playing time, as he has had strings of games where he has contributed as a useful power/speed combo.  So what’s holding back Rodriguez this year?  Defense, I guess.  Who is he competing for playing time with in 2012?  Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson?  Rodriguez might be the perfect storm of sleeper for 2012 (unlike, say, the premature sleeper in past years…).  He’s turning the magical age of 27, has crappy competition at the position for now, plays all over the field and is in his 3rd year of any semblance of regular playing time.  It makes a lot of sense that things could click for him in 2012.  And at his ADP and with multiple elligibilty, a guy who could hit 15 homers with 15 steals sounds like a good grab for your hole at short (WORDPLAY!)

Yup.  That’s all I’ve got.  Shortstop can be a very frustrating position folks.  That’s an understatement.  But I think I’ve laid out several players above who could greatly outperform their ADP at the position, if not break out.  And honestly, unless you have Reyes or Tulo, you may be forced with that kind of compromise.  Or there’s always Willie Bloomquist…

Always, awlays, beware the Bloomquist.

-w

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, shortstop, Sleepers