Archive for January, 2005

Astros Fun 2005 Spring Training

Friday, January 28th, 2005

Guest post by Michael Hurta

First of all I would like to apologize for not posting in almost a week. I know this is definatly not what you all expected of Lisa’s temp. replacement; I have just been extremely busy lately…

Anyways, even though we signed 44 year old John Franco to a GUARANTEED DEAL (wtf?), we can bet on an interesting season, and if not, DEFINATLY an interesting spring training.
When Roger Clemens re-signed with the Astros for that enourmous yet deserving 18 million dollar deal, one of the things he said was “Who says we can’t?” Richard Justice pointed out that this would work well as the Astros’ slogan for the 2005 season. I agree. Spring Training is the time where we will decide if it is the old or the young, or both, who will be showing the world if we indeed can.

The Houston Astros have lots of decisions to make. There is that #5 pitching spot. The safest bet would be Carlos Hernandez. However, Pete Munro has been so important to this francise, if quietly; that he is going to deserve a fair shot too. And who knows, maybe Tim Redding has learned how to mediate while on the mound and will do well in Spring Training as well.
Then there is second base. With Craig Biggio likely to start the season in the sparse outfield, this is Chris Burke’s job to loose. He essentially has it already, but if he screws up that chance might be gone.

Then there is the outfield. We know Biggio will be on the roster and probably pratrolling opening day. Lane is pretty much a lock as well. Berkman will be the third once he gets healthy (by the way the Astros better top that one year deal and get an extension done!) . Palmeiro is an easy slot as a backup, but he isn’t a great guy to start. Guys who haven’t even played in AAA like Willy Taveras will get their shot. The Astros are even willing to experiment with Mike Lamb.

However, these are the relatively smallest of our problems. The main thing to worry about is the bullpen. When you sign a 44 year old man who isn’t Roger Clemens or Satchel Paige or Nolan Ryan to a 700 thousand dollar contract: you know you have some problems. If I were Phil Garner or Tim Purpura, I would invite every reliever in the system to spring training. Heck, we are giving the 44 year old a shot, and we are giving guys like Willy Taveras a shot as well. With problems such as these that have Dan Wheeler as the front runner to be an 8th inning guy, we should take a look at everyone. I don’t care if he is 18 years old.

Anyways, the Astros are going to be televising probably two spring training games for the first time that I can remember (but I am pretty young), and those will be extremely fun to watch. I expect there to be a nice handful of radio broadcasts as well, and Milo Hamilton is always a fun guy to listen too. For those of you who don’t live this close, I will try to keep yall updated if I don’t get extremely busy again, or hopefully Lisa will be back, and she’s even better.

Lets get pumped, cuz ST is on the way!

2005 Astros Arbitration Eligible Players Exchange Numbers

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

Guest Post by Michael Hurta

Roger Clemens filed for 22 million dollars, a record among all arbitration files of past. The Astros offered through arbitration 13.5 million dollars. That all lead to an 8.5 million dollar difference between arbitration offers, another record. And these arbitration people are supposed to, starting on Febuary the 1st, attempt to decide which offer is more fair. They shouldn’t even try, though, because Roger Clemens probably won’t accept an Arbitration contract, since it won’t give him any perks such as not having to go on road trips he won’t pitch in.

At any rate, GM Tim Purpura said if Clemens decides to come back negociations will start at another record number, 17.5 million dollars. That is the record salary for a pitcher, set by Pedro Martinez last year. Hopefully an agreement can be reached and the Rocket will return for one last season.

Meanwhile, all of the Astros’ other four arbitration eligable candidates asked for more than one million dollars. The most was Lance Berkman, who asked for 11 million dollars, one million more than the Astros’ offer of ten million. Lance is optimistic that since both numbers are so close a deal can be reached. Hopefully an extension comes with that deal too, because otherwise we might lose him.

Roy Oswalt asked for 7.8 million dollars, while Purpura’s crew offered 6. I think the 7.8 is the much fairer number, but an agreement would of course be ideal to avoid hard feelings. An extension isn’t neccissary yet, but would be nice with Oswalt too.

Pete Munro asked for 1.1 million dollars and Tim Redding asked for 1.4. Munro was offered 525 thousand dollars and Redding was offered 50 grand more. These are the less significant ones, of course. And, obviously, an agreement would be nice to avoid hard feelings, but both pitchers don’t deserve much yet and these might have to go to the panel.

At any rate, even if the Astros’ Roster next year won’t show any new faces to the organization, Tim Purpura has some work to do, and still a lot of it.

Astros Won’t Repeat Beltran Fiasco With Jeromy Burnitz

Sunday, January 16th, 2005

Guest post by Michael Hurta:

The Beltran Fiasco was partially this:
Scott Boras was extremely unclear with the Houston Astros until the final few hours. He then pushed his client elsewhere, and since the Astros stuck with him, Drayton’s team was pretty much screwed.

Anyways, I won’t mention the name of that outfielder or his agent for the rest of the article, as it is a tad bit painful. So, due to that: its onto the good stuff.

Apparantly the Houston Astros haven’t contacted Jeromy Burnitz for at least five days. Maybe that has something to do with what Jeromy’s agent, Howard Simon, stated earlier, “We’re moving on. We don’t have any indication of the Astros’ continuing interest, so we’re going to gravitate to where we’re needed and wanted at this time. There seems to be no shortage of those situations.”

Houston probably would have been the best situation for Jeromy Burnitz, even though the Astros were not completely sure about him. Phil Garner used to manage him. Houston has a pitchers’ park. Houston has a good clubhouse. The Devil Rays and Pirates, two other suiters, have no chance to be contenders. The Diamondbacks might be contenders for a short period of time, but they already have too much money spent in too little amount of places for it to last. Then there is Chicago, but he wouldn’t play Centerfield there, even if he managed to capture a starting job.

Burnitz could have sticked with us, but then we could have decided that we prefered the idea of sticking completely with younger guns. This route that his agent chose is safer for him. It leaves the Houston Astros with a shorter list of options, but that is their fault.

The fact of the matter is that when you run something at all correlated with businness there are a lot of risks and bets that you have to make. In all business, the largest risk is negociating with someone who isn’t being completely clear with you. *cough*evil-agent*cough*
Come to think of it, I’m surprised such big bets are placed in the sporting world, when the practice is barely ever done in business that matters.

Astros Sign Some Old, Injured, Floppy Arms For ST 2005

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

Guest blog by Michael Hurta

First we signed Turk Wendall to a minor leaugue contract and invited him to spring training. He is 37 years old, had elbow and shoulder problems last year, and when he did play managed a 7.02 ERA. His chances of getting onto the team are quite small, and the most he would be able to do is tutor the young guys, but that is just a maybe.

Then we signed Dave Burba to a similar contract. I guess he has a better chance than Wendall of making the team, as he has pitched mediocre ball at least and did not have injury problems. However, he is 38. Only time will tell how long it is until he falls off a cliff.

We are also looking to sign John Franco. His season was worse than Burba’s las tyear but better than Wendall’s. And I was talking about Burba’s age? This guy is 44 years old. He would be the senior man on the team even if Clemens came back.

Now, I do realize that these are just minor league contracts, so whats the big deal? Well, Wendall was a horrible signing I wouldn’t have even done if I was desperate. I would have gotten a stat guy or scout instead with that money. At least Burba still can pitch somewhat.

But this isn’t the real problem I am having. The fact is, there are much better guys out there.
- – There is Jim Mecir, a 34 year old pitcher who posted a 3.59 ERA with Oakland last year.
Then there is Robb Nen. He has been plagued by injuries for the past two years, but he still has a decent amount of potential.
- Then there is Steve Reed. I know he is 39 years old, but he posted a 3.68 ERA last year. But its not just the ERA that impresses me; he pitched for the Colorado Rockies. I realize he had a 5.06 ERA at Coors, but thats not bad considering its Coors. He had a 2.38 ERA away from Denver.

The simple fact of the matter is this: there are better guys out there. Lets get them instead.

Incoming from Space – Michael Hurta Guest Blogs

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

Hello Astros’ Fans! This is Michael Hurta, the writer who now has somewhat less respect for Scott Boras from the blog Home Plate in Space.

Anyways, I am here giving the guys (and gals, considering Lisa) a favor by filling in until Lisa returns. I will be posting some articles both on my site and this site, as well as a weekly column on this site only.

And, just for an update: We signed Mike Lamb to an extension (good), and we signed Turk Wendall to a minor leaugue contract(bad-we should have saved the money for scouts or stat men). SP Estes has also signed elsewhere, which somewhat dwindles down our pitching options some more for next year. Anyways, without further ado, I will be letting you all dedicated Dugout fans read a somewhat short article I wrote on the 11th. Its not the best, but thats partially because its a tad bit old now. However, enjoy; I promise better in the future. Oh and for anyone who is interested, my email is Hurtya@gmail.com .

Most of this News is not Good News (but some is!)
First: there are still reports about the Astros being interested in Alfonso Soriano, but that the Rangers would want Burke and a pitching prospect in return; at least. Luckily, reports have also said that the Astros’ offer was “insulting,” which probably means the Astros don’t want to get rid of Burke or the other guy they are really interested in (Backe). This is some of the little good news. We don’t need Soriano, unless we play him somehow in the outfield. And at any rate, Burke might end up being hellishly better than Soriano, and we are not here to try and fix a short term problem with a semi-star since we lost Beltran. We must build for the long term where we can, and short term only if it does not hurt the long term. (and by by long term I mean next 3-5 years, for anyone who was interested.)

The team is also interested in Mike Cameron, Randy Winn, and Jose Cruz Jr. Chances are, unfortunatly, that we will not be able to recieve any of these players without hurting our long term that I mentioned. It would be best, most likely, to stick what we got.
However, there is an outfielder we are going after that we would not have to trade for. Well, I am not sure if we are going after him, but ESPN Insider’s rumor mill gave “Astros?” as a team interested and stated, “the Astros could swoop in and nab the former D-Backs outfielder to rebuild depth in the wake of Carlos Beltran’s defection and Lance Berkman’s offseason knee injury.” While Bautista is not great, he would be wonderful for depth and to help out until Berkman gets back.

Starter Scott Schoeneweis was signed by the Blue Jays. Its too bad, because he could have contended for the #5 spot. But he was way overpayed, two years 5.2 million dollars!

Meanwhile Terry Adams signed with the Phillies. There’s one more good reliever off the market.
Well, time for another day to go watch and see if anything interesting happens. However, our chances have only gotten slightly worse, if today’s moves show anything. At least I am hearing the thought of signing Esteban Loaiza tossed around. Now maybe we can get some news that Purpura is, in fact, pursuing him.

Taking A Break

Monday, January 10th, 2005

Dear Readers,
because of some family problems, I will be taking a break from writing for 3-4 weeks. I plan to be back by Valentine’s Day at the latest.

Lisa Gray

p.s.
1) yall know we lost Carlos Beltran to the Mets
2) I don’t expect Roger Clemens back, either
3) let’s hope we don’t buy a few lousy, overpaid FA so that we lose 100 instead of 110…
yeah, I’m bummed…….

Girls Should Play Baseball, Too

Monday, January 10th, 2005

I was just cleaning up my mailbox, preparing for my break, when I read an email from Jurgen Maas, Toronto Blue Jay fan, who writes a blog called Some Calzone For Derek.
This past May, he wrote a great column about the possibility of females playing MLB, or at least minor league baseball (NOT softball) in the future. After all, I’ve seen a few softball players, outfielders, who had an arm like Ichiro, and I refuse to believe that females physically cannot be taught to throw and hit…
Anyway, check it out

I was watching This Week in Baseball today before the first place Red Sox took on the last place Mariners (well done, Bavasi!), and the show featured softball “star” Jennie Finch chatting up “host” Barry Bonds. (To my eyes Finch was the host and Bonds the guest, but whatever.) After covering the “human interest” angle of the reclusive SF slugger (Bonds was on best behaviour–obviously–very relaxed and forthcoming), Finch stepped into the batting cage, and got some pointers from Superman.

Barry’s advice was outstanding–logical, direct, and free of mumble-jumble–and assuming he’s as patient a man with less talented proteges, he’s going to be a brilliant hitting coach should he decide to go that route.

At one point Finch drove a ball to the opposite field, leaving Bonds to joke, “You could hit for our team!”

The joke, of course, is that it isn’t a joke–and no doubt Barry knows it. The Giants’ offense around Bonds sucks.

So why isn’t Finch playing for the Giants? Or some other club? Blonde, slim, and very pretty, it’s no secret why some network executive thought Finch might make a good impression on TV as a correspondent. But Finch is a pitcher, and let’s ignore the thornier issue of whether a woman can pitch in the majors (for now). And let’s (try) to ignore the fact that 90% of male fans would agree that Finch would look a lot better on the cover of Sports Illustrated than Roger Clemens.

We’re not selling jeans here.

Instead, let me put it this way: if 5′7″, 165lbs David Eckstein is an everyday major league player, a career .278/.348/.356 hitter who one-hops his throws to first from short, why isn’t there a woman playing major league baseball? Hell, why isn’t there a woman playing minor league baseball? Because I have to believe the best female baseball player is better than David Eckstein.

It’s no secret that baseball requires the least raw athleticism of all the major sports. Unlike hockey, basketball, and football, in baseball taller, bigger, stronger players hold no innate advantage over their smaller brethren if they don’t have one simple skill: the ability to hit a baseball.

There’s a lot of talk in some circles that the next Jackie Robinson will be the first openly gay baseball player. While I look forward to that day, I’m tempted to agree with conservatives who say that player won’t be the next Jackie Robinson. Not because I don’t think it’ll be an important step to take as a society, but from a purely baseball perspective. It’s not as if major league baseball has been ignoring gay players, and with a breakthrough suddenly the Jays will start scouting (cruising?) the corner of Church and Wellesley. There are already gay players in major league baseball. We just don’t know who they are (for sure).

But the first professional female baseball player has the potential to be impact the game itself. I don’t know if she can have as explosive an effect as Jackie Robinson. Maybe evoking Jackie’s name isn’t fair to either of them. Maybe no woman can play at an All-Star level. Maybe few women could be regulars, or be little more than utility fielders. But didn’t we say the same thing about Japenese players once? Hell, Ichiro! is 5′9″ and 172 lbs. You don’t think there’s a woman with comparable skill sets (decent power and patience, great defense, great speed, great ability to make contact) out there? Why not sign a few to minor league contracts and see what they can do?

As General Managers continue to scrounge the world for new sources of talent, 50% of it could be right under their noses. I guess the real question isn’t who will be the next Jackie Robinson, but who will be the next Branch Rickey?”

UPDATE: Inspired by Niles’ comments, I found this piece on women in baseball called Girls of Summer at the excellent Science of Baseball website. It’s a quick read, but well worth it.
I wasn’t surprised to learn that minor league baseball went as far as banning women in the 50s after the AA Harrisburg Senators signed a 24-year old shortstop named Eleanor Engle, but shocked to realise that the ban was still in effect.

Also new to me was the info that three women, Toni Stone, Connie Morgan, and Mamie “Peanuts” Johnson, played in the otherwise all-male Negros Leagues. Considering that historians consider the level of competition in the league to have been quite high, it’d be interesting to look at their stats if they’re available.

And I had forgotten about the Colorado Silver Bullets, the first professional female fastball team since the demise of the All-American Girls Baseball League, aka the A League of Their Own league, in the mid-90s. According to the Silver Bullets’ former CF, Kim Braatz-Voisard, the biggest hurdle was simply adjusting to hitting the overhand pitch after years in softball. Considering that the team finished 23-22 in its final year before Coors pulled the plug, I don’t see any reason why David Eckstein shouldn’t be quaking in his boots.

The real first step seems to give girls and young women the opportunity to play baseball and not merely shuffle them off to softball.

1/05 – Jeff Bagwell Checks His Swing

Friday, January 7th, 2005

Jeff Bagwell, our future HOF first baseman has a real, uh, distinctive stance and swing. He has always said, in every interview, kids, do NOT do this!!! The stance is, well, funny looking – legs far apart, knees bent in a deep squat and hands shoulder level. When he goes to hit the ball, he first drops his hands, then raises them as he rises slightly out of the crouch. Not pretty. VERY inefficient. But effective for years and years – 484 2B, 446 HR, BA .297, OBP .408 SLG .542 (yes, HOF numbers. Period.) As y’all probably know, he has suffered with arthritis (inoperable) in his right shoulder for 3 or 4 years and his HRs, RBIs and average (but not BBs) have suffered. And, to put it mildly, he can’t throw worth a darn.

He was interviewed on the local Fox TV last night, saying that he wasn’t as strong as he used to be and was working on his swing to make adjustments. I never did believe the 6′ 200 lbs media story, and on TV, he sure didn’t look it – skinny legs, too. He said he is working on NOT dropping his hands before swinging to increase bat speed, but can’t stop “the crouch.”

It’s great to actually watch interviews like this, where the ballplayers don’t hafta talk like Crash Davis or say some silly politically correct nonsense – but they talk about how they perfect their craft. And it IS craft. Bagwell may not “look” like a ballplayer is supposed to “look” out of uniform, but oh, when he picks up that bat and swings it, you just KNOW fer sher you are looking at something special….

I guess I should add that tomorrow is Elvis’ 70th birthday. Oh yeah. And tomorrow we find out what we all been waitin to know – Where Will Carlos GO?????

I’m afraid to guess……

Hall of Fame Second Baseman Welcomes Ryne Sandberg

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

Congratulations to Ryne Sandberg on his election to the Hall of Fame. This is good news, Astros fans, because it means that in a few years, Craig Biggio will look REALLY good.
sighhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I wrote a VERY long post explaining why Biggio is so much better than Sandberg it isn’t funny, but it vanished into the internet black hole when MVN went down. So I guess I’ll hafta regather the facts and do it again… In a few days….

Also, congratulations to Wade Boggs. I can not understand how anyone who claims to be a baseball writer could vote for someone like Rice, Murphy, Sutter, Smith, etc but not Boggs. Time for the Hall to get some input from those of us of the geekier persuasion…..

Sifting Thru the Rubbish Heap of Remaining FA Starters 1/1/05

Saturday, January 1st, 2005

HAPPY NEW YEAR YALL!!!
Hope it’s happy…

Well, we need pitchers – 2 starters (unless we plan to use Munro/Redding/Hernandez)
Let’s see who’s left: (stats courtesy of ESPN, the baseball cube and Yahoo)

-Miguel Asencio, age 24, RHP (non-tendered) – had a mid 90s FB, but not good control and a good changeup.
2002 KC 4 – 7; 5.11 ERA 123.1 IP 64 BB 58K 4.7BB/9 4.2K/9 1.62 WHIP
2003 KC 8 starts, then needed surgery to remove bone chips: 2 – 1; 5.21ERA 48.1 IP 21BB 27K 3.9BB/9 5.0K/9 1.55 WHIP
2004 – tommy john surgery

-Andy Ashby, RHP, age 37, Free Agent San Diego — (lessee – how long has it been since he did not suck?) To make a long story short, he spent 01-03 with the Dodgers, maxed out at 183 IP in 02 with a 3.91 ERA, gave them 73 IP with a 5.18 ERA in 03, had TJ surgery 9/03: signed with the Padres in 04 and was on the DL all year – pitched a total of 2 innings.
MLB Totals: (14 Seasons) 4.12 ERA 2.68 BB/9 5.83 K/9 1.32 WHIP. Also, seems to do well at San Diego. Period. Is a ground ball pitcher, but, hasn’t done well for over 3 years.

-Pedro Astacio, RHP, age 35, Free Agent Boston –
92- 97 with LA 48 – 47 with a 4.11 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP 2.4 BB/9 and 6.2K/9
97 – 01 Rockies – 53 – 48 with a 5.07 ERA (hey, Coors) Whip 1.44 2.9 BB/9 and 8.9K/9
2001 Astros – we only got 28.2 IP we went 2 – 1 3.14 ERA 1.3BB/9 6.0K/9 1.19 WHIP
2002 Mets 12 – 11 4.79ERA 31GS 191.2 IP 63BB 152K 3.0BB/9 7.1K/9 1.33WHIP
2003 Mets NL 36.2IP – injured (and sucked) and needed shoulder surgery in June
2004 Red Sox (in the minors most of the year) 8.2 IP, sucked
MLB Totals: (13 Seasons) 118 – 109; 4.61ERA; 2.99 BB/9; 7.02 K/9; 1.37 WHIP

-Omar Daal, age 32, LHP, free agent, Baltimore
- in the bigs since 1993 for LA (93 – 95) Expos (96 – 97) Toronto (97) Dbax (98-00) Philly (00-01) LA (02) Baltimore (03) injured 04. I’m trying to be nice here, but the only years he was even basically league average were in 01 and 02
2001 Phillies 13 – 7 4.46ERA 32 GS 185.2 IP 2.7BB/9 5.2K/9 1.38 WHIP
2002 LA 11 – 9 3.90ERA 23GS (relieved in 14) 161.1IP 3.0BB/9 5.9K/9 1.21WHIP
2003 -Orioles – you don’t wanna hear. lost command and velocity of FB – ended up with 17 GS and a 6.34 ERA
2004 – out most of the year with shoulder surgery

- Shawn Estes, LHP, age 31, Free Agent Colorado — supposed to have “great stuff” but be a wimp – evidence – refused to throw at Roger Clemens’ head to retaliate for an injustice done the year before when he was not on the team. Cuz REAL men throw at ballplayers’ heads…..
ANYWAY – played for SF 95 – 01, never quite living up to “projections” made for him when he came up as a 22 year old. Had one really good year, 1997, 10-5, 3.18 ERA (but lots of walks – 4.5/9) and a decent 8.1 K/9. The Giants soured on him after 01 and he went to the Mets where he posted a 4.55 ERA in a pitcher’s park, lowered his K/9 from around 8 to 6.5 and got his wimpy ol self traded to the Reds at the trading deadline where he raised his ERA to 7.71 and lowered his K/9 to 5.5. In 03, probably at the request of Dusty Baker, he was signed by the Cubs, who needed lefties, and had a lousy year – 5.73 ERA, WHIP 1.74; last year, he pitched in Colorado (said he was a new man with a purpose) and went 15 – 8 with a 5.84 ERA 117K/105 BB.
MLB Totals: (10 Seasons) 92 – 81; 4.71ERA

- Esteban Loaiza, RHP, age 32, Free Agent NY Yankees — basically, a guy who was just below league average until 2003 when he had an absolutely amazing fluke year, (supposedly from a new cut FB and the ability to throw strikes) came in second in the Cy Young, then returned to previous El Sucko last year. (Did NOT did the Yankee lifestyle…) He had a 10 – 7 record with the White Sox/Yanks in 04 and a 5.70 ERA. Unlike all the previous pitchers, he is supposed to be a reasonably good fielder.
MLB Totals: (10 Seasons) 100 – 89; 4.70ERA; 2.62 BB/9; 5.86 K/9: 1.42WHIP

- Derek Lowe, RHP, age 31, Free Agent Boston — agent is Scott Bore-ass. You all know the Derek story – came to Boston with Varitek in the infamous Heathcliff Slocumb trade – not sure if he could be a starter – made him a reliever – oh joy, the Save-iour had come, but sucked the next year, was booed, started the next, did ever so well, even threw a no-hitter, but his ground ball inducing skill was just not the ticket with the lead gloved Boston fielders this past year, was down and out (5.42 ERA and 1.61 WHIP) until he was Da Man in the series. Oops, I mean the Yankee series (the only REAL series there, hunh) and rescued the Boston faithful with all those innings of awesome pitching. Shall I call him good and lousy to sum it up? I hear Boras wants more than 21 mill/3 years. Yeah, surrrrrrrrre.
MLB Totals: (8 Seasons) 72 – 59; 3.88 ERA; 2.74BB/9; 5.88K/9; 1.30WHIP

- Hideo Nomo, RHP, age 36, Free Agent Los Angeles — Nomo came to LA at ge 27 from Japan – was ROY in 1995. Did well for a few years, but had steadily decreasing Ks and increasing ERAs and in 98, LA figured he was washed up. Signed a 1 year deal with the Brewers in 99 – did well with that lousy team 12-8 with a 4.54 ERA. Signed a 1 year with the Tigers in 00, went 12 -4 with that terrible team and a 4.74 ERA. Signed a 1 year with Boston in 01, threw a no-hitter went 13 – 10 with a 4.54 ERA and a 10:4 K/BB ratio. LA decided they wanted him back and signed him to a 3 year contract. He did fine in 02 and 03 – went 32-19 with a 3.24 ERA and a 7.6:4 K/BB ratio. However, last year he got hurt and was, uh, um, well, just awful – 8.24 ERA. He supposedly dropped like 10 MPH on his FB and can’t locate anything.

- Darren Oliver, LHP, age 34, Free Agent Houston –
we’re talking bout a guy with a career 5.07 ERA – has spent most of his carreer with the Rangers, though. Career 3.72 BB/9; 5.33 K/9; 1.54 WHIP. in 04, he started the year with the Marlins, didn’t do real too well in relief, mostly- went 2-3 with a 6.44 ERA. We traded for him in July and he pitched mostly in relief, but started 2 games, went a whole 5 innings in the one he won and ended up pitching 14 innings with a 3.86 ERA (like his lowest by a full point in more than 10 years. Yeah, I know. Small sample size.) Anyway, he hurt his shoulder August 10th, went on the DL for a while, came back and pitched a few innings here and there, but wasn’t on the post season roster, and he was not offered arbitration.

- Odalis Perez, LHP, age 27, Free Agent Los Angeles — not sure why they don’t want him back. I’d take him. He has a good FB, change and curve. He started his career with Atlanta in 98 – spent a lot of time on the DL before needing TJ surgery in late 2000. He was traded to LA in the Russ Ortiz deal. Last year with LA, he started 31 games, was 7 -6 with a 3.25 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP and 148K: 44 BB. He did fairly well in 02 – 15 – 10; 3.00ERA 32GS 222.1 IP; 1.5BB/9; 6.3K/9: 0.99WHIP. In 2003, he went 12 – 12; 4.52ERA, 30GS 185.1 IP; 2.2BB/9; 6.9K/9; 1.28 WHIP
MLB Totals: (6 Seasons) 45 – 43 4.01ERA (included high ERAs with Atlanta) 2.51BB/9; 6.53 K/9; 1.24 WHIP.
Note: he um, sucked in the playoffs against the Cards…. but, small sample size…

- Todd Ritchie, RHP, age 33, Free Agent Tampa Bay — yall remember him – the Next Great Pitcher for Pittsburgh 99 – 01 (ahem) 35 – 32 with a 4.38 ERA and a WHIP 1.30 and a 2.5:5.8 BB/K. But in one of Dave Littlefield’s few decent trades, he traded him to the White Sox for Kip Wells, Josh Fogg and Sean Lowe. Ritchie didn’t do real too good in the AL – 5-15 with a 6.06 ERA and 4 QS – we’ll leave it there. Hey anyone can have the year from hell, right? The Brewers signed him to a minor league contract the next year, and he managed 28 IP in the bigs – lowered his ERA a full point. WOW. Last year, he spent most of the year in the minors and managed to pitch 8 innings for the Devil Rays. I KNOW he wishes he never left Pitsburgh…..Even though 1999 was his only decent year.

- Scott Schoeneweis, LHP, age 31, Non-Tendered Chicago Sox –
now how can I put it – he came up with the Angels in 2000, well hyped. Is supposed to have the famous “good” stuff, but doesn’t know how to win. Maybe because he has only a FB and change and can’t get righties out. Or something. Anyway, he started for 2 years, then Scoscia decided to try him in the bullpen, which lowered his ERA 5.48 to 4.22, even though it didn’t increase Ks or lower BBs. He complained so much about not starting that in 03 he was traded to the White Sox and in 04, they let him start 19 games. He had a 6-9 with a 5.16 ERA and a 1.58 WHIP in the mighty AL central. His ERA as a starter is over 5. On the good side, he pitches over 200 innings a year…
MLB Totals: (6 Seasons – both starting and relieving) 36 – 41 5.16ERA 223 93 3.49BB/9; 4.99K/9; 1.47 ERA

- Aaron Sele, RHP, age 34, Free Agent Anaheim –
wow – can he be washed up at age 34? He was a first rounder in 92 for Boston, came to the bigs at age 23 in 93 (can you believe that Boston actually used to have prospects that came to the bigs?) Went 38 – 33 with a 4.76 ERA from 93 – 97. Played for the Rangers’ championship teams in 98 and 99, going 37 – 20 with a 4.51 ERA in 417.2 IP and a 1.52 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9 and 7.6K/9.
He then went to Seattle as a FA for 2000 and 01 going 32-10 with a 4.10 ERA in 426.2 IP, a 1.32 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9 and 5.3K/9.
- A winner. A horse.
He signed a 3 year contract with the Angels and won a ring in 02, despite being hurt. He went 8 – 9 with a 4.89 ERA in 26 GS, pitched 160 innings with 2.8BB/9 4.6K/9 and 1.49 WHIP. He was still not his old self in 03 after surgery, 7 – 11 with a 5.77ERA in 25GS over 121.2 IP. Walks increased to 4.3BB/9 and K decreased to a career low 3.9K/9. WHIP was 1.59
2004 wasn’t much better; 9 – 4 with a 5.05ERA in 24GS (and 4 relief appearances) over 132.0 IP – again he had decreased Ks (3.5/9) and an increased WHIP of 1.62 and he required shoulder surgery during the year. He no longer has command or velocity on the FB.

- Steve Sparks, age 39 Free Agent Arizona — can you say, washed up???!!! a knuckleballer who didn’t pitch in the bigs until he was 30 – basically had exactly one good year – 2001, age 35. (Gee, he forgot to read all about performance curves, didn’t he…) Anyway, started 15 games for the TERRIBLE Dbax last year, pitched 160 innings with a 6.04 ERA. In his defense, I must say that the Dbax didn’t have good defense last year. To say the least…

- Ismael Valdez, RHP, age 31, Free Agent Florida –
He started in the majors at age 20 in 1994, pitching for LA, and did a find job for them as a starter from 95 – 99 going 63 – 54 with a 3.41 ERA. Since then, he has bounced from team to team, his one decent year in 02, pitched 146.2 innings for the Rangers with a 3.93 ERA. He went 14 – 9 in 31 GS over 170 IP for the Padres and Marlins last year with a 5.19 ERA. He does have a lifetime 4.04 ERA, but a lot of that is because of his good early years in LA. He’s another sinkerball pitcher and needs good defense.

OK – summary -
except for Odalis Perez, who isn’t washed up or El Sucko?
Maybe Miguel Acencio – but who knows what that arm is like, even though he’s only 24. Maybe a mior league contract?!

Derek Lowe might not be real too bad, especially coming to the NL, but not at Bore-ass prices.
Could any of the rest of these guys be Esteban Loaiza 2003? Sure. Anything is possible. Except pregnant men. And I kinda think that the probability we will find an ace among these losers is right about the same….