Archive for September, 2006

From The Accomplishment Department

Joe Morgan graced ESPN’s SportsNation with his most idiotic chat of the season today. I’ll have more later, but enjoy this nugget. It’s quite an accomplishment.

Cody (Minneapolis): Its possible that the Twins could have the AL Cy Young winner, the AL batting champ and the AL MVP. Has that ever happened before?

SportsNation Joe Morgan: That’s a great question. I’m not sure if it’s ever happened before. It would be a great accomplishment. I’m not sure if it ever happened before, but it could have happened a different way with a pitcher winning the Cy Young and MVP with a batting title, but I’m not sure about three different players. That would be quite an accomplishment.

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Is Clemens to blame for Astros’ struggles?

The season is just going to end too soon for the Houston Astros. Down 7.5 games heading into a pivotal weekend series against the Cardinals, the Astros, powered by Roger Clemens’ potentially final home start in Houston, swept St. Louis to leave Deadspin’s Will Leitch cowering in the corner and Houston fans hoping and praying that their team can overcome a 3.5 game deficit with seven left to play.

Roger Clemens last night was the hero of Houston. He received a warm send-off from a crowd that believes, barring a miracle, Clemens will not pitch again in Houston for the Astros. Will he retire? Who knows. But it’s hard to imagine the Astros shelling out another $20 million for the Rocket’s services.

But around the Internet, an interesting theme has arisen. As Travis Nelson wrote on Double Play Depth, maybe the Astros’ eventual elimination for postseason contention is the Rocket’s fault. He compellingly argues:

If Clemens had decided what he wanted to do in say, January, like the rest of the 700 or so guys who have played in the major leagues this season, the Astros could have had him starting games in April and May, and early June. they could have gotten roughly another 100 or so innings out of him in that span, which would have kept 24-year old rookie RHP Taylor Buchholz in the minors, where he clearly belonged.

Nelson argues that Clemens would have replaced 14 bad starts with Roger Clemens-like outings:

That makes 14 starts, 81 innings, and 52 earned runs. Clemens, with a more or less typical Rocket-esque performance in those starts, could probably have amassed something like 100 innings, allowing half as many earned runs, about 26, which could have netted the team three more wins.

Three more wins for the Astros right now would have been the difference between life and death. Instead of 3.5 out with 7 left to play, they could be potentially just 0.5 games out with 7 left to play. In my opinion though, Nelson underestimated Clemens’ importance. I think Clemens could have meant five more wins for the team, and a view from the top heading into the homestretch. I have no scientific evidence for that, but it’s just a hunch taking a look at how poorly the Astros’ number five starters performed.

However – and this is a big however – let’s not forget about 2005. Roger Clemens, not a young man, broke down in 2005. He couldn’t make it through the regular season and postseason. So if the Astros bring back Clemens in April instead of June, does he break down again? The blame might not fall on his shoulders.

Rather, I would like to blame the Astros’ management for wasting Clemens’ rehab starts. After his first two Minor League outings, it was clear that Clemens still had it. Why not just bring him up to the Big Leagues then? Give him one extra start, one more shot at a win. That could end up being the difference in the NL Central.

Of course, what’s funny about this situation is that if the Astros do overcome the very long odds, Clemens will have a chance to once again be a postseason hero. Hey, you never know.

Angelos: Protesters have “no comprehension” of baseball costs

After a few months’ hiatus, Talking Baseball is back in action. Bookmark the site, add the RSS feed to your favorite feed reader, check back often and comment. We’ll start with everyone’s favorite owner: Peter Angelos.

Today, over one thousand Orioles fans walked out of the Orioles-Tigers game at 5:08 p.m. to protest what they viewed as Peter Angelos’ inept management of the team. Angelos disagreed.

“Whoever joins that protest has no comprehension of what it costs to run a baseball team,” Angelos said in an interview with the AP. “When you get down to facts, putting together a team that can compete in the AL East means having a payroll between $100-$110 million. That money comes from the consumer, and I have chosen to keep ticket prices to a minimum.”

I that is, to mince words, a load of crap. Let’s look at some payroll numbers.

The Orioles have a payroll, according to ESPN, of $72,585,712. That is 15th among all 30 clubs and 7th highest in the American League.

Of the seven AL teams that pay their players less overall than the Orioles, five of them have better records. The other two are the Royals and the Devil Rays.

I don’t know what Angelos’ finances look like, but from this very rudimentary study, I can tell you that he is full of it. The Blue Jays, with a $71 million payroll, were fairly competitive in the AL East throughout most of the summer. The A’s, with a payroll of $62 million, are just three games worse than the Yankees.

As much as Angelos doesn’t want to admit it, it’s not about the costs of running a baseball team. It’s about putting good people in the front office who know how to use their limited resources to put a competitive product on the field, and it’s about putting your faith in those people and letting them do their jobs. As long as Angelos continues to spout of rhetoric about the costs of running an MLB team instead of addressing his team’s shortcomings, these Orioles’ protesters’ actions will be for naught.


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