Baseball Boogie: Oh my dear sweet lord ... Have you seen the 1986 Dodgers doing the "Baseball Boogie"? If you have, and I'm late to the party, my apologies. But a writer for the Orange County Register discovered this YouTube gem, and he's been trying to get it shown to the current team, since some current Dodgers coaches were involved in the making of this video. Apparently, it was made on the heels of the Bears' Super Bowl Shuffle. Unfortunately, Orel Hershiser's efforts at rapping earned the '86 Dodgers just a fifth (out of six) place finish in the NL West. I had to put this piece at the top and separate it from the rest of these items. It was just too good (or bad).
Books: First -- I bought Sun Tzu's The Art of War, at Barnes and Noble last night. I've always wanted to read it, and I've often seen business writers reference it, as well as Fantasy writers. Pretty much, anything you can compete in, Sun Tzu's got your back. He's like the Bill James of killing other armies. Expect random references over the next week -- especially with Tout Wars looming just a couple days away. Secondly, I also purchased The Essential Stephen King, which ranks one of the greatest American writer's works 1-100. (I took a quick peek and he has It above The Stand at No. 1, which is pretty tough for me to swallow. This was also written in 2003, before King's greatest work, The Dark Tower series, was completed. It's No. 1 without question.
Brett Myers: The Phillies' ace from a couple seasons ago went seven innings on Sunday -- the longest outing of any pitcher this spring. Talk about stretching him out. We're talking about a guy that probably threw in more games, with fewer innings, than almost any starting pitcher last season. His return to the rotation is interesting. Charlie Manuel is, without question, one of the more "baseball-knowledgeable" managers in baseball. In other words, I don't think he's someone that goes off of numbers, but instead decades of experience and thousands of innings. But moving Myers from the rotation (spring of '07) into the bullpen (April of '07) and now back to the rotation (spring of '08) is scary for both his arm, his psyche and his Fantasy owners.
Brian Barton: The demotion of Colby Rasmus appears to have opened up a spot in the Cardinals' outfield for either Barton or Skip Schumaker. Barton is batting .349 with a .674 slugging percentage (second on the team behind Albert Pujols) and eight RBI. He's a Rule V pick, so he has a great chance of making the team. Power isn't his game, despite what his numbers suggest, but he has plus-speed (41 steals in the minors in '06) and NL-only owners should take notice.
Boogers: Should never be referred to as a good source of protein.
Bad March: Ichiro Suzuki now has just four hits in 38 at-bats (.105) and his OBP is just .146. I still say he's going to be fine for the season and unless he's hurt and not telling anyone, you're going to get him at a discounted price. Let's put this spring in perspective with a deeper look into the Japanese superstar's 2007 season:
- He had at least four hits in five different games.
- He had four hits total in his first three games.
- He did not go hitless in any four-game stretch.
- He had 76 games with two or more hits.
- He had only 28 games with no hits.
- In May and June combined, he had at least one basehit in 49 of 57 ballgames.
Batting leaders: Anyone notice that the batting leaders in the AL and the NL this spring both happen to be former Tampa Bay Rays? Josh Hamilton (.556) has been a beast for the Rangers so far, and Jorge Cantu (.457) appears to have locked down the third base job in Florida.
Bill James: It's spring training! It's baseball being reborn! It's time to hear from Bill James, one of the best baseball minds in recent history! Coincidentally, it's also time for Bill James to fill out his NCAA March Madness bracket. So as you watch your brackets get ready to bust, here's a good way for you to determine if a lead is safe during a basketball game.
- Take the number of points one team is ahead.
- Subtract three.
- Add a half-point if the team that is ahead has the ball, and subtract a half-point if the other team has the ball. (Numbers less than zero become zero.)
- Square that.
- If the result is greater than the number of seconds left in the game, the lead is safe.
- My Thoughts: Now, once you took the time to do all those calculations, look up. The game is probably over and your March Madness hopes are likely obliterated.
Big bats force tough decisions: The Dodgers currently have a glut of talented outfielders, with Andruw Jones cemented in center field, the corner spots could be up for grabs, despite Juan Pierre's hefty contract. Matt Kemp (.310, 12 RBI) and Andre Ethier (.340, 5 HR, 13 RBI) are exploding this spring, and their bats could become more valuable to manager Joe Torre than Pierre's speed (plus he's hitting just .204 with a sad .271 OBP). Ethier has decent wheels as well, whereas Kemp can flat out crush it. All four of these outfielders are interesting Fantasy picks. I think Torre inquired about what it would take to get the NL to add a DH this season. Even Jason Repko is batting .343.
Bleeding ears of listeners: Here's a link to our podcast from Tuesday. Things you will hear: People named after cold weather clothing, Cueto/Volquez and Scott Kazmir.
Big-time help for readers: In the next few days, we are about to unveil a pet project of mine, along with superstar Dilbert look-a-like programmer Jason Fox, a weekly planner tool that you will come to rely on every week. I don't want to say too much about it, other than it will be the greatest thing since the invention of Chili-Cheese Fritos.
Being the guy that doesn't give up: Joe Nelson is still battling for a roster spot on the Marlins' 18th rebuilding effort. He's a 33-year-old reliever that has bounced around the country, mostly in the minors, for the past 12 seasons. He has missed all or parts of the 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2007 seasons with a couple shoulder surgeries and Tommy John surgery (which helped him meet his wife, a radiologist). The South Florida Sun-Sentinel did a piece on him today. "Rehabs aren't easy, but my friends are on me, telling me I don't really want to get a real job," Nelson said. "One day they are going to take the uniform away from me and you can't have regrets." He kinda makes me feel bad for asking for a pinch hitter last week in softball because "I was winded" after walking to the on-deck circle. Oh yeah, don't draft Joe Nelson. He stinks for Fantasy.
Best Fish on the mound this spring?: Chris Volstad is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA this spring for the Marlins. Last season, I listened to Marlins GM Larry Beinfast talk excitedly about the future of Volstad. The 21-year-old is a former first-round pick from South Florida, and the right-hander is having one of the best springs of any Marlins player, much less pitcher. An interesting quote in the Sun-Sentinel from manager Fredi Gonzalez about this Volstad and this rotation: "His age and inexperience does not enter into any of the discussions. He's showing good signs." I expect to see him return to Double-A to start the season, but the way this staff is set up, you can bet you'll see him on this side of June, so pick him as a reserve in NL-only Rotisserie league drafts.
Being B.J. Ryan's backup: Manager John Gibbons told the Toronto Star that Accardo will be called upon early in the season for saves until B.J. Ryan, who reported soreness after Monday's outing, is completely ready. "I told (Accardo), 'If B.J.'s here (on the active roster), he's not going back-to-back days. If he's not, then you're going to be the guy." We have Accardo projected at 15 saves, and we're taking into account some early chances, as well as some chances midseason if Ryan goes back on the DL. Accardo proved last season he can get the job done. He is one of just three pitchers to save 30 games that were not among the top 300 players drafted in mixed leagues last season. David Weathers and Kevin Gregg were the other two. Folks, you can pick up saves late. I promise. Remember, about a third of all saves recorded each season are from players that aren't drafted in a normal 23-round Rotisserie draft.
Bad practical jokers: Some of the Cubs' pitchers pulled a spring training prank on their strength and conditioning coach, Tim Buss. They demolished his car ... Ha.
Seriously, the windows were smashed in, the sides were all dented up and some bats and balls were shoved through the front windshield to indicate this wasn't just some random crime. Buss was quietly fuming and trying to figure out what he was going to tell his wife, who owned the '95 Nissan, while Jon Lieber came up and said, "It's a shame. What kind of person would do something like that? It really just shocks me. I'm sure she'll understand." Finally, after the guy's blood pressure hit red on the gauge, the pitchers took him to see his brand new '08 Nissan Xterra ... For the record, wouldn' t the story have been much better if he just went postal and took a bat to Lieber?
Birth, Separated at?: A reader, Ed Swierbinski, emailed me just now, to ask me if anyone has ever told me that I look like the detective on "Dexter." I have NOT heard that, although I have heard the following: Kevin James, James Gandolfini, and finally, "the fat guy from MAD TV" (Will Sasso). I'm thinking he didn't mean Erik King, but possibly -- David Zayas? He has a cool first name, that's fo sho! Outside of the fact that he looks cool, and I look like the guy that always asks for extra cheese -- I AGREE COMPLETELY! (And no, no one has ever told me that, but thanks!)
Back spasms and baseball: NOT SO FAST, MR. WOOD! The Chicago Sun-Times is reporting that Kerry Wood was scratched from Wednesday's spring training game because of lower back spasms. Manager Lou Piniella immediately went into defense mode, since he Wood was going to be their closer to start the season. "Look, we do have one setback with Kerry (Wednesday) -- his back is really, really stiff and he's not going to be able to pitch Wednesday," Piniella said. "It has nothing to do with his shoulder, or elbow, it's just with his back. He went to see a doctor, and hopefully we'll get him out there (Thursday) or the next day. It's just a little bit of a setback, but nothing, nothing serious. Just a minor thing that he goes through every spring." Isn't that the point though, that Wood has broken down over the past few seasons and injuries pile up? Won't a bad back affect his mechanics? "We have three people here that in my mind that can close and I'm very comfortable with," the manager said. Speaking of which, move Marmol up a couple spots on your closer rankings.