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My 2008 Hall of Fame Ballot

(I needed to get this out prior to the announcement tomorrow)

In Like My Surname . . .

  • Bert Blyleven – Quite simply the best player not in the Hall of Fame, and better than many already enshrined.  YOU try winning 300 games playing for those teams.
  • Goose Gossage – Dominating.  His induction is due to the induction of Sutter, whose case is weakened by Gossage’s inclusion.  Yes, you can re-read that sentence.
  • Tim Raines – Runner up to Ricky Henderson – and then some.  Some writers will penalize him for his admitted use of cocaine 25 years ago, but worse has been said of our past two presidents.
  • Alan Trammell – A man I’ve met and respect tremendously.  His ankle injury in 1992 really lead to a reduction of health over the remainder of his career.  I was there. I was working the game for the PASS Sports broadcast and I heard his ankle snap when he landed awkwardly on first base trying to leg out an infield single.

Needs Seasoning . . .

  • Mark McGwire – a few more years for everyone to get their minds around the enhanced era.
  • Lee Smith – the inclusion of modern-era closers has made his induction a possibility.

At Some Point . . .

  • Joe Jackson
  • Pete Rose

(Eventually there will be the Asterisk Wing of the HOF)

It’s Just An Honor to Be Eligible . . .

  • Brady Anderson
  • Harold Baines
  • Rod Beck
  • Dave Concepcion
  • Andre Dawson
  • Shawon Dunston
  • Steve Finley
  • Travis Fryman
  • Tommy John
  • David Justice
  • Chuck Knoblauch
  • Don Mattingly
  • Jack Morris
  • Dale Murphy
  • Robb Nen
  • Dave Parker
  • Jim Rice
  • Jose Rijo
  • Todd Stottlemyre

In the Hall of Accomplishment, we’ll have Brady Anderson’s 1996 season, Tommy John’s surgery with Dr. Frank Jobe, Knoblauch’s (and Steve Sax’s) accuracy disease, and Jack Morris’ Game 7.

Well, What Happened to 2007?

Kinda missed a whole season there.

Nutshell version: Again found myself in 7th in June, and similar to 2006, I tried to make a push. Only after most of July, I had only gotten to 5th, and catching the leaders wasn’t possible, so sold off to stock up for 2007. Kind of like the Expos in 2002 when they were “in it” at the All-Star Break and traded for Cliff Floyd, and then were “out of it” by the trading deadline, and dealt Floyd to Boston.

Applying a little more analysis, the 2007 AaRr squad had some questionable protections (Scott Thorman, I’m lookin’ at you), and missed some targets in the draft. Coming into the draft with only $80 available, you shouldn’t be leaving $10 on the table.

Selected players let me down constantly: Morgan Ensberg ($17) dumped at the deadline, Adam Kennedy ($8) barely hit .220, Moises Alou ($12) missed half the season. Others proved valuable, but not enough to push the squad into contention: Joey Votto ($1), Ryan Theriot ($1), Carlos Ruiz ($2) were nice selections. No comment on Terrmel Sledge ($1 – estimated at $10), other than “Enjoy Japan.”

Needing only three pitchers, and getting Tim Lincecum for $7, there shouldn’t be much of a downside, right? Well, can you say “Jorge Julio for $16”? I selected him the one week that he didn’t stink and was anointed the Marlins closer. Whoops.

Protected Roy Oswalt ($32) and Derek Lowe ($19) didn’t really deliver, and Clay Hensley ($5) left his shoulder in back in 2006. And Dan Wheeler ($4), finally getting out from under Brad Lidge did get 11 saves, before getting traded to Tampa.

A brief chronology of 2007:

April 2007:

  • Hitters stink
  • Pitchers stink
  • Prospects (Pie, Lincecum, Votto) in minors
  • Carlos Quentin and Clay Hensley on DL
  • Tim Lincecum is 4-0 with a 0.29 ERA with 41K’s in 26 IP – for AAA Fresno.

May 2007:

  • Linceum up to stay.
  • Picked up Padres 3B prospect Chase Headley
  • Dave Roberts has surgery for elbow bone chips (6-week DL)
  • Moises Alou on DL (He’s 41)
  • Todd Linden up and released by Giants, sent to Marlins AAA squad

June 2007:

  • More shuffling of deck chairs
  • Fred Lewis is my best OF, Chris Iannetta and Craig Counsell vie for top utility honors
  • Clearly should have sought more offense sooner

July 2007:

  • Acquired 3B Garrett Atkins for free talent Rick Ankiel (FAAB) and Felix Pie (7th Round)
  • Acquired 3B Chipper Jones and OF Corey Hart for P’s Oswalt, Lowe, and OF Carlos Quentin
  • Won FAAB bidding for OF Milton Bradley
  • Traded Dave Roberts for Closer Bob Wickman
  • Scott Linebrink traded to Milwaukee – end of the line
  • Morgan Ensberg DFA’d by Houston, Dan Wheeler sent to Tampa for Ensberg’s replacement, Ty Wigginton
  • Won FAAB for Tadahito Iguchi
  • Traded Joey Votto for Billy Wagner

August 2007:

  • Not gaining in the standings, time to cut bait at the deadline
  • Traded Billy Wagner, Garrett Atkins, and Milton Bradley for 2B Brandon Phillips, finally fixing my 2B problem
  • Shane Victorino injured, on DL
  • Bob Wickman DFA’d by Atlanta
  • Chuck James on DL with his annual “dead-arm period”

September 2007:

  • Limped along
  • Tim Lincecum shut down for the year for his protection
  • Picked up great 1B/OF prospect Steven Pearce for Pittsburgh
  • Jose Reyes slumps, I send him down, as I have 80 more Steals than 2nd place.
  • Finished in 5th place

We’re Back!

Just got back from the 2007 Draft in Las Vegas!  Opening Day!  Overhauled Stats Web Site! New Players!  Exclamation Points!  Full updates coming in the next day or two, once the dust settles.  I don’t think I’m going to be in first place like I was to start 2006.

Welcome to the Hot Stove League!

It’s been fairly quiet around the AaRr front since the LCS games a few weeks ago.  The World Series itself was pretty flat, as there weren’t any RoadRunners in the series, save for AaRr alumni Placido Polanco and Sean Casey (1990’s) on the Tigers.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be doing a 2006 season retrospective, focusing on the hits, misses, and other minutiae as the “winter” comes on strong – winter being relative here in the Valley of the Sun.

In the meantime, the staff here at Roadrunner central is constantly checking the offseason news, the scouting reports, the new CBA, and the latest free-agent signings, and of course, the rumor mill.  Appropriate non-sensitive data will be posted, lest we tip our hand regarding draft strategy.

Enjoy the offseason – 141 days to the draft! (or maybe 148, depending on the date).

Transaction Analysis

The Atomic Roadrunners made two trades this week in hopes of advancing in the standings, or at worst case, hanging on to 4th position. 

In the first trade, AaRr acquired Jason Bay, Roy Oswalt, and Mike Jacobs.  Stanimals received Adrian Gonzalez, Tom Gorzelanny, and Ryan Langerhans.  Since the trade was 1B-OF-P for both, we can do a simple comparison.

First basemen first.  Adrian Gonzalez has exploded onto the scene, finally showing the talent with the bat (in a pitchers’ park, no less) that made him the No. 1 overall pick by the Marlins in the 2000 draft.  Always a whiz with the glove, Gonzalez was shrewdly drafted by the Roadrunners in the 2006 draft as a draft-and-follow, as he was blocked by Klesko, and the Roadrunners had both Prince Fielder and Ryan Zimmerman to promote to the starting positions.  Initially Prince Fielder was under discussion by Stanimals, but apparently Gonzalez’s lower salary won out.  Jacobs isn’t the bargain that Gonzalez is, but he’s a solid $16 young first basemen, who bats about 20 points lower than Gonzalez, with a little less power thus far (though Jacobs is projected for more than he’s displaying this season).  While the players are comparable in age and performance, Gonzalez gets the nod. ADVANTAGE: Stanimals

In the pitching department, Tom Gorzelanny was a 7th-round minor league selection, and had received his call-up with the demotion of the Pirates Oliver Perez.  Gorzelanny put in two excellent outings, three decent ones, and also four mediocre ones – basically your average talented pitching prospect – inconsistent.  Oswalt, however, is an ace, and has the ace price tag of $32.  A likely protection, the Roadrunners look set for 2007 in the starting pitching department, and Oswalt makes a nice combination with Brandon Webb.  The goal here was to make a talented and inconsistent young starter – free talent, essentially – with an elite starter that can assist in the long run as well as the short term.  ADVANTAGE: Roadrunners

Lastly we have the outfield battle – seven weeks of Jason Bay – he’s a WBRL free agent in the offseason, for the throw-in of Braves 4th outfielder Ryan Langerhans.  I was discussing with Derek Levesque last night that the world is full of two types of people – those that think Langerhans is still good and is a “prospect” with a starting job, and the other group has actually looked at the stats and realized that Langerhans is batting under .250 with inconsistent power and is in a three-way platoon with Matt Diaz and Scott Thorman.  Levesque is obviously one of the latter group, as he released him in early July.  The Roadrunners picked him up on a flyer to see if he could turn it around – more free talent – and basically found a member of the first group to trade him to.  For Jason Bay.  ADVANTAGE: Roadrunners

Overall – While the Roadrunners lose upper echelon protection Adrian Gonzalez, and Tom Gorzelanny was likely to be protected as well, Jacobs is a solid protection, and Oswalt is another No. 1 starter for now and one more year.  More salary, more impact. Let’s hope.

The second trade was with Maxell 10-Pack.  AaRr sent pitcher Aaron Cook and super-utility guy Rich Aurilia to the 10-Pack in exchange for Reds starter Aaron Harang and a 2007 7th-round minor league draft pick.  While Cook has been solid, he strikes out very few batters, which is fine, except when you’re trying to gain strikeout points.  Which is where Harang comes in.  Currently a 12-game winner on a wild-card contender, Harang will likely have more impact than Cook.

Losing Aurilia is a challenge, and not because he’s $1.  Aurilia is a free agent after the season, but he’s a very versatile player – filling in at 3B, 2B, and 1B during the season, and he’s been stellar.  The Roadrunners didn’t really want to give him up, but with the recent promotions of Stephen Drew and Carlos Quentin, perhaps the team can withstand the loss of his bat.

To balance the 2-for-1 Harang deal, the Roadrunners picked up Rockies free agent OF Ryan Spilborghs, who is supposed to receive an extended trial in center field for the remainder of the season.  If he shows anything, he could be worth $5 as a starter in Coors next season.

It ought to be an exciting finish!

Rookie Arms Join the Squad

On June 13th, the Roadrunners picked up two pitching arms for their run for the pennant. Acquired and activated was Cubs rookie hurler Carlos Marmol for $5 FAAB. Also added to the roster was Braves farmhand Chuck James ($3 FAAB).

Marmol had an impressive performance last week, and will stick in the rotation instead of Glendon Rusch, who currently has a fork stuck in him. Marmol will be pulled from the rotation when Kerry Wood or Mark Prior return, so Marmol will likely get plenty of starts. Marmol was selected over Nationals rookie hurler Shawn Hill, who, while impressive, will likely lose his rotation spot sooner due to the return of John Patterson off the DL.

James did fairly well at the beginning of the season, but was placed on the DL with a strained hamstring on May 6th, and was activated and sent to AAA Richmond a few days ago. James will likely be called up to join the rotation when Horacio Ramirez, Jorge Sosa, or John Thomson (pick one) flames out.

To make room for Marmol and James on the roster, the Roadrunners said goodbye to two hitters, Damian Jackson and Cody Ross. Jackson was useful, especially in the OF, prior to the acquisition of Geoff Jenkins. However, Jose Guillen returned from the DL, and Jackson was relegated to utility and pinch-hitting roles. Ross was also starting one or two games per week, but wasn’t consistent enough to be in the starting lineup.

AaRr Mortgages Future for 2006

On the anniversary of D-Day, the largest military offensive in history, the Roadrunners mount their own offensive towards the top of the standings. The Roadrunners trade stud $1 3B Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals) and Brewers SS J.J. Hardy to Goodfellas for Chipper Jones, Geoff Jenkins, and Chad Cordero.

Chipper plugs right into the lineup in Zimmerman’s place, and while he’s no bargain at $24, he will likely out-produce Zimmerman over the course of the season. He’ll provide a similar average (as Zimmerman’s projected .340 hasn’t really happened yet – he’s in the high .260’s) and more pop, in a better ballpark, in a better lineup. His health is (as always) questionable, and he’s already missed time this season. Zimmerman, on the other hand, has missed a few games this past week due to a stiff back.

Jenkins, a former Roadrunner on two different occasions, re-joins the squad after being traded for Aaron Heilman a year ago. The Roadrunners were running out a combination of Damian Jackson, Cody Ross, Jeff DaVanon and Joe Borchard for two OF spots, so the addition of Jenkins helps solidify the OF, along with Moises Alou coming off the DL today.

Addressing the other big issue is Chad Cordero. Cordero, whose WBRL contract will expire following the season, plugs into the bullpen and brings a second legitimate closer to the (still) slow-starting Armando Benitez. Bannished will be Danys Baez, who really hasn’t done much at all except suck. Baez still has the label of “closer”, though, so we’ll hang onto him in case a trade comes through.

The Roadrunners will miss J.J. Hardy, but not as much as expected. He has been out for the past three weeks with a sprained ankle, and rumors are that he’ll platoon with Bill Hall at SS upon his return. A good protection from last season, Hardy was originally acquired as a pickup after The Pi Train cut him after his dislocated shoulder in 2004. The Roadrunners still have Jose Reyes and Khalil Greene at SS, along with uber-prospect Stephen Drew at the position, along with utility guys Rich Aurilia and Damian Jackson available, so Shortstop is set for the time being.

In order to make room on the roster, Jason Vargas was released, as he wasn’t pitching well in AAA Albuquerque for the Marlins, and Taylor Buchholz was let go following another disasterous outing. Kip Wells was snagged as a free agent, and he may prove to be useful later on. Buchholz was also facing the return of Roger Clemens, so he might have been headed to AAA as well.

AaRr Transactions – Week of May 9th

Acquired Florida OF Joe Borchard for FAAB $18. Borchard was acquired by the Marlins from Seattle, where he was designated for assignment. In Florida, Borchard has an opportunity to play every day in either right or center, and once Jeremy Hermida returns, he will likely platoon with Reggie Abercrombie in center field. It’s envisioned that Eric Reed will be sent down. Abercrombie could also use some time in AAA, but he’s shown just enough to stick, especially in light of the dearth of other options the Marlins have. An OF of Willingham – Borchard – Hermida isn’t all bad. Matt Cepicky was designated for assignment to make room on the Marlins’ roster.

For the Roadrunners, Borchard replaces the injured Cody Ross in the active OF. Ross is currently doing rehab in AAA, and is eligible to come back next week from his broken pinkie finger. Ross, who performed well for the Dodgers in April, could contribute so long as Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out, as Ryan Freel is slumping in CF. That would enable the Roadrunners to send down Jeff DaVanon, whose April hot streak is over.

The Roadrunners also picked up Jason Ellison, the 5th OF for the Giants, for a $0 FAAB bid. Ellison is decent, and contributed last season, especially in the steals department. The acquisition of Randy Winn at the deadline sealed Ellison’s fate last season. But with AaRr’s Moises Alou out for at least two weeks with an ankle sprain, (being replaced by 41-year old Steve Finley), along with the quasi-healthy Barry Bonds, and Randy Winn who injured his knee last night, there seems like ample opportunity for Ellison to get AB’s over the next few weeks.

AARR also sent down injured catcher Mike Lieberthal of the Phillies, and acquired Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino. Paulino seems to be the starter for the Bucs, as manager Jim Tracy prefers his combination of 80% of the offense of Ryan Doumit, and 80% of the defense of Humberto Cota. The Pirates once again are screwing with an offesive-minded catcher by jerking him around – Doumit is now practicing at 1B, taking time away from their last problem – Craig Wilson, who started behind the plate but was moved out to 1B and RF. See also the case of Chris Duffy and Nate McLouth in centerfield – both should be playing regularly to get in a groove, and ideally one would be sent down to AAA, but Tracy keeps jerking them around – there is no real platoon effect with those two. Anyway, Paulino will step in for Lieberthal, and seems to be a decent pickup. Dare I say, if he shows any potential with the bat besides batting average, he could be under consideration for protection.

To make room for the three new Roadrunners, Nationals’ OF Brandon Watson was released. We may have seen the last of him in AAA New Orleans, as the new ownership group may bring an influx of cash and potential free agents into the fold. In any case, he just wasn’t that good, and his sole point in getting him was the fact that he was leading off and had speed. That lasted 10 whole days. The Roadrunners also released Nats’ reliever Gary Majewski . Majewski, aqcuired in the minor league draft, had potential, and responded well to a rough patch in late April. But the bottom line is that closer Chad Cordero only has 2 saves, and the Nats suck, so no vulture wins, or Cordero-overuse saves in Majewski’s future. Lastly, the Roadrunners released Padres OF Ben Johnson. He’s just too green, but we’ll keep an eye on him for the future.

Roster Moves for April 18th

Sorry, forgot to post these the other day. The Roadrunners made some acquisitions on Tuesday, and cut bait on some reserve outfielders.

First of all, Brandon Watson was sent down, as he was demoted to AAA New Orleans last week, though this was the first opportunity to send him down myself. In his place I had promoted Victor Diaz, especially since Cliff Floyd had a strained side, and Carlos Beltran is also hobbled. But, once again, the geniuses on the Mets sent Diaz down Monday afternoon, and thus played an outfield of Xavier Nady, Endy Chavez, and Javier Jose Valentin. Ewwww.

So down (again) went Diaz, and up came Ben Johnson. The good news was that the Padres sent down Terrmel Sledge, which was surprising, and so Ben Johnson became the starting centerfielder (I didn’t know he could play center) while Mike Cameron is out. Now Cameron is due to come off the DL later this week, but Johnson has impressed, especially with the 4 RBI yesterday, so he may play more than expected – though likely at the expense of Dave Roberts, and not at the expense of Brian Giles and Mike Cameron.

So those were the moves. In terms of pickups, the Roadrunners picked up formerly-hot and now designated for assignment OF Cody Ross. Ross was DFA’d on Monday because Jeff Kent was beaned, and the Dodgers needed to bring up Oscar Robles. Never mind that Kent missed only one game. In this gambit, I’m pinning my hopes on the fact that somebody claims him (like Florida, or hell, anyone) and plays him regularly. FAAB Cost: $3, added to reserves. To secure Ross, the Roadrunners jettisoned Matt Diaz, who starts once a week, gets three additional AB’s as a pinch hitter per week, and will then be lower on the totem pole when Kelly Johnson returns.

The second pickup is another starting pitcher hedge – Aaron Cook, of the Rockies. I picked him up at the end of last year, and attempted to pick him up two weeks ago, but he was a lower priority. Cook can get wins, and so if AaRr is in need of innings or wins, I can flood the roster with Kerry Wood, Aaron Cook, and Taylor Buchholz, and send down the set-up men for a while. Dropped was Shane Victorino, who unfortunately isn’t going to play unless Rowand seriously injures himself – he’s been just a pinch runner of late. FAAB Cost: $0

Worst. Pitching. Ev-ar.

Wow.  I must say that we may have witnessed the worst 3 days of pitching – ev-ar.  The following performances dropped the Roadrunners from 1st in both ERA and WHIP to 6th and 8th, respectively – in THREE DAYS:

Player         IP    ER  ERA    WHIP
Doug Davis     2.7   9  30.00   4.07
Jason Vargas   4.0   5  11.25   3.00
Juan Cruz      2.7   3  10.00   2.22
Dan Wheeler    1.0   1   9.00   2.00
Matt Wise      1.0   4  36.00   4.00
Mark Mulder    5.0   4   7.20   2.00
Gary Majewski  0.7   2  25.71   4.29

Now that’s more like the Roadrunners of old.  Your 2006 pitching staff, ladies and gentlemen!