Bad investments (cont.)
Posted: Friday June 29, 2007 11:58AM; Updated: Friday June 29, 2007 2:16PM
From the E-Bag
Where we're all over the place this week ...
As an Angels fan I am nothing short of mesmerized by the superb play of Reggie Willits. However, I'm a bit tired of the comparisons to David Eckstein, because they have no basis. Willits is small, but is at least four inches taller than Eckstein. While Eckstein can run well, Willits is one of the fastest players in the league, with 18 steals to prove it. Also, Willits is an outfielder, has a better arm, works the count better, is a better bunter, and is hitting at a pace Eckstein that never did. I don't think any player of recent memory is at all like Willits, especially Eckstein.
All I can say, Jesse, is that you're generally right, but you don't go nearly far enough. Those two players shouldn't be mentioned in anywhere close to the same breath, and the numbers show it. Willits, though it's way early in his career to make the definitive call, is simply a better all-around player. For more, check out firejoemorgan.com , which points out the differences in the site's own, inimitable way. If you haven't seen FJM yet, it's a smart, painfully funny and relentlessly cruel (but did I mention funny?) blog dedicated to ridding the world of bad baseball analysis, notably that of ESPN's lead guy. FJM picks on other media screwups, too. In fact, I live every day in fear of getting skewered on that site, which is why I have completely stricken the words scrappy, lunch pail, grit and hustle from my F1 key, I now believe that Darin Erstad was a better punter than he is a baseball player, I'll never say anyone works out of anyone's basement, I'm taking a crash course in all sorts of Sabermetric terms, I'm considering asking Ken Tremendous to be the godfather to my next kid and I've bought stock in Fremulon Insurance. I think I'm safe. For now.
Is there any more disrespected pitcher in baseball than Aaron Harang? Last year he goes and ties for the NL lead in wins and leads the NL in strikeouts and doesn't receive a single Cy Young vote. This year he's 8-2 already and third in the NL in strikeouts and I hear no mention of him going to the All-Star Game. Last I thought, an 8-2 record halfway through the season and being a league leader in strikeouts meant something.
Oh, Tom, the guys at FJM would have a field day with you and your attachment to a pitcher's win-loss record. Let that go, would you? For your own good. That said, I think that Harang generally is underappreciated. But an All-Star? Last year 10 starters made the NL All-Star staff. Harang's 3.80 ERA ranks 23rd in the NL right now, so that probably keeps him out the game. But he has the strikeouts, his WHIP is top 10 ... I will say he's clearly the Reds' best starter this season. But not quite an All-Star.
Does anybody other than me think Lou Piniella was a horrible choice for Cubs manager? I would have preferred Joe Girardi, who almost took a team of minor leaguers to the playoffs last year. Piniella managed a bunch of minor leaguers in Tampa for three years and didn't do squat. I'm holding out hope that he'll be fired and Girardi will get the job he deserved in the first place.
This may well go down with my "Jeff Weaver will win a Cy Young Award someday" proclamation, but I'm telling you: Don't count out the Cubs. They have enough talent to win the Central. Piniella is a good manager struggling with the mystery that is the Cubs. He'll get them going. And the team has a GM that's going to do everything he can to get the Cubs help in July if they need it, just because he may have to do that in order to keep his job.
Count me among those who knew nothing of Dustin Pedroia prior to this season and thought he was in over his head. Nobody told us he's a notoriously slow starter. All I saw was a little guy who looked like the bat was swinging him. I'm so glad this first impression is wrong. I like this kid and I like his confidence.
Pedroia has a load of confidence and a good-sized chip he's been carrying around his entire life. Good thing you doubted him. If everybody believed in him, he might not be nearly as good as he is.
I don't think 500 home runs automatically puts Frank Thomas in the Hall of Fame. But you have to admit that it at least puts him in the conversation. A couple more years of this -- he's signed through next year, and looks ready to play longer than that -- he could close in on 600. And that's an automatic as far as the Hall goes. ... I'll go out on a limb here and state that Shea Hillenbrand is not the answer for the Yankees ... I talked to Torii Hunter about his pending free agency back in March. Can you blame him for being sick and tired of talking about it now? ... Who wants a gimpy Jermaine Dye? Would you take a chance that he could help your team in the second half of the season? I wouldn't. And I like the guy ... Welcome to Kevin Towers' Wayward Home for Boys. I don't know if it's going to work out there in San Diego for Michael Barrett and Milton Bradley. But, like everybody else in that division, the Padres are desperate for a little thump. And neither of those guys cost them much ... Thursday night is why guys like Craig Biggio hang on. Because, even if he's not the same player he once was, he still can muster up games like that one, when he summons every bit of energy and moxie and skill he has remaining to pull off an incredible, magical night that everyone at Minute Maid Park will remember for a long time. Good for Biggio. Score one for the old guys.