'Baseball' Articles

Nobel Peace Prize: Gore, Palmeiro, and now Obama.

To start, I want congratulate President Obama for his victory in winning the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize.   He joins Mikhail  Gorbachev (1990) and Nelson Mandela (1993) as notable leaders who won this prestigious award.  He also joins Al Gore (2007) and Rafael Palmeiro (1999) as Americans that cleary do not deserve such an award.  Now, for the record, I am making no accusation towards any of these individuals with respect to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.  However, their lack of achievement in the area (peace or defense) in which they won their awards really takes the awards themselves into the irrational.

Al Gore.  No comment.  We can save that for another day.  Rafael Palmeiro.  I can keep this brief.  Back in 1999,  Palmeiro won a Rawlings Gold Glove award for his play at first base while being a member of the Texas Rangers.  As for background, each year, a “Gold Glove” is given out to one player in each league at each of the nine baseball positions.  To his credit, Palmeiro only made only one error during the 1999 Major League Baseball season (and errors are bad things).  Ordinarily that would be an incredible accomplishment for a first baseman (who is the guy that all the infielders throw to).  However, he only played in 28 games at first base that season (and there are 162 games in a season).  The other games he played (135 of them) were as the designated hitter (a designated hitter is what is says, a player, who only hits, and does not field).  The Rawlings Gold Glove is awarded to those players who exhibit “defensive excellence.”  How that was exhibited by a player that played defense in less than 20% of his team’s games (as opposed to the normal 80-95%) is a question that will remain forever unanswered. 

Now we are presented with another award that does not appear warranted.  As legend tells us, after Alfred Nobel died in 1896, his will spoke to us and offered an annual Nobel Peace Prize “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”  I hope one day President Obama meets this standard.  To claim he already has is dishonest.

It should be noted that this peace prize is awarded by a committee of only five people, all of which are elected by the Norwegian Parliament.  In its press release on October 9, 2009, this committee awarded President Obama the prize for his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”  When did that happen?  The press release specifically stated that the committee “attached special importance to [President] Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.”  What work?  And how did the word “vision” get in there?  I believe the standard above specifically states “have done” — visions are irrelevant.  To the committee’s credit, they did try to show how the vision actually did something (”[t]he vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations”), but, seriously, can anyone argue that this rises to the level of the Nobel standard above?

Nonetheless, I again congratulate President Obama for winning this award.  (Mr. Palmeiro gets no such respect from me as that was Tino Martinez’s award in 1999.)  President Obama has obviously “done” something to win this peace prize.  In my opinion, that was impressing five Norwegians with him vision.  Imagine if he actually does something to lead us to a world without nuclear weapons.  What would he win then — a Gold Glove?

Add comment December 14th, 2009

Citibank Bailout: “Six-Figure-Taxpayer/Citi Field”

[New York. November 26, 2008.] The New York Mets and Citigroup Inc. [NYSE:C] are still claiming that the $400 million naming rights package will be honored, yet, Citi has watched its stock price drop from its 52-week high of about $35 to almost $3 per share. Of course, this forced the government’s hand to take more taxpayer money to save another private corporation.

Two years ago, when the naming agreement was entered into, Citi was trading at over $50 per share. At that time, I would not have complained about the naming rights agreement — the largest of its kind — which provides that Citi would pay $20 million a year for 20 years (with options for another 40 years) for the right to name the new stadium “Citi Field.” Now, this deal just looks like a joke in light of Citi’s near failure and subsequent bailout. Some suggest that the stadium should be called “Citi/Taxpayer Field.” I disagree. The way I see it, “Six-Figure-Taxpayer/Citi Field” is more like it. The more words to emphasis who is really for this naming right, the more the word “Citi” disappears in just another useless advertisement.

Let’s do some simple math: As of this afternoon, Citi’s stock closed at $7.05 and there are approximately 5.5 billion shares outstanding. Thus, Citi has a market capitalization of less than $40 billion (Finance 101: market cap = stock price x shares outstanding). I will not even go near Citi’s income statement — it just hurts too much. Now, if you compare that market cap with the government’s interest, you see (with some logic bends) who is really paying for the naming rights of the ballpark in Queens. I do not care where you get your bailout information from, no one disputes that it trumps the $40 billion. If you are curious, the government is directly investing $20 billion and backing over $300 billion in loans and securities.

Considering that those taxpayers making in excess of $100,000 annually pay the majority of this government’s taxes (and will be paying more of it based on the result of the 2008 Election), I think they should get some love.

My vote: “Six-Figure-Taxpayer/Citi Field.” With this name, Citi will probably attract a total of 10 new customers — down from the 50 customers they would have added with Citi Field. Wait, did they really agree to pay $20 million per year? Those 50 customers better all print the name Walton on their bank application.

As an aside, I am not sure if any of you New Yorkers noticed but no other major New York sports team has “sold out” their stadium’s yet — the Yankees play at Yankee Stadium, the Rangers and Knicks play at Madison Square Garden, the Giants and Jets play at Giants Stadium and the Islanders play at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Of course, when one finally does sell out, it goes to a failing bank. It was easier when only minor league teams like the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Staten Island Yankees and the Long Island Ducks played in corporate sponsored stadiums — KeySpan Park, Richmond County Bank Ballpark and Citibank Park (sound familiar?).

Add comment November 26th, 2008

Home Grown Talent — Red Sox, Mets and Yankees (2008)

[New York. April 2, 2008.]  The 2008 baseball season has finally begun.  Let me reminder all baseball fans which team in the Northeast is truly the ‘home grown’ team.  If you listen to those who hate the Yankees (both on the street and in print), you will often hear that they are “bought,” yet, when you actually look at the rosters, it paints a different picture.  As compared to the Red Sox, the Yankees have twice as many players that are considered “Home Grown Talent” (a.k.a. HGT). The Mets have even fewer HGTs — only three “everyday” players are home grown (only two of which have any real impact).

The “everyday” players I pulled were (i) the starting 8 fielders (for the AL teams I used the better of the first baseman and designated hitter as the first baseman), (ii) the five starting pitchers, (iii) the closer and (iv) the set-up man — for a total of 15 “everyday” players.  I pulled this list from the actually players that have the job, irrespective of whether they are injured (e.g., Shilling is still a starting pitcher for the Red Sox, or is he?).

After crunching the numbers — at the start of the season — the Red Sox are 5/15 (33%), the Mets are 3/15 (20%) and the Yankees are 10/15 (67%).  Again, the masses and the media are incorrect!

Boston Red Sox

C  Jason Varitek (HGT)
1B David Ortiz
2B Dustin Pedroia (HGT)
3B Mike Lowell
SS Julio Lugo
LF Manny Ramirez
CF Jacoby Ellsbury (HGT)
RF J.D. Drew
SP Josh Beckett
SP Curt Shilling
SP Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP Tim Wakefield
SP Jon Lester (HGT)
ST Hideki Okajima
CL Jonathan Papelbon (HGT)

Red Sox Home Grown Talent — 5/15 (33%)

I give the Red Sox credit.  At least they are trying to build from within while they continue to be one of the best teams in the American League.  They have filled holes with quality minor league talent (Ellsbury, et al.) and have not sold off their future for another arm. Beckett and Dice-K will probably keep them rolling in the near future and Pedroia and Ellsbury look like stars. They even boast an HGT player that has spent his entire career with the team — Jason Varitek (although not drafted by the Red Sox, he is playing his 11th season with the squad). Although, 33% is still pretty pathetic, considering the way they won the 2004 World Series, this is an improvement.

New York Mets

C  Brian Schnieder
1B Carlos Delgado
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright (HGT)
SS Jose Reyes (HGT)
LF Moises Alou
CF Carlos Beltran
RF Shawn Green
SP Johan Santana
SP Pedro Martinez
SP Oliver Perez
SP John Maine
SP Orlando Hernandez
ST Aaron Heilman (HGT)
CL Billy Wagner

Mets Home Grown Talent — 3/15 (20%)

The Mets are now down to three home grown players.  It is simply ironic that it is usually the Mets supporters in New York that claim the Yankees “buy” their teams.  Looking at this roster — the top 15 starters on the Mets — it is reprehensible that only three of them come from the Mets system.  In fact, if you remove their setup-man Heilman – who really has not won that role yet – the Mets would have only two home grown players playing every day. That must be hard to swallow for a Mets fan, but, I assume, if they win it all this year, those same fans will forget all about it.  As a side note, I will admit that the Mets have done a great job buying talent.  Santana and Beltran are at the top of their respective positions.  on the other hand, some of their minor moves and the older players purchased may come back to bite them.  At least they did not bring in Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown.  At the end of the day, the Mets have put together the best lineup and staff in the National League (assuming they stay healthy) and regardless how they do it, they are still a top contender.

New York Yankees

C Jorge Posada (HGT)
1B Jason Giambi
2B Robinson Cano (HGT)
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter (HGT)
LF Johhny Damon
CF Melky Cabrera (HGT)
RF Bobby Abreu
SP Chien-Ming Wang (HGT)
SP Andy Pettitte (HGT)
SP Mike Mussina
SP Phil Hughes (HGT)
SP Ian Kennedy (HGT)
RP Joba Chamberlain (HGT)
CL Mariano Rivera (HGT)

Yankees Home Grown Talent 10/15 (67%)

It is pretty amazing to think they hold a HGT of 67% considering their reputation.  They may have a huge salary, but there is something to be said for rewarding players with big contracts that you developed in your own system.  Few teams in the league can say that — and it impresses me that the Yankees are one of them.  Ten of the Yankees fifteen starters are from the Yankees system. As compared to their rival Red Sox (who have only 5) and their New York counterpart (who have only 3), it is pretty impressive to see the Yankees continue to stockpile the youth on their roster. Looking back to this winter (although, Yankees fans may regret it), when we held on to the kids and passed on Santana, we really showed baseball which teams ‘buy’ their teams and which teams ‘develop’ their teams.

As a disclaimer, I happen to be a Yankees fan.  I despise the Red Sox and remain cautious with the Mets.  I have changed my idea of what Home Grown Talent is from last year and begin this season with the following definition — an HGT is a player that is (a) drafted by their team or (b) played in the minor leagues for that team, and (c) currently plays for that team.  Yes, there are holes in that logic, but until someone falls through the crack, no sense in developing a more detailed formula.

2 comments April 2nd, 2008

Home Grown Talent — Who Really has it? (2007)

[New York. September 13, 2007.] I have to admit, after years of hearing about how the Yankees “buy” their teams and have no “home grown talent,” I started to believe it. My response was always — what about Jeter and Posada, and Mariano and Pettitte, and now, Cano and Cabrera — and I thought I had a good argument. A good argument indeed!

After looking around the league, I realized very few competitive teams have a lot of Home Grown Talent, otherwise known as ‘HGT’ (not HGH)! In fact, the two largest groups of fans I see day-today (and find myself arguing with) sponsor teams that have a really palty HGT on their current teams. In fact, the Red Sox have only an HGT of 25%, and the Mets have only three really HGT players on their team.

Before I give you my analysis, let me first explain how I came to my results. First, I consider, any “current” player that was either (i) drafted by the team or (ii) played their entire career with only that team. Then, I looked to each teams’ “top twenty” players, eight starting fielders, three other batters (a DH or bench player, an infield and outfield bench player), the five starting pitchers, three top relievers and the closer. If a starting player was recently injured, they remained on this list. The Red Sox, Mets and Yankees top-twenty players and their HGT status are listed below:

Boston Red Sox

C Jason Varitek (HGT)
1B Kevin Youkilis (HGT)
2B Dustin Pedroia (HGT)
3B Mike Lowell
SS Julio Lugo
LF Manny Ramirez
RF Coco Crisp
CF J.D. Drew
DH David Ortiz
IN Alex Cora
OF Eric Hinske

P1 Josh Beckett
P2 Curt Shilling
P3 Daisuke Matsuzaka
P4 Tim Wakefield
P5 Jon Lester (HGT)
RP Mike Timlin
RP Hideki Okajima
RP Eric Gagne
CL Jonathan Papelbon (HGT)

HGT — 5/20 (25%)

The Boston Red Sox have five home grown players of their top twenty players. That is not too impressive. At least the Sox can boast that five of their top-twenty have been on the team for at least seven seasons (Manny, Ortiz, Timlin, Wakefield and Varitek), although, only one of them is an HGT. (Yankees’ fans out there — remind yourself that four of the five current HGT’s were not on the 2004 Red Sox, nor were there any other HGT’s on that team.)

New York Mets

C Paul LoDuca
1B Carlos Delgado
2B Luis Castillo
3B David Wright (HGT)
SS Jose Reyes (HGT)
LF Moises Alou
CF Carlos Beltran
RF Shawn Green
OF Lastings Milledge (HGT)
OF Ruben Gotay
IN Endy Chavez

P1 Tom Glavine
P2 Orlando Hernandez
P3 Pedro Martinez
P4 John Maine
P5 Oliver Perez
RP Jorge Sosa
RP Guillermo Mota
RP Aaron Heilman (HGT)
CL Billy Wagner

HGT — 4/20 (20%)

The Mets offer a only four home grown players in their top twenty. To make matters worse, of these twenty top players, not one of them has been on the Mets for more than three seasons. In fact, their entire top-twenty has turned over since their 2000 World Series appearance. To their credit, they were in need of a rebuild after 2000, but, I wish they would start give time to some minor league youth over the Glavine, Green and Delgados…

New York Yankees

C Jorge Posada (HGT)
1B Jason Giambi
2B Robinson Cano (HGT)
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Derek Jeter (HGT)
LF Hideki Matsui
CF Melky Cabrera (HGT)
RF Bobby Abreu
DH Johnny Damon
IN Andy Phillips (HGT)
OF Shelley Duncan (HGT)

P1 Chien-Ming Wang (HGT)
P2 Andy Pettitte (HGT)
P3 Roger Clemens
P4 Phil Hughes (HGT)
P5 Ian Kennedy (HGT)
RP Edwar Ramirez (HGT)
RP Luis Vizcaino
RP Joba Chamberlain (HGT)
CL Mariano Rivera (HGT)

HGT — 13/20 (65%)

Remarkably, 65% of the Yankees top twenty are home grown. I still find it amazing that people can insult any team that has so much quality youth — not to mention that half of the veterans are HGT’s (who are being compensated accordingly). Posada, Jeter, Pettitte and Mariano have all played for the Yankees for at least eight seasons and were a large part of the Yankees’ dynasty in the late 1990’s. You could argue that Mussina and Farnsworth belong on this list, but after the last few months — Kennedy and Ramirez appear to have taken their roles.

After crunching the numbers, it looks like the Yanks (with 65%) have more home grown talent than the Mets (20%) and Red Sox (25%) combined! The Sox may have two HGT’s in their rotation, but the Yanks have four (while the Mets offer their fans zero). Obviously, the more HGTs you throw out there, the less likely you are to be successful “today,” but it has to feel pretty good right now to know that during the next few years we will be watching our veterans (who we’ve know for a long time) play with our next generation of Yankees. Of course, it never hurts to bring in a non-HGT MVP. But in all honesty, last year, many fans would have reversed that trade and brought Soriano back to the Bronx. Luckily, Cashman was not listening.

1 comment September 13th, 2007

Interleague: Yes, the AL is that Dominant!

[New York. September 10, 2007.] So, interleague play is long gone and it is time to crunch the numbers — as expected, the American League is the better conference.  The numbers just do not lie.  Although, I have to admit, the American League East surprised me with a total .500 winning percentage against the National League.  I guess it does not help when Tampa Bay and Baltimore could not get out of their own way.

In the end, the American League won 137 of the total 252 interleague games.  That results in a .544 winning percentage –  and this sample is the equivalent of over a season and a half for any one team.  If you pull out the Devil Rays, the Orioles and the White Sox (the bottom of the AL), the rest of the America League played at a .606 pace against the National League.  In fact, taking out those three AL teams and not one of the other AL teams (the other 11 teams) had a losing record in interleague play.  That includes last place Texas (11-7) and a Kansas City (10-8) team that is currently 18 games under .500.

A summary of each teams final interleague record is as follows:

American League [137-115] (.544)

AL East
Boston 12-6
Yankees 10-8
Toronto 10-8
Tampa Bay 7-11
Baltimore 6-12

AL Central
Detroit 14-4
Minnesota 11-7
Cleveland 9-9
Kansas City 10-8
White Sox 4-14

AL West
Los Angeles 14-4
Texas 11-7
Oakland 10-8
Seattle 9-9

National League [115-137] (.456)

NL East
Mets 8-7
Atlanta 8-7
Florida 9-9
Washington 9-9
Philadelphia 4-11

NL Central
Cubs 8-4
Milwaukee 8-7
Houston 9-9
St. Louis 6-9
Cincinnati 7-11
Pittsburgh 5-10

NL West
Colorado 10-8
Arizona 8-7
San Diego 6-9
Los Angeles 5-10
San Francisco 5-10

An interesting fact — if you look at only the current four playoff teams and the top two teams trailing in the wild card standings (as of September 9, 2007), the six such AL teams (Sox, Yanks, Angels, Indians, Tigers and Seattle) finished 68-40 (.630) and the six such NL teams (Mets, Phils, Brewers, ‘Backs, Padres and LA) finished 43-47 (.478) in interleague play. That does not lend towards another NL World Champion, but of course, not of that really matters in a quick seven-game series in late October.

1 comment September 10th, 2007

Interleague: Is the AL Really Dominant?

[New York. June 11, 2007.]  We just finished our first weekend of the “real” interleague matchups.  Last month, we were greeted with the “rivalry” interleague matchups.  So, shall we start the debate as to which Major League Baseball Conference is superior?  These two interleague weekends have given us 84 total interleague games.  Luckily, there were no postponements.  Each of the 14 American League teams played in two series (6 total games each).  Since there are 16 National League teams, 10 played 6 games and the other 4 played in only 3 each (remember, those four had to play each other to keep it all even).  To preempt any arguments about where the games were played — there were 42 games played in National League parks and 42 games in American.

In those 84 games so far, the American League won over 60% of the games.  To be exact, the American League was 51-33 (.607) in those games, thus, the National League was 33-51 (.393).  Even though interleague play has only just begun, these numbers appear to be consistent with the overall power of the leagues.  But for the Mets, it is hard to imagine any of the other National League teams consistently beating any of the American League power-houses (the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers, Indians, Angels, etc.).  And those Mets, they just lost two out of three against the Tigers.  That series puts the two leagues in perspective.  The Mets shut out Detroit in game one with an amazing outing by their number five starter, Jorge Sosa.  But, when they sent their top two starters out there in the next two games, they lost both, surrendering 23 total runs in those two games.

A summary of each teams current record, along with their interleague record, is as follows:

American League [51-33] (.607)

AL East
Boston 40-22 (.645) 4-2
Yankees 30-31 (.492) 4-2 
Toronto 30-32 (.484) 3-3
Baltimore 29-34 (.460) 3-3 
Tampa Bay 28-33 (.459) 2-4

AL Central
Cleveland 37-24 (.607) 3-3
Detroit 36-26 (.581) 5-1
Minnesota 30-31 (.492) 3-3 
White Sox 27-32 (.458) 2-4
Kansas City 24-40 (.375) 4-2

AL West
Los Angeles 40-24 (.625) 5-1
Seattle 33-26 (.559) 4-2
Oakland 34-28 (.548) 5-1
Texas 23-40 (.365) 4-2

National League [33-51] (.393)

NL East
Mets 36-25 (.590) 3-3
Atlanta 35-29 (.547) 1-2
Philadelphia 32-31 (.508) 3-3
Florida 31-33 (.484) 4-2
Washington 26-37 (.413) 3-3

NL Central
Milwaukee 34-29 (.540) 2-4 
St. Louis 27-33 (.450) 1-5
Cubs 27-34 (.443) 2-1
Houston 26-36 (.419) 3-3
Pittsburgh 26-37 (.413) 0-3
Cincinnati 25-39 (.391) 3-3

NL West
San Diego 36-26 (.581) 2-4
Arizona 37-27 (.578) 1-2
Los Angeles 35-28 (.556) 1-5
Colorado 31-32 (.492) 3-3
San Francisco 28-34 (.452) 1-5

We will be back after the next set of interleague games to discuss.  I know St. Louis fans will argue that their team won the World Series, but that was a seven game series.  The data above gives us the analysis of 84 games thus far.  And trust me, I wish the National League would win 60%, so long as my American League team was in the 40%…

Add comment June 11th, 2007


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