WTNYMarch 01, 2004
Lookin' Around
By Bryan Smith

Hey, anyone else got a case of the Mondays? Maybe it was from staying up and watching the Oscars, which after 6 or so Lord of the Rings victories got me a little upset. Forgive me for liking Billy Crystal, and wow, did you see Julia Roberts or Jennifer Garner? Thats enough Oscar talk for a year, last time I checked, I wrote about baseball here.

Today Ill run through what Im reading on the Internet, as its been an interesting week. Im thinking about changing my sidebar to the articles Ive noticed around the Internet, pointing to good articles rather than good sites. Thoughts?

First, I have to give some props to Alex Belth. Not only is he one of the best writers on the Internet, but last week showed that he can call the shots behind the scenes as well. Belth put together a week worth of Yankees previews that was sensational, one of the best ways to preview a team Ive ever seen. My personal favorite article was Rich Lederer and Belths take on Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter, but I recommend going back and perusing each article.

To conclude his preview, Belth has put together an All-Star cast of writers to give their thoughts on the Yankees hottest topics. The fact that Belth can get two New York writers, the head Propsectus columnist, and an ESPN writer in the same group (not to mention Larry Mahnken!) says a lot about the growing power of us amateur writers.

Diving more into that topic, Belth was the feature of a Journal News story this weekend entitled A growing sports voice. This talks about the best New York sites around the Internet, and also quotes a media columnist as saying, Blogs are only going to get more popular. Lets hope so.

Also mentioned in that article is Aaron Gleeman, a necessary mention when talking about baseball blogs. I really enjoyed a series Gleeman put together last week judging his 2003 top 50 prospect list. Gleeman comes to recognize that he underrated ten players, overrated sixteen players, and was neutral on twenty-four selections. Fun group of articles, I cant wait to do the same on my top 50.

Speaking of minor league rankings, Baseball America unleashed their top 100 last week. After reading their list, I wanted to compare my top 50 to that of BA, Baseball Propsectus, and The Minors First. Here are my findings:

Site Same Ranking Within One Different Players
BA 6 4 9
BP 1 1 11
TMF 5 3 8

I was most similar to Baseball America, where we had Mauer (1), Upton (2), Barfield (20), Guzman (26), McPherson (33), and Wagner (46) all ranked equally. Of our nine different selections, three of their players (Kyle Sleeth, Kaz Matsui, Jeff Allison) didnt fit my criteria. As expected, me and Baseball Prospectus differed greatly, although many of the selections are similar. I wont rehash my comments on their rankings, but believe me, theyre smarter men than me. Finally, its apparent me and Mike Gullo see things eye-to-eye. We ranked Mauer, Kazmir (14), Young (17), Hardy (25), and McPherson (33) equally. I guess well see how everyone did come September.

In Cubs news, the team spent the weekend locking up a couple of integral pieces of their future. Derrek Lee signed a three-year, $22.5M deal, less than what I expected he would make. Kerry Wood, my most favorite player in the game, signed three years, $32.5M deal, with an option that should get picked up at the end. Im convinced that Jim Hendry is a good GM, and I was impressed by both these comments. Wood came out way under Colon, about equal to Roy Halladay, and a bit below Javier Vazquez. Glad to see both these guys are staying in Chicago.

What does this mean for 2005? The Cubs are quickly signing players, and will have very few holes next year. The rotation should replace Matt Clement with Angel Guzman, and Hendry wont have many holes in the bullpen to path. The offense will be open at catcher, second base, shortstop, and left field. Brendan Harris appears to be the logical choice for second, and Dave Kelton or Jason Dubois could handle left. At shortstop? How about Orlando Cabrera?

Will Carroll wrote his latest THR on the Cubs, and while I wont comment too much (its Premium content), I was pretty happy. No reds is nice, but it looks to be an exorbitant amount of yellows. My bet is that Alou and Zambrano miss time, but I dont think anyone else will. Prior and Maddux? Id hate to jinx thembut no way. The multi-tasking Carroll also appeared for an interview at the Futility Infielder, talking up his Yankees THR. Its a nice run-through for Yankees fans, and while I hate giving you guys a plug, I just cant seem to avoid it.

Speaking of the Yankees, in Gammons latest, he gives an El Duque update:

Orlando Hernandez threw "considerably better" this week in a private showing for Boston on Wednesday and a public showing Friday for several teams. He still is three to four weeks from being ready to pitch in games, but there is genuine interest. "It's coming down to the Yankees and Red Sox," says one source close to El Duque. "We may have a good idea Monday." El Duque is still close to Boston bullpen coach Euclides Rojas, who was a star reliever for Industriales and the Cuban National team when Hernandez broke in with both. They have remained friends for many years.

It makes more sense for the Yankees to sign him, as Contreras, Lieber, and Brown all have injury concerns tied to them. Who knows if El Duque can provide anything for a Major League team anymore, but hes better George insurance than a youngster like Jorge De Paula.

Also in the Gammons article

The Twins are in the market for a starting pitcher, and will talk about Jacque Jones. That began some Jones-Kazuhisa Ishii rumors, which would force the Dodgers to take on $1.9 million this season.

Los Angeles desperately needs to add more offense, as Rich Lederer showed us this weekend. I always shunned upon the Juan Encarnacion acquisition, but I didnt know he was a top ten out producer. Yikes. The Dodgers are a shoo-in for the leagues worst offense, and the reason they wont finish top three in the NL West. But hey, theres always Edwin Jackson and Greg Millder to fall back on.

Finally, without transition, there are two more articles around the Internet that caught my fancy. First was the Baseball Savants long look at the Braves 12-year run, a history lesson worth reading. Lastly is Jonah Keris interview of Bill Bavasi, the Mariners GM quickly becoming the worst GM in baseball. Keri pins him in the corner about the Raul Ibanez signing, and as usual, gets good content from a GM.

Thats all for today, Ill be back tomorrow with an Expo preview