Baseball BeatMarch 29, 2004
Nothing But the 'Net
By Rich Lederer

Monday morning musings:

  • Bob Keisser of the (Long Beach) Press-Telegram wrote another sabermetrically oriented article in today's newspaper regarding Paul DePodesta ("Numbers Game for New GM"). Keisser is one of a growing numbers of sportwriters who understands and appreciates baseball's new wave of general managers.

    DePodesta discusses the need for blending statistics with the human element, working pitchers deeper into the count, and college players vs. preps:

    "Mark Prior went to college and Kerry Wood signed out of high school. Jim Thome was drafted from high school, Jason Giambi out of college. Eric Chavez went pro out of high school, and Troy Glaus went to college.

    "There's definitely a mix. There's probably an ideal blend there somewhere. The key is you can't limit yourself to just college or high school. If you do, you may miss on some guys.

    "You have two or three more years to scout a guy who plays college and have a better idea what he will look like physically than you do a kid who's 17 or 18. But there are high school kids who get up here (the majors) just as fast, like Sean Burroughs. What you look for is the common ingredient that makes someone a success."

  • Randy Youngman, a columnist for the Orange County Register, prepared a 25-man roster of past and present major-leaguers from county high schools and listed Garry Templeton (Santa Ana Valley HS) as the starting shortstop over Arky Vaughan (Fullerton). Templeton (.271/.304/.369) had over 2,000 hits in his 16-year big league career but pales in comparison to the Hall of Famer Vaughan (.318/.406/.453), who most sabermetricians would argue is the second or third best shortstop of all time.

    Walter Johnson (Fullerton), Orange County's finest, and Gary Carter (Sunny Hills) are the other HOFers on this select team. Bert Blyeven (Santiago), Bret Boone (El Dorado), Trevor Hoffman (Savanna), Jeff Kent (Edison), and Dan Quisenberry (Costa Mesa) also appear on this high school squad.

  • Richard Ceccarelli, an 18-year-old college student, started Pearly Gates last month. The website is devoted to his hometown Anaheim Angels. Richard asked his readers for a nickname for the Angels' new lineup, featuring Guerrero, Garrett, Glaus, and Guillen in the 3-4-5-6 spots. My suggestion? The G-String.

  • The Montreal Expos recently announced that the team will retire Tim Raines' jersey number 30 on June 19. Fittingly, the Expos will play the Chicago White Sox that game. Raines played in Montreal from 1979-1990 and the south side of Chicago from 1991-1995.

    I drafted Raines for my APBA team after his outstanding rookie season in 1981 and followed the early part of his career with utmost interest. Raines was the National League's version of Rickey Henderson and one of the best left fielders and leadoff hitters of all time. I believe he is as underappreciated as Bert Blyleven and Fred McGriff.

    For more on Raines, I recommend reading Rock On, Tim Raines by Jay Jaffe of The Futility Infielder. If you don't think Raines is a Hall of Famer now, you will after reading Jay's excellent piece.

  • Comments

    "DePodesta says that isn't something Beane or anyone else in Oakland discovered while doing algorithms at 4 a.m. Every baseball fan in America that's watched the Yankees dominate the American League since 1996 has seen it first-hand.

    "It's somewhat funny,' he said. "The A's have been the team labeled as the one that uses (these stats), but the Yankees have been doing it better and longer than anyone. The teams they put together were patient at the plate and worked pitchers deeper into the count.'"

    But the greater point here is that the Yanks are doing it with $200 million worth of veterans while Billy and the A's are doing it with smarts and research combined with a "mere" $50 million payroll.

    From a tactical standpoint, I think DePo is correct in identifying the Yankees' patience at the plate as one of the keys to their success. But I agree with you that the manner in which Beane and the A's have succeeded has been even more impressive given their much lower payroll.