Baseball BeatNovember 12, 2005
By Rich Lederer

No, basketball fans, this column isn't about Walt Bellamy, Gus Johnson, Earl the Pearl Monroe, Wes Unseld, or Elvin Hayes. It's simply a hodge podge of ideas separated by small, bold, round symbols.

  • The Baseball Writer's Association of America voted Johan Santana Bartolo Colon and Roger Clemens Chris Carpenter as the AL and NL Cy Young Award winners this past week.

    How did the writers do? Well, how about if we take a look at eight key pitching stats in the AL:

              ERA   ERA+   H/IP   WHIP   SO   K/9   K/BB   HR/9   
    Colon    3.48   120    0.96   1.16  157  6.35   3.65   1.05
    Santana  2.88   153    0.77   0.97  238  9.25   5.29   0.85

    What am I missing here? Ohhhhhhh. Wins. Dummy me. Colon, 21. Santana, 16. Man, how could I have missed that? Now I understand why the writers gave (and I mean gave) the award to Colon. Sheesh, I thought the honor was supposed to go to the "best pitcher." If it's designed to go to the pitcher with the most wins, why jerk everyone around and vote?

    I realize that the pitcher with the most wins (Dontrelle Willis, 22) didn't win the CYA in the NL. That's because the winner was close enough (21) for BBWAA work while fashioning a much better W-L % (.808 vs. .688), the other team-dependent criterion that gets way too much attention. Although Clemens got aced out of the award this year, he beat out Randy Johnson in 2005 for the same reasons. He won more games (18 to 16) and had a much better W-L % (.818 vs. .533) than the Big Unit, yet the latter had superior K-BB stats, such as K/9 (10.62 to 9.15), K/BB (6.59 to 2.76), similar HR/9 (0.66 to 0.63), and a lower ERA (2.60 to 2.98) and ERA+ (171 to 145).

    Carpenter was a much better selection than Colon. But guess what? Bartolo won by a substantially wider margin than the St. Louis right-hander. Don't pay attention to me though. My choices finished third in both leagues. Five writers didn't even see fit to include Santana on their ballots and one voter thought Chad Cordero was more deserving than Clemens. I'm serious. The writer in question must have thought that ol' Roger didn't have enough victories or a good-enough winning percentage for his tastes so he chose the relief pitcher who went 2-4 with a .333 W-L % while recording 411 fewer outs than the man who led MLB with a 1.87 ERA.

  • According to a New York Daily News article, the Yankees might have an interest in Milton Bradley. However, "it's believed that five other teams are interested -- the A's, Cubs, Nationals, Pirates and Tigers. Jim Tracy, Bradley's former manager with the Dodgers, is now the Pirates' skipper and he thinks highly of the 27-year-old's talent."

    Hmmm. Didn't Paul DePodesta trade for Bradley? Gosh, maybe the former GM did have a "keen eye for talent," despite Frank McCourt's claims to the contrary.

    Didn't Bradley cause chemistry problems? Or was that Jeff Kent (.289/.377/.512), the All-Star second baseman who DePo forced upon his poor manager?

    Besides, I thought Tracy liked to keep his teams intact? If that is the case, it seems to me the Pirates would be better off fielding a lineup of Humberto Cota, Daryle Ward, Jose Castillo, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson, Jason Bay, Tike Redman, and Craig Wilson, don't ya think? Speaking of Ward, I wonder how he is feeling these days? He played for Tracy in 2003 and hit .183/.211/.193 with 3 BB, 19 SO, 1 XBH, and 0 HR in 52 games and 109 AB. D'oh!

  • Sammy Sosa is celebrating his 37th birthday today.

    Let's see how Sammy has been doing of late. Anyone notice a trend?

    YEAR    G   AB    R    H  2B 3B  HR  RBI   BB   SO   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS+
    2001  160  577  146  189  34  5  64  160  116  153  .328  .437  .737   201
    2002  150  556  122  160  19  2  49  108  103  144  .288  .399  .594   160
    2003  137  517   99  144  22  0  40  103   62  143  .279  .358  .553   135
    2004  126  478   69  121  21  0  35   80   56  133  .253  .332  .517   110
    2005  102  380   39   84  15  1  14   45   39   84  .221  .295  .376    82

    Yeah, me neither (cough, cough). The number of games, at-bats, runs, hits, home runs, RBI, walks, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging average, and OPS+ have declined for four years in a row. Sosa went from superstar to great to good to average to poor or from the proverbial penthouse to the outhouse in four years.

    You know, Sosa's trend kinda looks like Westley Sissel Unseld's coaching record.

    YEAR     W-L     WPct
    1988    30-25    .545    
    1989    40-42    .488
    1990    31-51    .378
    1991    30-52    .366
    1992    25-57    .305
    1993    22-60    .268
    1994    24-58    .293

    Just think, if Sosa can bounce back in 2006 the way Wes turned things around in 1994. . .

    Quiz: The franchise that is now known as the Washington Wizards was previously the Baltimore Bullets (1964-73) and the Washington Bullets (1975-97). What was the full name of the team in 1974?

  • Comments

    Here's what I had to say about Sosa at the end of January. Turns out I was being optimistic.

    Wasn't it the Capital Bullets?

    Capital Bullets it was...1st place and a shout out to UC Bear Phil Chenier.

    I think it was actually the Capitol Bullets.

    You would expect that if a team was in Washington, D.C. (actually Landover), it would be the Capitol Bullets. But the name was, in fact, the Capital Bullets. Here is an image of the team's logo. This logo can also be found on the website of The Logo Museum courtesy of The Freeman Institute in Severn, Maryland.

    There is definitely a lot of confusion over this issue. Basketball cards from the 1970s apparently used "Capitol," the throwback jerseys sold today say "Capital," yet the names are used interchangeably on the NBA's official site, including "Capitol" Bullets under Franchise History and "Capital" Bullets in the historical section down below on the Washington Wizards home page.

    Hey, what would you expect from a city whose hockey team is known as the "Washington Capitals?"

    That's the LAST time I believe Topps on anything.

    Since the Captial Bullets played in the Capital Centre, the name makes a lot of sense to me.

    The Washington Post ALWAYS used "Capital".

    rather than continued complaining about what have become meaningless "sportswriters choice awards", I think the question, "Is Johan Santana the best pitcher in the game today?" is much more interesting and relevant.

    Speaking of Ward, I wonder how he is feeling these days?

    I doubt Ward cares what Jim Tracy thinks. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that Ward will not play for the Pirates next year, and it has been for a couple months.

    Yes, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in the game today. He would be even more dominant in the NL.

    About those Capital/Capitol Bullets...

    What's not mentioned is why they changed their name in the first place. There was a controversy about a sports team using a name synonymous with death and violence, so the name was changed from the Washington Bullets to the Capital Bullets.

    Rich, more newspapers are not allowing their
    "baseball writers" to vote on awards. I saw
    a quote from one of the AL Cy Young voters in the
    NY Times that should've merited his removal from
    voting. Currently, there aren't enough voters in
    each market to cover the awards. This year, an
    Atlanta area vote had to be farmed out to a Phil-
    adelphia based internet writer. Even the president
    of the BBWAA, Peter Schmuck, works for a paper that
    doesn't allow him to vote (Baltimore Sun). The insiders won't want to give up their power and glory, but this system is clearly broken and
    severely lacking in supervision. Do you have any
    ideas on how I might expedite the publication of
    all voters' names and their votes? This would
    start the ball rolling to an overhaul of the
    system. Thanks.