Winks and Links
I have been fortunate to join up with some of the best publications of late and wanted to share these contributions with you. The quantity and quality of information is better today than ever.
Editor Dave Studeman asked me to write the team commentary for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the style of the "Team in a Box" format from the Bill James Baseball Books from the early 1990s. My article can be found here.
Spearheaded by the foursome of Liriano, Papelbon, Verlander, and Weaver, this class of first-year pitchers could be the best since 1984 when Rookies of the Year Dwight Gooden (17-9, 2.60) and Mark Langston (17-10, 3.40) were joined by Roger Clemens (9-4, 4.32), Orel Hershiser (11-8, 2.66), Ron Darling (12-9, 3.81), and Mark Gubicza (10-14, 4.05). Given the unpredictable nature of pitchers, this year's Fab Four could be caught or surpassed in due time by any number of their fellow rookies, including Chad Billingsley, Boof Bonser, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels, Rich Hill, Chuck James, Josh Johnson, Adam Loewen, John Maine, Scott Olsen, Anthony Reyes, Anibal Sanchez, James Shields, and/or Jeremy Sowers.
The pitching staff is tops in the American League. Last year, the team had the third-best ERA (4.04) while tying for first in strikeouts and allowing the fewest home runs in the league. It doesn't take much imagination to envision the Halos surpassing the Twins (especially given the absence of Francisco Liriano and Brad Radke, and the possible inclusion of Ramon Ortiz and Sidney Ponson in this year's Minnesota rotation), and one can make the case that they were better than Detroit in 2006. Sure, the Tigers had a lower ERA, but the Angels put up superior K/9 (7.2 vs. 6.2), BB/9 (2.9 vs. 3.0) and H/9 (8.7 vs. 8.8).
Brad Wochomurka and I also talked about the Angels' chances on Baseball Prospectus Radio. You can listen to the 10-minute discussion here.
In the meantime, don't forget to pick up Baseball Prospectus 2007 if you haven't already. I have all of the editions going back to 2001.
I believe Bill James is the most influential person in baseball with respect to how insiders and serious fans think about the game of baseball since Branch Rickey. He challenged long-held consensus viewpoints by researching such issues and presenting indisputable evidence to the contrary in many cases.
The book, edited by Gregory F. Augustine Pierce and published by ACTA Sports, is a breezy, 136-page read. I recommend picking up a copy as it promises to be a worthwhile addition to your library of Bill James books.
I hooked up with Joe last week to discuss the NL West. He asked me 21 questions, mostly about the Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Giants (in no particular order...all right, that is how I see the division ending up) but also plays word association on a totally separate topic:
OK, let's play a word association game. I'll say a word, and you say the first thing that comes to mind. The word is, hmm, let me think of a good one ... BLYLEVEN.
Is Opening Day really just two weeks away?