Monday, March 5, 2012
Thursday, March 1, 2012
1. Barry Bonds, LF: While you could certainly pick Ted Williams as your LF (or possibly Stan Musial or Rickey Henderson), I take Bonds because of his amazing offense and defense. Even if you throw out his late "steroid" years, I think he still is a great fit. Take his 1990 season (age 25), where he led the NL in slugging while also stealing 52 bases.
2. Willie Mays, CF: Ty Cobb would fit here perfectly as well. Frankly, good arguments for Tris Speaker, Mickey Mantle, Oscar Charleston, or Joe DiMaggio. But it's Willie Mays. He's on the team.
3. Babe Ruth, RF: This is pretty easy as he is the best player of all-time. He also works as an emergency pitcher in case anything happens to my starter. Apologies to Hank Aaron.
4. Josh Gibson, C: Between the statistics available and the opinion of him at the time, he has a compelling argument as a legendary slugger and greatest catcher of all-time. If you wanted to choose Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra, I could see that.
5. Lou Gehrig, 1B: If I had more flexibility, I might go with Stan Musial as my 1B, but he is correctly listed as a LF, and I can't argue with the choice of Gehrig, although I could understand people choosing Jimmie Foxx or Albert Pujols.
6. Rogers Hornsby, 2B: If you want to go with Eddie Collins or Joe Morgan or even Jackie Robinson, I can understand that, but I couldn't pass up Hornsby's hitting prowess from the 2B position. Also, I love that my 1-6 hitters alternate between lefty and righty (although that isn't as big a deal if the other team also doesn't have relievers).
7. Mike Schmidt, 3B: He is pretty clearly the best 3B of all-time, who hits for power and played great defense. Apologies to Eddie Mathews (ironically a teammate of Aaron).
8. Honus Wagner, SS: As much as I wanted to put Cal on this team, I had to go with Wagner. Consideration could also go to John Henry Lloyd or Alex Rodriguez.
9. Cy Young, P: There are plenty of great candidates for pitcher. Walter Johnson. Christy Mathewson. Bob Gibson. Sandy Koufax. Tom Seaver. Roger Clemens. Lefty Grove. Nolan Ryan. Pete Alexander. Warren Spahn. Pedro Martinez. Randy Johnson. Kid Nichols. Satchel Paige. Smokey Joe Williams. That is 15 names right there off the top of my head who would be perfectly great choices. But at the end of the day, I have to go with the pitcher whose name has been chosen to honor the best pitcher each season. It helps that having thrown the most innings in the history of baseball, I don't have to worry about him tiring in extra innings.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Friday, February 10, 2012
Ever since the Nationals signed Edwin Jackson to a one year, $11 million contract, the team has faced something of a conundrum: what should they do with all of their pitching? Looking at the roster as currently constructed, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, earlier offseason acquisition Gio Gonzalez, and now Jackson are firmly set as the top 4 pitchers in the rotation. Chien-Ming Wang is likely the 5th starter by default, since he is out of options and cannot be traded until May since he technically signed as a free agent during the offseason. That leaves John Lannan as the odd man out of a 5-man rotation, but the Nats owe Lannan $5 million this year, and that’s a lot of money to pay a minor league pitcher.
The Nats have shopped Lannan around on the trade market, but they are unlikely to get a good return on a guy like Lannan. My fellow Crazy-(Good)-Eighter Drew first suggested to me that the Nats could use a 6-man rotation in order to extract some value from Lannan at the major league level, and now that Adam Kilgore has summarized the roster situation going into spring training, I’m beginning to think such an arrangement might be possible, if a little complicated.
Ideally, adding a sixth man would be a simple matter of moving a pitcher destined for the bullpen into the starting rotation. As Kilgore points out, though, the Nats already have seven pitchers bound for the bullpen, and none of them are John Lannan. Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Henry Rodriguez, Sean Burnett, and newly-signed Brad Lidge are all pretty much entrenched. Meanwhile, both Tom Gorzelanny and Ross Detwiler are out of options, meaning the Nats would almost certainly lose the rights to these players if the team attempted to send them to the minors. Would the Nats dare carry 13 pitchers on their roster, leaving only 12 position players?
Kilgore predicts Rick Ankiel will be the starting centerfielder on Opening Day, but Ankiel will likely be part of a (decidedly unsavory) platoon with Mike Cameron, who would start against opposing lefties. That leaves 4 other players on the bench: back up catcher Jesus Flores, 5th outfielder Roger Bernadina, and utility infielders Mark DeRosa and Steve Lombardozzi. Kilgore correctly points out, though, that Lombardozzi really ought to be playing every day, yet he is currently blocked by Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond in the middle infield. I contend that the Nats should leave Lombardozzi in Syracuse for further development and keep Lannan on the major league roster as a 6th starter. Sure, having 13 pitchers on the roster carries some risk, especially in the National League where multiple pinch hitters are needed per game, but at this point I should point out an added benefit of a six-man rotation in the Nats’ current situation.
The Nats have several pitchers, namely Strasburg, Zimmermann, and Wang, whose innings will be limited this season due to recent health concerns. If the Nats intend, as I’m sure they do, to play meaningful games in September and (if they catch a few breaks) October, then they will surely want their best pitchers available. A six-man rotation to start the season allows the Nats at least some of this flexibility, as it would allow Strasburg and Zimmermann an extra day of rest. One of the pitchers will inevitably get hurt, at which point the Nats can revert to a traditional five-man rotation. Or Lannan will impress to the point that the Nats will start to receive palatable trade offers. To me, the benefits of giving Strasburg and Zimmermann a chance to contribute late in the season, combined with nurturing the development of Lombardozzi and avoiding paying $5 million to a minor league player outweigh the costs of giving a pitcher an extra plate appearance every once in a while at the beginning of the season.