My lucky seven

Here are my choices for last week’s Lucky Seven questions…

1. For me it’s Rolen, simply because on any given night, he’s so likely to give you a ‘wow’ moment, either offensively or defensively. Best infield arm I’ve seen, so quick, dangerous hitter, terrific baserunner. Without taking anything away from Pujols, whom I’ll tell my grandkids I got to watch play every day, the guy I most enjoy watching play ball is Rolen.

2. Lot of good choices here, from Roy Oswalt to Mike Cameron to Francisco Rodriguez to Ichiro, but I think I go with Jose Reyes. I saw him go from first to third on an infield groundout in a Spring Training game once, and that was just one of the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.

3. This year it has to be Soriano, since he leads everybody in both OBP and slugging out of the 1 spot.

4. Taking price into consideration, I’d say Suppan. I think he’s better than this year’s numbers and he’s the one guy likely to be something of a bargain. If price is not an element, then I go with Mulder, who I expect to return to being quite effective.

5. I expect them to work out some sort of deal to take him through 2008. I think at this point I’d just pick up the option, since the marginal cost is only $7MM, you’re not going to find anyone better at that cost and then you’re only on the hook for one year.

6. Chicago, followed by New Haven, Conn. Gino’s East is the best. But if you’re ever in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY, check out Smiling Pizza. NY-style at its finest.

7. I’m very eager to see Clerks 2, and that’s going to happen very soon. But DYING to see, I’d have to say Talladega Nights, or Snakes On a Plane.



Over/Under 8 on the current losing streak?

I’m saying under, with Carpenter going Friday. If we get shut down by the lefty though, this could get real ugly as we head into Cincinnati…

Uh, Matt, Soriano may be leading the NL leadoff hitters in OBP in some alternate universe, but he certainly isn’t in the one I’m in. Freel is about 25 points ahead of him. That’s a gap that’s not going to close in a game or two.

Soriano will be my choice for leadoff if and only if he learns to take a walk. Freel gets that. And power is *not* at the top of my list for leadoff skills.

No need to act like I’m an idiot. I did a quick search on ESPN’s stats, sorting NL players by OBP in the leadoff spot. Whether Freel just didn’t have enough plate appearances to qualify, I don’t know. But the condescending and snide tone isn’t really necessary.

As for power, it’s not at the TOP of the list, but it’s on the list of positive attributes no matter where you hit in the batting order. If you give me two guys with the same OBP, the same speed, the same willingness to work a count, and one of them has more power, I can tell you which one I’m going to take. Rickey was the greatest ever at the job for lots of reasons, and one of them was his ability to hit the ball out of the park.

In addition, it may be a fluke, but Soriano HAS learned to take a walk, at least this year. He’s got 47 in 433 ABs — one per 9.2. That’s not Abreu/Frank Thomas territory, but it’s not far off Freel (36 in 298 — one per 8.3).


He calls himself MagnoliaFan…

–The Bride.

Matthew, I’m angry enough about the attack above to write something absolutely vitriolic, but instead, I’m simply going to take these points one at a time.

* I am not responsible for what is and is not on ESPN’s stats sorter. Freel has been the usual leadoff guy for the Reds since at least May. Simply going back into box scores will confirm that, if watching the games won’t.

* Sure, power is a nice thing to have, but Rickey wasn’t the greatest leadoff hitter ever because of power; he was the greatest ever because he GOT ON BASE. Remove half of his homers (turn them into singles) and essentially you have Tim Raines, who was only the *second* greatest leadoff hitter of the post-Wille Mays era. (You also increase Rickey’s SB total by 50 or so, if you’re into fantasy stats.) Remove half of his walks (i.e., let them turn into at-bats with the same outcomes as when he didn’t walk) and you have a guy who’s about .280/.360/.420, and guys like that are a dime a dozen. If he’d been that kind of player, he’d have batted fifth, and wouldn’t be in the Hall.

* “That’s not Abreu/Frank Thomas territory” on walks? Since you raise that, Abreu would make a terrific leadoff hitter — speed to go along with OBP — but that’s a side issue. In fact, Soriano is roughly league-average in ability to walk, that’s all, and even that is only for this year; historically he’s been dreadful. Freel is way above average for this same year, and it’s hardly new for him.

I have no quarrel with the notion that Soriano is a better player than Freel — this year. (I’m not at all convinced he’ll look that way when the last dog is hung, but let that pass.) But on my dream team, this year he bats about 3rd/4th/5th, because that’s where his value to his team would be optimized. Washington is hurting themselves, IMO, by not putting this hot bat into a lineup slot where it does the most good. And that way, he’s got someone who’s actually significantly better than average at getting on base in front of him to drive in — like, say, Freel.


If what I wrote came across as an attack, I guess all I can say is I’m sorry. Because it was quite the contrary — it was a defense against what I perceived as an attack on me.

Beyond that, I think it’s ultimately a question of semantics. If I had both Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Freel in my lineup, I’d bat Freel first and Soriano third, depending on what else I had.

But if I had one open spot in my lineup, and those two guys, I’d put Soriano in it — even if it were the 1 spot. If I had one open spot in my lineup, the leadoff spot, and I had the leadoff man from every NL team to choose from, I’d choose Soriano.


matthew, cant agree more with you on rolen… and whats all this discussion about freel vs. soriano? its not rocket science.. sure freel goes out on the field and lays it all out there, but the 2 aren’t even comparable… the reds would give away 3 ryan freel’s if they could to get one soriano….. come on now

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