November 2007

New Shortstop

Cesar Izturis signs for one year.

It probably won’t be popular, but my gut say this isn’t a terrible move. Izturis has been a truly elite defender at shortstop, though I’m not sure what the advanced metrics say for this past year.

He’s also, of course, been a below-replacement-level hitter, which is obviously an issue.

But the way I look at it is this: one way to improve the run prevention is to improve the defense, and Izturis definitely improves the defense. Better to get him for only dollars than to give up talent to get Jack Wilson, who doesn’t provide you with much that Izturis can’t do. They still need to upgrade the offense, but improving the defense was a legitimate goal and it’s one they’ve achieved at apparently little cost — though I don’t know the actual dollars yet.

-M.

Sean Taylor

I don’t know enough about Sean Taylor to have any real opinion about what he was like as a person, though most of those who know him seem to be saying that he matured a lot and was becoming a grownup in the last year or two.

Instead, just two thoughts:

First, my sympathies to his friends, teammates, family and especially his baby daughter and her mom.

And second, holy cow was that guy fun to watch play football. That’s one thing I can appreciate and remember about him. The guy was an absolute holy terror on the field, one of the best, scariest college players I ever saw and becoming the same way in the NFL. It’s a rare safety who can dominate a game, but I saw him do it more than once. It’s a rare safety that you can watch play once and know he’s special, but that was Taylor. That’s not why it’s a shame he’s gone. But it is why I first noticed him, and players like that don’t come along every year.

-M.

Getting the word out

Dan McLaughlin asked that I, among others, get the word out about this event at Vianney on this coming Saturday night. Dan’s a Vianney alum and certainly is willing to put his name, time and effort toward what he feels are worthy causes.

-M.

Brilliant. Just brilliant.

So, your faithful correspondent is enough of a sick college football junkie as to be watching Boise State play Hawaii at midnight. And it’s been a pretty good game (though no match for the afternoon’s Arkansas-LSU insanity). But a sign that I just spotted in the Hawaii crowd made it more than worth staying up. It read:

Eat
S
pam,
P
otato
N
ation

How bloody brilliant is that? Generally those ABC/CBS/ESPN/FOX signs are just achingly stupid, not to mention forced. But this one, none of those problems. It’s appropriate, with the whole Spam/Potato Hawaii/Idaho dichotomy. It’s clever and funny. And they didn’t have to resort to using the third letter of any of the words to make the acronym work.

Thumbs up to you, clever Hawaii football fan.

-M, impressed by Hawaii’s speed on defense but still convinced they’re vastly overrated.

Weirdest. Trade. Ever.

OK, maybe not EVER, but I’m really puzzled by today’s deal. At first it looked like a lose-lose, but the more I read, the more I think it makes some sense for the Angels. But for the White Sox, ugh.

If you’re the White Sox, why do you want Cabrera? Of all the packages of talent — especially young talent — that you could get for a dependable if unspectacular starter like Garland, why Cabrera? In his best season in years, he only hit 301/345/397 — and he’s 33. Yes he’s a Gold Glover, but man, it just seems like there’s a lot more that you could get. And more specifically, Cabrera is exactly what the White Sox didn’t need on offense — another guy who doesn’t get on base (career OBP .321) on a team that was last in the MAJORS in OBP last year.

From the Angels side, it’s kind of a strange deal if it doesn’t lead to something else. But from what I can glean, it appears that this is prelude to some kind of second trade including a starter, either for Tejada or Miguel Cabrera or another impact bat. That, I could see. And it’s not as though the Angels have a dearth of infielders. Maicer Izturis, whom I’ve always liked, has been a better offensive player than people realize. He hit 293/365/412 in 2006, and 289/349/405 in ’07. That is to say, roughly equivalent to Cabrera this year and better the year before. If they let Izturis play, they’ll see now offensive downgrade. Anybody have insight or numbers (not errors, but actually valuable numbers) on Izturis’ defense?

Anyway. I’m actually off the beat this week — happy Thanksgiving everybody! — but as I’m sitting at home, working on other things, I was intrigued by this trade and wanted to get something up about it. Also, as regards the Cardinals, this may mean that Juan Uribe is available, but despite the power I’m not too crazy about Uribe’s .295 lifetime OBP.

-M.

(now playing: REM Live)

Dear college football commentators:

And I’m looking at YOU, Bob Davie, among others:

There is only one viable Heisman candidate now that Dennis Dixon is hurt. Tim Tebow is so clearly better than anyone else, it’s ridiculous. Almost 2900 passing yards, 26 TDs and 6 INTs. 749 RUSHING yards on 181 carries, that’s a little over 4 per carry when many of his carries are short yardage and when sacks count against his rushing yards. TWENTY RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS.

If, Mr. Davie, the only argument you can make against him is "He’ll have his chances, it’s too early," that’s just absurd. This guy dominates games. He changes games like nobody else. This is not a "wide-open year." There is one clearly dominant player in college football. Ignore that he’s a sophomore. He is the guy.

And I’m a Florida State fan!

-M.

(oh, and one other thing — THIRTY-SEVEN TO SIX!)

Lucky Seven, The Game edition

It’s two days until The Game, but I’m trying my hardest to stay focused on baseball. Here’s this week’s Lucky Seven.

1. What did you think of the John Mozeliak Q&A currently running on StLCardinals.com? Did it put your mind at ease any? Raise concerns? What’s your take on the new GM’s view of the franchise’s direction?

2. To steal a discussion point from Derrick Goold, who’s the second-best prospect in the Cardinals system? Who would you put at 3-4-5? No. 1 is pretty easy/obvious.

3. Did the BBWAA get it right by choosing CC Sabathia as the AL Cy Young winner?

4. Most of the other awards are pretty straightforward, but who should win NL MVP?

5. What teams will end up meeting in the BCS championship game?

6. Lot of interesting movies playing right now — Into the Wild, American Gangster, Michael Clayton, Gone Baby Gone, Lions for Lambs, Dan in Real Life, We Own the Night — and your faithful correspondent hasn’t seen any of them. Got any recommendations? Seen anything really good or really bad lately?

7. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?

(currently playing: Kanye West, Graduation)

Leach's Top-10, End-In-Sight edition

In 2 1/2 weeks, most of this will be sorted out, which to me is much more sad than it is any kind of relief. Ah well. Here’s this week’s ballot.

1. Oregon. The whole of their body of work is most impressive — wins over ASU and USC, win at Michigan, and they were thisclose to beating Cal and being undefeated.

2. LSU. Much of their schedule keeps looking less and less impressive. Not at all that it’s a weak slate, but some of their opponents have definitely been exposed. It’s enough, for me, to keep them at 2 — but I really want to see them play Oregon.

3. Oklahoma. Their wins over Texas and Mizzou are both better than any win KU has. Their non-conf wins over Tulsa and Miami are also both better wins than any non-conf win on KU’s schedule.

4. Kansas. Tough call, but they keep steamrolling teams, and that’s worth something. If they win out, it will be tough to keep them from being 1 or 2.

5. Missouri. By a nose over Arizona State, because I think the Illinois win is probably a hair better than any of ASU’s wins. Also, they destroyed Colorado, while ASU beat CU but didn’t smoke them.

6. ASU. As Daniel astutely pointed out last week, their loss (at Oregon) is in fact a smidge better than Mizzou’s loss (at OU). I just don’t think their wins are as good.

7. Ohio State. Really, their resume is the same as the team I have right below them. A bunch of creampuff wins, a couple of so-so wins, and a loss to a pretty good team. tOSU lost at home, while WVU lost on the road, but I think tOSU’s wins are a hair better.

8. WVU. This team got No. 1 votes this week? Really? For thrashing a bad Louisville team? Or for doing it on national TV on Thursday night? Note to Mark Bowman — those yellow unis were awful, and your team STILL doesn’t have a win of consequence this year.

9. Georgia. I give them a bit of a boost for coming on strong lately, but I see four teams that you could put in a hat at 9-12 — UGa, VT, Texas, USC.

10. Texas by a hair over USC, but very tough call. I’d have SC 11th and VT 12th, but this is a top-10.

Teams to watch: Clemson (still really like this team), BYU.

Game of the week: I guess I’m contractually obligated to go with tOSU-UM, but the game that has me intrigued is BC-Clemson. Clemson is looking like a juggernaut lately, and they have a legitimate chance to win out, take the ACC, and go to a BCS game with an 11-2 record. BC is reeling, but they could still save their season with a win Saturday and a win over Miami, getting them to the conf. championship game.

-M, with a mix of songs from 1991-92 playing on the iPod.

A reasonable proposal

I hadn’t heard this, but if it’s true, it really changes the equation.

I’ve been consistently and vehemently opposed to signing any of the FA CFs out there, because I am an unabashed Colby Rasmus believer. I think the guy is special. I think he’s going to be an All-Star. And I think anything that blocks Rasmus beyond 2008 is utterly foolish — especially if it costs $15MM a year.

But if you can get Jones for one year, it accomplishes many, many different things. It provides a RH bat in the outfield, which is needed. It, as one commenter at VEB notes, frees up either Duncan or Ankiel to trade for a starting pitcher. And most of all, it doesn’t tie you up. It’s very, very difficult to be hurt by a one-year deal.

Plus, you’d be buying low, and that’s always good. Jones had a terrible, terrible year, but it’s extremely likely that he’ll show some return to the mean in ’08.

-M.

Leach's Top-10, FSU-is-ALIVE! edition

Lucky Seven coming later in the day.

1. Oregon. I first really started liking this team when I watched them eviscerate UW. They’ve manhandled Michigan and ASU, they beat USC and even their low-profile non-conf. wins (Houston, Fresno St) are over pretty decent teams.

2. LSU. No longer obviously the best team in the country, but their accomplishments speak for themselves. Destroyed VaTech, quality wins over UF, Auburn (really underrated team) and at Alabama, and even their loss is not a bad loss.

3. Ohio State. They haven’t beaten a single team that currently stands in the top-20. Everybody made a big fuss of their win over PSU, but this is not a very good PSU team. Illinois may be better than anyone they’ve played to date, and Michigan surely is better. If they’re 12-0, OK. Currently, at 10-0, I don’t think they’ve accomplished more than the two teams above.

4. Oklahoma. Texas and Mizzou remain legitimately good wins. The loss at CU is still somewhat forgivable to me, even in light of Mizzou destroying CU, because for the most part that’s a tough place to play.

5. Missouri. Even with a loss, they’ve accomplished more than Kansas. They have probably the best loss of any one-loss team (at Norman), and some at least decent wins (Texas Tech, blowout at Boulder).

6. Kansas. These guys look really good. They score tons of points and don’t allow points. But geez, they still have not played anybody. At one point KSU looked like something of a signature win, but KSU has been exposed. Beat Mizzou and OU, and we can talk.

7. WVU. I guess. Man, for a supposedly national program, these guys never play anybody.

8. ASU. Their loss is a good, forgivable loss. But their wins are nothing to write home about.

9. BC. I started to put VT here, and then I realized that BC has one fewer loss and also beat VT in Blacksburg.

10. VaTech. There’s just a big mess between about 7-15 for me. VaTech has a good win over Clemson, and two losses to good teams — though LSU just killed them.

Teams to watch: Michigan (I think they win the Big 10), Auburn, Clemson

Game of the Week: With all respect to Uncle Bob, former AD at Williams, the game of the week is NOT Amherst-Williams. Sorry, Disney. Lot of potentially entertaining conference games (Michigan-Wisconsin, Clemson-Wake, Arkansas-Tennessee, Texas-Texas Tech, etc), but it’s gotta be Auburn-Georgia. Mmmmm… big hits. Oddly, the best thing for Georgia might be to win out and MISS the SEC title game, go 10-2, let Tennessee get smoked by LSU, and get an at-large BCS bid with a top-10 ranking and no third loss. Just a thought.

-M.

(currently playing on the speakers: Uncle Tupelo, Anodyne)

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