Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Trade deadline deals

I'm sitting here watching the Reds versus the Nationals . . . I'm not sure why. But I intended to follow up with my report on the NL Central, but things have changed so much during the past few days that I'd like to go item-by-item through the transactions made over the past week in chronological order.

July 23
Nationals sign 2B Ronnie Belliard to a 2-year contract extension worth about $3.5 mil.
Now everyone realizes that this is a bad deal; why you would go out of your way to keep a 30-something bad-body middle infielder who can barely hit (his 299/343/425 batting line this season includes some good luck). You can get poor baseball players without signing them to multi-million dollar deals.
The only real upside about this deal is the small dollar amount, so if (when) Belliard does tank, it won't cost the Nats much to dump him. And to be fair, he's at least a somewhat useful player, even if that usefulness is deteriorating.
Don't worry -- this wasn't the worst move the Nats made this week -- not by far.
July 25
Padres trade Scott Linebrink to the Brewers for minor leaguer pitchers Joe Thatcher, Will Inman, and Steve Garrison.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Reds Win? An Evening at the Ballpark

I was at the Brewers .vs. Reds game Wednesday night, the 25th. I had a pretty darn good time and thought I'd share the experience with you.
My friend Chris and I have gone to several Reds games together in the past. We usually park on the Kentucky side and walk across the bridge, but this time one of Chris' friends drove us down to the ballpark. On our way in, I spotted the newest miracle on the baseball landscape -- automated ticket machines. We could hardly believe our eyes. We hadn't gotten tickets yet and picked up two upper-deck seats right along the 3rd base line (the upper deck at Great American Ball Park -- GABP -- isn't really as far away as it seems. Sitting there for $19 is a bargain, to me. It's a lot better than old Riverfront Park. Once when I was a kid (sometime in the late 80's) my Dad took my brother and I to an Opening Day game at Riverfront. We sat in the upper deck -- it may have been the very top, or maybe that's just my imagination. A blanket apiece didn't stop us from shivering and losing the feeling in our extremities. But I -- a budding 7-year-old sabermetrician -- still tried to keep score until I just couldn't write anymore. 20 years later and I still keep score at every ballgame.
When we entered, we got our Frank Robinson bobblehead (which doesn't look much like Frank) and headed to the not-so-crowded concession stand near Section 415. Chris thought about getting a $6.25 beer, then saw what size the cup was. Instead he got a Pepsi about twice the size for a dollar less. I realized that I need to start carrying a bag to games, because it's hard to hold a ticket, a scorecard, a full Pepsi, a bobblehead box, and a hot dog without spilling them all over the person in front of you. It took me a few minutes to get settled when we sat down, just in time for the first pitch.

Friday, July 20, 2007

State of the Baseball Union: NL East

My apologies for neglecting the blog. I've been working too hard at the things that do pay me to spend enough time on my hobbies, which really is a shame. I know we're a bit past the halfway point and a week past the All-Star break, but it's never too late to look at the state of things. Let's see how the races are turning out, starting with the National League (stats and standings are as of Friday the 20th.


New York Mets
The Mets are 53-42 and in 1st place, 2.5 games ahead of Atlanta. The Mets are doing about as well as I expected; winning the division, but not as good as last year. But they're going about it the opposite way I expected. All of the noise right now is about the Mets going after a starting pitcher. And while they could use another warm body in the rotation, their pitching has been just fine so far this year. The Mets' 3.89 team ERA is second only to the amazin' Padres' 3.10 mark. So while it would be nice to find someone more reliable than Jorge Sosa for the #5 spot in the rotation (despite Sosa's 3.84 ERA so far), there's no need to panic and pick up a bad contract (Jose Contreras).