Lowe to Braves makes NL East even more interesting
WHERE’S THE REST OF ME (AND OTHER TALES OF A PIRATICAL LIFE)
As of tomorrow morning, the annual ordeal known as writing and editing of the Baseball Prospectus book, which always concludes with a human sacrifice — most often me and my co-editor — has concluded. Regular scheduling of this column will resume immediately, and for those left that still care, Wholesome Reading will resume publication by Monday. As for the book itself, if you want to see how I’ve spent 98 percent of my time, the sucker will be out right around Valentine’s Day. It has all the usual goodies, plus a foreword by your friend and mine, Keith Olbermann.
Before I shuffle off for a very long nap, I’ll be making my usual trip to Castle YES for another turn in the Internet Bunker for a new installment of the YES Hot Stove show. You can’t see it on TV, but I’ve got a stocked mini-fridge under the desk. When the revolution comes, I’m going to be sitting pretty — and I’m not going to share with anyone except Bob Lorenz, because Bob always puts out M&Ms when we have a meeting in his office. That’s class. Who can make a sunrise and sprinkle it with dew? At YES, we know who.
Meanwhile, the baseball world has continued to slowly rotate. The Braves have picked up Derek Lowe, which puts the Braves in an interesting position, having gone from being basically rotation-free in 2008 to having an interesting and potentially deep collection of veteran (Lowe and Javier Vazquez), young (Jair Jurrjens, Tommy Hanson at some point), and a lot of options for rounding out the group. It seems unlikely that the offense will hold up, but a solid rotation might be enough in the NL East. In that same division, the Mets are on the verge of signing Alex Cora, which is a nice move for them only in that it gives then some added depth around the infield, particularly at second, which is going to be a suppurating wound for years with Omar Minaya’s Worst Ever Contract — I mean, Luis Castillo — literally on his last legs. Cora will also give the Mets the opportunity to give Jose Reyes a game off every now and again, key since he tends to wear down as the season progresses.
Returning to the greatly fatigued Hall of Fame debate for a moment, I wanted to grab an entry from our last set of comments and respond. This was written by Buzah:
Steve, you mention Rice’s indebtedness to Fenway. Not until I really looked did I realize how bad it was. Career splits were .320/.374/.546 at home vs .277/.330/.459 away. Some of that could be explained with age, but even in his 1978 MVP season the splits were extreme — .361/.416/.690 home vs .269/.325/.512 away. It’s clear that someone who ranks 177th all time in OPS+, tied with John Olerud, Sammy Sosa and Moises Alou, would not have ranked that high if he didn’t play in Fenway. I think there are a slew of left fielders today that you might want to start over him, not including Manny Ramirez, who is a HOFer himself. Ryan Braun, Matt Holliday, Cliff Lee … if not definite, there is at least a strong case to be made that there are guys you’d rather have right now than what Rice usually brought to the table.
Buzah, you’re right to a large degree about Rice, but as I tried to suggest the last time around, I do view his ability to hit at Fenway as a skill. After all, though almost every hitter who plays at Fenway is helped by the park to some degree, but not all of them turn into .320/.374/.546 maulers. The same thing is true of the hitters that play for the Rockies. Those teams need players who are capable of exploiting their park to the greatest extent, just like the Yankees have always needed left-handed power hitters to pull the ball into Babe Ruth’s porch. Now, what the player does the rest of the time is important as well. It represents 50 percent of the schedule. It’s ironic, I think, that we call a player who can hit left-handers, but not right-handers, a platoon player, and while we may celebrate his accomplishments in that role, it’s also something of a denigration, a way of indicating that he’s not quite the equivalent of a full-time player. A player who can hit at home but shrivels on the road (or vice-versa) is a kind of platoon player too, but somehow we don’t think of him that way.
See you on TV on Thursday at 6:30 p.m., and here before that.