The Curse is Lifted
Red Sox fans will one day thank me.
No, I haven't talked Nomar, Pedro and Varitek into coming back to
next season for the major league minimum. And no, I didn't
introduce intestinal parasites into the Yankee's drinking water.
What they will thank me for is realizing that I can never have a Red
Sox first baseman on any of my fantasy baseball teams because he will
have an absolutely terrible year otherwise. I had to think like
Spock in Star Trek 2: the Wrath of Khan - "the
needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few... or the one".
So with the collective psyche of the Red Sox Nation in mind, I finally
Millar off my last team that had him, my AL Tout Wars team, on Monday,
July 19th to get Joe Crede. In the three and a half months
before July 19, he was hitting .269 with just 5 home runs. Last
year, he hit .276 with 25 homers. In the four days since I traded him
he is hitting .636 with 5 home runs.
Oh. So you think I had nothing to do with it?
In 2002, I drafted Tony Clark. From 1996-2001, Clark had hit
between .250 and .291, mostly in the .280 range, with anywhere from 13
to 34 home runs.
And the year he hit just 13 he was limited to 208 at bats by
injuries. He had
averaged 28 homers over the other five seasons. But the day he
was drafted to my AL Tout team was the day he was cursed to hit .207
with 3 home runs for the season. To add insult to injury, the
following season he played for the Mets (and on none of my fantasy
teams) and hit 16 homers in just 254 at bats.
Ok, that could be just coincidence - one atrocious year from Clark the
year he was on my team... I can live with coincidence. Not
everything is a conspiracy or ill-aligned stars and planets. It
just seems that way sometimes.
In 2003, I drafted Jeremy Giambi, who had been named as the teams'
Opening Day 1B/DH. While averaging just 313 at bats the previous
three years, he had averaged around .260 with 14 homers a season.
In 2003, he was projected to get over 450 at bats, making him a very
strong candidate for 20 or more homers. But that
dream ended when I picked him up for my AL Tout team. He didn't
play 3 consecutive games until mid-June on his way to a .197 average
with 5 home runs and 15 RBI in just 127 at bats. Several offers
for him came my way during that period, but I declined, thinking
patience would win the day. So to add injury to insult, he
was sidelined for the second half of the season
with a shoulder injury.
That's two-for-two. It's not proof of a curse, but its awfully
suspicious. Sorta like the way Cubs' pitchers seem to come up
lame after Dusty Baker leaves them on the mound for several outings of
130+ pitches. Or the way Bobby Cox's
always seem to
come up short in the playoffs. And with Millar's struggles and
his subsequent offensive explosion the instant he was off my team I was
three-for-three, leaving no doubt that I control the Red Sox destiny
time I go into a fantasy baseball draft. But for the rest of this
Curse of the Long Gandhi is lifted.
Between Scylla and Charybdis
I just don't get it sometimes. I know the game is much more than
numbers. There are things that both players and pitchers do that
are valuable yet there is no statistic that reveals that value.
And I also know that managers have to deal with injuries, aches and
pains when they send their team out on the field, so a lot of
their decisions are made for them before the game - who they can use
out of the pen, who can sub or pinch run, etc. Taking that into
Assume for a second that statistics could be very useful in determining
not a pitcher would make a good closer. I know it sounds far
bear with me. You're at the end of the game, you only need three
more outs... what characteristics should one look for in the guy who's
going to clinch the win for you? Should he allow lots of
baserunners? Well, if it's a close game, you probably don't want
a guy like that out there because heaven knows something freaky might
happen like a wild pitch, or an error or a base hit which could tie the
game. So we probably want a guy who doesn't put a lot of batters
on base. What else?... maybe we should get a guy who gets a lot
flyballs... no, one of them could travel far enough for a home
run. How about a guy who gets groundballs all the time?
That might work, but what if it's a one-run game and he comes in with
the bases loaded and no outs? Even if he gets the groundball for
a double play, the tying run could score. No, what we need is a
guy who strikes lots of batters out. OK, so what kinds of
statistics might show that a guy gets strikeouts and doesn't allow
baserunners... hmmm... how about strikeouts and baserunners allowed?
OK, that ridiculously obvious bit of elementary thinking you just
suffered through... apparently still hasn't occurred to Cleveland
Wedge. This is a table of the relievers in the Cleveland pen who
have either gotten saves either this
year or in their careers (stats are from this season as of 7/24/04).
Just looking at the table, it seems like the best candidate for closing
is either Matt Miller or Bobby Howry and the worst candidates for
closing are Jose Jimenez and Bob Wickman. Yet who leads Cleveland
in saves? Jose Jimenez. And who was just named their
latest new closer? Bob Wickman. Twice Eric Wedge has asked
to get his team out of a sticky situation facing the heart of the
Angels' line-up and twice Miller has emerged unscathed. So you
don't like a guy who doesn't top 90 mph to be your closer? Bobby
Howry has been very good and is throwing in the mid-90s again. At
the rate Wedge is trying out closers, Sid Monge, Doug Jones and Rick
Vaughn will get opportunities to close before Miller or Howry.
Whatever the reasons, they don't appear to add up.