Wednesday February 11, 2004
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
TWINS SING OFFERMAN
Redsfaithful Baseball Blog
Yesterday, I shared a conversation that The Baseball Savant, David Bergner and I had on some baseball topics. David is the commissioner of a fantasy baseball league that I am in. Another participant in that league is JD Arney, who writes Redsfaithful Baseball Blog. I had an opportunity to chat with him last night for awhile and we discussed many topics as well.
Again, I hope you enjoy this conversation. If you have any questions or comments for me or JD, send me an e-mail. Also, be sure to check out Redsfaithful Baseball Blog for some great baseball analysis. So, here we go. Enjoy!
THE CONVERSATION BEGINS
SethSpeaks: JD, you started writing Redsfaithful's Baseball Blog right after Christmas. What made you decide to start publishing your thoughts online?
RedsFaithful: Like many others I was inspired by Aaron Gleeman. I suppose that's kind of obvious as my site layout is similar! I was posting a lot on a Cincinnati Reds message board (RedsZone), and someone linked to something that Gleeman had written. I nosed through his archives, and decided it looked like fun and set up an account with Blogger that night. In the beginning, I really didn't take it too seriously, and only updated once or twice a week, and stopped completely last June when I took a job at a summer camp that was a 24/7 live in position. When I got done with that job in August, the Reds were kind of depressing so I didn't start writing again until December. With the new start, I've made it a point to throw something up every day.
SethSpeaks: It is so much work to come up with something new and interesting every day. Do you have a strategy of what you want to write about, or just figure it out from day-to-day?
RedsFaithful: Well, I kind of have two different kinds of days. There are certain days when I want to focus on one single idea that I've been kicking around, and I throw something up based on whatever that idea might be, and that's that. More often I simply get my inspiration from the baseball blogging community. I'll see another team specific site talk about a top prospect list or a certain stat, and I'll do the same thing but make it applicable to the Reds. I try to check every blog that I have linked every day, at least with a cursory glance, for inspiration. Occasionally I do a more standard "blog" entry where I link to news stories or other blogs and comment, and I've been doing more of those lately. Series, like your recent fantasy entries, are helpful as they provide focus for a long period of time. I did a look at the NL Central that took up a week or so, and it was nice knowing exactly what I was going to write about every day.
SethSpeaks: So, big picture, do you have any future goals or plans with regard to your website?
RedsFaithful: I'd like to eventually develop the site into something of a Reds portal with a multitude of information. I'm in a situation quite often with the Reds where I'd like a list or a stat, and its nowhere to be found. Because of that, I think I'm going to eventually develop a site that will focus my daily writing on the front page but also have a great deal of history on the Reds. AstrosDaily is a fantastic site, and I've often wished there was a Reds counterpart, so I think I'll be developing one soon.
Other than that I've started a look at all of Cincinnati's General Managers and all of the trades they made. It's a massive amount of work, and I'm not sure how I'd publish it in blog form, so its just one more reason to create a Reds specific site. I'd eventually like to do the general manager work for every team in baseball, but that's just a breathtakingly large project so we'll see how it goes with the Reds first.
SethSpeaks: That is a very huge project, but it could be so powerful, and maybe you could get some big sponsorship money for that!
RedsFaithful: I think it would make an attractive book idea myself! lol
SethSpeaks: You could probably make a lot of money writing a book that detailed and informative! Recently you wrote a posting comparing the Reds to the Tigers. I really enjoyed that! Is there any reason for Reds fans to think positively heading into the 2004 season?
RedsFaithful: I will say that there are plenty of reasons for Reds fans to think positively, but with a qualifier. I'm not naďve enough to think they'll be competing for the NL Central this season. But they have the potential to be a much better team than Cincinnati has seen in the last two seasons. I wrote recently about the Reds injury problems last season, and I think that health is the biggest X-factor for the Reds, even bigger than the pitching staff. Mostly because we already know the pitching staff is going to be fairly bad. But if the Reds could get a full season out of Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, and Austin Kearns they could very easily score 800+ runs, and if they manage to do that they'll finish around .500, I imagine. At this point, I'm almost okay with a mediocre season if I can just watch those three play a full, healthy season so that I'd have something interesting going on. As I've become more knowledgeable about stats and SABRmetrics, a lot of the romance and mystery has been sucked out of the game. Because of that, and because I know a little more now whether or not the Reds have a legitimate chance from year to year, I focus more on individual players, and their progression. It's a good way to stay interested if you're not following a successful franchise.
SethSpeaks: I don't know that progression is quite the right word for Dunn. Is he an example of a player that is may be too patient?
RedsFaithful: Adam Dunn is one of the more interesting players in baseball. I think its important to remember that he's only been focused on baseball since he was drafted. He wasn't groomed through high school the way other players usually are, since his eyes were on football. I'm really not nearly as concerned as others are with Dunn. His power numbers are very solid, and actually got better (slightly) last season. I can remember two seasons ago, right around the All-Star break, reading reports of the Reds hitting coaches getting on Adam for being too patient, and it has been since then that he's struggled. Obviously, I have no idea if there's a correlation, but I think his problem last year might have involved trying to please his coaches. I don't think Dunn is going to hit for average any time soon, but if he can stay healthy he's an incredibly valuable player just hitting .240. At the age of 22, he only hit .249 and everyone loved him because his OBP was .400. Last season wasn't that different, and I think a great deal of the "slump" can be explained away by injury, and by playing in a lineup filled with AAA players due to the Reds injury woes.
SethSpeaks: So, where would you say that you stand in the “SABRmetrics” vs. “traditional” debate?
RedsFaithful: I'm pretty firmly in the SABR camp, but it doesn't always fill me with glee the way it seems to with others. I'll be honest, I miss being nine years old and not caring that all the preseason publications picked the Reds fifth and then seeing them win the World Series, all the while not having any real idea of why the Reds were confounding the experts. I think many people see the SABR movement as the end all destination when it comes to baseball knowledge, and I have to disagree with that. We're only a year removed from a team winning the World Series that was built on speed, and we've still got the SABR darling in Billy Beane not seeming to care about speed or defense. Sometimes when you pay attention to something extremely closely you develop a blind spot. I'm a political junkie and it happens all the time in politics. A poll will come out that confuses the analysts, when if they stepped back and thought like people that don't live politics the results would be fairly obvious.
I think something similar is going on with the SABR movement right now. The team chemistry thing would be a good example. Isn't it fairly obvious that going to work in a pleasant environment makes you work harder? It might not be a huge variable, but writing chemistry off simply because it can't be measured is silly. And yet it happens all the time. And there are other variables that are rarely talked about, such as fan support and how that influences free agent comings and goings. When a free agent is up for grabs everyone looks at the numbers and the money, and they make a judgment as to whether it was a good signing. They don't think about the pressure the GM is under, the status of the franchise in the city, the "name" value of the signing. The recent Pudge signing is kind of the epitome of a "bad" SABR signing, but a smart franchise decision.
SethSpeaks: OK, a little about you, JD. Where are you from and what is your history in baseball? Did you play?
RedsFaithful: I'm from a little town an hour northeast of Cincinnati called Hillsboro. I played baseball until I was thirteen or so, but gave it up when high school rolled around. Sports-wise, I actually played tennis and ran cross country, but I just wasn't good enough to continue with baseball. I have an immense amount of respect for everyone that plays, as it is by far the hardest sport I've ever played.
SethSpeaks: So, what is it about baseball that makes you die-hard enough to get into it to the depth that you and I do?
RedsFaithful: There are so many reasons, but I think it's the season more than anything. It is such a gradual build, and there's far more drama going on every single day in baseball than most sports see in a month. There are so many different levels to watch the game, and that also appeals to me. I can take my girlfriend to watch a game (she's a casual Reds fan) and it is just as enjoyable as taking a stat-head that knows the game in depth. The history is obviously a big reason as well. No other sport's past is anywhere near as relevant as baseball's. Each franchise, even the expansion teams for the most part, have an ingrained "identity" that only changes in glacial terms. I mean, think about it, how many years of bad pitching will have to happen to the Braves before we'd stop thinking of them as a pitching-dominant franchise? How many championships would the Cubs have to win to be something other than lovable losers? More than one on both counts, in my opinion at least.
SethSpeaks: excellent answer... So, as a kid, who were some of your favorite players? Do you have any of those non-star favorites?
RedsFaithful: I was in love with Kal Daniels. Absolutely worshipped the guy. And I quite honestly had no idea how good he really was until I looked at his stats recently. His story is a real Shakespearean tragedy. If he were from New York, I think he'd be the hitting Koufax of the '80s.
Eric Davis was up there too. Possibly the most exciting player I've ever seen put on a Reds uniform. He was the embodiment of '80s baseball, speed and power all in one incredible package, and I can't ever remember being disappointed with the guy. His home run in Game One of the 1990 World Series killed the A's. I firmly believe that.
And I can't let this go without mentioning Barry Larkin. He played the glamour position, he was (and has always been for the most part) squeaky clean, from Cincinnati, he was in Kroger's commercials. He has to be the first player that pops into my head when I think Cincinnati Red.
I don't know how "quirky" he really was, but my favorite pitcher growing up was Tom Browning. He was awesome because he was a guarantee that I'd get to see the entire Reds game before bed time. Reds home games started at 7:35 in those days, and my bead time was at 10:00 when I was little, but if Browning was on the game would be over with by 9:30 - 9:45. There was no standing around, picking up the rosin bag, none of that with Browning. Pitch, catcher return, wind up, and pitch. Bam, bam, bam.
SethSpeaks: gotta love those quick workers, huh? I read your article on Kal Daniels... sounds like he is in some trouble!
RedsFaithful: Yeah, its a shame when child hood heroes turn out to be less than stellar citizens, but it happens I suppose. I guess you'd know a lot about that with the whole Puckett weirdness.
SethSpeaks: Yeah, that stuff was really disappointing to read, even if he ended up being, well, I don't know if “innocent” is the correct word, but "not proven guilty," maybe works?
RedsFaithful: Its a shame when things even get brought up, because you never quite know again, and at the very least, the rose colored glasses have been broken
SethSpeaks: I know... So, to you, what is the allure of fantasy baseball?
RedsFaithful: To me its kind of like the blog. It gives me an excuse to keep track of baseball a little more closely than I would if I weren't playing. There are quite a few players that I wouldn't be at all familiar with if it weren't for fantasy baseball. You also form intense relationships with players you normally wouldn't care about. I'm a huge Odalis Perez fan because he was instrumental in my winning a league a couple of years ago. Without fantasy baseball, I doubt I would have ever paid much attention to the guy at all. I tend to view baseball through Reds tinted glass, if it doesn't apply to my team its not as interesting. Fantasy baseball helps me break out of that quite a bit.
SethSpeaks: that is a point I hadn't thought about. Like in fantasy football, needing to know each team's 3rd string wide receiver, you need to know every team's 5th starters and even a few minor leaguers.
RedsFaithful: Right! Its a good excuse to look past the players that are constantly written and talked about.
SethSpeaks: So what other sports do you keep track of?
RedsFaithful: I'm a huge Bengals fan, absolutely huge, and I had a great time this season. Chad Johnson has probably become my favorite professional athlete, and the Kansas City victory was one of my top moments as a fan. Its been hard over the years, but I'd say I've probably only missed a handful of Bengals games since 1988 when I was seven. I've seen quite a few bad teams, to say the least.
I also enjoy college basketball, my favorite team being the UC (University of Cincinnati) Bearcats. Bob Huggins is an outstanding coach, and he always cobbles together an interesting team.
OSU (Ohio State) football is a big deal as well, obviously. It has been a great ride these past two seasons, and it is nice following a successful team after all the Reds and Bengals ridiculousness.
SethSpeaks: It's finally OK to admit being a Bengals fan! And I thought it was tough being a Twins fan through the mid '90s! Chad Johnson is unbelievable! The QB situation there next year should be interesting, and what happens with Dillon will play a big factor too, But Marvin Lewis deserves a lot of credit!
RedsFaithful: He really does. To complete such a drastic overhaul so quickly ... it is nothing short of amazing. And I get giddy thinking about what he'll be able to do in year two now that he's implemented his system and can focus more on the player aspect. I'm looking forward to free agency for the first time ever really.
SethSpeaks: Is there anything else that you would want our readers to know about you, or any topics your would want people to read about?
RedsFaithful: Its been a lot of fun! I'd just like to tell people to check out my site, its updated every weekday and feel free to email me! I'm always eager to talk baseball! Thanks Seth.
SethSpeaks: JD, it's been fun! Hopefully it'll bring millions to our sites!!!
SethSpeaks: Oh, one last thing... your thoughts on My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance?
RedsFaithful: I love it! Best show on TV, hands down. I'm crossing my fingers that they put out a DVD.
SethSpeaks: I hope so too. Thanks!
That’s it for today’s conversation. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions or comments for me or JD, send me an e-mail. Again, be sure to check out JD’s Redsfaithful Baseball Blog!
AMERICAN IDOL THOUGHTS
They are down to 32 potential American Idols. Last night was the first episode where eight people sang and America will vote two of them into the final 10 or 12, or whatever they decide to do this season. Here is a quick rundown of the 8 finalists along with some notes I jotted down while listening:
Diana Degarmo - She’s just 16, but has an incredible voice. I really think that she could eventually be a huge star. “Wow! Didn’t miss a note until the last one!”
Marque Lynch - “terrible version of ‘Wind Beneath My Wings.’ Sounded karaoke-like. Good, but not great.”
Ashley Thomas - Sang Crazy. “She was very good with the Bluesy sound. Excellent run on the high notes.”
Katie Webber - Sang a Jazzy song, but “she’s hot! Plenty of energy.”
Erskine Walcott - From previous shows, I really think he has one of the better voices. His choice of song just “didn’t work with his voice. Never really sounded like he was quite on.”
Jennifer Hudson - She sang a terrible version of Imagine, but it totally worked for her. She has an amazing and strong voice.
Matthew Metzger - Sang a great song, Walking in Memphis, I’m ‘not a fan. His voice isn’t deep enough for that song.”
Fantasia Barrino - She has a very distinct voice. She’s a great performer with a good, but very different voice. She’s entertaining, but I don’t like her voice. I wasn’t as impressed as the judges were though.
The two that I would vote for are Diana Degarmo and Katie Webber.
The two that will probably advance are Katie Webber and Fantasia Barrino.
Any thoughts? E-mail me.
TWINS SIGN OFFERMAN
On Monday afternoon, the Twins and GM Terry Ryan found it necessary to sign 35 year old Jose Offerman to a minor league contract. They say that he will be a veteran left-hander off the bench. Yeah, he’s a two-time all-star… but he hasn’t been good for 5 years! They say that he played well for his Dominican Republic team the last couple of weeks. However, last year, he played in an independent league and still didn’t hit .300. He will be vying for a utility infield job. Yet, he makes Todd Walker look like a Gold Glove caliber second baseman. They certainly have numerous better backup first basemen. I just don’t understand this signing, although I really don’t think he should make the team. Will he play AAA ball?
What do you think of this signing? E-mail me.
That is it for today. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail me. Have a great day!
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