Monday, January 23, 2006


Moneyball, actually.

When that book, the lovefest dedicated to the wacky genius of Oakland GM Billy Beane, came out in 2003, I bought it. Not the theory, mind you, just the book. I read it in two days and was really interested in the way the 2002 Amateur Draft was conducted for the A's. Guys sitting around with laptops in pre-draft meetings, pulling out stats of players that the scouts in the room had either never heard of or been unimpressed with, while King Billy moved these "virtual" players up on the draft board.

When I was done reading the book, I made a mental note to revisit that Oakland draft class a few years later to see just how "genius" Billy was. And that time is now, starting with rounds 1 through 5.

One would think that with four first round picks, plus three supplemental first round picks, the player haul would be pretty impressive, right? Yes - the draft is hit-or-miss and there are several "can't miss" prospects who flame out before their career even begins. But King Billy is a genius, right? Well, you be the judge.

The numbers below represent the round in which the player was taken, followed by a brief synopsis of the players' progress based on stats at The Baseball Cube.

1. Nick Swisher. The prototype "deep stats" guy. Made it to the big club as a late season call-up in his third minor league season. His career minor league BA was an unimpressive .261, but he did reach base at a .381 clip and slugged .476, resulting in a respectable .857 OPS. Not a terrible pick by any means, but one might certainly expect better from their top overall pick. Started 2005 in AAA but ended up playing 131 games with Oakland (.236 BA, .322 OBP, .446 SLG, .768 OPS). Again, not terribly impressive, but it was his first extended big league look.

1. Joseph Blanton. The RHP chosen due to the loss of Jason Giambi to the Yankees. A nice pick, too. Appeared in 3 games for the A's in 2004 before starting 33 games in 2005 while posting a 12-12 record and a very nice ERA of 3.53. Nothing wrong with this guy.

1. John McCurdy. Two full seasons in A-ball, with a quick promotion to AA in 2004. However, 2005 was spent back in single A. This shortstop holds career minor league numbers of .256, .307, .361, .668 .

1. Ben Fritz. Pitched in a total of 20 games above A-ball. Cumulative minor league ERA of 4.81 while allowing 245 hits and 104 walks in 237.2 innings.

1. Jeremy Brown. The "fat" catcher. The homerun he hit in the epilogue of the book was a supposed selling point as to just how smart Billy Beane and his laptop army were. He had his best season last year at AA, hitting .261 with a .359 OBP while slugging 20 homeruns. It was his third consecutive season at AA after being rushed rather quickly through the early minors.

1. Steve Obenchain. Spent the last year and a half throwing to Brown at AA Midland. Career minor league ERA of 4.00 while allowing 277 hits in 259 innings. He has struck out 173 batters and only walked 86, but it remains to be seen if he can move further up the ladder.

(Keep in mind I am making these judgements with only a computer. Coincidence?)

1. Mark Teahen. The last of the 2002 first-rounders, he spent last season playing 130 games for the Kansas City Royals while posting a pedestrian line of .246, .309, .376, .685.

2. Steve Stanley. He appeared to be overmatched in the 74 games he played in at the AAA level in 2004 and ended up spending the full 2005 season back in AA while putting up his best numbers yet. However, he is an outfielder that does not hit for power or steal bases. Oh... wait. No one in the A's organization steals bases. The risk is frowned upon.

3. Bill Murphy. Spent 2005 pitching for the AAA affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He apparantly suffers from "Common Name Syndrome".

4. John Baker. The second catcher taken by the A's in 2002, he had a dismal 2005 at AAA Sacramento (.234, .303, .364, .667). But his worst line, as far as King Billy's way of thinking goes, is that he only walked 30 times while whiffing 90 times. Oh, and he also suffers from "CNS".

5. Mark Kiger. Had a cup of coffee at AAA in 2004, then he spent the entire 2005 season back in AA. His career OBP is 98 points higher than his BA. However, his career SLG is only 10 points higher than his OBP.

I don't normally get this "stat intensive" when I write about the great game, but this is an idea that has been in the back of my mind for almost three years. I'll run through rounds six plus of that famous 2002 Oakland draft class later this week. And then I'll get back to being goofy.

22 days...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

World Class Citizen

On Friday, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen became a US citizen.

From World Series winner to US citizen, I'd say that Mr. Guillen is having a pretty good run. So, here's to him and all his hard work.

Attention whore traded to Baltimore, pitcher thrown in deal

The NY Mets traded model/actress Anna Benson and her husband, starting pitcher, Kris Benson to the Baltimore Orioles for reliever Jorge Julio and John Maine. While on paper this appears to be an even trade Baltimore may end up on the winning of this deal.

Baltimore gets a hot looking woman to ad to its city. Which I'm sure can't hurt. It is Baltimore after all. But they also get a decent starting pitcher.

While I'm not against hot looking women. I'm just not partial to the nutty ones. Anna's antics are not of the typical players wife variety. Once she stated that if Kris was ever unfaithful to her then she would sleep with the players and the coaches and bat boys and the dudes that sell beer in the bleachers. Okay, not the beer vendors but she did mention the others.

Now if Kris were to be unfaithful then that should be a problem that they settle between the two of them. She shouldn't bring in the whole team for some crazy assed All Star gang bang just for revenge. She should be civil and do what most women in that position would do. Take all his shit in the divorce. Not that many of the players would turn down the sex though.

Back to the trade. The amusing part of it is that she said this at the press conference, "I kind of feel like we were misled about this as a family," Anna Benson said. "It was a free-agent year. He could have signed anywhere."

Misled? Kris signed a three year contract without a no trade clause. So guess what happens when they want to get a middle reliver, Jorge Julio, and at the same time rid themselves of a "model/actress." That's right, trade them.

The upside is that Kris will have an opportunity to be the number one starter which never would happen in New York. And Anna will probably be the best looking woman in Baltimore since Divine is dead and again it's Baltimore after all.

Note: After reading some of Anna's website I found that they have a home in Atlanta which is where I live. We have plenty of hot women so I'm sure she's not noticed here. So Baltimore will really need her.