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Most anticipated off-season issues

Posted by Andy on October 29, 2011

Well, well, well....another season has come and gone. Congrats to the Cardinals, the one team I said we couldn't make an excellent argument for winning the World Series. Right again.

As we head into the off-season, I'm curious to hear what issues you are most interested in.

Here are a few possibilities:

  • Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder: two big first basemen who may be switching teams. There were a lot of rumors about Pujols going to the Cubs, and with all the changes in that organization, I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a big splash of that type. It's hard to imagine Phat Albert wearing blue, though.
  • Playoffs: it seems likely that a second wild-card playoff spot will be added, and perhaps the leagues will be re-aligned (although the re-alignment part definitely cannot happen for 2012 since there's not enough time to re-work the schedule.)
  • Jamie Moyer: he turns 49 next month and is rehabbing to attempt to return to the majors. Will he do it, with the Phillies or at all?
  • Who might retire this off-season? Newly-crowned champion Arthur Rhodes? Other possibilities include Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Tim Wakefield, Omar Vizquel, and Jim Thome if he can't find a team.
  • What will happen with the Red Sox? Right now they seem like a team in turmoil, but in truth they were a team with high expectations in 2011 that missed the playoffs by one game. I'm not sure that all the rumored stuff--beer & chicken in the clubhouse, a manager with marital and substance abuse issues, some players that aren't gamers, a back-stabbing ownership--aren't quite common with most teams. With John Lackey out of the picture for 2012, it may just be a quiet winter for this team once they hire a new manager.
  • CC Sabathia: he'll almost certainly opt out of his contract. If he leaves, the Yankees' rotation is in shambles. Last year they got huge surprise contributions from Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon--that cannot be expected again. That leaves them with Ivan Nova, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, and...? I hear the Red Sox are in the market for a starter, and CC didn't look slim in those pinstripes.

What else is going on this off-season? Which big issues are most interesting to you? If you are a fan of a particular team, I'd like to hear about your particular concerns for that team.

76 Responses to “Most anticipated off-season issues”

  1. El Dandy Says:

    I'm interested in the Mets' turmoil. They showed a lot more promise than I thought they would this season, and we'll see what they can do and who they can sign assuming Reyes leaves.

  2. shaqfearsyao Says:

    I'll miss watching Jim Thome play. He was mos def one of my favorites growing up. See ya at the HOF if you retire in 5 years.

  3. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    What? The Dodgers' soap opera {what can you say? It's California, aka La-La Land} weren't on the "A" List?

  4. Mike L Says:

    I'm going to take a shot at all of these, and I expect my PQ+ (Prediction Quality Plus) rating will be the lowest recorded.
    1. Albert is going back to St. Louis. Seven years, $27M per year, vesting option for the eight.
    2. Prince is going someplace unexpected.
    3. Yankees and CC extend the opt out deadline while they try to work something out, but they can't. CC goes on the open market. CC's market value is less than the Yankees last offer before the opt out. Red Sox make a play to drive up the price, but aren't serious bidders.
    4. Bud, of course, adds another wildcard, and next year we have to watch the spectacle of that wild card, with the worst record of any of the 10 teams in the playoff, get to play the final two games of the World Series at home.
    5. Red Sox and Yankees bid against each other for Roy Oswalt-each hoping for a cheaper short term fix than CJ Wilson.
    6. Almost all the old guys finally retire. A couple end up as coaches, or as a coach-mentor-25th roster spot. Most of these guys, loveable though they might be, are too limited in what they can do.
    7. Jamie Moyer gets a non roster invitation, and by mid summer is pitching in the Majors. He gets three starts, but doesn't have it. Then he joins Bartolo Colon and Freddie Garcia and forms a country western trio that travels to big league cities doing a cappella versions of the Star Spangled Banner.

    Anyone else care to go out on a limb?

  5. El Dandy Says:

    I'll take 'em all.
    1. Albert is indeed going to remain in the STL. I expect 7 and almost 30.
    2. Prince Fielder will be either a Cub or a National. I'm expecting Washington.
    3. CC opts out and winds up with either the Rangers or the Tigers. (both just hunches). The Rangers also put in a big bid for Yu Darvish.
    4. CJ Wilson goes to the Yankees, where he disappoints.
    5. Pudge and MAYBE Wakefield try for one more year. Almost everyone else on that list retires.
    6. The Red Sox land Oswalt.
    7. Carlos Beltran takes a lot less money than he wants, likely for a non-contender or middle of the road team (Baltimore?)
    8. Jamie Moyer doesn't find a job.

  6. Ed Says:

    Indians have to decide if they're going to pick up Grady Sizemore's $9 million option. Which is odd if you think about it. A few years ago, he was considered one of the best all-around players in baseball and $9 million would have been considered a bargain. Now? It's not clear what he's worth. How the mighty have fallen!

  7. Phil Gaskill Says:

    Mike L.,

    It's not necessarily true at all that the second wildcard team will have the worst record in the league; in fact, it's quite possible for it to have the third-BEST record.

  8. dukeofflatbush Says:

    #1 pretty much sums up my interest.
    As a former season ticket holder, a Mets’ director of sails called me a few days before season’s end, asking me what it would take for me to re-up my season package; to which I said ‘nothing’ and if you don’t sign Reyes, you could count me out of virtually ANY game. He all but conceded Reyes would not be back and any offer made by the team would just be window dressing. Unfortunately, for those of the orange and blue, we are going to sit through five years of third-fourth place mediocrity. On top of loosing David Wright in a few years. I hope the Mets don’t go after and over spend for a Jason Bay 2.0 type of player, just to keep fan interest. I’d rather a strict rebuilding effort, gut the ship and start again, although Prince in Flushing is tempting…
    I think if the nationals pick up Moyer, it would make a great compliment to Stephen Strausburg. For a team to go from 97mph to 79mph would have to make a monumental adjustment.

  9. BryanM Says:

    Just to shoulder MikeL out of the low Prediction Quality pennant, I offer
    1.AP back to STL for a number that no one can figure out cuz the contract is too complex.
    2. Bud gets his second wildcard; no wait, they put it off for a year to see if an owner can come up with something even dumber in the winter meetings.
    3. Prince Becomes a DH
    4.The Cubs and the Indians play each other in the World Series

  10. dukeofflatbush Says:

    After several operations, doctors from the Mayo clinic are forced to concede Tony Plush’s foot, jammed into his mouth by his own reckless comments towards Albert Pujols and company, is permanently wedged in his oral cavity, leaving his only form of communication a twitter.

    At his press conference; Theo Epstein and the rest of the Cubs front office ominously declare:
    (queue Million Dollar Man music)
    “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better...stronger...faster.”
    As a mechanical Jamie Moyer emerges from behind a smoke enveloped curtain.

    Jim Leyland signs a lucrative contract with Marlboro cigarettes, then embarks on a coast to coast horse back trek. Armed with only 1,442 cartons of Marlboro Red. He is last seen ascending Mount Rainier.

    Prince Fielder receives the largest contract in baseball history from the NY Mets, but in an unprecedented fit of hunger, eats said contract before he is able to endorse it. Scott Boras quickly makes Fielder swallow a pen, rendering the contract legal. Fielder celebrates by eating Boras, whom immediately begins taking calls and negotiating from inside Fielders bowels.

    After ironing out a new contract from the Mets, with the help of the Jonah-esque Boras, Jose Reyes voluntarily sits out after writing the first letter of his name on the contract.

    Ozzie Guillen vows to lead the Marlins to a season of caught stealings, sacrifice bunts, low OBP, profanity laced and incoherent press conferences and broken English. Miamians are thrilled.

    Theo Epstein steps down as President of Operations for the Cubs to finish the 8th grade. Mrs. Steamsma is thrilled.

    3 games into the season, Robin Ventura gets his ass kicked by Nolan Ryan.

    Ron Washington wins dancing with the stars.

    The entire Atlanta Braves’ organization is treated for tuberculosis and sent to a sanatorium to treat that nagging cough.

    CC Sabattia opts out of his contract as expected, signs a 6 year 30million dollar deal with the Red Sox with an opt out he exercises 40 seconds later, then signing a 350million 7 year deal with the Yankees with a similar opt out. The Bronx is waiting to hear back from Prince Fielder’s stomach.

    Lance Berkman is inducted into the AWW SCHUCKS hall of fame.

    Alex Rodriguez breaks his own record for most frequent, inappropriate and useless application of the word ‘actually’ in an interview.

    Big Hurt Thomas and Harold Baines fight a Thunderdome-esque battle to determine who will have the DH named after them… Bud Selig is quoted as saying, “2 men enter, one man leaves…”

    Tony LaRussa’s Ego breaks loose and runs amok in downtown St Louis, causing millions in damages.

    Aurthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver switch uniforms but no one notices.

    Touching Adrien Beltre’s head is now considered a felony in Texas.

    Derek Jeter is arrested in Westchester county for impersonating a shortstop.

    Joe Morgan is eradicated by the shame of his own existence.

    Ian Kinsler is thrown out on his way to the store by Yadier Molina.

    The Rally Squirrel replaces Mark McGwire as the Card’s hitting coach.
    St Louis batting averages surge.
    In related news; Bud Selig adds acorns to the list of banned substances.

    Mark Cuban and Nolan Ryan start filming a reboot of the Odd Couple. You can guess who plays who...

    Bud Selig announces sweeping changes for the 2012 season, that include 5 division leagues, 12 additional wildcard teams, an end to extra innings and the entire 7 games of the WS to be played in the winner of the Homerun Derbys stadium.

  11. Genis26 Says:


    Those all sound quite possible! 2012 should be fun!

  12. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Only one really "off the wall" call on this one;

    Pujols, despite all of the forecasts, signs on with the Yankees.

  13. El Dandy Says:

    @12, and I seriously consider never watching baseball again.

  14. El Dandy Says:

    Not really...I shuddered as I typed that.

  15. The Original Jimbo Says:

    I don't understand how Jim Thome could possibly not find a team. He can clearly still hit and is a well liked guy and probably a good influence on younger players.. And who doesn't want a 600+ homer guy hitting 450 foot bombs?

    I'd also really like to see Wakefield get a chance to continue his career. He clearly wants to, and while he is declining and wasn't all that good in 2011, he was better than plenty of other options many teams have, and like Thome, is well liked.

  16. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    "Bud Selig announces sweeping changes for the 2012 season, that include 5 division leagues, 12 additional wildcard teams, an end to extra innings and the entire 7 games of the WS to be played in the winner of the Homerun Derbys stadium."

    Then let's hope Bautista wins the Homerun Derby, so that we're not playing the World Series in snow!

  17. Andy Patton Says:

    I would love to see both Pudge and Vizquel stick around, hopefully just so they can get to 3000 hits, although both guys seem just out of reach. For Pudge that's okay he's first ballot HOF as arguably one of it not the best catcher of all time. Vizquel however probably needs that 3000 hit marker to get any consideration at all ( a la Craig Biggio)

  18. John Autin Says:

    What does Nolan Ryan secretly think about his manager's tactical abilities? Will he be moved to act after losing 2 straight WS? -- and if so, what kind of action?

    Replacing Washington would be a huge risk, since the team obviously responds to his leadership, and that's the biggest part of the job. But will Wash be able to guide them all the way?

    Whether Washington's pitching moves cost them any WS games is something we can't know for sure, but there were a dozen head-scratchers. Perhaps Ryan will look for a new bench coach who has a leg up in that department.

  19. dukeofflatbush Says:

    Andy Patton,

    I think comparing Vizquel and Biggio is a no go.
    Biggio has 200 + more homers than Vizquel, 200 + more doubles, the only 502B/50SB season, several 20/20 seasons, several .300 seasons, a few .400 OBP seasons, a .500 SLG season, he’s second all time in HBP and he played at catcher, second base and centerfield.

  20. Mike L Says:

    @18, John A, I doubt Ryan is going to can Washington, unless something extrinsic happens. Do you think that Texas is empirically better than St. Louis and just ran into a dry patch and some less-than heralded players who had star turns?

  21. SocraticGadfly Says:

    @4 and 5. I'll put 50-50, to maybe 75-25 on Albert staying, but likely NOT at 7/27 let alone 7/30. Try 7/24-25 plus some incentive numbers (500 and 600 HRs, 3,000 hits) plus one or two mutual option years. The Cards would be very smart to do the incentive issues as part of lower base pay.

    And NOBODY is paying him 7/30. If he gets 30, it's on a shorter contract.

  22. Adam Says:

    1) Albert Pujols resigns with the Cardinals and gets $210M over 7 years. Prince Fielder meanwhile gets $200M over 8 years with the Cubs after heavy interest by the Orioles and the Nationals.

    2) The second wild card spot gets added and both the NLCS and ALCS have a wild card team as a participant with one of the two going on to (but not winning) the world series.

    3) I believe that Jamie Moyer will get a spring training invite by the Philadelphia Phillies and not only make the team, but do so as the #5 starter. I go even a step further out on the limb and say that he wins a low double-digit number of games (I'd guess 11 if a number is needed).

    4) Jason Giambi, Ivan Rodriguez, and Jim Thome DO NOT retire while the other players mentioned do finally hang it up. Thome winds up in Philadelphia (if deemed healthy enough to play 1B twice a week for the first month as insurance for Ryan Howard), back in Minnesota, or in Tampa Bay. Giambi could potentially go to Philadelphia if they do not sign Thome or stay in Colorado.

    5) After being in 4th place in the division at the all-star break, the Red Sox have the 2nd best record in baseball after the break to fall 1 game short of the 2nd wild card spot.

    6) C.C. Sabathia opts out of his contract. The two finalists for her services are both somewhat of a surprise, but ultimately the Cubs make a major statement by winning out over the Angels.

    Now for some others.....

    Surprising? playoff teams next year: The Dodgers and the Blue Jays

    Surprising? non-playoff teams: The Cardinals and the Red Sox

    Surprising? predictions:

    Jason Bay hits 30 home runs, Jason Heyward hits .280 with 25 home runs, Mike Morse improves on his 31 home runs by 5 to 36, Jayson Werth (while still not living up to his contract) hits .260 with 28 home runs, Stephen Strasburg gets injured again while falling just short of 200 strikeouts with 198, Matt Holliday misses more than half of the season due to injury, Lance Berkman hits .260 with 16 home runs, J.D. Martinez hits .300 and finishes just short of 200 hits, Bud Norris wins 15 games and strikes out 215, Neil Walker hits .300 with 45 doubles, Andre Either is 2nd in the league in hitting at .339, Cameron Maybin leads the Padres in both home runs and steals (16 and 53), Buster Posey (sadly) plays for less than 2 weeks before getting seriously hurt again, no Rockies' player hits more than 25 home runs, Derek Jeter hits more home runs than Alex Rodriguez, Joe Maddon still doesn't get the credit that he deserves, Jose Bautista again hits more than 40 home runs, Adrian Gonzalez has 46 doubles and 45 home runs, Justin Verlander wins another CYA with 21 wins and 264 strike outs, the Kansas City Royals win exactly 81 games, Adam Dunn rebounds somewhat with 32 home runs but only hits .228 and strikes out 197 times, the Texas Rangers do not win the division but still make the playoffs as a wild card, Ichiro leads the league in hits with 229 and wins the batting title showing that he is not over the hill.

    I know that this has been a little long, but here are six more just for laughs:

    1) Prince Fielder abruptly quits after the 2012 season to become an emu farmer citing that emu is the future tofu.

    2) Alex Rodriguez spends 15 days on the DL after falling down a flight of stairs while fleeing the ghost of George Steinbrenner who just wanted to play a game of charades with him.

    3) The New York Mets decide to move the fences back again, raise them an additional 25 feet, and place giant oscillating fans facing the field of play on top of the fences after surrendering a total of 17 home runs in their first 3 home games including 5 to Michael Bourn.

    4) Red Sox outfielders claim that it tastes great while the pitching staff insists that it is less filling.

    5) Rob Deer is hired as the general manager of the Toledo Mud Hens. On his first day he signs Kenshin, Kawakami and Kevin Kouzmanoff, and trades for Kyle Kendrick and Kila Ka'aihue.

  23. Jacob Says:

    I'm really looking forward to discussions about Pudge Rodriguez' place in history. He's had an interesting career on many levels:

    + Longevity (most games at C)
    + Defensive rep (11th all-time in dWAR)
    + Nice counting stats (nearly 3K hits and lotsa doubles)
    + Postseason heroics for Marlins
    + Nearly won another ring with Detroit
    - Steroids rumors
    - Terrible MVP pick (yes, using this against him)
    - Bloated offensive peak due to Arlington

    He'll be a sureshot HOF'er barring any saucy steroid revelations, but I'm curious how he fares against the elite at his position: Piazza, Bench, Campanella, Fisk, Carter, Torre, Cochrane, Dickey, Harnet...

  24. Adam Says:


    #6 has unfortunately been stolen by squirrels and placed within the trunk of a dead elm tree for the winter. I apologize for the unfortunate omission.

  25. Jacob Says:

    @ 22: Good stuff, Adam. I totally agree emu is the new tofu.

  26. Joe Garrison Says:

    Fearless 2012 prediction from a Dodger fan:

    In 2012 the Dodgers will once again pay men no longer with the team more money than what the team pays their starting infield.

    The men no longer with the team, including those retired, accumulate more Win Shares and WPA than the starting infield.

    By Memorial Day 2012 the team secretly wishes Juan Uribe would move from one list of names to the other...

    The batting coach comes out around Christmas time with some startling information about James Loney. Instead of using a wood bat, the first baseman was using a rolled up newspaper in the second half of 2010 and the first half of 2011 while at the plate.

    Base running coach Davey Lopes is applauded for helping the players break the team record for fewest times caught stealing in a single season.

    Manager Don Mattingly criticizes Lopes for not teaching them how to steal first base.

    The Grounds crew saves ownership money by not replacing home plate during the season. The first assistant notes there was no need as there were very few spike marks accumulated during the year.

    Matt Kemp is awarded a large sum of money in arbitration. He is also the first player in major league history to accumulate more that fifty percent of his team's total bases.

    Aaron Miles is released in mid-season when his on-base percentage some how falls below his batting average.

    Andre Ethier is traded to Arizona during the pre-season in order to be closer to his roots. Kirk Gibson beats him up during his first week with the team and Ethier goes on to win the league MVP award by achieving the interesting feat of driving in each of D-Backs infielders exactly 25 times during the season. Gibson awarded the prestigious Bobby May award by not using the same batting order more than three times during the season.

    The Dodgers change over to a four man rotation in an effort to save money. Every fifth game at home is canceled. Every fifth game on the road is started by Fernando Valenzuela. El Toro continues to call the game in spanish on the mound and in the dugout. Vin Scully is worried this will cost him HIS job because Scully's fastball currently timed somewhere between Garland's and Padilla's fastball.

    Javy Guerra continues to pitch well and converts ninety five percent of his save chances.

    Guerra finishes the year with nineteen saves... and is healthy all year.

    Steve Garvey's ownership group buys the team during the All-Star break. Garvey outhits James Loney in batting practice and convinces Mattingly to put him in the lineup as the first baseman in order to start a new consecutive game streak.

    Mattingly replaces Garvey for defensive purposes late in games, except for every fifth home home game. Don continues to manage from the field, hits right handers at a .350 clip, and finishes fourth on the team with 47 RBI despite playing in only 56 games.

  27. Adam Says:


    When all is said and done I believe that Bench will always be considered his superior, but in my mind he's at worst a sure Hall of Famer. Looking at his similarity scores you have:

    Carlton Fisk (819) *
    Miguel Tejada (783)
    Ted Simmons (776)
    Derek Jeter (740)
    Jeff Kent (739)
    Gary Carter (730) *
    Yogi Berra (722) *
    Dave Parker (720)
    Roberto Alomar (712) *
    Ryne Sandberg (704) *

    Jeter will be in the HOF and Simmons really should be (because of the position). Kent has the numbers and could certainly make it (depends on the steroids effect), leaving just Tejada (won't make it because of the steroids link) and Parker as the only non-HOFers on the list. The steroids connection could hurt him (and thus why I don't think he's a first ballot HOF), but I think that the connection isn't as strong as with some players and I believe (maybe naively so) that writers may be a little more willing to look past that because he was a catcher.

  28. Joe Garrison Says:

    The fact Ivan Rodriguez has no true "comp" is a huge plus in his favor. All we can do is find one guy over 800 on that scale. Players really aren't that much alike unless you can get them within 900. That means he is somewhat historically unique. The same can be said for any catcher who has a lot of non-catchers on his list.

    How valuable is a player who can hit like Miguel Tejada or Al Oliver and play defense like Yogi Berra or Gary Carter?

  29. Doug Says:

    @15 and Wakefield

    Wakefield and Varitek moved into 10th place on the oldest battery list (in game-searchable era) with their final game together on Sep 2nd. If they should hook up again towards the end of next year (or if Wakefield ends up with Pudge or Blanco), that battery would move up to 2nd place.

    @17 and Pudge

    I'm hoping Pudge comes back in 2012. If he does (and catches), he'll be the first regular catcher to catch a game in his teens and in his forties.

  30. CalMark Says:

    The Red Sox stuff about beer and fried chicken...sheesh. I've read lots of stories about guys (especially starting pitchers) not scheduled to play hanging out in the clubhouse drinking beer and eating ballpark food. What a ridiculous "controversy." Maybe it's an excuse not to address the real problems, whatever those might be.

    ...Which might even include The Great Theo Epstein. It's the team HE built, and he was GM while all of it was going on.

  31. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Bigger set of predictions:

    1. Pujols - I'll put 50-50, to maybe 75-25 on Albert staying, but likely NOT at 7/27 let alone 7/30. Try 7/24-25 plus some incentive numbers (500 and 600 HRs, 3,000 hits) plus one or two mutual option years. The Cards would be very smart to do the incentive issues as part of lower base pay. Or 6/30 with two mutual option years. If he doesn't stay in St. Louis, Texas, Chicago, Washington, SF, Atlanta, Angels are all serious bidders. Dodgers if Bud can force a team sale soon enough.
    2. Sabathia. He realizes the market is "softish" after the Bosox make some sort of run but not too hard of one. He signs a 5/28.5 extension with 1 or 2 option years.
    3. Thome? Signs a minor-league contract in the spring, makes big league club. Orioles take the dive.
    4. Moyer? Comes back.
    5. Oswalt? BoSox make run for him, using Lackey insurance money, but he signs longer-term deal with ... Reds.
    5. Most the others above retire, along with Ordonez.

    And, speaking of ... yes, he could pass John McGraw next year. But, especially pending health issues of Dave Duncan's wife, and Pujols moving ... does TLR retire?

  32. Adam Says:

    Giambi is staying with the Rockies, so that at least answers the question about him.

  33. Ed Says:

    @28 Joe Garrison

    Thanks for posting that, it saved me the trouble. I really wish Baseball Reference would post some sort of disclaimer along with the similarity scores. Too many people don't understand how it interpret/use them.

  34. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    One more semi-serious prediction --

    Pete Rose will be formally forgiven for his antics and reinstated...just in time for both he and Selig to be nominated for the HOF. When the results are announced, Selig only is elected -- costing Charlie Hustle thousands in pre-election bets.

  35. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Oka, maybe #34 wasn't THAT serious

  36. Mike L Says:

    @33, Ed makes a good point. If you take a look at the absolute top tier of players, the similarity scores show just what type of outliers they really are. Ruth's closest batting comp is 740 (Bonds). Williams is Jimmy Foxx (871), and then Gehrig (861). Gehrig has only two in the 800's (Foxx at 869, Williams 861), Musial's closest is Yaz (at 760), Cobb's closest is Speaker at 758. Wagner's is Lajoie at 827. Bonds is Mays at 761. Mays is Frank Robinson at 829, and Aaron's is Mays at 782.

  37. groundball Says:

    @29 I actually figure Rodriguez will come back just so he can do that.

    And my only prediction

    During the winter of 2011, ESPN will do a 30/30 (or whatever they call it) special practically worshipping Tony LaRussa as "god of baseball". Hyping him up as the best thing in sports history with the exception of Brett Favre. LaRussa's ego and superego will be pleased. (LaRussa's id couldnt be reached for opinion)

  38. Chris A. Says:

    @37: ESPN would have to put LaRussa behind Brett Favre and Tim Tebow. so #3 is as high as he can go.

  39. Adam Says:

    The things that need to be weighed with the similarity scores are "who is close?" and "how close?" when trying to determine a player's greatness. The lower the highest similarity score, the more "unique" the player tends to be, but if you have a situation where a player is similar to a couple of others and they are top-tier (or at least top half) HOFers, I think it presents a valid and reasonably strong argument that they are also a great player.

    For me the cut-off value for the highest similarity score as to whether or not someone is reasonably unique is 850. If I use that number and look at Ted Williams I find that there are two players higher in similarity than 850, specifically Jimmy Foxx and Lou Gehrig. I don't believe that any of you would argue against Foxx and Gehrig being top-tier HOFers and just because they are more similar than some players doesn't mean that they are not great.

    For comparison's sake I took a quick look at a few players to find someone who was very good (but nowhere near as good as Williams) and significantly more unique than Williams, thus we have Jeff Kent:

    Dave Parker (820)
    Jim Rice (819) *
    Luis Gonzalez (811)
    Miguel Tejada (807)
    Ryne Sandberg (802) *
    Andres Galarraga (798)
    Chipper Jones (797)
    Ron Santo (794)
    Scott Rolen (791)
    Billy Williams (790) *

    While I have no problem with the argument of Kent as a HOFer, he definitely is nowhere near as high up the ladder as Ted Williams, so similarity scores by themselves do not directly translate to how great a player happens to have been.

    As with most statistics, the key to properly using the similarity scores is a combination of an understanding of what they mean along with a healthy dose of common sense. While the numbers themselves are always what they are, the interpretation of them can differ significantly from one person (and situation) to another.

  40. Adam Says:


    It seems that I'm not the only person who thinks that LaRussa is only a slightly better than average manager at best?

  41. John Autin Says:

    @20, Mike L -- While I do think Texas was a better team than St. Louis, I do not mean to take anything away from the Cards, who earned everything they got.

    I just think that Washington's tactical moves didn't give Texas the best chance to win. Just one example:

    Game 6, bottom of the 8th inning, 1 out, Rangers ahead 7-4, Derek Holland on the mound. Holland had come in to clean up Ogando's mess in the 6th, and had retired 5 in a row, including Berkman to start the 8th. Due up were Craig, Freese and (if either got on) Molina. Three RHBs.
    -- Holland, a lefty, allowed 19 HRs in 570 ABs to righties this year, and a .272 BA.
    -- Craig slugged .657 off lefties (5 HRs in 67 ABs).
    -- Freese hit .347 off lefties this year, .333 for his career.

    Five outs to go. Why on earth would you not bring in a righty at this point, such as Mike Adams?

    I find it curious that Texas traded for both Adams and Koji Uehara, the top 2 relievers in WHIP this year (min. 50 IP), but used them for a total of 2 IP in a 7-game WS. (Uehara, who ranks #1 in WHIP over the last 2 years combined, was left off the roster after having a poor playoffs). Did Washington have less confidence in them because they were newcomers?

    I just felt that Washington managed by the seat of his pants too much. Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were both effective in the first 2 rounds, so they became his main RH relievers for the WS, while Adams mostly rotted. Wash remained committed to Ogando long after he stopped being effective (or looking in command with his pitches). And Feldman ... I mean, what has Scott Feldman really done to earn that status? He has a career 96 ERA+, and had not pitched well at all in the WS -- yet Wash not only used him in a tight spot in game 7, but even after he showed command trouble (walking Craig on 5 pitches in front of Pujols, then hitting Albert on an 0-2 pitch), had him deliberately load the bases and still stay in to face Molina (who had walked the the sacks full just the night before).

    I don't understand any of that.

  42. Mike L Says:

    John A, I agree his use of the pitching staff was a tad bizarre. Ogando didn't look good, and Feldman got too much air time. Washington repeated the mistakes made by Leyland and Girardi in previous series. All three of them kept their best pitchers in the bullpen.

  43. John Autin Says:

    Another interesting question for the offseason and next year: Can the Twins bounce back after a lost year?

    The Twins were contenders in 9 of the previous 10 years, but their collapse this year was total:
    -- Offense was next-to-last in AL scoring, OBP, SLG and OPS+.
    -- Defense was next-to-last in AL run prevention, ERA+ and Total Zone Rating.

    Their AAA team went 53-91, their AA team 72-70. Is there enough talent in the system, especially if the troubles of Morneau and Mauer continue?

  44. Mike L Says:

    I'd throw another one out there, which is are we going to improvements by the Royals and Pirates?

  45. Rob Of "Dallas" Fame Says:

    DATELINE - October 30, 2011

    Nolan Ryan secretly WANTS to fire Ron Washington!

    (but won't because that would bring up uncomfortable stuff and people would be queasy and the Dallas Boring News would complain and....")

    Yep, pretty much!

  46. SocraticGadfly Says:

    @40 - I think La Russa is, overall, a very good evaluator and developer of talent. With the evaluator part of that, and his lawyer's mind, he could make a hell of a GM.

    As a game/field manager, your description is about right. He not only overmanages at times, I think, especially in the past, his anxiety levels ramped up in postseason and "infected" his players. Here, I liken him to the great Kansas/North Carolina hoops coach Roy Williams.

  47. Ed Says:

    @36 and @39

    I don't want to turn this into a discussion about similarity scores since that's not the purpose of this post. But I wanted to add one more point. Similarity scores were invented by Bill James a long time ago and as far as I know, the system is completely arbitrary. I don't think there's much, if any, research behind it. James just came up with some weights that made sense to him. Someone else could come up with a different system that might produce completely different results. Looking at the definition page on Baseball Reference, it's interesting to note that similarity scores include batting average and slugging percentage but NOT on-base percentage (which is odd since James was such a big proponent of on-base percentage). And of course, they don't include any of the new fangled staatistics. I'm honestly surprised that everyone just sort of accepts James' system and no one's tried to come up with a better methodology.

  48. Cabriael Says:

    18) I expect the Rangers to fall behind the Angels on '12, giving Ryan a perfect excuse to can Wash.

    No two consecutive losers went to the world series the next year.

  49. Biff Says:

    Kudos to Andy for coming back on his Cards projection. In hindsight, maybe the Phillies shouldn't have played 13 innings with the Braves in game 162, or taken any part of that last series with them "seriously". All hindsight, of course.

    It will be interesting to see how far Matt Kemp falls off (if at all) from his 2011 season. I like the guy, but I'm not betting he'll put up similar numbers next year.

    Jose Reyes will most likely make some team financially strapped for the forseeable future; hopefully it won't be the Mets. A .265 campaign with a stint or two on the DL seems more likely in 2012, and again he'll do things to make us scratch our heads.

    Improvement by the Pirates should be a given, and I don't think you'd have to be an optimist to believe that. No one on that team played over their head in 2011, and it still seems safe to think a few of their young players have better years ahead. Incredible that the Pirates were in first place (albeit a weak first place team) July 25th, and managed to finish the season 24 games back.

    Good points, John. I don't think anyone thought the Twins would be THAT bad in 2011, but the AL Central seems such a crapshoot to predict anymore. In the last 10 years or so, I don't think any other division can claim as many underachieving, overachieving, or surprising teams as they've had.

  50. nesnhab Says:

    Printable bubble gum cards with printable bubble gum delivered over wifi...and then a fight over the licensing fees....

  51. nesnhab Says:

    A 21 strikeout game.

    The single game strikeout record has not been broken in twenty-five years, and strikeout rates are still pretty high.

  52. nesnhab Says:

    Some sort of Oscar nomination for Moneyball. Best adaptation or some such. Then a fight over the licensing fees...just kidding.

  53. Mike L Says:

    @47, Ed, agree I don't want to turn this discussion into one about similarity scores, although, regarding OBA, the formula does take into account walks (albeit with a lesser emphasis), just not OBA directly.
    It goes about it in an round-about way, by excluding Plate Appearances but adding one differential point for each 25 walks. It's an interesting way of thinking about it. 25 Walks spread out over a 5000 AB career is roughly equal to .005 OBA.

  54. Joe Garrison Says:


    Maybe not here, no. He gets a lot of ink, and deserves most of it.

  55. Biff Says:

    Hopefully, ESPN games get rid of the imaginary strike zone box where the batter is hitting for 2012. I can't decide which sport's "technological advance" has been more annoying, that box, or the glowing puck FOX had for NHL games in the 90s.

  56. Stu B Says:

    @16 Bluejaysstatgeek: "Bud Selig announces sweeping changes for the 2012 season, that include 5 division leagues, 12 additional wildcard teams, an end to extra innings and the entire 7 games of the WS to be played in the winner of the Homerun Derbys stadium."
    Then let's hope Bautista wins the Homerun Derby, so that we're not playing the World Series in snow!"

    This makes no sense. If this happens and Bautista wins the HR Derby, then the series would be played in Toronto and likely in snow.

  57. El Dandy Says:

    @56, it wouldn't be in snow because the Rogers Centre has a roof.

  58. Stu B Says:

    Good point!

  59. Timmy Pee Says:

    Theo the kid is off to a bad start. He's talking about putting a jumbo-tron in Wrigley. Maybe he can put some plywood up where the ivy use to be. The more I read about this guy the more troubled I am. I did see where somebody suggested putting a Popeyes franchise in the bullpens at Wrigley since it worked out so well in Boston. Cubs are in deep trouble.

  60. SocraticGadfly Says:

    Given the current nor'easter, Yankees, Mets, Philly or Boston all going to the WS with an additional WC, etc., would be problematic. Chisox/Cubs and Tiggers can get lake effect snow by end of October on rare occasions, too.

    And, @59 ... he's probably going to offer The Machine the Jumbotron ad cut as part of a Cubs contract.

  61. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Reading the news lately tells me that there aren't many non-domed stadiums where there isn't a risk of snow. Can we make Aloha Stadium the permanent home of the WS?

  62. Doug Says:


    "No two consecutive losers went to the world series the next year."

    Not quite true. Hasn't happended for a long time but the Tigers (1907-08), Giants (1911-12), and Yankees (1921-22) all made it back to the WS the next year.

  63. Andy Patton Says:

    @ 19

    You're right, I didn't mean to compare Biggio and Vizquel's careers, I meant that I could see Vizquel sticking around past his prime, like Biggio did, to try and reach 3000 hits. Biggio put up a 71 OPS+ and a -1.5 WAR in 2007, as one last year to reach 3000 hits. Clearly Biggio is the better player and 3000 hits for him was not necessary for him to reach the HOF, for Vizquel however a career just short of 3000 hits may not get him enshrined, whereas if he sticks around long enough to get up to that number his chances of induction rapidly increase.

  64. Mike Felber Says:

    True Andy, but it is very hard to say he would deserve the HOF.

  65. Christopher Says:

    Jamie Moyer comes back--with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

    That actually strikes me as practical. Now for the jokes...

    And he wins the Cy Young Award when it is discovered that nobody knows how to hit a 45-mph fast ball. Sadly, game times are extended because it takes several minutes for his changeup to cross the plate. Rather like the classic Bugs Bunny cartoon, Ryan Howard swings and misses three times at the one pitch--but unlike the cartoon the umpire rules that it still only counts as one strike. This leads to more calls for instant replay even though it had absolutely nothing to do with the situation.

  66. The Dwight Goodens Says:

    Forget predictions for next year. How about the next 25? ESPN predicted the next 25 WS winners here:

    My apologies if someone already posted this, I'm at work and don't have time to read the whole thread right now.

  67. DaveZ Says:

    I cannot imagine Pujols throwing away his legacy as a Cardinal in pursuit of a bit more sad.

  68. DaveZ Says:

    @22...both of your predictions for contracts in your 1) point, if they happen, will be HUGE mistakes on the signing teams part.

  69. David Says:

    Pujols won't leave...where else will he be as blindly worshipped as he is by the "Stepfords" in St. Louis???

  70. Andy Patton Says:

    @ Mike Felber.

    Thanks for that link. Here's another one if you're interested:

  71. Jeff Says:

    I hope Jamie Moyer comes back because Tim Wakefield is the only active player older than me, and he's terrible now. Who knows whether he will be back next year. But Jamie was born before the assassination of JFK, for Christ's sake.

    It will probably take someone smarter than me to do this, but I would like to find a MLB player younger than Jamie who has been out of major league baseball the longest. I believe there was a player born in 1963 who left the majors in 1984, but I don't know his name.

    But since Jamie wasn't active this year I suppose it doesn't really matter unless he comes back next year. Then he could be playing in the majors 28 years after a player younger than him left the majors. Pretty cool.

    Maybe someone could do this for Tim Wakefield as well. Try to find the player who was born after 8/2/66 that has been out of the majors the longest.

  72. Jeff Says:

    Just off the top of my head: Pat Combs (born 10/29/66) left the majors in 1992. That's 19 years ago, but I'm sure there are players who have that beat.

  73. Jeff Says:

    @71, 72

    I think I've figured out how to do the proper search on this site.

    Candy Sierra (b. 3/27/67, last played in majors 6/10/88) was born after Tim Wakefield. And he left the majors over four years before Wakefield made his major league debut.

    And apparently I was wrong about Jamie Moyer. I can't find anyone born after him who played in either 1984 or 1985. There was a guy who last played in April of 1986, but since Moyer wasn't active last year it doesn't matter. UNLESS... (fingers crossed) Moyer returns to the majors next year.

  74. Hank G. Says:

    Probably just about anywhere the fans recognize the best hitter in baseball.

  75. Andy Patton Says:

    Here are my predictions, too long to post on here:

  76. Tmckelv Says:


    You answered your own question with the bottom line of your post. Twins will go as Mauer and Morneau go.