Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge

by KerryWhisnant

Who are the best teams? Who are the worst teams? And just how good or bad are they? Members of the Dugout Central staff are again challenged to predict the number of wins in the regular season for each of the thirty major league baseball teams in the Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge.

It requires an in-depth knowledge of all thirty teams to accurately predict the number of wins for every team – a lot more than for picking division winners and a wild card team for each league. Relative strengths within the division, within the league and between leagues also come into play. Strength of schedule is another factor. And key injuries can upset even the best predictions.

Same as last year, there will be two contests this year, one using the average win difference (AWD) and the other using root mean square difference (RMSD) between the predictions and the actual win totals on September 28 — or later if there are make-up games played after that.

For example, if you predict that the Yankees will win 98 and the Red Sox 94, but it turns out to be 93 and 96, respectively, you are off by a total of 7 games for those two teams (5 for New York and 2 for Boston), and the AWD is 3.50. The RMSD would be the square root of (25 + 4)/2 = 14.5, or about 3.81. The average win dfference does not penalize picks that are far off the mark as much as RMSD does.

Any unplayed games will be assigned wins according to the team’s winning percentage. For example, a team is 96-64 and doesn’t make up two games. They have a winning percentage of .600, and so those two make-up games will be worth 1.2 wins, for a total of 97.2. Tie-break games will count — the final winning percentage will be prorated to 162 games. Hence, in 2009 the Twins (87-76) were rated at 86.47 wins and the Tigers (86-77) at 85.47 wins.

Last year Patrick Greco and I tied to win the Second Annual Dugout Central Challenge using average win difference, beating out numerous computer picks, Keith Law and even the Vegas Over/Under line, in addition to other Dugout Central entries. I won the RMSD title going away for the second year in a row.

Last year the contest was opened up to readers as well Dugout Central staff, and this year we will do it again. If the number of entrants gets too large, I will cap the number of reader entries at ten, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Entries must be submitted by noon CDT, Thursday, March 31, to . Once you submit an entry, you may change it before the deadline if there is a significant injury or roster change that affects your prediction — or even if you just have second thoughts.

This will not be an empty exercise, to be forgotten once the season starts. Updates will be provided periodically throughout the year using winning percentages, and contest entrants will be held accountable at the end of the season. So there’s nowhere to hide, and may the best prognosticator win!

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149 Responses to “Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge”

  1. Kerry Says:

    One thing I forgot to mention: the total number of wins should be 2430 (averaging exactly 81 per team).

  2. Raul Says:

    I know Cameron invited me to an ESPN league, but I decided to do one with my buddies, and honestly, two leagues is a bit much for me to handle.

    We had our draft today (10 teams), and this is my team:

    C – Carlos Santana
    1B – Adrian Gonzalez
    2B – Dustin Ackley
    3B – Evan Longoria
    SS – Starlin Castro
    OF – Alex Gordon
    OF – Austin Jackson
    OF – Andrew McCutchen
    DH – Mike Stanton
    Utility – Corey Hart

    Bench – Freddie Freeman (1B)
    Bench – Danny Valencia (3B)
    Bench – Jason Bartlett (SS)
    Bench – Angel Pagan (OF)

    SP – Yovani Gallardo
    SP – Jon Lester
    SP – Brandon Morrow
    SP – Roy Oswalt
    SP – David Price

    RP – Daniel Bard
    RP – Ryan Franklin
    RP – Craig Kimbrel
    RP – Matt Thornton

    Bench – Jhoulys Chacin (SP)
    Bench – Ian Kennedy (SP)
    Bench – Jake Peavy (SP)
    Bench – Luke Gregerson (RP)

    A few guys currently injured a bit, but I think I’m alright. I wanted someone a little better than Jason Bartlett as my back-up utility infielder in case Starlin Castro gets hurt but he’s a veteran guy who will start in San Diego, so I think he’s ok.

    I do feel like I’m putting a lot of faith in Alex Gordon to provide some good power numbers but if he doesn’t, maybe I can trade a starting pitcher for an outfielder.

  3. Chuck Says:

    I’ve seen the Royals four times in the last two weeks and Gordon’s hit everything on the screws. Even his outs are rockets.

    He’s going to have a big season.

    I’d consider dropping Peavy..the White Sox shut him down today..he’s having some issues with his shoulder again.

    He’s not worth the roster spot.

    You’re also going to need a second baseman. I wouldn’t necessarily get rid of Ackley, but in the event he gets sent down for a month or so, you don’t have anyone else with 2B eligibility.

    Dump Peavy and pick up a 2B on the waiver wire.

    Otherwise, you have a nice lineup, pretty well balanced.

  4. Raul Says:

    Yeah I thought that about Ackley.
    At the time, Gordon Beckham was available. But I felt like whatever Beckham will offer will mostly be power and little else. I thought Ackley might be able to steal a few more bases and score more runs. He seems like the speedier player.

  5. Raul Says:

    Pickings were slim for 2B so I took Howard Kendrick.

    I think that leaves me with too many positional bench players so I might go ahead and drop Bartlett and take another Starting Pitcher.

    Some names that are available:

    Johnny Cueto
    Dallas Braden
    Jorge De La Rosa
    Mike Pelfrey
    Jeremy Guthrie
    Bronson Arroyo
    Mike Minor
    Homer Bailey
    JA Happ
    Michael Pineda
    Daisuke Matsuzaka
    Kyle Drabek
    Aaron Harang

    I’m interested a bit by Mike Minor, JA Happ and Bronson Arroyo.
    Any ideas?

  6. Raul Says:

    Just realized that Pineda is probably going to the minors. Erik Bedard is available, but I’m pretty sure he’s a rainy day from going on the DL.

  7. Cameron Says:

    Heh, I might need to branch out my recruitment efforts. The league currently consists of me, John, and Raul.


  8. Cameron Says:

    And Pineda will probably start the minors to avoid Super Two status. You need 2 complete years under the current CBA, and to avoid that they’ll need 171 days or less of major league service.

    The 171 day cutoff this season is April 11th.

  9. Raul Says:

    I’m leaning toward Mike Minor in Atlanta.

    Sorry Cameron. I’m just doing one league this year.

  10. Lefty33 Says:

    “I’m interested a bit by Mike Minor, JA Happ and Bronson Arroyo.
    Any ideas?”

    Personally I like Happ. He’s a good solid pitcher and should give Houston a bunch of very good quality starts this year.

    (As a disclosure, I have him on my bench for the team that I drafted last week.)

  11. Chuck Says:

    Sorry, Cam, while I offered to play if it meant guaranteeing everyone else could, I won’t play a keeper league.

  12. Chuck Says:

    I think I’d probably go with Pelfrey.

    Pineda’s a stud, I’m not a Minor fan, and everyone else on the list has trouble missing bats.

    Harang is interesting, he’s from San Diego and he’s a fly ball pitcher in a pitcher’s park.

    Even if he pitches exactly the way he did last year, he could put up better numbers.

  13. Chuck Says:

    You’re in a ten team league and Howie Kendrick wasn’t drafted??

    Wouldn’t have guessed that.

  14. Raul Says:

    I dunno. I have concerns with Pelfrey. Guys seem to hit him pretty well even though he was pretty consistent last year, and he hasn’t looked too great this Spring.

    As for the reason Howard Kendrick wasn’t drafted, I don’t know. These are the guys taken in the draft:

    Robinson Cano
    Dustin Pedroia
    Ian Kinsler
    Chase Utley
    Martin Prado
    Brandon Philips
    Dan Uggla
    Aaron Hill
    Gordon Beckham
    Brian Roberts
    Neil Walker
    Rickie Weeks
    Kelly Johnson
    Tsuyoshi Nishioka
    Chone Figgins
    Orlando Hudson
    Juan Uribe

    Ben Zobrist was taken as well. He’s listed as OF but has eligibility at 2B.

    Not my best draft, I have to say. I missed on a bunch of players.
    When I took Peavy, Jair Jurrgens and Madison Bumgarner were still available.
    Holy fuck. DAMN IT. I missed Brian Matusz! I was watching the NCAA tournament and doing the draft at the same time. I really blew that one.

    On the other hand, some genius took Jose Reyes in the 1st round, lol.

  15. Lefty33 Says:

    “was watching the NCAA tournament and doing the draft at the same time. I really blew that one.”

    You too?

    I was doing the same thing and what I got was:

    C- Carlos Ruiz
    1B- Adrian Gonzalez
    2B- Chone Figgins
    SS- Alexi Ramirez
    3B- David Wright
    OF- Shin-Soo Choo
    OF- Drew Stubbs
    OF- Vlad
    OF- Nick Swisher
    OF- Luke Scott
    Util- Raul Ibanez
    Util- Omar Infante
    BN- Magglio Ordonez
    BN- Jason Kubel
    BN- Placido Polanco

    P- Jon Lester
    P- Cole Hamels
    P- Mariano
    P- Roy Oswalt
    P- Tim Hudson
    P- Javy Vazquez
    P- Ervin Santana
    P- J.A. Happ
    P- Brian Fuentes

    I know there are not exactly many pitchers but the rules were no more than ten pitchers and everybody I wanted was taken early so in the words of Issac Hayes, I got the Shaft.

  16. Lefty33 Says:

    “You’re in a ten team league and Howie Kendrick wasn’t drafted??

    Wouldn’t have guessed that.”

    The league I’m in also has ten teams and Kendrick was not drafted.

  17. Bob Says:

    The Phillies signed Luis Castillo, and the Mets dumped Oliver Perez. And the Pirates cut Garrett Atkins.

  18. Raul Says:


    Prety good team. I don’t like Alexei Ramirez but I suppose things could be worse.

    There is a small concern.

    Jason Kubel – 68 runs scored, 0 stolen bases
    Luke Scott – 70 runs scored, 2 stolen bases
    Vladimir Guerrero – 83 runs scored, 4 stolen bases
    Nick Swisher – 91 runs scored, 1 stolen base
    Drew Stubbs – 91 runs scored, 30 stolen bases
    Magglio Ordonez – 56 runs scored, 1 stolen base
    Raul Ibanez – 75 runs scored, 4 stolen bases

    Outside of Drew Stubbs and Figgins, you will get no steals. I’m not saying you should go out and get Michael Bourn, but 15-25 steals would be nice from some players.

  19. Lefty33 Says:

    I don’t like Ramirez either but that’s what I get for waiting until the 18th or 19th round to pick a SS and you’re right that the team has a major speed issue.

    I’m going to wait until the season starts and see how the first month shakes out as like you my league only has ten teams and there are several speed guys that were not drafted.

  20. Chuck Says:

    I like Raul’s offense, but Lefty has the best pitching.

  21. Raul Says:

    It’s not realistic, but the payrolls of my fantasy team is probably under 30 million.

    I’m wondering if I should start Austin Jackson or Angel Pagan.
    Statistically, they are actually pretty close. I can get more steals from Pagan, but Jackson will likely score more runs.

    If Stanton can’t go at the start of the season, who should I use to DH?

  22. Chuck Says:

    “If Stanton can’t go at the start of the season, who should I use to DH?”

    I’d go with Pagan.

    Freeman might struggle early on, plus you probably need the speed boost.

  23. Raul Says:

    Good idea.
    Thanks Chuck.

    My concern with Valencia and Freeman is that they might struggle early. I think they’ll end up being good players but sometimes you fall behind in April and it’s hard to make that up.

  24. Raul Says:

    Kerry, Sorry I turned this into a fantasy discussion.

    I’m thinking about dropping Freddie Freeman and picking up another back-up 1B.
    These guys are all available:

    Todd Helton
    Mitch Moreland
    Justin Smoak
    Garrett Jones
    Brandon Belt
    Brett Wallace
    Yonder Alonso
    Chris Davis
    Mark Trumbo

    Brandon Belt, if he makes the team is probably going to split time with Aubrey Huff, no?

    Yonder Alonso is probably headed to the minors, or is a reserve outfielder.

    I think maybe Brett Wallace or Justin Smoak.
    Help me out here guys.

  25. Chuck Says:

    I’d keep Freeman, but if you’re adamant about making a change, and understanding this is FANTASY baseball, I’d go Wallace.

    He’s the only guy on the list guaranteed of regular playing time.

    If you can afford to stash someone on your roster for a month, then I’d take Belt.

    I like Smoak, but he’s been hurt and hasn’t played in a week.

    My choices;

    1) Keep Freeman;
    2) Longterm, Belt, shortterm Wallace.
    3) If you’re league uses any defensive stats, then Smoak.

  26. Kerry Says:

    Raul, no problem, we always seem to use the latest article to carry on discussions.

    There’s not much to say about the contest, just enter by March 31!

    (I’d enter the fantasy contest, but I’ve never done one before and don’t want to take the time to start right now.)

  27. brautigan Says:

    Raul: Of those guys, I think Moreland will get the righthanded side of a platoon, so he is looking at 300 at bats at least.

  28. Cameron Says:

    Platoon? I’d be hard-pressed to say Davis stays in Texas long enough to make it a platoon there.

  29. Chuck Says:

    “Raul: Of those guys, I think Moreland will get the righthanded side of a platoon”

    Moreland’s a lefty.

  30. Chuck Says:

    “Yonder Alonso is probably headed to the minors…”

    Yep, got cut today.

  31. Cameron Says:

    Chuck, I think he means the RHP side of it. You can’t rack up 300 ABs facing just lefties.

    And what is it with them shuffling Alonso around? From what I’ve seen, he is talented, just blocked as all fuck. Make him an OF or trade him. The Twins didn’t just let Wilson Ramos sit, they got a fourth closer or some shit. There has to be someone. …Texas would probably go for him.

  32. Chuck Says:

    Well, that’s what Cincy’s doing, two years ago they tried him at third base and he bombed, now they’re trying him in LF, with not much success…so far.

    The thing that gets me?

    It’s hard to give up on a first round draft pick, especially when he’s proved he can play.

    He signed a ML contract when he was drafted, and even though his ML experience is minimal, he’s eligible for arbitration after 2011.

    I don’t think he’s a fit for Texas, but I could see him going to Tampa for a guy like James Shields..especially with Johnny Cueto hurt now and Volquez still rehabbing.

  33. Cameron Says:

    Shields in Cincinnati… That seems like a disaster waiting to happen. Shields can be very solid, even lights-out when he’s on his game. But every second or third start he can prove to be absolutely toxic, and in the Great American Launching Pad, it makes you worry. I’d ask for a guy like Wade Davis or Jeff Niemann first.

  34. Raul Says:

    I decided to take on Brandon Belt. There is a chance Huff can play OF and Belt can play 1B.

    In the event Belt gets sent down, I don’t have a glaring need for a 1B with Adrian Gonzalez there.

    The only unsure spots in my lineup right now are DH and Utility, with Mike Stanton and Cory Hart penciled in for those positions. But both Stanton and Hart are a bit injured.

    I think Stanton can be ready for Opening Day. Hart might come back a week later.

    In the meantime I’m comfortable using Pagan and Valencia in those roles.
    If something crazy happens and Adrian Gonzalez goes down, It looks like there are enough 1B options that I can find someone.

  35. Raul Says:

    I wanted to post this…interesting tidbit about Austin Jackson and Jim Leyland.

    “Tigers OF Austin Jackson returns in 2011 as the reigning leader in strikeouts, racking up a MLB-high 170 in 2010. “It’s not something that I’m too worried about, but I know if I put the ball in play more, good things happen,” he told of his strikeout problem.

    “Being at the top of the order, you definitely want to be on base. If you eliminate the strikeouts and just put the ball in play, you have a chance to beat out a hit or something.”

    Even manager Jim Leyland doesn’t want Jackson to get too far away from what he did last year because he did lead all AL rookies in runs, hits, doubles, triples and stolen bases.

    “If you make too much out of that, all of a sudden you’ve got a bunch of guys going up there and patty-caking the ball. You don’t want that,” Leyland said. “He had a great year, and he struck out some. Big deal. That’s not a big issue with me. He’ll cut down on those automatically, I think.”

  36. Cameron Says:

    He’s had a full year of facing ML pitching under his belt. I think the good batting eye will come.

    …Wait, I just read that. Austin Jackson led the MLB in strikeouts? What about Mark Reynolds’ 211? Fuck, even Adam LaRoche still whiffed 172 times. Which is weird, because LaRoche usually doesn’t suck that much.

  37. Raul Says:

    I guess the guys who wrote that meant that Austin Jackson led the American League. I’m surprised I didn’t catch that myself.

  38. Raul Says:

    Mark Reynolds hit 32 homers and slugged .433 last season.
    Among players that hit 25 or more homers last season, only 2 slugged less than .433:

    Carlos Pena, who like Reynolds hit under .200 last season, slugged .407.
    The other was Aaron Hill, who slugged .394. But he’s a 2nd baseman, so…he sort of gets a pass.

  39. Hartvig Says:

    Cameron- I’d join but I don’t have the time unless you’re drafting like April 7th or something… sorry

  40. Chuck Says:

    Raul, if you’re still looking for a second baseman and Danny Espinosa’s available..grab him.

    NL ROY candidate

  41. Raul Says:

    Tough decisions.

    Dustin Ackley or Danny Espinosa. I have Howie Kendrick on the bench also.

    Both Ackley and Espinosa have had a good Spring.

  42. Chuck Says:

    All depends on what stats your league uses.

    And the fact there’s no guarantee Ackley makes the team.

  43. Raul Says:

    Just read an article that the Mariners will use Brendan Ryan at SS and Jack Wilson at 2nd, so Ackley is out.

    Danny Espinosa it is.

  44. Cameron Says:

    Again, after Aprill 11th he’ll stop being a Super 2, I expect a Longoria-esque couple weeks in AAA before getting called up.

  45. Raul Says:

    Notable players born today:

    Ike Davis
    Dexter Fowler
    Justin Masterson
    Mike Morse
    Cory Lidle
    Ramon Martinez
    Glenallen Hill
    Rich Monteleone

    It seemed to me that few pitchers were as talented as Ramon Martinez. I’d put him right up there with anyone over the last 20 years.

  46. Chuck Says:

    Josh Hamilton gets all the attention, and deservedly so, but this is just as good a story;

  47. Raul Says:

    That was a nice story. He’s only 26 so he should be able to find work. Hell, Bartolo Colon managed to find his fastball yesterday and hit 93 on the gun so anything is possible.

  48. Cameron Says:

    93? Wow. As soon as he loses 50 pounds, that bullpen spot in Scranton is HIS!

  49. Raul Says:


    hey that’s pretty good considering Colon came in throwing like 85.

  50. Chuck Says:

    Dbacks cut Wily Mo Pena today.

    Maybe Pena and Colon can open a Taco stand together.

  51. Cameron Says:

    Willy and Bart’s Taco Bums… Has a ring to it.

  52. Raul Says:

    It actually does have a nice ring to it, lol.

  53. Chuck Says:

    Luis Castillo was a no show to Phillies camp today, and blamed it on his agent.

    WTF does his agent have to do with it? Unless Castillo doesn’t have a Spanish speaking GPS in his car and couldn’t find Clearwater, there’s no excuse.

    What really happened is he was so happy to be out of New York, he picked up a couple of bottles of Tequila and a hooker, and passed out in some dive motel off I-95.

  54. Cameron Says:

    …Was that a joke or not? I can buy both.

  55. Raul Says:

    I think I want a job in baseball. Hook me up, Chuck.
    Any ideas?

  56. Lefty33 Says:

    “WTF does his agent have to do with it? Unless Castillo doesn’t have a Spanish speaking GPS in his car and couldn’t find Clearwater, there’s no excuse.”

    It must have been that long drive from Port St. Lucie to Clearwater.

    It’s at least….three hours.

    The Phillies are idiots for wanting to pick him up. He’s a clubhouse cancer and if Utley really is toast for most of the year then that’s what Kendrick/Blanton are there for.

    Move one of them and get a real replacement bat in their lineup.

    If Utley really is going to be out most of the year they are going to have a hell of a time trying to score with what’s left in their lineup as it’s currently comprised.

  57. Raul Says:

    Andruw Jones is listed as 6′1 230 lbs.

    Which probably makes him 40 pounds overweight. Damn, I thought the Yankees had nutritionists on their payroll.

    Was it John who wrote an article about MLB players slimming down earlier this year?

    The more I look around the league, I don’t necessarily see a lot of players like Bartolo Colon, but a lot of guys who are in that 215-235 pound range should really be 185-to-210.

  58. Cameron Says:

    Yeah, and they’re on the bench or DHs, but the big-name guys are getting smaller and more athletic.

  59. Mike Felber Says:

    Dunno if a guy names Colon should be involved in a Mexican food venture. At least not the low end stuff, start & end product ;-)

    Yeah, if they are not muscled up sluggers, too many guys are overweight. Players can get away with it, not all the running of soccer or basketball, but it is unlikely that their fielding & base running will not suffer.

  60. Chuck Says:

    LOL @ Mike..

  61. Bob Says:

    The Nationals signed Oliver Perez.

  62. Chuck Says:

    Thanks for making my day, Bob.

  63. Chuck Says:

    RIP Bob Rush.

    A frequent participant in MLB Alumni events in the Phoenix area until he stopped being able to travel a couple of years ago.

    One of the good guys.

    Peace, brother.

  64. Cameron Says:

    They signed…

    Hey Chuck, call Riggleman and ask how pissed he is.

  65. brautigan Says:

    I met Bob Rush in 1995. Had him sign 3 OLD cards. What a treat, he was very nice and told some funny stories about Dale Long. R.I.P.

  66. Chuck Says:

    Ha, Cam.

    I’m not sure he’d be answering the phone…

  67. Chuck Says:

    The Neftali Feliz to the rotation experiment is officially over.

  68. Cameron Says:

    Sad thing is, Oliver Perez might be an upgrade over what Washington has now. They can compete with KC for worst majors rotation.

  69. brautigan Says:

    Chuck: Was Feliz not able to get his change up to change up enough? Do you know what the reason was (other than moving Feliz to the rotation would display the weakness in Texas’s bullpen)?

  70. Cameron Says:

    It’s probably because without Feliz, there is no bullpen. They’ve got enough rotation depth for this to work for the year.

  71. brautigan Says:

    Ok, I went and read the “official release” of this announcement. The dreaded “two pitch arsenal” is given as the official reason, but I think Cameron is probably correct.

  72. Cameron Says:

    Well, it’s hard to make a starter effective with two real pitches. A good starter has at least three if you ask me (fastball, breaking ball, offspeed), and without an offspeed Neftali’s gonna get shelled fast.

    Little of A, little of B.

  73. Chuck Says:

    Most top starters were two pitch pitchers. Obviously guys like Pedro and Maddux were exceptions, but guys like Carlton, Ryan, Johnson, Clemens didn’t develop a third pitch until they were past their prime’s and had only after losing some effectiveness.

    I think the opposite with what Cameron said is true.

    Feliz was put back in the pen BECAUSE the rotation is questionable, and because no one stepped up to the closing role. Having him at the end of games four or five times a week is better than having him once a week.

    Their odds of avoiding a long losing streak are better with him in the pen.

    We’re not talking the Phillies or Red Sox’ rotations here.

  74. Chuck Says:

    Anyone else see what Buck Showalter said about Theo Epstein;

    “Everyone’s a genius with a $200 million payroll, let’s see how smart he’d be with Tampa’s budget.”

    How many times have we said that here?

    Thanks, Buck. You must live under the same rock as the dude in the Geico commercials and Shaun.

  75. Cameron Says:

    Wow, Chuck advocating a closer as an important role. I don’t think we’ve seen this one before.

    And Carlton, Johnson, Ryan, guys like that at least had a third pitch. Yeah, they never used it much, but they still had a workable one as a monkey wrench to fuck guys’ timing. Feliz has nothing usable outside his two pitches. Same with Aroldis Chapman, except he’s blocked by a vet closer and the rotation is crazy stacked.

    Texas’ rotation is solid. They don’t have a clear ace (but CJ Wilson isn’t half-bad as your #1 guy), but it’s not top-heavy and it’ll stop runs. I agree with you in that Feliz is better in the bullpen though.

    It’s like if Joakim Soria was converted to starting. Yeah, he’d be good, but the bullpen is so PAINFULLY thin that his wins as a starter wouldn’t outweigh the fuckups the rest of the bullpen would make without him back there.

  76. Chuck Says:

    ‘Wow, Chuck advocating a closer as an important role.”

    That’s not what I said.

    I’m advocating the pitcher in the role, not the role itself.

    If Texas had other options than a 138 year old Arthur Rhodes and two guys who can’t stay off the DL, Feliz would be a starter.

    Yankees are looking to acquire a catcher..waiting til next week to see if anyone worth fifty grand hits the waiver wire.

    I hope Jesus Montero kept his lease in Scranton.

  77. Cameron Says:

    I’m with you on this Chuck. I think Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes are 2 of the best lefty setup guys in the league, but I wouldn’t trust them to close because of their age and fragility. Is it just me, or is the importance of a closer inversely proportional to the overall strength of the bullpen.

    If Mo, The Mexicutioner, or Neftali went down, saves will be harder to come by. Okay, Mo in most years, having Raffy Soriano setting up is REALLY fucking lucky for him.

    Likewise, Heath Bell, Jonathon Papelbon, and Brian Wilson are all tremndous talents, but if they get hurt it won’t suck nearly as much as the guys above because of the depth around them.

  78. Cameron Says:

    I just realized that Ron Washington is trying to out-Tony-LaRussa Tony LaRussa. Texas has Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, and Arthur Rhodes in the pen. THREE lefties.

  79. Chuck Says:

    Mike Stanton comes back today after missing two weeks with a strained quad..hits two bombs and drives in seven.

    Jason who?

  80. Chuck Says:

    Fuck me…Yankees signed Kevin Millwood

  81. Cameron Says:

    Oh my, your fifth starter search is going THAT bad, huh?

  82. Chuck Says:

    First one was a bomb off the scoreboard..estimated at 500 feet if it didn’t hit it.

  83. Lefty33 Says:

    “And Carlton, Johnson, Ryan, guys like that at least had a third pitch. Yeah, they never used it much, but they still had a workable one as a monkey wrench to fuck guys’ timing.”

    Like Chuck said, Carlton and Ryan developed a third pitch.

    But it was after they were on the wrong side of 40 and in the case of Carlton were totally washed up and done. Before that they had no third pitch. They didn’t need one.

    Ryan spent his whole career with two pitches, fastball and a curveball.

    Near the end he developed that circle-change that would dive in on right-handed hitters, and many other teams thought was some sort of scuff-ball pitch due to its movement, but when he was in NY, LA, HOU that pitch didn’t exist.

    It only surfaced in Texas when he worked on it with Tom House.

    If you can get a copy of his pitcher’s bible book I think he talks about it in there.

    But the point is that Ryan didn’t throw a third pitch in a MLB game until after he was 40.

    Carlton was the same.

    He was fastball/slider his whole career until after he blew out his rotator cuff in ’85.

    When he came back in ’86 he started working on alternative pitches after the Phillies released him. During his time with Chicago in ’86 and Cleveland in ’87 he was trying to extend his career with a curveball, circle-change, splitter, even a knukleball learned from Niekro.

  84. Lefty33 Says:

    “Fuck me…Yankees signed Kevin Millwood”

    Scranton could rival the Phillies this year for the best rotation on paper in the last 40 years.

    Between Colon, Garcia, Millwood, Mitre, and Igawa they could have an all-time great rotation. Except for the minor detail that all of those guys, minus Igawa, will likely be on the major league roster this April.

    Although I would love to see them either cut Garcia or hopefully Garcia sees the light and uses his opt-out clause by 3/29 to get out before he gets cut.

    I read in the Star-Ledger this week that he is behind the scenes trying to convince the team that he could be the long man out of the pen if he can’t make the roster.

  85. Bob Says:

    The Yankees traded Mitre to the Brewers.

  86. brautigan Says:


    We had our stratomatic draft at the Oregon Coast this last weekend. I had the second pick in the draft and the guy who had the first pick in the draft had talked all winter about trying to decide between Jason Heyward and Starling Castro. He and I had talked ALL WINTER about this so I was already to draft Stanton with the second pick. So when the draft starts, he picks Stanton. I about crapped myself. I couldn’t believe it! I have never been so disappointed in taking a future star in a draft (I took Heyward). I was so set to have Stanton on my team I cannot tell you how let down I was.

    Heyward is going to be a star, no doubt. But Stanton is going to have crowds coming to watch him play because he has power we haven’t seen in a long, long time.

  87. Bob Says:

    The Yankees get Chris Dickerson for Mitre.

  88. Chuck Says:

    Stanton isn’t Sosa or McGwire or Adam Dunn.

    I’m not saying he’s the second coming of Pujols or ARod either, but he can do alot more than hit baseballs further than anyone else.

    He ran the fourth fastest first to third of anyone in Marlins camp.

    He’s 6′5″, 240 and is faster than Hanley Ramirez.

    He’s a plus outfielder with a plus arm.

    If he can figure out pitch recognition and cut down on his strikeouts he’ll put up serious numbers.

    He can go 0-4 and still impact the outcome of a game.

    Maybe not yet, and certainly not consistently, but there aren’t more than 15 guys in the game you can say that about.

    After three games in Arizona last year, Mark Grace said Stanton hits the ball harder than anybody he’s ever seen, “…and I played six years with Sammy Sosa.”

    Forget about the power.

    Stephen Drew is on first, Justin Upton is up. Stanton is playing towards right center. Upton flares one short and down the line.

    Stanton comes in, turns, and throws out Drew at third by five feet.

    Most outfielders would use their feet to put themselves in position to throw, instead of using the momentum of their bodies.

    Stanton fielded the ball on the run, and by the time his next step hit the ground, he was already facing third and just used his forward motion to support his throw, which makes for a stronger, more accurate throw and is easier on the arm.

    That’s instinct, you can’t teach that stuff.

    Reminded me of guys like Dwight Evans and Dave Parker.

  89. Chuck Says:

    I like Chris Dickerson.

    With Granderson likely to start the season on the DL, he gives the Yanks some speed and defense.

    And he did inherit his uncle’s wheels.

    Unfortunately, he hits like his aunt.

  90. Bob Says:

    A couple of weeks ago, this board was talking about contracting Florida, Tampa and the Pirates, and I was thinking about submitting a 3 round mock draft based on the players in their respective systems. But them TradeRumors had an article saying there is no contraction for the foreseeable futre. Nonetheless my top 3 were
    1. Evan Longoria
    2. David Price
    3. Mike Stanton
    My question: Did I put Stanton too low?

  91. brautigan Says:

    Chuck: I asked my friend much later (after the shock wore off)why he changed his mind about Stanton. He did not hesitate: “I read where Stanton is a plus-plus fielder” and in his mind, that was the deal breaker. Much to my chagrin.

  92. Cameron Says:

    “Reminded me of guys like Dwight Evans and Dave Parker.”

    Ah, two guys who will forever be sitting outside of Cooperstown, probably unfairly.

    I love Stanton, I can see him going places. He’s a solid player and I’m gonna love watching him.

    The funny thing, I saw a Red Sox rumor saying that when Boston was shopping Manny Ramirez that they were considering sending him to Miami if they could get Stanton and the Marlins said no.

    …A freshly-drafted, no-experience Mike Stanton was too much for Manny Ramirez. Damn.

  93. Cameron Says:

    And Mike Sweeney retired today. I know a lot of you guys probably don’t think a lot of Sweeney, but back when I was a kid, he was THE guy on the Royals. Yeah we had an outfield of Beltran-Dye-Damon, but he stuck with the team for a long time and was an unofficial team captain. He means a lot to the team and it’s sad to see a player I love so much hang ‘em up.

    Though it was real awesome to see he signed a one-day contract with the Royals so he could retire in the blue. We might retire his number, who knows? Also, I could EASILY see him becoming a manager or office personnel in KC.

    Fun fact, Sweeney was a VERY good player in KC. Check the numbers.

    In KC Blue from 1995-2007…
    BA: .299
    OBP: .369
    SLG: .492
    OPS: .861
    OPS+: 119
    RBI: 837
    HR: 197
    2B: 297
    H: 1,398

    The only problem with him is he was… Injury prone. He averaged 99 games played a season.

  94. Cameron Says:

    Wow, the Indians have named their Opening Day 3rd baseman.

    Jack Hanahan.

    …Yeah, Cleveland, KC’s here if you need a drinking buddy.

  95. Chuck Says:

    MLB Network is showing the Royals game, picked up the Fox Sport KC broadcast.

    They got eight runs off Madison Bumgarner.

  96. Cameron Says:

    Oh sweet. FSN KC isn’t too great about about Spring Training, but I’m watching now. Up against SF 13 to 3…

    Hopefully I can watch the kids myself now.

  97. Cameron Says:

    I’m seeing Jeffress in a Royals uniform in an interview right now. Looks good in it.

    …Also, holy shit does he look tiny on TV.

  98. Chuck Says:

    Well, he’s only six feet.

  99. Cameron Says:

    Six feet, but he’s a beanpole.

  100. Cameron Says:

    You know what I love about baseball video games? The simulation aspect of it all makes you see events you wouldn’t see in real life.

    I was playing as this 6′6″ 185 pitcher in the Pirates system I created (I got inspiration from Mike Montgomery’s beanpolishness) and I threw this low fastball that the hitter just beat into the dirt on a failed bunt. Normally, it’s stop there, but it seems the guy on third chose that at-bat to try and steal home. He’d already geared up and was in the middle of his slide, so he just went straight into the catcher, who beat him by a country mile in blocking it off. I don’t think that’s ever happened, but that set of coincidences was just golden to me.

  101. Mike Felber Says:

    fFew guys ever hit a legitimate 500′ HR, at least with a wooden bat. In a Web Site that shows how far every MLB HR goes, Hamilton last year was the furthest at 485′. Mays, Aaron, even a juiced Bonds never were credited with 500′. Big mac never approached it until he hit the juice. Top 10 from eminent baseball historian Bill Jenkinson, who researches every big blast multiple ways, as i recall it:

    Big Mac

    Gibson might have been up there too, not good enough records to know. Williams was #14. Babe was easily #1. 2 & 3 very close, as were 4 & 5.

    He has only about 10 shots ever at 540′ or more, some other shots close. Jackson’s ASG one was wind aided. Foxx had more 450-500′ shots than Mantle,who had @ 2 shot ever at 551: not a 565 nor 634. It is a common optical illusion that shots like Mantle’s 11’s inning blast off Fisher was still rising. But if so, it would have been over 700′, not at all plausible. After a ball passes its apogee, especially a higher shot, it does not have a great deal of distance left in it.

    Ruth is credited with a 585′ UNINTERRUPTED shot, over an impossibly distant fence, at least 560′ from home plate. And a post season exhibition game in Wilkes Barre Pa: He discovered what he thought was credible lines of evidence of Ruth smashing one something well past 600′, towards 650′

    The only shot Ruth ever asked to be measured.

  102. Cameron Says:

    Which Howard, Ryan or Frank?

  103. Lefty33 Says:

    The real business of Baseball:

  104. Bob Says:

    Lefty, thank you. And damn, you guys are either up late or up early.

  105. Lefty33 Says:


    Early and it sucks.

  106. Bob Says:

    On a Saturday I suppose it does.

  107. Chuck Says:

    “eminent baseball historian Bill Jenkinson.”

    Until the book, I’d never heard of him.

    You have to do a lot more than one book to be considered “eminent” in my book (pun intended).

  108. Mike Felber Says:

    He has more than one book, jus’ Google him. The last one was “The Year Babe ZRith Hit 104 Homer Runs”.

  109. Mike Felber Says:


  110. Bob Says:

    Mike Hampton retired, the Mariners released Gabe Gross and the Dodgers released Ron Mahay.

  111. John Says:

    Still trashing Epstein?

    There are several GMs with payrolls in the same zipcode as Boston’s and none of them have been even close to as successful as Epstein (in the toughest division in baseball). That’s because Epstein believes in objective analysis and the others believe that Alfonso Soriano should get 136 million dollars.

    Meanwhile, Billy Beane gets trashed because he doesn’t finish 1st every single year, despite his whopping 8 dollar payroll.

    Really, its tough to compare. Epstein shouldnt run his team like the A’s because he can afford to overpay for a guy like Crawford. Beane has to look for free agents that suck at something so he can affford him.

  112. Cameron Says:

    John has a point. Why trash Epstein? Jim Hendry is a WAY easier target.

  113. Chuck Says:

    That’s not the point John, and you know it.

    If Theo was the GM of the Pirates they’d still be on an 18 year losing streak.

    The best compliment I can give him is he’s smart enough to hire people who know more about baseball than he does to make baseball decisions.

    All he does is take the credit.

  114. John Says:

    There’s literally no evidence of that whatsoever because he doesn’t GM for them.

    He has only ever GMed for a big market team so all we’ve seen him do is run a big market team (better than every other big market GM).

    If he were GMing the Pirates, I don’t think he would pay out half his payroll for Carl Crawford. He’d half to adjust what he was doing for his market. Perhaps he would emulate another small market GM, maybe one with 5 playoff appearances in seven years…

    I do know that Epstein emphasizes OBP (among many other things) and that the Pirates have finished near the bottom in that statistic pretty much every year.

    As far as hiring the right people? That’s a good trait that I want my GM to have. A great leader knows what he doesn’t know and listens to the people who do know while using all available information to make the best possible decision. A bad one signs Juan Pierre to a 45 million dollar deal because he flipped over a baseball card and saw lots of .300’s and 200-hit seasons.

  115. Hartvig Says:

    Raul- You’ll be happy to heard that I saw Alex Gordon play a couple of days ago and what Chuck said is spot on. He hit everything hard, including a home run. He didn’t look lost in the field but he also did have any tough plays either.

  116. Chuck Says:

    “I do know that Epstein emphasizes OBP (among many other things)”

    The people Epstein hires emphasize OBP.

    Theo things getting to second base is getting the bra snap unhooked.

  117. Lefty33 Says:

    “Perhaps he would emulate another small market GM, maybe one with 5 playoff appearances in seven years…”

    So you mean that Theo would go to another team that is fully loaded and stocked, ride the prior GM’s coattails since that person already did all of the heavy lifting, then take all the credit for any success the teams has, and to finish it off run the franchise into the ground when the original GM’s stocked team is gone and he replaces it with sub .500 crap?

    Wow, what a guy

  118. John Says:

    The A’s are going to win the West this year.

    And good lord, Beane took over in 1998. His team didn’t start winning shit till 2000. They kept winning after Giambi left. He was responsible for drafting Mulder, Zito, two ROY closers, trading for Haren, etc etc. Also, its not like Beane showed up out of nowhere. He had been working in the front office since 1990 and was the assistant GM to Alderson. And yeah, they finally started losing because their cheapass owner wouldn’t sign their players to extensions and they were absolutely hosed by injuries. They still did better than expected considering their payroll.

    From 2000-2009, the A’s were consistently bottom 5 in payroll, and finished the decade with the 6th best record in baseball.

    And I love how, at the age of 200, Chuck still gets a kick out of beating up on nerds. Good luck getting laid, nerds!

  119. Chuck Says:

    “And I love how, at the age of 200, Chuck still gets a kick out of beating up on nerds”

    Never gets old.

  120. JohnBowen Says:

    Brewers just acquired Nyjer Morgan.

    Fuck the heck.

  121. Chuck Says:

    ‘Brewers just acquired Nyjer Morgan.”

    Well, there’s at least one team which doesn’t use sabermetrics.

  122. JohnBowen Says:

    Yeah, we’ve done just super.

  123. Chuck Says:

    Baseball America uses Fangraphs to run their numbers for their season predictions.

    According to the data returned (have no idea what it is), Oakland has the third worst pitching staff in the major leagues.

    Not the American League, the MAJOR Leagues.

    I think the vast majority of fans and a good number of the so-called “expert analysts” overrate their pitching, but, I have to say, that surprised me.

  124. John Says:

    Unless the park factor at OACC is like 52, I’m calling bullshit on this one.

    -#1 in ERA+ in 2010
    -#2 in WHIP

    And they picked up some good arms for the pen.

    Yeah ok, #28 pitching staff in the game. Sure.

  125. Chuck Says:

    “For the second year in a row, we have turned to our friends at FanGraphs to do our major league predictions. FanGraphs uses a proprietary projection system to break dow the batting, pitching and fielding of each team, expressed as runs scored or prevented above the average. The data is an aggregation of thousands of projections they calculate for individual players.”

    Only the Indians and Reds have worse pitching, and BA has Oakland finishing third in the West with a 78-84 record.

  126. John Says:

    Fangraphs also though Ben Zobrist was the world’s best player in 2009.

    In all seriousness, how can you look at the Pirates pitching staff and be like, yeah, they’re definitely better than the young arms in Oakland?

    How can you possibly justify that, using statistical analysis or otherwise?

  127. Chuck Says:

    Without knowing what criteria was used or to what extent, speculating isn’t going to solve anything.

    What the results justify to me is my belief Oakland’s staff is overrated. Where, exactly, and exactly how much I won’t venture a guess, but it certainly makes me feel better.

    I can’t remember where I saw it, but I read something recently which selects Trevor Cahill as the AL Cy Young winner.

  128. John Says:

    “What the results justify to me is my belief Oakland’s staff is overrated.”

    Haha, I’m on to you buddy.

    Statistical analysis is awesome…as long as it supports your gut conclusion.

    None of these guys are Cy Young contenders. But a rotation of 5 very good pitchers will out-perform a Spahn-and-Sain staff all season long.

    Personally, I don’t see how a staff can only lose its very worst pitcher, tack on a bolstered bullpen, and go from the best in the league to one of the worst.

    Doesn’t make a ton of sense to me.

  129. Chuck Says:

    “Haha, I’m on to you buddy.”

    Haha, it’s called a wet dream.

    “Personally, I don’t see how a staff can only lose its very worst pitcher”

    They traded Dallas Braden?

  130. Chuck Says:

    “Statistical analysis is awesome…as long as it supports your gut conclusion.”

    This is only one of two analysis that actually agrees with me, out of the couple of dozen I’ve seen.

    I think the other 22 suck, but I don’t expect any support being in the minority, either.

    Til the season starts, that is.

  131. John Says:

    No, they no longer have Sheets.

    Dallas Braden is pretty good. Like the rest of the staff.

  132. Chuck Says:

    Fangraphs itself actually picks Oakland to finish second and win 90 games, sooooooooooo…there’s certainly different criteria being used.

  133. JohnBowen Says:

    That’s weird.

    I’ve got the A’s right at 90 games, but I think the Rangers are going to fall back a bit.

  134. Cameron Says:

    I’m picking Oakland to win by the virtue that the two top teams (LAA and Texas) made no real improvement (LAA) or got worse (Texas) and Seattle… Well, I think they’ll suck this year. Oakland’s been plugging about another win or two with every pickup and they’ve been freakishly busy.

    I think the real hope is that all the one year pickups and getting guys on the least years of their contracts results in a draft like Tampa will have this year. Over the next couple of seasons, they’re gonna be serviceable with their good pitching and guys like Choice, Taylor, Carter, and Green in the lineup but they’ll fall in the second division.

  135. Chuck Says:

    I have Oakland third.

    I think BA’s a little conservative with 78 wins, but third is still third.

  136. Cameron Says:

    I have Oakland at about… i’d say 88.

    …Yeah, I have the West REALLY weak this year.

  137. Chuck Says:

    Another HR for Alex Gordon today.

    Tomorrow’s my last ST game…Milwaukee @ KC.

  138. Cameron Says:

    Was Gordon turned on again today like the rest of Spring?

  139. JohnBowen Says:

    I just can’t see Seattle sucking this bad next year. To have that many guys have such horrendous seasons? It was a perfect storm of suck for that offense which was maybe the worst of all-time. I think they’ll end up with like 70 this year.

  140. Cameron Says:

    Not as bad as last year, but I don’t see them posting a winning record.

  141. Cameron Says:

    Oh thank god…

  142. Lefty33 Says:

    “The A’s are going to win the West this year.”

    If you say so.

    “And yeah, they finally started losing because their cheapass owner wouldn’t sign their players to extensions and they were absolutely hosed by injuries.”

    That’s not exactly true.

    Schlott and Hoffman forced Alderson to slash payroll when they took over in ‘95 from what Haas had allowed. So the payroll issues predate Beane by three years.

    “From 2000-2009, the A’s were consistently bottom 5 in payroll, and finished the decade with the 6th best record in baseball.”

    Sorry John but that’s not true either.

    In 2007 they were 17th out of 30
    In 2006 they were 21st out of 30
    In 2005 they were 21st out of 30
    In 2004 they were 16th out of 30
    In 2003 they were 22nd out of 30

    So I wouldn’t say that they were consistently in the bottom five in payroll when that clearly wasn’t the case in half of the years you mentioned and like I said the payroll cutting started a few years before Beane even got the job.

    “His team didn’t start winning shit till 2000.”

    Based on the talent from when Alderson was the GM.

    I’ll give Beane credit for getting the team in ‘06 into the playoffs as clearly that was his team. But since then he’s done shit.

    It’s like all the these wacky Phillies fans that want to give Amaro credit for the current team except they fail to remember that Gillick was the GM when the team won and Wade drafted the current core and he’s just riding the coattails of what they put together.

    Until he actually wins something important like a WS, RAJ is a joke and so is Beane.

    Being “competitive” and “efficient” is nice but when you have no chance at ever winning the WS or even in making the playoffs year in and year out then what the hell is the point.

  143. Cameron Says:

    Oh, and fun fact. You know how a lot of guys were wondering if Jeremy Jeffress’s weed problems were gonna get him kicked off the Royals and another failed drug test was gonna get him banned from baseball.

    Well I actually found a digital copy of the Uniform Player Contract of the MLB and… Major leaguers don’t get tested for marijuana. If he stays in KC’s major league roster (an easy thing to do for the kid), he won’t get tested. If he gets sent to Omaha, though…

    Thank god too, because I know from experience that there’s a LOT of stoners in KC.

  144. JohnBowen Says:

    “Based on the talent from when Alderson was the GM.”

    Half the main contributors were drafted under Beane. The others were drafted while he was assistant GM.

    “Being “competitive” and “efficient” is nice but when you have no chance at ever winning the WS or even in making the playoffs year in and year out then what the hell is the point.”

    This nonsense about Beane doing something wrong because the A’s lost a bunch of game 5’s is ridiculous. In a short series, anything can happen. Generally teams with a front-3 like the A’s had are gonna do better in the playoffs, but a GM’s job is to put his team in a position to win the World Series. Which essentially entails getting to the playoffs.

    “So I wouldn’t say that they were consistently in the bottom five in payroll when that clearly wasn’t the case in half of the years you mentioned and like I said the payroll cutting started a few years before Beane even got the job.”

    True, apparently. But alright, the payroll cutting started before Beane got there. My point is that, the whole time, Beane has had to contend with cheapass ownership.

    And it’s like his teams from 04 and 05 (also his teams) were shit either. They came within a game of winning the division in 04 and still won 88 games with major injuries in 2005. That’s just bad luck. You can’t say a guy is doing a fantastic job if he wins 92 games, but an absolutely shitty team-hurting job if he wins 91.

    Beane’s biggest error? Letting Ken Macha be a major league manager.

  145. Cameron Says:

    You bring up Oakland managers and I realized I actually had to THINK about who the manager was. Normally they have a personality or some defining trait that can make you think of the manager off the top of your head… But Bob Geren may be the most low-key manager I’ve ever seen.

  146. Chuck Says:

    Royals picked up Matt Treanor.

    When he shows up for work today, he has to take a left when he walks into the park instead of a right.

  147. Bob Says:

    Matt Treanor also picked up Misty May.

  148. Dugout Central » Blog Archive » Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge — AL Predictions Says:

    [...] this article the predictions for the AL are presented; for details about the contest rules, see the original article. There are two contests again this year, one for Average Win Difference and one for Root Mean [...]

  149. Dugout Central » Blog Archive » Third Annual Dugout Central Challenge — NL Predictions Says:

    [...] A couple of weeks ago, Dugout Central staff and readers were challenged to predict win totals for all thirty MLB teams. A total of six entries were received. In this article the predictions for the NL presented; the AL predictions were given yesterday. For details about the contest rules, see the original article. [...]

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