<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Talking Baseball

Your weekday baseball fix. Some days.



Posted by Mike on Tuesday, February 03, 2004

New England Patriots - Super Bowl XXXVIII Champions

Congratulations to the New England Patriots! Once again Super Bowl champions after a dramatic and nail-biting 32-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers in Houston. With just a little over a minute left on the clock, just like he did in 2002 against the Rams (this time with a little help from the Carolina kicker), Tom Brady drove the Patriots downfield into fieldgoal range to give Adam Vinitieri a chance to put the Patriots ahead by three points with just four seconds left on the clock. Once again, Vinitieri came through in the clutch. Absolutely amazing, absolutely unbelievable.

How about Tom Brady? Brady has secured himself a place in history as one of only nine quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls. This exclusive club includes Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, and John Elway. Brady is only 26 years old and may still have a chance at a third Super Bowl title. Should that chance never arise he is still one of the elite Boston athletes past and present, now in the company of Larry Bird, Bobby Orr, and Ted Williams (who may have been the greatest hitter of them all but never did win a World Series).

As for the Patriots, they have finally secured the respect from the media and the rest of the country that they deserve. They were the best team in the league this year and have become one of the true powerhouse franchises. Well deserved respect and praise to Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Adam Vinitieri, Mike Vrabel, Troy Brown, Ty Law, Deion Branch, the entire offensive line, as well as the rest of the team.

King of Beers

Because nothing in America can exist without controversy or complaint... The Budweiser commercial that has received so much attention here at Talking Baseball has provoked backlash from readers. My friend Yakov in New York remarked, "apparently all it takes to set women back 50 years is 30 seconds and $2.5 million." I find it refreshing that at least one other person still has a sense of humor in our increasingly politically correct world. Not that it bothered me in the least, but I would have imagined Kid Rock wearing an american flag as a poncho would have been more of a hot topic than a mildly sexist and ultimately humorous beer commercial.

Now that football season is officially over, on to baseball...

Ivan Rodriguez and the Tigers

"This is an exciting day for me. I know they had a bad season last year, but I think this is going to be a completely different season." - Ivan Rodriguez

Ivan Rodriguez has finally found a new home for the 2004 season with the Detroit Tigers. ESPN.com reports that the contract Rodriguez signed is worth $40 million over four years but that only $19 million of the contract is guaranteed. The Tigers also have the option to buyout the remainder of the contract for $5 million if Rodriguez goes on the disabled list for more than 35 days in 2004 or 2005.

Two major points:

1.) This is not a good deal for Tigers, and Rob Neyer agrees. They have just signed a future Hall of Fame catcher with injury concerns to a contract that allows them flexibility if those injuries do materialize. This is good. For a team that was one loss away from tying the major league record for losses in a season in 2003 the addition of Rodriguez will give Detroit fans at least one reason to attend at least a few games. He likely isn't going to make Detroit a .500 team but at least they will not be a complete disgrace to their city once again. Maybe part of their logic was that he can help develop the young pitchers Detroit has, whether or not you consider them worth developing is another matter. As Neyer points out though, should Rodriguez remain healthy in 2004 and 2005, the real issue will be 2006 and 2007 when he will likely decline dramatically. This is bad.

2.) This deal is bad for Ivan Rodriguez. Coming off a World Series title and WS MVP season he has signed a non-guaranteed contract with the worst team in baseball. Rodriguez, like almost every catcher before him, will not be able to produce numbers in his 30s that are close to as good as what he could produce in his 20s. This fact will not be aided by Comerica Park, a notorious pitcher's paradise.

It looks like a future Hall of Famer is going to waste away the last few productive seasons of his career on a last-place team. Rodriguez may not have had much of a choice in the matter though, Florida seemed to show little interest in bringing him back unless they could for much less money and Baltimore found its catcher more than a month ago when they signed Javy Lopez. If not for all the chaos in the front office of the Dodgers because of their impending sale then maybe they would have made a legitimate attempt to sign Rodriguez. More likely though, if they were willing to spend the money, the Dodgers would have preferred Vladimir Guerrero. There just is not much of a market for aging catchers with injury problems as one might imagine.

Speaking of those young Detroit pitchers...

If Ivan Rodriguez thought the pitchers he was catching in Texas were bad, wait until he sees the three Detroit aces that he will be catching this year:

......................................AGE..........IP..........SO..........BB..........ERA..........ERA+
Jeremy Bonderman...........20.........162.0.......108..........58..........5.56..........78
Nate Cornejo...................23.........194.7........46...........58..........4.67..........92
Mike Maroth....................25.........193.3........87...........50..........5.73..........75

Jeremy Bonderman is only 20 years old and maybe someday he will turn into a good 4th or 5th starter but even that is a big "maybe." While the ERA leader among Detroit starters last year, Cornejo strikes out too few batters to have any real hope of lasting in the majors and the same might be said for Mike Maroth. There should be little or no hope in Detroit of any of these in house pitchers being able to lead the staff in the future, if there is that hope is misplaced. In fact, on most any other team in baseball none of these pitchers would find a place in the rotation and would be lucky to find a spot in the bullpen. There were actually a few more starting pitchers that Detroit used over the course of the season (if they could be called pitchers) but their numbers were just too terrible to mention.

I lied, they're just too laughable, here they are:
..............................AGE..........IP..........SO..........BB..........ERA..........ERA+
Adam Bernero...........26.........100.7.......54..........41...........6.08..........75
Gary Knotts..............26..........95.3........51..........47...........6.04..........71

Both Adam Bernero and Gary Knotts struck out more batters than did Nate Cornejo while throwing about half as many innings. Well this happens, right? Not when their strikeout rate is in the 4.8 K/9IP range. Considering that both Bernero and Knotts are entering what should be their primes I am fairly certain neither of these pitchers have much of a future in the major leagues.

I haven't researched this in any way, but what exactly has Detroit done with their draft picks for the last few years? Obviously nothing.

More than they needed Ivan Rodriguez, the Tigers needed to sign a starting pitcher during this offseason. While his signing was a good PR move and some needed help for what was the worst offense in baseball last year, from a long term perspective it was not the move they needed to make. For about the same cost as Ivan Rodriguez, the Tigers could have signed Kelvim Escobar, Damian Moss, and Raul Ibanez. If you do not like those names there were plenty of other players available at reasonable prices; Sidney Ponson, Carlos Guillen, and Eric Karros to name a few. Too often teams bring in that big expensive free agent when they really need to fix the foundation of the team first. Unfortunately for the Tigers they will have a long time in the cellar to think about the best way to create a future.


### So what do you think? We want to know. | | E-mail us ###