- The Hardball Times have made a gallant effort to try and project Akinori Iwamura’s stats for 2007. The problem they face is that there have not been many comparable players that have made the jump from Japan to the Majors. The only similar player (ie. slugger) was Hideki Matsui. Well, Matsui was Matsui has become a solid contributor, but did struggle his first season. Using several predictive measures, it looks like we can expect .292/.348/.446 with about 20 home runs. Like many of us expected his batting average should be similar, with a slight dip, and a big fall off in power.
- Baseball Prospectus noticed that Dioner Navarro had some decent projections for 2007 and were surprised. That take a closer look and determine that major league experience at a young age for catchers almost guarantees that they become a good hitter.
- Earlier this week we worried aloud about Elijah Dukes’ weight. He is apparently at 245 pounds even though he has publicly said he would prefer to play at 220. Well we received some first hand accounts from the first day of workouts and the general consensus is that we should shut up and stop worrying. He is in shape. Just a little bigger. Also another feel-good story about leaving his problems behind. This one was an AP article and ran all over the country. If Dukes makes the team and plays in an all-star game some day look for a Sunday night movie.
- How bad is the Rays bullpen? Well apparently a 2006 campaign with a 4.68 ERA and 1.493 WHIP guarantees you a spot in the 2007 pen without having to compete in Spring Training. We thought Shawn Camp had a shot at the big league club, but figured he would at least have to work for it.
- The Trop. Only the 28th worst stadium in baseball! Wait…Taking the entire package into consideration (Ticket prices, concession prices, etc.) and The Trop jumps up to 25th. At least Ken Macha understands the need for domes. Personally we are sick and tired of the knocks on the Trop. The city was blackmailed by Major League Baseball into building a stadium on the cheap without a team to help foot the bill. And how many teams out there owe their new state-of-the-art stadiums to the threat of moving to the Tampa Bay area back in the 80s and early 90s? San Fran, Seattle, the White Sox, etc. So back off! Or we will shoot the stuffed animal.
- Don Zimmer, who will wear #58 this season to mark his 58th season in baseball, has spoke out on the on-going Derek Jeter-Alex Rodriguez story. This is what cracks us up about New York sports. For various reasons, we spend a lot of time in New York City and read the newspapers and listen to sports radio and talk to the local fans, and New York fans can get crazy about silly things. But this story has us shaking our collective heads. Seriously? Would we care if Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford used to be buddies but no longer hang out together? The way the New York media is spinning this story, we half expect both of these guys to die in drive-by shootings in the next year or two.
- This is a bit stale, but Baseball America has released their annual “Top 10 Prospects” list for the Rays. Delmon Young’s eligibility as a rookie keeps him at the top of the list. Evan Longoria debuts at #2. The best news? With all the talent in the minors these days, five of the top ten are pitchers, led by Jeff Niemann and Jacob McGee at four and five. And the list doesn’t even include Mitch Talbot who came on strong at the end of 2006. They also provide a projected 2010 lineup.
- Baseball Prospectus has ranked the minor league systems of every major league team. Not surprising is that the Rays top the list. Surprising is that the Rays not only rank first among hitting prospects but fourth among pitching prospects. To quote The best system in baseball and it’s not even close.