I am slowly taking over the blogosphere

HotStove.com interviewed me (again) for my expert opinion on whether or not the Yankees screwedthe pooch on Johnny Damon. I then blew the other bloggers out of the water with my response (again).

Jimmy Dugan
President, CEO, and Dictator
The Fowl Balls


Sorry, Johnny: Yankees sign Randy Winn

According to Joel Sherman (God, even typing his name irritates me), the Yankees have come to an agreement with Randy Winn.

Winn's numbers look horrific at the plate last year, but he did hold his own against righties. Also, the platoon splits are not remotely typical of him forn his career, as the switch hitter has hit around .280 fron both sides of the plate . His WAR fell below 2 last year after a healthy 4.6 in 2008, so the Yankees are looking for some buy-low upside on a player that should be a defensive attribute in left field.

I have been accused of being a Cashman whore in the past, but this is an example of me and my boy being on different pages. Sure, Winn should come at or around the $2 million that was cited as a limit coughbullshitcough, but if Johnny Damon could really be had at $5-6 million, I don't get this one. I hope Ca$h proves me wrong.

/prays in front of makeshift Brian Cashman shrine

Buying low

News came through last night that the Minnesota Twins have signed Jim Thome, with the intention of making him their full-time DH. With this move they will be moving last year's DH, Jason Kubel, to the outfield, leaving no room for ex-super-duper-next-coming-of-Christ prospect Delmon Young without a position.

The Yankees have been picking up scraps for AAA outfield depth and/or a shot at the big league roster throughout the offseason, but have failed to secure what would be termed an "every day" option (if I get one more Brett Gardner email I am going to dickslap somebody - just STOP). With a player like Young being tossed by the wayside, this could be a perfect opportunity for the Yankees to pick up a potential long-term option without the long-term commitment. Hell, if it doesn't work out, they sign Carl Crawford at the end of the 2010 season. But if it does, maybe that money could be better spent in other areas (like re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, or even signing Cliff Lee to fill the spot vacated by Andy Pettitte).

To call Young a disappointment may well be an understatement, but the potential is still there. He's far from the 30/30 superstar that we were all promised, but he is still a solid, bottom of the order type. His .733 OPS last year was nothing short of abysmal, but it seems as though he had a sharp drop in AVG that should recover. Young's problem is , and has always been, patience. He NEVER fucking walks. The same had been said about Robinson Cano in past years, but he has gradually (or to some, PAINFULLY) raised his walk totals under Kevin Long.

Another knock on Young has been the slow, if not non-existent, development of his power. He has remained the same gap hitter that we saw as an eighteen year old. The fact remains, though, that Young is still yet to turn 25 years old. He's been a jerkoff for his entire career, and now he is left with a choice: go somewhere and prove your worth, or fade into AAAA obscurity. At a minimal price, the Yankees could do worse than to add a potentially highly motivated 24 year old with an infinite ceiling. Classic case of low-risk, high reward. Plus there is always the potential to watch him go bat-shit crazy, Milton Bradley style. And that's never not fun.


Mets to Fans: " Fuck you."

It looks as though Ben Sheets has chosen to play for the Oakland Athletics in 2010, as reported by Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The deal will reportedly pay Sheets $10 million this coming season. As I said last week, this was the last chance for the Mets organization to prove that they were looking to compete in 2010. This was the perfect time for the Mets to make this move, as there are positive reports swirling about the bullpen sessions that Johan Santana and Olie the Walk Machine had in Port St. Lucie. But, alas, there was never any doubt that Omar and Co. would fuck this up, was there?


Hot Stove knows who to come to for answers

MLB rumors website HotStove.com asked me to weigh in on the Johnny Damon situation today. Word is getting out, so keep checking out TFB before I get that seven figure contract and you have to pay to even think about reading my shit.


New statistics for the new decade

Hitman23 is the newest of our contributors here at TFB. When he isn't pleasuring himself to pictures of Don Mattingly's moustache, you can most likely find him with his nose buried in a Bill James book. Enjoy.

I am a Sabermetrician. I once wasn’t, but I’ve seen the light and realized that everyone else is just stupid. You know how some people keep bibles by their bed? I keep a copy of Moneyball by mine. I read one chapter a week and then sermonize every Thursday (the official Sabermetrician Sabbath, bitches). Just in case you were wondering, my favorite chapter is ‘Scott Hatteberg, Pickin’ Machine’, but I’ll save that discussion for another day.

It is my sincere belief that we are on the brink of a major breakthrough in Sabermetric analysis. There is room for so much more. For example – just humor me here – if these Harvard MBAs running the show are so smart, why haven’t they figured out that they don’t even need to pay actual people to play baseball? Hello? They can just assign values to make-believe players and simulate the games in computer models. Clearly, the lights are on but there is nobody home. Sure, the MLBPA might have a problem with it, but other unions have been busted before. So these front office idiots would save a fortune – think about it, no shiny new venues to pay for and argue over, no outlandish contracts, no flights and travel arrangements, basically no overhead, save for a few guys with crusty Cheetos-orange fingers and their PCs. Anyway, I digress.

Now that I’ve converted to the one True Faith, I wanted to get in on the action and make my own mark on Sabermetrics (in case you haven’t noticed, Sabermetrics should always be capitalized, just like the word God – it would be an insult to our god, Bill James, if it wasn’t. He reads all, just like that other God). It all began as a discussion over Kei Igawa and Carl Pavano, when I was momentarily blinded and the voice of His Statiness, Bill James, inspired me. I don’t remember much about the ordeal but when I came to, I, along with the rest of my brethren at Yankeeist and the Yankee Google Group, developed a new advanced statistic:


That’s right. DTPIF, or Desire to Punch In Face, is the new “it” stat. WHIP? That’s so 2000. FIP? BLOP. VORP? Been there, done that. WAR? Don’t even want to hear the word unless it is preceded by “The U.S. declared” and followed by “on Mexico because it’s awesome and we want a 51st state.”

Yes, DTPIF. DTPIF is scaled from -10.0 to 10.0, with zero being neutral (credit goes to Dr. Skip for the scale). The dual directionality from zero allows one to better understand the reasons behind a player’s rating. Allow me to explain. Alex Rodriguez is one of the most polarizing personalities to ever grace a baseball diamond. However, he isn’t despised for his performance. It’s just his being that bothers everyone. His DTPIF is a whopping 9.1. So a DTPIF over zero indicates a sheer dislike for the human being. Now, Yuniesky Betancourt has a -8.9 DTPIF. This is attributable to his sucking and has little to do with him as a person. The fact that he is a nice guy is actually what keeps him from busting past the dreaded 9.0/-9.0 barrier. Getting back to the conversation that sparked it all, Carl Pavano has a DTPIF of -9.8, while Kei Igawa’s is a smaller yet still-too-high -7.4. DTPIF is an extremely complicated statistic that took many, many minutes to develop. But as you can see, the scale allows the user to understand if the player sucks as an athlete or as a person. If you don’t fully understand the situation behind the DTFIP you can delve a bit deeper and find out about things like Pavano’s “injury” history and his “desire” to play baseball, or that Igawa is the not even the best pitcher on his AAA team but will earn a lot more yen in his career than any of them.

So where do others rank? Only four players have ever achieved an imperfect DTPIF (10.0/-10.0) and they all happen to be currently active and play on the same team. Impossible, you say? Remember, complicated models. Check this out:

Dustin “I Even Want to Punch Myself in My Bald Head” Pedroia 10.0
Kevin “Arrrrr, Matey” Youkilis 10.0
Jonathan “Papelsmear” Papelbon 10.0
Jason “The Mariners Didn’t Even Want Me” Varitek 10.0
Tyrus Raymond Cobb 9.6
Theodore “Ted Theodore Logan” Williams 9.5

So there you have it, folks. The Red Sox have a long and proud history of putting a product on the field that is as dislikable as the locals. Oh yeah? Well, fack you too, fackers !!!


I guess it's time for plan Z

It looks as though Bengie Molina and his DD's will be sunning themselves in San Francisco in 2010, despite the Mets' "best" efforts to woo him to Shiti Field. I am actually starting to feel for peole who follow this team; they just can't do any fucking thing right at this point.

First, the organization slams Carlos Beltran in the press for having a surgery that they didn't approve (although there have been whispers that they actually did tell the doctor to go a head with the procedure). Then Peter Gammons' corpse reports that the Red Sox pulled their four year offer to Jason Bay off the table because an MRI on his knees revealed damage*. Now Bengie Molina tells them to go piss up a tree.

I will say this now: after reports from Ben Sheets' throwing session going well, if the Mets do not sign him, they don't give a shit. Unless they outbid everyone else in the running, one of two things must be true: either they have already written of 2010 and are looking to 2011, or Omar Minaya is doing an in depth experiment on how far he can actualy go before that asshole Jeff Wilpon fires him.


Yankees interested in Italian American Rhode Islander

The Yankees are apparently interested in Rocco Baldelli for the fourth outfielder/righty platoon left fielder position. Unless they think signing a wop would help them capitalize on the success of MTV's The Jersey Shore, I am a little puzzled by this one.

Look, I want Rocco to succeed as much as the next guy. It's would be a great comeback story from something that was actual tragedy, not some sheltered superprospect that started shooting crank when he couldn't take the pressure. I have met Rocco on more than one occasion, played against him, and met his family. Rest assured, I want him to turn it around more than anyone you know. Facts being facts, though, it's not something I would bet my house on (or the $9 in my wallet right now). After seeing him suffer through yet another season in 2009, it seems as though the Rocco Baldelli who had 185 hits as a rookie in Tampa is nothing more than a distant, albeit unfortunate, memory.

On paper, Baldelli seems like a solid fit for this roster spot. Good defender, hits lefties, has speed, and isn't a boat-rocker in the clubhouse. But, for me at least, the durability issue is just too much to ignore. This spot on the team could be vital to the Yankees' success, as I fully expect Brett Gardner to fucking terrible. Sure, I have heard the argument made by men much smarter than myself that the Yankees could basically trot Corky from Life Goes On out to left field every day and still win a title but, call me crazy, I would feel more comfortable with a dependable every day guy out there.

So, I wish all the success in the world to the pride of Rhode Island, but I don't see enough to convince me that he is in a position to help a team win a title.


It's about time

Yesterday a story broke that the Florida Marlins have been reprimanded by both Major League Baseball and the Players' Association for not spending the money they received through revenue sharing on baseball operations.

Since their inception, the Marlins have had a pretty predictable modus operandi - build a winner, then dismantle it by selling it off, piece by piece. It has brought the Franchise not one, but two World Series titles in their short history, but it has also made them the poster child for what is wrong with the revenue sharing process. They haven't won a title in six years, and typically we would all be waiting for the rising of the Marlins in 2010. To the contrary, their have been reports of them trying to trade slugging second baseman Dan Uggla this offseason, and even whispers about Josh Johnson, their staff ace, being available.

People can bitch and complain about the Yankees' spending habits, but I find this absolutely fucking repugnant. This is exactly what Hank Steinbrenner meant when he told the Associated press that the Yankees are "basically baseball's stimulus package" last February. Teams like the Marlins have been hoarding the money that has been given to them with the sole purpose of making them more competitive, and they should be retracted for it.

Because of the Yankees (and let's not discount the low-budget Red Sox), there is a lot of screaming and yelling demanding a salary cap, but I am not so sure that the high end of the spending spectrum is the real problem here. What may be more prudent would be a salary floor, forcing teams to spend a percentage of their revenue+revenue share on players and baseball operations, as opposed to pocketing proceeds. You can't tell me that the Florida Marlins don't have enough money to lock up Josh Johnson - that's horseshit. This is a team that just got a new ballpark approved, and they aren't paying for it (thanks Florida taxpayers!). Meanwhile, the Yankees go into hock up to their asshole, and still spend on the product that they are putting on the field. Am I saying that the Marlins need to be spending $200 million on payroll every year? Of course not. But would it be exhorbitant to set an annual number at, say, $50-60 million? No way.

If teams like the Marlins can't afford to put a quality product out there and take advantage of the large Miami market, one of two things needs to happen: 1, the league could demand that the team be put up for sale, and allow an owner like Mark Cuban to give a shit about the team's results or 2, the team could be contracted. I, for one, would be much happier watching 25 teams that compete year in and year out than having another 5 teams whose seasons are over in April **coughPiratescough**. For now, I commend the MLB and the MLBPA for at laest speaking up on the issue - but it is far from resolved.


Mark McGwire: The biggest fraud in sports

What's good everyone? Hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This is Sancho, back from the dead. In reality, I've been dealing with some shitty work hours and have been out of the loop for a while. But I'm not here to talk about the past. I'm here to talk about the future. Or more specifically, the piece of shit known as Mark McGwire.

Now, a disclaimer. I don't hate on the man because he did steroids. Far from it. I could care less about what these athletes do to themselves for our entertainment. What bothers me about this whole McGwire public apology tour is that it is the phoniest, most self serving pile of shit that I have ever heard in my life.

First off, someone should tell Little Mac that there's no crying in baseball. When A-Rod got caught red handed, he didn't break down and start sobbing like a little pussy. And if anyone thinks Marky Mark would have admitted to this if he wasn't getting a job with the Cardinals is delusional. He's self serving to the bitter end.

Another thing that really pissed me off was his lame ass response as to why he didn't admit to this when he was called up to congress in 2005. He was "afraid" of prosecution. Bullshit. Jose Canseco wrote a whole fucking book in which he admitted that he was the Godfather of the steroid era, and the Feds didn't do shit to him. McGwire thought he could get away with his little dog and pony show when he went before Congress, but unfortunately the court of public opinion doesn't accept memory loss as an alibi.

It is actually comical that he tries to portray himself as some sort of victim. He said that he wishes he wasn't part of the steroids era. Oh yeah? Then you would have been the modern day Rob Deer, you fucking jackass. He could hit for power before steroids, but that's it. A one trick pony. He owes his entire career to the juice. He's no Barry Bonds. At least Barry was a Hall of Fame caliber player before he started juicing.

Also, a big fuck you goes out to Tony LaRussa, everyone's favorite drunken uncle. Don't try and pretend that you didn't know what was going on. You knew from the start, and probably enabled the big red haired sack of shit to keep juicing.

And now it's come out that this whole media blitz has been orchestrated by Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary. That's all this is anyway, a big fucking show by a desperate man who feels no remorse. He's only sorry that he got caught.

Lastly, but certainly not least, a big fuck you goes out to the biggest dipshit of all, Bud Selig. He's a sleazy used car salesman masquerading as Commissioner. He likes to talk about integrity of the game, but he could care less. He turned a blind eye to this problem all these years, and now he wants to act like its over. Newsflash Buddy, players are still juicing. It's called HGH. That drug you don't test for. So eat a big steaming shit sandwich, you fucking pathetic stooge.

Other than that, congratulations Mark!


The Pope is Catholic

...and Mark McGwire did steroids through the vast majority of his career. Wake me when something comes across the wire that is actually fucking newsworthy.

Congratulations, Derek

Even though I wrote a post about the Global letdown that it will cause for men living vicariously through him, we congratulate Derek Jeter on his upcoming wedding to Minka Kelly that is (reportedly) set to take place this November. Tiger gets caught in a shit storm, TMZ launched a sports site, and all of a sudden Derek Jeter settles down. Coincidence?

The Yankees are now waiting for Johnny Damon to return on his hands and knees

Now that the Giants have signed Aubrey Huff, it looks as though the options for Johnny Damon and his rigoddamnediculous $30 million demands are drying up. You know what that means? Cashman was right again. At first , I didn't agree with the thought of re-signing Damon, mostly because I thought it was the Yankees best interests to sign Matt Holliday (albeit before the Cardinals crippled their franchise and overpaid the shit out of him). Since it looks like the team is holding out to sign Carl Crawford after the 2010 season, Damon at $6-7 million for a year makes all of the sense in the world. At that number you are paying Johnny Damon what would be his actual value, instead of what his Yankee Stadium numbers, and not to mention Scott Boras, may say that he is worth.

At that price, we can actually talk about Damon's actual value to a club - instead of how a multi-year contract could end up looking in three years. A multi-year deal would have us weighing Damon's age and projected decline. In this instance, we as analysts have the ability to say the Yankees have secured a player that CHONE projects to be a 3.2 win player at a premium price. Not to mention making Brett Gardner the fourth outfielder, a position that we all know is where he belongs.

If/when Damon returns, we will be able to one again blow inordinate amounts of smoke up Brian Cashman's ass for another savvy, shrewd move. Personally, I have come to expect nothing less.


Here's one you haven't heard

As I was perusing the list of available outfielders this morning (like every other Yankee fan), there was one name that jumped off the page (or screen, as it were): Rick Ankiel.

Now before all of my SABR freaks start screaming about how Ankiel is impatient, let me say that I do not see him as an ideal fit in left. BUT, he is a name, and the Yankees have been interested before. He is also, according to FanGraphs, a superior left fielder in a relatively small sample size.

The reason for this post is not to urge the Yankees to run out and sign Rick Ankiel. What I will say is that I am comfortable with the Yankees organization right now. In years past, Ankiel is a player that would be plastered all over the papers as a player the Yankees would be interested in, and they would be right. He's a name, he's a story. What he isn't is a good baseball player. It's things like this that indicate just how much control Brian Cashman has been afforded. If Hank was still involved on any level, he'd be calling Scott Boras about Ankiel every time he went outside for a smoke.
This is the type of organization that people like myself and the guys over at NoMaas begged for since the inception of our respective sites; one run by baseball men, not business men. And, if you haven't noticed, it yielded a World Series title.


Every year about this time, a little part of me dies

When HOF ballot time rolls around every year, Yankee fans from my generation (and I have been as adamant as any) rally around our hero, Don Mattingly.

Donnie Baseball was a God to many Yankee fans for a team that was far from dominant. his career seemed to last an eternity, as the team missed out on the postseason year, after year, after year. He had perhaps his best shot at a title ripped away from him by the strike in '94, and there wasn't a single die hard fan who wasn't teary eyed when he dropped to a knee at Skydome and pounded the turf in '95. He worked hard, played hurt, and didn't bitch in the media. Just grabbed his fucking lunch pail and showed up at the ballpark every day. This is why we all identify with Don Mattingly.

Make no mistake though: before all of the sympathy for a veteran whose body was failing, Don Mattingly was the best player in the American League, and arguably all of baseball. He was a great all around player that could hit for average and power, and was one of the top fielding first basemen ever. He had what my friend Spo calls the "Badass Quotient". It's that certain quality that instills fear in opponents. Mattingly was the type of player that other teams had a gameplan for. He might have been the best player in baseball for a stretch of five years or so, and that to me is what makes a Hall of Famer. Not pitching for 100 years and getting almost 300 wins.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is not a Goddamned weigh station for stat compilers. It is a place where those who were considered SUPERSTARS to be immortalized. Batting titles, MVP's, and breathtaking plays in the field allowed Mattingly to reach what could have been rock star, Joe Namath heights - but that wasn't his style. Unlike some other private players, though, that didn't take away from his appeal to the masses in New York.

I know that the numbers may not be there from a career standpoint (although he was just as good as Kirby fucking Puckett, but I already made that argument), but there was no hitter as feared as Don Mattingly in his prime. That, to me, is what the Hall of Fame is all about.

Congratulations Andre Dawson

Pictured Above: Your entire Hall of Fame class of 2010. I don't give a shit who Roberto Alomar spit on, we will look back some years from now and realize that he was one of (if not the) best second baseman the game has ever seen.

I thought he already retired?

After a career that spanned like 7 decades, chronic douchebag Randy Johnson retired via conference call late last night. Apparently he pitched for the Giants last year. Perhaps the most dominant lefty in baseball history, his was a story of ups and downs in New York. Happy trails dickhead.

PS - Let the record show that as big an egomaniac asshole as he is, The Big Unit still had the sense to officially retire before Bernie Williams. We love you Bernie, please give it up.



Dear Readers,
I apologize for giving the staff here at The Fowl Balls World Headquarters the holidays off, but we are back for the New Year in full swing (get it? A baseball euphemism! I fucking rule!). Since nothing happened anyways, you can all stop emailing me your bitchy, whiny messages that we aren't writing enough. We are not, and have not, been one of those sites that Facebooks, Tweets, and sends carrier pigeons every time Brian Cashman takes a shit, so I don't know what to tell you.
All that being said, expect some new articles in the next few days in cluding our take on the Hall of Fame voting and the Red Sox's (can that be right?) continued accumulation of the 1999 All Star team.

Jimmy Dugan
President, CEO, & Dictator