Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Man, look at Len Elmore's afro!!!

Sorry; it's turn-back-the-clock night on ESPN; also, some "rotisserie foof" breaks down our most talked-about subject

Just thought I'd get your attention with the headline.

If you'll allow the digression, though, this is pretty cool. I think I remember hearing ESPN doing this last year, but if so, I didn't catch it. The game is UNC-UVa, circa 1981-82, so the open was a Michael Jordan/Ralph Sampson retrospective of sorts, with appropriate anachronisms thrown in. I was a kid back then, and we didn't have ESPN, but the presentation tonight is straight out of the Jefferson-Pilot Teleproductions style of the day. (Mike Patrick and Len Elmore, two JP voices back in the 80s, are even doing the game.) There are the kind of shaky still photos of a couple of key players during the pre-game open, the spartan graphics, the "visualization" of the starting lineups is accomplished by places the names of the forwards at the top of the screen with the center in the middle and the guards at the bottom. The only elements lacking authenticity are the time-and-score box (but it's done in a manner that would actually look authentic, if only they had those things back in the 80s) and the baggy shorts. Oh well.

I guess ESPN can make use of the gimmic; in the first match-up---in Charlottesville, mind you---UNC led by more than 50 points at one point and "hung on" for a 110-76 victory.

Old topic, new source: The Roto Times tries to handicap the OF/1B logjam. The article gives a pretty cursory treatment of the major players and doesn't really add much new information. Well, check that; there is this:

Despite these fine numbers, Sledge appears to be heading into spring training as the fourth outfielder, at least if you read between the lines of the following quote from assistant GM Tony Siegle from the team's official website: "We think Sledge is a very good player. But when the game was invented,
they only had three outfielders. Terrmel is certainly going to battle for a job. But if Endy doesn't do the job, there's certainly a better chance that Terrmel will start."

I'll fess up that I don't and can't read every Nats-related article, especially during the orgy-of-evidence at the beginning of Spring Training that the various media outlets have given us. So, to be honest, I'm not exactly familiar with this quote. Have I just missed it? Is it from recently? Is it from early winter? Last I heard, there were some unsubstantiated rumors that Sledge might be on the block---presumably because he had some trade value, not because he'd be relegated to the bench. He is the "complete player," as we all know.

More from the analysis:

Chavez had a .291 OBP in 181 at-bats in the leadoff spot last season and doesn't seem to have the plate patience to succeed in that role long term. He did thrive as a No. 2 hitter (.296-3-17, .347 OBP in 270 at-bats), and that may be where he winds up if he wins a starting job.

Here's another thing I'll confess: I don't get the big deal of pointing at one season's worth of data and saying, "Player X hit this in Y spot in the lineup and that in Z spot in the lineup." I've been meaning to make this particular comment for some time, and the RotoTimes article happens to be the lucky one to give me that opportunity during a propitious time.

Now, it's not like Chavez's BOP splits fail to surpass Voros' Law (in a nutshell, 60 ABs or fewer is completely worthless to make any conclusions), but 200-300 at-bats isn't exactly an exhaustive sample. I realize the purpose here is to contrast his lead-off OBP with his No. 2 spot OBP, but is the goal really to demonstrate that, because he had an okay---just okay---OBP in 270 at-bats in the two spot last year, he'll do the same this year?

At the end of the day, you've got a guy who---as many of us have pointed out, most recently Chris---actually, over a sustained period of time, has posted an OBP in the low, low threes, and one shouldn't bet the house on that changing much this year.

One more excerpt:

It's entirely possible that Johnson will never live up to his hype, which probably was a bit enhanced by the mere fact that he was once a Yankees prospect. That's not to say Johnson doesn't have some upside, because it's clear that he has the ability to hit 25-30 home runs in a season if he can stay healthy.

I can't really find much fault in the analysis of Johnson; it ends---later---by noting that he's got more potential than all of the other guys, after all. (That statement can be disputed, of course, with regard to Brad Wilkerson.)

Still, I can't help but lament the prospective evaluation of "not to say Johnson doesn't have some upside . . ."---this is a guy who hit .345/.525/.548 in 1999. In a full season. At age 20. In the freakin' Eastern League, which is considered a pitchers' league compared to other minor leagues. Johnson's the same guy who posted a .422 OBP for the Yankees two years ago.

He'd better stay healthy. And I'm not even speaking as a Nats' fan in this instance. I'm speaking as a guy who feels sorrow for those who do not meet their potential.

NOTE: The RotoTimes link just won't work for my in the above link. The URL, if you care, is"bsball&type="mike&name="F20050215172123

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