Writing the Book (8 Dec 08)

I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving. I’m finally settling back into my routine and almost caught up on emails. If I still owe you a response, this is probably the week it happens.

I got a ton of work done in Hawai’i, which is good because I’ve been stressing about the whole book thing. Having a bunch of unstructured time without Internet access allowed me to crank out the pages. Of course, now I have to type them all up, but that’s another story…

Ted Simmons and the Hall of Fame

Before we talk about the book, I wanted to mention an article of mine that ran at Hardball Times while I was gone. It asked whether new Padres bench coach Ted Simmons belongs in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully I’ve done Simmons justice, although a few readers think I haven’t come down strongly enough in his favor.

They may be right.

One of the unstated assumptions in my analysis is that the Hall of Fame has been fair in its judgment of catchers. However, given that only 10 of them are in Cooperstown (for their catching exploits, anyway), this might not be a valid assumption.

My intent was to determine how well Simmons measured up against his HOF counterparts, but in so doing, I missed an important question: Is the current standard for catchers reasonable? I haven’t studied this at all, but my guess would be that it is not.

On the bright side, the Veterans Committee can have their say. On the not-so-bright side, it won’t happen this year because they’ll be too busy giving Maury Wills consideration.

Speaking of Cooperstown…

I’m looking at who all will be eligible for consideration in coming years. Some of the names (Dave Burba? Matt Lawton?) are laughable, but that’s how the system works. Here are the ex-Padres:

  • 2009: Ron Gant, Rickey Henderson, Jesse Orosco, Greg Vaughn
  • 2010: Roberto Alomar, Andy Ashby, Ray Lankford, Fred McGriff
  • 2011: Kevin Brown, Paul Quantrill, Steve Reed, Benito Santiago, Ismael Valdez
  • 2012: Pedro Astacio, Vinny Castilla, Dustin Hermanson, Phil Nevin, Joe Randa, Eric Young
  • 2013: Sandy Alomar Jr., Jeff Cirillo, Steve Finley, Ryan Klesko, Mike Piazza, Reggie Sanders, Todd Walker, David Wells, Rondell White, Woody Williams
  • 2014: Greg Maddux (he’s retiring in case you missed it)

Out of those guys, I’m liking Quantrill, Reed, and Randa…

I slay me. Anyway, Rickey, Piazza, and Maddux are no-brainers. Roberto Alomar and McGriff deserve serious consideration, too, but I doubt they’ll get elected when their times come. Alomar hung around a little longer than he should have (plus there’s the spitting incident that, right or wrong, will remain in folks’ minds), and McGriff made the mistake of playing most of his career in an era where 35 homers meant you hit more than anyone else.

Uh, the Book?

Right. Got distracted there. So here’s what I worked on while I was off yonder:

  • Padres Farm Report — I made some good headway on this chapter. I’ve drafted player commentaries for the hitters and assembled a rough top 30 prospects list that probably will be tweaked several times in the coming weeks.
  • Decade of Drafts — I’ve gotten through 2003 so far. My favorite pick is 2000 fourth rounder Mewelde Moore, who hit .210/.272/.284 in parts of three seasons at Idaho Falls in the Pioneer League before turning his attention to football. I’d say that worked out well for Moore.
  • Three-Headed Beast — This is an ambitious piece that examines the relationship between fans, management, and the media. I wrote most of the 8000+ words in the San Diego and Honolulu airports. It reads like a lunatic manifesto at the moment, so I’m trying to tighten things up a bit and make the connections clearer. With luck I can turn this into something coherent and maybe offend a few people in the process. ;-)

I’ve also decided to include, in addition to the glossary and index, an annotated bibliography. I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction books lately and found such resources to be both interesting and useful.

This Week

I’ll just keep banging away at the keyboard and hope stupid stuff doesn’t come out — you know, the usual. Also, I need to finish my chapter for The Hardball Times Season Preview 2009. I’m waiting to see if anything materializes at the Winter Meetings before submitting it.

Speaking of which, if something does materialize, I’ll cover it here as time permits. If nothing much happens, expect a link dump or two… again, as time permits.

Yo, ding dong, man; ding dong, ding dong, yo…

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6 Responses »

  1. A bit OT but Baseball Intellect has posted their top 15 Padres prospects.

    http://www.baseball-intellect.com/Articles/san-diego-padres-top-15.html

  2. Good to hear you made so much progress on the book, Geoff.

    Boy, I hope Alomar isn’t left out of the Hall because of a couple of bad late career seasons and a horrendous public blunder. Yes, his last 2.5 seasons played were very poor, but he was a great offensive and defensive 2B. His top 5 seasons of OPS+ were all 129 or higher (he had a 6th at 134, but didn’t qualify for the batting title, which I used as a cutoff) — exceptional for a 2B.

    There have only been 161 such seasons: OPS+ 129 or higher, 50% of games played at 2B, and qualified for the batting title. The only 2B who had more than Alomar’s 5 are:

    Rogers Hornsby, Eddie Collins, Joe Morgan, Nap Lajoie, Charlie Gehringer, Ryne Sandberg, and Larry Doyle (who the heck is Larry Doyle? a question for another day, no doubt.).

    The only ones with as many as Alomar’s 5 are:
    Bobby Grich (who should be in!), Craig Biggio (who will be in), and Jeff Kent (another guy who may have a tough time getting in due to personality, but who should be in based on performance).

    Granted OPS+ isn’t the be all, end all measurement of a player, but it gives one a pretty good idea of where Alomar ranks offensively amongst 2B. He also stole 474 bags at an 80% success rate. Only Collins and Morgan stole more. Robinson almost certainly would have eclipsed him in OPS+ seasons, but not necessarily in steals.

    It will be interesting to see how he is treated. I think it would be a shame if he weren’t given his due. McGriff was a great one, no doubt. 1B is such a storied position though that it will be hard for him.

  3. Alomar should be a no-doubt Hall of Famer. I say SHOULD because that’s what I think, but I have no idea what the voters think.

  4. #4@Pat: Thanks, bud; the support is much appreciated. As for Alomar, it’s interesting to look at his and Biggio’s career from age 33 onward:

    Alomar: 502 G, .285/.357/.421, 105 OPS+
    Biggio: 1311, .269/.344/.432, 97

    The only thing Alomar didn’t do that Biggio did was hang around too long at the end. Incidentally, a late-career slide didn’t seem to hurt Sandberg much. Here’s what he did from age 33 onward:

    Sandberg: 459 G, .266/.325/.417, 94 OPS+

    And Whitaker: 695 G, .277/.379/.464, 128 OPS+

    I’m still not sure how voters elect Sandberg but completely dismiss Whitaker. I’d call Whitaker the Ted Simmons of second basemen, but I think that title probably belongs to Grich.