Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Watching Paint Dry - DC Council Updates
Is there a channel for watching paint dry? I know they do fishes in aquarium. Because it's got to be better than watching the DC Council talk .
I'll keep you up-to-date. Right now Rep Graham (a swing voter) won't support Cropp's amendment (which is not a cap - but a warning bell of sorts) because he (rightfully) believes that if you give them a "cap" of $630 million, they'll take it.
Catania is a testy little bastard, ain't he?
Cropp is removing RFK site from the amendment for various reasonable concerns (why not build elsewhere?
Evans is voting for it because - hey other stadiums cost alot, and the actual stadium cost is low, it's the infrastructrue that the rest of the money. Yes. That's his reasoning. He's jumping off the bridge becuase Johnny jumped off the bridge and it isn't actually the jump that hurts you, it's the rocks at the bottom.
Cropp with a nice line basically allowing the end to debate by saying "I just asked members not to end debate but if they want to I can't stop 'em"
Cropp puts in a amendment so businesses won't have to cover overrun
Councilwoman Patterson wants to strip to community part from the issue because she thinks it's just there for votes. Smart woman.
Graham makes a very weird point. He's saying that "we all know it's a bad deal and we're only going for it because we can make a positive out of it, for example getting libraries built. Don't take it out." Ok but then why vote for it in the first place?
We got 1) people who will only vote for this deal if they get something but think it's a bad deal 2) people who won't vote for this amendment because it raises the costs even more 3) people who won't vote for the deal but think this is the only good thing in it.
Two amendments have passed so far. This is the Third. The first is "We'll maybe look at private financing" The second is "We'll maybe look at other locations if it gets way over budget". Strong words. Watch out MLB!!
Fenty brings up the point that MLB is not going to be so kind to renegotiate the deal to pay for community stuff.
Orange, who appears to be a complete tool for the mayor, is saying the real debate should be what we're going to do with all the money we're going to bring in.
God this is dull. When will a crowd throw a beer on someone so there can be a fight. I'll be back at the end for a recap.
Could Gary Bennett be Bowden's best move?
This weak-hitting, non-name, catcher is going to be Schneider's back-up next year (assuming he gets signed). If you must know: .224/3/20 .297 OBP .329 SLG
He does hit lefties better than righties (but not all that much better as you can imagine) which would be when he gets his hacks. My problem is that the 750K contract is a raise from last year(600K). Look at those stats. Does that deserve a raise? MLB does note that "In 2003, Bennett established career highs with 96 games and 42 RBIs for the Padres." They fail to mention that it's because Ramon Hernandez floated on and off the injured list like a beautiful butterfly. I feel like the Nationals are a sitcom where the owner walks into the stadium to find that Bowden has signed a golden retriever after watching Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. The owner shakes his head and says "That's our Bowden."
To be fair, he is supposed to be a good defensive catcher. Whatever.
In my catcher analysis, I recommended Doug Mirabelli, Todd Pratt, or John Flaherty. Mirabelli signed (for about 1.5 mill a year), but the other two were still available and could have been had for under a million and would have provided more bang for the buck than Bennett.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Sick! and not just of poor fiscal responsibility
Does it make sense? Eh, not really. You are either fiscally responsible or you're not. This plan is essentially saying, "You want to spend 600 million? That's great. Here's the checkbook. You want to spend 625 million?! That's just crazy?! You think we're some sort of idiots just throwing money away?! Get out of here! Out! Out! (picks up stuffed cat) Oh, Mr. Fluffy, they just don't understand. Noone understands me but you." It's the worst of both worlds. Agreeing to a plan that could cost the city $600+ million does not endear oneself to the sensible among us, and it could only serve to delay the vote further causing undue stress and aggravation to Washington baseball fans, blogs, and Spendy McBendOverforBaseball, otherwise known as Mayor Williams. Ok, it's not 100% bad.
A post-Thanksgiving sickness has delayed all that which is promised but I'm on an upswing so I hope to complete most of it by the end of the week.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Free Agent Casserole
1) Shortstop and Third Base analysis including the new feature "What I would have done"
2) A new look website representing the Nationals
3) A new web address
4) Candy for all!
I'll be going home and with questionable internet access, posting will probably not happen. Sorry my loyal reader(s). I'll use the break to redesign my web presence now that Bud Selig is doing a little jig on the Expos grave. Hopefully Jim Bowden won't trade away Ryan Church, Brendan Harris, and Terrmell Sledge for a sack of magic beans by then.
Monday, November 22, 2004
Washington Nationals at MLB.com
Sunday, November 21, 2004
A kook of our own
There was really no reason to have Izturis around after Guzman was signed. Unfortunate but true. Macier had a year, tops, left in AAA and then what? Three years of back-up duty? Including him in the trade doesn't bother me.
Rivera had a very promising 2004, but Jose Guillen has the stats you were hoping Rivera would have next year.
There are a couple of q's I still have but I'll address them tomorrow.
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Post for weekend and FAQ
why them? Because they're a fun read. (also maybe a little because they took the time to see that despite the Expos name on the blog title, I'm still posting away, talking about the team next year and they linked me) So go visit them.
Now a quick FAQ
Are you anti-Washington baseball?
No, a bit disappointed for sure. The idea of baseball in Franco-Canada is cool. They could have had modified beret hats and a Swingin' Frenchman logo featuring a mime swinging a loaf of bread. Gold! But anyway, I'm only anti-public stadium funding.
But you seem so angry at times?
It's frustrating listening to people put up weak arguments (or completely bad comparisons, like say Tom Boswell comparing bringing baseball to DC to the impact of the Cubs or Red Sox. It's like saying we should start a car company because look how many people love Volkswagons) in favor of public funding. I just want one person to say "I don't care if it's a bad deal for DC. I want baseball here. Baseball is important to me. If it costs the city tons of money it doesn't bother me, because I'll gain a lot from having a team here and I won't be cognizant of where the money was being lost from anyway", because that's so much closer to the truth. Well maybe the person wouldn't use the word "cognizant".
Could the stadium make the Anacostia region better? Sure. Will it make the city better? For sports fans, yes. For everyone else, probably not. Will the city and the public in the city be paying for it for years? Yes. Either through taxes near the stadium (which is money not spent elsewhere), prices raised by businesses who are taxed, or by cost overrun moneys that would come from the "old pot" of money. The gamble is the money put in by Virginians and Marylanders coming to DC for baseball and the whatever goes up around baseball will be more than the city has to pay out. It's a better gamble here than in most places, but it's still not a good one.
Plus MLB destroyed baseball in Montreal and noone blinked. It didn't die in Montreal, it was killed. I believe almost any city can be a good sports city if the team is competetive (except maybe Atlanta), and baseball denied Montreal the chance to be competative on purpose. So I'm mad about that. But that's MLB's fault, not Washington's (except for being so damn tempting down there with all those people and politicians and the rich ones that live in Virginia).
Will there be a name change in the blog?
Yeah. I decided that since I have no real link to Montreal, I'm following the franchise. When the name becomes official, this blog will change it's name (and it's link too). I'll also update the format. I'll make sure to link it from this site to get the thousands of stragglers over to the right site.
Will you attend any games?
Sure. This now becomes the geographically closest team to me. I should go there at least once next year.
Will you buy me a Diet Coke?
No. Dippin' Dots, yes.
Position Analysis - Second Base
Starter: Jose Vidro
Back-Up: Jamey Carroll
In the Minors: Henry Mateo / Brendan Harris (will talk about in 3B analysis)
Bats: Switch Age in 2005 : 30/31 Contract: Singed through 2008 - 7 Mill in 2005 (woo hoo! I actually get to tell you what someone will make in 2005!)
2004 Stats: .294 14 60 49 BB 43 K .454 Slug .367 OBP
Past: Jose had a couple of middling years with the Expos before breaking out in a big way in 2000. However you want to view it (.330 24 97 or .379 OBP/ .540 SLG) it was a phenomenal year for a 26 year old second baseman. In 2001 his numbers dipped slightly after a couple injuries (including a beaning in the head from Roy Oswalt). His numbers were pretty consistent since then, at a step below his 2000 season, though his K/BB rate improved every year.
Present: Vidro’s knee ended his season in late August, his first significant missed time since 2001. He was having a typical Vidro season until that point projecting in the neighborhood of 20HR and 80RBI, though I should add his SLG has dropped for the second straight year. He’s expected to be fully recovered for next year. Amazingly, he signed a contract extension. Although slightly over market value – you have to admire his loyalty to a team which had shown no interest in winning for most of his career.
Best Case: With his improving eye and the power increase that can come with age, Vidro remains a top, if not the top, MLB 2B for several years, 25+ HR and 90+RBI every year.
Worst Case: Injuries begin to pile up and combined with age it takes its toll on the middle infielder. Vidro’s stats decline each year until at the end of his contract he’s below league average.
Probable: With a better outlook for the team Vidro should be revitalized a bit. I can see a big year for him in 2005, but that might be it. I think .290 15 should be expected over the contract length, slightly under contract value, but in my mind worth it for “the Franchise”
Bats: Right Age in 2005 : 31 Contract: 2004 1yr $310,000
2004 Stats: .289 0 16 32 BB 21 K .372 Slug .378 OBP
Past: Didn’t really beat down the doors to the majors. His minor league numbers were passable but more in line with a career minor leaguer or cup of coffee guy. Good average but nothing else to speak of. However, when given a full-time back-up role in 2003, he was not overwhelmed. Since his role was not going to expand, there was no real reason to send him back to the minors after that. Seems to be a fan favorite as well.
Present: 2004 was actually a really good year for Jamey, the trade of Orlando Cabrera and injuries to Vidro and Alex Gonzalez gave him a lot of playing time. He performed better than expected; the key being a much better eye than he had shown previously. He’s not going to light the world on fire but there’s no longer a feeling that the club is waiting for something better to come along to fill the bench.
Best Case: Carroll continues to improve his selectivity and becomes a very useful pinch hitter / utility infielder. That guy who can move the runner over, always get the bunt down, and hustles on every play. An Eckstein without the baggage of having to start all the time.
Worst Case: This year was a flash in the pan. Jamey collapses in a more limited back-up role with fewer expected at-bats and lasts only a year or two more as a back-up.
Probable: If Jamey were 4 years younger I might lean toward the best case, but he’s not. He’ll never develop any power and with the recent signings his play will be limited. Of course that in itself is a blessing. He should be a just happy to be here guy for 2-3 years. If his production is stable he could stretch that out another 2-3 years. If it dips he could be done. I expect 4 more years out of his career so...something in the middle.
Bats: Right Age in 2005 : 28 Contract: Minor League Contract
2004 Stats: .273 0 0 1 BB 9 K .318 Slug .289 OBP
Present: In limited at-bats has been a little outclassed in the majors, striking out too often, getting on base not often enough, and not popping the ball. He is very reluctant to take a pitch. This hurts him a lot in the majors where the pitchers are much better than Triple A. His minor league stats don’t give any reason to expect things from him in the majors.
Probable: He may end up like Jamey Carroll, learning on the job to the point where he’s a useful back-up. However with a player like Carroll on your team, and players like him already plentiful and cheap, there’s no reason to keep Mateo in the majors. He’ll catch on somewhere for a year or two, but he’s been given his two-year audition, and he wasn’t up to snuff.
Other than Jeff Kent there is no one here to get excited about and even he’s iffy given his age. That explains why everyone is clamoring over “Vidro-lite” Placido Polanco. Polanco is young enough to blossom and right now is a nice little player. He’ll end up making some good money. Bret Boone is also out there and will get picked up by some team to start. Whether that’s a good idea depends on the contract. The rest is a motley crue
Easiest one to make. Stick with Vidro. With pickings this slim it’s not even a contest. Vidro is slightly overpaid, but in my mind should be the most identifiable player for this franchise, so it’s worth it. Unless someone offers the moon for him, keep Vidro on the team.
Carroll is fine enough to back-up, though given the recent signings his time could be given to Harris or Izturis. If they decide to cut him, I wouldn’t be upset. I’d keep him around at least another year though, even if you are giving the youngsters more of the at bats. Things happen.
Mateo should be dropped.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
It's unanimous - everyone hates Bowden
Neither of these are horrible deals in a fiscal sense, though they are both probably overmarket value. At best one of these two players will pan out to be an acceptable player, at worst this could create two holes in the lineup. If Castilla pans out the Expos will get some pop in the lineup for minimal expense on a short contract. If Guzman pans out the Expos will get an exceptional-fielding league average shortstop in his best years. Bowden is not off to a good start and his other goals (right fielder? holding onto Endy Chavez?) are also cause for concern for fans of this franchise.
I would add:
Neither Castilla or Guzman add any sizzle to the steak they want to sell in Washington. Unless he goes out and pulls a fast one, grabbing Pedro, or using one of these guys in a trade, I'm not sure these deals helped the team in anyway other than fielding percentage.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Guzman and Castilla? I don't think I could be more disappointed
"Cristian is only 26 years old. He has been on a division winner the last three years. He has tremendous range. It doesn't show up in statistics, but baseball people know what it means to win baseball games."
"This is a guy that has driven in runs. He helped Atlanta win. He has been on a winning team before. He is a good defensive player. You need veteran players that could lead other players. Vinny Castilla has done that before in his career. He will help us, which is a very important aspect of this signing. He can help develop young players."
Who said these thing? A deranged lunatic? Well, come on toots, his name ain't the Prince; besides could a lunatic run a team like this?
Jim Bowden is doing what here? I'll go over this more when I get to their position analysis next week but here's a quick response
Castilla last had a better than average year in a non-Coors non-Enron field in....well never in fact. He's 37 years old. His away OBP was .281. That second year on that contract is going to be a hell of a drag...
Guzman is young and but has in the last three years - hit for neither average or power. That's not a good combination. He's also a noticably lesser hitter away from turf where he can use his speed slapping hits and stretching doubles into triples.
Maybe I can find something nice to say next week, but right now Bowden has created a team that will never have anyone on base, and could very well be less potent then last years anemic offense. Ugh.
I'll try to be positive.
Good things about Vinny Castilla :
He could very well be slightly better than Tony Batista next year.
We didn't sign him for three years.
He wears cool shades
He's entering his best years
He hits better on turf and we do play three games at Toronto next year.
He's got that cool little goatee
Position Analysis - First Base
Starter: Nick Johnson/Brad Wilkerson
Back-Up: The other
Minors: Larry Broadway
Bats: Left Age in 2005: 26 Contract: 2004 1.25 Million One-Year
2004 Stats: .251 7 33 40 BB 58 K .398 SLG .359 OBP
Past: Nick tore up the minors and was the heir apparent Yankees first baseman of the future. The only question was weather he'd develop the major league power expected from a first baseman. The Yankees didn't bother to find out. Signing Jason Giambi, Nick's services no longer needed, and a couple years later he was traded to the Expos in the Javier Vasquez trade.
Present: In his first year as an Expos, Nick kept everything on the DL, and I don't mean "down low". Nick had had a couple of injuries with the Yanks. Now, a bad back hurt Nick in the beginning of the year and a pitch to the face took him out for the rest. Subsequently, his stats were completely subpar, especially considering his position.
Best Case: 1) Nick gets and stays healthy. There's no doubt about it - this kid can hit. He's got a great eye and a quick bat. If he can be healthy for an entire year he will produce. 2) He develops some pop over the next few years. Given these two things Nick could be a second-tier near All-Star type player, maybe better.
Worst Case: The injuries get the better of Nick. Never able to get past it - he ends up a part time player, a good part-timer, but a part-timer nonetheless.
Probable: We always hope injury prone guys will get over it, but they never seem to. The first time you get one - it just puts strains on other parts of your body - makes other injuries more possible. He'll probably be a 110/120 games a year player, always on the bench for a few weeks. Given that he won't quite develop power and will be a productive player, though underachieving for a first baseman.
Bats: Left Age in 2005: 27/2 Contract: Free Agent
2004 Stats: .255 32 67 106 BB 152 K .498 SLG .374 OBP
Past: Like Nick, Brad tore up the minors, though with a little more expected power a little less expected average. Unlike Nick, Brad found himself on a team that needed him. His first few years were rather successful, though it was the general consensus that he could be an great player, and he was only playing at a good level
Present: Brad stepped it up a notch this past year. He added to his power and improved his BB/K ratio. He proved he could hit left-handed pitchers. He was more than a pleasant surprise. With Vidro down, he was the Expos best offensive player. A fairly gifted, though not superior, athelete, the first baseman played left field for the first half of the year. After Nick went down with an injury he played first base.
Best Case: Brad gains a bit better eye to go along with the gains that he made. With the natural progression in power Brad becomes a premier offensive player in the league. A .300 40 HR type of guy who is the backbone of this franchise
Worst Case: Brad's hitting is a bit of a fluke. His progression against lefties and patience at the plate kind of level out and he settles into a .250 25+HR player. A nice supplementary player
Probable: I don't see any reason to believe Brad will "Level off". His slugging versus lefties has always been high. I can see the walks and strikeouts to stabalizing as he is a free swinger, but that should only effect his average a bit. I see him scraping the top players in the league, batting around .270/.280 with 35-40 HR for several years.
Bats: Left Age in 2005: 24 Contract: Minor League Level
2004 (Minor League) Stats: .271 22 71 68 BB 102 K .452 SLG
Present: Larry started and finished the year in Double A Harrisburg (Go Senators!). While some were disappointed Larry did not get moved up to Triple A, Triple A is really a now a stopping point for people going to the majors (which Larry wasn't with Nick and Brad in the way) or players moved from AA up that didn't cut it the first time.
Future: All signs point to a productive hitter - though not a star. (I don't guess on minor leaguers though)
The Expos are looking for more than a nice bat, they are looking for power and first base is a place to get it. Carlos Delgado is available and a familiar name for the fan, as is Richie Sexson, though both have their question marks. The best of the rest? Tino Martinez, David Segui, Brad Fullmer, and Julio Franco all could be good starters for a team with an awful first baseman, but this does not describe Montreal. They'll probably be too expensive and/or unwilling to be back-ups. An interesting back-up choice? Andres Galarraga. The Expos get a right-handed bat, that has a chance of having some pop (hit well enough in SF in 2003 to justify a back-up slot). More than that they bring in a guy people generally like and with lots of history to the franchise and a 400 HR chase that would add some early season interest.
I came into this thinking I would be all for Nick Johnson. One of this teams faults last year was the inability to take pitches. I really hate that. Nick is better at that than others, maybe best on the team. He would also project to be a pretty good hitter. Brad is better but since Brad is not a liability (and is in fact pretty good) in the outfield, playing Nick at first would not take away from his chances (nor is the outfield filled with people who must start).
However the Expos NEED power. If they drop Batista -they'll have no returning non-Wilkerson players with more than 15 HRs in 2004, and probably noone that you would think could consistently hit more than 25. Where do you get power? Well you can get it easiest at first base. (though third base is an option). I don't think Nick will ever get that type of power you want from a first baseman, so, as much as it hurts me to say it, I say trade him. He should have enough value to get back a good pitcher. Then agressively go after Delgado or Sexson. (there is another option - but we'll discuss that when we get to third base)
As long as you can keep Wilkerson in the outfield - you should - because 1st base is easy to fill with good hitters.
Outside Chance #344 goes out the window
The vote still hasn't taken place (scheduling conflicts), but the council agreed that they didn't want to renegotiate with MLB, even if it meant saving the city several hundred million dollars. Hmmm. Hmm. Yeah, I don't get it either.
In other news Bowden is looking at Corey Koskie, Christian Guzman, and Vinny Castilla. Either Bowden believes the new owners will not be able to raise the budget as much as I'm thinking (and has been reported) or he's currently getting mushed carrots fed to him by a nurse as he makes decisions by pointing to shapes and colors.
Monday, November 15, 2004
It's coming, it really is
In the meantime read this article from the Washington Post:
It's accurate but it only hints at the overall picture. Since the area was already undergoing revitalization and Denver's economy, catching the 90's bull markets, boomed accross the board; it is hard to make out the effect Coors Field had. It seems pretty obvious that the parks that get lauded for reviatlizing downtowns (Coors, Camden Yards, and Jacobs Field) all were opened in the early-mid 90's, when the economy was booming. The numerous ones opened later have seen no economic benefit. And we're supposed to believe this is just a coincidence? Washington's Anacostia district has some minor revitalization going on - but right now the economy is struggling. It's touch and go at best.
Also Coors Field benefited a small area of the city at the expense of everyone in the area (higher sales tax helped pay for the stadium). Yet they only ever talk to the people around the stadium. It's like asking Dad how he felt about that new motorcycle he bought. Surprise, he thinks it's great! But mom is trying to stretch the grocery budget, and little Billy is wondering why he can't get a baseball glove that fits better as Dad tears off down the road, Born to be Wild running through his head. Ask the suburbs of Denver how they felt about funding the baseball stadium, while showing them options of where this boon economy money could have gone. I don't think you'd see all that much support.
Sally Jenkins with a fine piece of writing.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Rowdy Rowdy, Bowdeny Bowdeny
As for the GM Jim Bowden, which I never covered...well I don't think that much of him. I felt he was a little overrated when the Boy Wonder was first hired with the Reds in the mid-90's. He lucked out on Pete Schourek having a carreer year and the hitting (alot of which was in place before he came) coming together. Then again I feel that he was a little underrated later in his career. The Griffey, Jr. signing belw up in his face and sucked up the Reds money, keeping him from getting any quality pitching.
In all I found he can manage a minor league allright, and can ID good bargains at #4 and #5 in the rotation. Doesn't really get your blood flowing. His moves so far - releasing Rocky Biddle and bringing up some minor leaguers. Are both good, but obvious, calls. Let's see what he can do this offseason, besides the obvious two years of Barry Larkin at short.
First base position analysis should be up today.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
Expos Position Analysis - Catcher
Starter: Brian Schneider
Back-Up: Einar Diaz
In the Minors: Noone. No seriously. Nadie.
Bats: Left Age in 2005 : 28 Contract: 2004 1-yr $350,000
2004 Stats: .257 12 49 42 BB 63 K .399 Slug .325 OBP
What can be said about Brian Schneider that hasn't been said before when someone uttered "Eh."?
Past: Schneider was a moderately touted catching prospect who was remarkably consistent in his "average-ness" at the plate in the minors. When he was first called up with the Expos he platooned with Michael Barrett, and showed a little more pop than expected. Given that Barrett had an awful year was ready to become a free-agent, Montreal let him go and went with Schneider as the undisputed #1 catcher in 2004.
Present: Schneider bounced back from his own dismal year in 2003 to have another average affair. He improved both his stats against lefties and his plate discipline a bit, although it should be noted that Einar Diaz had most of the tough lefty at-bats this year. Most catchers begin to round into form in their 3rd-4th year behind the plate. This was Brian's third so I wouldn't expect too much more from him that what we saw this year.
Trying to be more positive, Brian is an very good defensive catcher. He threw out half the runners against him and is liked by the pitching staff. Supposedly he does a bunch of little stuff well.
Best Case: Brian finds his stroke and some plate discipline and becomes a solid .280 20+ HR guy. A better defensive Posada-lite
Worst Case: Brian never learns to hit lefties well or keep his bat on his shoulders and kind of flounders as a .250 no-power player only against righties.
Probable: Most catchers do develop a bit later than their counterparts. Brian should improve against lefties with more at-bats, but I wouldn't expect him to get better than acceptable at hitting them. Against righties he could because a solid, though not feared hitter. Probably around a .270 15+ HR guy.
Bats: Right Age in 2005 : 33 Contract: 2004 1-yr $2,587,500 with a 3.2 million option for 2005
2004 Stats: .223 1 11 11 BB 10 K .302 Slug .293 OBP
Has any team ever carried only one catcher?
Past: Diaz had a couple of good average, no-power, no-walk years, and the Indians foolishly decided to sign him to a nice back-loaded contract. Then they realized they had Victor Martinez coming and moved him to the Rangers for a year. Then the Rangers wanted to cut some salary and moved Einar to the Expos. The Ranger did pay 2 million of this years salary by the way.
Present: Diaz got most of the hard lefty starts and didn't do to well. He got the occasional start versus a righty and also fared pretty poorly. The 'Spos declined to pay him 3+ million for this next year.
Best Case: Einar's career fizzles out as a second-string catcher somewhere
Worst Case: Einar's done.
Probable: Einar will probably sign somewhere real cheap as insurance. If he's lucky he'll be a third-string/emergency catcher on a good team for a few years. The market for an aging singles hitting catcher is small.
Good catchers aren't usually available as free agents. The market is wary enough of this injury prone position to keep costs down and good catchers are usually a high priority to keep. In this years market I looked for players that were as young and/or likely to hit better than Schneider. I came up with Varitek, and maybe Damien Miller. Varitek is precisely the type of clubhouse presence you'd want in this team, and he's got a ring now, but he'll likely price himself too high for the 'Spos. Miller has proven himself consistently slightly better than what Schneider will probably put up.
Stick with Schneider. As a non free-agent he'll be cheap and he could very well have a break out year. Or at least "break out" into ok. The worst I see is another average year and an average lefty- hitting good-fielding catcher is something you should probably hold onto until he prices himself out or you luck into something better.
As a replacement for Diaz at back-up, the minors are empty. Doug Mirabelli, Todd Pratt, and John Flaherty are all righty hitters that'll probably show a little more pop than Schneider - which would be a nice change of pace. One of them should be cheap. Unfortunately there's exactly 1 catcher with more walks than K's (Jason Kendall) so Schneider won't get any guidance here. The Expos could also go after Ramon Castro, someone once pretty highly-touted, who's still young.
T-minus 13 (or +1 depending)
Some GMs are surprised, but GM Bowden works on.
Unless something kooky happens, I'll probably be lite on vote postings for a week or two. I'm a bit tired of reading people trying to justify giving money to rich people.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Rain Delay on Council Vote
Councilwoman Cropp, within her rights as the chair, removed the bill on the stadium from the agenda for another two weeks. She says she can come up with up to $350 million in private financing for the stadium in its original location. Good luck.
This is a real risky move. If she can somehow come up with private financing, even if it's "only" 100 million, she'll be a hero. MLB can't say "No we'd rather take the money from the public" can they? MLB will most likely amend the deal to fit the new parameters, with the public still taking a big hit and responsible for any overruns.
If she can't get the money - or gets a paltry percentage of the cost - she'll look like a fool, who tabled the measure as a last ditch attempt knowing her RFK proposal would not go through.
Evidence suggests that the council members believe the "fool version" to be true. When Cropp moved first to table the bill, she could not get the votes. She used her chair powers to move it two weeks later. Remember this only needs to be approved by Dec 31st, so there should be no big rush to get it approved. I can't believe that if the council thought it was possible for her to get this money, that they wouldn't have at least explored the option for 2 weeks. Of course, the seven in favor of it could simply be lackeys for the Mayor or afraid their personal projects that are being promised money could be hurt by a new deal.
Rock(y Biddle) the Vote!
But can they ignore the will of the people? (stupid question - of course they can) . 69% don't want city funds for the stadium, more than half strongly opposed. Around 60% think it's a bad deal for the District. Although around 60% also think it will help the city economically (though they were given no choices on how much) This citizen got it right: (Mayor) Williams "just let everybody know that we had to have baseball," said Ceasar Short, 57, a bus driver who lives in Northeast. "It was a bad deal. He wanted baseball too much. They knew this guy, he was a pushover when it came to baseball."
And then there is this ridiculous statement from the Mayor's spokesman: "Bender said. "Is it possible that businesses may pass some of this tax on to residents? That's a decision businesses will have to make. But what is the size of that pass-through going to be? Pennies." Yes, the Mayor's office is actually saying that the businesses and corporations will choose to accept the burden of higher taxes. Nothing a business likes to do more than lose profit, I tell you what. Worse yet, the Mayor's office looks like it's going to spin the completely expected pass through of burden to the people as "big bad business screwing the little guy" rather than the Mayor's bad deal. If you raise taxes on a business they pass on most of the new cost, if not all, to the consumer; this is basic economic theory and the Mayor's office knows this.
Coucilman David Catania, an opponent, got his chance to chat at the post and fills you in on some of the details with much more skill that I ever could. I must admit that based on the questions he faced - it seems like the people sending in questions are the ones that already agree with the chatter.
Well, the vote is today. I'll keep you posted.
Monday, November 08, 2004
Mayor Williams Unplugged
Bristow, Va.: Mayor Williams: I wish you the best in your endeavor to bring the Washington Nationals to Washington, D.C. I really believe that the agreed on site on the Anacostia near the Navy yard is the only viable site that MLB will agree to unless another site in DC near Downtown and further from Baltimore can be found. RFK Stadium and Vicinity for a permanent site is a complete non-starter or no-go for a team in Washington.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: Thanks everyone for the opportunity to visit with you. In fact, RFK is a non-starter. It's in a residential neighborhood, has limited or zero economic development potential, and in fact is not much cheaper than the Anacostia site.
(Way to chose a biting comment there, Washington Post. Go for the jugular! Williams misrepresents a bit, but just a bit. The RFK site is near residential. It's not like houses will be razed to build the stadium. It is unlikely to develop economically, but according to almost all studies so is any area - thanks to a stadium. It's not much cheaper - probably less than the 20% figure, but when you're up at totals over 500 million any percentage cheaper is a big deal.)
Washington, D.C.: According to the Washington Post, "Some prospective ownership groups of the team said they thought that Cropp's plan would not automatically reduce the value of the franchise or tamp down bids". This suggests that some prospective ownership groups believe that a new stadium site near RFK may be revenue neutral from a business standpoint (compared to the site near South Capitol Street). If their analysis supports this conclusion, then why not go with the least cost solution and give beleagured DC taxpayers a break?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: In fact, baseball values the RFK site less than than the South Capitol site. As for beleagured taxpayers, we ought to be seeking maximum benefit for our investment. The South Capitol St site offers this; RFK doesn't. And finally, all of this is moot because baseball will not come to the District to play at RFK. I just heard this again today -- for the nth time.
(Decent point in this actual question. Baseball values the RFK site less, but actual businessmen who would buy the team don't really care. A stadium supported by the public will be a windfall for any owner, regardless of the area around it. It's only an issue to MLB who want it as far away from Angelos as possible. They will also keep saying they won't play at an RFK site...until they have no choice. Just look at past labor negotiations. It always is "we won't go any further than this", then they always do. The Mayor's point about investment is a true, but it's like saying "If I'm going to throw my money away on a lottery ticket, might as well make it for 100 million". The fact is it's a bad investment, and the money shouldn't be going there at all.)
Washington, D.C.: Given that Councilwoman Cropp's plan will lead to no new development around the proposed stadium, will her plan in fact save the city any money at all at the net level? It just appears penny wise and pound foolish to me.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: It doesn't produce what the Anacostia Site produces and it doesn't cost much less. First of all, we don't own the site. The National Park Service does. And they don't turn over property overnight. (I know.) Second, there are federal environmental rules that are triggered, and the Wilson Bridge was delayed two years. That costs money. Finally, we won't get the same lease payment from the RFK site. So you're really not saving a significant amount of money, with no benefit.
(Wow. Another tough one for the mayor. These may all be valid points - I'm not familiar enough with the land laws of the district to say otherwise. But he offered no real hard numbers or evidence to support his stance that it wouldn't save money, just a lot of conjecture. And that last statement, makes him look foolish. Saving money is the benefit.)
Washington, D.C.: How confident are you that you can get the 7 votes needed?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: As confident as I can be with a legislative process. Look, this is about keeping our commitment. Baseball did not want to come to DC, we lured them here and agreed to the Anacostia Site. We've already gone over RFK with them and they don't want it. Do we want baseball or not? Do we want economic development with baseball or not? These are the questions.
(Baseball did not want to come to DC? Ha! He's no Margaret Cho, but damn that's funny. Once Governor Warner wised up and said no to the Northern Virginia plan, baseball desparately wanted to go to DC. It had Vegas and Norfolk ready. Portland was close. But it was no contest. They wanted DC, the Mayor wanted them, but they would only agree to a sweetheart deal. So he crafted up one and promised it to them, without really debating it or seeing if the public wanted it. Notice also he doesn't even offer the prospect of economic development without baseball, as if the only way this area can be improved is if baseball comes in and saves the day. )
Washington, D.C.: Has Councilwoman Cropp been in touch with MLB, and if so what is their position on the RFK site? How confident do you feel about passage without her support?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: She has and they've told her what they've told me. You committed to a deal. Period. This would break that commitment.
(As Congresswoman Cropp explains herself, the deal has changed so it's not fair to count on her continued committment : "This is like negotiating $28,000 for a car to be paid out over a certain number of years. But when it comes time for me to sign the document, the price of the car has escalated to $48,000 a year and they have added another six years or so during which I have to pay that," Cropp said. "I would not handle my business like that, and I would not handle the citizens' business like that," she added. I disagree with her plan too, but in this point she's completely correct.)
Washington, D.C.: Dear Mayor Williams:
Just wanted to let you know as a resident of DC for over 10 years, I support your position entirely. Baseball can be a revitalizing force, but it cannot revitalize a parking lot! Is there anything I can do to help? I'm in Fenty's ward and he has expressed that he is not supporting either position. I just hoped that Cropp's Folly doesn't ruin the return of baseball for all of us!
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: Fenty is not being responsible on this. I don't see my job as a weather man. That's not the job I sought and it's not what I was elected to do. I was elected to enslave myself to the people the great majority of the time, leaving me to use my own judgement (even at my political peril) in a few key instances. I'm leading here, not following, because it's in the long-term interests of the city. The best thing you can do is have people call Councilman Jim Graham and others who haven't declared their final position.
(So far this makes 3 supporting comments, 2 nuetral, and one leaning toward negative. A quick glance below gives one more negative and a bunch of nuetrals. Just so you know where the Post stands...
This is an age old political debate - on whether an elected official is to simply voice what the majority of people he represents want or if they elected them trusting their judgement, knowing at times they may disagree, for the people's own good. I lean toward the latter view, BUT only on things that are split close the middle, or if you can prove that the people are misguided. This is neither situation. To say Fenty is being irresponsible for probably being more in tune with the people he represents and defending a position on public funding that has facts and real-life examples on his side is unbelievable. )
Washington, D.C.: Mayor williams: Why does it seem that virtually every other city that has proposed a publicly-funded stadium has let it's citizens vote on that proposal? Yet, you have not pushed for us to vote a potentially half billion dollar project?
A ward six VOTER
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: First, we don't have the time. And second, I was elected to represent my constituents. I know I face a penalty if the citizens don't agree with me, but that's leadership, not followship.
(Special elections can be difficult to set up and face turnout problems but I imagine it could have been placed on the ballot for the November election with little issue. The point he raises is the same as in the last question. But often major decisive issues do go to the public - because you want the voters to have the responsibility for such things (like the gay marriage issues). The real reason he didn't want a vote is because it would have failed. Of course almost all higher taxes issues would fail to get popular support, so this isn't a strike against the Mayor's plan in particular.)
Washington, D.C.: Mayor Williams,
Thank you for taking the time to do this.
Do you think the money generated from the Expos franchise will offset the majority of DC's investment in the stadium? And can MLB still back out of their deal, or will the Expos be moving here no matter what?
Thank you again.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: MLB may play temporarily at RFK. But they will not play there permanently. It's not on the table. That's why this talk of an alternative is just that, talk.
(He didn't even answer that first question. Not a good sign.
Like I said, they'll be at RFK next year definately (so Montreal can stop hoping). After that they may move, but in my mind MLB would take almost any offer to stay in DC. The Mayor doesn't want to take that chance though. Anything but the Anacostia stadium would be a political failure for him. How would you like it if you were shown to not have negotiated the best deal for your constituents, potentially costing them millions? )
Manassas, Va.: How about thinking about creative ways to further help the district.
Maryland and VA have license plates that raise money. How about a Nationals License plate (Sell souvenir plates too so that those outside the area can buy them.)
Buy a brick program - a personalized brick in the areas around the stadium.
The proceeds can go to city programs.
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: I'm all for creative financing techniques, achieving a symbolic as well as substantive purpose.
(Whatever. The Post is either ignoring the hard questions or considering them already answered by the softballs raised earlier. No questions about previous studies? About other examples where it didn't work? About forcing the vote before the anti-stadium newly elected officials take office? I find that hard to believe)
Arlington, Va.: Mr. Mayor: In your negotiations with Mrs. Cropp, would you consider a cost cap or some form of cost containment for the Anacostia River site? Would you consider changing the responsbility for cost overruns on the original site?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: We have alotted a generous amount for contingencies, and will contract with the builder for a guaranteed maximum price contract. Thanks.
(Sure he answered the question but they could set the maximum price at $650 million. There's no telling. Plus depending on how stringent the contract was, they could always make a new one for "extra work" on the stadium to cover the difference if they go over. This doesn't work like people think it would.)
Washington, D.C.: Mr. Mayor -- What is the logic behind the cap on the gross receipts tax? Why are big companies let off the hook? Shouldn't they pay the same rate as small family-owned businesses, many of whom will see absolutely no benefit from the stadium?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: There not off the hook. In fact the largest companies pay the greatest amount in our proposal.
(He's completely half-answering the question here. Yes he is correct if you consider totals - but not in percentage, which is what really matters. $6,500 to a a 4 million dollar company is far more important that $48,000 to a 300 million company. I don't have a copy of the plan in front of me, but generally small business do end up with the lion-share of the costs)
Jacob, Washington, D.C.: I understand that the South Capitol Street site is essential to the bargain you struck with MLB. Can you explain why the site is advantageous for the District, given its higher cost, and the fact that the District has substantial needs in other areas, most notably for a public hospital?
Mayor Anthony A. Williams: The CFO has certified that economic benefits will flow from the Anacostia Site. We are tapping these benefits to create a community investment trust that will provide dollars for initiatives such as the new hospital we are planning with Howard University. Thanks everyone for writing. Watch our presentation tonight on Channel 16 at 8 p.m.
(Actually more like "economic benefits could flow". He also mentions the community investment plan and hospital as if it were things planned from the beginning. Actually, these came as opposition to the stadium remained very strong. And if there are limtied or no benefits - there will be a much smaller community investment trust. A very likely scenario)
Once, Twice, Three times the info
1) In Washington this weekend, citing costs rising well above the original plan, Congresswoman Cropp came up with her own plan. The first real change is that this one uses land already owned near RFK. While I am totally against more than a marginal public funding of stadiums, this plan does seem more fiscally responsible than Plan A. The second change is that it cuts off the "payoff", which, even though it was funny money, was probably big in justifying the plan to constituents.
The Mayor, shocked that the council didn't just sit back and take it while he went off to Asia, is now scrambling for support. It's very likely neither plan will pass on Tuesday.
What do commentators think? Poor Michael Wilbon falls into step with the mayor, even using the business equivalent of the anti-stats "clubhouse presence" argument: "I can't believe the stupid junk I read from academics who spin their silly obstructionist excuses on what stadiums don't bring, when all you have to do is look at what they actually contribute in Cleveland and in Denver." Essentially he's saying - "I don't care what economic facts are telling you. The area around the parks look pretty and sports fans are telling me they are happy." The problem is academics don't care if baseball is in DC or is not. They have no reason to "spin" anything. If it actually worked they would love to have baseball come to DC. BUT IT DOESN'T WORK. Of course Wilbon claims to be a Cubs and White Sox fan so his lack of logic is not surprising.
Washington Times correspondent Thom Loverro talks about how this is great for Peter Angelos. He also uses the worst justification for building a stadium ever : "The Southeast property might not create the sort of economic growth Washington officials are hoping for either, but at least it has the perception of potential."
What does this mean for the Expos? Nothing really - MLB wants baseball in DC. If it didn't, it would have taken a sweetheart deal from another city a long while ago. No, MLB was waiting for this city. While it had a "deal" to be built on the Anacostia waterfront, if the Mayor's plan doesn't pass Tuesday and doesn't look like it will in the future, look for MLB to allow for a few changes in the plan to acquiese to a RFK ballpark. They want baseball in DC, not Norfolk, not Las Vegas, not Portland, not even Northern Virginia.
2) Position Analysis will begin with catcher - and will be out by the end of this week. I'm hoping for a Tuesday/Friday posting for these things. I will not go longer than a week between these posts. Tentative schedule:
Nov 9th - catcher
Nov 12th - first base
Nov 16th - second base
Nov 19th - third base
Nov 23rd - shortstop
Nov 30th - Right Field
Dec 7th - Remaining Outfield
Dec 14th - Starters
Dec 21st - Relief Pitchers
3) I'm also going to do a FAQ for this website. Why? Well, did you know I'm not totally against the Expos' move to DC? See? You need that FAQ.
Thursday, November 04, 2004
The beat goes on
The cost of the "payoff" continues to rise from 400 million to 450 million now. This mirrors the cost of the stadium rising from 440 to 530 (expected).
The 5-member committees passed the legistlature necessary to get the deal to full committee vote on the 7th. On this I'd like to take a minute to point out Council member, Kevin Chavous. After getting ousted by a anti-stadium opponent, he voted for the stadium proposal on both committees. Way to stick it to the people, Kevin! You sure showed them for not voting for you! That's a great elected official! (Actually this is a bit premature as committee things are often passed with less trial than full votes, but I fully expect him to screw the people he represents. Don't let me down, Kev.)
What does this mean? Nothing you didn't know.
The $450 million is fools' gold. Money promised off the taxes proponents are sure will be generated by all those businesses wanting to build near the stadium despite no previous evidence really backing them up. The eventual trickle will not even reach the communites till years down the road.
The $530 total for the stadium will be passed. It just always is. I wouldn't be surprised if the stadium hit $600 million.
The proposal will most likely pass. It only needs 7 votes to do it (it is a 13 member council) and 4 said yes in the committees. Jim Ward and Councilwoman "the money can't go for anything else" Cropp, are sure yeses. Assuming no changes of heart only one more would be needed to push it over the top and at that point Mayor Williams will probably be giving out his ATM code to get this passed.