July 2008

PoD for 7/17 and FanFest recap

(I meant to publish this last night but forgot to, so sorry to those PoD’ers who are getting this too late to help for today… CS)

Thanks to everyone who came down to visit us at FanFest! Neighbor Steve, Jason from Bowling Green and Pete from Jordan — the World’s Greatest Dad! — were just a few of the 411 luminaries who visited, so thanks for everyone for checking out the show. Also in case you missed it, we had a very special guest during the show on Saturday, my daughter Haylee, aka Stats Junior…


Anyway, games start up again tomorrow with an abbreviated schedule, so let’s get right back into the swing of things with some Pitch or Ditch:

Pitch: J.Santana, Cueto, Peavy and Lohse (have to!).

Ditch: The rest.

Think the NL would’ve liked to have Santana in the game last night instead of Marmol? Uh, yeah…

The 411 returns on Friday for our final one-our show at 3:00, be there or be square! If you’re not in it, you’re out of it!🙂




411 Show News Reminder

For those who missed it, check out Mike’s July 11th post concerning important 411 show news.  Clearly, we’ve already gotten tons of feedback!

Thanks for your responses,

The Home Run Derby Curse Revisited

Hey everyone,

Last year, I posted an entry on this blog where I examined the well-known theory of the “Home Run Derby curse.”  On the day after we witnessed the greatest ever single round derby performance, as Josh Hamilton clubbed 28 out of the park, I thought this was a subject worth revisiting.  Here you’ll find my post from a year ago with some changes, including the addition of the 2007 results as yet another data point.  Hope this adds some insight into what has been a popular topic for discussion!

Zach Steinhorn

Is the “Home Run Derby Curse” real?  David Wright (2006) and Bobby Abreu (2005) both experienced major second half power outages after impressive performances in the Home Run Derby (Abreu won the event while Wright finished second to Ryan Howard).  The post All-Star break home run struggles of Wright and Abreu led many to question whether success in the Derby has an adverse effect on a player’s power stroke once he returns to regular game action, as he would be trying too hard to hit homers rather than relying on his natural swing.  Alex Rios, last year’s second place finisher, continued the trend.  Here’s a closer look.  Below you’ll find pre and post All Star break stats for both the Home Run Derby winners and runner ups over the past six years.  Keep in mind that the break is slightly more than halfway into the season, so first half HR and RBI numbers will often be greater regardless of any “curse.”


Vladimir Guerrero

Pre ASB:    .325 AVG  14 HR  75 RBI
Post ASB:  .323 AVG  13 HR  50 RBI

Alex Rios

Pre ASB:    .294 AVG  17 HR  53 RBI
Post ASB:  .300 AVG  7 HR  32 RBI


Ryan Howard

Pre ASB:   .278 AVG  28 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB: .355 AVG  30 HR  78 RBI

David Wright

Pre ASB:   .316 AVG  20 HR  74 RBI
Post ASB: .305 AVG   6 HR   42 RBI


Bobby Abreu

Pre ASB:    .307 AVG  18 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .260 AVG   6 HR   44 RBI

Ivan Rodriguez

Pre ASB:    .292 AVG  6 HR  32 RBI
Post ASB:  .252 AVG  8 HR  18 RBI


Miguel Tejada

Pre ASB:   .311 AVG  15 HR  75 RBI
Post ASB: .311 AVG  19 HR  75 RBI

Lance Berkman

Pre ASB:   .299 AVG  16 HR  59 RBI
Post ASB: .335 AVG  14 HR  47 RBI


Garrett Anderson

Pre ASB:    .316 AVG  22 HR  78 RBI
Post ASB:  .313 AVG  7 HR    38 RBI

Albert Pujols

Pre ASB:    .368 AVG  27 HR  86 RBI
Post ASB:  .346 AVG  16 HR  38 RBI


Jason Giambi

Pre ASB:    .318 AVG  22 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB:  .309 AVG  19 HR  51 RBI

Sammy Sosa

Pre ASB:    .307 AVG  28 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .264 AVG  21 HR  50 RBI

Of these 12 players, Rios, Wright, Abreu, Anderson, and Pujols are the examples of significant second half decline.  Pujols is the only one who at the time was known as an elite power hitter.  Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were all excellent hitters the year they competed in the Derby, but homers were not their primary strength.  You can make a convincing argument that the high first half home run totals of Rios, Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were just as surprising as their second half home run drop.  But the drastic decrease in RBI specifically of Wright, Anderson, and Pujols do support the general trend of decreased offensive production.

What have we learned from all this?  There’s just not enough evidence for us to directly blame the Home Run Derby for our fantasy star’s second half plunge, as there are plenty of other factors involved.  And for every Rios, Wright and Abreu, there’s a Howard, who hit an amazing 30 homers AFTER the break in 2006, and a Tejada, who was a model of consistency in 2004.  So don’t panic, Morneau and Hamilton owners!  For now, it seems that the “Home Run Derby Curse” is just a myth.

Unread for 7/14

10 team mixed non-keeper.

I’ve got Marcus Thames and Aubrey Huff in my 2 Util spots.  I was offered J.D. Drew and Scott Baker for Matt Cain.  If Huff and Thames continue, I don’t need Drew.  What do you think of what these guys do in the 2nd half?

Greg from Columbus

Hey Greg,

I’d have no problem if you went ahead with this trade.  Now I like Cain a lot, and do see him bouncing back from what has been an incredibly inconsistent first half.  The main issue for Cain this year has been the home run, as he’s already allowed 12 of them after giving up just 14 all of last season.  This pretty much explains the bump up in ERA from 3.65 to 4.06.  But there are other signs that paint a more positive picture going forward.  His 1.31 WHIP is still solid, and though the BB/9 ratio is a bit higher than it was last year, Cain’s K/9 rate of 8.6 is significantly better than the 7.3 mark he posted in 2007.  But despite all this, let’s not underrate Scott Baker, who’s very quietly enjoying a breakout season.  In eight starts since returning from injury on June 5th, Baker is 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, and 39 K in 50 IP.  Aside from the strikeouts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Baker having a better second half than Cain.
In return for this pitcher swap, you’re getting a clear upgrade at the utility slot, as Drew is a much more reliable option than Thames, someone who barely deserves a roster spot in a 10 team mixed.  Huff has traditionally been a very good second half player, so I would keep him around.  It’s true that Thames (.265 AVG 17 HR 39 RBI) is easily on his way to a career best season, but considering his track record, I’m just not sold on the idea that he’s anything more than a fourth outfielder in standard 12 team mixed leagues, let alone a 10 teamer.  After a year of adjusting to the AL, Drew seems to have finally found his niche in the Red Sox lineup, hitting for both average and power while driving in his fair share of runs.  Batting in front of Manny Ramirez has given Drew plenty of good pitches to hit, and when Big Papi comes back, Drew will likely drop down to the fifth spot in the order, meaning he’ll have the protection of both sluggers.

I can understand why you might be hesitant to give up Cain, but considering Baker’s upside (his 2007 second half ERA was 3.44) and the improvement at utility, this is definitely a deal worth making.

Zach Steinhorn


POD for Sunday

Cory and Mike say:

Pitch: Verlander, Kazmir, Pettitte, Webb, Hamels, Matsuzaka, Sabathia, Lincecum,
Dempster, Saunders, Duchscherer, Campillo, Wolf, Billingsley and Pelfrey.
If you’re feeling bold, Od.Perez, Snell, Davies and
A.Miller are worth gambles. Ditch the rest.

Unread for 7/11

Hi guys,

Based on your advice I have tried to sell high on Duchscherer to get a 2nd half bat and get rid of some low average risky hitters, but do you think I got enough? (12 team mixed)

I gave up:
Duchscherer, Giambi, Willingham, C.Davis

I got:
Parra, Granderson, Huff, Helton
(Helton will go on DL and I also picked up Pelfrey.)                                                       

Kevin in England

Hey Kevin,

To tell you the truth, I prefer the group of players you gave up to the players you received. For some background, Duchscherer has a paltry 1.78 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP with a 63/21 K/BB ratio in 101 innings. Now, The Duke’s ERA and WHIP isn’t completely uncharacteristic, considering his career ERA (3.01) and WHIP (1.10) are pretty low in the first place. However, his previous high for innings since 2004 is just 96.3 – in 2004. He did throw 155 innings for Triple-A Sacramento in 2003, posting a 3.25 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP, but it’s unpredictable what a full-scale season in the bigs will do to his harm. I can understand trying to turn him into a productive hitter or two, but you gave away a trio of productive power hitters.

Giambi already has 18 home runs with a .925 OPS and 54 RBIs. His on-base percentage (.393) is extremely high considering his .256 batting average, which means he’s still displaying an exceptional amount of plate patience by drawing walks. I think the Yankee offense heats up even more in the second half, and Giambi plays a big part in that. Willingham is an injury risk, but he’s a .281 hitter with a .906 OPS. He might not match the 30 doubles and 24 home runs he’s averaged the past two seasons, but that’s more due to the number of games he’s missed than with any concerns about his hitting ability. I also think Chris Davis, despite his high strikeout rate (13 Ks in 47 at-bats), is an outstanding power hitter in that great slugger’s park known as Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He already has three doubles and five home runs, so he could get on some real tears later in the summer considering he doesn’t have much competition at first base.
I think Parra should be a fine return for Duchscherer, but the hitters you receive make me nervous. Helton is dealing with a lingering pain in his back and leg and he doesn’t have a solid timetable for a return. Granderson is hitting .299, but he doesn’t offer you a whole bunch of power (nine home runs) and really not much speed (six steals in 10 attempts). Aubrey Huff has seen a nice resuscitation in his production with 18 home runs, 57 RBIs and a .888 OPS, but those are the same numbers as Giambi. I’d rather have the mustachioed Yankee. Pelfrey is a promising addition to your pitching staff, along with Parra, but I think you gave up too much offense. What can make this deal more appealing is if Granderson rips off about 15 steals in the second half and Helton solves his back and leg issues with a doubles- and OPS-happy August and September.

Kyle Stack


Important Show News

Hey everyone,


I won’t be able to make the show today due to All-Star stuff but you are going to hear an announcement that may come as a surprise and since I won’t be there to explain here I am.


With every decision there are always reasons but I will give you the good news since when all is said and done there is no “bad” news.


Starting Monday July 21st the show will air live at 11am ET and be a half hour long. I know everyone wants to have a 2 hour show 7 days a week but its just not going to happen right now (who knows what the future holds with the new MLB Network , I have no intel btw).


Why 30 minutes?

You have been beyond tremendous with the downloading of our video podcast each day. How long is the video podcast? About 20-30 minutes so we’ve decided to make our show more like the video podcast since the demand is so high.


Why 11am?

It allows us to get you east coasters around lunch and you west coasters while you are sitting down at your computer with your morning coffee according to our research. We will still be doing Pitch or Ditch for the following day for our Yahoo friends and actually everyone’s benefit to get a jump on your competition. This will also get us to you before any day games start which is a big plus as well.


How do we make up the 30 minutes?


You’re looking at it. We will become even better on the Blog with breaking news and interaction. Before each show we will do a post and we encourage you to start lighting up the message board. After the show, Cory, Sterno and I will head back to our desks and start chatting with you so bring up trades and POD questions and usual fun stuff and we’ll hang with you.


Thanks for your patience through all these years. We are closing in on our 900th show and couldn’t have done it without you.


Hitters Hit




Saturday, 7/12 – 3:30 pm-4pm
Live at Fanfest – no mlb.tv, 30 minute podcast only


Sunday, 7/13 – No


Monday, 7/14 – 1pm-2pm 
Fanfest in NY


Tuesday, 7/15 – 12:30-1:45 pm –
Fanfest in NY


Wednesday, 7/16 – No


Thursday, 7/17 – 2-3pm –


Friday, 7/18 – 2-3pm –


Unread for 7/9

Hey guys,

I’m in a 12 team, 5 by 5 keeper league, where everyone and their brother has offered me trades for A-Rod during the year.  But I held strong and thanks to some overperforming pitchers (Erv, Lee, Saunders) I’m sitting in first place.  But this latest A-Rod deal actually warrants consideration, so I thought I’d run it past you guys. I would give A-Rod and get Berkman, Lowell, and BJ Ryan.
My outfield is Abreu, Bay, McLouth, and basically a mixed bag of guys like Kubel, Spilborghs, Winn, etc., so I could definitely use a stud outfielder.  Other than that, with Morneau at first, Longoria as my corner guy, and a closer list of Nathan, Street, CJ Wilson, and now Kobayashi, I’m generally pretty solid (first place, after all) and don’t want to rock the boat, but this is very, very tempting.  I might try to swap BJ Ryan out for a starter if I do the deal.  Any thoughts are appreciated.

Dan in Los Angeles

Hey Dan,

There’s no doubt Lance Berkman has equaled, if not outperformed, A-Rod’s numbers this season, but I’d try to strengthen the second and/or third players before finalizing the deal.

If you were to place Berk’s numbers with A-Rod’s, side-by-side it seems that Berkman is of equal, or greater, value to Rodriguez: Berkman — .347 AVG, 22 HRs, 70 RBIs, 75 runs, 12 SBs A-Rod — .317 AVG, 18 HRs, 50 RBIs, 52 runs, 13 SBs. Now, A-Rod missed nearly a month’s worth of games in late April/early-mid May with a balky quadriceps. It seems that Berkman is about 18 home runs from his average the past two seasons, and his .347 average is 31 points higher than any season-ending average in his last six seasons. Meanwhile, A-Rod is more than 25 home runs away from his average the past two seasons, and you have to imagine he will drive in far more than 50 runners in the second half. I just think A-Rod is in store for a monster second half. Although third base has been a relatively deep position this season, I think you should still prize elite-hitting third basemen more than first basemen/outfielders, such as Berkman. I might more enthusiastically consider the deal if you were to replace Lowell and Ryan. Neither is a realistic keeper option in a 12-team mixed league.
Despite a very respectable first half to this season (.295 AVG, 13 HRs, 54 RBIs), Lowell is a dramatic drop from A-Rod. You should also factor in more expected slumps from the rookie Longoria. Don’t assume he’ll produce at an elite level for the remainder of the year. Rookies go through adjustment periods, but the advantage you have on your roster is that A-Rod’s consistency can offset any Longoria power outages. Additionally, if you feel like you might flip B.J. Ryan for a starter, then why not just ask for a starter in place of Ryan?

I’m not opposed to trading A-Rod if you’re getting back Berkman and solid second and third options. I just don’t think Lowell and Ryan represent the kinds of options you should be willing to accept if you’re parting with Alex Rodriguez.

Kyle Stack


Unread for 7/8


I just had my wisdom teeth out yesterday, I think the best part will be getting to watch the 411 live… the worst part would have to be the pain.  Anyways, I’ve got a trade offer extended to me, and I want to know what you think, since I’m not entirely in my right mind at the moment.

I would get Alex Rios and Dustin McGowan and would give Brandon Phillips. I would move Kelly Johnson to 2nd, and find a waiver wire MI, and Rios would bump Jose Bautista from my OF. I would be buying McGowan on the chance he starts heating up for his WHIP and Ks, which are what I need.

Dan in DE

Hey Dan,

You might want to take a couple more pain killers to numb the pain, especially if it’s been leading you to considering trade offers like this. Alright, it’s actually not that bad of an offer, so consider that just a little friendly prodding. I just think that it’s easier to find productive outfielders – even in an admittedly down year overall for outfielders – than it is productive middle infielders. If you’re playing a guy like Bautista in your outfield, then what must be the middle infield options on your league’s waiver wire?

Let’s start with why Phillips isn’t such a bad guy to keep on your roster. He’s hitting .408 with 17 RBIs and six steals in seven attempts since June 18, for one. Although fellow second basemen Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and Ian Kinsler have lit up the MLB scene at various points this season with their power and/or speed numbers, Phillips has (somewhat) quietly produced a .292 batting average with 14 homers, 56 RBIs and 18 base swipes. Considering that he matched his pre-All-Star break home run and steal totals in the second half last season – batting 26 points higher in the process – Phillips seems like a good bet to once again become a 30/30 player.

Plus, having Phillips at second means you can keep Kelly Johnson (.351 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, eight jacks, seven steals) as your middle infielder. I wouldn’t want to upset that obvious strength by acquiring Rios, an outfielder who isn’t providing owners with much power.

Granted, Rios already has a career-high 21 steals, four more than his previous season-high. And he has hit 24 doubles, which makes him on pace to reach the 43 doubles he clapped last season. However, the man has hit only four home runs and has driven in just 33 runners. What’s strange is that Rios has reached that magical age of 27, when many sluggers post career-best power marks. Rios had increased his homer total in each of his four previous seasons, ending with 24 last season. This year, however, there are plenty of reasons for his low homer output. His 1.51 ground ball-to-fly ball rate is his highest since his 2004 rookie year. His fly ball percentage, which hovered in the low-mid 40’s the past two seasons, has sunk to 31.6 percent. His HR/FB rate is just 4.6 percent. Now, that HR/FB rate might show that he’s been a tad unlucky, but the ground ball-to-fly ball rate shows he’s not getting very much lift on the ball when he does make contact. Oh yeah, he’s also striking out at his highest rate, 22.1 percent, since 2005. The guy isn’t making contact as well as he has the past couple years, and when he does, he’s hitting grounders and line drives. If you’re going to trade a power-hitting middle infielder – always a prized commodity – you better make sure you’re getting some power in return.

I’m not trying to ignore the McGowan aspect of the trade, but I would at least aim for a hitter other than Rios. I wouldn’t necessarily chase WHIP, especially with McGowan. He has a 1.38 WHIP on the year, which is a bit outside my comfort range. He has a solid 2.03 BB/9 rate in his last four starts, but the 23 hits he has allowed in 18 1/3 innings over his last three signals that he’s not a guarantee to help you with pitching averages.

Overall, I would keep your Phillips/Johnson 2B/MI duo intact and possibly seek starting pitching through trades with other position players or by spot starting pitchers off your waiver wire.

Kyle Stack

Fav 5 Quotes


#1 “A wise man once said, Wherever you go, There you are” (Mike Brady)

#2 “The two of them deserve each other. One’s a born liar; the other’s convicted.” (Billy Martin, on Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner)

#3 “We couldn’t do diddly-pooh offensively. We couldn’t make a first down. We didn’t run the ball. We didn’t try to run the ball. We couldn’t complete a pass. We sucked. We sucked. It was a horseass performance in the second half. Horseass!” (Football Coach Jim Mora)

#4 What’s my opinion of Kingman’s performance!? What the BLEEP do you think is my opinion of it? I think it was BLEEPING BLEEP. Put that in, I don’t give a BLEEP. Opinion of his performance!!? BLEEP, he beat us with three BLEEPING home runs! What the BLEEP do you mean, “What is my opinion of his performance?” How could you ask me a question like that?” (Tommy Lasorda- 1976 at Shea Stadium)

#5 “We can’t have beer, and they’re poisoning the world with their cheeseburgers.” (Goose Gossage)


1. “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” (Oscar Wilde)

2. “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” (Rogers Hornsby)

3. “No battle plan survives first contact with the enemy.” (Prussian Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard Graf von Moltke)

4. “You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.” (Jim Bouton)

5. “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees.” (Emiliano Zapata)


#1. “Serenity Now” (Kramer- Seinfeld)

#2. “Nothing Left To Do But Smile Smile Smile” (Jerry Garcia)

#3. “Always make sure the juice is worth the squeeze” (Girl Next Door)

#4. “Lets hug it out _____” (Ari Gold- Entourage)

#5. “All I know is I got a lot of balls” (Rodney Dangerfield- Ladybugs)