Picks of the Pen: Year Ending, Overspending, Bagwell Defending

What I liked most about Dan Graziano’s revelation of a Communist plot to overthrow the government his personal suspicions of Jeff Bagwell’s steroid use was the picture.  There’s Jeff Bagwell, in an unflatteringly candid photo taken in a moment of frsutration or concern, and here’s Dan Graziano, not exactly saying that it is a picture of Jeff on steroids, but he is pointing at it and shrugging suspiciously.

Look at it again.  Bagwell could be watching a dog throw up from across the room, or trying to hold his breath for 20 minutes in front of a confused press corps.  The point is, you can absolutely tell that picture was selected for his article after poring over a gallery of Bagwell images, searching for one that look closest to a negatively-lit guy using PEDs to cheat at baseball.

In this week’s Pic of the Pen, I give you Jeff Bagwell, mail thief.  I’m not saying he is or isn’t a mail thief, I’m just putting his name next to the phrase “mail thief,” and then showing you a picture of him holding a Fed Ex box and going somewhere (the satisfied smile of a man who just nabbed his first klepto-fix of the morning doesn’t help).

What I’m saying is nothing; but hey, you still read it.  So I win.

Enjoy the post-bump links, fellow 2011-ers.

PIC OF THE PEN

Michael

Sometimes in baseball discussions, you can’t quite answer everything, but getting the question out there is enough.  Tom Tango asks one of those questions (well, via a reader Q&A with another writer on his site): Do low-talent teams overspend on free agents? As a Royals fan, I find it interesting, since, for years, we’ve been a low-talent team and I can think of three instances where we have overspent.

Tango sites the Gil Meche signing, which looked ridiculous this time in 2006, but looked much better two years later, and now looks a bit too pricey as we enter the last year of the deal.  The Royals essentially outbid themselves for Jose Guillen’s services a year later.  Tango does point out that sometimes the choice is almost “pay to play” to keep up with the upper half of talented teams (or spenders).  Ivan Rodriguez signed a big contract and the Royals, after the market was set, guaranteed Jason Kendall six million dollars.  Oof.  An interesting thought, though hard to quantify as of yet.

Tom Smith at Rum Bunter likes him some photoshopped imagery.  I have to recommend their site for that alone – it’s always entertaining.  With the year coming to a close, Smith posted his favorite creations of 2010, and it’s a must-click for the Major League poster alone.

Justin

“You don’t care about the ‘Best Sports Hightlights of 2010‘ at all!” they yelled.  “You’re just linking to it because they featured Roy Halladay’s no-hitter!  You’re just biased and subjective!  You don’t care about MMA fighting or speed skating! You’re just submitting video of your team doing something spectacular under the guise of a year-end sports retrospective!”

Yup.

Everybody’s always excited to go to Boston, where the professional athletes reek of dignity and class. Bobby Jenks is a little too excited to be going; namely after Adam Dunn showed up in Chicago and punched him in the throat until he gave up his number.  The details of this story couldn’t be more unconfirmed, so your best bet is to check with Brian Phair at BoSox Injection to get the facts.

Erin

Dan Graziano at Fanhouse created quite a stir when he announced he would not vote Jeff Bagwell into the Hall of Fame because he suspected Bagwell used steroids. Graziano, of course, provided nothing in the way of actual evidence, basing his claims only on Bagwell’s numbers and physique.  Over at The Platoon Advantage, the Common Man gives Graziano a taste of his own medicine. It is easily the best thing I’ve read all year.

Speaking of numbers, Michael Jong at Marlin Maniac looks at Ricky Nolasco and pitcher WAR, discussing in great detail the problems with using FIP to measure pitching wins above replacement.  Fangraphs should hire this man.

Wally

Carrie Muskat on MLB.com encourages Cubs fans to take heart in their late season surge (they went 19-10 in the final month). She cites the Reds and Padres strong finishes in 2009 and their successful 2010 campaigns as a reason for Cubbie Nation to have hope for 2011. I get that she has to write something but she of course doesn’t mention the slew of bad teams that finish strong every year only to once again suck the following summer. The Royals finished 67-95 last season after going 15-13 in September of 2009 during a season that they finished 65-97. That came on the heels of a September in 2008 that saw the boys in blue go 18-8 and finish with a “improved” 75-87. Here in Kansas City we have a saying when it comes to late season wins during a overall crappy year, “September means nothing.” Cubs fans looking forward to 2011 would do well to adopt that slogan for themselves.

Redbird Rants contributor, Ray DeRousse broke down the Tony LaRussa Problem in an excellent article this weekend. It’s hard to question LaRussa’s credentials and qualifications to manage a major league team, but I personally don’t feel that team should be the Cardinals any more. St Louis may recapture the NL Central crown in 2011 but in my opinion it will be in spite of their manager and not because of him.

Nathaniel

I’ve always liked what Gregor Blanco brought to the table with his combination of plate discipline, speed, and defense. Will McDonald of Royals Review was won over by Blanco’s skillset as well, and puts forth the case for the unheralded outfielder to start over the more famous Melky Cabrera.

The always-excellent Chris Hannum has another spot-on post up. In this one, the Motor City Bengals contributor expresses his concern over the Tigers possibly finishing behind Chicago and Minnesota in the AL Central. Chris’ solution to solve the gap is an interesting one.

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