If Fox and Major League Baseball can't turn this World Series into a hit they have only themselves to blame. My casual-fan friends—the type that likes baseball, but probably likes football more; that has a favorite team, but probably could not rattle off the 25-man—have talked more about this series than any I can remember, including the one in which our Sainted Red Sox shook off their mortal shackles and became at one with the universal World Series-conscience. It's been a lot of fun to watch a World Series that seems newsworthy, like that—with the baseball making news, instead of the would-be storylines.
It helps that the games have been pretty good so far, although things might get a little more lopsided if the Phillies were to send somebody up to hit when they got a man on second, but it seems like no amount of great play or great stories is going to convince Major League Baseball and its TV partners to raise the national profile of teams like this, who have built themselves up for multi-year runs and are, at this rate, going to spend their pennant-chasing years completely anonymous.
Anyway: I have a confession to make. Barry Bonds totally screwed up my RBI champ/MVP entry, previously scheduled for today. His sheer dominance—his utter obviousness, as an MVP, from 2001 to 2004—means I need to pick some new endpoints. So that post is in turnaround, as they say, for release on Monday.
Luckily, SBN and ACTA have provided us with the 2009 edition of the Bill James Handbook's projections, which make for excellent weekend chatter and even better cover for a blown entry. So let's have a look at the hitters.
Before we go on, I should mention that the Bill James Handbook has no concept of Chris Duncan's neck or the white-hot rays of hate that have, at times, been directed at Felipe Lopez; these are, to my knowledge, strictly statistical projections. (And in my experience, particularly optimistic statistical projections.) My hastily drawn impressions:
- Albert Pujols.
- Unless you subscribe to theRasmus-for-Peavy newsletter it seems to me that Skip is the guy to trade, here, if anything of value can be had in return. There's plenty of depth in centerfield, he's blocking the Top Prospect, and if the Cardinals were to convert Schumaker into a Schumaker-class middle infielder they would be taking a significant step forward.
- Speaking of that centerfield depth, does anybody know where Brian Barton is? The guy had a great year for a Rule 5'er and, for his troubles, has been wiped completely from St. Louis's collective memory. This is a guy the Cardinals, who may start two lefty outfielders next year, could get significant value from right now. He's only a year and a half younger than Skip, so stashing him in AAA now that they're legally able isn't going to help anybody but the Memphis Redbirds.
- Colby Rasmus is also projected to steal 22 bases, which should endear him with Busch Stadium's remaining Whiteyball contingent. That line would be a little disappointing over a full year, but I think he'll exceed it if he stays healthy long enough to adjust to the big leagues.
- In 550 at-bats that version of Joe Mather would hit 34 homers, if you were curious.
- Finally, I've been thinking about this and I've come to the conclusion that it is important enough to warrant a bullet point: if you were to combine Aaron Miles's batting average and scrappiness with Jason LaRue's secondary skills and propensity for the beanball you'd have Craig Biggio. For what that's worth.
So what are your thoughts? As I intimated earlier I've always been a little skeptical of these projections. It's not that they're bad so much as that the process has never been explained, and that from what I gather they are Bill James projections inasmuch as the Family Bucket at your local KFC contains chicken fried by Colonel Sanders. (The book, though, is great; you don't really know how much you've always wanted to know who had the league's best OPS on pitches outside of the strike zone until you've seen the leaderboard for it.)
As the first projections of the year they hold an undeniable Hot Stove allure, so let's discuss: would that line from Colby Rasmus be a disappointment? Is Yadier Molina going to hit .300 again? Would Cesar Izturis get 20 extra-base hits if he were allowed to use an aluminum bat? If I were pitching to him? Softballs?