A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Must Read of the Day

Go grab a cup of coffee and give this a read. The article is hysterical on its own, but the comments are even more hysterical. The readers stomped Buster a new mud hole and it was great. Keep in mind Buster just became a Hall of Fame voter and was inducted into the BBWAA and you know what? He fits right in.

I know some of you do not actually have an ESPN Insider subscription so good ol' Mike has you covered.

Buster, it's like you are hitchhiking on the highway of baseball analysis and the point just flew right by you at 80 mph without slowing down. For example, "not making an out" has always been fundamentally important to the game.

I love the analogy. Very nice.

This reminds my why I don't read Buster Olney.
"Look, if you stick his statistics into offensive formulas tailored for the way the game was played in the '90s, he's not going to look as good"
F*&k the heck is he talking about? Which formulas are tailored for the way the game was played in the '90? Olney is terrible at everything except providing links.

This statement by Buster was particularly disturbing for a Hall of Fame voter. Of course the game changes, but any statistical analysis that has been created recently has tons of value for evaluating the game's past.

When someone can explain why, if Rice was a HOF hitter, he had a sub .800 OPS on the road for his career, then I'd consider him. And, I know it was a different time, but there is no corner outfielder who should be in the HOF with a sub .800 OPS no matter what time he played in, especially when his main attribute is hitting.

Probably the most compelling argument for him to not be included. Pure insanity. Though a significantly smaller sample size, Ryan Church has a much better road OPS than Jim Rice and I doubt you can prove to me it is just the era. Rice was certainly good, but not HOF good.

Buster, I like your blog and your work on baseball tonight and most of your columns, but stop trying to be a stat-head. 3 points:

1. OPS+, WARP and similar measures remove the inflation or deflation. It normalizes the eras. It's apples-to-apples in other words, and it adjusts for position difficulty which most media people have ignored.
2. 11 years and 5 very good and 6 decent is not a HOF career
3. HOF should be judged against all players who have played, not just a random 11-year universe of players. And please never forget the importance of defense. Dwight Evans has almost the same offensive production and was a stellar defender and he's never mentioned anymore.

Lists are in in '08.

The argument that OBP wasn't as important in other eras doesn't fly. OBP measures how good you were at not making outs, and not making outs is the single most important factor in scoring runs. That's true in any era.

Rice's career OPS+ (adjusted for league and park) was 128, which compares favorably to Eddie Murray (129) but not really George Brett (135) or Mike Schmidt (143) (these are the guys that Olney brought up). However, Rice's mark isn't as good as it looks because he played so few games and never made it to the decline phase of his career. Rice had 3,759 fewer plate appearances than Eddie Murray. If you knock off the final 3,759 plate appearances of Murray's career, his OPS+ would be something more like Brett's. And oh yeah, Brett, Murray, and Schmidt all played good to excellent defense, while Rice was below average.

Rice wouldn't be the worst player in the HOF, but he would lower the standards quite a bit. He shouldn't get extra credit for having a short career.

Brilliant logic there as I never really thought of how a shorter career can help inflate your career OPS+.

No one goes after the road ERA of Koufax because 2.57 is still awesome. . .Rice on the road was simply not a good hitter. Compare him to the guys in the hall and tell me who he is better than. . .compare him to Dale Murphy and explain to me how he is so much better than Murphy, who isn't getting a sniff for the hall?

Comparing Koufax to Rice to support Rice's case was a horrible example.

"From 1975 to 1986, Mike Schmidt accumulated 12 seasons of at least 20 homers. Rice ranks second in that time frame, with 11."

Let me use the same logic...from 1993 to 2007, Omar Vizquel accumulated 14 seasons with at least 2 home runs. Chipper Jones (who made his major league debut in 1993) ranks just behind him in that time frame, with 13.

Why is 20 home runs the magic cutoff point when comparing Rice to Schmidt? It's true that from 1975-86, Schmidt had 12 seasons with more than 20 homers...but he also had 11 seasons with more than 30 homers. Rice had 11 seasons with more than 20 homers...and only 4 with more than 30 homers. It's a little dishonest to imply that Rice had home run power that was comparable to Schmidt. Even with just this very simple analysis, it's obvious that it's just not true.

As I stated the other day, Rice averaged 24 homers a year for his career. That is simply not all that great for a power hitter no matter what era.

By the way, using Buster's and Gammons' fear factor argument, I'd like to nominate Kyle Farnsworth for the Hall of Fame. I know when he enters a game with a small lead in the 8th inning, it scares the heck out of me.

Let us not forget when he went 'Farnsworth' on Paul Wilson, which certainly should add to Kyle's fear factor.

Looking at career Batting Wins, Rice ranks 124. The players immediately above and below him include: Jim Edmonds, Willie Keeler, Hack Wilson, Charlie Keller, Gavvy Cravath, Jake Beckley, George Gore, Dolph Camilli, Earl Averill, Paul Hines, Fred Lynn, Darryl Strawberry, Tony Perez, and Bernie Williams. Among that group, the HOFs either:

a) played a more demanding defensive position (Keeler, Wilson, Averill), or
b) are themselves questionable HOF selections (Wilson, Beckley, Perez)

A look at other park and era-independent measures like OPS+ (Rice ranks 173, and benefits a lot more from his S than his O) and Offensive W% (Rnk = 285) yield similar results.

Eh, that is a newfangled stat that has no business being used for players prior to 1990.

MVP points are meaningless. Picking a random range of years (1975-86) is silly. Mark Grace had the most hits in the 90's. It doesn't mean much. Picking a random number of RBIs in a season (85) and then saying a player did it x years in a row doesn't mean much....why 85 RBI? What makes that number significant? Measuring Rice against .400 OBP guys is silly.....just compare his OBP to his peers and he doesn't stack up all that well. It's not that he didn't draw as may walks as players do today, it's that he didn't draw as many walks as average players in his time. Oh, and he made a ton of outs (especially with all those double plays). The Sandy Koufax comparison is laughable. In any era a 2.57 ERA (Koufax's road ERA during his peak years) is Hall of Fame Worthy. Jim Rice's road stats, in any era, are not.....that comparison is just plain lazy. And finally, the baseball prospectus guys did a great analysis of Rice. From the mid-70s to 1980 (5-6 seasons) he had Hall of Fame numbers by most measures. But the next 6+ seasons were mostly ordinary (even if he did end up with high RBI totals through the mid-80s). C'mon Buster, you gotta do a bit more homework before writing these things.

Kind of repeats some stuff from before, but he does it well.

As I was reading Olney's column I found myself becoming more and more upset, particularly with his repeated beating of strawmen in an attempt to buttress his argument, if you could even call it.

But then I went to the comments...and I *almost* feel sorry for him -- Olney is completely overmatched. ESPN should intervene or something. And I don't buy for a second that he hasn't read, or isn't reading, the comments.

Well done, commenters.

The park factor for Fenway from '78 through '89 is 112, 106, 106, 107, 107, 107, 105, 104, 101, 103, 105, and 107. Basically it was not even a slightly better park for hitters but a much better park for hitters. Any player who has such a large body of work and was considered a fearsome power hitter should never have a sub .800 OPS on the road.

I would not mind seeing a further breakdown of the park factor to break down righties and lefties over that time period. According to my 2004 Bill James handbook, from '02 to '04, righties had a substantially easier time hitting than lefties, which certainly makes me wonder even more how people deny the possibility that Rice's numbers were not greatly influenced by simply playing half of his games at Fenway. On top of that, his inflated numbers are STILL not Hall worthy.

Next, all those MVP votes are by the same people who vote for the HOF. It's a self-supporting argument. And as for 1978, he did beat out Guidry because a number of baseball writers felt pitchers have their own award, so they won't vote for them as MVP if there is a legitimate hitter to vote for. The fact that Guidry kept the Yankees in the race by going 13-0 as the Yankees fell 14 back (there would have been no come back without him) and then went 12-2 down the stretch and won the deciding play-off game and DIDN'T win the MVP is another knock against members of the BBWAA who vote on all the awards. Rice was certainly a worthy candidate. In some years you have more than one. Guidry, however, should have won it.

I just love that someone finally pointed out the same rubes who vote on the Hall of Fame and are enamored with RBIs and homers are same rubes who vote on the MVP.

There were plenty of great comments and only a handful of Buster's supporters. The best part is that Buster must have read everything because he felt the need to respond.

A lot of e-mail landed here about Friday's Jim Rice column, most of which suggests: First, that I cherry-picked statistics to make Rice look good; second, MVP voting is irrelevant; and third, I'm an idiot. There's no point in trying to defend my own idiocy, but the cherry-picking and MVP observations are interesting.

So if I understand the argument from some e-mailers: If you criticize Rice's candidacy by relying on Adjusted OPS+, through which Rice fares badly, that's analysis. But if you support Rice's candidacy citing home runs and RBI, then it's cherry-picking.

Hmmmm …

It was not just OPS+, but I can certainly get what he is saying. People have cited other reasons like his home road splits, road OPS, 382 homers for a power hitter, the flawed argument of how 'feared' he was despite no evidence to back it up in regards to walks, career win shares, the fact he played 25% of his games as a DH and never contributed meaningfully with the glove, etc.

I think there has been a dearth of real information to support his candidacy and not the other way around.

Adjusted OPS+ is a useful number. And if this your be-all, end-all statistic, keep in mind that:

* Mark McGwire and Frank Thomas rank higher than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Joe DiMaggio.

* Jim Thome ranks higher than A-Rod and Gary Sheffield.

* Lance Berkman ranks higher than Ken Griffey Jr.

* Brian Giles ranks higher than George Brett, Al Kaline, Orlando Cepeda, Tony Gwynn, Rod Carew and Roberto Clemente.

* Adam Dunn ranks higher than Eddie Murray.

Of course there should be plenty more comments today, but it is a bit too early.

Buster, you can't use career OPS+ numbers for HOFers who had decline phases of their careers and compare them with players who are currently at their career peaks... Adam Dunn versus Eddie Murray for example.

OPS+ is useful when comparing players who had similar plate appearance numbers. For players who have an extra 10 years of plate appearances it becomes an apples/oranges comparison.

The idea with Rice is that he wasn't as dominant as people believed he was even though he didn't play for a long time.

I have not found any sort of metric to prove that he had any more than four Hall of Fame type seasons and a bunch of OK ones.

The biggest frigging problem with Rice supporters is that they want to use only those years in making their argument. Is it fair to put put up Rice's numbers from his prime and compare it to other players may have started earlier than that or completed their careers after that? Rice apologist like show how he stacks up to the big names of the time but for that time period only. Why should we ignore pre 75 and post 86 numbers for other players just to make Rice and his short career look better?

This seems to be the biggest cherry picking portion of the argument. Was everyone he was being compared to in the midst of their twelve best seasons at the time?

Why are so many people passionate about shooting down Rice's case for the HOF? I am a Sox fan and it doesn't matter either way to me. But it is hard to ignore the HR total he accumulated in the nonsteriod era. Of course you can say that is only one aspect to be considered and he should not be elected on that stat total alone. But how about say...Phil Rizzuto? Why is he in the HOF? Is it because of his defense alone? How is his OPS+? He is in as a player not an announcer so he must have been elected on Defense alone or "all around play". It doesn't seem that statistics can quantify either of those. I guess maybe he was elected for being a spokesman for The Money Store.... I don't remember THIS MUCH stink being made of his election.

This is precisely one of those extremely flawed arguments. I'm not going to comment on Rizzuto specifically, but I love when people point to people already in the Hall of Fame like that should make a difference. Some people are in but are not really worthy so that serves no point to compare them. If you want to compare, compare to no doubt Hall of Famers.

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  • Kotsay to the Braves is certainly a smart move. They were slated to head into '08 with some horrific production in centerfield. His days of adding any significant value is over, but he should be a solid stopgap for the Braves.

  • This should come as no surprise to anyone, but Kyle Lohse is willing to take less years. Three to be exact. However, I still have my doubts at this point if he can even get that and he is looking at $12 million per season.

    I've been running it through my head as to possible suitors and I'm not seeing anyone who would pony up $36 million over three years. 3/$24? Maybe. I think the word delusional sums up Lohse's thoughts so far this off-season and hopefully a team does not cave and agree to his ridiculous demands.

  • Stay the course.

    And that's how the Mets' offer to the Twins will remain -- strictly just prospects. The Mets will not include Jose Reyes in any deal for Santana, despite speculation that he remains a sticking point for Smith. So far, the Mets have reportedly offered OF Carlos Gomez, RHP Kevin Mulvey, RHP Philip Humber and RHP Deolis Guerra, the team's top pitching prospect from Class-A St. Lucie.

    The Twins have also reportedly asked for top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez. The Mets are reluctant to include their No. 1 minor-leaguer, but there is feeling among the Mets hierarchy that the necessary steps -- a loaded package of the team's top prospects -- should be taken to acquire a two-time Cy Young winner. The belief is also that money is not a hindrance, despite Santana's wish for a long-term contract extension, that could cost as much as $140 million over seven years.

    The Mets should not budge as I think that offer is good. The Mets much maligned prospects are not as bad as people view them. Guerra would rank as #3 or #4 in either of the Red Sox or Yankee systems. Gomez and Mulvey are better than everyone except Joba, Kennedy, Tabata, Ellsbury, Anderson, and Lowrie in either of the other two systems. Hughes is better than anyone being offered as well, but not one other piece of the Yankees package is better than one through four of the Met package with most pieces being much, much better.

    If the Red Sox would include Bowden, the game is over and they get Santana. However, until then, I am not seeing how it is appreciably better. It is just different and less risky but without as much upside as I stated yesterday. I know the buzz has been the Mets are in 'whatever it takes' mode, but that would be foolish and liquidating the system would be a mistake.

    The Mets current offer is a bit more palatable for me. In fact, Neise is actually a more highly rated prospect than Phil and I would prefer him in there versus Humber. The only issue there is that the package is way too young for a team that has a lot of great pieces right now. By the time they get around to being productive, their core will be ready to leave, which makes Humber a better choice for the Twins.

  • El Tigres del Norte are looking to lock up Miguel. How much is he going to get? He has no allegiance to this team and a hometown discount really does not come into play here. Seven years $120+ when you factor in the buyout of his final arbitration years?
  • Labels: , ,

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Debunking Popular Notion

    Before we get into the meat of the post, let me apologize for posting this. I know we are all sick of this topic and you are probably the last people who need to read it since the majority of you get it, but I have no other avenue of venting this.

    Call we please stop this lunacy? The Mets package is a just as good and likely better than the Yankees package.

    Jim Callis said Gomez showed him a little something in the bigs. Carlos had no business being there, but he did do some things to open some eyes.

    His ceiling is huge and this year, with the way he's performed, I have more belief that he can reach it. He's definitely ahead of Milledge on the Mets' depth chart and I bet Milledge gets dealt in the next six months.

    Not good enough? How about John Sickels?

    Carlos Gomez, OF, Grade B (undecided, may raise to B+. You guys are right about the injuries, but you also need to be more wary of Mets propaganda.)

    Met ‘propaganda’ or not, a few guys that solely concentrate on prospects are rather high on the kid. He is a legit blue chipper who has been rushed a bit, which is why his numbers never seem all that good. Gomez will be 22 this season. Care to guess how old Ellsbury is? A full two years older. Neither have exhibited much pop, but Gomez flashes plus power in BP, which means little until he starts doing it in games. However, it cannot be ignored his ceiling, while not as likely to be achieved as Ellsbury, is greatly higher. It is a complete risk tolerance choice here.

    Then there is Guerra. An 18 year old in the SALLY League. He is a B+ prospect according to John Sickels and one of the best remaining pitching prospects in the minors overall.

    Jim Callis said, “if he stays healthy, you could see him in 2009. The stuff is that good and I love the body. He can get out of whack easily in his delivery at times, but the negatives are all minor, correctable things. Good presence on the mound.”

    A 20 year old in the bigs? I think that qualifies as some serious talent.

    That is before we even touch on Mulvey and Humber. Humber’s star has fallen, but he was in the league leaders in every pitching category in the PCL. Do more than just look at his numbers alone. Compare them against everyone else in the league and make a judgment. Also, Keith Law said that he favors Humber over Horne. Horne is better than Marquez, who gets a C+ from Sickels. Therefore by transitive property we can assume that Humber is a much better prospect than Marquez, who the Yankees were graciously offering as third prospect.

    Armed with that information and the fact that Mulvey is more coveted these days than Humber, that gives the Twins two pitchers better than Marquez if they went with the Mets deal. For a reference point, Sickels calls Humber a B- and Mulvey a B that might get raised to a B+. If you are counting, that is a B+, two fringe B+ guys, and a B- guy and an overall good haul.

    Yes, Hughes is the best prospect out of the bunch, but the Mets deal is faaaar deeper and they get a two blue chippers versus one. Melky is a disaster. Please, look at his minor league stats and big league stats. He is 22 and has room to grow, but he is no star. Obviously he is good enough to be a starter in this league, but there are many, many other guys I would prefer starting over him and he would have no shot at starting on the lowly Mets. His 4.4 WARP1 is easily exceeded by many. The much maligned Coco Crisp was more valuable by more than 36% according to WARP1 and he had a horrific year according to most people’s opinions.

    Then we toss F-Mart into the equation. Keith Law had said in a chat recently that he values him above any player in any of the proposed deals. Under no circumstance should he be added as a fifth player because that would just be too much on a deal where the Mets are already giving up too much. Who else is offering a B+ prospect, two fringe B+ prospects, and another B- for good measure? You may prefer another package if you have a hard on for Hughes or Ellsbury, who is vastly overrated and taken on a life of his own, but to deny the possibility the Mets package might be the best is insane. Check the numbers and maybe read some people’s opinions who….you know….scout the game of baseball. Listening to some dumb opinions perpetuated by crappy writers is not the best way to get some real baseball information.

    So not only is the Yankee deal probably worse than the Mets, but also worse than a Lester/Crisp/Lowrie/Masterson deal. If the Twins REALLY wanted Hughes, then sure. Go for it. However, if they want depth of quality versus one blue chip and peripheral pieces, there are much better options than the Yankees offer, which will undoubtedly mystify some Yankee fans. With the Red Sox deal, they get three players who have a chance to be above average players in his league from day #1 of the acquisition. Lowrie has a chance to be a run producing middle infielder and would easily be more valuable than Melky next year as Crisp probably will be yet again. As for Lester, he is a potential front end starter and Masterson is on par with Mulvey’s value, though I like Mulvey better.

    The Twins are highly intelligent to be asking for more from the Yankees if the deals we have heard are correct because they have two betters ones purportedly on the table. I love how Yankee fans will call Met fans delusional when they should really not judge anyone else until they can coherently come to an educated conclusion on any topic. The Twins may want to send Johan to the National League, but they certainly are not doing so at the expense of getting talent. It just so happens the best deal might actually be from the place they want to send him the most.

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  • I’m not sure if you are into the entire no pants on the subway thing, but if you are, this is right up your alley.

  • Just a continuation from the top piece, but if I were the Twins GM and was looking at the following deals:

    #1) Gomez

    #2) Lester

    #3) Hughes
    Melky (I just puked a bit)

    Of course the main caveat is who that fourth player is for the Red Sox and Yankee deals. If we are talking about Tabata, which the Yankees will not do, that makes me think long and hard about that deal versus the others. In fact, if you include him, I would jump on that. If we are talking about Austin Jackson, I’m probably taking door #1 or door #2. Horne would make me think about things a bit more, but he has had one really good year back from injury. Basically, the Yankees just are not giving up enough. Anyone lower than Tabata on the prospect list just does not make that deal better.

    As for the Red Sox deal, I see the best 1-2 punch of any deal with Lowrie and Lester. A potential front end guy with a potential run producing middle infielder. Do not get blinded by Lowrie’s meager home run numbers, his over .500 SLG% in AA and AAA should quell those fears of lacking the pop some are talking about. The guy can draw a walk and has walked 165 times and struck out 186 times in 283 minor league games. However, if he cannot stay at shortstop or second base, the Mets have the best 1-2 punch. I am not as concerned with the Red Sox fourth guy as the Yankees because their 1-2-3 is much better than the Yankees, but it does matter a bit.

    So really, it boils down to Mets deal versus the Red Sox deal. Lowrie is still a bit of a question mark, though a talented one. Will he start hitting some homers and can he stay up the middle? He is no sure thing. However, I think the Mets solid offering of two soon-to-be ready big league arms with two blue chippers really seals the deal here for me since I like them both better than Masterson unless the Red Sox sweeten the pot with Anderson or Bowden, which they seem unlikely to do. Am I being a homer? Perhaps, but if you do not like it start your own blog.

  • I have three words to say about this. Sign me up.


  • Thursday, January 10, 2008

    Buster's Top Stories in 2008

    Top stories, eh?

    1. Where will Johan Santana be traded, and when will he be traded?
    The Mets would love to have Santana, but Twins' talent evaluators view the Mets' prospects as being dramatically inferior to those of the Red Sox and Yankees.

    Though the Mets deals are closer than many people think, the perception of course is quite the opposite. However, Mets could offer a deeper package. Hughes is the only blue chip getting tossed around really. Ellsbury has taken on a life of his own, Lester is really good, Lowrie is a better player than given credit for, Melky is just absurdly overrated...

    My thoughts remain the same and if the Twins really want to move him, the Mets can put something pretty solid and rather comparable, if not better, than the other ones being bandied about.

    2. Just how many runs will the Tigers score -- and will it be enough to prop up their thin pitching staff?

    Yes. That one was easy.

    3. Can the Colorado Rockies follow up and grow on their 2007 success

    No, no, and no. I'm sensing that 83 wins would be a windfall for this team that plays in what has become the National League's best division. Also, just as the Mets needed a historic collapse to miss the playoffs, they needed an equally historic run to make the playoffs. They finally developed some pitching and according to Fox they have the best defense to ever be assembled on the field, but a lot can go wrong with this team and they need a lot to go better than expected.

    4. Can the Mets rebound from their 2007 collapse?

    Despite the efforts of GM Omar Minaya, the Mets still have not added a front-of-the-rotation starter to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Tom Glavine.

    Fair or not, right or wrong, this is the reality for the Mets: If they don't make the playoffs this year, then the jobs of manager Willie Randolph and some players -- and maybe even Minaya -- could be on the line, depending on how the year plays out.

    Of course they can rebound. They were one measly game away from not having to rebound. As for this top-of-the rotation crap, can we stop? Yes, Tom Glavine is going to the Hall of Fame. We get it. However, that does not mean every time he is on the field is a precious sight that we need to behold. He was 100% average last season and his '07 production is easily replaced.

    Willie's job on the line? Dare to dream.

    5. Will Kosuke Fukudome make the Cubs the favorite in the NL Central

    On paper, he would seem to fit the Cubs' perfectly -- he's a left-handed hitter among many right-handed hitters, he's athletic, he hits for some power, and he gets on base.

    They are favorites for sure. The Brewers losing their closer is going to cost them a few games and I just cannot see anyone else stepping up in that bullpen. Gagne is a nice move, but Cordero was historically good for quite a while.

    6. Can Joe Torre make a difference in Los Angeles?

    The Dodgers' clubhouse was fractured at year's end, and Grady Little couldn't repair the rift between the older and younger players on the Los Angeles roster. Maybe Torre can get more out of the Dodgers, with a lineup that has been augmented by the addition of Andruw Jones and a rotation that now includes Hiroki Kuroda.

    Anyone with common sense could make a difference in LA. Play the young guys. BOOM! I just did his job for him. Let LaRoche play everyday. Let Kemp play everyday. Let Loney play. Billingsley is a stud and a rotation of Kuroda, Billingsley, Penny, Lowe, and whomever is badass.

    The bullpen is tight and the addition of Andruw Jones to a team that direly needed power is a great one. Even in his off year he was a valuable player that added some wins and he should rebound this year, however slightly. This team is the real deal and is well balanced. Torre is going to receive a lot of credit for this team doing well, but that is just poppycock (sorry for the harsh language). This team is a good team.

    7. Can the aging Braves' rotation hold up?

    Hmmmm...I thought in #4 you were wondering if the Mets can manage to replace Glavine's top o' the ro' production and now you are wondering if his aging body will be effective? Prediction. He will be effectively average. 4.50 ERA here we come!

    8. Is Joe Girardi a genius or an idiot?

    If the Yankees make the playoffs and win at least one round -- something the team hasn't done since 2004 -- then Girardi will be cast as a genius. And if the Yankees fail to make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, well, he's going to be cast as an idiot.

    Only by Yankee fans. The Yankees are heading into 2008 with three rookie starters (or two and Mussina....choose your poison) and a suspect bullpen. Their outfield is really not all that good and first base is kind of bad as well. Posada had a career year at 35 and I fully expect him to be his normal .260 hitting self next season.

    Would anyone be all that surprised if the Yankees a) do not make it out of the first round again or b) miss the playoffs by a hair altogether? Missing it by a hair while developing a nasty rotation on the right side of 30 is never a bad thing. However, asking Yankee fans to exhibit some perspective is asking a bit much.

    9. Can the Red Sox defend their title?

    They will go into the season as solid favorites to win the World Series, especially if they do manage to complete the deal for Santana. And if Boston wins its third title in five years, then the conversation about whether the Red Sox qualify as a dynasty will begin.

    Why the hell not? They waltzed into the World Series and dominated everyone. They still are going to add the best pitching prospect in the minors into the mix in Buccholz, Daisuke should be better, they have Lester back and in for a 100% healthy season, and they have depth in Ellsbury and Lowrie ready to jump in and start kicking ass.

    This team is actually going to be better than they were last year, which is disturbing to think about. All of this assumes they will not get Santana and if they do, I would like to revise my previous statement and say they are going to be much, much better. Three titles in five years in any era is a dynasty in my book much less this era. Over the last five years, no team will have been as good as the Red Sox and that qualifies as a dynasty.

    10. Who will get Erik Bedard?

    If he goes to Seattle, is this really a big story? They are still a fringy team that made their future a bit darker.

    11. How good (or bad) will Oakland be?

    I may be missing something here, but how is this a big storyline either? They certainly will not be historically bad, which might be newsworthy, and they are waiving the white flag and conceding the season already.

    12. Ken Griffey Jr. closes on 600 homers.

    He has 593 and counting. And whether you think it's right or wrong, fair or unfair, his accomplishments will inevitably be cast as genuine, at a time when the other great player of his generation, Bonds, will be in court.

    Griffey is flat out nasty. What he did from '90 to '00 was insane. OPS+ of 135, 155, 149, 171!, 170!, 122, 153, 165, 150, 139, and 133. For good measure, he dropped an OPS+ of 145 and 144 on us in the new millennium. Throw on top of that ten straight Gold Gloves starting in 1990 that were actually deserved. If he never played again after 2000, he would be a Hall of Famer.

    Of course young kids like Benny are too young to remember all of this going down, but we would not be having a discussion about the possibility of Alex Rodriguez being the best player of all time if Griffey Jr.'s had his wheels had not failed him.

    I hope this is a gigantic story and he is celebrated as one of the best to every play baseball.

    13. Greg Maddux closes on Roger Clemens, and Warren Spahn.

    Who doesn't like this guy? Ok, well maybe a lot of people, but I am not one of them. He will not get the 16 wins he needs to pass Spahn this year, but he will get it in 2009. Could he make a run at 400 wins? However small the chance is, yes.

    The guy is basically a knuckleballer since his fastball dances around better than most knuckleballers. It is a true mystery how he pulls it off, but as long as he can keep hurling the ball towards the plate, he can be useful to some team and pile on some victories.

    * * *

  • I wonder if the Mets could have come up with a Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher, and Ronny Cedeno type deal before inking Castillo? Of course this ignores the fact that MacPhail was probably not ready to move him back then and was asking for better prospects for Ramon Hernandez at the time.

    Maybe MacPhail finally realized trying to rip people off is no way to improve your club long term? He is a smart guy who has been around for a while so I would like to think he already knew that, but he certainly was not acting that way.

  • Joe! Say it ain't so! Reason has no place in these discussions.

    Ultimately, the Mets might be the best fit.

    They have the greatest need. They have the money to sign Santana. And they play in the National League, where he's less likely to haunt the Twins.

    The players the Mets would send the Twins aren't household names. There's no Jose Reyes or David Wright. The offers aren't perfect.

    But it's become abundantly clear the Twins won't be able to make the perfect trade here. Not for a two-time Cy Young winner. Not for a lefthander who is 93-44 for his career and won't turn 29 until March.

    No team is going to give the Twins everything they need when that team must turn around and hand Santana a five- or six-year contract extension worth at least $20 million per year.

    According to people with knowledge of the discussions, the Mets have offered top pitching prospect Deolis Guerra, along with center fielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Kevin Mulvey and Phil Humber.

    Really, that is a great deal for the Twins if that is what is on the table. They like Gomez and he plays a smoooooth centerfield while having unlimited upside. Whether he gets there is another argument. Guerra is a legit blue chipper and Humber and Mulvey are still very good prospects that are almost certainly going to contribute on the big league level in the starting rotation in my eyes.

    Now, would I do it? Hmmmmm....The Mets still have Fernando, who the Twins still want but should not be able to get, and still have Mike Pelfrey. Ideally the Mets keep Humber or Mulvey and swap in a younger guy, but I think that blows the deal up from the Twins perspective. You know what? After all my bitching, I would pull the trigger on that for the simple fact the Mets retain their best prospect and still have a young arm in the mix with upside, who essentially would have been their 3rd or 4th best prospect had he still qualified. It hurts a bit, but that is a palatable deal for both sides and only sort of guts the system rather than completely guts the system.

    If they are insistent upon getting Fernando back, well then they have to scale back their demands significantly. Martinez has the chance to be that good and is better than any sole prospect the Red Sox have offered and might even be more valuable than Hughes. Yeah, I said it...what are you going to do about it? Hopefully Omar realizes these things and holds tight. The Mets can put something competitive together and it is up to the Twins if they want to pull the trigger.

  • In related news, the Yankees might give up on Santana. You cannot make this stuff up.

  • The Brewers like Cameron and that would be a great move for them. I still like the Cubs over the Brewers and especially if they get Roberts, but Hart, Cameron, and Braun in the outfield with Hardy, Fielder, Hall, and Weeks on the infield is rather insane. Lots of guys that can hit over 20 homers there. In fact, every single one of those guys can hit at least 20 homers.

  • Delgado will bounce back. Not hitting .300 with 35 homers back, but back.

  • Nice!

    Faced with foreclosure on her Russellville, Indiana home, Christina Snyder allegedly concocted the kind of plan that now has insurance executives on edge.

    According to the county prosecutor, the 31-year-old Snyder allegedly offered to pay a neighbor $5,000 to help her burn down her house and make it look like a botched rape attempt - all in order to claim $80,000 in insurance money. Snyder wanted the neighbor to bind her hands in duct tape, write "whore" on her shirt, and then help her escape once the blaze was set, the prosecutor says. The neighbor demurred, instead reporting Snyder to police.

    I really think writing "whore" on her shirt was a great touch. If some people could apply their evil genius part of their brain to good things, we would be alright.
  • Labels: ,

    Wednesday, January 09, 2008

    Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention? I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.

    Are you sitting down? The Yankees are still interested in Santana. Wow. It is also good to see that Brian Cashman is powerless again as well.

    "The bottom line is, it's my decision," Hank Steinbrenner said, "but there's disagreement within the organization. I've got to keep everybody happy in the organization, including Brian ... That includes my partner, which is my brother."

    Whatever happened to the days where you hired a GM to run your baseball team instead of hiring him and then making decisions to keep him happy? The only new revalation is that Santana would only be getting a five year extension from the Yankees and not a six or seven year extension.

    If the Yankees do complete a trade for Santana, Steinbrenner said they would not go beyond a five-year contract extension (one that expires after the 2013 season).

    "I wouldn't do it if it were a six- or seven-year contract," Steinbrenner said. "I wouldn't go past five, on an extension."

    I can certainly see him getting more than five years if he gets to negotiate a contract on the free agent market and it probably behooves him to turn down whatever deal any possible suitor dishes out so he can pick his team and get paid.

    * * *

  • Gut it! The Orioles are a complete joke and they look like a last place team in the AL East as currently constructed. To not trade everything not nailed down would be a horrific mistake.

  • Jim Callis slams Billy Beane a bit.

    Billy Beane has proven himself to be one of the game's best general managers, but how he escapes blame for the collapse of his farm system is beyond me. Yes, big league promotions have thinned out Oakland's store of minor league talent, but with 19 first-round or supplemental first-round picks in the last six drafts, there's no excuse. Funny, I seem to remember reading a book a few years ago about how the A's were revolutionizing the draft.

    Good point Jim, good point. Really though, that is more than three per season and they really have little to show for it. He did get some good players, but his more recent ones have been rough.

    In 2002 he drafted Nick Swisher, Joe Blanton, John McCurdy, Ben Fritz, Jeremby Brown, Steve Obenchain, and Mark Teahan.

    In 2003 he drafted Brad Sullivan, Brian Snyder, and Omar Quintanilla.

    In 2004 he drafted Landon Powell, Richie Robnett, Danny Putnam, and Huston Street.

    In 2005 he drafted Cliff Pennington and Travis Buck.

    In 2006 he did not have a draft pick as this is when I believe he inexplicably signed Esteban Loaiza and lost his first round pick. Of course Beane gave him up for nothing when the Dodgers claimed him and the $8m+ owed to him through 2008 off of waivers last season.

    In 2007 he drafted James Simmons, Sean Doolittle, and Corey Brown.

    Of course the 2007 draft is too soon to judge, but those are some ugly drafts.

  • Also noted within the piece, the Mets getting rid of Glavine kicks ass. It has been covered time and time again, but I really am excited about this.

    18. Mets (Tom Glavine, A, to Atl)
    19. Cubs
    20. Mariners
    21. Tigers
    22. Mets
    23. Padres
    24. Phillies
    25. Rockies
    26. Diamondbacks
    27. Twins (Torii Hunter, A, to LAA)
    28. Yankees
    29. Indians
    30. Red Sox
    Supplemental First-Round Picks
    31. Twins (Hunter)
    32. Brewers (Franciso Cordero, A, to Cin)
    33. Mets (Glavine)

    The Braves can have his league average innings, I would rather take two picks in the top 33 any day of the week. This draft could do wonders for the Mets with any luck as it is worth noting the Yankees got Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain in the 2006 draft with picks 21 and 40. Of course I am not suggesting the Mets will come away with such a handsome haul that will help on such short order, but merely pointing out the opportunity that possibly awaits them....as long as they do not draft two college relievers with two of those three picks, I'll be happy.

    The Mets have been thinking quick help in the last two drafts, but hopefully they shift gears a bit and just draft the best talent. They need pitching direly as anyone does, but they also need to get some more depth in regards to position prospects. Go for the best and not just the best arm.

    A side note: I would gladly give the Braves first round pick back (not the sandwich pick as well) if it meant Willie was given his walking papers. That is how bad I want him out of this organization.

  • Goose is in. Jim Rice just missed, Blyleven missed by a good amount, Morris rightfully finished below Blylelven, Raines got a paltry 24.3% of the votes which is silly, Mattingly got 15.8% of the votes when he should have gotten 0%, and Harold Baines is holding on for dear life with 5.2% of the votes. It is safe to say, Mr. Baines looks like a long shot.

    It should be noted that Jim rice played for sixteen years and was known as a power hitter. He hit less than 24 homers per year which is certainly perplexing being he was supposed to be a power hitter in park that helps out right handed hitters. He must have pounded a ton of doubles, right? Not so much. He hit less doubles than he did homers. He had four monster seasons and a bunch of good ones. His candidacy is bit perplexing in regards to the support he is getting. I understand he was playing in a different ERA, but even in that context he is not a HoF.

    I know that is a very crude look at his numbers, but Mike & Mad Dog were harping on this last night and it was annoying. Somehow Mad Dog thought Rice was slam dunk and Raines was not a HoF. I think Raines will eventually get in, but for some reason the voters will not vote in a sure fire Hall of Famer when they appear on their first ballot because they are not a 'first ballot Hall of Famer' like Pedro Martinez will be.

    They are making a statement, however ridiculous it is.

  • Eric Karabell brings up an interesting notion.

    And by the way, a few paragraphs up, I had that throwaway line about Hamilton possibly being the team's best center fielder ever. It's not a throwaway line. Try naming a Texas Rangers center fielder who topped 300 games. It's hard to believe Oddibe McDowell is probably the best they've had in Arlington. Hamilton had better end up the best.

    The Rangers have had some good teams in the past, but no good centerfielders. It will be interesting to see what Hamilton does and him and Salty give the Rangers a nice meat of the order for a long time.

  • I do not think I have ever mentioned here how despicable Tom McCarthy is. He absconds for the Phillies? Sure he worked for the Phillies before joining the Mets, but that does not lessen my negative feelings toward the man.

    Now, the Mets are chasing some Hagin character. Is he good? I don't know. I read an interview with him and seems like a swell guy who knows his stuff, but I would like some more life in the radio broadcasts. Is cloning Keith Hernandez an option? Has Harold Reynolds cleared his named yet?

    "Three people who work at ESPN and familiar with the case said the cause was a pattern of sexual harassment." Reynolds confirmed that an accusation of sexual harassment was the reason for his departure but called it "a total misunderstanding" and that "I gave a woman a hug and I felt like it was misinterpreted."

    There are lots of hugs out there....Puppy hugs, fraidycat hugs, birthday hugs, I love-you-hugs, etc. Maybe he dished out a puppy hug when he should have went fradiycat hug. These things happen.


  • Monday, January 07, 2008

    The Sky Is Falling!!!!

    The Mets made me want to puke last season. I was at the final game of the season and was enjoying some PBRs in the parking on a beautiful day fully expecting my Mets to make it to the playoffs. John Maine just came off one of the best pitched games of the season for the Mets and undoubtedly the biggest game he pitched all year and the Mets had to beat the Marlins one more time to clinch. Of course you know the rest and the game was over before I even sat down.

    However, there are things we all need to keep in perspective.

    1) Second Base: Jose Valentin gave us 45 games at second with three homers and a .247/.310/.380 line. Damion Easley provided some nice pop at second and started with a flourish there, but tapered off. Ruben Gotay was great in his 37 games, but there were still 80+ games of underwhelming production there. Now I am not the biggest Castillo fan and thought his deal was a bit silly, but the man hit .296 with a .371 OBP and played solid defense while stealing 10 bases in just fifty games. Sure he has no pop, but Willie will use him in the second hole and he does not create outs giving the Mets best hitters many chances in '08 to make things happen. Castillo will give the Mets more wins by playing from day one and provide some consistency there for sure.

    2) Right Field: .273/.326/.398. That is what the Mets got out of right field in '07. If the Mets had not dealt Milledge for Church and it had been someone else moved for him, I would have applauded the move as I think he is an undervalued player that got jerked around in Washington. For a moment, we will set aside the actual trade and look at the player. Church hit .272/.349/.464 last year and plays a good outfield which is a stark contrast to Shawn Green, who was a disaster. The Mets had nine guys compile those numbers and Church will easily top that production and add more stability and consistency from the position with some upside to his 2007 performance. In '07, he got killed by lefties but was a full .030 under what his three year splits where against lefties. His .287 against righties was in line with his three year splits against righties so I am confident that Church has room to grow in '08 over his '07 season.

    Also, we know that RFK is a disaster for power hitters. The outfield is pretty uniform and an enclosed circle so I would assume it is as equally as bad for hitters from either side of the plate whereas Shea favors left handed hitters. Church pounded 43 doubles last season and hit 59 XBHs in 144 games. In comparison, the Mets got 48 in 162 games. Ryan Church cannot really be compared to Milledge in '08 since we cannot know for sure what he'll do, but Church is certainly a large upgrade in right field in many facets. I expect him to perform a bit better when you take into account the park change, team change, and improved lineup surrounding him. 60+XBHs from one right fielder? When is the last time the Mets had that?

    Ok, not buying it? Let us say you do not agree with me and think Church is a platoon player at best, which I do not think he is. The Mets can still pair him up with Easley to create some pretty good production from right field and should still greatly eclipse what the Mets got out of right field last season. I would rather have Milledge at this point, but you simply cannot argue the Mets did not get better in this area....well I guess you could argue with me about it, but you wouldn't be right.

    3) The Outfield: While Alou cannot be counted on for 162 games, the Mets outfield depth stands to be a lot better. With Church in the fold, they can certainly absorb the loss of Alou better and a Gomez/Chavez tandem will be just fine in filling in for him when/if he gets hurt. Also, if Alou gives the Mets 120 games next season, that will be an unabashed improvement over the 84 games he gave the Mets last year. Anything over 84 is a bonus that will just add wins over last year’s production. Also, Beltran only gave the Mets 141 games in center and people cannot forget how much of a disaster the Mets outfield was with Green out there, Chavez going down, Milledge hurt, Alou missing, and Beltran missing a bit too many games. Two words...Ricky Ledee. That is how bad things were.

    The Mets outfield is going to be better from day #1 and deeper overall. 150 games from Beltran and Church with 120 games of Alou would make this one formidable outfield with guys that can hit at all three positions. Even if Alou does go down again, the Mets can more capably fill the hole in 2008 than they did in 2007 barring any more disasters. Not only will right field be more consistent and stable, but the entire outfield should be as well and light years better than 2007.

    4) Catching: Again, the fact that Milledge was dealt for Schneider has no context in whether he will be an upgrade over the Mets '08 catching situation. There seems to be some people confused about Paulie Ballgame being some superior offensive player to Schneider. A lot of LoDuca's value is in his batting average and he simply is not all that good anymore. In 2007, LoDuca's ISOP was .106 while Schneider's was .101. They both had virtually the same amount of XBHs and had the same RBI total in 2007. Schneider played in ten more games but tallied up about 40 less at-bats due to this novel idea of taking pitches.

    LoDuca's ISOD was a paltry .039 while Schneider's was .091. That is not even in the same stratosphere and though we cannot assume Schneider will have a better season, it certainly is reasonable he gets his average up another .020 points and continues to take walks with vastly better plate discipline than LoDuca, who at 36 is not destined to improve offensively or even play to his career averages at this point. All this does not even factor in the immense defensive upgrade Brian represents.

    The move to acquire Schneider was not one of my favorites and the fact he is inked for another season after this does not help. However, in terms of an upgrade, he certainly makes the Mets a better ball club by being a sideways move offensively at worst, with the possibility of being a slight upgrade, and a defensive upgrade over Paul LoDuca. With Castro still around, the Mets managed to get bit better behind the plate overall, however small that margin is.

    5) Rotation: Pedro, Pedro, and Pedro. He gave the Mets 32 innings last season. Even if the manages to give the Mets only 150 innings, that is a tremendous upgrade over what the Mets had and will add quite a few wins overall. Then you factor in that Maine and Oliver should build off their '07 performance and become more predictable and you have a rather formidable front three. After that, the situation is a bit muddied. We have talked about Livan and Lohse in this space before and of course The Duque can still be the fourth starter. I'm going to consider Pedro's innings separate from simply replacing Glavine's. They are a bonus. I am hoping to cover Glavine's performance in this fourth spot.

    In 2007 Glavine's ERA+ was 96, Livan's ERA+ was 95, and Lohse's ERA+ was 98. I am still holding out hope The Duque heads to the bullpen as a capable reliever and solid fallback option in the rotation while the Mets pick up Livan or Lohse. Either one of those guys will replace Glavine's innings and his 2007 production easily in my eyes. Sure, they won't be able to match his professionalism or his crotchety factor, but I think the Mets will manage. Also, it is only fair to mention that it is a distinct possibility that The Duque will hold this spot. He put up a 115 ERA+ in '07, which I do not expect him replicate, in 150 innings. Even if he is the guy and goes down and gives the Mets only 150 innings again, whoever gives the Mets those other starts will probably drag the overall ERA+ for that spot to around the Glavine territory thereby essentially replacing his production. Either way, this spot should be a wash.

    This brings us to the fifth spot. Fact: Mike Pelfrey was tragic in the first half of '07. Fact: Mike Pelfrey was marginally better in the second half showing some flashes of improvement. Sure he still got pounded and had a high BAA, but he was still walking over 4.5 guys a game. For his big league career, he has walked 4.88 per 9 and for his minor league career he walked 3.17 per 9. In college, he never topped 2.00 per 9. Once he gets confident and more experience, that big league total will shrink and he will get better. He simply is not this bad and showed flashes of decent secondary stuff at times in '07. ZiPS sees 24 starts for Pelfrey with a 4.86 ERA and I do not think that is optimistic at all and that would be a tremendous improvement over what the Mets got from the fifth spot last season. It should also be noted ZiPS has a hard on for Mulvey and sees him being John Maine with less strikeouts. ZiPS predicts a 4.17 ERA in 23 starts, but sees 5.39 ERA in 26 starts for Humber, which seems very pessimistic to me. Mulvey was a bit optimistic most likely due to his ability to keep the ball down and great HR/9 ratio and Humber was hurt a bit by pitching in the PCL.

    Basically, the Mets should have a viable option in the fifth spot to give them some slightly below league average innings with the potential to be much better than that. If the Mets can manage 150 innings from Pedro (which is low), get Lohse or Livan, and have Pelfrey get marginally better, I think people are vastly underestimating this rotation. Last year, there was no depth. People got hurt, Pelfrey sucked, and it was a mess. This season, if Omar does the right thing and moves The Duque to the pen, his rubber arm will be ready to go with Mulvey and Humber also in the wings waiting to give the Mets solid options for the rotation. This team should be more consistent #1 through #5 and much deeper and able to maneuver through some injuries.

    * * * * * * *

    Are the Mets the most improved team? Not at all, but they were better than people think they were last year and had less improving to do than other teams and I just do not think the Phillies and Braves had blowout off-seasons. In 2008, stability and consistency will be something that this team will enjoy and it will translate into wins. I see the Mets has a 91 win team with a chance to be better if things fall into place, but I see a solid team without a lot of holes that should make the playoffs. Underwhelming in some spots? Sure, but no immense drop offs and no spots devoid of talent.

    Do not buy into the national media's hype, the local media's hype, or some other fearmonger's off base predictions. Omar can still improve this team through under the radar moves that made the 2006 Mets so good. Wise, Schneider, Church, and Livan will never make an All-Star team, but they could be the four guys that put this team in the playoffs for the second time in three years.

    * * *

  • You know what it is never too early for? Yes...beer....but smack talking too. Combine both into one activity and you have my undivided attention.

    "It was very disappointing because we know that we had the best team. And I believe that we still have a great team," the first baseman said Thursday on a conference call.

    I await Jimmy Rollins' response. Of course he has the obvious evidence on his side that the Mets finished below the Phillies to prove his point, but the historic collapse needed to take place and the Mets essentially beat themselves with the final nail being hammered by Tom Glavine.

    "We kind of assumed, for a lack of a better term, that we were going to win," Delgado said. "If you look back to 2006, which was a magical year for us, where everything kind of went our way, maybe we thought it was going to be the same way. And we kind of didn't play it out the last three weeks."


    "I don't think it had anything to do with extracurricular activities," he said. "You've just got to kind of narrow your mind and go out and do what you've got to do and don't have any other thoughts in your mind except to win that game instead of thinking, oh, when we make it to the playoffs, we might play San Diego."

    Who do you blame for the lack of focus....let's see...who could we possibly blame? If you don't manage all that well and you cannot keep your team focused, what exactly are you getting paid to do?

  • This is just too good. Too fucking good.

    Roger Clemens says he was injected with "lidocaine and B-12" and not steroids or human growth hormone by former trainer Brian McNamee, according to a portion of an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" released Thursday.

    "Lidocaine and [vitamin] B-12. It's for my joints, and B-12 I still take today," Clemens told Mike Wallace in the interview, which is scheduled to be shown Sunday night. It is Clemens' first interview since the release of the Mitchell report in December.

    Ah...that explains it! I'm satisfied with that, aren't you? Of course McNamee said he might sue if claims Clemens lies about this so it all fits nicely in that he did not actually call McNamee a liar, just misguided about what he was doing.

    "Brian has a master's degree in sports medicine," Ward told ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael. "He knows the difference between lidocaine, B-12 and testosterone. What he injected into Roger Clemens wasn't lidocaine or B-12. It was testosterone."

    Another lawyer for McNamee, Richard Emery, has threatened to sue Clemens for defamation.

    "I think that this is a lawyers' game, which allows him to try and attempt to say that McNamee didn't know what he was injecting or that at least Clemens didn't know what he was injecting," Emery said.

    Classic. Of course as the article mentions, this is not the first time. Rafael Palmeiro had said Miguel Tejada gave him a tainted vial of B-12 and he unknowingly shot up with steroids. Good stuff. Also, his angry tirade seemed a bit contrived to me in an effort to seem geniune. For me, it backfired.

  • Angel Pagan will not make you forget about Lastings Milledge, but he will give you a decent player should the shit hit the fan again. A nice little move by Omar to improve the outfield depth a bit.

  • No need for this. See above for explanation.

  • Awesome.

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