September 27, 2002

Looking back

We just went over the 5,000 visitors mark here at Aaron's Baseball Blog, so I thought it might be kind of fun to take a look back at some of the stuff, both good and bad, that I have written about since this website was created a little less than 2 months ago and see if any interesting updates can be made.

(By the way, all my old entries can be found by clicking on the archives that are found on the left side of this page).

The first ever entry I did was on August 1st.

It was titled: A.J. Burnett and Jeff Torberg (real catchy title huh?) and in it I discussed the great season Burnett was having at that point.

I also talked about the great risk for an injury that I felt he was, mostly because of the way Torborg and the Marlins were abusing his young arm.

Here are a couple of quotes from the August 1st entry:

"Burnett has been one of baseball's top pitchers throughout the season and he was awesome tonight, but the way his manager, Jeff Torborg, is using him has me worried about his future."

"Burnett has been great this year and he looks like he will be a stud for years to come. But the way he is being treated makes me think he is in line for some arm troubles.

I hope I am wrong."

But, sadly, I was right. (I don't think I have ever said that before).

About 2 and a half weeks after I wrote that entry, Burnett went on the disabled list with a "bone bruise" in his right elbow.

At the time the Marlins were saying that he would be done for the season.

However, he was activated on September 14th and had pitched in 3 games (2 in relief) prior to tonight.

And tonight he just finished up his final appearance of the season (5 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 8 Ks against the Phillies)

I was obviously very critical of the Marlins prior to the injury and even more so after it, and I think my criticism was more than justified.

In his last 6 starts before getting injured, Burnett threw 110 pitches, 132, 128, 93, 123 and 117.

I guess I am sort of proud that I was able to predict an injury, although with those pitch counts, it wasn't all that tough.

But, I like Burnett and I have him on my Diamond-Mind keeper league team, so maybe proud isn't the right word.

A few days after I initially wrote about Burnett, I wrote an entry on Darin Erstad's new deal with the Angels.

I looked at Erstad's strange, up and down career and gave my opinion as to whether or not it was a good signing for the Angels.

Here are some quotes:

"If the Angels continue to play Erstad full-time in centerfield and he can keep his batting average at about the same level it is now (or higher, of course) and either get his walk rate back up to where it was before this year or get his power back to where it was prior to last season...the Angels will get their money's worth.

Of course, those are big ifs."

"Certainly not a great signing for the Angels, but I think it will end up being a good one."

So basically I thought the deal would be a good one for the Angels if Erstad improved either his power of his plate discipline (or both) while keeping his batting average where it has been all season long.

And what has happened since I said that?

He has drawn a grand total of 5 walks in 214 at bats.

About the only person for which that is considered "improved plate discipline" is probably Randall Simon.

And his power since then?

He has 3 homers in 214 at bats.

Which is not an improvement in power for anyone not named Tyner or Goodwin.

So I said it would be a good deal if Erstad improved those two areas of his game and instead he has actually become worse in both areas, which is pretty tough to do.

However, he is still hitting .283 (albeit a very hollow .283), he is still playing gold glove defense in centerfield, he is still stealing bases at a great clip (23/26 this year) and he still has a good chance (in my opinion) to come back and improve his hitting enough to make the signing a good one for the Angels.

So, if you thought I was cautiously optimistic with my comments then...I guess I am just cautiously neutral on the subject now.

On August 5th I wrote an entry titled "Pedro," which I think is one of my better entries.

Here are a few quotes:

"Of course, back in April, I watched Pedro's first start of the season (3 IP, 7 ER against Toronto) and it really made me sad for some reason. I suspect, like a lot of people, that I really love to witness greatness. I don't mean Jason Giambi greatness or Curt Schilling greatness or even Randy Johnson greatness. I mean a special kind of greatness. Barry Bonds in 2001 (and 2002, when he isn't hurt). Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals. Mark McGwire in 1998. Bob Gibson in 1968. Ted Williams in 1941 (and about 10 other years too). Babe Ruth. Pedro Martinez in 1999 and especially 2000."

"I wasn't around to see Gibson or Teddy Ballgame, but I was a baseball fan in 1999 and 2000 and Pedro Martinez was as good as it gets. And there is something unbelievably special about that."

"With all of the things that are wrong with baseball (and other sports too I guess) it is important to remember why we love it so much. For me, a big part of that is the potential to witness something special, someone special. True greatness."

"As we have seen, time after time, you never know when that greatness is going to end. It might retire abruptly (Jordan), it might get injured (Pedro), it might just slowly go away (Ruth and Williams) and it might suddenly come back (Jordan and Pedro). When it does come back, like with Pedro, or when it is there right now, like with Barry Bonds, don't take it for granted. Make sure to catch a Pedro start or a few Giants game on MLB Extra Innings. Check the ESPN Sunday night schedule. Check your hometown team's schedule and make a trip to the ballpark to see it live. Heck, take a roadtrip to Fenway. Just witness it somehow, because greatness doesn't come around too often and it can be gone before you realize it.

Pedro, it's good to have you back."

Apparently that article hit home with a lot of Red Sox fans because I got quite a few emails about it from them, which was great.

The reason for the entry was Pedro's "comeback" from getting knocked around by the Blue Jays (and other teams) early in the season, to having (at the time of the entry) a 6-0, 0.55 ERA stretch going.

Since the entry, Pedro suffered a groin/hip injury, which shelved him for a little while.

And he was recently shut down for the season (instead of possibly making one more start) by the Red Sox, who were rightly just trying to play it safe.

But when he did pitch after August 5th, he was pretty damn good.

He posted a 1.69 ERA in 37 August innings and a 2.65 ERA in 17 September innings.

And for the year he was 20-4 with a 2.26 ERA and 239 strike outs in 199 innings.

I'm glad the Red Sox played it safe with Pedro and I am even more glad that he kept pitching well and that he is back to being "Pedro" once again.

The day after my Pedro post, I wrote an entry about Mike Mussina's struggles this season.

At the time of the entry, Mussina was struggling badly and had a 4.90 ERA.

I looked at some reasons for Mussina's struggles:

"Mussina is striking out less batters and thus allowing more balls to be put into play.

The Yankees' defense is sub par at converting balls in play into outs, thus allowing more hits than an average defense would.

Mussina is allowing significantly more home runs than he has in the past."

I explained in some depth why those three things are extremely important for a pitcher's success.

Mussina continued to struggle in his next few starts after the entry.

And then he started turning it around during his last start in August and has continued to pitch well in September.

His last 6 starts (August 28th - September 24th):

47 innings pitched

1.34 ERA

51 strike outs

1 home run allowed

25 hits allowed

At the time of the entry, Mussina K/9 rate was 6.9.

In his last 6 starts he struck out 9.8 per 9 innings.

At the time of the entry he was allowing a home run every 7 innings.

In his last 6 starts he allowed a total of 1 home run in 47 innings.

The third part of my little equation was the Yankees' defense, which at the time ranked 10th in the American League in Defensive Efficiency (which is basically converting balls in play into outs).

Since then they have moved up to 8th in the AL, which is certainly not great, but is a definite improvement.

Put all that together and you get a ERA that dropped from 4.90 to 4.14 in a little more than a month.

The day after the Mussina entry, I wrote one about Toronto shortstop Chris Woodward.

The entry was written on August 5th, at which point Woodward was hitting an extremely impressive .309/.369/.618.

Here are some quotes:

"So, the question is, do we have a new name to add to the list of phenomenal AL shortstops?"

"While I don't expect Woodward to continue to hit .309 with a slugging percentage over .600, his minor league numbers, together with what he has done, both this season and in prior stints in the majors, tells me that he could be a very productive major league hitter, which makes him a very good hitter for a shortstop."

"I would say that he could very easily settle into the .280/.340/.450 zone and stay there for several seasons, with a peak that could be pretty similar to what he has done so far this year. All of which would make him a very valuable player."

I think I feel pretty good about my comments on Woodward.

Since the entry he has cooled down quite a bit and is now hitting .276/.330/.468, which looks pretty similar to my prediction that he would end up settling into the .280/.340/.450 zone.

I think Woodward will be a very good shortstop for the Jays for years to come and, along with the rest of their very young and talented core group of hitters (Orlando Hudson, Josh Phelps, Eric Hinske, Vernon Wells, etc), the Jays have a nice offensive setup in place for the near future.

And finally...

On August 9th I wrote an entry titled, "Somewhere there is a village missing its idiot."

The entry was, of course, about's Phil Rogers, who had recently written an article proclaiming his choice of John Smoltz for NL MVP.

Here is the opening of that entry:

"There are some stupid people in this world. There are some really stupid people in this world. There are some people that I would go so far as to call complete morons. When those people say something idiotic, you can live with it because, well, they are morons, they have an excuse.

Then there is Phil Rogers."

A lot of things may change in the time it takes a tiny little baseball website to get 5,000 visitors.

Chris Woodward might come back down to earth.

Mike Mussina might fix his season long problems.

A.J. Burnett might get injured, be "done for the season" and then come back to pitch in 4 more games.

But rest assured folks, no matter what happens, Phil Rogers will still be a village idiot.

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