July 17, 2003

Reader Mail (Operation: Clean Out Mailbox)

I hope that someone gets my

Message in a bottle

Walked out this morning

Don't believe what I saw

A hundred billion bottles

Washed up on the shore

--- The Police, "Message In A Bottle"

I have come to the realization that I have a very bad habit involving emails.

You see, when I have just a few emails in my "mailbox," I generally read them and then respond to them immediately. On the other hand, when I have many emails in my mailbox, I generally read them, save them in my "AOL personal filing cabinet" and then completely forget about them. I didn't used to think I had this problem, but members of my own family have recently found that I am less than timely responding to their emails.

I bring this up because, as this blog has grown in popularity, the amount of emails I get everyday have grown as well. 8 or 9 months ago, when this website was in its infancy, I would get extremely excited if I got 5 emails in a single day and I would make sure to read each one carefully and respond with the best possible email I could compose. At this point though, I get upwards of 100 emails per day and sometimes a lot more, depending on the topic I wrote about. While I am still thrilled to be receiving emails from people who enjoy my writing, I am less able to give each one the attention it deserves and I simply have less time to devote to answering each one.

Which brings me back to my newly-discovered problem. Some days, I wake up, check my mailbox and respond to all 50 emails I have in there. Other days, I wake up, check my mailbox and neglect to answer even a single one. On those days, I save all the unanswered ones in my AOL personal filing cabinet, so that I can make sure to answer them when I am in a more answering mood. The trouble with that now, and the reason I am just realizing I have a problem, is that the amount of emails in my personal filing cabinet that I plan on answering grows on a daily basis and, quite frankly, it's getting out of control.

So, while I contemplate ways in which I can solve my email answering problems (like perhaps making a personal resolution to simply answer every single one, no matter what mood I am in), I want to take this opportuntity to do a "reader mail" entry and clean out my mailbox, at least a little bit.

Before I start, I want to thank everyone who has sent me an email and I want to tell those of you who have not yet received a proper response that, without a doubt, I have read what you sent me. For whatever reason though, I have not responded to it yet and, sadly, may never. I hope that doesn't stop you from sending me future emails, because I can guarantee I will read those too and, hopefully, I will be better about answering them.

I love my readers and you guys send me great emails on a daily basis, so I feel really awful that I am being bad about answering them lately. It's partly due to the sheer volume of emails I now receive, but the main issue still lies with me and my email answering problems, which I am working to correct.

So, without further ado, here is a sampling of some emails I have sitting in my personal filing cabinet, and my responses to them...

Our first email comes to us from the one and only "Twins Geek" - aka John Bonnes. John, who runs one of my favorite websites - TwinsGeek.com - writes:

"Is your opinion changing on Rivas? He has looked awfully good over the last couple months at the plate, and I think he D is improving too."

Ah, an Aaron's Baseball Blog entry wouldn't be complete with at least one mention of Luis Rivas.

To answer's John's question: No, my opinion on Luis Rivas is not changing at all. He has certainly been improved at the plate recently, but I don't really think his defense is getting any better and the Twins seem to agree with me, at least according to the local newspapers.

Rivas has had a good 150 at bat stretch, which is definitely nice to see, but is not something I would trust over his previous 1,000+ major league at bats or 2,000+ minor league at bats. Plus, even with his improved play recently, his season totals are still .270/.327/.361, which goes right along with what he did last season (.256/.305/.392), in 2001 (.266/.319/.362) and during his entire minor league career (.260/.315/.369).

I actually devoted an entire entry to Rivas' improved play back on July 1st (which you can read by clicking here). Basically, I looked back through his career and found that, during various months, he played similarly to how he has played during the last 100-150 at bats, yet those months of improved play in the past did not lead to any overall improvements in his game.

Here's a little bit of what I wrote:

"Rivas has had several months during his career when he has been a decent hitter. The fact is, every major league hitter who gets everday playing time for several years in a row is going to have good months, that's just the reality of small sample sizes, luck and random distribution.

Are Luis Rivas' back-to-back "good" months this season any different than any of those other months? Well, not really. In fact, if I were to put May and June of this year in with the 6 other months from earlier in his career and mix them up, you wouldn't be able to tell which was which.

Luis Rivas is having a very nice (for him, at least) period of time right now, but he and every other major league baseball player go through this same thing every season. You have good months and bad months, and they combine to make you the player that you are.

The player that Luis Rivas is so far in 2003, even with his two months that have Twins fans all excited, is almost identical to the player he has been throughout his major league career (and minor league career)."

If you're interested, I suggest you check out the actual entry. It's got all the actual stats and a detailed discussion of them. Just click on the following...

Louie, Louie (July 1, 2003)

Our next email comes to us from Will Young, another Twins fan who can often be found discussing the Twins with me on the DTFC Twins Forum. Will writes:

"I really enjoy your occassional updates about your Diamond Mind teams and I am wondering if another one will be written in the near future."

I am always hesitant to discuss my Diamond-Mind teams on this blog, mostly because I think a lot of people find it extremely boring. However, I do get quite a few emails from people like Will asking about my two teams. Plus, the last time I gave an update on the two teams was way back on May 26th, so I might as well do another one.

My first team is the Minnesota Gophers of the Three Run Homer League. The Gophers are currently 52-26 (.667) and are leading the American League Central division by 20 games. The rest of my division is struggling to play .400 ball, so the 20 game lead isn't as impressive as sounds. Still, the Gophers have been very good this year. The offense, led by Jim Thome, Andruw Jones and a whole bunch of platoons, is leading the AL in runs scored with 511 (6.55/game) and the pitching staff, led by Randy Johnson and a whole bunch of no-name relievers, has allowed the 2nd-fewest runs in the AL with 294 (3.76/game).

Because of my huge divisional lead, I have been looking ahead to the playoffs and also to next season, and I have recently completed several trades with an eye towards next year (it is a keeper league, with escalating player salaries and team salary caps).

I traded...

A.J. Burnett ($17) for Vincente Padilla ($7)

Ellis Burks ($23) and Aaron Taylor ($1) for Tim Salmon ($26)

Johnny Damon ($27) for Alex "The Florida Version" Gonzalez ($3) and Jeremy Affeldt ($8)

The Burnett/Padilla and Burks/Salmon swaps are slight downgrades for "this" season (since we are currently replaying the 2002 season), but I think I will be better off next year and in the future. The Damon deal is a significant downgrade this year, since he was my leadoff man and one of my best hitters, but I also have Andruw Jones to man centerfield for the forseeable future and Alex Gonzalez is having a big year this season in real life and will be my starting shortstop for Diamond-Mind next year. Plus, I really like Affeldt's potential.

My other team is the Minnesota Fatboys of the Long Ball Baseball League. The Fatboys are currently 66-29 (.695) and 8.5 games ahead in the American League Kaline Division. The team is 2nd in the entire LBBL in offense with 623 runs (6.56/game) and has also given up the 2nd-fewest runs in the LBBL, with 363 runs allowed (3.83/game).

Unlike with the Gophers, I have not made any significant changes to the roster since the season started and I don't really think I will be doing so anytime soon.

So that's the update. Both teams are playing well, in first-place and appear to be post-season bound. Who says being the General Manager of a baseball team is hard?

Our next email is from "Jeremy" and is in regard to my entry from earlier this month, in which I declared Mike Cameron "The Most Underrated Player in Baseball":

"I enjoyed the article a lot and after reading it would agree with you that Mike Cameron is the most underrated player in the game, but I wanted to know what you thought about the most underrated hitter in the game?

I would think it would have to be Brian Giles. He can't be the most underrated player in baseball because of the defensive difference, but Giles has a .306/.444/.520 this year and a .985 OPS for his career. He also has the same BB/K ratio as Barry Bonds this year. He averages 35 doubles a year with 33 HR and 106 RBI. He doesn't get any respect as Mike Williams was picked to represent his team and Kenny Lofton replaced Corey Patterson on the 32nd man list. He's never talked about as one of the game's great hitters and only made the All-Star team last year because he was elected as the 32nd man, which is voted on the internet, where people actually look at stats.

I just wondered whether you would agree with that or you had someone else in mind or whether you think it's Mike Cameron because of the Safeco difference? I really enjoy reading your page and I'm interested in your opinion on this."

I would absolutely agree with you Jeremy. I think that, while Mike Cameron is the most underrated player in the game, Brian Giles is the most underrated hitter in baseball. In fact, while I was thinking about writing the Mike Cameron/Most Underrated Player entry, I debated whether or not I truly believed Cameron was a more underrated player than Giles. In the end, I decided that Cameron's sensational defense put him over the top, but Giles is the only other guy I truly considered a threat to Cameron's title as The Most Underrated Player in Baseball.

I searched through my archives for stuff I have said about Brian Giles and I found quite a few mentions of him, most of them expressing pretty much the same thoughts:

From October 31, 2002:

"Brian Giles is the best player that the casual fan has never heard of.

I think Brian Giles is a great player, but even I didn't realize how great he has been over the last 4 years. He is gonna hit .300, get on base over 40% of the time and slug about .600. Put him on a decent team (or build a decent team around him) and he would be a perrenial MVP contender."

From January 14, 2003:

"Giles has been one of the best and most consistent hitters in all of baseball for the past 4 seasons, not to mention one of the most underrated."

From March 29, 2003:

"Brian Giles, one of truly underappreciated superstars in the history of baseball, had another fantastic season."

Those are just a few examples, but I found several others too. Almost everytime I talk about the Pirates (which is pretty rare, admittedly), I make it a point to talk about how great Giles is and how underappreciated he is. I think it's a close call between he and Cameron for Most Underrated Player, but I gave Cameron the edge based on defense and, to a much lesser extent, base stealing.

Our next email is from my good buddy Vinay, who, besides being a frequent contributor to various "reader mail" entries on this blog, is also in both of my Diamond-Mind leagues. Vinay wanted to comment on my entry from last week when I expressed disappointment that Rob Neyer didn't mention me and/or this blog when talking about Johan Santana in his ESPN.com column about the Twins. Here's what Vinay had to say:

"You plug Neyer *all* the time, it'd be nice if he returned the favor. I know you're the small fish and he's the big fish, but as long as he mentioned Primer and Prospectus, he really ought to have mentioned your blog. *Especially* in that context; it wasn't a "Check out Primer and Prospectus, they're good sites" type of plug -- he specifically said that readers of those sites know about Johan's plight. Well, no site chronicled the Johan situation more than yours."

I don't want to get too worked up about it because it's not such a huge deal and also because I really do like Rob Neyer a ton. That said, I agree with Vinay and it would have been a nice thing. Maybe some other time.

Our last email comes to us from "Tim" in regard to my "Questions and Answers" entry from last week, in which I answered a ton of different questions, including some of the personal variety. One specific question asked me about my favorite TV shows and I listed several, including "NYPD Blue, Seinfeld reruns and The Simpsons." To which, Tim adds:

"You really need to make sure to pay attention to "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on HBO, as well as "Mr. Show, with Bob & Dave", if they ever bring it back. Another excellent show is a Brit-Com, that Comedy Central will be resurrecting in August called "Black Books". Oh, yeah, of course there is the consistent & ever popular Sopranos."

Thanks for the email Tim, because you brought up 2 of my favorite shows that I just completely forgot about when naming my favorites last week. My #1 favorite show on television is, without a doubt, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I don't know how the heck that fact escaped me last week, but I suspect it has something to do with new episodes not having been on the air for a little while. The same goes for the Sopranos too, which is another show I love. And yes, Mr. Show with Bob and David is awesome too, although I really should say was awesome, since it's long been canceled. Oh, and while I'm talking about HBO shows that I forgot to mention, I have to add in The Wire, which I have really grown fond of this season.

But, bar none, Curb Your Enthusiam is my favorite show on television right now. I laugh from start to finish every single episode and then I find myself "singing" the theme song for the rest of the night.


Well, that's it for today's edition of "reader mail." I'm still staring at a jam-packed mailbox, so it appears as though I didn't even make a dent! Oh well, it was fun anyway.


Seeing as though I devoted yesterday's entire entry to the big Twins/Blue Jays trade and I was quite vocal with my opinion, I figure I should probably comment on Bobby Kielty's debut for the Blue Jays and Shannon Stewart's debut for the Twins, both of which came last night.

Kielty played left field, batted 6th in the lineup and got a hit in each of his first 3 at bats as a Blue Jay, including a home run in his 3rd at bat. Overall, he went 3-4 with 2 singles, a homer and 3 runs scored.

Meanwhile, Stewart was the DH and batted leadoff for the Twins. He made 2 outs in the first inning (yes, you read that right, they batted around) and ended the night 0-5.

Obviously I was/am quite unhappy with this trade and last night certainly didn't change my opinion any and, frankly, it was depressing to watch (thanks to DirecTV) Kielty start 3-3 with a homer for the Blue Jays and then tune to the Twins game to see Stewart make two of the three outs in the first inning. But it's just one game obviously and, really, Stewart's play in the second-half of this season has nothing to do with whether or not I think it is a good trade. Anyway, I said plenty on this subject yesterday, so if you didn't read my entry on the Kielty/Stewart deal or want to read it again...

So long Bobby... (July 17, 2003)

Just for fun, I am going to track the performances of Kielty and Stewart for the rest of this season. The information can be found on the left side of this page, right under the "The Johan Santana Freedom Watch" and "The Luis Oh-For-ThRivas Imprisonment Watch." I'm currently calling it "Minnesota's Big Deal?" because I don't have any brilliant ideas for a catchy title, although I am willing to listen to suggestions.

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by this week and, if you missed any of the other entries from earlier this week, here they are:

Monday: My self-imposed ban

Tuesday: The First-Half (Part One: The American League)

Wednesday: The First-Half (Part Two: The National League)

Thursday: So Long Bobby...

And, if you're thirsty for more baseball writing than even I can provide, allow me to suggest a couple of new blogs that I think you'll enjoy:

The Outside World Baseball Blog

Boy and Dog: In the Dogout

Jeremy Heit's Blog

Baseball Ranting and Rambling

Today's picks:

Arizona (Batista) -125 over San Diego (Lawrence)

Minnesota (Santana) +140 over Oakland (Zito)

Total to date: + $825

W/L record: 172-172 (2-3 yesterday for -190, with one game a "no-action" because the scheduled starter didn't pitch.)

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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