The updates have been few this week, but only because we were heavily involved in fantasy drafts and season previews. TCO's preview will be available shortly. Stay tuned...
Torn between Pujols and ARod for the first pick in your fantasy draft? ARod's advantage is obviously in the stolen base category, but Pujols can do more in the other categories, so go with Albert over Alex and don't look back.
Available late next week: TCO's 2005 Season Preview, complete with divisional breakdowns and The Commish's fearless predictions! Stay tuned...
While preparing for your fantasy drafts in the upcoming weeks, let me recommend my favorite site for fantasy advice, www.insiderbaseball.com. It is a pay site, but the small fee is worth all the information available every day. While preparing for Major League Baseball to start, let me recommend THE BEST baseball site on the net, www.baseball-reference.com. To the best of my knowledge, one man, Sean Forman, maintains the entire site and keeps it FREE for everyone. To make sure this site stays alive and free, visit it, find your favorite player, and sponsor a page! Check out TCO's sponsored page here. Har-old! Har-old!
The current steroid controversy provided me with my first e-mail from a Canadian. I never thought I'd hear from an Expos fan, but Montreal native Nicholas Roach had this to say:
"I would just like to say how happy and elated I was to see Bud Selig squirm during testimony at the Congressional Hearings into baseball's steroid use. Ever since he and MLB stole our Expos, I am hoping this nerd scumbag weasel gets his comeuppance."
Number 1 sign that the Cincinnati Reds are in for a long year? Paul Wilson has been named the Opening Day starter.
While filling out your NCAA brackets in the office pool, don't forget to keep up on all the spring training baseball news. MLB.com has frequent updates, and for you fantasy players, you should know that once again Kerry Wood is suffering from arm soreness apparently related to bursitis and may not be available for Opening Day.
Normally, I wouldn't read too much into this, but for a 27 year old "phenom" who only has 67 career wins due to his inability to toe the hill every fifth day on a consistent basis, fantasy players should monitor his condition closely.
TCO has chosen not to comment on the upcoming Congressional hearings about steroids because it starts to going beyond the scope of TCO's knowledge about the game itself. In other words, if we aren't experts and fully educated in a subject (in this case, the hearings) of a serious nature, we don't feel comfortable spouting an opinion after just reading a few articles and sound bites about it. Therefore, we turn it over to our well-informed readers, busy watching C-SPAN and reading the paper while we are watching the 1981 All-Star Game on ESPN Classic:
In case you haven't heard, the United States Congress is issuing subpoenas to Major League Players compelling them to testify under oath in front of the nation about steroids. It's been in all the papers for days. I know you've been focused on the Bears' free agent needs and the world of college hoops, but *%#! it, Sir, you're The Commish, Mr. Baseball, and we need your voice now more then ever!
But now for my voice: First, I am sick of people whining that government should have better things to do then address the ills of baseball, what with the War on Terror, a comatose economy, the meltdown of Social Security and Ashlee Simpson's vocal attacks. This is The House Government Reform Committee calling these hearings- this is what these guys do! The War and Economy politicians are down the hall messing those things up as we speak; these Reform guys aren't important enough to deal with that stuff (ever heard of Representative Tom Davis before?). The politicians hunting Bin Laden and promoting Ashlee's career won't let these guys even hold their jock, so let's not pretend these hearing are bringing the US Government to a standstill.
Secondly, Major League Baseball has hardly been very forthcoming about the depth and scope of steroid use over the last decade. Previously, this may have been attributed to ignorance by ownership and management; however, recent revelations suggest MLB had and an ongoing knowledge of steroids being used, which amounts to, at the very least, complicity, and I would argue nothing short of outright deception.
Not to cue the "X-Files" music, but I don't think it is a leap to assert that MLB is engaged in an active cover-up or to suggest that the instatement of a testing policy was a calculated smokescreen of desperation intended to halt further inquisition. MLB announced today that it would fight the subpoenas issued by Congress. Why? Because it will take players out of Spring Training for a day?! Come on!
The Truth must come out to protect the integrity of the National Pastime. The suits at MLB have absolutely proven themselves incapable of doing this, so let The House Government Reform Committee have a crack at it; it's not like they're doing anything else.
-Ben in Ravenswood
While I know my voice is needed, my political ignorance prevents me from stating my opinion. I will use this opportunity to learn, while at the same time continue to find a new statistic which will gauge a player's value without involving the intricacies of a Bill James statistic such as Win Shares.
Reader Robert Ruoti may have helped along the SI curse of his beloved Illini, as they fell to Ohio State just days after his letter to TCO. Several of the points Ruoti made went against him this past weekend. For instance:
"We (Illinois) know how to close." - Illini blew a lead and let Ohio State come back to win
(Questioning UNC) "Why can't they beat... ...Duke with one hand behind their back?" - They did, although they did use both hands, outscoring Duke 11-0 down the stretch.
(Regarding Duke) "...most underrated team out there..." - That "underrated" team blew a 9 point lead, but is still ranked 6th in the country despite have 5 conference losses. NC and Wake have 5 conference losses COMBINED. No team ranked 6th with those losses can be considered underrated. How much higher ranked can they be?
TCO will still focus on baseball, but The Commish will have a thing or two to say this March during the frenzy of college basketball madness.
With the contract extension signed by Tim Hudson keeping him in a Braves uniform until at least 2009, Braves GM John Schuerholz has given his team a chance to dominate its division for almost 20 straight years! Sure, Atlanta has plenty of holes in its lineup and doesn't look to be this year's World Series champ, but starting with solid pitching has been a consistent formula for reaching the playoffs, and Hudson's tenure in Atlanta should continue that tradition. As the A's or Braves will tell you, however, when the playoffs arrive, it helps to have a slugger or three to get to the next level.
Normally I don't answer e-mail about football, but since baseball players are still busy stretching in the sun rather than hitting, pitching, etc., I'll give it a go:
Just wondering what your take is on the Bears picking up Muhsin Muhammad?
I personally think it wasn't a good move - he's getting "old", has been unreliable over the last 3 seasons and his only recent big breakout came in a contract year. What's your take?
A concerned Bears fan
First of all, I think all Bears fans after the mid 80's are "concerned" Bears fans. Secondly, with the lack of guaranteed contracts in the NFL, the signing of Muhammad seems like a "no lose" situation to me. Yes, he's old. Yes, his stats BESIDES last year are hardly stellar over his nine year career.
However, he led the league in receiving yards last year, he appears to have his personal problems behind him, and if he turns out to be a headache for the team and not worth the money, the Bears can just cut him. Muhammad is certainly no worse than hanging on to David Terrell for another year, and his upside is infinitely better. At 32, Muhammad will want to prove that last year was no fluke. While I would not expect 16 TD's again (the entire Bears team only had 9 TD's last year), 7 - 10 TD's and 1,000 yards is a reasonable expectation, and there's nowhere else the Bears could have received that production.
Basically, it's a major upgrade at receiver, worth the cost in my opinion, but only one of many steps Chicago must take to become a playoff contender.