Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Balls were Juiced

Man I couldn't resist, this story won't get much play but it's certainly interesting (in that conspiracy theory kind of way). Apparently, there are a couple of Penn State Drs. (unclear if they are medical or PhDs) that claim they have scanned the balls from the 1998 season (including McGwire's 70th) and have evidence that synthetic material was used to enhance their performance.

I can't take credit for finding this on my own, the good people at deadspin helped me out.


  1. Bo-ring. I was hoping they were in fact medical doctors, and they scanned the balls of players from the 1998 season (including McGwire's) and determined that they in fact were juiced - containing too much synthetic material.

  2. Continuing the comments from the post below...

    I think we all agree that the RJ signing is a bit curious. I guess the only thing I can think is that they view him as a medium risk/high reward/short term guy. Most of the FA pitching that was available this winter were also high risk/less potential reward/longer term. So the D-backs are thinking take a chance and with Webb/Davis/RJ that is a pretty formidable 1-2-3 that will give you 600+ innings.

    The Doug Davis trade was a very strong move - perhaps the best under the radar move of the offseason. With the price of pitching so high, being able to get a pretty much league average pitcher who makes $2-3MM for a catcher you don't need anymore is not bad. And the Brewers had to go out and spend, what, $40MM on Suppan to replace him. Ouch.

    Goes to one other point - as thin as pitching is, the catching market is fairly thin right now. Thankfully the Sox got Kottaras for Wells.

    As for juiced ball, I think there was a lot of talk about them being juiced in the early 90s (when Brady Anderson) hit 50. And one of the reasons given back then (I swear to God) was that the workers in the plants were winding the balls tighter because they were overjoyed that Aristede was back in power.

  3. Reports are already out that it's done. RJ to AZ.

  4. I don't like this at all. The Yankees got a sweet deal here. First off they have room to go after Clemens or another pitcher at mid-season. Secondly, they get a bunch of prospects.

    Sadly, I believe we are seeing Randy sent out to pasture. I envision a mediocre season at best, capped with a tearful goodbye game and no 2008.

  5. That's what got me today...The Yankees have traded two aging players in Sheff and Randy Johnson, and have quickly stocked their upper tier farm system with talent. You've got to give it to Cashman.

    And not that legacy matters much, and RJ will get into the HOF, but...what a wuss move by a guy who is supposed to be an intimidator on the mound. It is obvious that he just couldn't really hack it, and took the first chance to get out...back to a team that will not win a championship...and, didn't he go to the Yankees to get another ring? I don't get it...But, as X said, RJ as a number 3 is damn good.

    But, hey...the Sox got Pineiro...

  6. But Arizona still won't win a championship this year...and, they are looking to add an extension on his contract...ridiculous...

    Oh, and why didn't the Sox resign Loretta? He got a ONE YEAR DEAL from Houston. Don't you think he might have taken a one year deal from the Sox? I know that they want Pedroia to have a chance to win the position, but there is no fall back right now if he sucks. Loretta was solid, and you could have moved Youk down to a pretty weak bottom of the order, like in the 7 slot...

  7. I think Cora is the fallback plan if Pedroia does not work. Which is not that bad if you ask me.

  8. I don't know...Paired with Crisp, Lowell, and Tek at the bottom of the lineup, that is a lot of breathing room for pitchers...

    UNLESS...Crisp and Tek have comeback years...but I am not feeling good about that.

    Cora is a good, solid player, but I would take Loretta for one-year in a heartbeat.

  9. It would be nice to pencil in a veteran, but I think going with pedroia is the right move. Young kids really won't develop and prove themselves unless they get the chance to play. Loretta was decent, but cdertainly not great. He actually has very littl power left - 38 XBH in almost 700 PAs. Frankly, that is terrible. And in 2005 (when he was hurt) only 20 in 450 ABs. Maybe he still is hurt or was in 2006.

    If Pedroia flops miserably, they can put Cora in and investigate trade options.

    Getting the vet is the easy answer - hell the only reason Cano got his chance was because the Yanks got a Vet (Womack) who sucked so bad that they had to bench him, plus Matsui broke his wrist which forced Womack to left...

    And if he came back to Boston, it would not have been for the $2.5MM he got from HOU. It would have been closer to $4-5MM, money I am glad they have used stockpiling arms that *might* improve the pen.

  10. Yeah, get all the arms they can. Agreed...Also, I know I've been making fun of Pineiro, but he might turn out to be a perfect closer. He was forced to become a starter when Sasaki came in...Who knows? He has good breaking stuff and, if healthy, some velocity...

    Loretta was great at turning two. Maybe Gonzalez helped...but with Lugo coming in at SS, it might have helped to have an experience 2B there (as Lugo isn't the best glove guy in the world). I don't think the 2MM difference would have buried the Sox.

    It has also been a while since a rookie has come up on the Sox (non-pitcher), so it is hard to judge. But, Cano was good from the outset. Even Cabrera. David Wright was good out of the box. Of course, those are stand outs...Off the top of your head can you remember a rookie who had a bad start like Pedroia did last year, but turned out to live up to the hype? Modern day only please....

  11. Its not the $2MM I was worried about (the Sox have plenty of money). Its the opportunity for the player to develop.

    Mo Vaughn was a good example of a guy who came up and struggled and then got it together.

    Lots of players struggle. Trot struggled in 98 and then won the starters job in 99. A-rod hit .200 and .240 in his first few seasons (admittedly he was like 12).

    Its totally normal for a player to need an adjustment period. Sometimes he is sent off to the minors. Or lessons are learned in Sept and they work on things in spring training.

    I think the guys that jump right in, contribute immediately and never look back, are more the exception than the rule.

  12. Don't forget Youk.

  13. Hello! I too came across the original article, and though it was food for thought, there was no positive proof of ANY kind. I'd like to believe! And it's nice to be back here, my home away from home!

  14. Youk is an average major leaguer with a great work ethic. If you take off the Red Sox glasses, there a lot of guys like him in the majors.

    I like Youk. But he is what he is...He hasn't lit the league on fire. He comes as advertised. Good eye at the plate, and a hard worker. But if they could trade him for a guy like Cano, I'd probably do it...

    What I am getting at here is that the last 4 spots in the Sox lineup this year are going to get exposed. There is little to no power. Tek is coming off a horrible year, Lowell is going to get any better than last year, and Crisp and Pedroia/Cora aren't going to provide much pop. It would have been nice to have another solid bat at the bottom of the lineup. If they signed Loretta and he hit second, Youk gives them a consistent guy who works counts down there.

  15. Red Sox glasses? Not me.

    I agree Youk is average. But that is a decent point. all the sox need is average production from the 9 spot/2B - Loretta was not that good last year. By any measure, he was pretty much average or below for AL 2B last year.

    the bottom 4 are not as strong as they have been in years past, but they are still better than most.

    Last year the team scored 820 runs, with pretty weak contributions from Loretta, Crisp, Gonzalez, Tek and WMP when he was in there. Nixon was hurt.

    Will they return to the heady days of leading the league ins scoring? Probably not. Do they have enough to seriously contend? Probably.

    I think everyone would agree pitching is the more important piece of the equation.

    For demonstrative purposes, assume the Sox score the same 820 runs - pretty safe given they have possibly improved at the top. In fact I think they will probably score a few more runs with a modest bounce back from Tek and Crisp plus the additions of Lugo and (hopefully a healthy Drew).

    Now lets assume the staff gives up one half run less per game, the total runs given up would decrease from 825 to 744. Again, not a huge leap. Sox ERA last year was 4.83 versus 4.19 in 2004. Plug those numbers in and they are good (on paper at least) for about 89 wins.

    I really think that Loretta would not have helped much. They still would have had no pop. And putting him second would likely decrease run production by taking Youk's much higher OBP out from in front of Manny and Ortiz.

    I think if we are sitting here in 8 months being disappointed with this team, it is going to be much more likely the disappointment stems from the pitching staff than the 6-9 spots in the lineup.

  16. X, I was writing the Youk stuff to anonymous poster. youk is a major league player, but if he hit the free agent market people wouldn't be going nuts over him...

    It's not the amount of's when they score them that is important. I know that is obvious. But they scored those runs last year ( alot in bunches). Their offense was miserable for a considerable amount of games (as was the pitching).

    Loretta hit in the .280s last year and if I recall had close to 200 hits. Did he hit for a ton of power? nope...but he is a step up from Cora/Pedroia anyway.

    Anyway, he is a moot point. The second base revolving door continues to spin... I am hoping that Pedroia pans out...just not so confident.

  17. Well with Lugo at the top and Youk number 2 the offense at the top should be much better. Lugo and Youk should get on base above .350. Which will be an improvement over last year. And Drew as the number 5 hitter an improvement as well.

    I'm not saying that Pedroia is the answer. Just that he needs to be average - even slightly blow would be fine. Loretta does not bring much to the table AND if DP is weak they can always trade later in the year. but you don't know until you try.

    Sure Loretta did hit .280, but he did not walk that much and he had fewer XBH/AB than anyone on the team or any 2B in AL - even Alex Gonzalez had nearly twice the XBH. He had the lowest OPS and SLG of any 2B in the AL. And his .280 average was good for 7th among 2B in the AL, as was his .340 OBP. Overall not impressive and I think Pedroia should be able to match those numbers this year - or even better them.

    I now you are not the biggest stat guy (from a Sabremetrics point of view), but the evidence would be to the contrary on the Sox scoring runs at the right time. Last year they gave up more runs than they scored - a hallmark of a team that will end up with a losing season. Yet they managed to win 10 more games than they lost. Which would lead some to believe they scored more of those runs at opportune times (or were just plain lucky). The reality is they probably were outscoring opponents earlier in the season (against BAL and the NL) and then were hammered later when the injuries hit.

    And I think the anonymous guy was referring to Youk in relation to the comment that the Sox had not produced a position player. And given today's FA market, who knows what Youk would fetch.