Bad baseball players

Apparently, this guy was the worst baseball player of the 2000s

Wins Above Replacement, WAR, is a stat showing basically how much better a certain player is than an average, replacement-level player. Click here for a better explanation. Basically, a 0.0 WAR player is no better or no worse than the everyday player. He won’t make an All-Star team, but he’s hitting above the Mendoza Line. Note that I’m not that stat-oriented, but I’ll give it a shot.

Examples of today’s players who were about average last season (via Fangraphs… and I’m trying to use basic stats to give a more fungible idea):

Jorge Cantu, 0.0 WAR – .256 avg/11 HR/.304 OBP

Ryan Theriot, 0.0 WAR – .270/2/.321

Carlos Quentin, 0.0 WAR – .243/26/.342

Three of the best:

Josh Hamilton, 8.0 WAR – .359/32/.411

Joey Votto, 7.4 WAR – .324/37/.424

Albert Pujols, 7.3 WAR – .312/42/.414

So this made me wonder… if we can use WAR to measure the players who have been the best, why can’t we use it to figure out who has been the worst?

According to WAR, last year’s worst player with enough ABs to qualify? The Melk Man.

Melky Cabrera, -1.2 WAR – .255 avg/4 HR/42 RBI/.317 OBP

The scary part? Cabrera might open the year as a starting center fielder… granted, for the Royals, but… here… I’ll let Joe Posnanski explain.

Then (Brewers manager Ned Yost) started talking about (prospect Lorrenzo) Cain, talked about his athleticism, how he and Escobar can help the Royals offense “just with their legs alone.” Then it all took a terrible turn.

“He’s a center fielder,” Yost told Bob about Cain. “But we’ll see where it fits in. I’m not projecting anything right now. We’ve signed Melky Cabrera (to play center field), and Lorenzo Cain only has (147) big-league at-bats.”

Uh oh. Bob asked Ned Yost about Cain … and the words “Melky” and “Cabrera” were in the answer? Melky Cabrera of the 83 OPS+ and .317 on-base percentage last year? Melky Cabrera of the minus-21 on the Dewan Plus/Minus for outfield defense last year (minus-9 in center fielder where he only played 385 innings)? Melky Cabrera of the minus-1.2 WAR last year — which made him by Fangraphs ratings the worst everyday player in baseball? That Melky Cabrera?

So I decided to dig a little deeper. Below the cut are the worst players from 2000-2010.

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Why I’m not rooting for the Giants

OK, I’m starting to get a little tired of the premise that because I live in the Bay Area, because I largely grew up in the Bay Area, that I am a fan of a Bay Area team, I should root for the Giants to win the World Series.

Sure, San Francisco fans. A valid point. Also, should the Oakland Raiders be motivated by their recent thumping of

I know which team he's not rooting for. Good enough for me.

the Denver Broncos and go on some miracle run to the Super Bowl, I’ll be asking you 49er fans why your face isn’t painted silver and black every Sunday. It’s all Bay Area, right?

Wrong.

Giants fans may not see the A’s as your rival, but A’s fans do, in a weird “Oakland is the stepchild of San Francisco” way. Rooting for the Giants, especially now, is like selling out and jumping on a bandwagon. I don’t jump on bandwagons. As BANG columnist Tony Hicks mentions in his column, yeah, A’s fans are a bit jealous. We don’t do panda hats. We don’t care for giant Coke-bottle slides or bad facial hair. And really, we’re just as sick of the torture as you are.

We’ve been watching and perhaps even taking a silent interest in your playoff run. But your bandwagon is far too crowded. Maybe we don’t want your team to fall apart. But if two or three wheels came off the wagon while barreling down championship hill, dumping a few thousand people who wouldn’t know Orlando Cepeda from Orlando, Fla., onto their freshly painted orange heads, you’d see no tears over here.

Jealous? Hell yes, we’re jealous. And hell no, we won’t wear orange and black, even if it is Halloween.

But here’s the real torture for us. You have a future. We don’t. Not as the “Oakland” A’s.

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Hometown

Brentwood - home of the cornfest

So, I’ve finally found employment and I couldn’t ask for a better situation. I had two very solid offers — one which would have me covering high school/community sports in Marin County and the other would have me doing roughly the same area in Brentwood, where I grew up.

I took the latter, and as time goes along, I’m happy I did. I love writing for Patch, and I really hope they are the future of journalism, because the industry could really use some hope right now. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work where I was an intern while studying at Los Medanos College. Unlike Marin (where I would’ve had to either pay a lot in gas or pay a toll to get to work), I know the Brentwood/Antioch/Oakley area pretty well. Everything just feels right here.

I found a sweet studio in Antioch only a few blocks from where I once lived in middle school. I’ve got the support of family living in the area, too. I’m familiar with the high schools (Liberty, Freedom, Antioch, Deer Valley and Heritage) and I’m pretty sure a few of the coaches I’ve talked to are still there. At least, I hope so.

I’ve lived all over California and in parts of Missouri and Montana, but I’d like to say I kinda grew up in East Contra Costa County. There’s something to be said about moving back to where your “roots” are. I feel very comfortable in this area, where I don’t really need to use my GPS or look up directions to go somewhere. I’m pretty close to some of my best friends I’ve missed while living in San Diego, Stockton and on the central coast. Now, instead of having to make a weekend trip to the Bay Area, I can just head over to a friend’s place for a bit. It’s liberating. I’ve walked, taken the bus and driven all over this area. It’s like going home, but now I’m on my own. Considering I was looking at places in Richmond and Vallejo, I’m pretty happy to call a nice area of Antioch my home.

I’m really looking forward to this next step in my life, and hope it’s a successful one all around.

My baseball list

Motivated by a friend’s Facebook post, where she wrote about all of the baseball stadiums she’s been to — an impressive list, 18 out of 30 — I figured I’d do the same. Mine isn’t quite as lengthy, but here goes.

The Oakland Coliseum

Network Associates Coliseum/McAfee Coliseum/Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum:

“(Oakland) is this kind of town: You have to pay 50 cents to go from Oakland to San Francisco. Coming to Oakland from San Francisco is free.” – Jim Murray

I’ve been here a time or two. I remember my first game, where Matt Stairs hit the game-winning home run and became my favorite player. I’ve seen Marco Scutaro hit a game-winning home run off the infallible Mariano Rivera. I’ve seen Erubiel Durazo do the same against the fallible Jason Grimsley. I’ve seen a man start a fight with another man after he said something about his mother, all this happening three rows above me in the now-tarped third deck after medics tended to a concussed Johnny Damon. I’ve stayed there overnight for the filming of a Brad Pitt movie. I’m slightly familiar with the place.

There’s a distinctive vibe about Oakland and the Coliseum that I love. Yes, Oakland is not San Francisco. Yes, the Coliseum is not AT&T Park. But there’s a certain charm to both. Both Oakland and the Coliseum have their warts (East Oakland, Mt. Davis, etc.), but they embrace them. There’s a certain confidence to both, like even though there are flaws, they are perfect to the people who want to see it that way. Instead of an inferiority complex to The City, there’s a feeling of “Yeah, we’re not San Francisco, and we don’t want to be!”

My feelings about Oakland, as an outsider who spent most of his time in East Contra Costa County, can be pretty much summarized in the Oaklandish logo. There’s a sense of renewed ownership among the people who live in Oakland. They want to call this city home, make it their own and restore a sense of place to an area of which Gertrude Stein famously remarked, “there is no there there.”

Instead of a picturesque view of the Bay, the Coliseum offers 20 yards of foul room and a view of the Al Davis-backed monstrosity of cheap bleachers and expensive luxury boxes. It doesn’t try to upsell you on anything. It’s brutally honest, no frills, a here’s-what-you-get kind of place. I admire that.

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Cardinal sin

There are some things most credible journalists just know:

...and Bert Blyleven, and Jim Kaat...

1. It’s called deadline for a reason.

2. More than, not over.

3. The press pass around your neck means you’re here working, not to be a fan.

Apparently, some credentialed media members at Sunday’s Bengals/Broncos preseason game forgot that last one.

A photographer and a Cincinnati reporter allegedly asked for the autograph of Denver’s third-string quarterback — Tim Tebow. After Tebow obliged to the request, a member of Denver’s PR staff booted the reporter and photographer. You know it’s bad when even a PR guy is taking the high road.

Now, I know Tim Tebow is a great guy who is especially beloved by the media. I’m really happy that he’s making a name for himself for good things, and not for arrests, drugs and paternity suits. Writers and photogs can be fans of the guy. Buy his jersey. Lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl with him on Madden. But when you’re on the clock, that stops. There has to be a separation of your personal life and your professional life, and to openly ask for an autograph while you’re working is pathetic. It automatically cuts your credibility down to zilch and is on par with celebrating in the press box.

Writes MJD of Yahoo!’s Shutdown Corner:

If the sports media wants to prove themselves above the fray that Le Batard describes (ed note: Le Batard is equal parts jock sniffer and columnist), the final step in this process (and kudos to Marvez for reporting it in the first place) is to name the two media members who asked for the autographs in the first place. Not to undermine or humiliate the people involved (you’d hope they each feel bad enough at this point), but to make it very clear that the standards apply to everyone. In every circumstance. And that anyone disgracing the profession under any circumstances will have to answer for it in the same public forum they use to get their words across. We know good and well that if someone from the blog universe had asked Tebow for an autograph in the locker room, his or her name would be all over the Internet right now, and his or her mistake would be used as the newest in seemingly infinite referendums on professionalism in sports media.

Which leads me to my next point… if you’re a grown man, don’t you feel a little sad and awkward asking for an autograph?

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Extra

Jonah Hill as assistant GM "Peter Brand" and Brad Pitt as GM Billy Beane.

After last night, I can now say that I’ve been in a film with Brad Pitt. So I guess I can cross that one off the bucket list.

I was an unpaid extra in Moneyball, the movie based on the book written by Michael Lewis. Lewis was a fly on the wall during the 2002 Oakland A’s season, showing the inner workings of the organization and the quirks of general manager Billy Beane.

Brad Pitt has been cast as Beane, Jonah Hill as assistant GM Paul Depodesta (though now they’ve changed the name of the character, since DePodesta didn’t like the way they portrayed him) and Phillip Seymour Hoffman as field manager Art Howe.

It was really interesting to see how a movie gets made. My friend, who was at the Coliseum when they filmed Angels in the Outfield, said that they used cardboard cutouts of people, in addition to extras in the crowd. For Moneyball, they took 300-400 people and just moved us around to be in the background. They’ll use CGI stuff to make it look like there’s a full crowd.

I loved seeing how some people had really gotten into character. I wore a throwback batting practice cap and my Barry Zito shirt for the first night, last Monday. I saw others in old jerseys… Mulder, Hudson, Frank Menechino. But others wore Holliday and Bailey stuff, so I don’t think the organizers really cared about that.

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My All-Star picks

Angel Stadium, home of the 2010 All-Star Game

This is a fun little exercise, especially since each team has to have at least one representative. The All-Star rosters will be announced tomorrow. They had things called “campaign managers” for players… such as Eric Chavez (.234 BA, 31/8 K/BB in 33 games as DH?) and Brandon Wood (.179 BA, .199 OBP).

Starters:

American League National League
C Joe Mauer, MIN Giovany Soto, CHC
1B Justin Morneau, MIN Albert Pujols, STL
2B Robinson Cano, NYY Martin Prado, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, BOS Scott Rolen, CIN
SS Derek Jeter, NYY Troy Tulowitzki, COL
LF Josh Hamilton, TEX Matt Holliday, STL
CF Alex Rios, CWS Andrew McCutchen, PIT
RF David DeJesus, KC Andre Ethier, LA
DH Vladimir Guerrero, TEX Joey Votto, CIN
SP David Price, TB Ubaldo Jimenez, COL

Yes, I know this will likely never happen. Evan Longoria or A-Rod will probably win the vote to start at 3rd base for the American League. I went pretty much just on stats.Yes, I’m serious about David DeJesus.

Pitchers:

American League National League
Cliff Lee, SEA Josh Johnson, FLA
Clay Buchholz, BOS Roy Halladay, PHI
Trevor Cahill, OAK Adam Wainwright, STL
Jered Weaver, ANA Mike Pelfrey, NYM
Felix Hernandez, SEA Yovani Gallardo, MIL
CC Sabathia, NYY Tim Lincecum, SF
Jon Lester, BOS Dan Haren, ARI
Jose Valverde, DET Mat Latos, SD
Ricky Romero, TOR Tim Hudson, ATL
Andy Pettitte, NYY Matt Capps, WAS
Joaquim Soria, KC Heath Bell, SD
Mariano Rivera, NYY Francisco Rodriguez, NYM
Jonathan Papelbon, BOS Brian Wilson, SF
Rafael Soriano, TB Jonathan Broxton, LA
Billy Wagner, ATL

Stephen Strasburg is a very, very, very good pitcher. Would he be a bigger ratings draw? Yes. Is he an All-Star this year? No. Next year, we’ll see.

Bench:

American League National League
Victor Martinez, BOS Ryan Doumit, PIT
Ichiro Suzuki, SEA Placido Polanco, PHI
Miguel Cabrera, DET David Wright, NYM
Nick Markakis, BAL Hunter Pence, HOU
Shin-Soo Choo, CLE Josh Willingham, WAS
Torii Hunter, ANA Corey Hart, MIL
Alex Rodriguez, NYY Adrian Gonzalez, SD
Marco Scutaro, BOS Marlon Byrd, CHC
Elvis Andrus, TEX Hanley Ramirez, FLA
Evan Longoria, TB

AL:

BOS 6, NYY 6, TB 3, TOR 1, BAL 1

MIN 2, DET 2, CWS 1, KC 2, CLE 1

TEX 3, ANA 2, OAK 1, SEA 3

NL

ATL 3, NYM 3, PHI 2, FLA 2, WAS 2

CIN 2, STL 3, MIL 2, CHC 2, HOU 1, PIT 2

SD 3, LA 3, COL 2, SF 2, ARI 1

What do you think?