We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 14. Ten men enter (or nine or eight), and one man leaves.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

BP on Rangers

Texas Rangers
Picking Pedro: The Rangers have languished for years with an ineffective starting pitching staff, although it has often looked worse than it is due to the park factors in Arlington. Texas fans have pined for a starter to set things right, and the team has delivered, with such contracts as the disaster lavished upon Chan Ho Park and the seemingly-endless number of stints that Kenny Rogers has spent with the club.
But this year. This year is different. This year the Rangers have brought on a pitcher who will strike fear into the hearts of opposing hitters--Pedro Astacio.
When we last left Mr. Astacio, he was busy racking up a 10.38 ERA in 8 2/3 innings for the eventual World Champs in Boston last last season. That was his comeback from a June 2003 shoulder surgery.
PECOTA isn't optimistic, foretelling a 5.34 ERA and a 6.7 VORP for the 35-year-old Astacio. Even the most optmistic Rangers fan would have to be disapointed if this is the big move of the offseason--Pedro hasn't thrown 200 innings in a season since 1999, and even in his last full season, with the Mets in 2002, his 12-11 record was only good for an underwhelming 9.2 VORP, or just a shade under one win over replacement.
Of course, every inning that Astacio manages to throw is one fewer thrown by Park, so there is an upside.
No Way, Jose: This past Sunday, the New York Daily News published what it said were details from Jose Canseco's upcoming book, Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big. Given the current media climate around the issue of steroids, reaction was typically muted. Canseco, a man who might seem to be a little short on credibility, even forced the President of the United States to issue a denial, stating that, contrary to Canseco's claim, he wasn't aware of any steroid use during his tenure as the owner of the Rangers.
According to the Daily News, Canseco also claims in the book to have introduced the Rangers to steroids when he arrived in Texas in 1992, including his then-teammates Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Ivan Rodriguez. Is there any evidence in their performance?
26 1991 .322 .389 .532
27 1992 .268 .352 .434
28 1993 .295 .371 .554
29 1994 .319 .392 .550
19 1991 .264 .276 .354
20 1992 .260 .300 .360
21 1993 .273 .315 .412
22 1994 .298 .360 .488
21 1991 .264 .321 .479
22 1992 .260 .304 .529
23 1993 .310 .368 .632
24 1994 .275 .330 .472
Eyeballing those numbers, there's nothing that stands out and screams, "He started juicing!" The only year that seems like a quantum leap is Juan Gone in 1993, but there is a steady build to that peak before the dropoff in 1994.
All three players have denied the reported allegations. We're into Will Carroll territory here, but it seems prudent to reinforce a couple of points. First, players are innocent until proven guilty. Secondly, for good or ill, steroids weren't against the rules of Major League Baseball during Canseco's career. And perhaps most importantly, there isn't any study out there that proves that steroids help players produce more offensively. That doesn't mean that steroids don't help; that means that we don't know that they do. We try to trade in data around here and not conjecture, and we're hoping that people who read Canseco's book will do the same.

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