Friday, September 16, 2005

Rick Ankiel Report

Rick Ankiel, OF/LHP?, St Louis Cardinals
Drafted 72nd Overall (2nd Rd), 1997 Draft, HS, Port St Lucie, FL
Bats L/Throws L
26 YO, 6'1", 215 lbs

I trust that anybody who is reading this blog knows the Rick Ankiel story. Brilliant young left pitcher whose command (which was never his strong suit to begin with) completely deserts him on national TV, he struggles in the minors for a while, has Tommy John surgery, attempts to come back, shows signs of life but the same old problem keeps coming back time and time again. He wants a fresh start and becomes an outfielder. And here we are.

2005 Quad Cities: .270/.368/.514, 10 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 27 BB, 37 K, 185 AB
2005 Springfield: .243/.295/.515, 7 2B, 10 HR, 10 BB, 29 K, 136 AB
2005 Total: .259/.339/.514, 17 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 37 BB, 66 K, 321 AB
MiLB Career: .262/.337/.532, 18 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 49 BB, 94 K, 455 AB

That's an interesting line with essentially a full minor league season of data. It's pretty obvious that he'll turn on a cripple pitch. He's also flashed some hints of plate discipline. On the other hand his plate discipline waned in the Texas League and drug down his batting average along with it. He was way too old for the Midwest League so he should have been putting up numbers with Quad Cities. On the plus side, in the interviews I've read, he seems to have a solid understanding of hitting, emphasizing swinging at good pitches and laying off junk outside the zone.

Ankiel is a unique case in all respects. As a pitcher he's unique in that he's all given us hope a dozen times and then crushed that hope with a repeat of his problems. He has talent but monumental flaws. As a hitter, he has decent numbers, but you have to balance his age with his inexperience. I honestly don't think he has the talent to make it back to the majors as a pure outfielder. His bat looks decent, but not good enough to get him over the hump. If he's going to make it back to the show, it will be either as a pitcher or as a better Brooks Kieschnick, filling in as a reliever here and there while doubling as a pinch hitter du jour. Then again, he could surprise us by adapting well and ending up as a starting right fielder for a few years with the Cards. Ya never know.

Other things of note that you might be interested in would be his defense and baserunning, both of which are works in progress. He didn't attempt a steal all season. In fact, I don't have any record of him ever attempting a steal as a professional baseball player. His defense will probably limit him to an outfield corner. He has some athleticism, but not THAT much.

ETA: ?
2 Stars

Monday, September 12, 2005

Week One football Rant/Miscellaneous Other Rants

With all due respect to Will Carroll, this report is powered by a brand new Dell.

-So we're in the 2005 season and we've now had plenty of time to deconstruct 2004 and the Patriots dynasty, yet somehow there's still this perception out there that football is being dominated by a latter day interpretation of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots are still seen as this gritty, gutty team that doesn't have much talent but gets by with some tough defense and an offense that refuses to give the ball away. It is true that their defense is remarkably effective. However, this is a very effective offensive team. I mean look at the numbers. They were the 4th highest scoring team in football. They've packed their offense with a very good line, a capable back, some talented young receivers, and Tom Brady, who is the lightning rod for the franchise.

Tom Brady has been defied by the press and the general public, yet because of WHY they have defied him, they UNDERRATE him. The story is the same for the team as a whole. Brady has improved his arm strength and accuracy, opening up the field. He's not a better version of Trent Dilfer back in those glory days for the Ravens. He's a playmaker. Sure he's great at reading defenses and dumping it to the right guy, but he's more than that now.

My own pet theory is that this whole effect is a byproduct of the Cult of Clutch that we have in this country. In sports it seems to be clutch than it is to be great. Derek Jeter and Tom Brady are Gods walking among us because they produce when it counts and are the face of successful organizations. Joe Montana is known for being great in the playoffs, nevermind the fact that he was great whenever he happened to be playing. I don't understand the urge to gloss over everyday excellence in favor of sepia-toned postcards from high profile games. Actually, I do get it but I've never felt that urge to boil excellence to individual moments. If somebody's great, they're great on a regular occasion. But no, there's more of a love for the overachiever than there is the guy who was simply good enough and talented enough to kick your ass everyday of the week. Me? I'll take the '27 Yankees instead of the 2002 Angels.

-Next on my list is F1, where after buying the Jaguar team last year and rebadging it Red Bull Racing, they're buying Minardi and plan on keeping both teams. How is this possibly within the rules? Are they going to merge the two teams and form a 4 car team like they have in NASCAR and IRL? Or are they going to keep the two organizations separate? And if they are, are they going to fund actual improvement in the team formerly known as Minardi? I don't have answers to these questions, but I would like to get my hands on them. I can see definite advantages to RB owning Minardi if they improve the team. They could easily make things much more interesting back towards the back of the pack. It would also give American Scott Speed a race seat to fill and along with the new management at Midlands F1, it would put a temporary end to F1 seats being bought by drivers whose sponsorship is the driving force behind their career advancement. On the other hand, if they let the team just linger at the back, it just kicks the can down the road and nobody is better off.

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