May 15, 2009


Struggling old guys, the value of D and the most improved player (Tom Verducci, 5/15/09, Sports Illustrated)

There are seven players aged 33 and older who switched teams last winter who have posted an OPS below .750: Orlando Cabrera, David Eckstein, Ramon Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, Jason Giambi, Mark DeRosa and Bobby Abreu. The ones with upside? That's a short list; pretty much Russell Branyan and Raul Ibanez.

Five weeks do not a trend make. But it's also difficult to remember a time when so many star players in their mid-30s were looking old all of a sudden. The dimming stars include David Ortiz, 33; Derrek Lee, 33; Renteria, 33; Cabrera, 34; Abreu, 35; Magglio Ordonez, 35; Jason Kendall, 35; Giambi, 38; and Brian Giles, 38. Combined home runs for those nine players: 11. Are they merely slumping or are they toast?

Meanwhile, no club has wanted old free agents such as Jim Edmonds, Frank Thomas, Ray Durham and Paul Lo Duca.

Is it age bias? You bet. With not only steroid testing but also amphetamine testing in place, clubs no longer can count on players extending their prime years through their mid- and late-30s. The Astros are in trouble because they counted on way too many old players. The Yankees have scuffled because of injuries to old players. The Tigers have tried to remake themselves since the middle of last year by losing some old players (Kenny Rogers, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez) and hoping others bounce back from slow starts (Ordonez, Placido Polanco). The Red Sox are swimming against the tide with four regulars age 33 or older (Ortiz, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell). The bottom line, in case you weren't paying attention to the World Series last year: It's a young man's game.

Well, when I was young there was really only one other challenger for the title of the slowest kid in the school, Danny Krasner. So, to save us humiliation, the gym teacher had us run only against each other--everyone else ran earlier. Of course, this had the exact opposite effect, since kids just gathered to watch the spectacle. Suffice it to say, you could have timed us with a sundial instead of a stopwatch.

At any rate, Danny and I would do no worse than 8 for 10 stealing bases off of Jason Varitek.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2009 12:41 PM
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