Back from a successful jaunt to Philadelphia, where Baseball Prospectus 2007’s promotional appearance season kicked off with an enthusiastic turnout that included Baseball-Reference.com’s statgod Sean Forman, with whom we had the pleasure of breaking bread afterwards. Other evening entertainment included a very enthusiastic young bartender at the Radisson who had vocal opinions about the career of Tim Salmon, and multiple glass clinkings — including my first vodka shot of the 21st century — due to some Big News:
For the first time in the colorful 12-year history of the BP annual, we have cracked the New York Times Bestseller List. Or will; as of March 18 (next Sunday), BP07 will be ranked #15 on the Advice, How-To and Miscellaneous list. Ergo, the 19 of us who contributed to this year’s book and are listed on its title page are best-selling authors now, not that any of us are able to dine out on said laurels just yet. Anyway, a happy day here for the BP family.
My travels caused me to delay the posting of Part I of a two-part interview I did for the fine Yanksfan vs Soxfan blog on — guess what? — the AL East’s big dogs as they stack up this year. Here’s one of the exchanges:
YFSF: Josh Beckett and Chien-Ming Wang: They are the sabermetric paradox. Do you expect a big turnaround from Beckett? Can we expect another big year from Wang?
JJ: Beckett’s more of an enigma than a paradox. It remains to be seen whether he can harness his curveball while at the same time keeping free of the blister problems that have plagued his career; last year he wore a band-aid between starts and it prevented him from tossing the curve in bullpen sessions. If Lester is healthy, the Sox might have enough depth in the rotation to cover for a 150-inning season from Beckett where he does throw the curve and deals with the consequences. But right now there are a lot of questions about Schilling, about Matsuzaka, about Wakefield, and about Papelbon, so that may be too risky.
Wang is certainly a paradox in that he succeeds while striking out only about 3.1 hitters per nine. But so long as he throws mid-90s heat with that great movement on his sinker, I expect him to throw a lot of innings and be pretty successful, if not quite so so much as last year. He’ll never be an ace, I don’t think, but especially at his current price, he’s a very valuable commodity and fun to watch as well.
Part II of this home-and-home series will be posted in this space on Monday. As you read Part I, please note that the introduction includes one innacuracy that bears correction. As I’ve said in this space, I covered the Dodgers and Red Sox for BP07; Steven Goldman is the one who wrote about the Yankees.