Assorted Baseball Thoughts
We have a rule that you can play a player out of position, and his stats will count for you so long as he qualifies there eventually. For example, if you wanted to use Jake Fox at catcher in April, you could have even though he didn't qualify there at the start of the year. As long as he eventually got 10 games at catcher (he has 13), then the stats you got from him in April count for your team. If he never did make it to 10, you would get zeroes there. This rule has two benefits: (1) You don't have to wait 10 games for someone like Fox, or for Carlos Guillen to qualify at 2B, for example; and (2) instead of rostering a second scrub catcher (the league is AL only), you can use the roster space as an extra bench spot, so to speak, and take the zero on purpose.
That part of it, I was aware of. What I didn't know was that for rookies, they don't have positions initially, and wind up qualifying somewhere only if they eventually get to 10 games there, or barring that, whatever position they play the most. I had just assumed that rookies qualified wherever they played the most in the minors. Not the case. So when Chris Carter got called up from the A's, I put him at first base, in place of Justin Morneau. Carter was sent to the outfield where he played all six games before being demoted yesterday. He was also 0-for-19.
So imagine my surprise when I find out today that Carter was actually playing OUT OF POSITION! That means that unless he gets called up in September and plays first base for either 10 games, or more games than he plays in the outfield, his stats for that week are null and void. Considering I'm in a fight in batting average, that was pretty great news. But the kicker is that I've had Matt LaPorta in my outfield the entire time, and he qualifies both at 1B and OF! In other words, this never should have been an issue in the first place, and had I known I would certainly have switched the two and been stuck with the 0-for-19.
While I typically run lucky, this is taking it to a whole new level.
Jeter has been well above average with a much bigger role. Rivera has been the greatest ever in a smaller one. The total net above average definitely goes to Jeter, but with the Yanks and their payroll, the average should be a lot higher. So Jeter's advantage shrinks in larger proportion than Rivera's. There have been plenty of closers as good as Rivera for one year (Lidge, Putz, Papelbon, etc.), but it's easy to say that after the fact. Beforehand, there's no way to know what you'd get and hence no way for the Yanks or anyone else to acquire one. I'd say Rivera is more important, but Jeter has done more. Rivera's postseason stats by the way are retarded. (0.74 ERA, 0.77 WHIP in 133.1 IP). And of course, Posada's per-at-bat stats (.857 OPS) are arguably better than Jeter's (.840 OPS) and a good deal better when adjusted for position. But like Rivera, Jeter outdoes him on volume.
Plus I'd lay 20 to 1 that I could beat Posada in a footrace after drinking 8 beers.
This made me think the Rays would have to keep Hellickson stretched out the rest of the way - after all, how could you possibly mess him up down the stretch if you need him to be one of your frontline guys in the playoffs. Sheehan agreed to an extent but said they might very well go six starters in September (solves that problem as well as cutting down on Price's and Davis' innings counts). But Sheehan also suggested that basic clubhouse morale might be a big issue for Joe Maddon if he kicked his former ace to the curb for rookie with a handful of career starts. And that given Shields' excellent peripherals (and ostensibly bad luck), the difference between Hellickson and him didn't warrant opening that can of worms.
Joe might be right, but if Hellickson pitches lights out, say in a six man rotation the rest of the way, and Shields continues to have bad BABIP, strand and HR/FB luck, it's going to be a tough sell outside of the clubhouse.
Of course, I'm happy this happened, but had it not, the Yanks and Rays might be in a fierce battle for the AL Wildcard spot.