News, Notes and Quotes (March 22, 2004)

“Enjoy my jacket, which you stole from me”

I know I’m probably one of the last people in the country who can say this, and I feel sort of ashamed of myself, but I saw Lost in Translation for the first time this weekend.

It’s obviously a phenomenal movie. Magnificently unique and compelling, with two of the best acting performances I’ve ever seen. It is simply more evidence of Bill Murray‘s genius (as if we needed more) and I think I’m in love with Scarlett Johansson. I was so infatuated with her after watching the movie that I went over to IMDB.com to stalk her look her up.

After spending about 20 years of my life figuring that I was much too young for all these actresses I frequently fall in love with, I was sort of depressed to find out that Ms. Johansson is nearly two years younger than I am. Somewhere along the line I skipped the “we are just the right age for each other” period and went from “I’m too young for her” to “she’s younger than me” without even knowing it.

It’s sad really, because I’m sure if we didn’t have the whole age gap between us, I’d have a real shot.

Rey-Rey Quits-Quits

Khalil Greene (my #32 prospect) and Rey Ordonez had been competing for San Diego‘s starting shortstop job this spring. It was one of those things that didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I had sort of assumed that Ordonez was just along for the ride as a way to motivate Greene heading into his rookie season.

Well, apparently Ordonez started thinking along those same lines, because he up and left the team over the weekend. Here’s a fun quote from San Diego GM Kevin Towers:

“What I more or less got from his agent is that this is the first time in his career that he had to battle for a job, and I think he looked at his competition and he thought [Greene] was playing very well.”

Couple things…

First, that’s one hell of an attitude Ordonez has. “Man, they’re actually making me work for this job and this rookie is actually kind of good. I’m outta here!”

Second, and perhaps most disturbingly, this is the first time in Rey Ordonez’s career that he’s had to battle for a job?! I’m not disagreeing with that statement, but how sad is that?

In 3,340 career plate appearances, spread over eight seasons, Rey Ordonez has the following numbers:

 AVG      OBP      SLG      OPS      GPA     OPS+
.248     .291     .311     .602     .209      61

That is beyond awful.

And I don’t want to hear any comparisons to Ozzie Smith because of Ordonez’s defense. For one thing, Ozzie Smith is perhaps the greatest defensive player in the history of baseball and Rey Ordonez’s defense, while good, has been vastly overrated. For another thing, Ozzie Smith looks like Babe Ruth compared to Rey Ordonez.

Well, okay, not quite Babe Ruth. Ozzie’s career OPS+ is 87, which is nearly 30% higher than Ordonez’s OPS+ of 61. To put that difference into some context, if you add 30% to Ozzie’s career OPS+ you get 113, which is right around where guys like Cal Ripken Jr., Greg Vaughn, Tino Martinez and Matt Williams are at.

Ordonez has played 950 games in his major league career. According to Lee Sinins’ Runs Created Above Average (RCAA), among players with fewer than 1,000 career games since 1900, only two have been worse offensively than Rey Ordonez.

                    RCAA
Bill Bergen         -312
Neifi Perez         -279
Rey Ordonez         -199

I’ve thought about this long and hard and I think there is but one solution to this problem. Rey Ordonez must sign with the San Francisco Giants and he and Neifi Perez must have a battle to the death (of San Francisco’s offense). They could dig up Bill Bergen if they want to make it a three-way fight, although I heard he’s learned some plate discipline in the afterworld.

Rick Helling broke his leg! I mean [sad voice], Rick Helling broke his leg…

Rick Helling took a Shawn Wooten line drive off the leg on Saturday and an X-ray revealed that he had a fractured right fibula. The Twins have said he is likely out at least a month.

For those of you unfamiliar with me, I am a Minnesota Twins fan. Because of that, Rick Helling fracturing his leg is actually somewhat important news to me. Helling was slated to be Minnesota’s #5 starter this season, a job I have opined would be much better filled by a younger, less horrible option.

In fact, just the other day, I said the following on my blog about someone like Grant Balfour deserving a chance ahead of Helling:

Helling has proven he is mediocre (5.17 ERA last year, 4.77 ERA career), whereas Balfour has been great in the minors and may actually be good if you give him a chance.

Well, now Balfour (or perhaps Brad Thomas or Sean Douglass) gets that opportunity. I am going to make a pledge right now: If Ron Gardenhire gives Grant Balfour the #5 spot in the rotation, I promise not to complain when Jose Offerman steals Lew Ford‘s bench spot. That seems like a fair deal, right?

Minnesota GM Terry Ryan seems to be saying that at least the Twins won’t go shopping for another “veteran” like Helling:

“This is an opportunity for someone inside to take this. I’d like to think some of these guys will step forward, take the opportunity and do something with it. We always have a preference to fill from inside.”

And Balfour certainly seems up for the challenge:

“If I get the chance, I’ll take the opportunity for sure. I’d definitely like to do it.”

Oh, for those of you wondering, here’s what Balfour did at Triple-A last year:

  IP      ERA     SO     BB     HR     OAVG
71.0     2.41     87     16      6     .188

I’m not saying anyone breaking their leg is a positive thing, but…

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