Top 100 of ’00s: An Introduction

As we close out the oughts (2000-2009), we find ourselves reflecting. As with any decade, it is always fun/time-killing/inane to make lists of the so-called “best” of that ten-year period. Mostly, these lists are meaningless drivel with no basis in fact or reality – and this is definitely one of those lists. This is by no means the best music of the decade – although you will read many lists that purport to be so. Remember, anyone who tries to tell you they can determine what “art” was “best” is full of high-grade s^&t, so at least we’re straight on that. This is, instead, is a list of albums I enjoyed the most over the last 10 years – half of which I was in graduate school in Oregon, a portion I was in Seattle, one-third I was in Davis, CA and the reminder (and currently) I am in lovely Granville, OH, happily spending my time as a professor in geosciences. I’ve listened to a lot of music thanks to my time at KBVR and writing for Three Imaginary Girls (under my pen name, Erik Gonzalez) – along with all the time I’ve spent talking about music with all of my friends. Its great fun and I’ll likely be making these lists for ages (I hope).

Bobby Kielty sporting the “look of the oughts”.

So, like I said, I am approaching being done with compiling my list of the top 100 albums of the ’00s. I’ll likely start posting them in batches of ten in the next few weeks – and I’ll even try to make some iTunes mixes with choice cuts from the albums I can find on the music store. Remember, this list is not meant to be (a) all inclusive – I’m sure I’ve missed something, and thats life; (b) appeal to everyone – there are definitely certain bands that some people think are good (ahem*fieryfurnacesbrokensocialsceneanimalcollective*) that I dislike greatly – don’t expect to see them here; (c) even represent my favorite music of the decade – there are many songs from less appealing albums that aren’t represented here … I would try to make a Top 100 songs, but I think my head might explode at that; (d) a permanent list of the best of the decade – my opinions/tastes change, and so will my opinion of albums. I wrote a best of the 1990s back in 1999 and I wish I could find that file, but alas, it is lost to the ages. I do remember that my #1 was DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing…, so I think I still feel pretty good about that. Here’s to hoping my #1 of the 2000s weathered as well.

Anyway, as a bit of a preview, here is a breakdown of the percentages of albums on my list from each year of the decade. Note that the percentages imply that my Top 100 has more than 100 albums. It does. Deal. The distribution implies that 2006 was the “year for music” while 2000, 2008 and 2009 were not so hot. I think this distribution reflects my general detachment from music in 2000 and the relatively recentness of 2008/2009 – it is hard to judge/rank the bestness of albums that have come out recently against the ruler of giants from the middle of the decade.

The oughts

  • 2000: 7.8%
  • 2001: 10.7%
  • 2002: 12.7%
  • 2003: 9.8%
  • 2004: 10.7%
  • 2005: 12.7%
  • 2006: 14.7%
  • 2007: 9.8%
  • 2008: 6.9%
  • 2009: 3.9%

Look for No. 91-100 coming to this space in the near future.

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A vision for the 2010 Red Sox (a.k.a. wild fantasies that will not come true)

The 2009 Red Sox were pretty good. They weren’t great, but they did make the playoffs only to flame out in ALDS versus the Los Angeles Angels (which, incidentally, translates to The Angels Angels, right?) Since 2004 and 2007, the blow of such events has been greatly lessened for me. Sure, I was not pleased with their performance and the eventual crowning of the hated Yankees as champs, but by no means was I heartbroken/crushed/unable to eat or sleep for days as it was before the Sox return to glory. The Sox didn’t win, but hey, you can’t win every year (and I still can’t imagine what 2003 me would think if he knew that 2009 me would be writing that calmly, lucidly and soberly.)

Anyway, this is not to say that I don’t want the Sox to succeed. Of course I do, that is why I’m a fan. I love my Red Sox no less than I did in 2004 and I still can’t stand to listen (yes, I tend to listen to the Sox) them lose any game. So, with the Yankees not getting any weaker and the Rays likely to bounce back, what can the Red Sox do to keep pace in 2010? Let’s see …

The roster (as of 11/23/2009) – starters in italics when there is an appropriate starter

  • C: Victor Martinez; Jason Varitek
  • 1B: Kevin Youkilis*/Mike Lowell*; Casey Kotchman
  • 2B: Dustin Pedroia
  • 3B: Kevin Youkilis*/Mike Lowell*
  • SS: Jed Lowrie
  • RF: J.D. Drew; Jeremy Hermida
  • CF: Jacoby Ellsbury; Brian Anderson
  • LF: Jeremy Hermida
  • DH: David Ortiz
  • SP: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield
  • CL: Jonathan Papelbon
  • SU: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima
  • MR: Ramon Ramirez, Dustin Richardson, Manny Delcarmen
  • LOOGY: (none)
  • MU: (none)

* According to some things I’ve read, Youkilis might play third and Lowell might move to first, which could make sense in terms of defense. I’ll list them at both of the hot corners.

So, what is needed? A shortstop, a left fielder, a starter and some relievers. Sounds about right, and mostly in that order. What to do?

Shortstop: Am I the only one who thinks signing a 34-year-old after a fluke year is a bad idea? That idea’s name is Marco Scutaro. Now, trading for either Stephen Drew or Brandon Phillips is a good idea. Drew will cost more and Phillips costs more money, but either at short would be just fine. Additionally, I’d sign Khalil Greene to a minor league deal.

Leftfield: Everyone seems to think this should be a question of Jason Bay or Matt Holliday. Don’t get me wrong, they’re both fine players, but I just feel a lot of enthusiasm towards signing either to the big, long term deals they will want. Sure, if you can get either for 3 years, do it, but thats not happening. So, if the Sox don’t sign either? Well, how about a platoon of Marlon Byrd/Rick Ankiel and Jeremy Hermida? I’d also be tempted to sign Rocco Baldelli or Austin Kearns to minor league deals if possible. Or lets think waaay outside the box: Miguel Tejada in left? Maybe Conor Jackson?

Starters: The Sox have 5 guys who should be good to serviceable (when averaged over all 5). If you look at the top three, the rotation should be quite good, and if Daisuke can get his act back together, they should have a decent top 4. However, as last year showed, you can never, ever, ever have too much pitching. So the Sox really need to go out and sign some reclamation projects to shore up the rotation. Ben Sheets? Rich Harden? Eric Bedard? Justin Duchscherer? Kelvim Escobar? Brett Myers? Chien-ming Wang? There are a lot of options. This all being said, 2010 is a year of decision for the Sox – can they compete for a championship, so should they wait until it all comes off the books (well, Beckett, Lowell and Papi) in 2011? If they think they can win, they should go all in for any of the aces that could be dealt: Roy Halladay, Josh Johnson, Roy Oswalt, someone like that. It will be pricy, but that would definitely shore things up.

Relievers: OK, way too many to go through for potential relief help through free agency or trades, but … how about kicking the tires on guys like Joaquin Benoit, Kiko Calero, JJ Putz, Takashi Saito (again), Ron Mahay (as a LOOGY) or Chan Ho Park. Potential nontenders worth examining might be Jeremy Accardo, Taylor Bucholz, Matt Lindstrom or Seth McClung.

Wild card ideas: What if the Sox bring in a big 1B and just cut/trade Lowell or Papi – maybe acquire Lance Berkman for a bevy of prospects to the rebuilding Astros? Or what about signing Garrett Atkins as a free agent if he is nontendered? Or even get Tejada to play 1B?

My ideal 2010 Red Sox roster

Batting

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury CF
  2. Brandon Phillips SS
  3. Dustin Pedroia 2B
  4. Kevin Youkilis 3B
  5. Victor Martinez C
  6. Miguel Tejada 1B
  7. J.D. Drew RF
  8. David Ortiz/Mike Lowell DH
  9. Hermida/Ankiel LF

Starters

  1. Josh Beckett
  2. Jon Lester
  3. Clay Buccholz
  4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
  5. Justin Duchscherer

Relievers

  • CL: Jonathan Papelbon
  • SU: Daniel Bard, Hideki Okajima
  • MR: Ramon Ramirez, Kiko Calero, Ron Mahay
  • MU: Tim Wakefield

Bench

  1. Jason Varitek C
  2. Casey Kotchman 1B
  3. Khalil Greene SS

Enjoy!

The actual NL and AL Rookies of the Year

The BBWAA announced the voting for the NL and AL ROYs yesterday, and well, it was interesting.

AL winner: Andrew Bailey RP (Oakland) – He was definitely impressive, was he really that much better than Brett Anderson? Speaking of Brett Anderson, how did he did up with only 1 2nd and 1 3rd place vote? As Rob Neyer points out, Brett Anderson was better (in a fielding-independent world) than either Neimann or Porcello, both of which scored a lot more votes.

NL winner: We can all be a little saddened by the fact that Chris Coghlan OF (Florida) somehow conned the voters to get the win. I mean, are that many BBWAA writers still impressed with a pretty batting average? Apparently so. I would like to be the first to congratulation our 2009 version of the immortal Todd Hollandsworth. Now, how J.A. Happ got more votes than Tommy Hanson will baffle me for quite a while too (and poor ol’ Andrew McCutchen came in 4th! Fourth, people!)

Shane Mack, OBP machine!

It has been a while since I looked at the back of my baseball cards. Today’s card is from the 1991 Score set and it features the Twins OF Shane Mack. You know what? They don’t have OBP or BBs on the cards? Meaningless stats I say! Apparently Shane Mack was a Rule V pick for the Twins – I can understand why they might have liked him, being one year from a .347 AVE year at AAA with decent power (10 HR). Mack went on to play another 7 years and heck, posted a .364 career OBP! Probably his best season was 1992, when had 16 HR and posted .314/.394/.467. Not too shabby.

 

2009 MLB Awards

Now that we’ve crowned the truly uninspring 2009 World Series Champions, we can move onto the offseason hoping that 2010 offers a little more drama than the richest team in the league winning it all.

Next week, the MLB Writers will announce the 2009 MLB awards, so on that note, I’m posting my ballot (if I had a vote …)

All players listed with their WPA and WAR (from FanGraphs)

Rookie of the Year

American League:

  1. Brett Anderson SP (Oakland) – 0.12/3.8
  2. Jeff Neimann SP (Tampa Bay) – 1.87/3.2
  3. Elvis Andrus SS (Texas) – (-0.66)/3.0

WAR tends to heavily favor starters in these situations and also favors defense, which is why Andrus snuck in at #3 instead of Gordon Beckham (3B CHI).

National League:

  1. Andrew McCutchen OF (Pittsburgh) – 2.02/3.4
  2. Tommy Hanson SP (Atlanta) – 2.04/2.6
  3. Randy Wells SP (Chicago) – 1.64/3.0
  4. Garrett Jones OF (Pittsburgh) – 1.25/2.6

UPDATED 11/13: You know, somehow I completely forgot Tommy Hanson (SP Atlanta). He rolls in with a 2.04/2.6, which puts him very close to McCutchen. My gut says to rank the position player higher than the pitcher, so there you have it.

Amazingly, J.A. Happ’s WAR was only 1.8, below all of the above and guys like Casey McGehee (UT MIL) and Chris Coghlan (OF FLA).

MVP

American League:

  1. Joe Mauer C (Minnesota) – 3.64/8.2
  2. Ben Zobrist UT (Tampa Bay) – 4.10/8.6
  3. Derek Jeter SS (New York) – 1.41/7.4
  4. Franklin Gutierrez OF (Seattle) – 3.72/5.9
  5. Zack Grienke SP (Kansas City) – 6.07/9.4
  6. Kevin Youkilis 1B/3B (Boston) – 2.36/5.6
  7. Miguel Cabrera 1B (Detroit) – 1.59/5.4
  8. Mark Teixiera 1B (New York) – 3.58/5.1
  9. Shin Soo Choo OF (Cleveland) – 2.11/5.0
  10. Victor Martinez C (Boston) – 3.23/4.9

A few surprises, wouldn’t you say? I couldn’t bring myself to putting Zobrist at the top over Mauer – too many questions in my mind about the value of C defense in the WAR calculations. It was also hard to figure where to slot in the pitchers, but Grienke belongs in the list somewhere. Franklin Gutierrez looks like the steal of the year for the Mariners – adequate hitting and remarkable defense = high WAR (yet no Gold Glove … gotta love it). I was also surprised to see the good showing of Shin Soo Choo.

National League:

  1. Albert Pujols 1B (St. Louis) – 8.24/8.4
  2. Chase Utley 2B (Philadelphia) – 4.3/7.6
  3. Tim Lincecum SP (San Francisco) – 4.26/8.2
  4. Hanley Ramirez SS (Florida) – 3.09/7.3
  5. Prince Fielder 1B (Milwaukee) – 7.79/6.8
  6. Adrian Gonzalez 1B (San Diego) – 4.2/6.3
  7. Derek Lee 1B (Chicago) – 3.84/5.3
  8. Pablo Sandoval 3B (San Francisco) – 4.71/5.2
  9. Ryan Howard 1B (Philadelphia) – 6.03/4.8
  10. Ryan Braun OF (Milwaukee) – 4.73/4.8

Nothing too shocking – Pujols wins by a (not as big as I expected) margin over Chase Utley. Tim Lincecum is the on the list as the only starter. This was quite a year for 1B in the NL.

Cy Young

American League

  1. Zack Grienke (Kansas City) – 6.07/9.4
  2. Justin Verlander (Detroit) – 4.19/8.2
  3. Roy Halladay (Toronto) – 3.52/7.3
  4. Felix Hernandez (Seattle) – 3.26/6.9
  5. Jon Lester (Boston) – 2.50/6.2
  6. CC Sabathia (New York) – 2.89/6.0
  7. Andrew Bailey (Oakland) – 2.68/2.4
  8. Mariano Rivera (New York) – 3.99/2.0
  9. Jonathan Papelbon (Boston) – 5.13/1.9
  10. Josh Beckett (Boston) – 2.2/5.3

OK, anyone who says Grienke shouldn’t be the Cy Young should be excommunicated from baseball fandom. There was a steep dropoff in starters after CC, thus the three relievers in a row … and yes, Andrew Bailey was the best of that bunch.

National League

  1. Tim Lincecum (San Francisco) – 4.26/8.2
  2. Javier Vazquez (Atlanta) – 2.41/6.6
  3. Dan Haren (Arizona) – 2.95/6.1
  4. Adam Wainwright (St. Louis) – 3.60/5.7
  5. Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado) – 3.16/5.7
  6. Josh Johnson (Florida) – 3.05/5.5
  7. Chris Carpenter (St. Louis) – 5.41/4.5
  8. Jair Jurrjens (Atlanta) – 3.35/3.9
  9. Randy Wolf (Los Angeles) – 0.69/3.0
  10. Huston Street (Colorado) – 3.38/1.5

Much like the AL, anyone who thinks Lincecum shouldn’t win the Cy Young (again) is silly. He didn’t get the wins, but everything else was hands-down better. And two Colorado pitchers in the top 10? Go figure.