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It's Groundhog Day, and you know what that means ... it's time for 2004 pre-season nominations for the Annual Batter's Box Joaquin Andujar Award. The player who will eventually be awarded the 2004 Andujar will be the epitome, in retrospect, of a low-risk, high-reward transaction. (If those two sentences sound Bill Murray-esque Groundhog Day familiar, well they should.)

Batter's Box authors and readers are invited to cast their ballots for the top five pre-season candidates for the 2004 Andujar. Points will be tabulated on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis and balloting will close at midnight on Monday, February 23, at which time the pre-season list will be published.

To win an Andujar ...

... a player must have signed as a free agent -- either a major or minor league contract is acceptable -- with a new team in the previous off-season. Players acquired via trade are not eligible. Players are also not eligible to win an Andujar if they have ever been named to a Major League All-Star Game roster or if they have never appeared in a major league game. Players signed as free agents from foreign professional leagues are also ineligible.

Looking back at last year's process, which resulted in former Jay Esteban Loaiza edging Brewers' outfielder Scott Podsednik for the inaugural award:

2/2/03: Original Announcement & Rules
3/10/03: Preseason Nominations
7/23/03: Midseason Update
12/1/03: 2003 Andujar Finalists
12/26/03: Loaiza Wins Inaugural Andujar

As always, updates will come throughout the year and the results of balloting for the winner will be announced in a press release on Dec. 26 -- Boxing Day. Because ... YouNeverKnow.

Okay, so ...

That "never been named to a Major League All-Star Game roster" rule is a tricky one ... sure, it means Pudge Rodriguez in Detroit and Vlad Guerrero in Anaheim aren't eligible. But did you realize that it also excludes, among others, Jeromy Burnitz, Jose Lima, Jose Hernandez and Tony Womack?

And while you might know that J.D. Drew has never been named to an All-Star Game roster, he was traded. So like Ted Lilly and others, he ain't eligible.

With "Rookie of the Year argument" apologies all around, the "players signed as free agents from foreign professional leagues are also ineligible" excludes Kaz Matsui of the New York Mets and Akinori Otsuka of the Chicago White Sox, among others.

Do you really believe that Otsuka will close for the Pale Hose anyway? I mean, with ex-Jay Billy Koch around ... or, wait ... maybe Cliff Politte will follow the Toronto-to-Comiskey-to-Andujar trail Loiaza blazed in 2003? Or maybe you have a thing for lefty Scott Schoeneweis, also new to the Chicago staff.

And if Politte is Loiaza, is Chris Magruder the new Scott Podsednik in the Milwaukee outfield?

You don't need to bemoan the ineligibility of the "other" Matsui to pick a Met in the pre-season Andujars -- what about Todd Zeile, now with his seventy-third team, or Shane Spencer? Can Chris Singleton score some runs and Daryle Ward drive them in for Pittsburgh? Will Rey Ordonez or Jay Payton light it up in San Diego? Can Danys Baez or Mike Williams seize the closer's role in Tampa and make roto owners everywhere giddy with 40 saves?

Speaking of former closers, how long before Dave Veres takes over for an imploded Octavio Dotel in Houston? Will Eric Karros make Bay area fans forget, well, Erubiel Durazo if not Jason Giambi? Will Darren Oliver be one of many players to sneak into the Andujar finalists discussion for the second consecutive year? Is Russell Branyan the answer at the Atlanta hot corner? Is Glendon Rusch already the best starting picher the Rangers have?

Some Boxers have already weighed in ...
Mike Moffatt likes new Detroit SP Esteban Yan, along with Red sox 2B Mark Bellhorn and SFG SP (say that three times fast) Brett Tomko ... Scott Lucas points to another ChiSoxer in Robert Person and another Devil Ray in Todd Ritchie (who also showed up in 2003 pre-season predictions), and also mentions C Todd Greene taking his big bat to Coors Field ... Gerry McDonald thinks Tyler Houston will take Aaron "I Wanna Be Like Bill Walton" Boone's job in the Bronx and that Damian Moss might just out-pitch Ritchie in Tampa ... then again, maybe it will be John Halama.

The inimitable Coach points to expensive-but-qualified ex-Jay Kelvim Escobar and also rolls out a list of possible candidates including Miguel Batista, Jose Guillen, Sidney Ponson, Braden Looper, LaTroy Hawkins, John Thomson, Cory Lidle, Sterling Hitchcock, Ismael Valdes, and new Cardinal leadoff man Marlon Anderson.

And that's less than half of the guys eligible.

Who's missing? And who gets your top five vote(s)?

Just for the record, my own 2003 pre-season ballot included four guys already mentioned here again -- Spencer, Houston, Halama and Ritchie.

But for starters, and with apologies to Jeff Weaver who is the most talented guy mentioned here but has "11-14" written all over him, here's my ballot for 2004:
1. Todd Greene, COL
2. Brett Tomko, SFG
3. Rick Helling, MIN
4. Sterling Hitchcock, SDP
5. Eric Karros, OAK

Fire away ...
YouNeverKnow '04: It's That Time Again | 43 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
_Spicol - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:30 PM EST (#32752) #
1. Jose Cruz, TB
2. Ismael Valdes, SD
3. Jeff Suppan, STL
4. John Thomson, ATL
5. Ben Grieve, MIL
Mike Green - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:34 PM EST (#32753) #
I'll second Cruz, Suppan, Thomson and Grieve.
Pistol - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:39 PM EST (#32754) #
1. Ben Grieve
2. Terry Adams
3. Matt Stairs
4. Steve Sparks
5. Brett Tomko
_Mick - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:48 PM EST (#32755) #
Alas, Spicol, Mike and Pistol, Benji Grieve is ineligible ... he has been an A.L. All-Star.
Mike D - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:50 PM EST (#32756) #
The All-Star rule also knocks out Mike Williams. Thanks for nothing, Rest of Pirates.
_Kristian - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 03:57 PM EST (#32757) #
1. Brett Tomko
2. Jon Thomson
3. John Halama
4. Britt Reames
5. Latroy Hawkins
_Spicol - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:01 PM EST (#32758) #
Benji Grieve is ineligible ... he has been an A.L. All-Star.

Argh, that's right! With all his recent suckiness, I'd completely forgotten.

My ballot then becomes...

1. Jose Cruz, TB
2. Ismael Valdes, SD
3. Jeff Suppan, STL
4. John Thomson, ATL
5. Chris Stynes, PIT
Pepper Moffatt - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:05 PM EST (#32759) #
Bellhorn was traded, not an FA. So one of my earlier picks is out.

I still like Tomko, and Yan as a darkhorse.


Pistol - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:12 PM EST (#32760) #
New and improved:

1. Terry Adams
2. Matt Stairs
3. Steve Sparks
4. Brett Tomko
5. Jose Jiminez
_Gwyn - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:17 PM EST (#32761) #
1. Brad Fullmer
2. Jeff Suppan
3. Cliff Pollitte
4. John Thomson
5. Russell Branyan
_Dr. Zarco - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:19 PM EST (#32762) #
All pitchers for me:

1. Miguel Batista
2. Jeff Suppan
3. Rick Helling
4. Brett Tomko
5. Sterling Hitchcock
_Ryan F. - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:26 PM EST (#32763) #
My picks...odd as they may be.

1) Brad Fullmer
2) Kent Mercker
3) Todd Hollandsworth
4) Cory Lidle
5) Todd Zeile
_Cristian - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:30 PM EST (#32764) #
I've been scooped on John Thomson but I got two that haven't yet been mentioned.

1. Cory Lidle - continuing the tradition of the Andujar going to an ex-Jay pitcher.
2. Bruce Chen - I can't imagine a better "you never know" story than Chen finally putting it all together with his 9th professional organization.
_Cristian - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:31 PM EST (#32765) #
Ack. Scooped on Lidle as well. Oh well, if Chen wins the Andujar I expect accolades from everyone.
_Matt - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:32 PM EST (#32766) #
1.Kelvim Escobar, ANA
2. Jose Guillen, ANA
3. Brad Fullmer, TEX
4. Miguel Batista, TOR
5. Sidney Ponson, BAL
_Deep Sleepers - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:44 PM EST (#32767) #
1. Dave Burba
2. Doug Davis
3. Juan Acevedo
4. Mario Ramos
_Graham Hudson - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 04:58 PM EST (#32768) #
I'm going to make mine an all-Jay/all-ex-Jay list:

1. Kelvim Escobar
2. Miguel Batista
3. Brad Fullmer
4. Jose Cruz
5. Cory Lidle
Lucas - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 05:02 PM EST (#32769) #
Three I picked in a Box writers' email thread:

1. Robert Person
2. Todd Ritchie
3. Todd Greene


4. Rick Helling
5. Rick White

All NRIs or with contracts no greater than $500,000.
_peteski - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 05:22 PM EST (#32770) #
I know they "qualify", but Escobar, Batista and Ponson shouldn't really be eligible should they? I mean, I don't think the description "low-risk" really applies to them. If they turn out to be busts, that will be a pretty big hit to their respective teams. Perhaps the player should have to have been signed to a one year deal to be eligible, although this could make things way too complicated.
_Rob - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 05:54 PM EST (#32771) #
1. Cory Lidle
2. Rick Helling
3. Miguel Batista
4. Steve Sparks
5. Matt Stairs
_Mick - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 05:58 PM EST (#32772) #
Lookit all da love for Little Ricky Helling so far ...
_Donkit R.K. - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 06:03 PM EST (#32773) #
I think a salary cap on candidates would be beneficials. Maybe they should all make less than league average for this season? Guys like Escobar and Ponson just don't seem to fit.

_Mick - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 06:05 PM EST (#32774) #
Two Cruzes? Jose Jr. and Deivi? Which is which?
_Donkit R.K. - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 06:27 PM EST (#32775) #
I meant Jose.
_WillRain - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 07:25 PM EST (#32776) #
Scooped on Branyan, but I'm making him my first choice so that should count for something...

1. Russ Branyan
2. Danys Baez
3. John Thompson
4. Terry Adams
5. Mike Myers

HM: I agree he makes too much to be low risk but I want to be on record as predicting Cy Young contention for Escobar - i think he'll out-pitch Colon, and most other pitchers in the league.
Gitz - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 07:26 PM EST (#32777) #
1. Tony Graffanino
2. Cliff Politte
3. Robert Person
4. Brett Tomko
5. Tyler Houston

I don't see how Escobar and Ponson qualify for this list, either. Escobar is far from a bargain, though the ceiling is high, and neither is Ponson, who doesn't have the upside Kelvim has. That said, if Super Kelvim shows up, give the Angels 100 wins and a division title. That could happen anyway.
_Ben - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 07:28 PM EST (#32778) #
Heres my two cents
1. Jose Guillen
2. Terry Adams
3. Jeremy Burnitz (not sure if he's been an all-star, I hope not at least, he never deserved it)
4. Dave Burba
5. Brett Tomko
_NDG - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 08:08 PM EST (#32779) #
My turn,

John Thompson
Jose Jimenez
Todd Ritchie
Steve Sparks
Glendon Rusch (hee hee)
_NDG - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 08:09 PM EST (#32780) #
By the way Ben, Burnitz has been an all-star.
_Ben - Monday, February 02 2004 @ 08:13 PM EST (#32781) #
Ugh, he really shouldn't have been but I guess he was the best of the worst on some Brewers teams. Replace him with Rick Helling then.
Thomas - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 12:44 AM EST (#32782) #
1. John Thompson, ATL
2. Terry Adams, TOR
3. Matt Stairs, KC
4. Cory Lidle, CIN
5. Tony Graffanino, KC
_Chris - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 11:46 AM EST (#32783) #
1. Jeremy Giambi
2. Jose Jimenez
3. Terry Adams
4. Ismael Valdes
5. Brett Tomko
_3RunHomer - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 11:48 AM EST (#32784) #
1. Danys Baez becomes a starter ... and will become good
2. Rob Ramsay earns his way into the Oriole bullpen and is the "feel good story of the summer"
_Johnny Mack - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 11:53 AM EST (#32785) #
1. Brad Fullmer
2. Steve Sparks
3. John Thomson
4. Mark Bellhorn
5. Todd Greene
_Ben NS - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 04:49 PM EST (#32786) #
Burnitz actually started for the NL a few years back if I'm not mistaken. I believe it was on the same team that Jay Bell played second base. Ew!
_Ryan F. - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 08:01 PM EST (#32787) #
Out of curiosity, why are they called the Andujars? I keep thinking it must have something to do with Luis Andujar, but he wasn't any good after we sent him packing anyhow.
_Mick - Tuesday, February 03 2004 @ 11:24 PM EST (#32788) #
Ryan, read the "Original Announcement & Rules" story from 2/2/03 linked in the story above. That'll address your question.
_Jeff - Wednesday, February 04 2004 @ 09:59 AM EST (#32789) #
1. Pokey Reese
2. Steve Cox
3. Sterling Hitchcock
4. Cliff Politte
5. Darryl Ward
Coach - Wednesday, February 04 2004 @ 11:12 AM EST (#32790) #
Perhaps the player should have to have been signed to a one year deal to be eligible

Even a utility guy like Graffanino got two years, but I know what you mean, peteski. I'd also be in favour of a salary limit, but I don't know exactly where to draw the line. Not that there's collusion or anything, but the two-year, $6 MM deal has been very popular this winter. That's what John Thomson signed for, and I think he'll more than earn it. However, I agree that Escobar and Ponson (even though I "nominated" them to point out their eligibility) are much riskier investments than the Andujar is intended to reward. If we exclude them, Batista's out too.
_Mick - Wednesday, February 04 2004 @ 11:57 AM EST (#32791) #
Keep in mind that there is open voting for the actual winner. I think the salary/value issue can be filtered out at that point. If Rick Helling is 20-11 for Minnesota and Kelvim Escobar is 22-8 for Anaheim, I trust Box voters to recognize which was the award-winning "low-risk, high-reward transaction."
_Jordan - Wednesday, February 04 2004 @ 12:48 PM EST (#32792) #
[If] Kelvim Escobar is 22-8 for Anaheim

I was having such a good day till I read that ....
_Jonny German - Thursday, February 05 2004 @ 01:59 PM EST (#32793) #
Matt Stairs
Russ Branyan
Jeff D'Amico
Scott Erickson
Rod Barajas

I don't consider him an Andujar candidate, since he's already established that he's a very good hitter, but I'm predicting a big year out of Brad Fullmer for just $1M.
Lucas - Friday, February 13 2004 @ 11:22 PM EST (#32794) #
Semi-popular Andujar pick Robert Person is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Wouldn't it be cool to be so famous that they name a tendon after you?
YouNeverKnow '04: It's That Time Again | 43 comments | Create New Account
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