Happy Holidays! Regularly Scheduled Articles Will Resume Monday, December 29
October 25, 2002
From The Mailbag
Pete Rose, Mike Marshall, and K-Rod
From your Transaction Analysis page:
The Angels pulled the oldest roster trick in the book to make this work: They placed someone from their 60-day DL (Steve Green) on their postseason roster, effectively leaving a roster spot open for somebody else, or in this case, Francisco Rodriguez. What's less clear is whether or not Rodriguez should have been on the 40-man to really be available for the postseason roster. Fortunately for the Angels, the rules on the subject appear to be murky, and even more fortunately, the Commissioner's office barely operates on autopilot, if at all, so there is an extremely reasonable chance that the issue has been entirely overlooked.
Don't hold your breath waiting for a declaration of any forfeits.
From your article:
Your interview with Mike Marshall made me think of John Lackey, who is from my hometown, Abilene, Texas. Lackey never pitched in high school, went to UT-Arlington as a first baseman, transferred to Grayson County Community College and then started pitching. We don't know for sure, but it seems like starting competitive pitching at a later age has helped him be the up and coming pitcher he is now. I am sure there are other cases similar to Lackey's.
As with anything, the key will be finding as much data as we can to get a better look at the situation. Intuitively what you say makes sense, but there's also a lot to be said for learning proper mechanics and mastering pitches at an earlier age. Dr. Marshall's program has kids learning how to throw pitches from an early age, but avoiding throwing them in high-stress game situations. Ideally, when they're ready for the later years of high school, into college and minor-league ball, their arms are fresh and injury-free, but they can still throw fastballs, curves, even screwballs with velocity and movement. That's the end goal, anyway.
What a coincidence! Every few years I re-read Ball Four and I just happened to finish it up Wednesday. Voila! My daily trip to BP yields an interview with Mike Marshall. Thirty-three years later baseball executives still think he's nuts, which doesn't surprise me a bit. Everything Jim Bouton wrote is still true today. What's great is to see how players he wrote about turned out--Bouton nailed so much right on the nose.
It's amazing how many people in their comments about the Q&A have talked about Marshall in Ball Four, Jeff. One does get that sense, that people who think outside the box have a tendency to get ostracized from baseball's inner circles. It's a shame, because contrarians often have the most to offer when it comes to improving on conventional wisdom.
As for Little League, my specialty was stepping into the pitch and taking my base. Sounds like you would have obliged.
I think what you say comes out in the interview. I basically ask him "isn't limiting times through the order the same as limiting pitch counts?" Obviously Marshall's speaking in hyperbole when he says pitch counts are irrelevant. His point is simply that as a matter of in-game strategy, a pitcher's less likely to succeed if he has to face the same guy a 4th time. I'd wager there's a decent correlation here in the pitcher getting tired after three times through the order as well, but that wasn't the point he chose to emphasize. As for actual pitch counts, like you say, less than four per AB is MLB average. If a pitcher's throwing so poorly that he's on pace to throw 162 pitches to 27 batters, it becomes a self-correcting mechanism. The manager will take him out of the game.
Fair points on Maddux. Personal observation can certainly cloud one's opinion when used in lieu of hard data, no matter who you are.
No matter how they perform in the final game of the series tonight, I think it is time for you to admit you were just flat out wrong about Keith Lockhart, Vinny Castilla, and Javy Lopez. Far from being the Braves' Achilles heel, they are the reason the Braves aren't making tee times yet.
I'm afraid I have to do nothing of the sort. Anything can and usually does happen in a short series, and nothing that Lopez, Castilla or Lockhart did erases the fact that they have been and will be liabilities. Did they have a nice series? Generally, yes. Does it mean much for the past, the present, or the future, or hold any predictive value whatsoever? No. However, if you're a Marlins, Expos, Phillies, or Mets fan, you can look forward to all three being Braves next year.
I hate to give advice to the dreaded Yanks, but you're right about the range of Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano. How about the following moves: Williams to left or right, Jeter to centerfield a la Robin Yount, Soriano back to short and sign Jeff Kent? The Boss has the money for it.
Your idea is pretty much exactly what I had in mind--signing Ray Durham or Kent at 2B. You've got a chance to upgrade two positions defensively if Jeter takes to the new position, though SS would remain a defensive problem with Soriano there.
One idea could be to really open the wallet, sign Durham or Kent at 2B, Alfonso to play SS (he's always been a good fielder, even held his own coming up playing SS). Williams moves to LF, Soriano to RF, Jeter to CF. You let Roger Clemens or Andy Pettitte leave to offset cost, and if you're lucky, tap anyone who'll take Rondell White off your hands.
Of course all this armchair quarterbacking assumes the Yankees will have the guts to mess with their veterans, which likely won't happen.
I noticed the Yankees have two 200-hit players this season, Bernie Williams and Alfonso Soriano. These were the first two Yankee teammates to hit 200 hits in the same season since 1937, I believe. Derek Jeter came close this year with 191, which leads to my question. Has there ever been 3 players on the same team with 200 plus hits?
Having three or more teammates with 200+ hits has been done eight times, most recently by the '91 Rangers, and the '82 Brewers. Two teams, the '29 Phillies and the '37 Tigers actually had four teammates with 200+ hits:
YEAR TEAM NAME H ----- ------ -------------------- ---------- 1920 CHI-A COLLINS,EDDIE 224 1920 CHI-A JACKSON,JOE 218 1920 CHI-A WEAVER,BUCK 208 1920 STL-A JACOBSON,BABY_DOLL 216 1920 STL-A SISLER,GEORGE 257 1920 STL-A TOBIN,JACK 202 1921 STL-A JACOBSON,BABY_DOLL 211 1921 STL-A SISLER,GEORGE 216 1921 STL-A TOBIN,JACK 236 1929 DET-A ALEXANDER,DALE 215 1929 DET-A GEHRINGER,CHARLIE 215 1929 DET-A JOHNSON,ROY 201 1929 PHI-N KLEIN,CHUCK 219 1929 PHI-N O=DOUL,LEFTY 254 1929 PHI-N THOMPSON,FRESCO 202 1929 PHI-N WHITNEY,PINKY 200 1930 CHI-N CUYLER,KIKI 228 1930 CHI-N ENGLISH,WOODY 214 1930 CHI-N WILSON,HACK 208 1930 PHI-N KLEIN,CHUCK 250 1930 PHI-N O=DOUL,LEFTY 202 1930 PHI-N WHITNEY,PINKY 207 1935 NY_-N LEIBER,HANK 203 1935 NY_-N MOORE,JO-JO 201 1935 NY_-N TERRY,BILL 203 1937 DET-A FOX,PETE 208 1937 DET-A GEHRINGER,CHARLIE 209 1937 DET-A GREENBERG,HANK 200 1937 DET-A WALKER,GEE 213 1963 STL-N FLOOD,CURT 200 1963 STL-N GROAT,DICK 201 1963 STL-N WHITE,BILL 200 1982 MIL-A COOPER,CECIL 205 1982 MIL-A MOLITOR,PAUL 201 1982 MIL-A YOUNT,ROBIN 210 1991 TEX-A FRANCO,JULIO 201 1991 TEX-A PALMEIRO,RAFAEL 203 1991 TEX-A SIERRA,RUBEN 203
Mystified by your article attempting to excuse Jose Hernandez's 188 strikeouts. To begin with, he isn't the best shortstop in the league; Edgar Renteria is, and Renteria has more RBI with one-third as many strikeouts.
There's plenty of prior art out there that says that a strikeout is really very similar to any other out in terms of importance; that is, there's nothing intrinsically bad about a strikeout that isn't bad about a ground out. With a K, you lose the possibility of runner advancement, but with a batted ball out, you've got a much higher chance of a double play.
As for RBI, Hernandez hit behind Jeff Hammonds, Richie Sexson, and Matt Stairs, while Renteria hit behind Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols, and Tino Martinez. It'd be surprising if Renteria didn't have more RBI. Giving a player credit for the players he bats behind is not a good way to evaluate performance.
Here's why you need to be on a winner to be the MVP.