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October 23, 2008

Prospectus Today

Advantage Acquired

by Joe Sheehan

As scripted, Cole Hamels pitched another beautiful post-season game, going seven innings, mixing his fastball and changeup to keep the Rays off-balance, and pounding the strike zone. He allowed two runs, one a homer on a hanging curve to Carl Crawford, the other a double on a nice piece of hitting by Akinori Iwamura, but never surrendered an early lead. Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge were perfect out of the bullpen, and just like that, the Phillies had a measure of control of the World Series.

You can't say enough about Hamels, who even when he was giving up a couple of runs never seemed likely to lose the lead. Not to move too far from the realm of measurables, but there is a fluidity to him, to his mechanics, that makes him enjoyable to watch. The aesthetics don't get him any extra outs, but as I said last night in the Game One roundtable, I was pretty sad when he left the game after seven innings. He's probably been the MVP of October.

Hamels had an early lead because Chase Utley failed. With one on and one out in the first, the Rays used a shift on Utley, the kind that has become de rigueur for many lefty pull hitters. It seemed a strange choice given how hard it is to pull Scott Kazmir, but the Phillies went with it. With the right side of the infield unguarded, Utley tried to lay a bunt down for an easy single, but fouled it off. A few very close pitches later, he yanked a ball into the right-field grandstand. The very best player on the Phillies had the biggest hit in his first World Series game, perhaps chipping away at his status as one of baseball's most criminally underrated stars.

The 2-0 lead would later stretch to 3-0, and it held up in part because B.J. Upton didn't run. Twice. In the first, Upton checked his swing and hit a grounder to second that became a 4-6-3 double play. The ball was hit slowly, and probably should have been just a forceout, especially given Upton's speed. Upton, however, not only broke slowly from the box, but didn't speed up when he could clearly see that a double play was developing. His lack of effort, whatever the reason, cost the Rays a baserunner and an out; there's really no question that Upton would have been safe on the play had he run.

In the third, Upton came to the plate with one out and the bases loaded, Tropicana Dome's noise level reaching "ouch" for the fourth time that evening. This was one of those showdowns that makes you thrilled to be a baseball fan, a fantastic young pitcher in the midst of a great run against a fantastic young hitter who's been killing the ball. Each was the biggest reason their team had made it through two post-season series, and each would be key for their teams in the World Series. Now, they were facing off, and even though it was the third inning, it felt much later.

Hamels fell behind 2-1, then threw a changeup that Upton ripped to the left of Pedro Feliz, who made a terrific stab and began a 5-4-3 double play. Once again, though, the focus was on Upton, who loped down the line. Whether a furious charge down the line would have changed the outcome isn't quite as clear as it was on the earlier play, but the outcome isn't the issue. At the point of contact, Upton has a chance to create a run with his legs by staying out of the double play. I'll say that again: a run was on the line, in the World Series, and Upton didn't work to get it in.

I really, truly feel about 25 years older writing these things. To me, "hustle" is a meaningless word, used to prop up mediocre players who are good playing to the populist notion of visible effort, and criticize talent-laden ones who understand the concept of a long season. Upton, however, showed a lack of effort in a situation that materially affected his team's chance of winning. It's a burden, perhaps, to have so much speed that you would be criticized when a slower player's sloth would be hand-waved away, but that's the price you pay for otherworldly talent. It's the continuation of a cycle with Upton, who cost the Rays runs and outs earlier this season with his lack of effort.

This isn't about putting on a good show for the fans. This is exactly the same as criticizing a player for air-mailing a throw that allows runners to advance, or a manager for screwing up a pinch-hitting decision, or a GM for a terrible trade. There was an action, and we can quantify the impact of that action, and by doing so, determine that the action was costly. The difference in expectation between two out and no one on, and one out and a runner on first, is about four-tenths of a run, and there's little question that Upton could have beaten the throw. On the double play, his chance of being safe was less, but the payoff-a run-was definite. The Rays lost 3-2; you tell me how important it was.

---

  • Scott Kazmir threw a quality start last night. No, really. It seemed like he was pitching the Rays out of the game, but he made it through six innings and allowed just three runs, which is a perfectly good outing for him. His command was erratic and his velocity down a bit from his peak, but he kept the ball in the park after the Utley homer, which enabled him to survive.

  • Jimmy Rollins helped. After Kazmir walked two men to load the bases in the second and went 1-0 on Rollins, the shortstop hit a weak fly ball to short-center field. Better remembered as the play where Upton gunned down Shane Victorino at the plate, the at-bat showed one of Rollins' weaknesses-he doesn't have quality at-bats. In that situation, you have to let Kazmir keep digging his own hole, and if you're going to help him out, you have to make great contact. The Phillies could have, maybe should have, broken the game open in the second. That they didn't can be laid at the feet of Rollins.

  • "Folks, those cowbells sure can be a lot of fun, and you should ring them with all of your might to show your support for our Rays. However, think twice before using them in other ways, such as banging them against walls or other interior surfaces. That hurts the bell, and it certainly hurts me-I'm old! Let's hear 'clang, clang, clang' tonight, not 'bam! bam! bam!' Go Rays!

    "I'm Tropicana Dome, and I approved this message."

  • I loved Joe Maddon's aggressiveness in using his bullpen to keep the game 3-2. I disagreed with a specific decision-leaving J.P. Howell in to face Burrell and only Burrell-but the notion of going all-out to keep the deficit at one is something that should be passed on to other managers. Too often, managers eschew tactical considerations when trailing by one, and end up trailing by three. The difference between a one-run deficit and even a two-run deficit is important enough to warrant burning some bullpen to keep it at one.

  • It was a sloppy game. Kazmir was wild. Ryan Howard and Hamels repeatedly looked out of sync on grounders to first base. Carlos Pena dropped a ball and was picked off of first. The Phillies were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It's hard to say whether there was a reason, or whether it was just one of those games, but the sloppiness was a theme throughout. Maybe we're finally reaching the point where the time between innings is affecting focus-there was at least one inning where every player on the field was ready to go, and just waiting for permission from Fox to play, permission which came only after an awkward full minute.

    It's not unreasonable to put this out there: perhaps in the next TV contract, MLB should trade some short-term profit in exchange for getting back a measure of control over the presentation of its product. That's anathema to the current administration, but it's clear that we're about at the breaking point when it comes to TV's impact on the game, and especially the postseason. The elongated commercial breaks have been extended too far.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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44 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

jramirez

2 thoughts;

1. Pena should have been on second base on the pickoff, that was as blatant a balk as you'll ever see.

2. I was at Game Three of the ALCS and in EVERY SINGLE HALF INNING Lester and Garza would complete their warmups and have to stand around for 30-60 seconds waiting for the "go" signal from the second base ump. It was ludicrous.

Oct 23, 2008 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

I think "blatant as you'll ever see" is a bit of a stretch. It was certainly a questionable non-call, but Hamels' right leg never crossed behind his left, nor did his right toe ever point toward home plate. His right foot came down a bit forward, which is questionable.

The applicable rule is:

"(c) The pitcher, while touching his plate, fails to step directly toward a base before throwing to that base;"

Did Hamels step directly toward first base? I honestly don't know.

Oct 23, 2008 12:00 PM
rating: 1
 
Doug Thorburn

I have to agree with beegee. LHP's have the option to step off the rubber with the back (left) foot and make a quick snap-throw to first, or the more common front leg lift-and-throw toward the bag. If the LHP crosses the rubber with his lift leg/knee, then he must go toward the plate (this is when most runners break for a steal vs. a LHP, unless they are going on first movement). So many Lefties have adapted their deliveries to just lift the front leg straight up (without crossing the rubber), such that a runner can't get a jump until they show an obvious move toward the plate. Cole never made such an obvious move, as Pena's early jump didn't give him the chance.

I liked that Fox showed the verbal exchange between Maddon and home plate umpire Tim Welke regarding the balk. Welke was focused on the aspect of "intent" to deliver the ball to home or first, and intent is tough to jusdge for a LHP. When you watch the replay, Cole never took his eyes off of 1B, and Pena took a very early jump, clearly going on first movement. At no point did Cole look toward the plate or initiate movement in that direction.

Now the call was one for the base umps to make, rather than Welke, but it has been somewhat established that lefties display their directional intent based on the position of the landing foot relative to a line at 45 degrees, the angle splitting the right angle between the plate and 1B. Cole landed very close to that imaginary line, but appeared to be on the "safe" side of 45 degrees - though he didn't step "directly" at ANY base (which is actually common for LHP's - just ask Andy Pettitte).

As a pitching coach and former LHP, I have taught this exact move to many players, and it is legal within the written rules. However, many opposing coaches have asked for balk calls, as the move is admittedly deceiving, and the rules are vague. Balk calls are among the most difficult to ascertain, particularly with LHP's - it's one of the advantages that we lefties enjoy!

Oct 23, 2008 18:48 PM
rating: 1
 
Doug Thorburn

I should also mention that Cole does not employ a slide step, unlike many of the pro's we see these days. Instead he uses his natural leg lift, whether from the windup or the stretch. The popularization of the slide step has made the lift-and-throw move somewhat moot for those pitchers that use it, so it makes sense that Cole's move looked somewhat irregular.

Oct 23, 2008 18:51 PM
rating: 0
 
Dan

Good analysis as usual, Joe. Thanks.

2 things for you:

--I'm surprised you didn't bring up the almost-balk by Hamels on which Pena got picked off. Did you think that was a balk? (I sure did!!) What exactly does the rulebook say about that move? It was a critical play b/c it was the difference, I believe, between no outs and a man on 2nd vs. one out and no one on.

--How long are the commercial breaks in the World Series? How long are they in other rounds of the playoffs? What about in the regular season? And is this in the contract between MLB and Fox? This is a great point and I hadn't thought of it. I'm tired of these games ending after midnight eastern!

Oct 23, 2008 11:05 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I was about 420 feet away from the mound, so I couldn't tell in real time.

I thought it was a balk, but as I said when it happened, "I've been watching baseball for 35 years, and I really have no idea what a balk is." So consider my opinion accordingly.

I'll try and clock a break tonight. I think they're 2:20 in the regular season and 3:00 in the postseason. The seventh-inning stretch is much longer.

Oct 23, 2008 11:16 AM
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Bad night for the 1st Base umpire. Not only did he mess up with the balk no-call, he should have called Burell out for interference on the Pena bobble (he was running in fair territory).

Oct 23, 2008 11:23 AM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

I believe Burrell has three feet on either side of the baseline, as per the rule book. Didn't see anything about the runner having to stay in foul territory.

Oct 23, 2008 11:52 AM
rating: 0
 
Lance
(871)

You don't get 3 feet on the inside going to first. That long rectangle is the required running area, and if you're mot in it, and there's a play that you could possibly interfere with, you're supposed to be called out. I couldn't believe Maddon didn't scream for the ump to ask for help.

Oct 23, 2008 12:15 PM
rating: 0
 
frampton
(870)

I'm pretty sure there has to be actual contact/interference for the runner to be called out. (The usual call is a throw from the catcher to first -- if you miss the runner he usually isn't called out, hence the coaching advice to catchers to aim at the runner's back.) As Howard didn't make the throw, I think there's no way the runner could be called for interference.

Oct 23, 2008 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
hunter

This is also not true. Runners are frequently called out when a bad throw is made near the runner and the play is not made. Any time the runner has an effect on the play and isn't running inside the box, even if he's just straddling the line as he runs up it. The ball doesn't have to hit the runner, though if the fielder squares up and dots the runner in the back, it's a lot more obvious.

Oct 23, 2008 22:14 PM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

Please quote the rule that states this. Only thing I can find in the official rule book about the baseline is this:

7.08 Any runner is out when—

(a) (1) He runs more than three feet away from his baseline to avoid being tagged unless his action is to avoid interference with a fielder fielding a batted ball. A runner’s baseline is established when the tag attempt occurs and is a straight line from the runner to the base he is attempting to reach safely; or

Oct 24, 2008 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

Never mind. I was wrong. I found the rule:

Rule 6.05 (k) calls the batter out if, "in running the last half of the distance from home base to first base, while the ball is being fielded to first base, he runs outside (to the right of) the three-foot line, or inside (to the left of) the foul line, and in the umpire's judgment in so doing interferes with the fielder taking the throw at first base, in which case the ball is dead."

Oct 24, 2008 11:13 AM
rating: 0
 
Dan

Hey Joe, why are you "(17)" and I am "(14055)"? Is this some sort of crude BP depth chart? I think I'm self-conscious... ;)

Oct 23, 2008 13:02 PM
rating: 0
 
cordially
(917)

I'm almost positive those numbers are primary keys in the database. They're incremented each time an account is created. Joe's was apparently the 17th account created. You're was the 14,055th account.

Oct 23, 2008 13:54 PM
rating: 0
 
Dan

Whoa... Evidently we're on the same page, jramirez! That's pretty weird. (Your post was not up when I started typing mine!)

Oct 23, 2008 11:06 AM
rating: 0
 
BigOwe

Not sure that "sloppy" is the right word to describe the game. Mistakes were made, yes, and in Upton's case, a lackadaisical approach may have cost the Rays. But sloppy? Did you see Feliz play third? Did you watch Zobrist in right? What of Upton's throw to the plate? And since when is going 0-11 with RISP an index of sloppiness? That's mainly pitchers overmatching hitters, no?

Oct 23, 2008 11:18 AM
rating: 1
 
Noel Steere
(965)

Joe,

You really ought to leave out Upton's second double play in this discussion. I'm pretty sure that by the time Upton uncoiled himself after his swing, Feliz was already throwing the ball to Utley. Heck, the play was so fast Utley might have even been throwing it to Howard.

On a related note, has Upton always been swinging this hard, or is the left shoulder causing him to have less control on his follow-through?

Oct 23, 2008 11:19 AM
rating: 5
 
W. Clark

Jimmy Rollins swung at a belt-high fastball more middle than in. It was undoubtedly a strike, and by pretty much any standard a good pitch to hit. It doesn't always work out, but that's the goal.

You can talk about Kazmir digging a hole, and he certainly was wild to the previous few batters. Pretty clearly the reason he was wild was the distraction of Victorino dancing around on the basepaths - a variable mitigated by him being on 3rd base. You are using a silly example to support what is otherwise a reasonable position - that Rollins tends to get himself out by swinging at pitcher's pitches. This was a case of Rollins not putting a great swing on a very hittable pitch.

Oct 23, 2008 11:27 AM
rating: 2
 
baserip4

Completely agree about the television coverage. Why was the first pitch not until 8:39? Did we really need to see The Backstreet Boys (!!!) sing the national anthem in four part harmony? Did ANYONE say "I'm not sure I'll be watching the World Series tonight. What's that? The Backstreet Boys are singing the anthem! I'm definitely watching!" If I'm a casual baseball fan, am I more or less likely to watch Game 2 because I watched 40 minutes of pregame and 80 minutes of baseball between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm or three hours of baseball between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm? Regular season games are routinely played in less than three hours. Even adding 20 or 30 minutes for the slower pace of postseason play, a game that starts at 8:00 pm on the east coast and that has reasonable breaks between innings should finish relatively close to 11:00 pm. Instead, I head for bed after just a few innings knowing that I won't be willing to stay up until nearly midnight for the finish.

Oct 23, 2008 11:29 AM
rating: 3
 
ccmonter

Count me as one of the people who tuned out last night due to the late start and the extended game. I know going in that I am going to have to be up until, if not past, midnight if I want to watch an entire post season game.
I've been doing that up until now and I'm sure I'll do it again but last night, I knew I wasn't going to make so I taped the game and tuned out.

Oct 23, 2008 13:02 PM
rating: 0
 
eighteen

How much money were the players making while they were standing around waiting for the commercials to end?

Plenty.

It isn't just the owners who benefit from advertising revenues.

Oct 23, 2008 11:56 AM
rating: -3
 
Matt L.

I agree that Utley is underrated (particularly considering the perception of many that he's the second or third most valuable position player on his team), but the man has started the past 3 All Star games, so it's not like he's toiling in obscurity. (The best player in the NL, on the other hand, has taken a back seat to Lance Berkman and Prince Fielder the past two years in the 1B voting). Perhaps that says more about lack of depth at Utley's position in the NL, though, and I believe the underrated aspect of this (and what Joe is probably getting at) is that Utley is an outstanding player -- one of the best in baseball -- by any measure (and more particularly in light of his playing an up-the-middle position), rather than just "pretty good for a second baseman."

I don't think the Rays are underrating Utley, and Maddon certainly seems to have done his research and knows who is the more dangerous hitter in the middle of the Phillies line-up (and where the L/R splits stand) -- as the Rays chose to walk Utley in the 9th last night with a man on second and one out and then bring in the lefty to face Howard (who, unsurprisingly, struck out).

Oct 23, 2008 12:07 PM
rating: 2
 
bflaff

Fwiw, Utley had the most All-Star votes in the NL this year, and was a hair behind ARod for most in the majors.

That probably has a lot to do with position depth, since most ASG voting fans would take ARod over Utley in a heartbeat, but it suggests that the unwashed masses are aware of Utley's goodness. And the fact that neither Rollins nor Howard were invited to this year's ASG, or last year's -- it seemed odd that Rollins was the MVP without going to the ASG, but maybe that's not so rare -- indicates that fans understand Utley's relative value to the Phillies (and any team) vs. Howard and Rollins.

Oct 23, 2008 12:34 PM
rating: 0
 
Vinegar Bend
(477)

Rays beat writer thinks Upton wasn't dogging it down the line on the two DPs.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2008/oct/23/henderson-hustle-questions-persist-uptons-not-runn/

I know this guy has probably watched every atbat of Upton's this year. But I distinctly remember the shot of Upton sprinting toward the dogpile after the ALCS Game 7 ended. I think he was running faster at that moment than he did on those DPs last night.

Oct 23, 2008 12:54 PM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I'm glad "one guy" asked the question, although I disagree with both Upton's characterization and the description of the plays in the piece. There's no way he was running as hard as he could. The video was clear on that. Maybe the second DP happens anyway--he hit a rocket--but the first one...uh-uh. He never accelerated.

There's talk that his quad is bugging him, and I can see holding back depending on the game situation, but those were critical outs.

Oct 23, 2008 15:08 PM
 
pkeffer

Joe, be careful. Scoop Jackson will be offended at your criticism of Upton since he thinks that, "He's the role model, he's the torchbearer, he's the savior," of baseball.

Oct 23, 2008 13:05 PM
rating: 0
 
montanabowers

I totally agree with axing the additional time between innings. But let's not stop there! Get rid of FOX in the post season, they have underperformed time and time again. I think that the broadcast teams should be made up of one neutral play-by-play person and one color person from each of the regular season broadcast teams that represent the World Series teams. As a viewer of MLB Xtra-Innings, I would much rather listen to anecdotal stories from mostly ex-major league players who know the team they cover inside and out, than listen to the likes of Joe Morgan or Tim McCarver. McCarver last night, "I think it is safe to say that these two teams are after entirely different rings than those," (after discussing the catwalk rings and ground rules). This guy kills me. No, he really kills me.

Also, how about getting rid of the non-travel days off during playoffs as well. This is not fair to the teams that weathered the season with the deepest pitching staffs. Why should the playoffs be any different than the regular season format. Again, a network/MLB thing to milk more money. Greed is greed, it stinks no matter where it rears its ugly head.

Oct 23, 2008 13:13 PM
rating: 0
 
Mike M

Worse yet, McCarver blew the description of the ground rules concerning the catwalks, even when it was there in writing on the screen.

Oct 23, 2008 13:32 PM
rating: 0
 
ashitaka

How about his comment after Buck described the catwalk rings?

"I guarantee you the players on the field are thinking about a different type of ring." Buck replied "Good one," but I couldn't tell if he was serious or not.

Oct 23, 2008 15:49 PM
rating: 0
 
Steve D.

I'd like to commend Joe on an entire article free of Howard-platooning and strike-zone bashing. We've come a long way, baby.

Oct 23, 2008 13:17 PM
rating: -2
 
Mountainhawk

I love the Howard platoon argument from him. Howard, over his ML career, has averaged around 35 HR and 110 RBI per 600 PA (about a seasons worth for a clean up hitter, I'd think) against lefties, but somehow, that's not good enough to be out there.

I agree with him on the strike zones, but I don't think electronics are the answer. I'd have to see them in action to be convinced.


If last night was a 'must win' for the Phillies, I assume tonight has to be 'must win' for the Rays? This is by far their best pitching matchup of the series the rest of the way, I think. Garza vs Moyer favors the Rays slightly, but Moyer's junkballing can be quite effective against young players not used to it, and the Phillies have won 8 or 9 straight with Blanton on the hill, so I can't think Game 4 is a huge advantage for the Rays, especially in Philly.

Oct 23, 2008 13:31 PM
rating: 0
 
ashitaka

Only elimination games should be considered "must wins". I'm pretty sure a lot of people were saying the first three games of the 2004 ALCS were "must wins" for the Red Sox.

Oct 23, 2008 15:55 PM
rating: 0
 
W. Clark

To add to the relative impetuousness of Sheehan's platoon player argument made repeatedly over the last month, not once has he addressed the very real roster implications involved in such a claim. For a player to be a "platoon player" rather than just a player with big splits, it has to make sense to actually platoon the player.

Howard has a 786ops against lefties over his career, while playing below average defense. To platoon him necessarily means a team have someone on the roster who can do markedly better than that at first base. Maybe this guy plays much better defense while not losing that advantage with the bat. Or maybe he is just a much better hitter than Howard against LHs. More unlikely, maybe he's a better fielder and hitter.

Further, in terms of actual roster construction, how much better would this player have to be for it to be worth it? Consider that as the right-handed part of the platoon, he would only get ~200 ABs over the course of the season. For that, the team would have to use a roster spot for a 1st baseman, who, odds are, plays 1st base because he does not have use playing other positions. So little to no positional flexibility would come from that bench spot. Not the Phillies aren't wasting a roster spot on So T., but isn't that what we want to get away from?

That being said, for the love of god bat the man 7th against lefthanders.

Oct 23, 2008 14:31 PM
rating: 2
 
bflaff

I spent some time this afternoon looking around at who - if anyone - could actually fill the role of Howard platoon partner, because it doesn't seem like an easy role to fill. My criteria was a guy who hit lefties well, didn't hit righties well, and could play a decent first base. I don't know minor league systems well enough to know if there's a lefty-killing, righty-flailing glove man down in the minor leagues who could stand to apprentice with Howard while he got acclimated to the majors, so I might have missed a perfect fit there.

But in the majors, the short list of possibilities seems to be limited to Rich Aurilia, Mike Sweeney, Jeff Baker, and Wes Helms. I hope I didn't miss anyone obvious. Not sure Sweeney would actually work, since I don't know what his glove does these days, and Wes Helms probably isn't going to be brought back since he flopped at CBP last year. If Baker is available maybe he's an interesting guy to bring in, but I assume the Rockies want him to return. So... maybe Aurilia, if you think he still has something left to give. Do you sign either one of those guys, and give up on Howard's ability to hit lefties? Or do you stick with Howard, and hope he learns how to better address his glaring weakness next season?

Oct 23, 2008 16:34 PM
rating: 0
 
Dan

What?? There are only 4 players in the major leagues who can hit right-handed and play first base? That's nuts. First base is the easiest position to play on the diamond.

Am I missing something?

Oct 23, 2008 18:10 PM
rating: 0
 
bflaff

Yes, you're missing something. You're looking for players who can be the platoon partner for Howard, meaning they fill the hole he leaves in the lineup. That hole is hitting lefties. The hypothetical platoon partner is wasted if he can hit lefties *and* righties, so what's the point of signing a person worthy of a full-time role if he's only going to get 180 ABs a season? And what first baseman worthy of a full-time role is going to accept being Howard's lefty platoon handcuff if he has the numbers to justify an everyday role? There's plenty of right-handed first basemen in MLB, but which of them want to go be a benchwarmer for Philly, spotting Howard against lefties? And who, among them, would Philly want?

Oct 23, 2008 20:02 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

This is a team carrying So Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett and Geoff Jenkins. Clay Condrey, too. So the argument that they don't have room on the roster for a platoon partner for Howard is void.

At any time, there are a dozen, two dozen guys who mash lefties, just kill them, but they don't reach or stay in the majors because that's their only skill. Finding one is simple. Having the set to do the right thing and play that one is hard.

Oct 23, 2008 20:12 PM
 
HRFastness

"In the first, Upton checked his swing and hit a grounder to second that became a 4-6-3 double play. The ball was hit slowly, and probably should have been just a forceout, especially given Upton's speed. Upton, however, not only broke slowly from the box, but didn't speed up when he could clearly see that a double play was developing."

Seeing as how his intent wasn't to make contact I forgive him for getting out of the box slow. He's not only trying to pull everything back but is surprised he made contact. Not really fair to include that in a criticism.

Also, I'm not sure we can definitively say he wasn't speeding up. I'm not comparing him to Usain Bolt in terms of speed but their running styles are very similar in and of that they're both look like they're not exerting any extra effort. While I'm usually weary of the MSM jumping all over a catchphrase--in Upton's case, him being a 'glider'--as a track coach I find myself in agreement here with them. His turnover isn't anything special by itself but that coupled with his stride length IS special. His strides are longer than all but a few and his turnover is the same even with the longer strides. He got a bad jump and without a good one for a long-strider it takes more strides to build up the speed.

I didn't see the second play so I can't speak to it.

Oct 23, 2008 13:30 PM
rating: 2
 
Mike Kastellec

Goodness me, was that actual informed commentary on baserunning ability? I don't think I've ever seen such a thing before. Thanks, coach. [Note: "snarky" is as much my default Internet mode as anyone else, but I'm being sincere with the above.]

Oct 23, 2008 14:00 PM
rating: 1
 
ashitaka

I agree, that was fantastic

Oct 23, 2008 16:02 PM
rating: 0
 
jwalker27

I've been to plenty of Durham Bulls games to know that unless it's a clear base hit, Upton won't give it his all going to first base. I've seen scores of ground balls and choppers that he should have been safe or at least made close turn into easy outs.

Oct 23, 2008 15:20 PM
rating: 0
 
Polfro

Hey Joe,

Great analysis as usual from you.

Am I crazy or did it seem as if the Fox camera from CF purposely skewed home plate to the right of the screen to show more of Fox's rotating advertising space on the left side? The CF shot when they get to Philadelphia should tell us the truth, but knowing the crass commercialization of every inch of every Fox telecast (Did we really need an "interview" with the head of Taco Bell in mid-inning?) it wouldn't surprise me a bit.

Oct 23, 2008 16:24 PM
rating: 0
 
matthewshea

I noticed the same thing about the camera. Thought it was weird, but now it makes sense...

Oct 26, 2008 11:28 AM
rating: 0
 
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