Last month, when the NL West preview I wrote with Geoff Young got under the skin of a few readers who found our jibes directed at the Giants to be unfair, I made a half-in-jest promise on Twitter: "[A]nybody got a favorite team? I promise to hate on them unreasonably tomorrow. I will rain down bias." Persistent problems in locating myself along the space-time continuum have prevented that promise from being fulfilled, until now.
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Stephen Strasburg's pitch count sails into uncharted territory during a matchup against the Mets on Wednesday.
In this age of pitch counts and innings caps, every starting pitcher has a limited number of bullets. Even among the hardiest hurlers, nine years have passed since a starter topped 260 innings, and eight since one went past 140 pitches in a game without having either a no-hitter on the line (Edwin Jackson) or simply being Livan Hernandez. These days, it's a rarity for any hurler to come within 10 percent of those marks in a game or a season, and not surprisingly, the more fragile sorts pull up far short. So nobody came out to Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon expecting the matchup between the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg and the Mets' Johan Santana would yield complete game efforts or deep pitch counts, particularly with both pitchers working their way back from 2011 seasons largely lost to injuries. But in their second starts of the season, on a gray day with game-time temperature at a brisk 53 degrees, the two opposing managers tested their aces' limits, and both held up after firing all of their bullets, keeping their opposite offenses to a combined one run through 5 ½ innings before the bullpens took over.
The woe of Boston's bullpen, and debating whether it's important for a closer to have ninth-inning experience.
Andrew Bailey couldn't even wait until Opening Day to get hurt. Before the Red Sox’ most high-profile off-season acquisition could even take the mound during the regular season, the team discovered that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament of his thumb, requiring surgery that could sideline him until at least the All-Star break. General manager Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine resisted the call to push converted set-up man Daniel Bard back to the bullpen, instead namingAlfredo Aceves—another reliever who spent the spring vying for a rotation spot—the interim closer.
What are some of the nagging questions up and down the West Coast?
Continuing the saga I started last week, I've identified one nagging question about each team coming out of spring training, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon. Last Friday began with some East Coast bias, on Monday we got Centralized, and today we run out of real estate on the Western shore.
In conjunction with the publication of Extra Innings, Steven Goldman and Jay Jaffe will read at the popular NYC sports book series.
Thursday is Opening Day, and while the occasion doesn't need any additional embellishments, we have one for New York City-area Baseball Prospectus readers: at 7:30 PM, Steven Goldman and I will be reading from our latest tome, Extra Innings, which officially hits the streets this week. We'll be doing so as part of the Gelf Magazine monthly Varsity Letters series, which played host to Steve and Jonah Keri back in 2007, when Extra Innings' prequel, the popular Baseball Between the Numbers, was the newest game in town. Afterwards, we'll take questions from the audience.
What are some of the big questions surrounding the AL and NL Central?
Continuing what I started with the two East divisions on Friday, I've identified one nagging question I have about each team coming out of spring training, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon as the season nears. Today, it's the two Central divisions.
Spring training is nearly over, but each team still has some nagging questions to answer.
In five weeks of bouncing around the country while watching spring training—or at least the news of it—I've compartmentalized the sore shoulder-driven roster dramas and other mundanities to the point that I'm left with one nagging question for each team, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon as the season nears. Showing my blatant East Coast bias, today I'll run down those loose threads from the near coast, working my way westward next week.
Detailing some of the major panels at the first SABR Analytics Conference and soaking in some spring training action.
I can't do full justice to my trip to Arizona to participate in the inaugural SABR Analytics Conference, which took place from March 15-17 in Mesa, Arizona. Five days in all, part work, part working vacation—and rarely just vacation—the trip was pure sensory overload, a full immersion in a corner of the baseball universe with which I am quite familiar, but one whose size and scope have grown larger than I ever imagined. I couldn't possibly absorb it all, but what follows here and in the second installment is my best attempt to capture some of what I experienced.
How do the junior circuit's rotations shake out when offseason additions are tallied?
Two years ago, the Rangers made a bold gambit that helped end nearly a decade of rotation-driven futility, shifting reliever C.J. Wilson to the starting five and bringing former supplemental first-round draft pick Colby Lewis back from Japan. Both pitchers did what Ranger hurlers of recent vintage had not: miss bats. In 2010, the two pitchers combined for 366 K's in 405 innings, helping the Rangers jump from 12th in the league in strikeouts to fourth. Helped by other upgrades—shortstop Elvis Andrus keyed a defensive turnaround—they won the AL pennant, and last year they repeated the feat.
Which teams have the strongest starting rotations in the senior circuit?
Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in the Baseball Prospectus annual stop at Washington DC's Politics and Prose bookstore. As I joined Steven Goldman, Derek Carty, and Adam Sobsey in the question-and-answer session with the 125 or so attendees—yet another packed house that lived up to our past history there, for which we profusely thank our DC-area readership and the store—the most apparent difference from years past was the bona fide sense of hope the audience had about the Nationals.
Pitchers continue to get injured while batting, so should baseball continue to require NL pitchers to hit?
I'm not known around the Internet as the world'sbiggestA.J. Burnettfan. During last Wednesday's BP roundtable, I even dusted off an old Simpson's riff: "I'm a well-wisher in that I wish him no specific harm." Now, to set the record straight, any voodoo dolls I may have referenced over the past decade or so for any player exist only in my breathlessly hyperbolic narratives, and I would never actually wish injury on a ballplayer, particularly not such an injury as befell Burnett later that day. The recent trade that sent the enigmatic righty from the Yankees to the Pirates mandates that he practice his hitting and bunting, and unfortunately, a less-than-stellar bit of work on the latter sent a ball into his own face, fracturing his right orbital and necessitating surgery. Fortunately, it does not sound as though he suffered a detached retina, which could have threatened his career.