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If I were commissioner for a day, I would set up a fund to help teams build or renovate stadiums and establish some sort of criteria and rotating system by which teams could access the fund. That would take the onus off communities to fund billionaires' playthings but would also level the playing field some between the richest and poorest teams.
Although it is suggested in your stats on things like not using condoms et al, we might also think back to the kinds of stupid things (stupid as a catchall word for everything from illegal, unethical and/or vicious to foolish and/or insensitive, from things we said to things we did) any of us did at that age.
And perhaps consider whether we got away with it, and also what the effect might have been had our "indiscretion" been broadcast to millions of people.
It is not a question of excusing bad behavior, but of recognizing that we often need time to grow out of it.
The last 3 picks were Chevy Clark by the Angels, Justin O'Conner by the Rays and Cito Culver by the Yankees.
Also, if the redraft selections reflect which team actually drafted the player, not which team has him now, then Jesse Hahn should be linked to the Rays, who drafted him at #191 in the 6th round, not the Padres to whom they traded him.
Ditto to wjmcknight37. Terrific article. Great fun.
I also picked the Pirates offer. Please check the meds on Pederson. I know it is supposed to be a minor injury, but it is a shoulder. And be sure to account for the Pacific Coast League when looking at the stats.
Also, what has Lee done so far to indicate his floor is so high? And for that matter, what has a 22 year old Anderson done in High A to make him a significant get?
I am concerned that neither Glasnow nor Bell have established themselves at AA yet, but at least Bell is hitting in the pitcher friendly FSL and Glasnow has been very impressive even accounting for the league.
It probably eliminates them, but I don't think the Cardinals make sense unless Taveras is in the deal.
The issue is not length of games; it is the pace of games. And while I agree that enforcing the 12 second rule would help, rule 6.02 (briefly mentioned in the article) might be even more applicable and, if enforced, would speed up the pace-not the time necessarily-of games. That is the rule that batters must remain in the batter's box during an at bat except under exceptional circumstances when the umpire may allow a time out. The rule is very clear that umpires should allow time-outs only in special situations and not as a matter of course.
If a batter steps out without the umpire's permission, the umpire may call a strike and continue to do so until the batter is out or gets back in the box. Enforcing that rule would keep the action moving.
Why is it that you have Balfour as tier 3 in all four categories and Papelbon as tier 2 in all four, yet you give Balfour a 3 star ranking and Papelbon just a 2 star ranking?
Similarly with Street, he has two tier 3s, a tier 2 and tier 1 but also falls below Balfour in ranking.
There are other instances that seem to be anomalies as well. For example, Perkins has three tier 3s and a tier 4 but is given 4 stars, more than Romo with two tier 3s, a tier 2 and tier 1.
Am I reading &/or interpreting your chart incorrectly?
I think you might move Jake McGee into the group above as a pitcher who throws hard and could pick up saves, especially if Balfour has a problem. In fact, he might belong 2 groups higher.
Robbie Ray is with the Tigers, not Nationals.
It may not seem to proceed logically from the dimensions, but Tropicana Field has generally been rated as pitcher friendly.
Jesse Hahn is not longer on the Rays. They traded him to San Diego along with Torres for Forsythe and a package of prospects.
While there is some analogy (and of course Myers could fall flat on his face), I think you carry it too far. Middlebrooks had a 4.5% BB rate in his first major league trial and just 5.3% last year. Myers BB rate was 8.8%, and kept improving as the year went on.
In fact, after starting the year with 1BB in 55 PAs, he walked over 10% of the time the next two months, and fell back to about 7.8% in September, not unusual for rookies to fade a bit as they tire from the longer season.Overall, he had a 5.4% rate in the first half (162 PAs) and a 10.3% rate in the second half (261 PAs).
Also, Middlebrooks never walked much in the minors while Myers generally had a double digit BB rate there. While the K rates were very comparable, Myers has shown a much better ability to take a walk. Referring to a few games does not really tell us much about Myers's future performance.
Well done Russell.
It will be interesting to follow how the Yankees try to build a contender for 2014. Do they go the Boston route, picking up shorter term contracts and lesser money contracts to fill their holes with solid contributors or players they bank on bouncing back?
For example, might they seek to sign players like Corey Hart or James Loney to solidify 1B/DH and in Hart's case to bring a power RH bat. Might they forgo chasing Cano and settle for Ellis or Infante, or perhaps Kelly Johnson to play 2B, or provide versatility? Perhaps instead of overpaying for Garza or Santana, they look to Arroyo, Colon, Haren, Niemann, Volquez or similar pitchers to fill out the rotation. (Might they even invite Halladay in the hope he rebounds?)
Or do they go all in on Cano and Choo and perhaps either trade for or sign a bigger ticket starter? Or perhaps a combination of attacks. Sign Choo and fill in around him with Hart, K. Johnson, Arroyo and Feldman.
No matter what, there are a lot of holes to fill, and even then a lot of serious question marks in players like Jeter, Soriano, Pineda and others. There are a few upper level minor leaguers, especially in the OF, who may make the forecast more positive, but it is hard to see this team as among the favorites to make the post-season. The odds that many projected regulars will crater or at least decline are probably better than that any will improve. So even adding back significant talent (like Cano and Kuroda) might be treading water.
"And because the Yankees are likely to find themselves in the thick of a playoff race—but have too many weaknesses to secure a spot by a wide margin, as they have in some seasons—those wins are worth more to them than they would be to the typical team." I wonder about this statement.
I was amazed that the Yankees were in contention for much of last year given the triple A nature of much of their lineup. And while I agree that McCann is a big upgrade and also that with their resources the Yankees may still find enough talent to contend in 2014, it seems to me their team has a lot more questions with likely negative answers than it has players in whom they can be confident.
Look at your own depth chart. It includes Teixeira and Jeter, both coming off injury at advanced ages and with signs of serious decline. Nunez and J. Nix complete the infield; neither is much above average if that.
The outfield has a solid contributor in Gardner, probably the second best player (after McCann) on the team, and includes Soriano and Ichiro. Despite Soriano's late season surge, he seems on a steep downslope, and Ichiro is clearly a lesser player. The DH is listed as Wells. That team is barely average either offensively or defensively as it currently stands unless there are some remarkable turnarounds. Nor does the bench seem particularly impressive.
The pitching staff looks marginally better, but also loaded with serious questions. Does 2013 presage Sabathia becoming a mid-rotation starter? Are Warren and Phelps more than # 3s or 4s? Can Pineda come back from his injury and dismiss doubts about the depth of his arsenal?
Again, there is time for the Yankees to acquire lots more talent, including Cano and Kuroda of course, but the team you currently project does not seem to me a true contender.
"This is a team with a good young nucleus that can certainly compete for a playoff spot next year thanks to a strong offensive core and an outstanding bullpen."
While I agree that the Royals should explore a trade of Butler, I am skeptical about this statement that they have a strong offensive core. Aside from Butler, one of the few Royals to get on base at a good rate, who besides Hosmer, Perez and Gordon make up that core? And Gordon's numbers slipped considerably for the second straight year.
There is little power on this team, little on-base ability and quite a few dead spots. A team with 4 above average hitters (3 if Butler is dealt) may have a solid offensive core, but in this case those hitters have demonstrated at best only moderate power and BA and little else, and they are surrounded by some dreadful hitters, not adequate ones.
Last season KC was below league average in runs per game. They were last in home runs and very low in slugging, walks, OPS+, total bases and doubles. They were first in stolen bases, which is nice, and did well in BA and triples and had the fewest strikeouts of any AL team. Those are positives, but the overall profile is of a poor offense.
I don't see much major league ready offense on the farm either. Giving up one of its better hitters for a mid-rotation pitcher, even if he could fetch someone like Straily, which I doubt, would probably simply maintain the very good rotation of 2013 (since Santana is probably gone) while further weakening a suspect offense that doomed their chances last year.
I think you are stretching a point by including Delmon Young. If the argument is that he played in only 23 games for the Rays and had just 70 PAs, a case could be made that he was simply along for the ride.
But his overall line for TB was .258/.329/.452 with a 117 OPS+ and according to BB-Ref, .3 WAR in that short time. He also had 3 doubles and 3 home runs while in TB.
More to the point is your dismissal of those last 9 games when the Rays were desperately trying to recover from their terrible slump when they lost traction in the race for the post-season. In that span, Young hit .290/.343/.548 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles and 6 RBIs in 31 ABs (35 PAs) as a key contributor to the sweeps of Baltimore and NY on the road.
As a matter of fact, while the sample size is far to small to tell us anything, he was in that time a relatively disciplined hitter. While in TB, he struck out just 9 times in his 70 PAs (13%) and walked 6 times (8.5%). That may be a mirage in terms of him changing his approach, but the point is he did do it, and it made him a positive force at the plate.
Goose Gossage from lights out reliever to mediocre/poor starter to Hall of Fame fireman.
I also like J.P. Howell who embraced moving from starter to reliever so enthusiastically and for a short time was a key to the Rays success in 2008 and after.
Hahn has not pitched since July 21. His last outing was pretty bad-just 2 innings giving up 3 hits, 3 runs and 3BBs with 0 Ks. Any idea why he has been idle? Did he reach his innings cap already?
My particular hated baseball cliches is any variation on the phrase about "old school" baseball.
It is possible that over the years styles and priorities have changed somewhat, and sometimes it is used to praise a particular player, but ordinarily the phrase is used as a swipe at current ball players suggesting they do not try as hard or are less interested in fundamentals or some such nonsense.
What is particularly galling when I hear this is that it is now uttered by players who retired a few years ago, the very players who were the object of the same derisive comments when they played, as has every generation of players.
Eric Davis, Pete Reiser
I don't have any idea who was the best ever, but because I want him to be remembered, I will add Paul Blair to the list of candidates in CF.
We will all have our pet projects. Mine is Edgar Martinez. In my view, he is to the DH what Mariano Rivera is to closers. Both roles are relatively new, albeit the DH is now 40 years old, and in both cases there are legitimate arguments over the relative value of the role compared to position players and starting pitchers respectively.
Like Mariano, Edgar is the greatest at his role in the history of the game. Perhaps an argument can be made for David Ortiz as comparable, but I think Edgar has the edge. No need to review his stats. Whether seen as raw data or in comparison to his peers, his offense was elite.
There are players in the HOF based primarily on their defense. There are many players in based almost exclusively on their offense, in some cases where their contributions are actually diminished because of poor defense and/or base running. It makes no sense to penalize a player who provides little to no defensive value when we honor those with negative value. I do think the offensive ceiling for a DH to qualify has to be higher than that of a position player, but Edgar crashes through that ceiling.
Imagine picking a starting lineup for the greatest team of all time, only using players who filled the role in real life.
C: Bench (Berra?)
1B: Gehrig (Pujols?)
2B: Morgan (Hornsby? Collins?)
LF: Williams (Bonds?)
RHSP: Johnson (Clemens? Seaver? Maddux? Pedro?)
LHSP: Grove (Johnson?)
See the point? Of the 12 players, he is one of just 6 about whom there could be no debate.
I don't think he was as great a player as any of those because either they were dramatically better hitters (Ruth) or they added significant defensive value to their game (Schmidt). And I also do not like to compare players to less qualified HOFers like Rice or Hafey.
But I think most people accept that McCovey, Stargell, Killebrew and Reggie Jackson definitely belong in the HOF, and none were good defensively. Compare Edgar's offensive numbers to theirs and I think it clear he fits in very neatly with them.
My point is exactly that; three of the anticipated rotation have question marks about health. Two of those three are considered, along with Wainwright, to constitute the top of that rotation. I think Carpenter is a huge "if" and Garcia very uncertain. I am not writing them off, simply noting that they are question marks who may impel the Cardinals to cover their possible absence with someone other than rookies.
Depth-in terms of numbers-does not equal quality. Miller and Rosenthal are certainly exceptional talents, but they are rookies, or virtual rookies. Rosenthal has appeared in 19 major league games throwing 22.2 innings without ever starting and only once going 3 innings. He also pitched 8.2 innings over 7 post-season games.
Miller has 6 games in the majors with 1 start and 13.2 innings plus another 2 games and 3.1 innings.
Each pitched brilliantly, but that experience is too limited to be comforting to a serious contender.
Of the remaining pitchers you mention, Wainwright is a star and Lynn had a terrific season, but Kelly is also inexperienced while Rzepczynski has not started in 2 years and never threw more than 63.2 innings in a season.
Perhaps "thin" was an inaccurate term, but the question (and it is only a question) remains. Might the Cardinals be looking for an established starter to bolster a staff that has age, injury and experience question marks? It may not be a priority, but I think it may be a concern.
Is there a chance that St. Louis will be looking for starters? I know they have a deep system and probably 7 or 8 pitchers who most think can succeed in the majors right now. But, of those starters, Garcia may start the season on the DL. Carpenter is coming off an injury that kept him sidelined most of the year at age 37 (and has an injury history). Westbrook is a back of the rotation starter who did not pitch after Sept. 2. That leaves them with Wainwright, Lynn, Kelly and still untested Miller and Rosenthal.
For a serious contender, that seems awfully thin.
"Beyond that, I’ve got Oliver for lefties"
You mean Choate, I think.
Exactly what "attitude" is Russell Carleton talking about in his comments on Upton? "Attitude" is a slippery word that can mean anything from "doesn't work hard" to "has no enthusiasm" to "doesn't take coaching" or any of a number of other negatives.
There were some highly publicized events early in his career that some thought meant he did not hustle. They were exaggerated, and what was usually left out of the stories were his responses to being benched or criticized. In fact, in one instance, his exceptionally positive attitude towards being moved down in the lineup was perversely misinterpreted as a negative.
There have been no incidents in the past year or two. In fact, those in the know focus on his extra effort, his excellent work ethic and his dedication to improving. So what "attitude" problem should prospective bidders be concerned with?
I think what is often overlooked in that first game is that Eckersley got the first two outs (pop-up and strikeout) rather easily and then facing Mike Davis (.196/.260/.270) walked him. In 1988, in 72.2 innings, Eckersley walked just 11batters, and Davis had 25 BBs and 2 home runs in 310 PAs that year. It was, at least to me watching it, completely unexpected and is the reason I cast Eckersley as the goat. Of course the Gibson home run has the qualities of myth-legitimately so. But that walk set it up.
Jesse Hahn seems to be pitching very well for Hudson Valley. Do you have any scouting reports on him?
How about to Kansas City for a package built around Wil Myers?Maybe include a lesser prospect like Clint Robinson and one somewhere in between.
I remember it happening some time in the early 1960s. I think the pitchers were Hal Reniff &/or Jim Coates, but the details escape me. I only remember it happening because it was so odd.
In this case, it is only officially true that Cook got the final out of the inning. He was on the mound when it happened, but he did not actually get any batters out. Rather, a base runner was thrown out by an outfielder after Cook gave up a hit.
Yes, I think that makes sense-especially the last paragraph. Of course, many myths stick to particular players or situations and get repeated so that they enter the collective memory as truth. Babe Ruth holding Huggins outside the window of a speeding train, for example.
And as for exact transcriptions of telegrams rather than paraphrasing, how do we know they are transcriptions rather than the imagination of the writer? Are the actual telegrams available? Does Western Union have a record of them somewhere?
Until sabermetrics, the dominant means for passing on baseball history was the story-often embellished to make for more exciting reading. Sports pages in particular rarely let the facts intrude on a good tale.
I am guessing, like you, that there is some substance to the story of the telegrams but that the predictions were right about as often as any such things are. Perhaps the manager used them to motivate his players; perhaps superstitions grew around them the way they did around Charlie "Victory" Faust.
What I find most interesting, even puzzling, is that such a story did not become one of the mainstays of baseball mythology.
Why do you believe this happened? I see the newspaper report, but that seems to be a story just before the "mystery man" was wrong. Are there any accounts of the telegrams before then-or evidence that they existed? What is the reporter's source for any of this story anyway?
Reads like a fraud to me.
It may be a bit premature, but ditto on Abreu and also consider Andruw Jones and Ichiro.
Loved the Vizquel article. It should have been thought provoking, not anger inducing, but you apparently knew what would happen.
As is always the case, picking just 34 players requires omitting some excellent performers (or if you are of another mind, requiring 34 players and each team represented means some mediocre players get selected). I think your picks make sense just as substituting for some of your choices can be reasonable as well.
In my view, for example, if you need a Boston player on the roster, I would pick David Price over Lester and find a place for Ortiz either as DH or on the bench. Price is out pitching Lester in most categories-and is close in the others-according to both BB-Ref and Fangraphs. Meanwhile, Ortiz is having another remarkable season.
Not mentioned in your write-up, but I notice that Josh Sale was pulled from the game shortly after his second AB, a double. Any information on why?
Ray Chapman was just 29 when he was killed by the Carl Mays pitch. He had developed into a very good player who is now known primarily for dying rather than for his baseball skills. But had he lived, we might be counting him a candidate for the Hall of Merit if not for the Hall of Fame.
I certainly trust their judgment on that better than mine. Glad to hear it.
I absolutely agree with your remarks on the Rodriguez bunt. Given his success against lefties, the batters who followed him and thinking too about playing for one run against the Yankees, it seemed to me a poor decision.
I was also baffled that Pena threw home. The ball was hit so hard, and Alex Rodriguez was barely off 1B when Pena gloved it, that the simplest play seemed to be the 3-6-3 DP to end the inning.
There were other misplays, but those were the two that irked me. Still, the atmosphere was electric, and the Pena performance is what baseball stories are made of.
Did the game really demonstrate Molina's ability to frame pitches? I did not see many examples of the Rays getting borderline calls. In fact, if anything (and Peralta especially), it seemed they were getting squeezed a bit. I sit just behind a stadium TV that sometimes shows replays of pitches, and on that strikeout of Swisher he seemed to throw 5 strikes but two were called balls. (I also thought Molina should have moved to smother that Shields wild pitch rather than try to backhand it.)
What about the extension for Matt Moore?
"A huge risk signing him to his expensive contract" ???????
The Rays are committed to paying him for 5 years: $1 million, 1 million, 1 million, 3 million, 5 million. They have a $2.5 million buyout in year 6 and options to keep him for $7 million, 9 million and 10 million for years 6-8. So with the $.5 million signing bonus, they are committed to pay $14 million over 5 years.
I don't see that either as a huge risk or an expensive contract for someone who projects to be as good as Moore. Of course he may fail, but even if he does, the money is not crippling even for the Rays.
I have a question. This is apparently your approach:
"I approach it as if I were a major league club. What I'm sharing with you is what is known in the industry as a "pref list." That is, if I were an MLB club trading for one these players, this is the order i which I would try to acquire them. Every team maintains such a list for all 30 clubs; this is mine."
If that is the case, why do you have Matt Purke at #91 when he was not chosen until the 3rd round while many not on your list were picked in the 1st & 2nd rounds? I can certainly understand that your evaluation is different from that of 30 other teams, but what is it about Purke-or about those picked much higher-that leads you to a conclusion so different from theirs, especially since there is no pro data on him since the draft?
BB-Ref has Whitey Ford at 55.3 WAR. Why do you have 36.2?
I am glad you modified your argument somewhat in #14. I don't think the reality is that "anyone can close". It makes sense that some pitchers might have problems in that role simply because there are psychological factors that vary from pitcher to pitcher. And perhaps getting that last out does bother some.
But I think it is a straw man argument. I don't think the argument is that "anyone" can close but that the ability is not as rare as many make it out to be. The history of closers clearly demonstrates that many pitchers, formerly deemed unable to close, manage quite nicely given the chance. And every year, teams discover relievers with no previous experience as closers who do the job.
Additionally, historically the role did not even exist for most of baseball history. Yet many and varied pitchers routinely got the last out, even in the biggest games. Are we to say that suddenly, some time in the late 1980s, fewer pitchers had the fortitude to do what so many before them had done? Isn't that just a closet variety of the "Back in my day" argument?
Will you include contract extensions? For example, when I looked for transactions by Andrew Friedman, I did not find the Matt Moore extension listed. Am I missing it, is there some step I did not take or are such deals not included?
I am not sure why you mention RF as a hole in the offense. Isn't the likely starter there Matt Joyce who has been groomed for that spot and performed well there last year? He still may have problems with lefties (which is why Guyer may get some time there), but is a solid defender and base runner as well as a hitter with solid plate discipline and power.
I have read that the new stadium will be pitcher friendly-intentionally. Florida parks usually are anyway because of the humidity. But the dimensions seem comparable to Petco:
Miami: LF line: 340'; LF alley: 384'; Deepest: 420';
Dead Center: 416'; RF alley: 392'; RF line: 335'
Petco: LF line: 334'; LF alley: 401'; CF: 396'; RF alley: 400';
RF line: 322'; Straight away LF & RF are 367' & 382'
There are some questions about the effect of humidity, but generally FSL offense is depressed compared to other high A venues.
That said, I am very dubious about signing any closer to such a lengthy and expensive contract, especially one about whom there are some red flags in his last season.
I was going to mention Alston. And of course, McCarthy should definitely be included in the Yankee pantheon. Indeed, one could make a case for Miller Huggins as the first really successful manager of the franchise and even Ralph Houk for his association with the 1961 team.
I think you might consider Danny Murtagh for the Pirates.
"Washington had to pinch-hit for Feldman with Esteban German...."
Why did he have to pinch hit there? There were 2 outs with a runner on 1B. Which would you prefer in an extra inning game, the chance that German either drives in the run or extends the inning so that someone else does, and then try to hold the lead with Lowe? Or keep Feldman in the tie game hoping he can maintain the tie until your better hitters come up to start an inning?
It seems to me your priority in an extra inning game is to keep the home team from scoring, and Feldman gives you a far better chance to do that than Lowe does. If the odds of scoring a go-ahead run are good it might make sense to go for it with a pinch hitter, but why do it with 2 outs, a runner on 1B and a lesser hitter?
Wouldn't the loss to Shields if he moved to Miami be defensive support rather than (or more than) offensive support?
I think the Rays prospect at Princeton is Ryan Brett, not Aaron.
Your comment is not supported by the facts. In 2011, in game situations considered late and close, Napoli is hitting .270/.325/.568. In high leverage situations, he is hitting .244/.354/.561. With runners in scoring position and 2 outs he is hitting .280/.438/.760
I have no doubt you recall specific situations when he failed in crucial moments, but as with all anecdotal evidence those memories drown out the reality. There is factual evidence that in some cases he has failed to drive in key runs, but no more than any productive hitter does, and of course given the sample size hardly a signifier of much.
Many fans have picked on particular players they recall having failed when they were watching and assume they choke. I knew a Mets fan who thought Strawberry only homered when games were out of reach. That was factually incorrect, but no amount of clear evidence could change his mind. He knew what he saw and assumed it reflected TRUTH.
Incidentally, if you look at Napoli's career stats in "clutch" situations, you have a better point, but even in that case you are oversimplifying.
Shouldn't you note in your remarks on Seattle that they also acquired Trayvon Robinson in the Bedard deal, an acquisition that makes their work at the deadline even more impressive. They also got Chiang from Boston, a player having a very good season even if he has not been considered a top prospect.
And finally, apparently the deal with Detroit includes one more prospect to be selected from among the top three 2010 Tiger draft picks. All in all, a pretty good haul for what they gave up.
It seems to me that the Rays have a similar problem of underachieving players at shortstop and also at catcher. In fact they are 4th in run scoring in the AL East, closer to last than third. I would love to read your views on what decisions they might make to address these issues-or do you not consider them contenders?
Do you have data to indicate that Maddon overuses bunting? My impression is that he tends not to use it much, at least not the sacrifice. Here is a link that discusses the issue a bit in regards to the post-season, I believe last year:
I think it is a bit of an overstatement to call Dietz's 1970 season as "one of those wonderful flukes, a one hit wonder". It was certainly his best offensive year, but he had been a plus offensive catcher for a few years already and his next year, while he lost 48 points on his average and had 54 fewer PAs, he had just 3 fewer home runs and 12 fewer walks so that his OPS+ went from 152 to 130 according to BB-Ref. His WAR in that same source declined from 4.5 to 3.7. Fangraphs has similar figures.
I understand that the defensive value for catchers is calculated incompletely in your system, but note that with 25 passed balls in 1970, Dietz led the league in that special season.
In any case, while not disputing that his 1970 season was a career year for him, I don't think it represents a fluke or one hit wonder in the sense that a poor player suddenly plays like an all-star and then disappears.
"In terms of an alternative to intentional walks, pitching around a hitter accomplishes very little, as it merely increases the ratio of walks to non-walks without significantly affecting how well the hitter performs if he isn't actually walked. In other words, if you'd rather have a walk than whatever the hitter normally does if he doesn't walk, then you should walk him. If you'd rather have what he normally does, you should pitch to him normally."
But isn't this the point of protection, to force other teams to make that choice? Because while you have scaled the figures to 600 ABs, it seems to me the real issue is not what the batter does when he gets a hittable pitch, but what he might have done had he gotten more hittable pitches. How many hits and extra base hits are lost when the batter is left unprotected-not as a percentage of hit balls but as a total in an equal number of plate appearances? Isn't that the real question raised by protecting batters?
Do you have any information on Zach Cox's fielding? I was at the Thursday game, and he had a terrible game in the field. I counted 4 plays that he should have made but bobbled or just swiped at. In fact, I don't think he had an assist or put out all game but made those mistakes. Only one was called an error, but that was generous. Did I see an anomaly or is he considered a very poor fielder.
Michael Street has the Yankees in third place behind the Red Sox and Rays but also has them winning the wild card?
I count 5 Rays: Hellickson (9), Moore (10), Jennings (18), Archer (70), McGee (73).
It was a disappointing first outing, one in which his velocity was way below what had been advertised.
However, from that point on, Jake appeared in 7 more games pitching 4.2 innings. Over that stretch, he allowed 2 hits (1 double), 0 walks, 5 Ks and 0 runs. He threw 45 of his 65 pitches for strikes and his velocity sat in the mid 90s. He finished every inning in which he pitched except for his last outing when he got 2 outs, one on a K, and gave up 1 hit and was relieved for the final out of the inning.
I agree that this may very well be a win-win deal. From the Rays perspective you touch on the savings in salary, a factor that may allow them to acquire useful parts to continue their contender status next year and after. I am less pessimistic than you about their ability to compete with both Boston and NY as well as the improving Toronto and Baltimore.
Another factor for the Rays to consider is that Hellickson seems ready to pitch in the majors. With 6 starters, something had to be done. Perhaps one might have been pushed to the bullpen, but it would probably not be smart for it to be Hellickson, and I think the Rays are loath to do that with the only other viable candidate, Niemann. So someone had to go, and it made sense to be Garza who would bring back the most (apart from Price). So it is not just that Hellickson may replace Garza adequately but that they had to find a spot for him or have him waste away in Durham.
According to Cots, Shields is due $4.25 million in 2011 which makes him almost certainly cheaper than Bell. After that it is all club options. Perhaps there is concern the Rays would non-tender him in 2012 and so lose a chance to get some talent in return, but I do not see them increasing payroll, especially to get a closer no matter how good he is. Soriano was the exception to their way of doing business. I doubt the Rays would do Shields for Bell straight up let alone give up Brignac too.
And I also am not so sure he is "out of favor". I know there is debate about whether Shields is declining and some of his numbers look terrible, but there is reasonable evidence, such as his K & BB rates, to suggest 2010 was atypical. In fact, I would guess that Bartlett is more out of favor than is Shields, particularly as his defense seems to have declined, while Brignac is highly regarded for his defense with legitimate hopes that he can surpass Bartlett's offense as well.
I thought that the Rays actually had a deal in place with Lincecum as they assumed Longoria would go to Colorado. When Longoria was still there at #3, they picked him. Do I remember correctly?
One of my objections to most criticisms of managerial decisions is that they are so uncompromising. With rare exceptions, a manager's decisions are a choice among several reasonable options, not right or wrong. For example, there are many reasons Maddon might have selected Qualls in that situation rather than someone else. Analysis should establish the variety of possibilities and the pros and cons of each, and even then ought to be modest enough to recognize there might yet be other factors the analyst is not privy to.
The same goes for his decision to start and then pull Shields or to start Jennings. Each is easily defensible, and while it is fine to speculate about why another decision might have had benefits, it is foolish to assert that the manager's choice was simply wrong.
To piggyback on this point, Beckham has shown improvement as a 20 year old in high A ball. He is walking more, making fewer errors and stealing bases at a better rate than in the past. While he is not outstanding in any category, I don't think it is time yet to say he has stalled. Although his K rate has worsened some, his walk rate has more than doubled and his SB% has risen from 57% to 68%. One result is that while his doubles power is also down (albeit not his home runs and triples), his OBP has risen from .297-.328-.343.
All in all, while Posey certainly appears now to have been the better selection, and Beckham has disappointed, given his reported work ethic and tools, I think optimism is still reasonable and thinking he has stalled overlooks some important growth.
I think the network is a mix of excellent and meh, certainly better than I remember ESPN (I haven't watched it in years) which was a mix of dreadful and beyond words dreadful.
I like the Costas interviews very much. The replays of classic games are great fun and the instructional segments (I have forgotten its name) are very interesting. Incidentally, in a recent replay of a 1984 game announced by Kubek and ?, Kubek was making and remaking the point that BA is a highly overrated stat and that getting on base was more important. Even some of the cutesy type shows like the "9 greatest ...." type things are fun if not taken seriously.
Every once in a while a bit of more advanced analysis slips in, but that is rare, and it difficult to watch any of the shows on which the panel of "experts" say anything. My major criticism of the network is that as it is focused on baseball exclusively, it should be more cutting edge and find some time for serious discussion of the statistical advances being made and more bold thinking about the game and its issues. Instead, it recycles pap.
You can limit the number of pickoff throws the way Bill James has suggested. You simply allow 3 (or pick a number) of throws without penalty if the runner is not caught. After that, every throw that fails to pick off the runner is a ball. But if you nail the runner, there is no penalty. Thus, the pitcher has to be more judicious, not simply lobbing over there for example, while the runner cannot simply take too big a lead since he will likely be caught.
Good luck Russell.
One quibble. It has been said before, but bears repeating that although West and others have complained about the length of games, what they really mean is the pace of games. I don't think people are upset with 4 hour games that feature lots of action; they don't like 3 hour games that drag because of trips to the mound, batters leaving the batter's box, pitchers meditating on the mound and so on.
So the solution, if there is any consensus that the pace needs to be picked up, is not concerned with getting quicker outs but moving the action along.
I do want to note that I am not in the least bothered by the slow pace of games or their length but respect the opinions of those who are.
My son and I attended the Suns game. I claim no scouting acumen, but it seemed to me that Stanton has an incredibly quick bat. He looks very athletic. He looked very graceful beating out the double at 2B.
On the double, his bat shattered but it still turned into a solid line drive down the left field line. The home run was something else again, a laser beam line drive to dead center field that left the ball park in a hurry.
You may be right except for the phrase "ridiculous machinations". There was nothing ridiculous about the moves, and machinations connotes sneakiness rather than tactical. There is certainly nothing ridiculous about the tactic when a grounder that sneaks through the infield or a long fly ball ends the game.
In any case it is possible that having 4 infielders on the right side of 2B allowed Pena to play closer to the line, even if only by a foot or two, and so made it more likely he gets to the Ortiz grounder and in position to throw home. And similarly, having Zobrist play right behind 2B may clear the shortstop to cheat a bit to 3B and Longoria to play closer to the line which led to the easy 5-3 DP.
Again, perhaps the results would have been the same without the flooded infield, but the move made sense and could have influenced the outcome.
I am surprised to see Thayer in the Rays' bullpen instead of Benoit. If he is healthy, I think it is Benoit, although I suppose the Rays might start him in AAA to build his arm strength.
Stengel could be very funny, but pretty nasty as well. I think Francona overlooked or soft-pedaled that in remarking on the quotation about wanting to keep a fellow on the team but needing to win the pennant.
I think there is a story that Stengel once sat down on the bench next to a player and said "Son, one of us has just been traded" or something like that. It is funny-to us. I am not sure the player would have appreciated the humor.
I don't think it likely that Sonnanstine will be in the Rays' rotation. In fact, there is a real chance he won't even be on the 25 man roster. The most likely rotation is Shields, Garza, Price, Niemann, Davis. And should a problem develop, Hellickson is probably first in line. Right now, Sonnanstine seems to be in a competition for a bullpen slot, and with Soriano, Howell, Balfour, Wheeler and Cormier probably definites, that leaves him in competition with Choate (who is also likely to make it) and newly acquired Benoit for the last 2 spots which also feature a number of other legitimate contenders.
I think Hellickson is an excellent choice for someone to follow this spring, but given a choice, I would have selected Matt Joyce instead. While it is unlikely that Hellickson is fighting for a rotation spot coming out of spring training, that is exactly what Joyce is doing, and while he is not as highly regarded as Jeremy, the Rays do hope he can become a regular in RF, or at least a successful platoon player there. The 2B/RF competition is one of the major stories for TB this spring, and Joyce is a major part of that story.
What makes the Joyce story more compelling is that his success or failure will determine the wisdom (in the mainstream media) of the Edwin Jackson trade.
"That doesn't guarantee he was clean...."
I may be a minority of one on this issue, but I want to point out that in my view our use of the language prejudices all discussion of the issue of PEDs in favor of those who decry them and gives aid and comfort, therefore, to those I consider the enemies of reason.
I do not consider that those who used steroids or any PEDs were doing anything wrong or "unclean" or have to admit to anything, atone for anything or feel guilty about anything. At most I might accept that what they did was a misdemeanor, akin to not feeding a parking meter.
But even those who wish to stop the witch hunt use the language of the inquisitors: clean vs. unclean, cheaters, guilty, and similar terms. It is asking the Salem victims to fess up to being witches because they wished harm on someone whose cow got sick or the conversos to recant because they hid a Hebrew text in their home. It is asking us to accept the guilt of the Stalin purge victims because they confessed to crimes against the state. Maybe the times demanded it, but it did not make it legitimate, even if the accused themselves accepted the judgment of their peers and were genuinely contrite.
I understand your reasoning for considering players still on the writers' ballot. But if you were to eliminate them, would "Indian" Bob Johnson be in the discussion for LF?
Yes, other draftees in lower rounds that year include Iannetta, Bergesen, Ohlendorf, Marson, Zobrist, Mike Saunders, Dexter Fowler and Mark Reynolds.
The Rays consider that one of their more successful drafts, although it remains to be seen if that will be the case. After Niemann, the Rays selected Reid Brignac, Wade Davis, Fernando Perez and Andy Sonnanstine, all of whom have played in the majors. Jake McGee was also picked that year. All of them remain possible contributors, in some cases as with Davis with high expectations.
"Getting to see new teams play for the championship so often since then has been great. Variety is the spice of life, man."
As a matter of fact, more competitive than at any time in the history of the game. 1996-2001 was an anomaly in this era. It could just as easily been the Braves or Indians who did it. In fact, the 1995 World Champion Braves were probably a better team than the post-season novice 1996 Yankees and blew out NY in the first 2 games. They certainly had a better rotation than NY.
I will add my voice about Raines. He was an elite player and not in the least borderline.
As a lifetime Yankee fan since the 1950s, I might be biased in favor of Mattingly, but cannot be that irrational. He was a fine player for a short time and had his career continued for more years at the quality of his peak he would have certainly been a solid candidate. But as is, he is not really even close. In fact I have often argued against Dale Murphy who I agree does not belong but who has a slightly better case than Mattingly.
I do not understand the logic behind your picks. While I agree with some, it seems to me that the listing of awards and some very traditional stats as the evidence with no effort to consider baselines or context is odd for a BP writer.
I believe the Blue Jays turned around and traded Michael Taylor (whom they received in the Halladay deal) to the As for Wallace.
I think the Rays with Aybar (2B and corner infield), Zobrist (2B, OF and if necessary SS and 1B), Sean Rodriguez (2B, SS, OF), Kapler (all 3 OF), Joyce (all 3 OF) and in a pinch probably Longoria at SS, Brignac at 2B, Crawford in CF and Upton in RF) have a pretty flexible group of players. And if Fernando Perez is over his injury and on the team he can also play any OF position.
And most of them can play the various positions at least adequately. It is probably only the catchers, Pena and Burrell who are only 1 position players. In fact, if looking at last year's team, you could add Iwamura as a 2B/3B player and Gross for all 3 OF positions as well.
I flew from NY to St. Petersburg, Florida to pick up my son so we could then drive to Chatanooga to see Andruw Jones play. He was on the visiting team. We got there in the evening intending to see the next day's game, but as it was early enough we drove out to the ball park to catch the last 3 innings. So we did see Andruw at bat; he struck out.
The next day, it poured and the game was cancelled. We thought we might stay another night to catch the last game of the series, but as we were driving to lunch we got the report that Jones had just been promoted to Richmond. Our schedule did not permit us to go there, so that was that.
Among the future major leaguers I have seen are Rolen, Wohlers, Jeter, Leiter, Grace, Chamberlain, Hughes, Hamels, Longoria, Price, Klesko and many, many more. You are absolutely right. It is a terrific bargain and a great time for any baseball fan, whether it is rookie ball or AAA.
Will, I am not sure what you mean. On the one hand, you say the following:
"I made a quick check of the stat pages, a couple of calls to Joe Sheehan and John Perrotto, and then turned in my ballot." On the other hand, you later mention that you asked 3 players and 1 scout for their opinions. Was that after you turned in your ballot, a kind of effort to seek confirmation, or was it prior to handing in the ballot as a way to distinguish between Lincecum and Wainwright?
I was surprised at the decision to start Hairston over either Swisher or Gardner, but think the Molina decision was right.
The single most important consideration in this game is to get a good start from Burnett, and that means he has to be comfortable throwing all his pitches, especially his biting curve. My guess is he is hesitant to do so with Posada behind the plate, and that could be disastrous, especially against the big lefties.
In the end, it is a judgment as to which problem is less harmful, a poor bat against Pedro or an uncomfortable pitcher on the mound, and the right decision is to provide the pitcher with all the support he needs. It is no use asserting that Burnett is a pro and should be able to pitch to Posada. In this situation, if you think there is any chance he cannot, you go with the reality, not the theory.
I want to reiterate what I say below. The umpire was being consistent. When there is no imminent collision, umpires routinely call runners safe if the pivot man does not make a stab at the base. Aybar made a bad play, or at least an awkward one, and the penalty was perfectly consistent with how calls are made.
I agree with everything you say, Joe, except for one comment where I think you are dead wrong. The umpire made exactly the right call on Aybar.
I have seen numerous cases when umpires call runners safe on what is called the neighborhood play, and the reason is always one of two reasons. Either it is because the throw is egregiously bad so that the pivot man is nowhere near the bag or it is because there was no reason not to touch the bag, as happened here. The idea behind the out call is to protect fielders against injury, but when there is no danger (as in this case), the umpire expects the fielder to touch the bag.
The key is that when the play is continuous, with the pivot man making "as if" to touch the bag by dragging his foot but needing to avoid the collision, the umpire gives him the call. But when the throw arrives in plenty of time but the fielder makes no effort, in fact actually stops before throwing and makes no move to the bag, routinely the call is safe.
The Rays have tried it with two minor leaguers in the past few years, neither of whom has panned out. Their first effort was with Sergio Pedroza, a hitter with excellent BB rates and some power. That experiment died early. Two years ago they moved Mike McCormick from 3B to catcher. In 2007 his bat remained promising and his catching skills seemed to be developing, but the past two years his bat has simply died.
I think Pedroza had an excellent season in one of the independent leagues this year, but I doubt it was at catcher. McCormick was pushed up to A+ ball during 2009, but failed to hit either at low A or A+.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have been arguing this for quite a while. Not only does designating a closer make for inefficient use of the bullpen. It creates expensive payrolls for no good reason. Once someone gains the reputation of closer his salary skyrockets. For low budget teams that can be an albatross.
I kept hoping the Rays would see the financial as well as baseball benefits of avoiding the closer label, and it seemed as if they were about to last year and early this year. With both famous closers hurt, the opportunity was there. But Maddon, even without the designation, started using Howell just that way. I don't claim that's what led to the bullpen meltdown, but I think it made his bullpen usage too stereotyped. Last year he seemed to be stretching out his relievers; this year he went to the opposite extreme.
I don't want to ignore benefits of relievers knowing their "role" so that they can be warmed up less often. And there may be other benefits as well. But fundamentally the job of all pitchers is identical: get outs without allowing runners to score. It doesn't matter what situation or inning, it is exactly the same role requiring exactly the same skills. The only variance depends on the type of pitcher-strikeout, fly ball, ground ball et al. That is a matchup issue, not an inning issue.
I am not a Cubs fan, but Wrigley is my favorite ballpark because it is filled with baseball sounds instead of scoreboard noise. Between pitches and innings, you can talk baseball instead of shouting over blaring announcements and amusement park games.
Rebuilding is for winners, not suckers. The model is the Rays who, it seems, Huntington is trying to emulate by trading veterans to deepen the talent in the system.
Your examples are not relevant because the circumstances of each is different from that of the Pirates, even the Pirates themselves who did not rebuild so much as squander resources on mediocrities.
Have you heard anything further about Tim Beckham's defense? I saw him play this weekend, and it seemed to me that he usually took 2-3 extra steps before throwing and then threw off the wrong foot anyway. The one time he seemed to throw quickly and on balance, he was saved an error by a great stretch and split by Sheridan at 1B.
From your information, was I seeing a problem he needs to correct?
I wish I could remember the details now. But among the more remarkable things I have seen at the ballpark was a triple play at Shea Stadium which took the Mets about 5 or 6 throws to complete.
I second the notion that watching El Duque pitch was a treat, although I am not sure it is really a guilty pleasure as he was a pretty good pitcher for a while. And currently I like watching Gabe Gross ABs because he always seems to get to 2 strikes and then watches close pitches go by for balls or fouls off a bunch of pitches before finishing the AB. But again, I really think he has a good approach at the plate, so it does not exactly fit your Eckstein model.
I suppose the closest I can come is the pleasure in watching Jonny Gomes kamikaze style base running.
I did not hear the broadcast, but I wish more people would reiterate the point you make about early performances. I find it annoying when announcers make a big point that Bonifacio is hitting .500 with power and so is bound to be a major factor in helping the Marlins win this season. It may happen that way, but you can't tell that from his first 28 ABs. I think it a kind of malpractice in that it misleads the readers/listeners into misunderstanding the nature of the game.
I think Maddon is already altering the conventional use of bullpens. His "closer", Percival, is not his best reliever, which allows him to use Balfour, Howell and others in the situations for which they are most useful as he did last night. I realize he is still accepting the notion of a closer mentality, but he seems to add to it the determination to put relievers into the situations for which they are most suited.
What I really want to see is an expansion of his willingness to pull Percival if he gets into trouble in the 9th. Last year he did that, but only under extreme duress and with the excuse that Troy was hurting. If he can incorporate that into normal practice he will have moved very far from the current irrational bullpen usage.
From everything I have seen and read, and now this review, it confirms my conviction that the Yankees opted for cheap sentimentalism instead of bold innovation. I recognize the desire to maintain tradition and to remind us of the glorious Yankee past; it is a legitimate motive. But there is also a stodgy smugness about it all, and even a rather boring result that the new Stadium is simply another faux retro ball park, copying the success of Baltimore. I would have preferred a more innovative approach, along the lines of the retractable sail that the Rays proposed recently. I don't mean that particular design, but something that made us excited about a new look.
I reiterate that whether I am in a small minority or not (and it is possible that the Rays management team is in that same minority but with far more information) many are overestimating the supposed gap between the current Price and either Niemann or Hammel.
There seems to be an assumption that Price would win more games or pitch better than either in that first month. Last year, in his 5 starts to begin the season, Hammel pitched to a 4.32 in the first 4 before a really poor 5th outing. Otherwise, he gave the Rays 6 or 7 full innings every start, something I doubt Price could do (and that also impacts wins and losses), and a chance to win every time. Over the 25 innings, he allowed 23 hits, 8 BBs and 15 Ks, not great but not clearly better than what we might expect from the current David Price.
Incidentally, keeping Longoria down last year is not analogous for various reasons, but it should be noted that in the 7 games Aybar started at 3B before his injury, he did very well, not necessarily worse than Longoria might have done. While Longoria started his major league career very hot, in his initial time in Durham he got off to a very slow start. I think it is too speculative even to guess what he might have done in those same 7 games.
As I remarked to Kevin Goldstein, I think you are overstating the current gap between Price and Niemann-even Hammel. I don't think there has been any over-thinking at all; I think it is perfectly reasonable to doubt that Price is currently a solid major league starter. Aside from innings management, which also influences wins and losses in the majors, he needs work on command of his fastball as well as his off-speed pitches. Without that, he is not necessarily significantly better than the alternatives, no matter how talented he is.
Last year, Hammel got 5 starts to begin the season and his first 4 were all 6 or 7 full innings. Until his 5th start when he left after fewer than 3 innings, all those starts were pretty decent and gave the Rays a chance to win. All told, in those first 4, he had an ERA of 4.32 with 25 innings, 23 hits, 8 walks and 15 Ks. Not great, but not clearly worse than what we might expect from Price.
Given the desirability of giving Price more time to hone his skills and the presence of reasonable alternatives on hand, as well as the pressures of roster management, I think the best decision is the one the Rays made.
I think you are missing something, Kevin. I don't think Price is a major league ready starting pitcher yet. He should become one, and may even become a star, but with a mediocre off-speed pitch and erratic control of his fastball (you did not mention the 6 walks this spring), he is not there yet.
Therefore, it is not a given that replacing his starts with Niemann's or even Hammel's is a step down. Further, basing an evaluation on the results of 8.1 spring training innings (and I will withdraw my BB comment to make my statement consistent) is hardly legitimate.
I think we need to credit the Rays' staff with judging Price on what they saw beyond those results and give them the benefit of the doubt regarding his readiness to contribute now as a starter.
Nobody questions Upton\'s work ethic. He is universally known as a tremendously dedicated and hard working player. The issues that arose last year had to do with not running hard to first base on some plays, and this morphed into questions about how hard he chased down some fly balls, although the latter was almost certainly a mistaken concern.
Did you not include the Rays because the system does not consider them contenders or because you do not see any position battles shaping up?
It seems to me neither reason is (or should be) true. Despite the excellent players on the Red Sox and the off-season acquisitions of the Yankees, the Rays should remain in the hunt having probably improved themselves as well.
And there are position battles for 5th starter, bullpen roles and even in RF. In fact there is some sentiment that the Rays should consider challenging Iwamura with Aybar.
Although I don\'t think they have much chance to make the major league roster, the Rays have some interesting names among their NRIs, some of whom might get some time in TB during the season should injuries strike. The biggest name is Morgan Ensberg, but there are also a number of pitchers including minor league strikeout artist Winston Abreu and loogy Randy Choate.
The name that intrigues me is Carlos Hernandez who had a nice debut with Houston in 2001 but could not follow up. Then in high A this year, in just 26 innings, he dominated. It doesn\'t mean much, I know, but I am interested to see how he fares in a full season.
I would like to pursue the Jackson comment a bit further. I am curious why you remain so optimistic. I realize he won 14 games in 2008 and that he improved his BB rate (although it was still not particularly good) and ERA. But just about every other indicator either showed no improvement or showed decline.
His K rate declined dramatically and his K/BB rate also declined. He gave up more line drives and fly balls while his BABIP was lower than it usually has been which may account for the perceived improvement rather than actual improvement in his pitching. He also gave up home runs at a worse rate than in the past.
If you review Rich Lederer\'s graph of K & GB rates at Baseball Analysts, Edwin appears in the southwest (worst) quadrant, and his rates are not particularly close to average which bodes poorly for his performance going forward.
I am not so much disagreeing with your view as wondering on what it is based. I watched him a lot this past year and did think he showed more mound presence, so perhaps that is a reason to think he is ready to break out, but are there any other signs?
\"I still believe in Edwin Jackson, and I think that the Tigers got a real steal here.\"
How do you mean this? Are you simply saying that Jackson may turn into a fine pitcher or that Jackson is more valuable to the Tigers than Joyce would have been, or are you saying that trading Joyce to get him was a steal for the Tigers because Joyce is not very likely to succeed?
Marc, what do you think of Javier Vazquez who switched from the White Sox to the Braves? Like Hendrickson, he has been in the division before, but has been in the AL for the past 3 years.
My only quibble is that it is possible that the decline is coincidental rather than cause/effect. It is only one instance and while very suggestive, at this point the most we can do is consider it an unproved hypothesis of cause/effect.
I wonder if there are other instances of Harang being used like this and if there was any similar result. Or of other pitchers having similar experiences.
None of that disputes the point that Baker used his staff badly.
I can put together a powerful lineup for April 4, but I cannot construct a pitching staff at all. My lineup would be:
c: Ray Fosse
1B: Gil Hodges
2B: Tom Herr
3B: Scott Rolen
SS: Jim Fregosi
LF: Gary Geiger
CF: Tris Speaker
RF: Joe Vosmik
DH: Mike Epstein
Bench: Mickey Owen, Bill Hinchman, John Hummel, Brad Komminsk, Eric Valent, Cameron Maybin
Unfortunately the only really decent pitcher I can find is Eddie Watt, a solid reliever for quite a few years in Baltimore. There are also Carlos Reyes and Frank Smith who relieved, but otherwise there are no real starters that I can identify.
I am glad to see Joe\'s comments on the Orioles. I agree they are nearing competitiveness and think that they could accelerate their development with a few key decisions this year. In my view, that would include trading Huff, not keeping him, while his value is probably at its peak. They may want to wait until the trade deadline, risking that he is less effective as is often his wont early in the year, but trading him seems a must. I think it is time also to see what they can get for Mora, even if it is only to deepen their minor league talent.
I was a Pedro guy because it seemed to me he combined the command and intelligence of Maddux with the power of Clemens and Johnson while including the entire arsenal of pitches of all of them and more. One of the most remarkable pitching performances I ever saw (actually heard) was in the 5th game of the 1999 ALDS against Cleveland.
Pedro entered an 8-8 slugfest in the bottom of the 4th inning and finished the game, 6 innings, giving up no hits or runs, walking 3 and striking out 8. That in itself is outstanding, but he did it injured without a fastball. I think he topped out around 87 MPH. It was done with off-speed stuff, guile and perfect command. The walks were actually a sign of his command; they were not intentional in the technical sense, but they were clearly intended.
Here is a pitcher renowned for his 95 mph fastball and his ability to work off it relying on an entirely different approach and doing it magnificently. A few years later I saw him pitch the same way for the Mets in Shea Stadium. It was thrilling sitting in the stands and watching him dominate, working so quickly you hardly realized how extraordinary his performance was.
Ralph Kiner is among those who is a bit equivocal about labeling Rickey a saint. In his memoir, \"Baseball Forever\", he provides what I consider a very honest appraisal of his own attitudes towards Robinson and integration in 1947, and those of his contemporaries. After giving Rickey due credit, he appends two paragraphs (p. 78-79) stressing the complexity of Rickey\'s motives, mentioning that he never compensated the \"Negro league teams he raided for players\" and commenting that Rickey was in no hurry to integrate the Pirates (\"Nobody ever mentions this when assessing baseball\'s \'Great Emancipator\'....\" He concludes by saying that Rickey\'s only defense for moving so slowly was that he \"might have been too penurious....\", perhaps a reference to his own conflicts with the GM.
He goes on to say that he had more faith in Bill Veeck whose motives, Kiner believes, were based more on convictions than economic concerns. There is likely a residue of personal animus in the memoir, and I agree with your view that Rickey deserves national recognition along with Robinson, but it is an interesting bit of detail emphasizing your point that Rickey was no saint.
Chicago Cubs, 7/150, 12/1
I think the Orioles are at a crucial point when the decision they make will determine whether they will contend within the next 3-5 years or will continue to be a bottom feeder with occasional forays into respectability.
On the one hand, they can do what you suggest-pick up a few veteran arms and a shortstop. It might get them into the 75-81 win echelon but will do little more and will waste an opportunity.
On the other, they can commit to real rebuilding by seeking to cash in on Huff\'s terrific season and trading him as well as other veterans for young players and prospects to deepen their system which has some probable emerging stars but is not very strong otherwise. Sell now on Huff, Mora, Hernandez and Sherrill and even explore what returns they can get on Scott, Roberts & Cabrera (?). Restock the system with young talent and let it come together as Markakis and Jones mature and Tillman, Matusz and Wieters hit the majors.
This is no time for the Orioles to be wasting resources on expensive free agents or on older players. There is some serious talent in the organization that will be ready to contribute soon, but not in 2009. It should be supplemented by judicious trades and signings and with an eye to 2010 at the earliest.
Brooks Robinson made 263 errors in his career. I suppose if he were really as good as his reputation suggests he would have had most of them. Perhaps he was not exactly Brooks Robinson.
And Bill Mazeroski\'s 204 errors also call his reputation into question, at least by the standard sbnirish77 suggests we measure Longoria against.
Thanks for the reference Joe. I still maintain that using historical precedent is only relevant if we consider the reasons for the pattern, not simply the fact of it. So the issue is not whether it has rarely happened that a team has improved its run prevention so dramatically but why it has rarely happened.
Thanks Will. It was a terrific event as it was last year with you, Joe Sheehan and Friedman. Don\'t sell yourself short. Friedman was great. Seems to me he is as candid as he can be. But you got us started on a terrific note, and later preempted a question that my son and I planned to ask. Great minds you know.
I know it\'s not your specialty, but do you know anything about the validity of rumors that Hunsicker might be headed to Texas? I think that would be a big loss for the Rays.