Newsletter: Sunday, July 29, 2012
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07-30 1:00 PM EST
NEW PREMIUM CONTENT
Liriano Heads to Rival White Sox
by Bradley Ankrom and Kevin Goldstein
The White Sox acquire Francisco Liriano from their division rival, the
NEW BASIC CONTENT
Ever Wondered What it Would Be Like to Play Center Field?
by Matthew Kory
Curtis Granderson reminds us playing center field in the majors is hard.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: JULY 29
THE THURSDAY TAKEAWAY
With Johan Santana on the disabled list and R.A. Dickey’s magic beginning to
wear, the Mets needed another impact pitcher to keep their plummeting playoff
hopes alive. If Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Diamondbacks is any indication,
that problem is solved.
Matt Harvey, the seventh-overall pick in the 2007 draft, was tasked with
snapping a six-game skid in his major-league debut last night. He proved
himself ready by posting a 112-to-48 K/BB in 110 innings for Triple-A Buffalo,
and validated the Mets’ faith by contributing 5 1/3 shutout innings to the
But that hardly does justice to the dazzling display Harvey put on for the
22,010 in attendance at Chase Field. The 23-year-old righty allowed only three
hits and three walks, two of which came as fatigue set in during the bottom of
the sixth inning. More impressively, he struck out 11 Diamondbacks batters,
the highest strikeout total any pitcher has posted in his debut since Stephen
Strasburg fanned 14 Pirates on June 8, 2010.
And, as if that weren’t enough, Harvey also went 2-for-2 at the plate against
Arizona starter Wade Miley, becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to
collect at least two hits and whiff at least 10 batters in his first career
start. The former University of North Carolina standout’s effort may have been
the most impressive two-way debut since Jason Jennings hurled a complete-game
shutout and hit a home run in his opening salvo on Aug. 23, 2001.
(Incidentally, the Mets were on the wrong end of that 10-0 defeat.)
If there is one knock on Harvey’s first start, it’s that he threw a
season-high 106 pitches to record 16 outs, taxing a bullpen that has blown 16
saves this year. Interim closer Bobby Parnell needed 31 pitches to earn his
third save, and, as a result, the Mets combined to throw 178 pitches despite
allowing only one run.
Dominance at the cost of efficiency is a tradeoff manager Terry Collins would
make in a heartbeat at every turn, but if Harvey wants to add more wins to his
ledger, working deeper into games will be his next challenge. Assuming the
Mets stick to their current pitching schedule, his next start will come on
Tuesday night in San Francisco.
By the way, two hours before Harvey took the mound in the desert, Pirates
outfielder Starling Marte also made a splash in his first taste of the Show.
Manager Clint Hurdle put the 23-year-old toolshed atop his batting order for
the series opener in Houston, and Marte promptly went deep on the first pitch
of the game. Marte’s attempt to steal home in the fifth inning was less
successful, but he certainly did his part to catalyze Pittsburgh’s 5-3 win
over the Astros.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR THIS WEEKEND
The American League’s Cinderella wild card contenders will square off at
Camden Yards this weekend, as the 53-45 A’s visit the 52-47 Orioles. Coco
Crisp, who was ice-cold for the first three-plus months of the season, has
been red-hot since the start of July, logging a .361/.394/.590 triple slash
with three home runs. The switch-hitting center fielder’s surge has been vital
to Oakland’s 16-3 run, and he will try to keep it going in Baltimore, where he
has hit .295/.377/.419 in 31 career games (Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET).
Push came to shove for the Phillies and Cole Hamels earlier this week, and
they hammered out a six-year, $144 million extension to keep the lefty around
through 2018. Now, with that new deal in hand, Hamels gets the ball to kick
off a pivotal series at Turner Field that could alter general manager Ruben
Amaro’s deadline plans. The Phillies are 9 ½ games behind the Braves and 14 ½
shy of the first-place Nationals, but they have won four in a row, and a sweep
in Atlanta could change their outlook on the trade market. Their first
challenge: getting past Ben Sheets, who has tossed 12 scoreless innings after
joining the Braves rotation on July 15 (Friday, 7:35 p.m. ET).
Three games separate the top two teams in the National League West, putting
the division lead on the line when the Dodgers come to AT&T Park this weekend.
Don Mattingly’s team is 0-2 in the Hanley Ramirez era, but don’t blame their
new third baseman—he has gone 3-for-6 with three walks since the trade.
Ramirez is 7-for-25 with two doubles and a home run in his previous meetings
with tonight’s Giants starter, Matt Cain (Friday, 10:15 p.m. ET).
With the Yankees ahead by 10 ½ games, the Red Sox’s American League East ship
has sailed, but the upcoming series in the Bronx could impact Boston’s wild
card hopes. A sweep would likely leave Bobby Valentine’s team six or seven
games back in the crowded race—and that outcome could drive general manager
Ben Cherington to move short-term assets, such as Cody Ross and Josh Beckett,
at the upcoming deadline. As the Red Sox look to turn their season around,
they need the pre-2012 Jon Lester to reemerge as soon as possible. Lester has
failed to complete the fifth inning in each of his past three starts, and his
ERA has ballooned from 4.33 to 5.46 over that span. He’ll try to bounce back
in a duel with CC Sabathia in game two (Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET).
First, Ichiro Suzuki made his Yankees debut at Safeco Field, the only home
park he had known as a major leaguer. Now, Wandy Rodriguez—who was traded to
the Pirates earlier this week—will return to Minute Maid Park to take on the
team that signed him out of the Dominican Republic as Eny Cabreja in 1999. The
33-year-old southpaw has logged a 3.42 ERA over 12 starts in Houston this
season, and he is scheduled to face his former mates in game three of a
four-game set that began last night (Saturday, 4:05 p.m. ET).
Trade talks between the Angels and the Rays have reportedly “fizzled out,” but
perhaps they will be rekindled as Tampa Bay comes to Southern California for a
three-game series this weekend. James Shields allowed five runs in six innings
and was charged with the loss to the Orioles on Thursday, and the uniform he
will wear for his next start is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, the Rays will
hope that Matt Moore’s no-walk outing versus the Mariners on Monday—his first
such effort in 19 starts this season—is a sign of things to come. The
22-year-old southpaw will lock horns with C.J. Wilson in the middle match
(Saturday, 9:05 p.m. ET).
General manager Doug Melvin has made up his mind: Zack Greinke will be traded.
The question is whether that trade will be made before Sunday afternoon, when
he is expected to do battle with Gio Gonzalez and the Nationals. Greinke’s
strong effort against the Phillies on Tuesday proved to potential suitors that
the 28-year-old’s right arm is healthy and ready for a playoff push, and an
encore at Miller Park this weekend could serve as evidence of his ability to
beat the senior circuit’s best team to date. If he is shipped elsewhere before
the series finale, Greinke will leave Milwaukee having gone 25-9 with a 3.67
ERA over 49 starts (Sunday, 2:10 p.m. ET).
EFFECTIVELY WILD, THE DAILY BP PODCAST - EPISODE 8: SCREEN DOOR
BP PODCAST EPISODE 99: ARE YOU SIPPING ON SOMETHING ALREADY?
This week's episode is packed with tons of prospect talk, but our special
guest is really special, as Evald Johnson, a filmmaker who also happens to be
the son of former big leaguer and big league manager Tim Johnson is making a
baseball movie. One of the starts of that movie is underground rock legend
David Yow. They have a Kickstarter going, and you can invest in the film. How
totally cool would it be if our listeners helped a movie get made. The podcast
is free. If you've ever thought or said to us that you would pay for the show,
do it by clicking on that link and helping artists make art. And check out the
benefits on the right. It's not a charity, as you will get stuff in return,
from your name in the credits to downloads of the film to blu-rays to movie
artwork by Yow. Please help them, it would be totally awesome, and as always,
we hope you enjoy the show.
BP FANTASY PODCAST EPISODE 13: HE IS REALLY GREAT
Jason and Paul discuss the continued success of Michael Fiers and the return
of Clay Buchholz, as well as Todd Frazier's fantasy value in the absence of
Joey Votto. Toward the end of the show, they are joined by Sky Kalkman for a
guest interview. All that and much more at the link below.
BASEBALL PROSPECTUS 2012 APP NOW AVAILABLE
At long last, the Baseball Prospectus 2012 annual app is now available for the
iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Follow your favorite MLB teams and players
throughout the season with Baseball Prospectus analysis that includes team
overviews, player assessments, detailed stats, and 2012 projections for over
2000 players. All of that and more for just $4.99 if you purchase it in the
next two weeks. For more information and to access the download page, click
the link below.
BROOKS BASEBALL NOW AT BP
The outstanding PITCHf/x work of Dan Brooks, Harry Pavlidis, and co. is now
available through BP. For more details on the integration of Brooks Baseball,
see the post by Joe Hamrahi linked below:
BALLPARK EVENT TICKETS NOW ON SALE
Join your favorite BP writers and industry insiders at our upcoming ballpark
events. For more information and to purchase tickets, click the links below.
August 11 at Minute Maid Park in Houston: bbp.cx/a/17647
SUBMIT A QUESTION TO THE RESEARCH MAILBAG
Got a burning baseball question you want answered? Submit it via email to
Bradley Ankrom (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we'll do our best to find
the answer. Our research staff will select its favorite questions from the
batch and feature them in the mailbag the following week.
PLAYOFF ODDS AVAILABLE DAILY
The season is underway, and our playoff odds report is now updated to account
for the double wild card. Check it out here:
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