How Ben Zobrist and Michael Conforto stole the show in a game that swung the Royals' way late.
In the waning days of May 1981, Ben Zobrist entered the world in Eureka, Illinois, about 130 miles southwest of Chicago. Twelve years later and 2,000 miles further west, in Woodinville, Washington, Michael Conforto joined Zobrist here on Earth for a few shared revolutions of the sun.
Do the Dodgers have a Swiss-army knife who can mimic Ben Zobrist's heyday with the Rays?
It seems like an eternity ago, but in reality it was only last October when Andrew Friedman left the Rays to become President of Baseball Operations for the Dodgers. Shortly thereafter, Joe Maddon followed him out of town by exercising the out clause given to him by Friedman and company. Almost immediately, the race figured to be on in implementing various portions of their model of success used with the Rays at their new places of business.
One non-pitching aspect of “The Rays Way” seemingly placed significant value on positional versatility defensively. Since Friedman and Maddon joined forces in 2006, the Rays have deployed a plethora of super-utilitymen throughout their tenure: Ty Wigginton received at least five starts at five different positions in the duo’s inaugural campaign together, and Willy Aybar received starts at four different positions over his 95 games of action during the team’s World Series run in 2008 and started at least 18 games at three positions over the following season. Over the final four years of Maddon and Friedman’s tenure in Tampa, their love of flexibility extended even further, giving Sean Rodriguez starts at seven different positions (in addition to four at designated hitter) in his first year with the Rays in 2010 and doing much of the same with Rodriguez until he signed with the Pirates last winter. Jeff Keppinger received at least 27 starts at three infield positions in 2012 and Kelly Johnson was dispatched at four different positions across the diamond in 2013, earning the starting nod in excess of 16 times at three spots. In Maddon’s final season at the helm last year, he started virtually everybody at multiple positions over the course of the year, giving three players (Logan Forsythe, Sean Rodriguez, and the ultimate Swiss-army knife, Ben Zobrist) multiple starts at four different positions in addition to Friedman’s trade deadline acquisition of Nick Franklin, who appeared at four spots in Seattle before coming to Tampa Bay as part of their haul for David Price.
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Toronto's nightmare season continues with a blown lead against Los Angeles.
The Tuesday Takeaway Ben Lindberghwrote on Monday that while “Toronto is still disappointing … the Dodgers are on their way to being about as good as expected.” Never was that more evident than in the middle match between those teams on Tuesday night.
The Blue Jays jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning, on an RBI double by Jose Reyes and a run-scoring single by Jose Bautista. The Dodgers charged back in the top of the third, on an RBI double by Andre Ethier and a run-scoring single by Mark Ellis. But the Blue Jays countered those equalizers with two more runs, on a homer by Mark DeRosa and a sacrifice fly by Brett Lawrie, in the ensuing half-inning.
How much hidden value does a multi-position player add?
Last week, I began discussing a question that has puzzled the sabermetric communityfor a while. How do we put a value on a player's ability to play multiple positions? Most teams have guys who are capable of pulling duty at several places on the field, but they are bench/utility players who serve as backups. What to make of the player who hits well enough to be a starter and fields well enough at multiple positions to be worth starting there?
In the wake of the Dodgers' recent record spending, we might ask why Luis Cruz is still around.
Over the past year the Dodgers have become baseball's most eager spender, absorbing and offering rich contracts. While the Yankees are tightening their belt buckle to get around the luxury tax, the Dodgers are making pithy comments, such as "What budget?" Yet one anachronism remains in LA during these lavish times. Luis Cruz, earner of the big-league minimum, sticks out like a sore thumb in a lineup featuring three players earning $20 million, two more earning $10 million, and two others making more than $2 million. Cruz is the lone non-millionaire, and, it just so happens, the team's weakest link.
Prior to last season Cruz's big-league experience entailed 169 plate appearances with a sub-.190 True Average. With his reputation as an all-glove, no-hit infielder intact he bounced around the minors. Cruz even spent part of his 2011 season playing in Mexico, alongside the likes of Jose Castillo, Geronimo Gil, and Luis Terrero. Last July, minutes before the Dodgers promoted him to the majors, he decided to embark on a career in Japan. Even circumstances surrounding the promotion were less Disney and more pragmatic: the Dodgers needed an extra body to survive a rough patch of injuries, and Cruz embodies the idea of an extra body. But the now-29-year-old provided spark and finished the season with a .272 TAv—a mark that placed him 18th among third basemen with at least 250 plate appearances.
Which baseball player measures up to the Linsanity sweeping the nation?
Football season is over. Spring training is still a few days away. That means, for multi-sport fans like me, there is little choice but to get immersed in college basketball and the NBA. And doing so during the past week meant going Linsane.
Point guard Jeremy Lin emerged as the New York Knicks’ savior, reviving a team that was struggling to stay afloat in the absence of stars like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. A Harvard graduate who went undrafted and was rejected by two teams, Lin certainly did not take the beaten path to fame, but that only adds to the intrigue of his timely breakout. Hoops Analyst writer Ed Weiland is one of the few who can claim he saw this coming.
With All-Star selection around the corner, the BP staff fills out their ballots for who deserves to start in the Midsummer Classic.
It’s July, and that means another All-Star Game, one which—we might as well get this out of the way now—won’t be as exciting as those wonderful old All-Star Games when important things happened, like Ted Williams breaking his elbow and Dizzy Dean breaking a toe (Williams said he was never the same hitter; Dean destroyed his arm with altered mechanics) and Ray Fosse getting run over because damn it, Pete Rose just had to win an exhibition game.
(It is at times like these that I like to recall Mickey Mantle’s immortal words on the subject of Rose: “If I had played my career hitting singles like Pete, I’d wear a dress.”)
The tater trots for April 28: Zobrist's huge day, Berkman's Houston return, and Miguel Montero is slower than Vlad - somehow.
Thursday was a huge day for offense, with four different teams reaching double-digits in runs. Suprisingly, though, the number of home runs hit wasn't all that high. In the eleven games played, there were 22 home runs around the league, with eight home runs hit by the double-digit-scoring teams. As far as home runs go, at least, there was nothing out of the ordinary happening in Thursday's games.