How baseball's latest brawl was emblematic of American culture.
Last Thursday night, in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Dodgers-Padres game—which the Dodgers led 2-1 at the time—Zack Greinke hit Carlos Quentin with a 3-2 pitch. Words were exchanged, and Quentin (6'2", 235 lbs) charged the mound. Greinke (6'2", 195 lbs) tried to mosh with Quentin, leading with his left (non-pitching) shoulder, but Quentin had a 60-foot running start and 40 pounds’ worth of advantage. In the classic physics equation, force equals mass times acceleration. Quentin had the advantage on both counts.
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Some players get hit by pitches so often that it must be a skill. But is it a good skill to have?
You don’t read much about the hit by pitch, except tangentially, and then only when some pitcher gets in trouble for throwing at some hitter. For the most part, the HBP just isn’t that interesting; it doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it doesn’t mean all that much. The run-value result of an HBP is basically indistinguishable from that of a walk, and it happens about a tenth as often. HBPs can be exciting or aggravating or scary when they happen while you’re watching a game, but after the fact, if no one got hurt or suspended, they’re hard to care about.
Some guys are really, really good at getting hit, though, and I’ve always thought they were pretty interesting. Carlos Quentin is the overall leader among players to have compiled at least 2000 plate appearances since 1961 (I put the cutoff, somewhat arbitrarily, at the onset of the 162-game schedule; here’sthetop 200)—he’s been hit by pitches in 4.1 percent of his career plate appearances, better than the career walk rates of Yuniesky Betancourt, Miguel Olivo and Bengie Molina. All those plunkings do add up; if Quentin’s 4.1 percent HBP rate were reduced to the 2012 NL average of 0.76 percent, he’d have 21 career HBP instead of 112, and his career .349 OBP would drop all the way to .326.
Ten players who could land with a contender before this year's trade deadline.
The New Collective Bargaining Agreement has already affected the free-agent and draft classes. Soon, the new guidelines will reshape the trade market. The two most noticeable changes deal with draft-pick compensation. Foremost, teams that acquire a player in-season are no longer eligible to receive compensation. The elimination of Type-A and Type-B ranks means that teams holding onto their own players to net compensation will now be tasked with extending a qualifying offer worth the average salary of the 125 richest contracts in baseball (more than $12 million for the time being).
While those new rules will ostensibly lower the trade value of the average player, the decision to add two playoff spots could serve as a counterbalance. In theory, the increased demand will yield a higher return for the smaller number of sellers. In reality, that might not be enough to make up for the draft compensation changes. One thing is certain: the new rules could alter the relief pitcher market. The last time Astros reliever Brandon Lyon qualified for free agency, he achieved Type B status and netted his former team (the Tigers) a supplemental pick. This time around, Lyon will be on the move by the deadline if his team decides that two months of his service is worth less than the best offer on the table.
Derek takes a look at top players who might become available in AL-only leagues.
Of all the leagues I play in, one of my favorite rule quirks is in the Draft Day AL-only league (formerly CardRunners). In Draft Day, owners are allowed to pick up any player in any baseball universe. If the player winds up playing in the American League, you get his stats. This applies not only to more common fair-game pickups like minor leaguers but also to National League players, allowing owners to speculate on potential mid-season trade candidates. Presently, there are seven National Leaguers owned in the league, so I wanted to take a look at each and see why.
Carlos Quentin | San Diego Padres | OF
In just nine games since coming off the disabled list, Quentin has already blasted five home runs for the Pads while triple-slashing .484/.543/1.097. The Friars aren’t going anywhere this season, currently sitting in the basement of the NL West, 19 games out of first. PECOTA has written them off entirely at this point, giving them a 0.0 percent chance of making the playoffs. Quentin is a free agent at the end of the year, and rumors are already circulating about potential trades with the Blue Jays mentioned as a specific possibility. The Padres are also talking about extending him, although that could just be to keep his value high.
No Padre has ever hit for a cycle, but as far as interesting achievements go, they've done much better.
Carlos Quentin was playing just his second game of the season on Tuesday afternoon, in the Padres’ eventual loss to the Cubs. He doubled in the second inning, homered in the fifth, and singled in the seventh, which meant that television and radio announcers were legally bound to declare that Quentin was “a triple short of the cycle.” It’s a phrase that, while true and harmless, also (as has been notedhereindetail) has crazily misleading connotations; a hitter with a single, double and homer is a triple short of the cycle in the same way the guy playing Tevye in the community production of Fiddler on the Roof down the street is a Best Actor Oscar short of being Laurence Olivier.
In this case, though, it wasn’t just the announcers taking note of it. It was mentioned on Twitter, and for a brief period was the lead story on the front-and-center scroll at MLB’s website. That’s because in the extremely unlikely event it did happen (which, of course, it didn’t), it would have been the first time in franchise history that a Padres player had hit for the cycle.
The Padres are off to a horrible start, so a housecleaning might be forthcoming. Who stays and who goes?
The San Diego Padres, perhaps predictably, have gotten off to a miserable start in 2012. Although expectations were not high coming into the season, almost nothing has gone right for the club. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, not to mention ongoing ownership/television deal issues (I live 15 minutes from Petco Park and cannot watch the team on TV in my home, which might qualify as “charmingly retro” if it weren't so annoying), the Padres are staring at their worst-case scenario only a month into the campaign.
Last week, Kevin Goldsteinsuggested that a “housecleaning in San Diego could be coming.” Reader pobothecat wondered what such a housecleaning might look like, and so did I.
With Carlos Quentin booked for surgery, who should the Padres turn to?
The Padres’ marquee big-league addition this offseason was outfielder Carlos Quentin, who was expected to add thump to the offense in his final year before free agency. Some thought the deal with the White Sox on December 31 was odd, considering that San Diego is likely to be a fourth-place team in the NL West this season, Quentin is an iffy defensive outfielder, and his arbitration salary was projected to be in the $6-8 million range (he settled for $7.025 million). But he only cost two middling pitching prospects—Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez—so general manager Josh Byrnes saw little risk and pulled the trigger.
Unfortunately, among Quentin’s many flaws, proneness to injuries may be the greatest. He has never played more than 131 games in a season, has landed on the disabled list four times since his 2006 debut, and has had surgeries on his elbow, shoulder, and wrist. On Sunday, we learned that his right knee is next in line, and the recovery will likely cost Quentin at least the first month of the season.
The Royals' bullpen suffers a couple of blows, and the pain around the rest of the league is plentiful.
Carlos Quentin, San Diego Padres (Right Knee Surgery)
Quentin has had a difficult time staying healthy, and he’s starting his injury train early this year. The outfielder will undergo arthroscopic surgery today to fix a torn meniscus and remove loose bodies from his right knee. Meniscal injuries can cause pain, swelling, or a clicking sensation depending on the type, size, and location of the tear. If left untreated, meniscal tears can lead to arthritis. Loose bodies can also act as irritants and lead to arthritis.
The procedure is straightforward. The surgeon will remove the loose bodies and try to stitch the torn meniscus back together but will most likely have to trim the torn portion because the tissue is degenerated beyond repair. Standard recovery is four to six weeks, but it could vary if there are additional injuries not seen on the MRI. With the recovery expected to be four to six weeks, we should see Quentin back in mid- to late April. When Quentin returns to the outfield, his knee might flare up or swell.
Offering at least one reason to tune in to each potentially talent-challenged team when you're flipping through your MLB.tv options this season.
Bad teams have been much on my mind lately. Blame it on being an A's fan, blame it on marrying into a Mets family, blame it on my generally sour personality. Irrespective of the cause, I find myself less intrigued by the powerhouses or the teams in tight races for the playoffs than by the squads that will come out of the gate slow, dawdle through the dog days, and finish in a muddle of obscure Triple-A players crowding the expanded September rosters as they fight for 2013 jobs on what will likely be yet another mediocre team.
If you're a fan of one of these franchises, you'll probably watch them whatever happens. But what will the rest of you watch on the nights when your team is off, or long, lazy weekend afternoons? You can always tune in to see the Yankees and Rays face off in a game with playoff implications for the umpteenth time, but if you're like me, you get a little bored seeing the same (really good) players over and over. Let me present, then, a team-by-team list of reasons to tune into a game at which more casual fans might turn up their noses. Call it the Every Team is Special list.