What's the maximum attention span of a baseball fan?
With our dear Editor-in-Chief leaving Baseball Prospectus for his next chapter, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite chapters of his career here. There's an incredible number of timeless Sam Miller articles to choose from, but we whittled it down enough to not break the internet. This article originally ran on July 15, 2013.
The Situation: Arizona made a smorgasbord of moves this winter to position themselves as contenders in the NL West. They currently sit two-plus touchdowns out of first place. With the team all but eliminated from playoff contention and Zack Greinke ailing, the Diamondbacks will call on the best prospect in the system, right-hander Braden Shipley.
Background: Shipley came to Nevada as a true two-way prospect, and was actually better with the bat early on, earning second-team All-WAC honors as a shortstop. That quickly changed, as Shipley transformed himself to one of the best right-handed starters west of the Mississippi, and earned top-10 consideration during his junior year. However, Shipley’s stock slid on draft day causing him to fall to the Diamondbacks with the 15th overall pick. Since then, he’s put up solid—if not spectacular—numbers, posting a career 3.79 ERA in just under 442 innings with a career strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.70. As is so often the case, those numbers don’t truly tell the story of how talented Shipley is, and the DBacks have seen enough to believe he’s ready to get big-league hitters out.
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Can and should the Diamondbacks push forward with their three-year plan, or look to blow it up early?
The Diamondbacks lost 8-0 on Monday night. The game was in Arizona. The opponents were the lowly Phillies. From the ninth spot in their batting order, Philadelphia got two extra-base hits (doubles by pitcher Vince Velasquez and substitute left fielder Cody Asche). The Diamondbacks didn’t manage any extra-base hits, from any place in the batting order. With the loss, they fell to 36-43. They’re 13.5 games back of the Giants, and after hard-fought wins over good teams for both the Dodgers and Rockies, Arizona trails those teams by 6.5 and 2.5 games, respectively. The Dodgers, seven losses clear of the Diamondbacks, hold the second Wild Card spot in the NL, and four teams (including three who are demonstrably better than Arizona, in St. Louis, New York, and Pittsburgh) stand between the two clubs. We credit Arizona with Playoff Odds of roughly 2.5 percent. Things are bleak, for a team that had high hopes (however unfounded those hopes might have been).
Lately, it seems like we talk an awful lot about the dangers of getting caught in between. We want to see teams follow the Cardinals’ model of excruciatingly patient investment in long-term success. We want to see teams follow the Rangers’ model, blending a strong preference for high ceilings in amateur talent acquisition with an open checkbook and a taste for mammal blood. We want them to follow the Cubs’ model, maybe most of all, forsaking slow slogs through seasons of 75 and 76 and 79 wins for ones much more miserable, with the end goal of building a truly special something, instead of just trying to get back into the mix.
The 35-year-old right-hander calls it a career after over 150 wins and 2,000 strikeouts.
When the Cubs lost to in the National League Championship Series, it was not just their season that came to an end, but the career of Dan Haren as well. In honor of his retirement, and to look back at his long, successful career, let's review 12 years of BP Annual comments about him, as he developed from centerpiece of the Mark Mulder trade to one of the most underappreciated starters in baseball.
Why one of baseball's best young players doesn't get his due.
After nine games, Yasiel Puig’s video archive at MLB.com comes close to filling four pages, at 12 clips per page. Marcell Ozuna, another exciting 22-year-old right fielder who’s hit .324/.364/.462 since his arrival in April, is still stuck on page three. Almost every play Puig touches turns into a highlight. If he isn’t hitting homers, he’s recording outfield assists; if he’s not in the game, it’s because he’s just been ejected from a bench-clearing brawl. Whatever he does, it happens at the center of the spotlight. It took him one week to be named National League Player of the Week, and it took him four words to appear in this article, which isn’t even about him. More than the amateur draft, more than Biogenesis (fortunately), baseball in June has been about Yasiel Puig.
So when Puig was thrown out attempting to advance to third on a Jerry Hairston single on Monday, it wasn’t immediately clear who the star of the story was: Puig, or Gerardo Parra, the player who made the throw. It took another viewing to determine that Puig’s presence in yet another highlight was just a coincidence, that it was Parra who’d earned Puig some extra airtime on SportsCenter, not the other way around. The throw was perfect, an on-the-fly strike to Martin Prado that nailed the speedy Puig in plenty of time,
Ben and Sam discuss how deep a hole the Blue Jays have dug, then talk about whether it's fair for people to gloat about the Diamondbacks' decision to trade Justin Upton based on what's happened so far this season.