We debut a new staff column that collects what talent evaluators in the industry are saying with a look at some scouting scuttlebutt about young pitchers with bright futures.
Many of our authors make a habit of speaking to scouts and other talent evaluators in order to bring you the best baseball information available. Not all of the tidbits gleaned from those conversations make it into our articles, but we don't want them to go to waste. Instead, we'll be collecting them in a regular feature called "What Scouts Are Saying," which will be open to participation from the entire BP staff and include quotes about minor leaguers and major leaguers alike. Welcome to the first edition.
Though we're just two weeks into the season, scouts have gotten to see quite a few performances from notable prospects (and one notable player in a big-league bullpen). Here's what they're saying:
Now that the Yankees have dealt Jesus Montero to the Mariners, they're in search of DH options.
Last Friday, the Yankees pulled off a major trade, sending Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. The move shores up the pinstripes' rotation both for 2012 and beyond, but it does create a vacancy at designated hitter, since the 22-year-old Montero was penciled in as the presumptive starter after a September audition in which he hit a searing .328/.406/.590 with four homers. While finding an adequately productive DH shouldn't be all that hard—the average AL DH hit .266/.341/.430 in 2011, while the Yankees’ DHs contributed a .251/.336/.450 line—Brian Cashman and company are up against some self-imposed financial constraints that make their task somewhat more challenging.
In his second postseason as a starter, the 1952 World Series, Brooklyn first baseman Gil Hodges had a miserable time. In seven games he went 0-for-21 with five walks and one RBI. The Dodgers lost to the Yankees in seven games, and Hodges was the official goat. Hodges played in another four World Series and he never had another bad one, hitting .337 with four home runs in 26 games, yet he never did stop hearing about what happened in ’52, and that terrible series may have helped keep him out of the Hall of Fame.
I think about the “Snodgrass Muff” a lot because, like “Merkle’s Boner,” it’s a good example of how unfair life can be. “Snow” supposedly cost the Giants the 1912 World Series against the Red Sox—the last World Series the Sox ever won, you’d think, from the way folks are carrying on this year—but he was only a contributor. The two teams were playing the eighth game of a seven-game series, a previous game having ended in a tie, at Fenway Park. It was the bottom of the 10th inning. The Giants had just gone up 2-1 in the top of the frame by scoring an impossible run against Smoky Joe Wood, on in relief. Christy Mathewson was still in for the Giants.
The playoff races have been de-zombified, and Team Entropy was on the prowl, looking for meaningful baseball going into the final game.
Welcome to Team Entropy! Grab a seat on the couch, and here, have a beer. You've been invited to this party because after almost exactly six months and 160 games of regular-season baseball, you've suspended the need to root for a specific team and are working for the greater good, more interested in maximizing the amount of end-of-season chaos the remaining schedule can produce. The amount of season, even, if it comes to a 163rd game—or two.
Jay discusses the similar careers and 2011 seasons of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, questioning their respective labels of hero and villain.
Once upon a time, their roles were unmistakable, the storylines obvious. David Ortiz was the hero of the underdog Red Sox. Benevolent, affable, even beloved, and of course, clutch. Alex Rodriguez was the villain, the epitome of the so-called "Evil Empire," at least after a certain trade fell through. Self-centered, publicly awkward, often loathed, and of course, unclutch. Seven seasons removed from when those narratives began taking shape, their roles are changing, perhaps faster than their public perceptions.
The Marlins rearrange the deck chairs by changing managers as their season goes south.
I had the chance to talk with Edwin Rodriguez only once during his 163-game stint as the Marlins' manager. He struck me as not only an exceptionally nice person but someone who had an innocence you don't often see in major-league managers.
The Twins and Yankees meet yet again in the first round of the postseason but Minnesota has home field advantage this time.
As they did last year as well as 2003 and 2004, the Twins run squarely into the Yankee juggernaut in the first round. Unlike those other three meetings, they have home field advantage this time around, as they won the AL Central going away thanks to a league-best 48-26 second-half record. The defending world champion Yankees, who held the majors' best record for most of the season, were forced to settle for the wild card due to a sluggish 13-17 showing against a very tough schedule in September and October. Despite the relative temperatures of the two clubs, it's important to remember that late-season records aren't predictive of October success—or failure.
Digging deeper into some good and bad of the American League East's power trio.
When the pitching matchup for Sunday night's Yankees-Red Sox game was initially announced, I joked that I would fake my own death to avoid watching the potentially plodding affair of New York's Dustin Moseley facing off against Daisuke Matsuzaka. As it turns out, the joke was on me, because even having attended three games at Yankee Stadium over the past week (two in the press box, one in the cheap seats) while watching the Yankees duke it out with the American League East's other two heavyweights, I somehow managed to miss out on the best one. With the Yankees riding their second four-game losing streak in a two-week span coming into Sunday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the whip and started Phil Hughes—who was set to be skipped in accordance with efforts to manage his innings total—in Moseley's place. Hughes gave the Yankees his best outing in more than a month, and the same can be said for Matsuzaka. The result was a taut 10-inning thriller worthy of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball hype.