BP.com's original column launched in 1996, TA has been where Christina Kahrl ponders the implications of recent roster moves, their impact on managerial tactics or how they reflect organizational behavior. Plus a few too many references to things that have nothing to do with baseball.
Understanding neuroscience could help devolop better switch-hitters.
Last week we took a look at SHINOs, switch-hitters in name only, who were defined as batters that swung a mighty broomstick from one side of the plate but fell below the league average from the other. They certainly switched, but the handedness of the pitcher determined if they were to hit like Willie Mays or Willy Taveras.
Those who switch-hit in name only make up a rare cadre all their own.
A few weeks ago I found myself engrossed in a Tommy Bennettarticle on the Braves and stumbled upon his usage of the term SHINO when describing Melky Cabrera. The acronym stands for Switch-Hitter-In-Name-Only, and refers to some hitters with 'S' or 'Both' under the Bats column on their player pages, and specifically the ones who might want to think about changing that status. They certainly switch, but they don’t offer much in the way of hitting. The term tickled my fancy, in part due to the fact that I’ve had an article on switch-hitters in my to-do queue for over a year now that was set to focus on those who consistently struggled from one side of the plate. Though the title of that shelved article involved Bobby Kielty and not this term; as we’ll see, maybe Kielty should have been included in the title.
Pat Venditte's Grapefruit League debut prompted a romp through the archives
It was only one inning and change in an exhibition game, but on Tuesday the Yankees finally got a good look at Pat Venditte, the ambidextrous reliever who has pitched for three of their lower minor league affiliates over the last two years. Drafted out of Creighton in the 20th round in 2008, Venditte has been regarded by the media simply as a curiosity, and even his own organization has treated him more as a suspect than a prospect. Nonetheless, He's done nothing but deliver the goods when asked, compiling dominating numbers — 1.53 ERA, 11.6 strikeouts per nine and 6.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, against just 6.7 hits per nine — in an even 100 innings. Intrigued, manager Joe Girardi requested that the Yankees bring him along to the Braves camp for a command performance in a split-squad game. "I've wanted to see it all spring," said the Yankee skipper.
Will the Phillies establish a mini-dynasty, or will the Yankees add to their crowded trophy case with another title?
A year ago, the Phillies broke a 28-year-old title drought by winning the World Series, defeating the upstart Rays in five games. After winning 93 games in the regular season and tidily dispatching both the Rockies and the Dodgers in the first two rounds, they're back to defend their crown with a cast that's largely the same, save for summer acquisition Cliff Lee. They're the first NL team to repeat as pennant winners since the 1995-1996 Braves, and if they win the World Series, they'll be they first senior circuit club to do so since the 1975-1976 Reds.
The first game of the NLCS left plenty for statheads and analysts to be humbled about.
Clayton Kershaw wasn't ready for his close-up. Tabbed to start the opening game of the National League Championship Series, the 21-year-old Dodger lefty dazzled for the first four innings, holding the Phillies to a single and a pair of walks while striking out two, at times flashing the big-bending curve that Vin Scully termed "Public Enemy Number One" before the kid even had a day of major league service. Alas, he came unraveled in the fifth inning, and it was excruciating to watch.
A rematch from the '07 postseason makes for a great showdown of two teams with very different virtues.
Well, here we are again, with the Phillies and Rockies set to battle one another in the National League Division Series for the second time in three seasons. Just as it was in 2007, the Phillies enter the fray with a division title while the Rockies used an incredibly strong second half to win the NL Wild Card. Unlike that entertaining 2007 season, however, in which the Phillies ousted the Mets from the top spot of the NL East on the final day of the season, only to have their spotlight stolen soon thereafter by a Rockies team that won a controversial play-in game, this year's Phillies controlled their division practically all season. In addition, the Rockies' second-half surge proved so strong that they actually gave the division-leading Dodgers a run for their money in the final week. A good chunk of the 2007 cast of characters remains intact for each team, but enough has changed to merit a new writeup instead of a recycled version of the prior Phillies/Rockies preview.
Responding to a reader's concern about lineups that lean heavily to the left and whether they help or hurt a team.
It's reader request week here at YCLIU. Thanks to subscriber Shaun, we'll start with the Phillies, but we'll end up traveling all around time and space. Earlier this week, Shaun wrote in to observe this:
Two managers managing, two deviations from the standard, and the mixed results.
Prior to Monday night's Game Four of the National League Championship Series, I noted the contrast between the two teams when it came to deviating from standard closer usage. Dodgers manager Joe Torre has shown a penchant for calling upon his closer in the eighth inning when the situation merits it, a tendency that dates back to the days of Mariano Rivera putting championship rings on his fingers, while Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has stuck to a strict ninth-inning usage plan this year. The two teams deviated from the script in Game Four, with results that may have turned the series decisively in the Phillies' favor.