In his major-league debut, Heaney came out firing from the get-go, dialing up seven of his first 15 fastballs at 94 MPH or higher. Unfortunately for the ninth-overall pick of the 2012 draft, David Wright crushed one of those 94 MPH heaters to center field and off the Marlins Park home run sculpture for a solo blast.
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The A's lefty logs his first complete game since 2006, plus more recaps from a walkoff-filled Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans at Oakland Coliseum were treated to a fantastic pitchers’ duel between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, and the visitors started the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 advantage.
Kazmir was in line for a complete-game loss, in which he threw 76 of his 103 pitches for strikes and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk. The lone mistake he made was a slider left up that Torii Hunter deposited over the right-center field wall. Kazmir was able to subdue the Tigers with his changeup, as he threw 19 of his 26 off-speed offerings for strikes—nine of them of the swing-and-miss variety. The southpaw was able to hold his velocity over the course of the game, registering his fastest four-seamer of the game with his second-to-last pitch.
At one position, the A's are still Moneyballing like it's 1999.
For the most part, pitch receiving operates on a level that’s easy to overlook. Over thousands of pitches, certain catchers establish an edge, and those edges add up in a way we can’t see without looking at a leaderboard. Every now and then, though, framing on a small scale comes to the fore, usually when it leads to a larger event. Brett Lawrie, let’s say, strikes out looking out a pitch that appears to be outside, hurls his batting helmet at the home plate umpire, and gets ejected from the game. Our first impulse, like Lawrie’s, is to blame the umpire who blew the call. After reviewing the video, though, we realize that the real culprit was Jose Molina, in the catcher’s box, with the catcher’s glove. The ump was a red herring, a patsy, or maybe an unwitting accomplice.
Reviewing Kazmir's performance in his first victory since 2010.
On Saturday, Scott Kazmir and the Indians faced Joe Mauer and the Twins. Kazmir was looking for his first victory since 2010, and he got it. Mauer was looking to break out of a 4-for-38 stretch that had dropped his OBP nearly 100 points. He reached base twice, but only once against Kazmir, and with weak contact.
For three seasons, Scott Kazmir and Joe Mauer shared space at the top of prospect lists. From 2003 to 2005, Kazmir ranked 11th, 12th, and seventh on Baseball America’s lists, while Mauer was fourth, first, and first. Each player debuted in 2004; each started the 2005 season on a major-league roster, and each had a strong rookie season—though Kazmir (3.7 WARP) finished just ninth in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Jesse Crain, while Mauer (3.0 WARP) received no votes, behind Jesse Crain. They faced off in three games through 2008, with each player demonstrating some of his signature skill: Mauer banged out three line drive singles in 10 trips to the plate, while Kazmir struck out Mauer, one of baseball’s toughest tasks, three times.
Rich Harden, Scott Kazmir, and Jeremy Bonderman will be back in big-league camps next spring. Which one is the safest best to have something left?
There comes a point in every fantasy draft when one owner drafts a particular player at a certain position—shortstop, let’s say—which reminds every other owner that they also need a shortstop and that there are only so many good ones left to go around. The ensuing collective hysteria causes a run on anyone eligible at that position, and by the time the league comes to its senses,Clint Barmes is the only shortstop still standing.
That’s essentially what happened on the Friday before Christmas, except with injury-prone starting pitchers. On Friday morning, the Twins signed Rich Harden. On Friday afternoon, determined not to be locked out of the injury-prone-pitcher market, the Indians signed Scott Kazmir and the Mariners followed suit by signing Jeremy Bonderman. (Brandon Webb is still somewhere on the board.) Realistically, except for their fingerprints, not much ties the current Kazmir, Harden, and Bonderman to the versions who had success several seasons ago. But the names are still notable, and the faces are still familiar, so we can't help but wonder whether the stuff might still be similar too.
Notes from around the AFL and Caribbean Winter Leagues
The Arizona Fall League regular season has come to an end -- Peoria will play Salt River in the Championship Game on Saturday -- so now the moment you've all been waiting for ... my AFL MVP and Cy Young picks.
Have teams really made million-dollar deadline decisions based on two starts? And if they have, can we figure out which ones they were?
"I think the one thing you might be able to get someone to dream on—it's amazing to me, continually, how often trades are made based on the last two starts," one American League personnel director told Mackey. "So if he can put together a couple of starts in the next couple of weeks...” (Source)
Presume that this personnel director talking to Minnesota ESPN radio host/writer Phil Mackey about Francisco Liriano wasn’t misquoted. Presume that he wasn’t exaggerating wildly in order to entertain Mackey. Presume that he’s not insane. Presume that he’s telling the truth, and that, at least once, a team has made a trade based on the last two starts. The question, then, is this: Which trade?
Brandon Wood is in the midst of yet another disappointing season at age 27. What other players have bottomed out when they were supposed to be peaking?
You couldn’t ask for a better place to hit than Colorado Springs. Last year, the hometown Sky Sox batted .305/.366/.489 as a team and allowed a 6.49 ERA as a team. It’s the craziest place to hit in the craziest league to hit, and it’s where Brandon Wood is hitting .253/.289/.418, with 19 strikeouts and three walks. It’s his age-27 season.
It’s wrong to say that age-27 is the magical year when everybody sets new personal bests. Some hitters peak in their 30s and some in their early 20s and some when they’re 25 and some when they’re 29. Twenty-seven is just a number, and when it starts a sentence, a hyphenated word. It’s only as significant as you make it.
If you had to bet on Jamie Moyer, Mark Prior or Scott Kazmir to win more games from today until the end of the world, on which pitcher would you bet?
On Aug. 23, 2004,Scott Kazmir made his major-league debut. He was 20 and one of the dozen best prospects in baseball. Three days later, Mark Prior struck out eight and beat the Astros. He was 23 and one of the half-dozen best pitchers in baseball. The same day that Prior won his game, Jamie Moyer gave up six runs to the Royals and lost his seventh decision in a row, a streak that would eventually stretch to 10 losses and push his ERA over 5.00. He was 41 years old.
And here we are in 2012, and each is attempting his own comeback. Moyer is pitching well in the Cactus League; Kazmir threw for scouts last month; Prior’s audition for major-league teams could come in the next few weeks. Based on what we knew through 2004, it is a surprise that all three are still pitching. Based on what we knew through 2004, it is a surprise that none of the three is on a major-league roster. Based on what we knew through 2004, it is a surprise that the band Bush is still releasing new music. Life is surprising, man. But the question before us is this:
Prospects of Scott Kazmir ever recapturing the magic are declining - along with his velocity.
I’m not ashamed to admit this: Once upon a time, I had a fantasy crush on Scott Kazmir. You know what I’m talking about when I say fantasy crush... I had to have him on my roster. In every league. I was probably guilty of raising his ADP by five to ten places. If some other owner grabbed him before I had a chance, I immediately sprang into action formulating a potential trade. Auction league? Let’s just say I had my own little “Kazmir Allocation Fund” at the ready.
Why did I like Kazmir so much? The strikeouts, the strikeouts and the strikeouts. He led the AL in strikeouts in 2007 with 239 and from 2005 to 2008 he averaged 9.7 SO/9. Among starters that threw in all four seasons and tossed at least 500 innings total, that strikeout rate was the tops in baseball. And it wasn’t even close. In fact, only three pitchers struck out more than a batter an inning during those four seasons.