Dave Van Horne broadcasted baseball games for the Montreal Expos for 32 years, from the club’s inception in 1969 through to the Jeffrey Loria era. Since then he’s moved on to become play-by-play man for the Florida Marlins, where a new generation of fans have heard him use his trademark “Up, Up, and Away” home run call. In Part I of BP’s chat with Van Horne, we discussed breaking into baseball, calling the game, and a few pages of Expos history.
In the last two weeks, I divided up some current (or semi-current) major league pitchers with the idea of examining their minor league statistics and how those reflected on their major league performances. Group A was the “good” group. Peopled with active luminaries like Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson, Group A comprised all current pitchers who’ve spent the majority of their careers as starters and thrown, as of the end of 2002, at last 1,000 innings in the majors, all while posting a career park-adjusted ERA+ (the pitcher’s ERA relative to the league average) of at least 110 (meaning an ERA at least 10% better than the league average). Also in the mix are a handful of quality young arms who have pitched at least 500 innings and maintained a park-adjusted ERA+ of at least 120. Group B included all active pitchers who have, as of the end of the 2002 season, pitched at least 500 innings and posted a park-adjusted ERA+ of 95 or less (at least 5% worse than the league average). In both instances, I attempted to isolate those minor league innings that are developmental in nature–i.e., not an injury rehab assignment or late-career retread work. The results were quite surprising. Group B, those pitchers manifestly inferior at the highest level, outperformed the denizens of Group A in the minors in several key indicators (K/BB ratio, K/9, BB/9). Group A fared better in HR/9 and ERA. This led me to wonder two things: is home run rate an undervalued augury of success, and does Group A show a clear advantage in hit rate?
Lots of questions about J.D. Drew coming in the Inbox with his name coming up in trade rumors. Drew is well into his career and the idea that he’s suddenly going to become a player that is healthy for a full season is not impossible, but certainly not something any team should rely on. Instead of Mickey Mantle, I think Rondell White is a more likely comparable–when healthy, quite productive. In the right situation, handled properly, not saddled with the weight of expectations, and with the proper rest and backup, Drew could help a team.
Kazuhiro Sasaki had another bullpen session, this time with two main differences–more pitches and a crouching catcher. Sasaki is making sudden, rapid progress in his return from fractured ribs and the time off can do nothing but help his balky shoulder. With Arthur Rhodes and Jeff Nelson struggling some and no trade on the horizon, the M’s would welcome back Sasaki as soon as he can be effective.
As Edgar Martinez is slowed (if that’s possible) by a calf strain, the Mariners will rest him some and remind him that running really isn’t something they expect him to do. He hasn’t been the type that could run out an infield single at any point in his career. The M’s smart usage of Martinez gives us an interesting look into what might be the perfect situation for none other than Ken Griffey Jr.. With Martinez in the twilight of his career, Griffey could slot right into the DH that doesn’t run slot. While he’s a different type of hitter than Martinez, I think many could see him excelling in that slot and in that ballpark. I have no idea how that could work financially, but as we’ve seen, no deal is impossible if it works for everyone. Maybe, for Junior, he can go home again.
The Braves are a bunch of class clowns. The Twins are still in the race, despite being thoroughly mediocre. And the Devil Rays are looking ahead to the future because they don’t really have a choice. All this and many more tid-bits from Atlanta, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay in your Wednesday edition of Prospectus Triple Play.