While watching baseball this Memorial Day, I started to think about how different each team’s offense is. Watching the Mariners lose this season has been tougher because they’re so goddamned boring. There’s no variety of in the outcomes: Pretty much, they’re going to slap a single, or they’ll make an out. But how many of those outs were Modestly Exciting Outs? And what can Modestly Exciting Outs tell us about a team’s offense?
In this week’s Pinstriped Bible (one of the other columns in the Steve Goldman media empire, the entirety of which can be yours for a song), a reader takes your host to task for suggesting that an incident that took place last week involving Gabe White should be a hint to managers to pay attention to the rule book for bonus competitive advantages. Around here we take any excuse to delve further into a worthy thesis, in this case, that gamesmanship is, or should be, a major component of the manager’s job.
The White situation was very simple. The Yankees lefty entered the team’s May 26 game at Baltimore in the sixth inning with the Yankees leading 7-6. The game was momentarily delayed when the umpire asked White to remove a gold chain. With the chain removed, White gave up consecutive hits, allowing another run to score and setting up a blown save for future Hall of Famer Tanyon Sturtze. After the game, White claimed that he had pitched badly because he’d been unnerved by the umpire’s request.
The Diamondbacks need to take a long look at their aging core. The Tigers’ success isn’t the result of luck, while the Royals’ struggles are due, in part, to a lack of strikeouts and defense. All this and more news from Arizona, Detroit and Kansas City in your Wednesday Prospectus Triple Play.
One of the things I’ve always meant to learn but never quite cared enough about to actually do the research on is to find out what the other draft ratings were. I mean, everyone knows about 4F and 1A, but what was in between? Was there something like 2C–OK, but left-handed and prone to excessive flatulence? 3B–healthy but a little too fond of bad political discussions? I suppose I should ask someone from an earlier generation for some insight into that one of these days.
Anyway, this is the first of a series of three pieces I’ll be doing for Baseball Prospectus about college prospects who could draw varying levels of interest in the draft next week. Today, you get the 1A’s–the guys that every club knows about and would love to have if they’d play for free. This isn’t an encyclopedic listing, since the best pro player to come out of this draft will probably end up being someone neither you nor I have ever heard of, but it should give you a good feel for what’s out there this year. There’s no one in this year’s crop who makes scouts’ eyes light up the way Mark Prior or Rickie Weeks did when they were drafted, but there’s still some solid talent available.
Rain pushed Joe Mauer’s rehab back slightly. The Twins want him to catch back-to-back days to test his repaired knee before he returns to the majors. He’s scheduled to start again Tuesday and a decision will be made on Wednesday. It’s unlikely he’ll be in Minnesota before Friday, but it’s not impossible. Mauer has had a slow rehab, but that’s the result of the Twins exercising caution, not any setbacks on Mauer’s end. For Twins fans, it gets worse. Justin Morneau, someone who has nothing to prove at Triple-A, has been sent down to open up a roster slot. The Twins must know something about Morneau that no one else does, unless something bigger’s afoot.
While Mauer’s rehab is going well, if slowly, Shannon Stewart’s rehab from plantar fascitis has run into problems. His foot is not responding to therapy and he is still in significant pain. Any guess that he’d be back at the lower end of the six-to-eight-week estimates are now gone, and there are open questions about whether he can return by the All-Star break. Stewart may need to DH more, which would wreak havoc on the already jumbled Twins lineup.
First Base: Jason Giambi, Yankees. A few years ago, this was
the toughest call in baseball, with five or six guys with legitimate claims on
the vote. Now, it seems like all of those players have slipped a couple of
notches, with the top remaining one, Jim Thome having moved
to the National League. The top five first basemen in baseball, by VORP, are all
in the NL.
I went with Giambi over Carlos Delgado, Rafael
Palmeiro and Frank Thomas, although it’s a
half-hearted choice. The guys having the best 2004 seasons, like Ken
Harvey (not actually on the ballot) and Tino
Martinez, just don’t have the kind of track record that pulls my vote
from the established greats. Palmeiro or Thomas would make a perfectly good
choice as well.
This position is a good example of why basing All-Star status on first-half
stats is silly. By the end of the year–hell, maybe by the All-Star
Game–Palmeiro and Delgado will probably be outperforming Harvey and Martinez.
The shape of a season shouldn’t dictate honors.