Sunday, June 15, 2014
As my old Cubs pal Ellsworthless Dick used to say: “You can’t spell I Go Boner Rile! without Ernie Broglio!”
On June 15, 1964, with his team enjoying an off day, Cubs second baseman Joey Amalfitano heard a knock on the door of his apartment.
Old pal Ernie Broglio was there with a suitcase and a smile, which baffled Amalfitano because his former minor league roommate pitched for the Cardinals and the Phillies were next on the Cubs’ schedule.
“I said, ‘What in the world are you doing here?’ Ernie said, ‘I just got traded to the Cubs for Lou Brock,”” Amalfitano recalled. “It was a huge surprise. I couldn’t believe it.”
Fifty years later, the shock has worn off in Chicago but some people still struggle believing the Cubs traded a future Hall of Famer for a veteran pitcher who only won seven games in three injury-plagued seasons on the North Side. Considered one of the worst baseball deals ever, Brock-for-Broglio shares a chapter in Cubs lore with tortured tales of the Billy Goat and Bartman. The standard by which all bad trades are measured remains a touchy topic for die-hards — but not for the man whose name still can make a Cubs fan cringe.
“It’s always nice to talk about that trade,” Broglio, 78, said with a chuckle from his home in San Jose, Calif. “I don’t mind. At least they remember who I am.”
...Nobody ever will know whether the Cardinals knew the extent of damage to Broglio’s elbow; none of the executives involved are alive. But Broglio suspects the injury occurred late in the 1963 season and he required cortisone shots between starts in ‘64, though he kept the pain private. His 3-5 record in early June suggested something was wrong.
“Even with our own doctors, Ernie wouldn’t say anything because you played through it,” Shannon said. “That’s just how it was back then. Ernie was a real good pitcher.”
The Cubs never saw that pitcher. The team shut down Broglio in August after the elbow issues had become intolerable. Three months later, Broglio had his ulnar nerve reset in a procedure similar to what today is known as Tommy John surgery.
“I spent three weeks in the hospital and was throwing at spring training in February because that’s the way it was those days,” Broglio said. “I’m sure that cut my career short.”
Posted: June 15, 2014 at 09:15 AM | 45 comment(s)
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Matheny Math: Minimal polynomial (Busch field theory).
Matheny studies the individual splits closely. His interpretation of those numbers might be typical in some cases, but it might also be surprising in others.
What works for Matheny in either case is his essential belief in his players.
“You know, when I see a guy who’s had even just a couple of at-bats against a pitcher, but has had success, there’s usually knowledge on both sides,” the manager said. “I don’t use the opposite side very well. When a guy has had two at-bats against a pitcher and he’s struck out a couple of times, I’m thinking, ‘He’s going to get him.’
“But if he’s had two at-bats and he’s had two hits, I’m thinking, ‘He owns him.’ A lot of it is just how confident our offensive guy would be walking into the box.”
So if a St. Louis player is, for instance, 2-for-2 against a particular pitcher, this indicates that the hitter clearly has the pitcher’s number. On the other hand, if a St. Louis player is 0-for-2 against a pitcher, this primarily indicates that the hitter is due.
Matheny’s view of these small samples appears to be a no-lose proposition for the Cardinals. On the other hand, look what the Cardinals have done in his two years as their manager. They were one game away from the World Series in 2012. In 2013, they had a division title, the best record in the National League and went to the World Series. Expecting success might be the one logical response to any given Cardinal situation.
And there will be numerous occasions when the sample sizes just won’t be suitably large, anyway.
“I don’t think there is too much of a sample size, or else we’d be waiting around forever,” Matheny said. “Every once in a while you see some guys with some larger at-bats, but in general you just take the information that you have and hope that confidence is a big part of that, one way or the other.”
Posted: April 17, 2014 at 11:25 AM | 8 comment(s)
Sunday, February 23, 2014
Strauss auto pilot…
“The church of advanced metrics” actually has good things to say about Lynn. Though, unfortunately, they don’t quite put him in the same echelon as Wainwright and Kershaw. According to xFIP, an ERA retrodictor that uses the league average home run rate, Lynn has finished at 3.60 and 3.66 in 2012 and ’13, respectively. Both marks fell below his ERA, 3.78 and 3.97, respectively.
FanGraphs puts Lynn at six WAR over the past two seasons, an average of three per season. Baseball Reference puts him at four WAR over the past two seasons, an average of two per season. An average pitcher comes in at exactly two WAR. So, depending on which version you use, Lynn is somewhere between average and above-average — hardly denigrating as Strauss would have you believe.
The biggest knocks against Lynn include his walk rate and his batting average on balls in play. Lynn has walked between eight and nine percent of batters over the last two seasons, slightly above the National League average of 7.4 percent. Lynn’s BABIP has finished at .321 and .314. As Strauss points out, Lynn strikes out a lot of batters — 23 to 24 percent — but should that ability ever waver, his propensity to allow hits on balls in play at a higher rate and his propensity to issue walks will become more of an issue. That, however, has not been the case in his two full seasons thus far. As a result, neither ZiPS nor PECOTA project Lynn to struggle in 2014. ZiPS pegs him at a 3.52 ERA while PECOTA puts him at 3.90.
This “Sabermetrics hate Lynn” angle Strauss is pushing isn’t backed up by the actual stats. He’s no Wainwright or Kershaw, but he is certainly a pitcher who can be expected to be a productive member of the Cardinals.
Posted: February 23, 2014 at 05:22 PM | 12 comment(s)
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