Davey Johnson says he’s giving up his razor until the Washington Nationals find their bats.
The manager apologized for his scraggly appearance before Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, but he said it had a purpose.
“If my facial hair looks bad,’’ he said, “I decided I wouldn’t shave until we started hitting.’‘
The Nationals began the day batting .225, second worst average in the majors. They are a popular favorite to make the World Series, but they were just one game over .500 entering the three-game series against the Phillies. They just returned from a West Coast road trip that included a four-game losing streak, the team’s sixth shutout loss of the season, Bryce Harper’s head-first collision with a wall and a broken hand for Ryan Mattheus after he punched his locker following a rough outing.
While defense, relief pitching and intangibles have cost the Nationals, the lack of hitting has been the most glaring weakness this season. Only two teams have scored fewer than Washington’s 159 runs.
“I figured I couldn’t get any uglier, so what the heck,’’ Johnson said. “Hopefully I can shave soon. I’ve never had a rally goatee. I’m not hairy enough to get one. Now it’s gray, you can’t hardly see it unless you get these close-ups that I get after the game, so I apologize. You can’t change the shape of a watermelon anyway.
“I’ll be like everybody else around here. Maybe I can change the luck.’‘
Guess Seymour Siwoff’s childhood fave “Techno-Cracked” link was busted…so he had plenty of time on his hands.
Amid the Orioles hitting a season-high four homers and tying their season high for runs, Manny Machado put his name in the record book again when he singled in the seventh inning.
It was his fifth straight road game with three hits or more. According to Elias, the only other player younger than 21 with a streak of four or more consecutive road games with at least three hits was Ty Cobb, who had five straight road games with at least three hits from Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 1907. Cobb was also 20 at the time, but a few weeks younger than Machado is now.
Three doubles for the kid last night, three hits to equal Cobb tonight. He’s keeping good company, even without hitting a double in this game.
Don Mattingly is turning into the most hilarious cartoon character since Babe Ruth!
Meet Donnie Dark.
The Dodgers embattled manager returned home Friday night with a scowl the size of a block of empty seats in the reserved section. He conducted his pregame news conference with a tight jaw and a thin stare. For 30 surreal minutes, the nicest man at Chavez Ravine barked.
“It’s what I believe in the way the game of baseball should be played, the determination you’re supposed to play with, the grit you’re supposed to play with, the toughness you’re supposed to play with,” he said. “It’s about respect for the game, it’s respect to your teammates, it’s respect to the organization, to the fans.”
Mattingly hasn’t looked like this since his playing days. He hasn’t sounded like this since he became the Dodgers’ manager. The clubhouse behind him was somber. No more Donnie Softball.
“Some of them may like me, some of them may not like me, some of them may think I am full of crap,” Mattingly said of his players. “I don’t care. I really don’t. I just basically speak from my heart.”
His aura having been stripped by his inability to fix this mess, his smile having disappeared this week when at least one website had him fired, Mattingly’s heart is about all he has left. If he’s going down, he’s clearly going down swinging.
Swinging and, um, missing. Later Friday night, the Dodgers were engulfed in more misery when they were pounded by the St. Louis Cardinals, 7-0, in front of a booing crowd in a Dodger Stadium that couldn’t even sell out for Friday night fireworks.
It’s bad here. It’s getting worse here. Stan Kasten, the Dodgers’ president, said before the game that he is still supporting Mattingly, but at the same time, owner Magic Johnson was declining an interview request, and by the seventh inning, both men had departed the owner’s box.
It’s the 10th inning, it’s a tie game between the White Sox and visiting Marlins. As such, White Sox broadcaster and devoted rooter Hawk Harrelson was in a state of percolating tension and in no mood for the umpiring pratfalls of Angel Hernandez.
So listen as Hawk reacts—“reacts” as in “core reactor meltdown”—to a plainly incorrect call by Hernandez, in which the latter convinces himself that Alex Rios is out at first despite plain visual evidence to the contrary ...
The Yankees just can’t catch up to all these injuries. Less than two weeks after he returned from a fractured right forearm, Curtis Granderson suffered a fractured fifth metacarpal (left hand) in his left hand when Cesar Ramos hit him with a pitch in the fifth inning. No word on a timetable for his return, but it’s same injury Alex Rodriguez had last season. He missed six weeks. Crud.
Granderson, 32, actually stayed in the game to run the bases before being removed the game after the inning. The trainer did come out to look at him on the bases. In eight games since coming off the DL, Granderson went 7-for-28 (.250) with a double, a homer, and a stolen base. He also moved to the corner outfield in deference to Brett Gardner, playing primarily right field with a smattering of innings in left.
Ichiro Suzuki will presumably return to the lineup on an everyday basis now even though he came into Friday’s game hitting .241/.279/.331 (56 wRC+) in 156 plate appearances on the season.
Uhh…to give John Hart more face-time to mindlessly say “look” and “listen”?
Even more striking than the distribution, though, is the absolute level of talent. Three wins, a reasonable expectation for what this year’s Mets and Yankees first-rounders will do in their careers, is about the value a decent and unexceptional player like Daniel Murphy will have in a good year. It’s a really nice hot streak, a misplaced stroke in a ledger. It makes you appreciate just how rare high-end baseball talent is.
Most of the value of such draft picks comes from the fact that ballplayers who aren’t yet eligible for free agency are paid millions of dollars less than they’re actually worth, so that even a scrub can be a valuable asset. The rest comes from the small chance that the pick will deliver a player like McCutchen or Trammell. You could thus say that baseball’s draft combines the worst features of buying scratch-off lotto tickets and attending an accounting seminar while restricting the ability of young men to choose where they want to work into the bargain. It’s a great deal if you own a ballclub; for everyone else, not so much.
The final absurdity might be that if you wanted to spread the best talent around, getting rid of the draft would be a decent way to do it. The eight amateur free agents who were top MVP or Cy Young finishers last year originally signed with eight different teams. Only two, Adrian Beltre and Robinson Cano, signed with teams in rich markets. Allow players to work where they’d like and some will go for the glamor teams, but some will go for the ones where they have the best chance to play, or to the towns with the best weather, or the ones closest to home.
Open markets in talent work just fine in technology, law and soccer, and they’d work just as well for baseball if anyone would give them a chance.
One, two big schools
All the worlds are
Colliding all around you
I was going to write something today for SI.com re Votto. Specifically, that Votto represented one of the clearest cases of Old-v-New schools of thought, re hitting production. The idea was discussed when The Technician was sitting on 4 HR/20 BI. Now, he’s up to 7 and 22. Both #s are subpar for him and, in fact, for a No. 3 hitter. The obvious question being, can a guy who ranks 11th among NL 1Bs in BI be seen as having a typically good year?
Obviously, his new-school metrics are through the roof… OB, OPS, WAR, FBI, CIA, REM, DEA etc. He leads this world — and quite possibly, others — in walks. He’s top three last I checked, in runs.
Before he drove in 2 yesterday, he ranked 87th in MLB in that category. I’m not sure why, exactly, some savants consider RBI to be somewhat irrelevant these days. But, whatever.
The question remains, and it’s getting weaker every day: Do Votto’s new-age numbers so highly overshadow his old-school shortcomings as to make the SI piece irrelevant? I’m guessing you’ll say yes indeedy, OG.
Thumbs up or down?
* INTERESTING HOW SAVANTS also so easily dismiss BP as team MVP after six weeks. They live in the world of numbers. What number measures the runs he saves? The hits he takes away, practically nightly? The outs he creates? Is there a SABRE-fact for that?
What’s the number for his versatility as a hitter? We know he’s money in the clutch. There is a number for that. What about his ability to bat anywhere in the top six in the lineup? Would Choo be Choo if he had to hit cleanup? Maybe. We don’t know. He hasnt been asked. Phillips has. He has aaved this team’s rear, the way he has hit. He has us asking Ryan Who?
If you’re going to laud the ability of Choo and Votto to score runs and get on base, why no love for BP’s ability to drive them in? Votto’s had as many chances to drive in Choo as Phillips has. More, in fact, given that he hits ahead of Phillips. Doesnt BP’s RBI prowess make Votto and Choo look good, same as their ability to get aboard makes BP’s RBI total look impressive?
Sutton: Because that’s where the defaced money is.
The outspoken Sutton—who came up with the Dodgers in 1966 and pitched with them for 16 of his 23 seasons—has his own opinion about everything.
He said in an interview last week that he hates pitch counts.
“I say it with a laugh in my voice when I broadcast: ‘That’s 100 pitches. On the next one, he’s going to turn into a troll.’ At 101, you just disappear. Poof, you’re gone,” Sutton said.
...MLB.com: Did you cheat?
Sutton: No, I never got caught cheating.
MLB.com: About the Hall of Fame vote, what do you think about it as we move forward? Do you think that after a period of time some of these guys [who played in the “Steroid Era”] should get in? Or if you played in that era, it’s going to be hard to get in.
Sutton: I think it’s going to be hard to get in. I think you’re going to be hit with fallout and I think you’re going to be guilty by association. It’s going to be interesting to see the opinion of some of your younger peers, who have not been so actively involved in it, how their opinion changes. But when you get down to it, what I think is irrelevant. It’s like talking about clouds. I can do nothing to influence.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, McLouth chased down a fly ball towards the left-field foul line off the bat of Cobly Rasmus. McLouth caught the ball, but his momentum carried him into the stands.
After disappearing into the (not-so filled) seats, an uninjured McLouth stood up and showed umpire Manny Gonzalez that the ball was still in his glove. Some Toronto fans claimed the nine-year veteran didn’t hold onto the ball, but Gonzalez ruled it an out.
Then things turned ugly — and embarrassing to real baseball fans — as someone in the second deck of the Rogers Centre threw a beverage at McLouth. Fortunately for McLouth, and the idiot in the second deck, the drink missed.
Excessive use of the spitball has injured Ed Walsh’s digestion and has thus affected his condition, so that he has not yet reached his best form of this year, according to Dr. James H. Blair, club physician of the Chicago Americans, in a report made today on the pitcher’s condition.
According to the doctor saliva needed for Walsh’s digestion has been used on the ball, but with care the pitcher may be in his old time form in a month.
Obviously the problem is misdirected saliva and not the 65 complete games and 761 innings Walsh threw in 1911-12. Walsh hung on until 1917, but was never fully healthy and was used extremely sparingly.
Baseball Fates, please note (please?): I’m just playing around here! None of these things will actually come to pass; it’s just a way of expressing how hot he’s been so far.
Miguel Cabrera finished Thursday’s game #45 with a .391 BA, .701 slugging, 1.168 OPS, 14 HRs, 55 RBI, 39 Runs, 72 hits, 129 total bases, and an OPS+ well north of 200.
The projection multiplier from 45 to 162 is 3.6, so….
Heads up, Hack? Bourn’s gift to Miggy (plus Thursday’s daily dinger) put him on a pace of 202 RBI.
You, too, Babe? Cabrera’s on pace for 464 Total Bases. Ruth’s 1921 record is 457.
The last qualified season of .680+ slugging: Bonds, 2004. Same goes for OPS of 1.120 or better or OPS+ of 200 or more.
Last with 250+ hits: Ichiro, 2004, record 262 hits. Cabrera’s pace is 259 hits, which would be #2.
Last with .380+ BA: Gwynn, 1994. Last in a full season: Brett, 1980. But Brett also played just 117 games that year. The last to hit .380 with 500+ ABs: Carew, 1977.
Besides Ruth ’21, the only guy with 450+ Total Bases was Hornsby, 1922 (450 even). Last with 400+ Total Bases: Sosa, 2001.
Cabrera’s batting .391 with a 50-HR pace. No one ever has batted .380+ with 45+ HRs. The most HRs with a .380+ BA is 42 by Hornsby ’22 (.402 BA). The highest BA with 45+ HRs is .378, by Ruth in ’21 (59 HRs) and in ’24 (46 HRs); Ruth is also #3 (.376, 54 HRs in 1920), and tied for #4 (.373, 46 HRs in ’31) along with Gehrig (.373, 47 HRs in ’27).
Cabrera over Detroit’s last 162 regular-season games (161 G for Cabrera):
TONY RANDAZZO NO MISTER ROCK AND ROLL, MR. COMMISSIONER.
Major League Baseball should immediately adopt reforms to the umpiring system. MLB is now a $7 billion dollar industry awash in cash so the costs of these changes can hardly be the reason to defer making them.
1. MLB should buy the umpire schools and take over the training and development of all umpires in professional baseball. The recruitment, training and compensation of minor league and major league umpires should be controlled by the commissioner and modern personnel programs instituted to insure proper professional development.
2. Minor league umpires as employees of MLB should be offered the opportunity to become members of the same union as major league umpires to insure all of them are properly represented and protected by Federal law.
3. The use of technology to improve the accuracy of on field decisions should continue to be explored with the full involvement of the umpires. Additional use of replays should be carefully adopted with careful attention to the risks of further delays in the games.
Over the years the umpires have been the victims of benign neglect as generations of owners and commissioners were content to focus on what they believed were the more important economic and unions issues facing the game. Now, however, there is time and ample money sloshing throughout baseball to warrant the kind of broad changes I am suggesting.
For that reason and because reforms are so obviously warranted I believe the baseball leadership under Commissioner Selig will take the action all of us close to the game have believed is so long overdue. The game will be better as the umpiring improves.
And finally, moving the umpiring profession into the modern era of personnel and management development will surely result in more and better qualified young men – and women – deciding to join the profession. The reform makes so much sense it has to happen and soon.
“locked-in” with Tom Tango and Morgan Ensberg!...(also check out Kevin Goldstein’s FB page which has been having a terrific back/forth)
Below you will find an unedited transcript of an email correspondance between myself and Morgan Ensberg. This exchange is a result of Ensberg taking a position with Brandon McCarthy on Twitter, and seemingly against me. As this thread will show, we don’t really disagree on anything, once we were able to say more than 140 characters to each other.
As long-time readers of this blog know, Morgan is quite receptive to the kind of work and research that we produce. He is also an extremely respectful person, and it’s a real pleasure to interact with him. And the correspondance below is typical of how Morgan presents himself. I am grateful that he was kind enough to have this exchange.
...To put it plainly, if you have Ryan Braun with 3 HR in 3 PA and you have Miguel Cabrera with 3 SO in 3 PA, then what we will expect to happen on the 4th PA is EXACTLY what their historical record would suggest: equal greatness. We do not expect Braun to suddenly be like Barry Bonds, and we do not expect Cabrera to now be John MacDonald.
And your example of yourself is perfect: you were locked-in for 8 games, but you only acknowledge this after the event occurs. And even if you felt the same way on game #9, outcomes didn’t follow you. And it didn’t follow you for the next 8 games. And that’s because these feelings are so transient that it becomes irrelevant in terms of it being actionable.
Yes. I agree. But I think everyone would agree with that.
I think I have to be clearer in my belief. Locked-in is being in the zone. It is real. But unpredictable in future events.
I can’t … It’s just … that is so beautiful and hilarious. Again, that’s batting-average against from the catcher’s perspective, so picture a lefty-swinging Sandoval with his back to you over on the right side of your screen. The place you go in the strike zone is in on his hands but, for goodness sake, don’t go too far in! If you miss outside the zone and come close to hitting him, he kind of rakes those pitches. Which doesn’t make sense. But, hey, neither does Sandoval.
It has been nearly 16 years since Philadelphia lost Richie Ashburn, one of the greatest Phillies players of all time. The beloved Hall of Famer, who played for the team from 1948 through 1959, died of a heart attack in 1997 after broadcasting a Phillies-Mets game from Shea Stadium. His family buried him in the cemetery outside of Gladwyne Methodist Church, where all was quiet until some developers announced plans to turn the church into condos and put a parking lot next to the cemetery. Ashburn’s widow, Herberta, is calling foul.
Dig him up hand him a mitt and sit Ben Revere, I say.
Light at the end of the ridiculously low-ceilinged tunnel.
The Cubs have actually played pretty good baseball when sequencing is not considered. By wOBA differential, they’ve been a well above average team. Their record is almost entirely a reflection of the power of the timing of various events.
In our Win Probability section, we track a stat called “Clutch”, which basically looks at the wins a team has gained or lost due to the leverage of the game when their positive or negative events occurred. The Cubs are 28th in clutch hitting and 30th in clutch pitching. When you combine their clutch scores from both sides of the ball, you can see just how far removed they are from the rest of the teams in baseball in season-to-date “clutch” performance.
At -4.3 clutch wins, no one is even close to the Cubs in terms of underperformance by leverage. It’s not even just that they haven’t converted hits into runs, but that when they’ve scored those runs, they haven’t occurred at the right time to translate into wins.
So, as we approach Memorial Day, the Cubs stand at 18-27, and even if we just did a basic pythagorean adjustment to account for their run differential, we’d only upgrade that “expected” record to 22-23. But, when you look at the full accounting of all of their plays, the Cubs context neutral performance suggests something more like a 24-21 record. And that’s with Matt Garza spending basically the entire season on the DL.
The Cubs are in a ridiculously difficult division, and this isn’t their year to try and make a run for it, but the pieces that the team added over the off-season have made them a competitive team. Even if they end up selling off veterans for prospects at the trade deadline, don’t be surprised if the Cubs start winning more games over the next four months of the season. Based on their first 45 games, there are reasons to believe that this team is actually decent.
Bold move in Seattle, as the Mariners are optioning catcher Jesus Montero to Triple-A Tacoma, reports Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News-Tribune.
Montero, whom the M’s acquired from the Yankees as part of the Michael Pineda deal, was ranked by Baseball America as the sixth-best overall prospect coming into 2012. This season, however, Montero has authored a grim batting line of .208/.264/.327 in addition to playing spotty defense in his 225 1/3 innings behind the plate.
Last season, Montero showed promise by putting up a passable 95 OPS+ and making strides in the second half. In 2013, though, he’s obviously failed to maintain those gains. Montero’s still just 23 years of age, so there’s plenty of time to right himself. Consider this a bold step in that direction.
Also worth noting is that Mike Zunino, the Mariners’ top prospect, is the regular catcher at Tacoma right now, and he already has a backup in place.
“I have [former Red Sox CEO] John Harrington’s old office. The day he turned over the reins, he was sitting at the desk and handed me his pen with a warm smile,” Henry wrote in an email.“I still have it. Red ink. I work more of my hours though in my home offices in Florida and in Brookline. But there is nothing like driving into Fenway Park to go to work. I am thankful every day that I get to do that. It’s one big reason why these rumors of a potential sale of the Red Sox are so laughable.At the risk of a double negative, I don’t know of anyone, personally, who works for the Red Sox that doesn’t feel extraordinarily blessed to be working there.”
At an operational level, one can characterize six different levels of decisions in the organization, some of which require ownership input, some of which do not.
Fourth level: A decision on which the owners’ opinions will be sought at the outset before moving forward. For instance, ticket pricing decisions necessarily will involve ownership feedback at the outset (rather than a rubber stamp) before moving forward.
Fifth level: Collaboration and involvement from the outset. The trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers last August represented a notable and significant demonstration of such a case. The conversation started between Dodgers president Stan Kasten and his Red Sox peer, Lucchino. From the outset, and throughout the entirety of the deal, it necessarily involved not only the entire baseball operations department but also the full attention of the ownership group.
Sixth level: Ownership suggest or initiates a program for the club and the front office executes it. Often times, these ownership-directed programs (in the case of the Red Sox) will relate to charitable undertakings, such as Werner’s Run to Home Base. The instances of ownership-mandated baseball operations decisions are virtually non-existent. Indeed, the instances of owner fiat are virtually non-existent, in part because of the philosophical commitment on the part of the organization to collaboration and consensus-building.
Wednesday, though, Leyland got a little sentimental. After a 65-minute stoppage in the fifth inning, he let Justin Verlander go back into the game and get the two outs he needed to pick up the victory.
“Since I got here in 2006, that guy has been our horse, and tonight was a reward for that,” Leyland told FOX Sports Detroit’s Shannon Hogan after Detroit’s 11-7 win over the Indians. “I stretched it for five minutes because of what he’s done for us. I wouldn’t have gone 15 or 20 minutes, but I gave him five. Thank heavens it worked out.”
The decision wasn’t as easy as it sounds. While Verlander is considered one of the best starters in baseball, he’s been in a rare slump. He came into the game coming off two bad losses — allowing 11 runs in 7 2/3 innings — and was struggling again against Cleveland. He allowed single runs in each of the first two innings, then gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Santana just before the delay.
Leyland, though, thought he understood the problem.
“I think I’m right on this one,” he said. “He was a little jittery in the first couple innings after what’s happened to him, and then he got into a great rhythm in the third and fourth. In the fifth, he was trying to beat the Indians and trying to beat the rain and beat the umpires and get everything done before they pulled the tarp. He just started rushing everything and they got him.”
...Verlander used his best skills of persuasion to get the last two outs, and may have even resorted to simple bribery.
“I was lobbying him, but when it got to be close to an hour, I knew I was running out of time,” he said. “I might owe him a sleeve of golf balls. Or a dozen golf balls. Maybe a case of golf balls.”
Despite growing calls for his demotion, Davis won’t be sent down to Triple-A before Friday’s series opener against the Braves, according to the New York Daily News.
“Maybe after the weekend,” a source told the paper.
It’s been a frustrating season for Davis, batting .147 with nine RBIs after getting off to a miserable start last year, too.
“I know I’m going to play better, especially hitting-wise. I can’t do any worse,” he said. “If my teammates weren’t behind me, it’d be the worst thing in the world.”
Fans are losing patience, and plays like Wednesday’s killer in the ninth won’t do much to help his cause.
...Davis has one hit in his last 38 at-bats after going 0 for 2 with two walks Wednesday. He flied out to the center-field warning track to end the sixth, leaving him hitless in his last 25 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“He feels absolutely great this year and had a great spring,” manager Terry Collins said. “So this is baffling to everybody. We base what we’re doing on the fact that we’re looking down the road, we’re trying to look at the big picture here, and we’ve got to get this guy going, because we’ve got to figure out, where is he going to fit?”