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Friday, August 29, 2014

Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki bent on playing shortstop: “I will retire before I move”

Guess who his idol is?

Despite two major surgeries to his left hip and groin area in the past two years, despite the torn left quadriceps he sustained in 2008, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has no intention of switching positions.

“No, I won’t move,” he said in a phone interview. “I will retire before I move.”

Not to third base? Not to first base, a position that could save him from wear and tear and possibly prolong his career?

“No. It’s just who I am, it’s what I do, it’s what I have dreamed of as a kid,” said Tulowitzki, 29. “It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you ... it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.”

Tulowitzki, considered the game’s best all-round shortstop — when healthy — will be due $118 million after this season on a contract that runs through 2020, with a club option for 2021.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 07:09 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: rockies, troy tulowitzki

Indians Sign Russell Branyan

Outman out, Strikeoutman in!

The Indians announced (Twitter link) that they have signed veteran corner infielder Russell Branyan to a minor league contract and assigned him to Triple-A Columbus.

The former big league slugger has spent the 2014 season with los Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League and has slashed a robust .296/.423/.620 with 19 home runs in 272 plate appearances. However, he hasn’t been in affiliated ball since 2012 and last saw the Majors in 2011… Branyan, now 38 years of age, has seen the Majors in parts of 14 different seasons between the Indians, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, Diamondbacks, Rays, Phillies, Cardinals and Angels. He’s a lifetime .232/.329/.485 hitter with 194 homers, including a career-high 31 back in 2009 with Seattle.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 06:42 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: indians, russell branyan, transactions

The First Hundred PAs: The Curious Case of Cubs Rookie Javier Baez

“Walk” is just a four-letter word.

if [Javier] Baez has swung at pitches outside the strike zone 45 percent more often than the typical hitter. It’s no wonder, then, that he hasn’t seen many strikes… Baez swings at 37 percent of pitches that have a less than 5 percent probability of being called a strike, according to BP’s strike probability model. There are only four hitters with higher swing rates on those unlikely strikes than Baez this season: Reed Johnson, A.J. Pierzynski, Ramiro Peña, and Hector Sanchez. When those four swing at those distant pitches, though, they whiff only 37 percent of the time, relative to the 50 percent league average. When Baez swings at them, he misses 76 percent of the time…

Baez’s problems are even more pronounced against breaking balls, which he swings at, on average, almost 2 inches farther from the center of the zone than he does all other pitches (one of the biggest such discrepancies in the sport). Pitchers have noticed. Although they avoided the strike zone against Baez from the start based on scouting reports and reputation, they’ve dramatically upped their breaking ball usage against him as his vulnerability has become clear…

Baez’s second [homerun] of a game against the Rockies on August 7 [was on] an 0-1 slider from Juan Nicasio [that] had only an 8.3 percent probability of being called a strike… Of 188 other pitches in that area that were put in play, only two others left the park. Baez’s was the only one that went out the other way…

Baez is the youngest man in the majors, a distinction that typically implies both that a player has a ton of talent and that he has a lot to learn. He swings hard and with awe-inspiring bat speed, and the homers (he already has seven) have come almost as thick as the K’s. Baez’s contact rate when he swings at pitches inside the zone is barely below league-average; now he needs to become more judicious about swinging at pitches outside the zone, which young hitters tend to do as they add more pitches to their decision-making databases. The only question is whether the contact rate will rise enough for all the power to play.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 06:23 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, javier baez, sabermetrics

What’s Wrong With Baseball?

BBTF denizen Tim Marchman with an interesting point.

The main issue, though—and something that McGrath curiously doesn’t bring up—is probably just that baseball is now dealing with the consequences of having spent a solid decade telling anyone who would listen that baseball is awful and no one should watch it.

Let’s take a normal 25-year-old, born in 1989. He would have spent his formative years as a sports fan in the immediate aftermath of a canceled World Series, hearing that greedy players were destroying the game and that the dynastic Yankees team dominating the sport was such an affront to its competitive integrity that drastic measures had to be taken to give other teams any kind of chance at winning. He would have heard about the commissioner touring the country threatening to abolish various teams, some of them successful ones. He would have seen the league enthusiastically cooperating with a congressional investigation that all but treated many of its most famous players as criminals; the league touting an owner-written report claiming that those players were frauds, cheats, and liars; and the league and the government working together with small-time con men to destroy the very best of those players.

 

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: August 29, 2014 at 02:52 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: peds, strikes, tim marchman, writing worth reading

Ron Roenicke rips into home-plate umpire

ron is considered too passive by man brewers fans so this outburst is surprising. 

“Roenicke was ejected by home-plate umpire Mark Ripperger in the aftermath of the game-tying home run hit by Padres catcher Rene Rivera off Francisco Rodriguez in the ninth.

The homer came on just the third pitch thrown by Rodriguez, who fell behind Rivera, 2-0. Rodriguez eventually got out of that ninth, but it was a tough pill to swallow for a Brewers team that fought to take a 2-0 lead in the seventh only to eventually give it back late.

Rivera then beat the Brewers with a walk-off single off Zach Duke in the 10th.

Asked about Ripperger in the minutes following the loss, Roenicke didn’t hold back. Ripperger, as it turns out, was behind the plate for one previous Brewers game this season, a 5-2 victory over the New York Mets at Miller Park on July

“This is the thing that bothers me: this is the same umpire that we had before, and he is terrible behind home plate,” he said. “He calls pitches that aren’t even close. The catcher sets up six inches off the plate and he calls them strikes. I should have been kicked out the last time that we saw him. He was behind the plate,

“I’m tired of sitting here watching the catcher set up off the plate and hitting his glove and (the umpire) calling it a strike. They’re balls. So Frankie misses, OK, it’s off the plate this much, the first one he calls a ball. He’s been calling it all night. The next one was a little further off, but he’s been calling that also. Just call the same pitches, but they’re balls.

“I should have been kicked out in probably the second inning today. It’s the same guy.”

(i appreciate all the tips on how to distinguish my comments from the article but i confess that is too complicated for me.  sorry.  i don’t understand why the old way had to go away.  that was very straightforward and worked.  this is just beyond me)


FG (Zimmerman): Alex Gordon, UZR, and Bad Left Field Defense

Duh, but also, thanks, Jeff.

Outfield defense has three components, Range (ability to field balls), Arm and Errors. [Alex] Gordon has a great arm and his LF values since 2011 have ranged from 8 Runs to 11 Runs, so no change there. His Error component has gone from 0 to 2 Runs. Again, not the reason for the jump. The key difference is in his Range value at 14 Runs because his previous high was just 4 Runs…

Here are the league average values for in and out-of-zone values compared to Gordon’s values and the difference.

In Zone
Year: League%, Gordon%, Difference
2010: 87.1%, 91.7%, 4.6%
2011: 90.4%, 92.3%, 1.9%
2012: 89.7%, 91.3%, 1.6%
2013: 90.6%, 91.8%, 1.2%
2014: 88.4%, 91.6%, 3.2%

Out-of-Zone
Year: League Rate, Gordon Rate, Difference
2010: 0.049, 0.043, -0.006
2011: 0.065, 0.057, -0.008
2012: 0.058, 0.062, 0.004
2013: 0.066, 0.081, 0.015
2014: 0.057, 0.082, 0.025

With individual position UZR values, the baseline values can move around quite a bit. There are only 30 inputs into the baseline values, so if just a few players move to a new position or get hurt, the zero value can change… Three of the top eight [fielders by LF range in 2013] haven’t played in the majors this season…

As I’ve noted before, this is one possible area of consideration for the UZR. A potential improvement to the system for the future, and one considered in that linked piece, is a baseline defensive value which is constant from year to year in addition to just UZR… The first 500 words of this article wouldn’t be necessary if [this] metric were available. It could show Gordon’s Range Value is at a +4 Historic Runs (hypothetically speaking) compared to +14 2014 Runs. Maybe each player doesn’t need two values, maybe just a comparison value for the entire season could be available.

Putting it all together, the jump in Alex Gordon‘s total WAR to a league leading value really has nothing to do with Alex Gordon. He is the same defensive player he has been over the past few season. What has happened is the league wide level in talent has fallen off in left field thereby boosting Gordon’s numbers substantially.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:37 PM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, defense, jeff sullivan, royals, sabermetrics

Robothal: Tension growing between Astros’ manager, GM

A great way to clarify your organizational chain of command: Give Nolan Ryan some vague “executive” job. History proves it!

General manager Jeff Luhnow and manager Bo Porter are at odds, according to multiple major-league sources.

Porter expressed his frustration with Luhnow to owner Jim Crane in a conversation earlier this month, sources said…

Porter’s frustration stems from a lack of input and from his belief that Luhnow engages in excessive second-guessing of his in-game management, sources said… Those critical of Luhnow say that he keeps a small circle, communicating mostly with director of decision sciences Sig Mejdal and others while rarely consulting the team’s on-field staff, executive advisor Nolan Ryan and special assistant to the GM Craig Biggio…

Crane could attempt to broker a peace between Luhnow and Porter, and Ryan’s son—Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan—also could play a role in such discussions, sources said…

An unannounced visit by [2013 #1 overall pick Mark] Appel to Houston prior to his promotion contributed to the friction between Luhnow and Porter, sources said; Luhnow initially did not make Porter aware that Appel would throw a bullpen session for pitching coach Brent Strom. Porter then had to explain the situation to his players, a number of whom were seething, believing that Appel did not warrant his promotion and was receiving special treatment… Rival executives say it is not unusual for a team to summon a prospect for a session with a major-league coach. Porter, though, grew upset because Luhnow did not inform him in advance that Appel would work with Strom.

The disagreement over Appel was just one flashpoint between Porter and Luhnow, sources said. The question now is whether their relationship can be salvaged – and whether Crane will want to replace one or both.

Crane might resist any change, not wanting to admit that he made a mistake with either hiring. But it’s difficult to imagine the Astros starting the 2015 season with the same management team.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 01:20 PM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, jeff luhnow, mark appel

Cuban Gonzalez thriving as reliever in Phillies system

No, his nickname is not “Cuban” Gonzalez. (Presumably, it’s something creative like “Gonzo.”)

When the Phillies signed Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez for $12 million last summer, they included performance bonuses for games started and games relieved. Ruben Amaro Jr. proclaimed his Cuban import a starter - the team negotiated a $48 million agreement before a medical examination forced amendments - although the international scouting community was divided on Gonzalez’s future role… Then Gonzalez reported to spring training and doubt permeated all projections.

“It was hard to find a lot that you liked,” said Joe Jordan, the team’s director of player development.

But Gonzalez, who turns 28 next month, has thrived for two months as a minor-league reliever… Gonzalez has a 1.93 ERA in 10 games for triple-A Lehigh Valley with 12 strikeouts and eight walks. He has a 2.36 ERA in 34 innings as a reliever across three levels… Gonzalez featured a fastball at 95-98 m.p.h. in a recent outing and threw it for strikes on both sides of the plate.

“He looked like a totally different guy than in spring training,” an American League scout said…

There will be an internal debate this fall on how to proceed with Gonzalez, his relief success notwithstanding. The situation dictates that Gonzalez be stretched into a starting role because of the organization’s lack of major-league-ready options and many rotation holes. But Gonzalez’s body could not handle such an assignment earlier this season.

A decision could hinge on whether Jonathan Papelbon remains with the Phillies next season. If Papelbon is traded, [Ken] Giles becomes closer with [Jake] Diekman and Gonzalez as the primary setup men and decent relief options like Justin De Fratus and Mario Hollands behind them… In the meantime, Gonzalez will be one of the more interesting Phillies to watch in the season’s final month.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:20 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: miguel alfredo gonzalez, phillies

Watch a Japanese baseball player try to hit a 186 mph fastball (Video)

It’s tough to figure out exactly what’s going on in the video above because it’s in Japanese, but we know the important stuff: That’s former Nippon Pro Baseball home-run king Takashi Yamasaki guesting on some sort of funny Japanese TV show.

His goal is to try to hit a 186 mph fastball from a pitching machine. Yikes.

Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:03 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: fastballs, japanese baseball, nope

Schoenfield: A quick note about awesome Wade Davis

Forget Wade Davis… now I want to vote for Frank Williams for MVP!

Overall, [Wade] Davis has allowed a batting average of .139 and a slugging percentage of .149, giving him an “isolated power” allowed figure of .010. I assumed that would be the lowest ever (minimum 50 innings), but it’s not. A reliever named Frank Williams for the 1986 Giants had an isolated power allowed of .006. In 52.1 innings, Williams allowed 35 hits—just one for extra bases, a double. (He also allowed just one stolen bases while nine guys were caught stealing on his watch ... wow.) The Giants thought so much of his performance they traded him to the Reds in the offseason for outfielder Eddie Milner.

(Williams’ story is interesting but sad. He started one game in his career ... and threw a shutout, as a rookie in 1984. According to this story by Tom Hawthorn of the Toronto Globe and Mail, Williams’ best pitch was a slurve of sorts that he gripped deep in the palm of his hand. You can see from the baseball card photo in that story that Williams threw from a sidearm or three-quarters delivery. He took part in tough-man boxing matches in Idaho in the offseason. After his career ended, he explored his Native American roots, but his life fell apart with drug and alcohol use and the death of his twin brother and he eventually ended up living on the streets of Victoria, B.C., and died in 2009.)

Back to Davis. The lowest isolated power figures going back to 1957, from the Baseball-Reference.com Play Index:

1. Williams, .006
2. Davis, .010
3. Jim Johnson, 2008 Orioles, .016
4. Kevin Cameron, 2007, .023
5. Rob Murphy, 1986 Reds, .024

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 11:51 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: frank williams, giants, history, royals, wade davis

Angels beat Athletics, Oakland protests game after obstruction call

The really weird play was the one where Gordon Beckham got a hit.

The Angels beat the Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday night on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Howie Kendrick, giving the Halos a two-game lead over Oakland in the American League West. But the A’s played the game under protest thanks to a controversial obstruction call in the ninth inning… Angels shortstop Erick Aybar led off the ninth inning of a 3-3 tie with a bouncer up the first base line, then collided with A’s pitcher Dan Otero.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 11:39 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, athletics, rules

OMNICHATTER 8-29-2014

OMNICHATTER. Because September is coming and after September… COMES OCTOBER.

Yes, folks, OCTOBER IS COMING.

Gamingboy Posted: August 29, 2014 at 09:43 AM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: omnichatter

Adam Jones says he was joking about ‘airport’ comment at social media event

I’m Adam. Fly me the #### out of here.

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones caused a bit of a stir Thursday during the pregame Social Media Night event at Camden Yards by behaving in a way that wasn’t particularly sociable.

The star outfielder irked some fans in attendance with short responses during the question-and-answer session, and he earned especially negative attention for saying his favorite place in Baltimore was the airport so he could fly home.

After the game, Jones said he was joking, adding that he likes the airport because it’s where he picks up his friends and family who come to visit and support him.

“I guess my shtick wasn’t appreciated at the time,” Jones said. “But I had a good time. I’ll do it again, and I probably should do it again.”

Jones said his short answers were a result of the event’s timing; it leaked into the final hour before game time.

...One Twitter follower compared Jones’ airport comment to former Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff, who used an expletive to describe Baltimore after his first season in town.

“That’s probably absurd to compare it in that narrative,” Jones said.

Repoz Posted: August 29, 2014 at 08:59 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: orioles

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 8-29-2014

Chicago Eagle, August 29, 1914:

Captain John C. Leonard, United States navy, who was in command of the battleship Virginia when Vera Cruz was taken, declared the other day that “the great game of baseball will civilize Mexico.”

“Besides having a great influence in that direction,” said Captain Leonard, “baseball will supplant the brutal bull fighting.

“In Vera Cruz boys are now playing the game.

“The bull fighting was not relished by the Americans, and General Funston put a stop to it.”

Well, he was half right. They do like their béisbol.

The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: August 29, 2014 at 08:06 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, international

Jesus Montero gets heckled by Mariners cross checker during rehab stint

According to a game offical, the cross-checker then ordered an ice cream sandwich and had it sent to Montero in the dugout, escalating the confrontation further. The official said Montero—who arrived at Mariners Spring Training 40 pounds overweight this season—approached the stands with a bat while screaming profanities and threw the sandwich at the cross-checker.

Lars6788 Posted: August 29, 2014 at 04:38 AM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: jesus montero, seattle mariners, jesus montero

After awkward attempt at game-saving catch, Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki gets testy with reporters

“But now frustration and heartache is what you got…”

Ichiro Suzuki, suspected of flubbing a catch that could have saved the Yankees on Thursday, got testy with reporters who wanted to know exactly what happened on the game’s final play.

Ichiro appeared to botch an attempt to catch Mike Avila’s walk-off hit, which gave the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory. And when the questions persisted, an exasperated Ichiro told a reporter to watch the replay himself for an explanation, and he even slapped his own leg at one point.

As Avila’s two-out, first-pitch rip off reliever Shawn Kelley flew toward the right-center seats, reliever Sean Kelley hung his head, slammed his glove to the ground and walked off the field, sure it was a homer. Catcher Brian McCann said he refused to watch the ball for the same reason.

Ichiro, playing at about regular depth, raced toward the wall. When he got near, he leaped in an attenpt to catch the ball, but it landed several feet toward center, and near the wall’s base. When he leaped, Ichiro also seemed to duck.

The strange effort led to a string of reporter’s questions: Was he trying to catch it? Did he think he had a chance? Was he trying to catch it on the fly or off the wall—which would have been useless given the runner on second.

 

 

Repoz Posted: August 29, 2014 at 12:07 AM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: tigers, yankees

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mets call up Dilson Herrera, have “talked about” d’Arnaud to LF

Travis d’Arnaud has willed himself into becoming a keeper. He stared down deep struggle this year, and emerged as the talent he was supposed to be. For passing the emotional test that separates prospects from duds, he deserves nothing but credit.

But there remains one serious concern, though it is no fault of his: D’Arnaud is just 25 years old, and has suffered four known concussions. This is an issue that he takes seriously, and that has led some on the staff to wonder if a shift to left field might preserve the best parts of d’Arnaud, without risking his brain…

To be very clear: [manager Terry] Collins stressed that this is not a likely change, or a scenario that has been seriously discussed, within the organization or with the player. Do not walk away from this column believing that d’Arnaud might be the Mets’ left fielder next year. Instead, view this as a revealing thought experiment.

Seasoned baseball people are taking seriously these factors: D’Arnaud’s concussion history, the need for power in the outfield, and the presence of catching prospect Kevin Plawecki at Triple-A Las Vegas.

The head injuries are most important.

Adam Rubin
@AdamRubinESPN

Mets place Daniel Murphy on DL and call up Dilson Herrera from Double-A. Whoa.

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 10:45 PM | 48 comment(s)
  Beats: dilson herrera, mets, travis d'arnaud

Calcaterra | John Rocker to join the cast of “Survivor”

Apparently “Survivor” is still a thing. But given how close to the bottom of the barrel they’ve gotten to find “celebrity” contestants, I can’t imagine it’ll be a thing for long.


Jonny Venters Tears UCL, Facing Third Tommy John Surgery

NEW YORK—After spending the past few months battling the frustration that came courtesy of his attempt to return from a second Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery, Jonny Venters received some jarring news on Thursday, when Dr. James Andrews informed him that he had torn the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow for a third time.

If Venters decides he wants to attempt to pitch again, he would need to undergo Tommy John surgery for a third time.

171 innings over his first two years with a 200ish ERA+ and 10 Ks/9.

CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: August 28, 2014 at 09:49 PM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, tommy john surgery

Business Week: Houston Astros’ Jeff Luhnow Lets Data Reign

We were selling jeans here!

when [current Astros GM] Jeff Luhnow showed up for his first day of work as the St. Louis Cardinals’ vice president for baseball development, he already had two strikes against him: He was a former management consultant at McKinsey, brought in to shake up the organization. And the sum total of his baseball experience was the McKinsey fantasy league and a business school paper he’d written on how the Chicago Cubs could win the World Series…

Luhnow’s appreciation of the predictive power of data grew out of his experience selling designer jeans. In the early 2000s, with a former president of Levi Strauss, he co-founded an online custom apparel company that made jeans for Lands’ End (LE) shoppers… if wishful thinking led customers to order jeans that didn’t fit, they would send them back. Over time the company amassed enough data to anticipate and correct for these tendencies…

Astros’ analysts noticed that [Collin] McHugh had a world-class curveball. Most curves spin at about 1,500 times per minute; McHugh’s spins 2,000 times… Houston snapped him up… After consulting with the analytics staff, pitching coach Brent Strom altered McHugh’s repertoire. Gone was the sinker… here again, advanced data yielded a useful insight: Major league hitters had become so adept at hitting low pitches that they were vulnerable to high ones. [Billy] Beane had discovered a particularly clever countermove. “Beane stayed ahead of the curve,” says Strom, “by finding hitters with a steep upward swing path to counter the sinking action of pitchers trying to induce ground balls.” It worked: The A’s hit the fewest ground balls and into the fewest double plays in the league. So the Astros began teaching their pitchers how to adapt…  McHugh won a spot in the Astros’ starting rotation and has gone on to lead the team in strikeouts and deliver a sterling 3.03 ERA…

The attacks on Luhnow and the Astros highlight a big difference between his old job and his new one: Turnarounds at McKinsey didn’t play out on as public a stage as baseball’s… Nevertheless, Luhnow insists the Astros’ project remains on track. “I learned at McKinsey how to have a thick skin,” he says, “and that’s carried over into baseball.”

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 07:46 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, brady aiken, collin mchugh, jeff luhnow, sig megdal

Posnanski: Alex Gordon and the M-V-P chants

We do need a modern Foster Brooks.

Every time Alex Gordon steps to the plate at Kauffman Stadium these days, fans chant, “M-V-P, M-V-P”... At the moment, Alex Gordon is hitting .281 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. Nothing at all about that looks MVPish… [but] Look around baseball these days… There’s a chance this will be the first full season in baseball history without either a 40-home run hitter or a 20-game winner… There are players – [Jose] Abreu, [Mike] Trout, [Giancarlo] Stanton and Victor Martinez – who are putting up what you would call traditional MVP type numbers. They’re all hitting in the general range of .300, are on pace for 30-plus homers and 100 plus RBIs. But those are the only four, as of right now, who are good bets to get there, which is crazy…

[Gordon] plays spectacular defense in left field (and it really is special defense). He’s also an excellent base runner. We’ve already pointed out that his offensive numbers, in context, are better than they look. When you add it all up WAR style – you get a legitimate MVP candidate.

Or do you? This, to me, becomes a more and more interesting question. I’m working on a piece now about the statistical revolution in baseball, and among the statistical people I’m speaking with there seems to be a growing concern that we as a so called “advanced-statistics community” are beginning to make many of the same leaps of faith and broad generalizations that doomed the old statistics. I don’t want to give away too much of the story, but it’s fair to say there’s a growing sense among some that WAR is becoming the advanced version of RBIs or batting average or pitcher wins – that is to say that people, to quote Vin Scully, are using WAR the way a drunk using a lamppost, for support and not illumination. Heck, I might be the Foster Brooks of WAR.

So, I’m not sure of the answer on that one. I’m a huge Alex Gordon fan and have been for some time. I really do believe he has been one of the most underrated players in baseball because he does a lot of things well. I think he SHOULD be an MVP candidate. That said, is his defense in left field SO GOOD that it makes up for the 25 or so more runs that Jose Abreu and Victor Martinez are creating offensively? Can you even BE that good in left field to make up such a gap?

WAR says yes. I want to believe it’s true. So I believe WAR.

That’s definitely support and not illumination.

 

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 06:14 PM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, joe posnanski, royals, sabermetrics

McCoy: Bryan Price sees throwback style in current state of baseball

You haven’t lived…until you live through a Sonny Ruberto Era.

Price then became philosophic about the way the game is being played these days—much less offense, fewer home runs, fewer runs scored.

“It’s interesting in that the game seems to be trending back towards what we saw in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. We no longer have these grandiose offensive numbers. When I was in Seattle for my second year (as pitching coach) we were second in the league in earned run average with a 4.50. What is there, one team in the National League that has an ERA that high (Colorado 4.95)?”

Price didn’t mention that the Steroids Era is over, although many experts believe the steroids and PEDs helped pitchers as much as the hitters.

“What’s happening is phenomenal,” he said, after somebody mentioned that Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt led the league with 37 home runs last season and 37 home runs in 2000 would have tied him for 15th.

“It will be interesting to see if the game keeps moving its way back to the sacrifice bunt, the hit-and-run, the things that kind of fallen by the wayside. You can no longer count on copious numbers of runs to be scored. You can no longer say, ‘Just hold on guys, we’ll have a four or five-run inning somewhere along he way and put this game away. It is something to see.”

But the strikeouts continue to pile up. It is no longer like 1941 when Joe DiMaggio put together his 56-game hitting streak and only struck out 13 times in 622 plate appearances. And that same year Ted Williams hit .406 and struck out 27 times in 606 plate appearances.

“The strikeout has become an acceptable part of the game, even with players who are not home run hitters,” said Price. “That’s the part to me that is really dangerous these days, all the empty at-bats.

When told of what DiMaggio and Williams did, Price shook his head and said, “That’s unbelievable, really unbelievable. It really is. It’s phenomenal.”

Repoz Posted: August 28, 2014 at 04:40 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: history, reds

Ringolsby: Pete Incaviglia paying dues as independent league manager

Hopefully Laredo has some sidearmers. (And hopefully the Lemurs have guys named Joey.)

Twenty-eight years ago, Pete Incaviglia went straight from the campus of Oklahoma State University into the cleanup spot in the Rangers’ Opening Day lineup. He never spent a day in instructional league. Incaviglia never rode the buses. He never caught the 5:30 a.m. connecting flights to get from one Minor League city to another.

Now look at him. Incaviglia knows all about bus rides, and meal money that can barely cover the cost of coffee, much less meals.

Incaviglia is the manager of the Laredo (Texas) Lemurs in the independent American Association… And on Wednesday night, the Lemurs clinched an American Association playoff spot for the second time in three years, earning the Wild Card berth with five games remaining in the regular season…

Incaviglia was so intent on going directly to the big leagues that after Montreal made him the eighth overall Draft pick in 1985, he refused to sign without a guarantee. The Expos declined and then traded his rights to the Rangers, who signed him. That led to Major League Baseball adopting what is known as the “Incaviglia Rule,” which forbids a team from trading a Draft pick until one year after he signs his first pro contract…

Incaviglia played 12 years in the big leagues, the first five with the Rangers. He hit 206 home runs during his time with the Rangers, Tigers, Phillies, Astros, Orioles and Yankees… the Dallas-Fort Worth area native took a job as manager of the Grand Prairie Air Hogs in 2008, leading them to the American Association championship in ‘10. After that season, the Grand Prairie ownership bought the American Association franchise in Shreveport, La., and moved it to Laredo. Incaviglia decided to make the move with them.

The players in independent baseball don’t get rich. They all need offseason jobs so they can pay bills. However, they all have the dream to playing in the big leagues, and Incaviglia wants to help them achieve their dream… It’s something Incaviglia never even thought about when he came out of Oklahoma State.

It’s something that, nearly three decades later, consumes his life.

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 03:28 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: independent leagues, laredo lemurs, pete incaviglia

Markusen: Seinfeld, Sabermetrics and Ken Phelps

Bruce, Bill James made me love Phelps also, but c’mon, they already had Don Mattingly and Jack Clark, it was never gonna work.

this year marks the 25th anniversary of the debut of Seinfeld, arguably the most successful sitcom in the history of American television. This month (August) also marks the 60th birthday of Ken Phelps, one of the poster children for Bill James’ Sabermetric movement of the 1980s…

Phelps had had drawn the Yankees’ interest since 1985, when Billy Martin had instructed the front office to do whatever it took to get him. Three years later, Phelps finally arrived, too late for Martin but just in time for new manager Lou Piniella. Here was the plan. Phelps would DH against right-handers, allowing the Yankees to alternate days off for Jack Clark, who was 32 years old, and Dave Winfield, who was 36. To make the trade even more favorable for New York, scouts had their doubts about Buhner, the primary ingredient the Yankees sent to the Mariners. Buhner, a onetime prospect with the Pirates, had several holes in his uppercut swing, struck out at an alarming rate, and appeared ill-suited for Death Valley at the old Yankee Stadium.

So on all fronts, trading Buhner for Phelps made me happy. Unfortunately, Piniella, who was early in his career as a field boss, couldn’t figure out how to get Phelps into the lineup more regularly. (In fairness to Piniella, the injury-prone Clark complained about having to move back to the outfield to make room for Phelps, making life more difficult for Sweet Lou.) ...

Although Phelps’ Yankee career will never amount to a Yankeeography, he is far from forgotten. Quite the contrary, he has become a popular culture icon, thanks to the efforts of Jerry Seinfeld, George Costanza, and the mythical George Steinbrenner (voiced by the brilliant Larry David)... Much like Larry David did in voicing the role of George Steinbrenner, I found myself saying “Ken Phelps, Ken Phelps” a lot in 1988, to the point that his name became an obsession with me. I thought he would become the next big thing in New York. It never happened. But I understood where George Steinbrenner was coming from. And if you were a Mariners fan in the mid-1980s, you probably did, too.

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 02:36 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, ken phelps, mariners, sabermetrics, television, yankees

Padres, City of San Diego pay homage to Selig

Maybe he has a literal fetish for new architecture? Anyone ever think of that?

By the time Padres president and CEO Mike Dee caught wind of Bud Selig’s farewell tour of Major League ballparks, the wheels were already turning as to how the team was going to pay tribute to the outgoing Commissioner… the Padres honored Selig with a dedication ceremony of the Selig Hall of Fame Plaza at Petco Park, which sits behind the Western Metal Supply Building, next to 13 palm trees, waving gently in the breeze during the 20-minute ceremony before Tuesday’s game against the Brewers, which the Padres won, 4-1.

Dee said the area will serve as a home to the Padres Hall of Fame and eventually statues in the plaza to honor Padres greats as well as a plaque to honor Selig, not just for his overall achievements to baseball during his 22-year tenure as Commissioner but the specific accomplishment of helping to keep baseball afloat in San Diego.

The Selig Hall of Fame Plaza will be open year-round to fans… San Diego County supervisor Ron Roberts declared Tuesday as “Bud Selig Day” in San Diego County and its 18 cities…

Several speakers praised Selig for his role in helping to keep baseball prospering in San Diego, first during its difficult financial period of 1993, the infamous “fire sale” that saw the trades of Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff and then, later, when the team was trying to get its downtown ballpark built…

“... I look at this ballpark and remember Jack Murphy Stadium. So we’ve come a long way…” [Selig said]

The District Attorney Posted: August 28, 2014 at 02:25 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: bud selig, padres

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