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Jim Furtado
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Editor - Baseball Primer


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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Steven Matz, Marcus Stroman met in high school |

The date was April 16, 2009, and when those Long Islanders talk about it, a few details remain ambiguous. Some, like Stroman’s coach Anthony Frascogna, recall it being an “overcast day, one of those early-spring baseball days,” that call for windbreakers and enough luck that the skies don’t open. Lou Petrucci, Matz’ coach at Ward Melville High, recounts it as “a beautiful day for baseball.” Unsurprisingly, Petrucci is the one that shortly afterwards adds, “and it was even more beautiful that we won.”

This is how legends work, growing and permutating with the stature of their protagonists. Six years later, Stroman and Matz have been important pieces for Major League teams looking to squash significant October demons. But when they met that day, they were former teammates opposing one another for the first time.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 03:03 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, marcus stroman, mets, steven matz

Cubs will challenge John Lackey in NLDS |

We can use Statcast™ exit velocity to show how important getting ahead of the hitter is for Lackey. For example, the overall MLB average when hitting a 1-0 pitch was 89.9 mph. For Lackey, that was 93.1 mph, a sizable difference. When he was down 2-1, his 91.7 mph was higher than the MLB average of 90.3. He is so much better off not getting down in the count, hence the increasing number of first-pitch strikes.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 02:49 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, john lackey, sabermetrics, statcast

Cubs Edge toward Destiny as WS Fave Jays Open ALDS

Rational Pastime’s playoff simulator now projects the Cubs as 34% favorites to represent the Senior Circuit in the Fall Classic, and 5:1 to win it all… Among today’s American League contenders, the Toronto Blue Jays remain big favorites at 2:1…

Summary of projections:

TOR 3:1
CHC 5:1
HOU 5:1
LAD 8:1
KCR 11:1
NYM 12:1
STL 13:1
TEX 16:1

J-Doug Posted: October 08, 2015 at 01:41 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: alds, astros, blue jays, cardinals, cubs, dodgers, mets, nlds, playoffs, projections, rangers, royals, world series

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-8-2015

United Press via the Pittsburgh Press, October 8, 1915:

Phillies and Redsox began the first game of the world’s premier baseball struggle this afternoon on as rotten a playing field as the annual classic was ever contested.

The infield was covered with a slimy, treacherous blanket of muck, which a small army of ground keepers labored feverishly but vainly to make firm under foot.

Shortly before 1 o’clock the diamond was flooded with gasoline and a match applied. The conflagration dried off the surface, but scarcely touched the real seat of the trouble. Sawdust, crushed brick—everything—was thrown onto the playing plat, but still it threatened to make the infielders crazy with grief and consternation.

“Hey Charlie, the field’s too wet to play. What should we do?”
“Heck, I don’t know, Bill. Maybe flood it with gasoline and throw a match on it.”
“Great idea. You get the matches, I’ll get the gasoline. Meet me back here in five minutes.”

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 08, 2015 at 10:14 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, dugout, gasoline, history, world series

Red Sox hope Brian Bannister can help identify overlooked pitching stars of the future - Sports - - Providence, RI

Everything old is new again. Read the article.

“There are a lot of guys in the minor leagues with perfect mechanics, a lot of guys with very healthy arms, that can’t get anybody out,” he said. “Pitching coaches and people on Twitter are always in search of the perfect pitching mechanics, but to me, perfect pitching mechanics are the perfect mechanics for that person that leads to the best statistical results. They might not be like everybody else. You might look different. Tom Seaver didn’t pitch in any way like Randy Johnson, but they were both successful.

“For me, the best part of studying pitching is identifying the characteristics that make some guys get people out all the time while other guys, who throw just as hard or who are generally perceived to have better mechanics or arm action, can’t get people out. That’s part of the mystery and the joy of pitching—identifying those characteristics.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 09:53 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: brian bannister, red sox

Theo Epstein rewards baseball department for job well done - Chicago Tribune

“I love numbers,” manager Joe Maddon said. “God, I love numbers, though I was horrible in math. Algebra III. Second semester of Algebra II was my Waterloo, to be honest with you. Algebra III and Trig could have been Latin or Greek, it wouldn’t matter to me. But I do love numbers.

“Beyond that I really like people and humans and what makes this guy tick? And I don’t think that because you can’t necessarily quantify it, it’s not as popular of a way to acquire a player, but it really matters. It really matters right now in our clubhouse. But I guess my point is it’s a combination of skillful young players that everybody saw coming along. But I don’t believe we would be here without the appropriate seasoning among the veterans.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 08:00 AM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, playoffs, theo epstein

How the Mets plan to attack Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke | New York Post

So, there is no plan.

Long, who was a regular visitor to the postseason as the Yankees’ hitting coach, said this kind of competition is business as usual in October.
“It’s the playoffs and in the playoffs you expect to face the best pitchers in baseball,” Long said. “The [Justin] Verlanders, [Anibal] Sanchezes, [Max] Scherzers, I remember facing a very good, talented pitcher every time.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 06:23 AM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, mets, playoffs

Cubs take the Joe Maddon way to National League Division Series - Chicago Tribune

The bench clearing get-together during the game was just plain stupid.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 08, 2015 at 06:02 AM | 74 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jake arrieta, joe maddon, playoffs, wild card


3:30 ET- Rangers (Gallardo) at Blue Jays (Price), FS1

7:30 ET- Astros (McHugh) at Royals (Ventura), FS1

And remember: it’s not the Gatorade cooler’s fault. CHATTER UP!

Gamingboy Posted: October 08, 2015 at 05:47 AM | 161 comment(s)
  Beats: mlb, omnichatter

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Angell: The Yankees Bow Out of the Playoffs

This is the fourth year of the double-wild-card system, and, for the losing players and fans alike, these harsh sudden endings impose a quietus upon the pleasures and recollections of a season, and cast the winning pitchers as executioners. Nothing will be done about this—the arrangement is there to disguise too many teams competing for too few slots in October—but the gimmick makes for harsh feelings not common to the pastime. I unhappily recall an undue coolness or amused hauteur in my own brief description of the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner shutting down the Pirates, 8–0, in last year’s National League wild-card event, before a silenced and horrified home crowd of Pittsburgh loyalists.

The hangman this time was the Astros’ twenty-seven-year-old lefty starter Dallas Keuchel, who had yet to give up a run to the pinstripes this year, over two games and sixteen innings. He throws cutters and sliders to the outermost corners, and is otherwise notable for the clinging marmoset or shoeshine buffer attached to his lower chin. The Houston coaches had noticed that the Yankees’ starter, Masahiro Tanaka, likes to set up his excellent split-finger stuff with something faster and higher beforehand, which accounts for the home runs struck by Colby Rasmus in the second inning and by Carlos Gomez in the fourth, each on the first pitch of the inning.

Cashman confirms Yanks rejected Refsnyder and Warren for Zobrist at trade deadline

Brian Cashman was asked about the trade deadline following last night’s game, specifically whether he regretted not making more moves. Of course he said no, but he did drop this interesting nugget. From George King:

“The only second baseman was [Ben] Zobrist and [Oakland] wanted a combo of [Adam] Warren and [Rob] Refsnyder,’’ said Cashman, who declined the offer, while Zobrist went to the Royals. “We tried to improve the bullpen and made a significant offer [to San Diego for Craig Kimbrel] and it was turned down. After the deadline, 75 percent of the players were claimed. There was nowhere to turn outside of [Triple-A] Scranton.’’

In a vacuum, trading Refsnyder and Warren for Zobrist is perfectly reasonable to me. I’m higher than most on Warren but am also probably the low guy on Refsnyder. He strikes me as a fine stopgap second baseman, but someone who has a team in contention constantly looking for an upgrade. In terms of talent and value and all that stuff, Refsnyder and Warren for Zobrist works fine.


Fans want Rays pitcher Chris Archer calling rest of the playoffs

Chris Archer may only be 27 years old, but from the looks of it, he could have a secondary career if he ever decided to stop pitching for the Tampa Bay Rays.

On Tuesday, Archer joined the ESPN broadcast of the American League wild-card game between the New York Yankees and the Houston Astros. And, generally, he stole the spotlight.

Rafael Bellylard wants a Mets-Cubs NLCS. Posted: October 07, 2015 at 05:07 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: chris archer

A Father, a Son and a Dream

Tom Duffy’s son Matt is a third baseman for the San Francisco Giants. Throughout the years, Tom has documented his son’s rise through baseball, from his Little League days to this past season when he became a Rookie of the Year candidate. Here’s a look through Tom’s lens.

Davo's Favorite Tacos Are Moose Tacos Posted: October 07, 2015 at 02:15 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: fatherhood, matt duffy, photography

Cardinals explain the Molina factor : Sports

That is because he is many things for the Cardinals. Simmons told the Cardinals’ Gameday Magazine that Molina “could be the pitching coach, he could be the hitting coach and he could be the manager … (and) still be the catcher.” Molina is the “added brainpower out there for us,” general manager John Mozeliak said. For pitchers, Molina is a confidence reservoir. Young pitchers, like Michael Wacha, have described how Molina comes to the mound to recharge them, relax them or redirect them. Wacha admitted that sometimes “a little butt-chewing is what gets me going.” Few are as good at shepherding a pitcher through October as Molina.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 12:36 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, playoffs, yadier molina

Bill Plaschke: It might be World Series or bust for Don Mattingly - LA Times

Is this a repeat from last season?

Mattingly has led the Dodgers to three consecutive NL West championships, but the guess here is that if he can’t lead this team to a World Series his locker will be empty by Halloween.

Somebody is going to have to take the fall if baseball’s richest team still can’t find the Fall Classic after 27 years of classic falls, and Mattingly is the one wearing the target.

Management demoted Ned Colletti, traded Matt Kemp, let Hanley Ramirez walk. The Dodgers have rid themselves of every perceived problem from the previous two seasons, and now, if they fail again to survive two rounds of the tournament, it would figure to be Mattingly’s turn.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 12:31 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, don mattingly, managers

Reports: CC Sabathia’s drinking spilled over into Yankees clubhouse

Reports have now surfaced indicating a weekend of heavy drinking in Baltimore led to Sabathia checking into rehab. The Yankees finished the season with three games on the road against the Orioles, and Sabathia was not scheduled to pitch. Emily Smith, Danika Fears and Frank Rosario of the New York Post has some details:

The last straw for Sabathia came during the team’s final regular-season series in Baltimore, where he spent most of his time pounding drinks at a hotel, the source said….

By Friday, the pitcher looked “out of it” as the team waited around Baltimore’s Camden Yards to play a game that was eventually rained out.

“He drank every day last week apart from the day he pitched,” the source said. “The tipping point was Friday when he was at the stadium. He carried on drinking Saturday.”

According to Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, Sabathia’s drinking even spilled over into the team’s clubhouse at some point last weekend as well.

After the Yankees’ game with the Baltimore Orioles was rained out on Friday afternoon, Sabathia was seen by reporters walking unsteadily as he left the Yankees’ clubhouse. The normally affable pitcher also failed to respond to the greetings of reporters who have known him for a long time.

A short time later, an onlooker noticed Sabathia offering a paper cup containing a brown liquid to a teammate who was finishing up a workout, urging the teammate to “take a sip.” The teammate refused, saying he still had some running to do. Sabathia was then ushered out of the building and into a waiting cab by a third teammate.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 07, 2015 at 11:48 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: alcoholism, c.c. sabathia, clubhouse chemistry, yankees


Baseball continues to die.

Baseball brought big ratings to Fox Sports this season. MLB telecasts drew higher numbers on both Fox and FS1, while several Fox Sports regional networks finished No. 1 in primetime ratings in their respective markets.

Here’s the breakdown: MLB on Fox telecasts enjoyed a 22 percent boost in viewership, with an average audience of 2.2 million compared to last season’s 1.9 million. Baseball broadcasts on FS1 increased by 22 percent, jumping to an average of 504,000 from 413,000.

Perhaps more impressive is the success of baseball telecasts on Fox Sports regional networks, which ranked first in average primetime ratings in six markets. We already covered how successful ratings for Royals games were in Kansas City, coming off a World Series appearance and finishing with the best record in the American League this season. Fox Sports Kansas City enjoyed a household rating of 12.33, a 90 percent increase over last season. That includes a 13.0 household rating in primetime.

Ratings were also big in St. Louis, where Fox Sports Midwest averaged a 10.0 rating (including 10.8 in primetime) for Cardinals game broadcasts, jumping from a 7.9 mark last season. This year’s rating also beats out the 9.4 FS Midwest Cardinals games drew in 2010.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: October 07, 2015 at 11:12 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: fox, media, regional sports networks, television, tv ratings

Matt Harvey on missing playoff workout: ‘I just screwed up’ | Newsday

How big of a deal is this? I get that he should have been there. He seems to get that he should have been there. Collins didn’t actually refute that this “[expletive] up” isn’t related to other “[expletive] up”, so I’m not sure what to make of it.

Collins often says that in baseball, “perception is reality.” The incident follows Harvey’s innings-limits controversy, when he was criticized by some for appearing to place himself above the team when he did not commit to pitching in the postseason.

Did showing up late only further the perception that he has behaved selfishly, or even unprofessionally?

“That’s your perception, that’s not everybody’s,” Collins told Newsday. “That could just be your perception. Another perception from somebody else could be that he’s a [expletive], you know? The perception of somebody else might be you know what, he was out partying.

“There’s all sorts of things that guys are talking about. That’s your opinion. You’re allowed to write whatever you want. But my perception is he [expletive] up. I’ll take care of it. He’s going to have to deal with his teammates, which is a bigger issue than dealing with anybody else. We’ll take care of it.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:55 AM | 180 comment(s)
  Beats: matt harvey, mets

Arrieta-Cole, Objectively One of Best Playoff Matchups Ever | FanGraphs Baseball

It’s a big game. As much as I respect what the Pirates have accomplished, I must admit that I’m rooting for the Cubs.

The Arrieta-Cole matchup still sits comfortably in the top ten of dueling aces in winner-take-all games. Arrieta does have the edge in the matchup between the two pitchers, but the team with the better pitcher does not always win. In the 75 games in which one pitcher had at least a one-win WAR advantage, the better pitcher’s team posted a 44-31 record. It is probably a little unfair that a 97-win team and a 98-win team have to face off in a one-game playoff just to make the Division Series, but it has produced one of the greatest pitching matchups of all time.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:32 AM | 25 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, gerrit cole, jake arrieta, pirates

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 10-7-2015

Pittsburgh Press, October 7, 1915:

Charles Weeghman, president of the Chicago club of the Federal league, received a reply to his telegram challenging the winners of the American and National league pennants for a series to settle the world’s championship title in major league baseball. August Herrmann, chairman of the National commission, in replying to the challenge, said he had sent a copy of it to his colleagues “for their information and consideration.”

This is much more polite than Herrmann needed to be. If I were in his shoes, I probably would have replied with a telegram that said one word: “No.”

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:30 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, federal league, history

One Game, One Night: Winner Take All | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Yes, yes, I would. These games are must watch affairs. How often can you say that about the first round of the playoffs?

“You hope that the best teams wind up in the playoffs in a series that is fair, that people would deem fair, just as a fan,” starter Charlie Morton said shortly after the Pirates lost to the Cardinals, the definitive stroke in their relegation to a third consecutive wild-card game. “Do you really want to see two of the top three or four teams in all of baseball play a one-game playoff? No. And I’m not just saying that because we’re one of those teams, I’m saying that because it just doesn’t seem like, it just doesn’t seem right.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:27 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, pirates, playoffs, wild card

Joe Maddon is everything you want in a manager — and a person | Chicago Sun-Times

But is he nice to dogs and little kids? I bet he is.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:21 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, managers

Ichiro Suzuki signs with Miami Marlins |

Will Ichiro get the the 300 AB he’ll need to reach the milestone?

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:19 AM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: chasing 3000, ichiro suzuki, marlins

Marlins’ president Samson regrets unorthodox move of GM as manager - Sun Sentinel

Who could have predicted this result?

“Do I regret doing what we did? I think it’s hard to say that I don’t because it did not have the desired result on the field, it did not accomplish what we expected it to accomplish,” Samson said. “So, do I regret coming to that conclusion? Yes, I do. I regret everything that doesn’t work.

“I think he did the best he could given the fact that he was put in a less than ideal situation.”

As to why Jennings didn’t succeed in turning the season around, Samson said: “I think there were a lot of factors. I think the fact he was coming from the front office, the fact it had never been done, the fact that he came in the middle of the season, the fact he was responsible for both putting players on the field and then what he did with them on the field — it’s why you don’t see a general manager/manager combination because that’s very difficult.

“The reason we put Dan in there was we thought it was the right move. It wasn’t.”

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:17 AM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: manager, managers, marlins

The Best 2015 MLB Teams, According To Our New Ratings | FiveThirtyEight

FiveThirtyEight like the Blue Jays. They really like them.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 07, 2015 at 08:11 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: playoffs, rankings

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