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Wednesday, September 10, 2003

September 10, 2003

Sammy becomes a Cunnane linguist.

As usual, I?m sitting on the couch watching the Braves.  Tonight?s Wednesday, so it?s a Fox Sports South night.  Instead of the familiar TBS crew, complete with Skip "The Funniest Man in Baseball" Caray, I get Bob Rathbun and Tom Paciorek.  I don?t know who thought it would be a good idea to put Tom Paciorek behind a microphone, but it was a mistake.  Not to be mean or anything (he seems like a nice enough fellow) but if I hear "HELLO!" one more time, as if the simple repetition of that word were insightful baseball analysis, I may snap.  Of course, to be fair, I?m probably closer to snapping than most people, anyway.

 

Anyway, Paciorek notwithstanding, it?s baseball, and baseball is always a good thing.  I like baseball.

 

One of the things I like best about baseball is the Insane Happenings that bubble up out of the ground every now and then, like the showdown between Chris Bootcheck and Justin Duchscherer yesterday.  Here it is, early September, the defending World Series champs are facing off against recently perennial playoff contenders Oakland and you get two guys their mothers? have never heard of toeing the rubber, respectively.  That?s just too groovy for words.  (The fact that both names confound spellcheckers everywhere only adds to the wonderment.)

 

So I?m sitting around watching the Braves game, like I said, and old Bob and Tom are chattering something or other about John Smoltz and the Braves? bullpen woes and how much they need him back healthy, etc., et al, and I?ve got Bootcheck vs. Duchscherer on the noggin? anyway, so naturally I think of Will Cunnane.

 

Cunnane is, of course, the very walking definition of journeyman reliever.  He debuted as a 23 year-old reliever for San Diego in 1997.  Four seasons of mostly-ick later and he shuffled over to Milwaukee for a season.  2002 saw him testing out the country?s other sausage haven, with similarly craptastic results.  This year he was happy to have a job at all, with AAA Richmond in the Braves system.  In August, due to injuries to Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Gryboski, Cunnane was called up to fill out the back end of the pen for a while.

 

Then something odd happened.  Be it freakishly small samples (likely) or the supercilious magic pixie dust that results from the friction between Leo Mazzone?s bum and a dugout bench (equally likely), Will Cunnane has just dominated.  He?s posted a 1.35 ERA over 13.1 innings (I told you it was freakishly small.)  He?s recorded two holds as well as the last two saves recorded by the team.  He?s struck out 11 batters compared to only 4 walks and 7 hits.  He?s played himself onto the post-season roster (likely at the expense of Hernandez.) 

 

Now look, I know it?s all sample size stupid and everything, but good-googley-moogley, the boy?s been super.  And this brings me to today?s point.  (You didn?t think I had one, did you?)  Cunnane is very likely to impact, perhaps significantly, post-season baseball.  He?s not exactly Frankie Rodriguez 2002 (not young enough, was actually legally on the roster prior to September), but I?d wager money to odds no one in the world would have guessed that Will Cunnane would be a player (literally and figuratively) in the 2003 post-season, even a month ago.  (And lo!  While he is typing, Jaret Wright comes into a 2-run ball game with heavy wild-card implications, trying to hold the 8th inning lead.) 

 

My question is, who else is out there that is likely to sneak into the national subconscious, a la Rodriguez, as the mystery out-of-nowhere key performer for 2003?s playoffs?  I am throwing down Will Cunnane (with a nod to Jaret Wright, and a big fat raspberry to Szymborski) to start the discussion.  Both Cunnane and Wright throw in the mid-90s without breaking a sweat.  Both are mowing down batters in September.  Both have quick access to St. Leo?s bag of pixie dust.  One of these guys is going to record a pivotal hold in Game 6 of the World Series, bridging the gap for Smoltz? series clinching save.  And don?t think I won?t lord it over Dial all winter long.

 

Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 10, 2003 at 06:00 AM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Mike Piazza Posted: September 10, 2003 at 02:38 AM (#612863)
I'm not such a big fan.
   2. trantor Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:38 AM (#612865)
Kevin Correia on the giants.

With Foppert on the DL, they need to add someone else, and this kid has been impressive in his handful of appearances. Watch him in the playoffs.
   3. Tor Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612866)
Bronson Arroyo is on Boston's roster. He pitched occasionally and mostly poorly for the Pirates from 2000 to 2002. This year he has pitched very well in AAA as a starter (149.2 IP, 155 K, 23 BB), and has looked good in his 6.1 IP in the bigs.


   4. Jon Daly Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612869)
Good Googley Moogley? Is that a Liberty Meadows reference, Sam?
   5. The Original Gary Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612870)
Liberty Meadows? Next thing you know, we'll date that saying to Maggie and the Ferocious Beast.

That was Grady's pet expression on Sanford and Son in the early '70s. I don't know if it dates back farther than that. Perhaps SABR can research it.
   6. Jon Daly Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612871)
Ah, yes. Grady! That's what I get for trying to post before my morning coffee.
   7. studes Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612872)
If Seattle makes the playoffs, look for Benitez to have a big impact on the playoffs. I'm not saying what kind of impact...
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612873)
For better of worse, Grady is ingrained in my subconscious from early childhood on.
   9. Colin Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612874)
Sam knows I've posted on this in the Braves newsgroup already, but I think Sam may actually _understate_ the potential impact of Will Cunnane, because Sam is presuming Smoltz will be back. At this point - five and a half weeks after the team first appeared to cut Smoltz's playing time - I'm not so sure. He's had pain in recent throwing sessions, and I'm not convinced he'll be ready in another three weeks.
   10. Ziggy Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612880)
I think this discussion is fundimentally flawed. If we're looking for a "mystery out-of-nowhere" performance, I think predicting said performance precludes it from being "out-of-nowhere." It might still qualify as "mystery," however.

With that out of the way, my prediction will be "a former Red." Don't really care which one, and almost every contender has one, so I think it's a fairly safe bet - as these things go.
   11. MM1f Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612882)
I think Cunnane's dominance in Richmond:
21.0IP 11H 2R 0ER 19K 0HR, deserves mention as well.

By the way, Stubby Clapp (Richmond's 5" 7', if that, infielder) has pitched 1 1/3 innings. Neat.
   12. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612883)
Ziggy, the vast majority of discussions I generate are fundamentally flawed. It's kind of my thing.
   13. Ziggy Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612884)
Sorry Sam, I didn't mean to insult your thing. I was just amused that we were being asked to predict which player would put up an unpredictable performance.
   14. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612885)
No offense taken in the least, Ziggy. The day I start taking myself in the least bit seriously will be a sad day indeed.
   15. Repoz Posted: September 11, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612886)
Frank Zappa used to do "Great Googalie Moogalie" and gave credit to Howlin' Wolf.....I also remember the amazing Hasil Adkins crumbling it to death at Maxwells.
   16. Jonathan Adelman Posted: September 12, 2003 at 02:39 AM (#612894)
I agree with Buddy; Cunnane has typically been good in AAA, has always had success there against righties, and his strikeout ratios have usually been quite good. People often talk about "free hitting talent" floating around in the minors, and Mark Bellhorn typified this idea last year, but it also applies for pitchers, especially relievers. Grant Balfour is another good example - he's always struck a bunch of guys out (although apparently his fastball is different now, so it's not the best comp). There are a ton of guys like this floating around - Brian Bowles, to name just one, can be a solid major league reliever if the only surprise here is Cunnane's sudden ability to dominate lefties faster than you can say "Kerry Robinson".

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