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   1. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: August 07, 2006 at 12:40 AM (#2129544)
things that catch my eye when the sox stink up the joint:

what do people think of the pats maroney? will he be a viable option at RB this year?

and, how about that tiger woods?
   2. Josh Posted: August 07, 2006 at 09:32 PM (#2130638)
So what is going on with Scott Blue? I think I read on one of the boards that he has been placed on the suspended list - or am I misremembering (or just misconfused)?
   3. Norcan Posted: August 07, 2006 at 10:11 PM (#2130680)
Jason's Place recent power surge has been nice. Before hitting three homers in the past week or so, he was showing ridiculously inept extra base power. As his draft video wasn't exactly encouraging in my estimation, I had bad forebodings but not as much anymore.
   4. Darren Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:09 AM (#2130762)
A couple of new, lower level guys are putting up nice numbers already.
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:51 PM (#2131105)
Place has a very Kapleresque swing, at least in that scouting video, and Kapler did hit for power in the minors. God only knows how. (Kapler's swing and career progression stand as one of the main reasons I don't take MLEs as universal truth - there are clearly ways of playing baseball that don't translate. Dave McCarty is a second example.)

I'm waiting for the news they rejiggered his swing, or for new observational data, before getting too, too excited.

Jon Egan, though, I'm liking a lot. He's a GCL repeater, and he's striking out way too much against rookie leaguers, but he's also a 19-year-old catcher (with at least average catching tools, per BA) hitting 320/380/520.
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 12:53 PM (#2131109)
(and, of course, Egan has extenuating circumstances on his GCL repeating, and it seems likely he wasn't quite mentally there for his first GCL season.)
   7. chris p Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:31 PM (#2131143)
--Pedroia has been playing 3B in Pawtucket, presumably in case Lowell is not able to play for an extended period. Not sure how much I like this move. He’s just coming into his own, no need to jerk him around. I’d rather see them stick Youks there, play Papi or Pena at 1B, and perhaps give Murphy a shot in RF. Pedroia there makes for an awfully weak lineup, powerwise.

if lowell is down i'd do something similar but add loretta to the mix at 1st.
   8. chris p Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:35 PM (#2131147)
re: jason place's kapleresque swing ...

#27 - Boston Red Sox - CF Jason Place

Much in the mold of Johnson, the 24th pick, Place has a crappy, crappy swing. I don’t know where other scouts see his power potential. Again a severely disconnecting, handsy swing. He may end up being Gabe Kapler, who exhibits much of the same crappy swing qualities Place shows. Is he literally trying to bounce the ball off the plate? He may end up being one of those guys who produces empty batting averages. Because he’s decently fast, he’ll hit a few bloop doubles and such. No thanks, not at 27.

Grade: D

Place is hitting 265/362/306 in the GCL.


link
   9. chris p Posted: August 08, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2131152)
speaking of petunia ... it looks like levski's favorite player, alberto callaspo has been called up. he's 0 for 4 so far.
   10. Josh Posted: August 08, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#2131364)
I should preference this with stating the obvious, less I'm misunderstood: I REALLY liked reading WBW's views on the various draft choice's MLB videos.

That said, is there any reason that I should take his view with any more authority than, say, MWE or MCoA (though, both have a much better eye than I do). I don't mean that as a cut down in any way, as I think someone like MWE or MCoA is really fine tuned to baseball and is really smart. (CBW has a better eye having played at an advanced level, so the comparison to MCoA is really just hyperbole.) That said, isn't Carlos just a really really smart amature? And doesn't this mean that his view is at odds with someone (Rob English) most consider a really really smart professional?

I really don't mean that in any negative way -- Carlos and Jeff clearly know more than I do. And, clearly, blnd deference to what scouts say would kind of limit the discussion here. But, a discussion of what a scout is used to discussing seems, well, it seems significantly different than some type of value-added sabermetric analysis. Carlos and Jeff could be correct, but all things being equal, I'm going to assume that English is right until proven otherwise.

(That all said, I'm a bit alarmed at the SO rate that Place is putting up. The BBs are nice, but the SOs (~30% of ABs) are a little alarming. That is a really rough look, however.)
   11. chris p Posted: August 08, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2131401)
josh, cbw only did the reviews for the pitching prospects. his friend jeff did hitters.
   12. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:31 PM (#2131455)
I really don't mean that in any negative way -- Carlos and Jeff clearly know more than I do. And, clearly, blnd deference to what scouts say would kind of limit the discussion here. But, a discussion of what a scout is used to discussing seems, well, it seems significantly different than some type of value-added sabermetric analysis. Carlos and Jeff could be correct, but all things being equal, I'm going to assume that English is right until proven otherwise.
I'm a little confused here. Certainly, observational data is different in that it isn't really quantifiable, and its value depends heavily on the expertise of the person collecting it. I don't think it's better or worse, though - it's contextual. At the high school level and in the rookie leagues, I think sabremetric analysis doesn't add very much value at all - and I can cite Theo as an authority agreeing with me.

I agree that hte fact that the Red Sox drafted Place so high, and more importantly, that the scouting consensus about Place was that he should have been drafted about in that range significantly impact my evaluation. I'm not going to say that Place is worthless at this point, or something.

But, well, watch the video. (Click on the "draft tracker" link from <a href="http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060622&c>this mlb.com article</a>, then scroll down to Place at the 27th pick.) He does not transfer power from his core into his hands as he swings. It's really ugly. I'd be very interested to hear or read what scouts think of this swing, whether they think it's workable in the majors or fixable in the minors.
   13. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:34 PM (#2131460)
Oh, and - the Sox under Theo have zero record of identifying or acquiring power hitters. The only real power hitter in the system is Luis Soto, and he was signed by Elijua, a holdover from the old regime. Murphy's probably the best power hitter htey've signed, and he's only been a moderate power hitter for a half season at AAA.
   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:35 PM (#2131461)
...acquiring power hitters at the amateur level...
   15. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:45 PM (#2131471)
Sure, I agree. But given that they haven't drafted or signed or developed any power hitters (except Soto, and he was an Elijua find), I don't think we should assume that they can identify and develop power hitters. I don't mean to say that we have evidence that the Red Sox are bad at this, I'm just saying I don't assume they're good at it.
   16. 1k5v3L Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:45 PM (#2131472)
speaking of petunia ... it looks like levski's favorite player, alberto callaspo has been called up. he's 0 for 4 so far.


cue in kevin:

0 for 4? behold another overrated arizona prospect being exposed as a fraud who poops in his pants. if he can't get a hit in 4 at bats, he will never pan out. stick a fork in him (preferably the fork pedroia uses at the buffet table)
   17. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:47 PM (#2131475)
If the Diamondbacks are quick about it, maybe they can trade him for another overweight Cuban pitcher. Luis Tiant is available, I believe.
   18. Famous Original Joe C Posted: August 08, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2131481)
Callaspo for Sid Fernandez?
   19. Xander Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:03 PM (#2131495)
MCoA:
I'm waiting for the news they rejiggered his swing, or for new observational data, before getting too, too excited.

It's good that you're waiting, but have you actually been looking?

From a 7/8 Globe article:
Mike Hazen, the team's first-year director of player development, when asked for an early review on Jason Place, the South Carolina high schooler who was the Red Sox' first-round draft choice and is currently playing for the team's rookie-league entry in Fort Myers, Fla.: ``I was down there before we started games with him but he has done pretty well to start the season. Obviously he's learning what pro ball and playing every day is all about. His defense in center field and base running have been outstanding and he shows a real ability to impact the ball to all fields. We are working on some fundamental setup and load things with his swing that he has taken to pretty quickly." In his first nine games as a pro, Place was batting .269 (7 for 26) with no home runs and 2 RBIs
   20. 1k5v3L Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:20 PM (#2131524)
My guess is that ANY overweight Cuban pitcher right now would be a huge improvement on 3/5th of the Red Sox rotation. And that's giving Beckett the benefit of the doubt
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:21 PM (#2131525)
It's good that you're waiting, but have you actually been looking?
Hey, hey, whoa whoa. Where did you remember that from? I linked to that article a month ago, with the same sentence bolded.

Looking at it again, it is more positive than I'd remembered, though, as it addresses the exact problem with Place's swing - that he does not load power in his core and transfer it to his wrists. I had remembered the article as a good sign, but not definite evidence htat he isn't swinging like an idiot anymore. It's pretty good evidence, actually.
   22. Mike Emeigh Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:25 PM (#2131535)
I'd be very interested to hear or read what scouts think of this swing, whether they think it's workable in the majors or fixable in the minors.


I have no doubt that it's fixable (and it seems pretty clear that the Red Sox have an idea what needs to be done, from the quote in #24). My reaction to the video was virtually identical to Kevin's in #21.

The question here - as always - is whether Place can learn the fixes quickly enough so that they will become a natural part of his approach at the plate. He has to be able to repeat the swing without thinking about what he's supposed to do.

-- MWE
   23. Josh Posted: August 08, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#2131549)
I'm a little confused here.

What is confusing? You restated it and agreed with it :D

Observational data plays a huge role. I'm not disagreeing with that at all.

There are professional observers - scouts. They have a long history of observing what they observe, and the correct (I assume) incentives to observe properly. I trust that they do it well, though clearly some are better than others. I'm not sure that amatures really have much to add here -- though, I'm open to being wrong. (Of course, when I can't get a scout's take on a player, I'd love to hear what an amature has to say. And, I'd like to hear the amature's opinion in all events - but I just discount it VERY heavily in comparison to a professional, unless there is a reason to think otherwise.)

OTOH, until recently, there wasn't that much emphasis on prefessional stat-headzz. Thus, there was a value-added area that amatures could fill. (I've not said that statheadz should analyze HS or rookie league data; I'm not sure were you got that from.) This hole has closed, a bit, but not very much.

So, when I see an amature scouting opinion of a player who (well respeted) scouts have given an opinion on, I'm not sure what I am to do with it. I do find it fun, of course, and informative. I just don't put much weight on it, I suppose.
   24. Xander Posted: August 08, 2006 at 07:15 PM (#2131628)
Hey, hey, whoa whoa. Where did you remember that from? I linked to that article a month ago, with the same sentence bolded.

I remembered someone had linked it here. But after your post, I thought you had not seen it, let alone been the person to actually post it.

I don't understand all the hubbub. Place has a loading issue with his swing. If he doesn't fix it, he probably does not have a very good chance of becoming a major leaguer. If he does fix it, he has a better chance of becoming a major leaguer. After that, I don't really know what else to say or how to predict if he will make the necessary adjusment. I'll just have to wait and see. It appears the Red Sox are aware of the problem, so that is certainly a good sign. And I'm sure they are using video comparisons to try and iron the swing out.

I actually didn't expect Place to be very successful in his pro debut. I anticipated a line similar to Cody Johnson (.200/.259/.280, 33 K's in 75 AB's). Like I said before the draft, I think a player like Place was a worthy gamble for a system that lacks tools and power. I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't pan out. God knows Mickey Hall and Scott White didn't.
   25. Xander Posted: August 08, 2006 at 08:55 PM (#2131808)
Place homered today of John VanBenschoten.
   26. Mattbert Posted: August 08, 2006 at 10:31 PM (#2131915)
The question here - as always - is whether Place can learn the fixes quickly enough so that they will become a natural part of his approach at the plate. He has to be able to repeat the swing without thinking about what he's supposed to do.
That's an excellent point. In my experience, mechanical corrections have to become internalized such that they're part of your muscle memory. If you're thinking about your swing while you're trying to hit or thinking about your delivery while you're trying to pitch, it's often counterproductive because that's shifting focus away from the task at hand, e.g. picking up the spin on the ball. Perfect mechanics will be of limited use to you unless you've got them wired.

This issue always reminds me of a great quote attributed to the saxophonist Charlie Parker:

"You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail."

I know Manny Ramirez is the hip new poster child for sports psychology in some quarters, but I can't resist bringing him up again here. I think of Manny as a terrific example of Parker's philosophy. His swing is one of the few belonging to right-handed hitters that I'd describe as 'pretty' or 'sweet' in the same way people often talk about those of graceful lefties like John Olerud. By most accounts, Manny keeps that swing well-oiled through diligent practice, showing up at the park early for extra swings in the cage and watching video fastidiously. And then, of course, the popular conception of him is that he just goes out there and hits. No cares, no worries, no distractions.

I think all the great ones in any art form, baseball and jazz included, are like that to some degree. Practice is simply the means of putting yourself in a position to perform based on instinct when the lights come on.
   27. Mattbert Posted: August 08, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#2131937)
It will be interesting to observe how the Sox couple the instructional approach to Place with the promotional approach. As a thoroughly amateur outsider, I would promote my toolsy (and potentially raw) prospects like Place as aggressively as I thought their talent could handle theoretically, with less emphasis on actual performance. Reason being, I wouldn't want a player in need of mechanical adjustments to have great success at a low level and get complacent without making the necessary changes. I would want to challenge Place by having him play against the stiffest competition I thought he could handle, otherwise it'd just be prolonging the conditions that got him to where he already is: a talented athlete who's had success against soft competition despite having a hideous swing.

The greatest potential pratfall of aggressive promotion is that you risk running the player up the ladder too fast. If he's doing everything you've asked him to do but isn't getting good results because he's simply overmatched, then you may still produce a player who doesn't take instruction well, but for the opposite reasons. You'd have taken a mechanically unsound player with lots of confidence from beating up weak competition and turned him into a mechanically sound player with very little confidence after being beaten up by superior competition. The trick, obviously, is assigning the player to the best context possible; not so easy that he can get by on raw ability if he doesn't listen to your coaches but not so hard that he'll get his butt kicked no matter what he does and stop listening to your coaches because he's discouraged.

For the sake of argument, let's say Place starts 2007 in A ball and posts excellent numbers mostly through sheer force of talent, i.e. he hasn't changed his swing much yet but his tools are good enough for him to dominate A-level competition. Do you keep him there until you're satisfied with his progress on mechanics, or do you promote him because he's hitting the snot out of the ball? As I alluded to above, I'm inclined towards doing the latter to achieve the objective of the former. I can appreciate a counter-argument that says you shouldn't reward a player with a promotion if he's not responding to his instruction yet, but I suspect that player will be more inclined to adopt his instructors' advice if he's playing at a level of competition where he's not likely to succeed unless he does make some changes.

My intuition is that the feedback coming from a player's peer group is more powerful than the feedback coming from authority. It's one thing to have Mike Hazen tell you to get rid of that hitch in your hands or you'll struggle to get around on good fastballs and stay balanced on good offspeed pitches. If you're killing the ball without having integrated that advice, though, you might be inclined to think Mike Hazen is full of crap. However, if you find yourself actually struggling against good pitchers for exactly those reasons, you might be inclined to start working on your swing some more. I don't know if either of those scenarios fully describes Place's experience in rookie ball to date. Frankly, I hope both are relatively accurate to a certain degree. I hope Place is tinkering with his swing to make himself better, and I also hope the Sox' toolsy first rounder is actually toolsy enough to rake in rookie ball without having fully refined his swing yet.
   28. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: August 09, 2006 at 03:45 AM (#2132950)
Loretta at 1B offensively would be literally Kevin Millar bad.
   29. Darren Posted: August 09, 2006 at 04:11 AM (#2133026)
How about this: just because Place's swing looks like Kapler's doesn't mean he'll turn out like Kapler. Or maybe he'll be like Kapler and do very well in the minors, then for whatever reason, not stagnate once he reaches the big leagues. Maybe Kapler was going to be a good hitter in the bigs, but he got too big and lost his flexibility.

I think there's way too much being made of his swing. The guy was drafted #27 with that swing, and that was a fairly consensus place for him to be picked. Either most talent folks don't think it's a problem or that it will be easily fixed.

Plus, Lamont mofos! w00t!
   30. Joel W Posted: August 09, 2006 at 08:02 AM (#2133101)
Darren, I'm with you. When you can't root for your baseball team, root for a politician.
   31. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: August 09, 2006 at 08:56 AM (#2133104)
and, how about that tiger woods?


On target to retire as the "greatest player ever"

Does anyone think the 19 inning loss was the beginning of the end??

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