Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

5/18/12: ERAs Are Down All Over The NL

Friday, May 18th, 2012

Just took a look at fangraphs.

Right now, 71 pitchers in the NL have pitched 30 or more innings – meaning 6 GS with 5 IP/GS – some pitchers have started 8 games, but I wanted to exclude guys who had only a couple starts. Meaning that there are 9 spots on the 16 teams in which there have been multiple starters.

Here’s the breakdown:

7 pitchers have ERAs below 1.99
24 pitchers have ERAs between 2.00 and 2.99
11 pitchers have ERAs between 3.00 and 3.99

Yes, you added that right – 42 of 71 pitchers have ERAs between 1 and 4. And even more incredible, 31 pitchers have an ERA between 1.33 and 2.99.

In 2009, 53 pitchers threw at least 125 innings (getting rid of the just relievers guys)

8 of them had ERAs between 2 and 2.99
16 had ERAs between 3 and 3.99

BIG difference and yes, things may even out more at the end of the year.

In 2005, 61 pitchers threw at least 125 innings

Roger Clemens had a 1.87 ERA over 211 IP (and he didn’t even win the Cy Young)
7 pitchers had an ERA between 2.0 and 2.99
21 pitchers had an ERA between 3.0 and 3.99

In 2002, 60 pitchers threw at least 125 innings.

3 pitchers had an ERA between 2.32 and 2.99
27 pitchers had an ERA between 3.0 and 3.99

Interesting, no? Compare BABIP/BA over the years:

2012: .295 – .249

2009: .299. – .259

2005: .299 – .262

I don’t know if the pitchers are better, the fielders are better, the ball is deader or the hitters just aren’t as good. But I sure do know that it sure SEEMS that teams are absolutely full of banjo hitters. Brad Ausmus hit .258 back in 05 (80 OPS+) and the fans were screaming for blood and yet this year, Castro and Snyder have supposedly “solidified” the catching position with 60 OPS+ and 35 OPS+ respectivelyt and the fans have no problem with that, any more than they did with Quintero’s yearly BA of .226 to .240 (OPS= in the 50s).

4/21/12: Ex-Rice Owl Phil Humber Pitches A Perfect Game

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Time goes by so incredibly fast, and it’s going by faster the older I get. It seems like yesterday, although it was 2003, that the Rice Owls won the College World Series. I remember their 3 aces, Niemann, Humber and Townsend, along with Lance Pendleton and their arm-shredding coach, Wayne Graham. I remember OF Chris Kolkhorst, who I thought fer Sher was gonna be a star, 1B Vince Sinisi, who I thought had a good chance to make it to the majors until I realized he was being blocked by Mark Teixiera and/or Hank Blalock – but I digress, and SS Paul Janish, who, to my surprise, made it to the bigs with the Reds. And of course, closer David Aardsma, who

Anyway, they were all sophomores so Niemann went to the Rays first round 04, Humber went to the Mets first round 04 and Townsend to the Orioles first round 04 – he refused to sign with them and the next year signed with the Rays first round after sitting out a year.

Townsend needed TJ surgery in 05 – and he never regained his pitching ability – got as high as AA in 08 where he threw 22 terrible innings, and was done. At least he had all that bonus $$$.

Niemann took 4 years to reach the majors, started 2 games in 08, and has been an OK 4th/5th starter with an aggregate 97 ERA+ over 516 IP and 86 GS. Not so great for a first rounder, but at least he, unlike Townsend and humber, didn’t have to have his elbow rebuilt.

Phil had a Wade Townsend start to his ML career – well, unlike Wade, he signed right away. I meant that the Graham shredding had done a number on his pitching elbow and he had to have TJ surgery in 05. He was coming back when he was traded to the Twins in the johan Santana trade. He did lousy at AAA for 2 years with Minnesota, as well as his 20 scattered innings in the bigs and they gave up on him.

The Royals signed him for the 09 season and he threw 20 blah innings in the bigs and 188 blah innings at AAA, unremarkable hit and K rate.

The A’s picked him after the season, thoguht about it, dropped him, and the White Sox took him off waivers. I guess Don Cooper was the ticket for Humber, because something clicked for him at age 28 and he pitched better in the majors than he had done at any organization’s AAA club – threw 26 games and 2 in relief over 168 innings with a 3.75 ERA 112 ERA+ and a 1.17 WHIP. Nothing extraordinary though – had 6 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.5 H/9. No game lasted more than 7 IP, and he had 4 games in which he gave up no runs over those 7 IP.

But you know, sometimes the unlikeliest guys throw no hitters or perfect games. Anyone remember Bud Smith? No one would remember Armando Galarrhaga if it wasn’t for the blown call. And some of the greatest pitchers ever haven’t thrown any nonos – Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens.

And it’s unbelieveable how many of the recent nonos have been thrown against the Rays – I mean, since they got good in 08 – with all their great hitters, how is that possible??? I’m always surprised that the post 08 Astros haven’t gotten no-hit and the one that Zambrano got against the immediately post-Ike shell shocked team, you know, where the guys couldn’t even get in contact with their family members, it doesn’t count to me.

It’s baseball and youneverknow…

But what I want to know is – what on EARTH went wrong with the Mariners? It’s like the minute Edgar Martinez retired, no one could hit, well except for Ichiro and all those slap/infield hits. But it seemed to be the park where good hitters went to suck. Yeah, their GMs seemed to sign a lot of old FA, but for some reason, they went from good to bad as soon as they got to Seattle and their fans have about given up in spite of the small surge of hope when they hired Zdurencik, who doesn’t seem to have made a bit of difference in either the major league or minor league club.

It’s amazing how fast a good club can go bad, especially when clubs don’t really make any sort of serious backup plans and keep old, worn out guys playing full time when they don’t merit it any more. I still don’t understand why they don’t seriously try to work harder with the talent they DO have in the minors. Like, say, Humber. How is it that he rotten in 3 different Organizations for all that time? Why did he get picked up after all those years of suckage and why did he suddenly have success?

No idea.

But hats off to the guy and best wishes for his future.

2/13/12: Money Bawl: Astros Pitchers And Catchers Report

Monday, February 13th, 2012

We’re starting Spring Training and at this point, Carlos Lee, Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers are still with the team. I’m still hearing that Crane wants them off the team, as he wants the payroll as low as possible. He’s also offering Jason Bourgeois, Brian Bogusevic and Chris Johnson in trade – not sure if he wants them gone too, or if they are being used as carrots to get rid of Clank and Myers.

Money Bawl, all right. I’m bawling because Crane isn’t going to spend any money, not this year, not next year. If he ever decides to spend money, we’re going to be like the Pirates who say they are offering decent money to free agents (the 30 million for 3 years offered to Edwin Jackson)  and they are being turned down – also see the Oakland Athletics with Adrian Beltre and Rafael Furcal, for a few examples.

Thing is that these days, there are too many owners who don’t care if they don’t win because they make money anyway. Trouble is that once a team gets into a hole, unless the owner is willing to blow Prince Fielder money, it’s going to stay in a hole, especially if the team is in a location which doesn’t draw attention, such as Oakland, KC or Houston. The Astros have not landed a top free agent, except for Clank, since they signed Doug Drabek and Greg Swindell, both on the downsides of their careers, back in 94. Not that Drayton tried to, except for Randy Johnson and Carlos Beltran, mind…

So here are the candidates so far.

First, guys who are candidates (only) to start:

Paul Clemens, RHP, age 24, just finished AA, he’s one of the guys obtained in the Bourn trade, so he’s gonna be pimped, you best believe it. Unless he pitches like an ace, Wandy and the ol WB are gone and nobody else besides Bud, Lyles, Livan and Happ pitch, he just might could make the rotation, instead of being sent to AAA, as he should be.
Zach Duke, LHP, age 28 – man I remember when he came up in 05 – he was 22, he just won and won and looked like he’d be The Next Big Thing – with a lowish K rate, but that’s how groundball pitchers are. But the next year, and the next, and the next, he struggled to get guys out, even though he didn’t walk many. He had a mini comeback in 09 – at least he pitched an entire year, but was terrible in 2010, threw 76 lousy innings for the DBax with 9 GS and 12 IP. Truth is that he wasn’t as good as he looked at first, and as lousy as he looks, he’s gonna either make the roster as the 5th guy (assuming the trades) or he’s gonna be stashed at AAA just like every other washed up, crappy pitcher we’ve stashed in AAA over the past few years – think Runelvys Hernandez or Gustavo Chacin, to be called up in case someone is hurt or if we need a 6th starter. Who knows, maybe Burt Hooten can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, youneverknow.

JA Happ, LHP, age 29: last year, at first looked as if he didn’t care, seeing as how he was stuck for life on the losingest team in the majors, then after he started getting creamed, he got that – oh pleeeeze GAWD don’t let em hit that pitch – kind of look, finally got sent down, got his head a little more together, and looked a little more like a major league pitcher when he got back. He’d be a #4 or 5 on any decent team, but he’s gonna be a #2 guy on ours (assuming the trades go through) and that tells you all you need to know about this here team.
Livan Hernandez, RHP, age at least 37, has spent most of his career with the Natspos, although I still remember him pitching batting practice in Game 7 of the 02 World Series, the must win game for the Giants. He doesn’t strikeout many, pitches a good 200+ innings/year, and his last 4 years ERA+ are 71, 76, 110 (yeah, dead cat bounce) and 87. He’ll fit right in with the Stros – this year’s Nelson Figueroa.
Jordan Lyles, RHP, age 21 – well, he’s one of those guys who the Astros WANT to succeed. He didn’t have a good year last year, and he obviously tired by September, when he was sent down for some rest. He didn’t get much support from his hitters/fielders, that’s fer sher. He may throw better this year, he’s only 21, youneverknow.
Brett Myers, RHP, age 31 – seems as if he’s been around forever. He’s going to be expensive, 11 mill this year + a 3 mill buyout for next year, so Crane wants to get rid of him. He’s going to have to eat money, that is fer sher, as Myers’ dead cat bounce of 2010 is unlikely to be repeated. His last 4 ERA+ are 97. 87. 127. 85. Last I heard, Luhnow is trying to package him with someone else who will actually be useful, like Bourgeois, but who knows whether they are more interested in getting rid of money or trying to get something back that is better than what Myers merits.
Bud Norris, RHP, age 27, finally pitched a full year in the majors, had a 3.77 ERA and a 100 ERA+ which, by the way, I never thought I’d see the day when a 3.77 ERA was league average for a starter, but I guess that’s what happens when you deaden the ball enough to show how those NASTY steroids are all gonsies. Anyway, he and Wandy were the only pitchers on the Astros 2011 pitching roster who were at league average or above. Which, given the number of blown saves and losses, doesn’t surprise me at all.
Wandy Rodriguez, LHP, age 33, is going to make 10 mill this year and next, and is therefore too expensive for the likes of Crane, so he IS gonna get dumped. He has started at least 30 games in 4 of the last 5 seasons, and has ERA+ of 97, 119, 137, 111 and 109 over that span. He was definitely a little off last year, had a bit of a time adjusting from Towles to Corporan, and for some reason, threw his wicked curve ball less and his not so awesome changeup more. But he has still been one of the top 10 lefty pitchers in the NL for quite a while and there is a very good market for him. As I’ve said more than once, I don’t know what Crane/Luhnow want, but it sure isn’t a team willing to just take his contract, all of it, because they’ve turned down those offers. I have heard that Crane really wants him and his contract gone by Spring Training, but here it is PACR and he’s still here. So youneverknow…

Next, starters or bullpen:

Lucas Harrell, RHP, age 26 – picked up off waivers from the White Sox – looks like a AAA guy who walks too many guys to be successsful, but I guess you can’t nevah stockpile too many guys at AAA.
Aneury Rodriguez, RHP age 24: the Rule V guy from last year who managed to tough it out and endewd up with a 72 ERA+ over 8 starts and 35 relief appearances. You wouldn’t think they’d give him a chance to be a starter, but after the crazy – let’s make Wesley Wright and Fernando Abad into starters thingys, it wouldn’t surprise me. And Aneury WAS a starter…
Henry Sosa, RHP, age 26: who we got from the Giants for Jeff Keppinger. He started 10 games, had a 72 ERA+ which was a 5.23 ERA over 53 IP with a 1.44 WHIP. And it’s not as if his minor league numbers are any better. This guy got TEN starts. Welcome to Astros baseball.

LH Relievers:

Fernando Abad, age 26: who pitched lights out in 2010, so the Astros “brain” trust sent his skinny ass to the Dominican to play winter ball as a STARTER, exhausted him, and he was injured and ineffective last year. Who knows how he’ll do if he really is healed up.
Xavier Cedeno, age 25: signed as a minor league FA last year, pitched decently in relief at AAA – too many hits gave him a high ERA, but he had relatively low walk rates and high K rates – much better than his lifelong stats. He doesn’t look ready for the majors.
Sergio Escalona, age 27: who we got in trade from the Phils in 1/11 for a nobody low ranking minor leaguer who was immediately released. He threw 27.2 innings of 131 ERA+ ball, mostly as a LOOGY. Or, I shsould say, he SHOULD be used just as a LOOGY because he has rather substantial splits – .859 OPS against vs rightys and .590 OPS against vs leftys.
Wesley Wright, age 26: our 2008 Rule V pick, who survived 08, declined in 09, had a wasted year in 2010, in which the “brain” trust tried to turn him into a starter, and last year, he finally really pitched lights out as a lefty reliever in both majors and minors. He really got his weaknesses, homers to rightys, and too many walks, under control.

RH relievers:

Juan Abreu, age 27: who is one of the guys we got in the Michael Bourn trade – he throws 97 MPH, which makes the baseball people moan and drool. He had 12 K/9 IP and 5 BB/9 IP over 57 innings at AAA last year. He threw 6 good innings at the ML level last year. All the Michael Bourn tradees are gonna get more than a chance to succeed at the ML level, so expect him to make the roster unless he’s completely ineffective.
David Carpenter, age 26: who was the only good thing to come out of the stupid Pedro Feliz singing – we got him from the Cards in the trade. He threw 26 scoreless innings at AAA last year, was promoted, threw 27 innings of 131 ERA+ ball and will most likely close if Lyon is ineffective.
Rhiner Cruz, age 25
Jorge De Leon, age 24:  converted from SS to pitcher – just finished his first year at A ball, where he pitched very well. No idea why he’s coming to ST – he is NOT making hte jump from A ball to the majors.
Enerio Del Rosario, age 25: bought from the Reds at the end of 2010 – he was a failed starter. He made the Astros 2011 roster by WOWing everyone in ST – gave up no runs in 11 IP but, um, came down to earth, returned to his Reds-like suckage and threw 53 innings of 83 ERA+ ball. You can’t just go by ST stats – if you could, Bradley Ausmus would be in the Hall of Fame with the highest average for any major league catcher.
Arcenio Leon, age 25: who threw 64 innings at AA last year – struck out a little over 10/9 IP and walked almost 7/9 IP. Yeah, one of those. Can’t see how he’s make the 25 man.
Wilton Lopez, age 29: our setup guy last year, well, most of last year, who got the job because in 2010, he only let 1 of 31 inherited runners score. Came back down to earth last year, let 42% of em score. He threw 71 innings of 136 ERA+ ball – which is hard to believe, seeing as how he lost 6 games and blew 2 more. And losing games as a reliever to me is more meaningful than losing games as a starter unless you left the game losing and gave up more than 3 runs.
Brandon Lyon, age 31: who is getting paid 5 mill, so he is on the poopoo list, but he was out almost all of last year with a shoulder injury, so we’re most likely stuck with him, unless he does well to start the year and we can dump him at the deadline. I’m sure he’ll close if he is even a little bit effective in ST.
Lance Pendleton, age 28: who I remember from those great Rice U teams of 03-05, and I remember him as a hitter. But he hasn’t picked up a bat in years. He was a Rule V guy last year, was sent back to the Yankees at the end of ST, pitched well for them – scoreless appearances except for 1 game, and that was against the Hated Red Sox, so he got released, and picked uyp by the Astros again. He’s competing for a bullpen spot again. Good luck there boy.
Fernando Rodriguez, age 27: who we signed as a minor league FA last year and who ended up throwing 52 innings of 96 ERA+ ball. He got tired and ineffective by the end of hte year, but he did quite well there for a while.
Jose Valdez, RHP,  age 29: signed as a 6 year minor league FA in 09, don’t ask me why. He pitched lousy at AAA last year and lousier at the ML last year, so don’t ask me why he’s coming to ST. That said, just watch him be this year’s Del Rosario…
Henry Villar, age 24: I don’t remember exactly why he was given ANY major league innings to pitch in 2010, but his numbers at AAA last year were flat out bad. But you know how it is – if he pitches well in Spring Training, he just might could be another Rick White.

11/13/11: Athletes And Morals – My Take On Joe Paterno

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

I know I’ve written about this particular subject before, namely, WHY should athletes be held as “role models” let alone paragons of virtue? The vast majority of professional athletes have been spoiled, pampered  persons whose relation to others has been that of royalty to peasants. WHY? Because they can run or jump or hit/catch/throw a BALL? Why should these skills be not only admired, but those who do such things almost worshipped?

I was thinking this again because of all the news about Joe Paterno, the Sandusky child raping scandal, the students rioting against Paterno’s dismissal. Two weeks ago, I had never even heard of Joe Paterno. Now, he is the premier example of the old saying that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The story is sordid, but simple. Joe Paterno, a man who had immense power over a city and a university and many state politicians because he was a successful football coach and was literally worshipped for this, allowed a pederast to remain with the University, the team and a “charity” supposed to be helping young boys. Let me say the most astounding part – he was literally the most powerful man at a University and the most powerful person for a 300 mile radius because of a GAME. People gave money to the University, not because of its teachers, research or academics, but because of a stupid GAME.

I’m a Texan, I know that people like football games. I know that UT and A&M have popular football programs. But the coaches do not wield power like a despot over the entire University, the town and a good deal of the legislature (not to say real too particular good things about the Lege, but at least they don’t do obeisance to some football coach.)

Paterno – the word comes from the latin word pater, meaning father. He spoke about the athletes, unpaid moneymakers for the University – clearing at least $50 MILL/year in profit, making exactly nothing, as his “kids.” He boasted of his pristeen morals, of fomenting those self-same morals in his clubhouse and locker room.

But what should a good father, a man of unquestioned high morals (and WHY are those morals unquestioned, I ask?) do when he discovers that one of his “kids” is a creature of evil? And make no mistake about it, adult men who anally rape little boys are just flat out evil. There is no other appropriate word. Evil. Do you excuse him because he is your “kid”? Do you think that you should allow him to continue to rape, unmolested (hahahaha) and cover up any tales of his crime? Is it because he is yours and therefore his crime would reflect on you, or is it because you think that your family and the family business, the game of football, is far more important than any 10 year old boy’s rectum.

How could anyone, ANYONE, especially a man with boys of his own, so easily dismiss a crime like this? To protect a GAME?

You all know the story. In 2001, an enormous male, age 20 something, caught a smaller, much older man raping a child in the locker room. The discoverer was an ex-football player. The rapist, his former coach and one of his present bosses. The discoverer did absolutely NOTHING to stop the rape or help the child, just called his own daddy, who told him to keep his mouth shut and tell Paterno in the morning. He did. And what happened with the rapist? Not a thing. Again.

Oh yes, it had happened before.

Paterno, in 1998, was the most powerful man at the University, not just the most highly paid. He obeyed the letter of the law and reported the matter to his immediate “superior.” And went on as if nothing had happened. The rapist was forced to “resign” with a nice severance package, but essentially continued on as if nothing had happened. More and more people witnessed the rapist raping. Paterno heard no evil, saw no evil and did evil by saying nothing.

Did he think his legacy would be tarnished by exposing (hahaha) the monster in lion’s clothing? Did he think people would think ill of him for saying – I discovered that this piece of garbage was molesting little boys in our own locker room and I made sure that he was imprisoned immediately and the victim provided for? How can he defend to himself, let alone the God is supposed to worship, his decision to literally “keep it in the family” at the expense of raped children? Is it that they were not his kids so who cares? Is it that they were the disenfranchised, so who cares? Is it that all he cared about was the image of his football team?

I know that many males will explain to me that being female, I can’t possibly understand the locker room mentality, the importance of omerta at any cost. That football is so crucial a piece of existance that its players and coaches should be allowed to do essentially anything as long as they play winning football.

They are right. I don’t get it, any more than I get the cult of college football and the fanatical fantasy that these athletes are “amateurs” and students who just happen to be able to play a game that nets their University uncounted zillions and themselves nothing but endless sexual partners.

I may be a fan of a team, or of an athlete, but if I EVER found out that the team had supported or enabled a rapist (hello Boston Red Sox and your skeletor in the closet – hahahaha) I would most certainly NOT excuse ANYTHING and would demand that anyone who allowed this to go on or didn’t report it be outed and punished accordingly, even if the only punisment available was social censure.

How, HOW???? could students support Joe Paterno, no matter what ELSE he had done, after learning that he put the importance of a football GAME above the safety and sanity of these poor raped boys? The support is based on, what, that he won football games and obeyed the letter of the law and only informed a person who he knew could be relied upon to sweep the unpleasantness under the rug?

You could try to excuse the graduate assiatant who witnessed the rape and didn’t call the police on the grounds that he was afraid for his future and chose to protect himself and let the child go to hell. Some excuse. But excusing the ONE person who had absolute power, the power to stop the rapist because he won FOOTBALL games – that is the utmost in unforgiveablilty.

I understand those who, like Joe Posnanski, who believed Paterno to be the moralest of the moral, shocked into disbelief. Disbelief, I understand. I would feel the same kind of disbelief and shock if someone who I believe is one of the moralest of the moral, like Lance Berkman, was accused of a heinous crime. BUT faced with incontrovertable evidence, I would certainly not be telling him – well, I still love you because you hit .300 as an Astro and had a 1.063 OPS+ in the World Series. That is less than nothing vs evil. And what Paterno did, keeping quiet, placing a stupid GAME over multiple human lives, was just as evil as the rapist.

sigh

It isn’t that I don’t understand the instinct of preserving the family - I guess this Paterno creep was virtually head of a family. I understand not wanting cops. I understand not wanting trouble. I understand not wanting scandal. I understand not wanting disgrace. But What I do NOT understand is tolerating a child rapist in your family because he is your family and at least so far, his victims are not One Of Your Own.

You want to know if I am going to let my own children play football. The twins don’t want to and Da Bull, who is enormous and urged frequently by those who don’t know better to go play football, tells them (and I quote): No thank you – I abhor gratuitous violence.

Yes, I did teach him them big ol words and he DID have to practice it until he got it juuuuuuuuust right…

And yes, their daddy and I HAVE sat down with them, discussed the importance of them feeling comfortable enough to tell us if someone tries to touch them in such a way that it makes them uncomfortable. We hope we made them understand that they would NOT be punished and that they should not think they should have to pay the price of silence and rape to continue on with their lives.

The 2011 Hardball Times Annual

Friday, November 4th, 2011

Click here to check it out.

As all yall know, I used to contribute to THT when they wrote a preseason preview – I talked Astros, naturally. I still do the Astros’ players review  for the fantasy site – meaning write a few lines about the guys in the Astros Organization and how I think they’ll do. (NO, I am not allowed to discuss Brad Ausmus…) Brian Cartwright,  who actually knows how to use computers and Excel and stuff like that does the stats via the OLIVER system. Don’t ask me to explain it because I don’t understand how you get linear weights or anything else. But I have faith in the system because Brain is smart. I mean, Brian is smart.

Anyway, the Annual for this year is now for sale – click here to buy. A lot of guys did a lot of work, writing about this season and next, as well as statistical outlooks. I know it is cheaper on Amazon, but if you buy it there, the writers don’t get any of the money and it’s not like they end up getting very much $$$ for a lot of very hard work, anyway.

8/28/10: Stephen Strasburg, Mr. Murphy And Money

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

As everyone who watches baseball or any sports broadcast knows, 22 year old Stephen Strasburg, last year’s #1 draft pick, the 22 year old supposed gonna be an ace de la ace forEVAHpitcher, hurt his elbow and has to have an operation and will be out for a year. Even then he may not return to being The Strasburg with the Exciting 100 MPH fastball!!!!!!!! for a year. Or he may be like Lidge and have to slow it down by 10% in order to succeed and who would want to watch him if he threw only 90 instead of 100? Too many people are enthralled by velocity itself and bored by results.

Interesting that so few are saying, well, elbows get hurt, it is how things go. Most are wanting to know why WHY WHY did this happen???!!! The Nationals, as well as his college team, supposedly Did Everything Right – no overuse, no abuse, not making him pitch tired or hurt, etcetcetc. Supposedly, stuff like this didn’t happen BITGOD.

Sure it did. Guys who injured their arms as teens, in the minors or the majors didn’t have the option of tendon replacement surgery, they were just ineffective and out of baseball. I’ve chatted with more than a few guys who were stud pitchers (so they say) in school or college or minors and hurt wrist/arm/shoulder/hip/foot/leg and after repair, just couldn’t play as well – or play at all because they couldn’t/didn’t get it fixed in such a way that they were even the same player after healing/rehab.

There were never, and I mean NEVER tons of pitchers who threw 200-300 innings every year for many years without injuries. If you don’t believe me, go to baseball-reference.com. Pick a team (not the Yankees) and look at the roster in 1930, check the pitchers, games started and innings pitched. Go to 1931, do the same. And every year until 1939. See how many pitchers threw even 200, not 300, innings a year every year for 10 years. Then look at the few who did, and you will see that darn near all of them are in the HOF. And, by the way, check out guys who threw 200+ innings their first year and didn’t make it through the next year – there are plenty of them.

But too many people won’t look at the actual FACTS because they prefer to think that today’s pitchers are effeminate, babied weaklings and BITGOD, ALL pitchers were like Nolan Ryan (who, by the way, WAS injured at age 21 and didn’t start pitching full time until age 25) or Bob Feller or Warren Spahn. Very few guys even lasted 3 straight years in the majors, even though there were only 16 teams and LOTS of minor league teams with some VERY good players who never had much of a chance. And there simply were not as many good hitters (check out teams not named the Yankees from 1920 to 1970) and very few pitchers threw any 95-100 MPH, if any of them did. And if they did, it may have been only for the Ted Williams quality hitters, not the middle infielders. AND remember that guys didn’t take pitches and striking out was a REALLY Terrible “Not Playing The Game The Right Way” Thing and grounding out/popping up was a Good Thing. They swung early and often – you disbelieve me, go watch ESPN classic sometimes, even games from the 70s/80s were incredibly different Before Video. They ALL (except Ted) choked up on the bat after 2 strikes and made every attempt to ground out/popup so they wouldn’t K. And check out the pitches, too – not real too many starters like Verlander. Most guys were a lot more like Moehler/Nelson Figueroa.

 The BITGOD thing is another one of zillions of Garden of Eden fantasies.

But truth is that ANYONE can get injured at ANY time. It could be as simple as just being distracted for a fraction of a second by a runner, a bird in the sky, an itch, planting your foot just a teensy bit wrong, not getting your arm/shoulder/hips/feet aligned just perfect and when you make your body move in a destructive, unnatural way, and you don’t have everything perfectly timed, well, it sure nuff is easy to tear something if you put the wrong kind of stress on something. Heck, I’ve read about guys who have injured themselves by SNEEZING.

These days, seems us people all insist that If You Do “Everything Right” Then Nothing Can Go Wrong. And if something does, SOMEONE is to blame, and there HAS to be a reason other than Murphy’s Law (if something can go wrong, it will go wrong) and Mr/Ms Murphy shows up at the darndest places and the darndest times. Sometimes stuff happens for which there is no particular reason and there is no one to BLAME and there is no FAULT. Stuff happens. Bad Luck exists. It just does. Life is not predictable the way people think it should be. Sometimes, you just happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and there IS no fault.

People have different DNA and even with athletes with special DNA which gives them unbelieveable eyesight and hand-eye coordination (just think – from less than 60 feet away you can spot a red spot on a round object traveling at least 80 MPH and not only that, you can react so incredibly fast that you can swing a thin stick and hit that 5″ diameter ball. I doubt that most people could hit an object with the kind of motion and speed a ML pitch haws if the object was 2′ wide…) And for whatever reason, those people’s tendons and bones and muscles are just the littlest bit different from each others and so some large strong (like that makes a difference) males are as fragile as china dolls and some males just never seem to get hurt.

And Strasburg (and the Nats and the Strasburg fans) just interacted with Mr/Ms Murphy.

I get so tired of all the incessant comments about how Strasburg SHOULD have been fine because he is SOOOOOOOOO big. Really. And the reason small guys like Maddux and Glavine pitched for 20 years without getting hurt or going on the DL is, um, well, uh. “Large” does not keep anyone off the DL. “Large” is another one of those myths that will NOT die. There is exactly NO difference in injury rate of pitchers of different sizes/weights. People simply believe that bigger = better and no amount of icky FACTS gonna change their beliefs.

And, subject 2, everyone is now screaming that it is SUCH a terrible thing that the Nats paid 15 mill to Strasburg to sign him and now they are gonna lose a year. OR maybe more!!!!!

I see.

So are those self same people gonna start screaming that if the Nats had picked him in the 30th round, paid him a sack of chewing gum and he had turned into a Super Ace that they should pay him like a Super Ace and not the minimum league payment for 3 straight years? Please.

Same thing with any free agent they sign. You can sign a guy who never had a headache and first week out, he sneezes, throws out his shoulder or ribs, or whatever, bends over conks his head and that’s the end. OR he’s minding his own business and suddenly one of those baseball shoving matches breaks out and someone falls all over him and he gets a knee in the face and is out concussed forever.

youneverknow. you REALLY never know.

Teams gamble that they will make money off the player and the player gambles that he will make money off the team (except for Gary Sheffield who was constantly griping that he should be paid more and never offered to refund money if he didn’t live up to expectations – imagine that) but a whole lot of people, especially media types, use Strasburg to point out how the draft “is broken” because the Nats are losing a year of Strasburg. I don’t see them pointing out how Evan Longoria who was a hitting stud from the word GO is and was the most underpaid player in MLB, given his accomplishments, and that he will most likely never ever be paid anything like his true worth.

But that is fine because a whole lot of people really think that professional ballplayers SHOULD be paid like minor leaguers and have to do crappy jobs in the offseason to eat. Or live off their parents/rich women. Or something. They have no problem with ownership making 130 mill a year instead of 30 mill a year. They have this silly fantasy that seat prices are related to the payroll, which is why you see all the low payroll teams selling their seats at 1980 prices, right? That and the fact that they resent the fact that professional athletes get paid a lot of money when they themselves could do the same for FREE. Which explains why minor league games draw hundreds of thousands per game, unlike MLB.

If people really think that professional athletes should ONLY be paid according to performance, and shouldn’t get a penny if they get hurt, then they should be paid HUGE sums per year if they excel, right? Seeing as how they shouldn’t have contracts guaranteed (how is an unguaranteed “contract” a “contract” at all? If one party doesn’t have to adhere to it, why does the other party? Sounds like BITGOD where men got to cheat on their wives and that was fine and dandy, but the wife didn’t get to cheat on her husband, even though they took the same vows of monogamy…)

So if you want to change drafts so that athletes get some small “slot”bonus to keep them from playing some other sport or not playing at all, then you also have to change the pay structure and pay them according to their true value on the field, which should be a premeasured, agreed upon percent of the team’s moneys received – and this has to include baserunning and fielding, not just hitting, or BA/RBI). which means that a guy who comes up and hits like Albert Pujols did his first year should be paid like a 10 year star, not a league minimum AND should receive what SHOULD have been his slot bonus too, right?

What, you don’t like that neither?

Gee, what a surprise…

Congratulations Andre Dawson! Sorry Bert, Roberto and Barry

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

Andre “Hawk” Dawson received 77.9% of all HOF ballots to squeak into the Hall on this, his 9th year.

I’m a LOT happier about his selection than I was about Jim Ed “Teh FEAR!!!” Rice last year.

I know that he didn’t walk much, and therefore had a very low OBP, especially for a Hall of Famer, but unlike guys like McGwire and Edgar Martinez, Hawk was a COMPLETE player. I know that modern baseball places the most emphasis on hitting, especially hitting with power, but I have a LOT more respect with players who can do that PLUS run well and field well, and that was The Hawk.

To me, he is a somewhat lesser version of Barry Lamar, Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays. But hey, even 90% of greatness is still great.

Andre was an 11th round draft pick (not an Obvious Supa dupa STAH!!! from the beginning) in 1975 by the now defunct Expos (and I certainly hope he will go into the Hall in an Expos cap, not a C*bs one.)

He had a .934 OPS in 300 AB at age 20 in the rookie league that year, and the Organization MUST have seen something unbelieveable, because they promoted him to AA to start the year in 76, and after 143 AB with a .975 OPS, he was promoted to AAA, where he produced a 1.123 OPS over 275 AB and then was called up to the ML in Spetember, where he, uh, fell back to earth with a .584 OPS over 84 AB.

But he never went near the minors again and at age 22, was in the bigs to stay.

That is almost never EVER seen these days, even with Supa Dupa STAHS!!! draftees like Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria had more minor league ABs than Hawk’s 683. And of course these days, teams try to keep their draftees in the monors for as long as they can to delay the onset of free agency – and even if the player is desperately needed, they keep him in AAA until the super 2 deadline has passed to cheat him of a year of FA. Hawk was a FA at age 28, his peak, and teams not named the Yankees desperately try to avoid that sort of thing.

But Back In The Good Old Days, teams saw a great young player, didn’t care if he was only an 11th rounder instead of their top pick, and put him on the 25 man.

This refusing to promote OBVIOUSLY ML ready young players these days really bugs me. And yeah, I think I am getting old enough to have this lawn I gots to tell younguns to get offn.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

Hawk was made the full time starting CF the very next year and responded by posting an .800 OPS and winning Rookie of the Year and he never looked back. He won the MVP in 87 (ahem – yes I know Ozzie shoulda won) and was a top 10 finisher 4 times, with 2 second place finishes. He won 4 silver sluggers and 8 Gold Gloves (and yes, I don’t like the way GGs are selected any more than any other stat geek/geek-ess.)

He finished his career with 2774 hits, 589 walks, 503 doubles, 98 triples, 438 HR, 314 SB/109 CS: a 119 OPS+ over 7 years as a CF, 8 years as a RF, 2 years as a (mostly) DH, 2 years as a PH/DR – well, only 61 AB those last 2 years, so they don’t really amount to much.)

I wasn’t surprised that he was elected – a lot of writers are focusing on steroid-free guys from the past.

I WAS surprised that Roberto Alomar and Barry Larkin didn’t make it in. Too many writers are obsessed with Alomar sptting on an umpire (and it was a ONE time event of him losing his cool) and Barry Larkin’s troubles keeping healthy. I was very disappointed that Bert Blylevin missed admission by 5 votes. Must be tough to get 74.9% – close but no cigar is cold comfort after 13 years. I was also disappointed but not surprised at the BBWAA ignoring Tim Raines again. He made the bad mistake of refusing to swing at bad pitches and taking a walk to get on base instead of getting out. And, of course, of playing at the same time as The Rickey and playing in some other country nobody never heard of, to boot, instead of Boston/NY/Chicago, where all the good players at.

Hope they, and Alan Trammell all get in next year because 2012 is going to have at LEAST 5 no doubt about it HOFers in its new class.

UPDATE 1/7: I can’t count. 2014 has the 5 no doubt about it guys. 2013 has the Big Argument guys (Bonds, Sosa, Clemens) who absolutely positively should go in the Hall, but the writers are gonna make sure that they don’t. Which is ridiculous because Bonds is one of the 10 best position players who ever played MLB and Clemens is one of the 5 best RH pitchers who ever played MLB.

And of course, Sammy Sosa has got to be punished for being a (derogatory insulting word meaning a Latin with African descent who speaks English as well as your average 2 year old whose first language is English) for taking a translator when summoned by the government of the United States.

5/23/09: Dodgers Break New Ground Allowing Bloggers FULL Media Access

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009

Times change, the Dodgers brass believe. And seeing as how the young generation (under 40) are not reading the rapidly failing newspapers, many of whom employ REALLY lousy writers (and no matter how many of yall grouse about Ortiz, Justice, McTaggart, Footer, various other Chron writers whose knowledge of baseball is minimal, they are incredibly better than about any other paper’s sportswriters, excepting the Kansas City Star) they have smartly decided that allowing the bloggers, who the young generation WILL read, access to the usual sources of info is the smart way to go.

What this means is that bloggers are allowed in the press box, where they have to appear to be disinterested (or is it UN-interested) and invited to interview various people connected to the club.

How do I feel about this?

Good thing is that the pressbox has the very best seats in the house. Bad thing is that it would be like working. I mean, it’s great to sit with other fans, cheer, boo, CARE about what happens on the field, and not be unable to express your, uh, feelings. Truth is that I’m a fan first and a writer second. Writing about the Astros isn’t my job, it’s my hobby. I really wouldn’t want it any other way.

As for the “access” – well, I sure nuff would LUUUUVVVV to be allowed to see inside the clubhouse. But without nekkid guys all over the place because if there is anything funnier than a bunch of nekkid guys, I don’t know what it is and I wouldn’t want to giggle. And truth be told, I sure as heck wouldn’t want to be anywheres near 25 UNWASHED nekkid adult males, you feelin me here…

But as for interviewing the players, the questions I really want answers to, they wouldn’t answer. And if they did, I probably wouldn’t print them because they could get in trouble for answering them. I really am not interested in embarrassing or humiliating the ballplayers, even the ones I don’t like. I would certainly learn a whole lot about how the clubhouse was functioning just seeing how the players interacted with each other. You live with a lot of males, you learn to read them, ESPECIALLY when they don’t want to talk. But then again, I would keep pretty much that stuff to myself.

And as for “interviewing” anyone from the Organization, cmon, they want to keep their jobs and one thing that professional interviewees are good at is saying a lot of words and telling you exactly ZERO. Who, for example, is gonna explain why they will never give minor league player X a chance? I’d get the same blah pablum un-answers that the paid journalists do, and I can listen to their stuff on KTRH/690 or read it in the paper. So really, I don’t think I’m exactly missing out on anything by not attending these canned “interviews.”

But I do think that the Dodgers are very VERY smart to reverse the ballclubs’ decade long position of hostility toward bloggers/unpaid unofficial “media.” The Buzz Bissingers of the world may wish to go back to a time where only a very few people were permitted to air their views about ballplayers, the games, its strategies – but things change. I do remember reading that Calvin Griffiths moved how Washington franchise to Minnesota so he could have nice shiny clean White people in the stands instead of icky ol Blacks. Times change. Buzz might not like the internet, the proliferation of people like me expressing my thoughts and feelings about my team and the game of baseball to an audience his ilk used to claim exclusive rights to, but the truth is that newspapers and paid reporters are quickly dying off and the teams SHOULD be wanting rabid fans to be writing about them.

Publicity is important.

By allowing “access” they also hope to some degree, control the attitudes of those who are permitted to interview players and Organization personnel. Truth is that even bloggers are much less likely to write GM X suxxxxx!!!! if they just finished interviewing him, as they will want to get more interviews, and shooting someone down rudely is no way to guarantee more interviews. It’s the flowers principle. You know – if a guy wants a woman, um, in a good mood, it’s far more sensible to give her flowers than it is to tell her that her ass looks fat in that outfit…

As for the no reporting on the Silver Blah Series Part I – really, what is there to say except that the starters sucked, the relievers sucked, the hitters sucked and the manager mismanaged - removing Carlos Lee in a tie game in the 8th for a pinch runner who is a FAR inferior hitter and barely runs faster????  Besides, Interleague play is an idea whose time has come and should be gone, like the DH.

3/25/09: Baseball Loses A Great Writer And Humanity A Great Person

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

I know I should be celebrating Wandy’s outstanding performance, the Astros winning 5 in a row, Matsui getting his BA above my weight and Bourn getting his BA abover my husband’s weight, but I’m grieving because I’ve just lost a very dear friend, the great writer John Brattain.

John was just 44 (in January) and died after a long illness, but just the same, it reinforces that only the good die young. He helped and encouraged me in my writing since the beginning of this blog, promoted my work, helped me understand, made me laugh and made me love baseball and writing about it even more.

He was a Canadian, a Montreal Expos fan (and a Blue Jays fan) and an exceptional human being – one of the nicest, kindest people it has ever been my privilege to know.

He was a prolific, excellent writer.

Please click here and here and here to read some of his work.

The world is a sadder place for his loss.

2/9/09: Juice-y News

Monday, February 9th, 2009

I am SOOOOOOO freaking tired of this.

Baseball news this offseason has been all about only 3 things

1 – those horrible Yankees have bought 3 new players at the cost of 400 something mill and now they have bought themselves a championship and we need a salary cap to make sure that ballplayers get paid a lot less (and owners get paid a lot more.)

2 – baseball players are overpaid. Look at even the utility infielders getting 400K a year. They shouldn’t be paid more than, um, us sportswriters. It is critical that the team owners get to keep even more of the income from MLB than they do – which has, by the way, been rapidly rising; 10 years ago, ballplayers salaries accounted for 58% of all MLB revenues and they now are 42% but that won’t shut the sportswriters up until ballplayers have to live under bridges or off their wives’ stripper earnings.

On the other hand, nothing is wrong with Bud Selig getting paid 18.5 mill a year.

And nothing is wrong with musicians/actors getting paid more than A-Rod per year.

3 – and speaking of A-Rod, well, we ALL knew what a terrible horrible person he was because he couldn’t never say the right thing and besides, the Rangers offered him 252 mill for 10 years and he took it which makes both him and Scott Boras e-v-i-l. Because A-Rod SHOULD have stayed with the Mariners and forfeited his right to free agency and just took whatever salary they were willing to give him, just like Back In The Good Old Days Of The Reserve Clause When Ballplayers Had No Rights Except Not To Play At All – Before Free Agency “Ruined The Game.”

That’s when the media/fans started hating A-Rod. He committed the terrible, serious crime of taking the contract from the highest bidder. No one does that in real life. And it went downhill from there.

In spite of being a focus of media hate, A-Rod was the almost opposite of Barry Lamar, the other focus of media hate. Both have been portrayed, in one way and another, as bad human beings. Disliked by teammates (with A-Rod, this began immediately after he signed that contract – I never heard about this when he was with the Mariners) and also the best player in their leagues, the media always was determined to continuously find flaws in each man at the expense of extoling virtues.

Now, it seems that A-Rod has committed The Final Sin – he (apparently) used steroids BEFORE they were banned by the CBA in 2004. Now, columnists are howling for his head even more ferverently than they were previously, even demanding that the Yankees write him a check for the remainder of his 272 mill contract, which has 9 years to run so that he is permanently banned from baseball (ala Barry Lamar) to removing every single one of his stats (as well as Barry Lamar’s and Roger Clemens’ stats from the record books. Not even the Yankees can regard 272 million as spare change, but even if they did, they would simply be fools to remove the best player on their team (who, by the way, has been steroid-free since at least 2004.)

Naturally, the sportswriters have zero interest in removing the stat lines of JC Romero, Manny Alexander, Alex Sanchez, Matt Lawton or Ryan Franklin, to name a few. Using steroids is only an egregious sin IF you happen to be one of the best players of all times.

This is just too stupid.

Anyone else remember Ken Caminiti’s confession to Sports Illustrated back in 02/03 when he not only admitted his own use, but said that use was rampant, that a GOOD 3/4 of baseball players were ALSO suing? Anyone else remember reading that famous pitching coach Tom House said that he used back in the 60s and so did lots of other guys?

sigh

Nobody cares, because this is ALL about discrediting baseball players who have played in the juiced BALL era, from 1994 – 2005. Yes, the baseball itself was a bit different enough, would by machine instead of by hand, and bouncing at the highest end of MLB standards. Offense exploded in BOTH leagues and every single guy suddenly shooting up can’t account for that.

Sportswriters especially WANT to discredit ballplayers from the last 15 years because of their fantasy about wonderful, pastoral baseball played by sweet little choir boys who would NEVER have used a chemical to gain an advantage and whose only vice was incessant adultery (which is a wonderful thing to the writers, who wish they had legions of young females with lower morals wanting to fornicate with them) and of course, the players Back Then were “loyal to the team” (much as slaves were “loyal” to their masters) and had no interest in money but played ONLY For The Love Of The Game.”

It’s all about the fantasies – that and, as Pat Jordan once noted, back then, the ballplayers HAD to suck up to the sportswriters to get noticed, and getting noticed in the papers significantly increased your chances of staying with the team. In these days of stats and internet access, baseball writers no longer have the significant clout they once had (hence the hatred of the Buzz Bissingers of the world – Back In The Good Old Days, modern bloggers/commenters had to confine themselves to writing letters to the editor.)

And the fans themselves? Many consider using steroids before they were banned by the CBA to be “cheating.” Not sure why, exactly, except that they supposedly enhance performance. Yes, they do increase muscle size, but they sure as heck have no effect on hand-eye coordination or ability to judge the flight of the ball off the bat, or to improve the accuracy of one’s throwing arm, or even one’s ability to throw a baseball into the strike zone (see Steven Randolph) or the ability to judge WHEN to take an extra base or to steal one. Baseball is not simplistic, like running a foot race or swimming faster. And unlike football, losing control of one’s emotions is NOT conducive to victory, unless  a ballplayer is the type of person who concentrates better if he feels full of anger or hate.

No one complains about any other sort of chemical that enhances performance, such as painkillers or cortisone. And as to the complaint that testosterone-like steroids are now (since 1990) a controlled substance like morphine or cocaine, I would point out that absolutely no one vilifies pre-1990s ballplayers for using dexedrine – failure to use was referred to as “playing naked” and ballplayers who refused to use were scolded by teammates. I will remind you at this time that there WERE ballplayers back then who were opposed to their use (somewhat like Frank Thomas and steroids) and that dexedrine was a Schedule 3 drug since 1960, just like morphine and cocaine and now testosterone.

But who cares that Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and Hank Aaron used these illegal drugs to gain a performance enhancing advantage? (And if amphetamines were not performance enhancing, why would they be banned by Olympic rules?)

Certainly not the sportswriters. Certainly not the fans. Who all scream about “doing it the right way” as if using illegal drugs to enhance performance Back In The Good Old Days was just peachy.

I’m really tired of this. I’m tired of the constant vilification of baseball stars – and ONLY stars, who used testosterone-like compounds prior to their being banned by the CBA. It is over, done with, dealt with, and now, I just want to talk about baseball. As for “hallowed” records – how about growing up and realizing that hitting/throwing/catching baseballs are NOT acts of heroism and that accomplishments in each particular era (dead ball, lively ball, pre-1900, high mound 60s, etc) are looked at under the standards of that era.

Enough of this, PLEEEEZE…