Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Broken up by a double in the 3rd inning. Bummer.

No-no #5?

For those of us who aren't lucky enough to get Bright House Sports Network (?), we'll have to follow the live blog of former Peep this Prospect feature Patrick Schuster's fifth consecutive no-hit attempt. Schuster's Mitchell Mustangs take on the Gaither Cowboys at 4 EDT, in a division semifinal game that will see the winner in the playoffs and the loser going home.

Will he do it with ease? Will he need some spectacular defense to keep the streak intact? Will it be decided by the scorer having to choose between an error and a hit on a borderline play? Will he give up a hit to the first batter? Tune in at 4 to find out!Link

Monday, April 27, 2009

More on stealing home

Here's a great article from a 2004 issue of Baseball Digest on the lost art of stealing home. Among other reasons, the author speculates that stealing home used to be more common because pitchers used to work more from the windup than they do now (I looked for historical evidence of that, but wasn't able to find anything), and that Cobb's insane numbers were partly influenced by his playing in the "dead ball" era, where stolen bases were much more of a factor than they were from the 1920's to the 1950's (for a point of reference, Dom DiMaggio led the league in 1950 with only 15 steals). Good read and some great anecdotes for those interested in baseball history.

Not That Big of a Deal...

Ok, everybody's all, "did you see Ellsbury steal home last night, that was so cool." The guys on Sunday Night Baseball were drooling over it so much you would think they wanted to blow the guy. Sure, it doesn't happen that often, and yeah, there's more of a coolness factor to it than, say, a bloop single to right, but let's put this in perspective and take a little of the wow-factor out of it.

Into the annals of history we go...

Back in the old days, the pitchers must have been super shitty, or Ty Cobb was the BOSS, I mean, THE BOSS. Ty Cobb stole home base 54 times in his career. There are 7 other major leaguers who stole home over 20 times in their careers. This kinda makes me scratch my head because I think to myself, how could this have happened?? The only thing I can come up with is that Jacoby Ellsbury just isn't that fast, I mean, he's fast compared to other current baseball players, but guys like Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb and George Burns must have been Flash Gordon fast.

It just doesn't happen much anymore, which also makes me scratch my head, I would think that today's players would be faster than those of yesteryear, maybe there is some 3rd factor I'm not seeing. I'm rambling now, suffice to say...yeah, Ellsbury did something cool, but let's be honest, it wasn't THAT special, not nearly as special as three players hitting for the cycle in ONE WEEK two weeks ago. And in terms of history, Ellsbury won't even crack the top 50 home-plate stealers of all time. In other words, in five days no one will remember this,...unless ESPN keeps playing the highlight.


Since NoMaas doesn't play the direct link game, I can only send you to their homepage. Their last 4 posts are sweet, and the site is always better than the homerish, corporate bostondirtdogs.

Prospect Roundup: Weekend Action

David Price went 3 and 1/3 innings on Sunday night, giving up 3 ER, 4H, walking 4, and striking out 5. That moved his ERA up to 3.70 on the season, but his K:IP ratio is still excellent, at 20:17. K:BB ratio isn't anything to be too unhappy with either, at 20:8.

Neftali Feliz has not pitched since 4/21. The Oklahoma City RedHawks page says he's pitching tonight so that ought to be good.

The Inexorable Force Known As The Wieters had himself a decent weekend.
Friday, 4/24: 0/2 with 2BBs and 2R, no Ks.
Saturday, 4/25: 1/4, a double, with 2Ks.
Sunday, 4/26: 1/3, a double, with 1 RBI, 1BB, and 1K.

His season line: .270/.400/.405, .805 OPS, 1HR, 2RBI. Awaiting the power, then the call-up...

Andrew Brackman pitched on Saturday, 4/25, putting a line of: 4.2IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 3BB, 3Ks. His ERA is an ugly 5.23, but only through 4 starts. Interestingly, his K:IP ratio is almost equal to Price's, at 20:20.2. His K/BB is identical to price, at 20:8. If he can keep those BBs down on the season, look out.

Sweet Jesus hasn't disappointed one bit so far this year. So far on the season his line is: .355/.412/.516, .928 OPS. 2HR, 10RBI in 16 games. Wow. He's playing at High A Tampa. His last three games:
Friday, 4/24: 3/4 with 1R.
Saturday, 4/25: 0/4 with 1K.
Sunday, 4/26: 1/5 with 2Ks.

Finally, Stephen Strasburg had himself a decent outing on Friday night, 4/25. His line was a respectable 7 IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, aaaaaaaand 14K. Oh man, oh man.

Peep this Prospect! Sweet Jesus Montero

Let's start this Peep This Prospect! with a little mystery game, shall we?

Mystery Player 1, at Age 19, in Low A Ball: .326 BA, .376 OBP, .491 SLG. 17 HR, 87RBI, 24 2Bs.

Mystery Player 2, at Age 20, in Low A Ball: .324 BA, .389 OBP, .565 SLG. 17HR, 84 RBI, 32 2Bs.

Mystery Player 1 is Sweet Jesus Montero. Mystery Player 2?

That's right. Albert Pujols.

Jesus Montero is a 6'4", 225lb, 19 year old catching prospect from Venezuela and is touted as the best hitting prospect in the Yankees farm system since one Derek Sanderson Jeter, and not just by the Yankee fanbase. Baseball Prospectus ranked him a 5 star prospect, the best in the Yankees farm system, and had this to say about him:

Montero's bat falls into a special category. He has plus-plus raw power that he's learning to unleash in games, but he's first and foremost a hitter with a quick bat, tremendous plate coverage, and no weaknesses in terms of any pitch type or location. His plate discipline improved throughout the year and he began to drive the ball more, leading to a .344/.407/.534 batting line after the All-Star break.

.344/.407/.534. That's just sick. That's an OPS of .941 for a 19 year old.

ESPN Insider Keith Law had this to say about Montero in his recent Top 100 Prospects rankings:

Montero's a catcher in name only, but his bat is very promising. Montero played the whole year at 18 in the Sally League and had no problem making consistent contact. He has a quick bat and takes a healthy cut, with plus raw power that's around average in-game right now. He extends his arms well for good plate coverage, adjusting well to off-speed stuff so far, but doesn't have much patience and will have to work the count more as the quality of pitching improves. Behind the plate, he has an average arm but his throwing motion is long and it takes forever for him to get from the crouch to his release. He's already enormous for a catcher, listed at 6-4, 225 pounds, and is only going to outgrow the position with time, but his bat will play at first base.

This gets to the essential problem with Jesus Montero. The Yankees will need a new catcher about the time Jesus is ready to break into the bigs, but Jesus' gigantic frame and defensive difficulties suit him better for first base. The Yankees just signed a 1B to an eight-year deal. Don't know if you heard.

His height and size don't automatically disqualify him for the catcher position. After all, Joe Mauer is 6'5". So the question is whether Montero can become merely average defensively behind the plate. If he can, the Yankees will have a tremendous asset, a Wieters-like power-hitting catcher. As Baseball Prospectus writes:

There's little doubt that he's going to hit; the question is how much value will he have at the game's most demanding offensive position.

In sum, the Yankees are looking to have a serious impact bat in Single A, a power-hitting catcher with an incredible bat. The question for now seems to be whether he can stay at catcher. In the mean time, let's enjoy the fireworks.

Sweet Jesus Montero will be added to the daily Prospect Roundup.

Action really starts at the 1:34/1:35 mark. Note where that ball lands. I wish I had a better video to embed. If you want, you can also see him at the Futures Game right here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Prospect Roundup: The Return of the Wieters

Matt Wieters resumed his inevitable march towards Major League dominance last night after deciding with the power of his mind that he would not be injured any longer.

Wieters: 1/4, a single. No BBs, 1K. 1R.
Brackman, Price, Feliz: DNP.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Best Brawls: #3 Hunter v. Baez

Date: Wednesday, July 17th, 2002 - Jacobs Field in Cleveland

The Catalyst:
In the fifth inning of their virtually meaningless mid-July game (Cleveland was 42-50 coming in and Minnesota was running away with the division) the Cleveland starting pitcher, Danny Baez, plunked Torii Hunter on the left side to which Hunter took great offense. Why was he so angry you ask? He had been hit on the left side three times that week and apparently the third time was too much. Hunter walked halfway down the line to where the ball, conveniently, lay. Hunter proceeded to pick up the ball, yell a few words out to Baez, and then threw a fastball right at Baez which hit him in the leg. Needless to say, both benches cleared in record time, but the incident did not escalate and no additional fighting insued.

The Outcome:
So I'm not sure this qualifies as a brawl, there have certainly been worse incidents, but it is funny. I have to imagine that there haven't been many instances of a batter throwing a ball back at the pitcher. Anyway, Hunter was suspended for three games, no others were suspended or fined, both players apologized to one another and the event passed with little other fanfare than a SportsCenter highlight.

The true highlight of the night was Ron Gardenhire's comments after the game. You can't make this stuff up: "Torii is an emotional player. I just think he was giving the ball back, that's all."

I searched the internet up and down for a video of this hilarity or even a picture, nothing. Sorry, I'd love to see it again myself.

Rickey Says: Great Moments in Rickey Henderson History

One day Rickey Henderson was playing an away game in Seattle. He struck out. As he walked by to the bench, the next batter heard Rickey say: "It's ok Rickey, you're still the best".

h/t faniq

Prospect Roundup

Price, Wieters, Feliz and Brackman all DNP. We need to add some hitters to this list.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Olney on Strasburg, the Nats and the Devil (or Scott Boras)

Buster Olney blogs about whether Strasburg is the runaway, no-brainer #1 pick, what it might take the Nationals to sign him, and how much influence Scott Boras and his money-grubbing little paws will have on the process. Interesting read - Olney throws out a preliminary number of six years, 20 million, with a huge (remains to be seen how huge) signing bonus.

Giambi back in town

This is a hilarious story about Jason Giambi, via The Blogfather of NYY, Peter Abraham. Click through and check it out.

Rickey Says: Great Moments in Rickey Henderson History

In June 1999, when Henderson was playing with the Mets, he saw reporters running around the clubhouse before a game. He asked a teammate what was going on and he was told that Tom Robson, the team’s hitting coach, had just been fired. Henderson said, “Who’s he?”

H/t faniq.com

Prospect Watch

David Price - 5 IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 5Ks. Not a bad outing. The IP looked low to me, so I checked out the game box score. Price only threw 71 pitches, which means he's either on an innings count or a pitch count. Smart move by Tampa.

Neftali Perez - 3 IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 2K. It happens. Put the call-up on hold for now.

Brackman, Wieters and Strasburg all DNP.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Peep this Prospect: Patrick Schuster

Who is Patrick Schuster you say? This kid recently accomplished something no one else in the state of Florida has ever done – pitched four, count 'em, four no hitters in a row. (Insanely, that's not the national record, however, which is six). Naysayers may be thinking, yeah, it's still high school baseball and maybe he was pitching against some pretty weak competition, but that's a damn impressive feat at any level. He's already signed on to pitch at the University of Florida, but it remains to be seen whether he'll forgo a college career and enter the draft. Schuster's draft stock has obviously risen dramatically over these last four starts (there were approximately two dozen pro scouts in attendance for the most recent) but let's take a look at how he shapes up as a prospect.

Schuster is a 6'3”, 170 lb lefty that consistently works around 88-90 mph with his fastball (for an interesting article about average pitch velocity and how there are actually very few pitchers that consistently work in the mid-90's, despite what TV analysts may say, see here). His low ¾ arm angle and cross-body release gives his fastball a lot of late movement and makes his pitches a little more deceptive, but it remains to be seen whether his mechanics will need to be tweaked at the next level. Schuster also sports a biting slider that he uses as an out pitch and a changeup that he locates well.

As you would expect, you have to be missing a lot of bats to chalk up four no-hitters in a row, and Schuster has a dominating K/9 rate of 18, having struck out 110 batters in only 55 innings this season. However, walks have been somewhat of a concern, as coming into his most recent start he had 23BB in only 46IP. With the scouts in attendance, though, he punched out 17 and only walked one, perhaps a sign that his control is improving. His BAA this season is a measly .054, and he is currently 8-0 on the season with an ERA of 0.64.

Baseball America ranks him as a four-star prospect, and even before his no-hit streak began he was listed at number 79 on their top 100 overall prospects list. Should he choose to enter the draft, he'd be a likely second or third-round selection, and he's said that the only chance he'll end up at Florida is if he isn't taken within the first five rounds and doesn't get a sizeable signing bonus. We'll have to wait and see.

Which Ones are the Great Ones?

I've been thinking over the past couple of days while I've been in the car listening to baseball games or watching them on TV, who are the great players, right now, who will be Hall of Famers in 15-20 years? Some names are obvious and come to mind quickly like Albert Pujols, Ken Griffey Jr., or Johan Santana, but there are some other players who are in the twilight of their career or who are just blossoming who are worth watching and who may someday be among the greatest of all time. I don't necessarily want to talk about the "no-doubters" here, I want to shed light on some of the overlooked or those who may surprise you with their stats. As my guide, I'll use Baseball-Reference's Hall of Fame Calculator and player comparison tool. Today's feature is: Todd Helton.

According to Baseball Reference, Helton is one of the those players who are borderline Hall of Fame material and he makes a perfect candidate for what I'm trying to do here. 5 years ago, Helton was fantasy baseball gold. He hit for average, he hit for power and he was dependable. Over the past few years, he has gotten hurt some and he has started to show his age (he'll be 36 this year). Some people have started to forget just how offensively awesome Helton was though:

1672 Career Games (so far)
Lifetime .328 hitter
He'll pass 2,000 hits this year
1,121 career RBI
310 career HRs
.427 Career OBP
1,146 career Runs
.996 Career Fielding %
3-time Gold Glove Winner
4-time Silver Slugger
Batted .372 in 2000

Now, he's not going to blow you away in any of those categories, but if you look as his body of work as a whole, you get the picture of a consistent player who has, somewhat quietly, put together a way-above-average career. Just looking at the numbers, Baseball-Reference compares Helton to the likes of Johnny Mize, Chuck Klein, Hank Greenberg, and Joe DiMaggio, all Hall-of-famers themselves. I think ultimately, Helton's recent decline back into baseball obscurity may hurt his chances at the Hall of Fame, but he is nevertheless a player who is still playing right now who has the credentials to make it. Just look at the form...

Nady Rehabbing

Turns out Nady isn't out for the year. He's going to try to rehab the injury. Quick, to the Fantasy Waiver Wire!

Prospect Roundup

Since I just added Andrew Brackman to our Peep this Prospect series, it is only right to discuss what he has done so far this year. Keep in mind from our earlier discussion that the BBs are important, as are the Ks. Those are really the numbers I'm looking at when I'm evaluating prospects this year - ability to keep guys off base, and strike them out.

April 9th: 5 IP, 5H, 5ER, 3BB, 5Ks.

April 15: 5 IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 4Ks.

April 20: 6 IP, 5H, 2ER, 0BB, 8Ks.

On the season: 16IP, 14H, 9ER, 5BB, 17Ks. That's a 5.06 ERa, a K/9 of over 9, and a K/BB ratio of 17/5, or 3.2/1. The reduction of walks is so incredibly huge for Brackman.

EDIT: Mike Axisa from RAB says that Brackman's 4/20 outing was cut short by rain.

Peep this Prospect: Andrew Brackman

Meet Andrew Brackman.

Andrew Brackman was a dual-sport athlete in high school, excelling at both basketball and baseball. As a pitcher, he posted a 1.04 ERA his senior year, and Baseball America named him the 4th best prospect in Ohio for the 2004 draft. Brackman went to NC state, where he played both basketball and baseball.

In his freshman year at NC State, he was fantastic: 4-0 with a 2.09 ERA in 10 appearances as a reliever and a starter. A hip fracture caused Brackman to miss his sophomore year, but his dominant performance in the Cape Cod Summer League earned him acclamation. In his junior year, he was back to his old tricks, putting up a 3.81 ERA over 78 innings, striking out 74 in 13 games. Brackman missed the end of the 2007 season, though, with elbow injuries. Due to concerns about his past injuries, Brackman was a hotly debated prospect in the 2007 draft. His upside, some said, was worthy of a top 15 pick. But Brackman remained a very risky pick.

Enter the Yankees. New York drafted Brackman with the 30th pick of the 1st round, and Yankees fans rejoiced. Soon after, Brackman signed a 4 yr, 4.55M deal with a $3.35 million signing bonus. The deal included team options for 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Shortly after signing, Brackman underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2007. This was no surprise to interested watchers. He made his first affiliated starts this past winter in the Hawaiian Winter League, with mixed results: 34 IP, 31H, 5.56 ERA, 25 BB, 36Ks. The walks were high, but typical for pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery. This spring, the Yankees assigned Brackman to Low A Charleston for his first full season of professional ball.

Andrew Brackman is 6'11", although some say he is closer to 7'0". He initially weighed 270 lb, but dropped down to 230lb over the past season with a renewed focus on conditioning and training. As Tyler Kepner noted, only five pitchers in major league history have been as tall as him. With tall pitchers, the biggest concern is creating repeatable mechanics and synchronizing all parts of the delivery. This will be paramount for Brackman this year. Here is a lovely slow-mo 3B-side video of him pitching for NC State.

Andrew Brackman slowmo

He doesn't have the worst mechanics in the world for a giant freak of a pitcher but it does seem like his arm is late and drags through the plane. Of course, it is only one clip of one pitch.

Now to the fun stuff: the upside. Mostly everyone agrees that the perfect-world scenario for Andrew Brackman is an unquestioned #1 starter, a pure ace. He has the stuff and the size to be one of the best pitchers in the game. People have always known this - he was a candidate for the top pick in 2007, over David Price. Virtually no one expected Brackman to slide as far as he did. Mike Axisa from the estimable River Ave Blues put it thusly:

RE: Brackman. I know all about him, but I’m not overly thrilling considering his limited track record (just 70 IP career at NC State). That said, I think there’s a better chance the Yanks will draft Jesus Christ than have Brackman fall all the way to 30.

Brackman's repetoire is a four-seam fastball that usually sits between 94-96 mph, and occasionally hits 99. Yowza. He also throws a good 2-seamer with late life. His knuckle-curve comes in at 78-81 mph, and may be his best pitch. It rates an 80 on the 20-80 scouting scale. Brackman also throws a changeup. Don't forget - he's taller than Randy Johnson so he is virtually on top of hitters before he releases the ball.

This is why NoMaas' Lane Meyer was so unbelievably pumped when the Yankees got Brackman. The entire piece is too long to blockquote, so I'll pick out the best parts. The whole thing is worth reading, though.

Brackman wasn't just a "top talent” like any other draft pick, he was a "unique talent," too. Every year there are pitchers in the MLB draft that throw in the upper 90s, and they are considered the cream of the crop – the top talent available. Every year there are also the unique talents, too; the guys that have an advantage over the rest of their peers simply because of the way they are constructed physically. Most often, those players that are uniquely talented regarding their body types are not the top talents in the draft based on their raw performance skills. Teams may be interested in a guy because he’s 6’8” and throws in the low 90s, because they see his unique talent (size) and perceive the chance to work with him to raise the performance talent (his velocity) to an elite level. Conversely, there are players (think Daniel Bard) that draw interest from a “top talent” perspective, but aren’t unique from their peers from a developmental standpoint going forward – they don’t have anything about them physically that causes them to be seen as more intriguing than a similar performance talent.

This is what has me so excited. Brackman is both a unique talent, in that he stands nearly seven feet tall, and an elite performance talent seeing as he sits in the mid 90s, topping out around 99 mph. His height can be a plus because the ball is released much closer to the plate than it is from a normal-sized pitcher, and thus gives the batter that much less time to execute a task that already pushes the limit of a human being’s reflexes and reaction time. This is why the Mariners were so excited about Ryan Anderson. This is one of the major reasons that Padres 6’10” pitcher Chris Young, despite sitting in the 88-92 range, is able to blow a fastball by Major League hitters. This is the reason that when Randy Johnson was in his prime hitters had almost no chance at catching up to his heater. A 97 MPH fastball thrown by Brackman from a release point nearly a foot closer to the plate is the equivalent of a normal-sized pitcher throwing 100 MPH or more.


HOWEVER, despite all of the potential pitfalls along the way, it is impossible to argue that Brackman has not only elite talent, but also a uniqueness physically; he literally has almost no comparables in the history of the sport. That is why he is so exciting to think about now. Originally the worries were about whether or not he would need surgery. Well, he did, he had it, and is now on the mend. The guessing game over his health is concluded, and what’s left is a prospect with a higher ceiling than perhaps any minor leaguer in any organization. Sure, that designation is nebulous, but when you consider everything already discussed here, it is difficult to think that any other player could have a greater upside than him.


He is going to be the single most fun prospect to follow in the coming months, regardless of the ultimate outcome of his career. If he fails it’s not because the Yankees made a terrible decision, it is because the flaws that every prospect has prevented him from developing. It is for the same reasons that the majority of first-round picks never amount to anything significant. However if he succeeds…oh man if he succeeds…

Now you know Andrew Brackman. We will be following him all year long.

Prospect Roundup

Every day we will bring you the news about our featured prospects. So far we are following David Price, Matt Wieters, Neftali Feliz and Stephen Strasburg. Let's see what they did yesterday:

Price: DNP
Wieters: DNP (hamstring)
Feliz: DNP
Strasburg: DNP

A giant kettle of nothing. Keep your eyes peeled for more Peep This Prospect segments.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hey Harold, Your Cell is Ringing

[On the set of MLB Tonight, Harold Reynolds' cell starts ringing. The tune is Hot N Cold. The caller is Bud Selig]

BUD: Harold. Bud Selig.

HAROLD: See, here's a guy that wants my autograph. Hey there Bud. What's good?

BUD: Harold, you work for the MLB Network right? The MLB NETWORK? Amirite? Uh huh. The reason I ask is because I'm not sure my ears heard me right. Can you repeat, a little louder, what you said about Nationals fans going to games?

HAROLD: I uh...Let's see here...What time...

BUD: You said, "Plus the game is on TV. Why go?" Yeah, great fuckin idea Harold. Let's all just fuck up our shit, shall we? Why stop there? Tell 'em to to pack bag lunches and share MLB.com password info on internet forums. Goddamn! I like you Harold, sexual harassment tendencies and all. Stick with what you know best. Go ahead. Give it a try. Tell me what you thought about Zimmerman tonight...

HAROLD: Well, here's a guy that started a major league baseball game, and he went out there and threw the innings.

BUD: PEEEERFECT. Time for my shower. I'm feelin better.

He was once a feared and loathsome hitter...

Now he is nothing more than an empty shell...Screenshot courtesy of me and Google Chrome.

Strasburg Must Be Getting Bored

The kid threw a complete game shutout on Friday night, striking out 14.

He is now 8-0 on the season. Ready for his season stats? READY?

63.1 IP
41 Hits
10 Runs
9 Earned Runs
12 Walks
121 K
1.28 ERA

It is difficult to state how good this is. He is almost striking out 2 batters per inning. His K/9 rate is 17.28. His K/BB is 121/12, or 10.09 batters fanned per 1 walked. The draft is less than 2 months away...


Neftali Feliz made his second start of the season on April 16th. Over 5 IP, Feliz let in 2 ER while walking 2, and giving up 3 hits. He struck out 5, which means his K/9 rate is exactly 9.

Check this nice little writeup on Feliz over at Bleacher Report. Maybe Feliz is about to follow Holland to the 'pen.

Linkage for 4/20

Here's some cool shit I found whilst cruising the interwebs...

Fangraphs provides some analysis on Harden's bizarre three inning start last week. Apparently it was as rare as it was weird.

Tim Dierkes summarizes the issues facing the Yankees with 8% of the season behind us. Within that piece there is a note that Nady may not be done for the season after all.

The Rangers called up pitching prospect Derek Holland. He will work out of the pen for the 2009 season, Texas says. Don't see the wisdom in this, unless the Rangers are thinking they have a huge need in the pen, and are planning on competing.

Pitching Matchup of the Day

Derek Lowe vs. Jordan Zimmerman is today's Pitching Matchup of the Day.

Lowe has been excellent to start the season, and Jordan Zimmerman is making his Major League Debut.

Price Dominant

David Price took the hill for the AAA Durham Bulls last Thursday night and dominated the Atlanta Braves affiliate. His line:

5 IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 6K.

His line on the season is now 8.2 IP, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 10Ks.

Obviously its a small sample size, but that's a great K/BB ratio, and you have to love a K/9 over 10. How Jeff Niemann deserves a spot over him in Tampa's rotation, I have no clue.

Oh yeah, this is why:

Wieters Watch Update

As you are most assuredly aware, Matt Wieters injured his hamstring over the weekend. To be clear - if Matt Wieters injured his hamstring, he did it on purpose. Why he did this, I don't know. But I am sure that he has a reason.

On Thursday night, April 16, Wieters put up the following line:

2 for 5 with 1BB and 1K, 2R, 1HR and 1 RBI. Hit his first homer of the year, and raised the ole average to .261.

Friday night, April 17:

1 for 1, a single. Raises the average to .292. Intentionally pulls hamstring in order to execute master plan.

Saturday, April 18 and Sunday, April 19: DNP. It's possible that he is attending to a matter of national security. The word is that the injury is not too severe, and that he will be back in a matter of days. I waited with baited breath.

And we're back

Lotsa stuff on the way today

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pitching Matchup of the Day

King Felix vs Verlander. Has potential to be a good one.

Haren vs Sanchez is my runner-up. How scary would San Fran be if
Sanchez put it all together? Lincecum-Cain-Johnson-Zito-Sanchez.
That's mean.

Sent from my iPhone


Yo light blogging today. AK and I are both cruising from different
parts of the country to VA for a wedding. Good times but I hope they
have 3G coverage because there are some good games on that I will need
to follow.

Quick hit: how sick is Doc Halladay? All his pitches look the same til
they dart every which way at the last second. His curve is so nice.

Meanwhile I was in starbucks and this girl behind me ordered the

"um I want a ventay skim vanilla latte but I want protein in it and
like nine shots of espresso".

Sure thing. Keep it real, we will still check in from time to time.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Best Brawls: #4 Barrett v. Pierzynski 2006

May 20th, 2006 - Wrigley Field

The Preface:
I so wanted to save this gem for my final "Best Brawl," but I got impatient (aka lazy) and couldn't wait anymore. This is one of my all-time favorite fights because of one thing: It was the White Sox on the receiving end and of all the players in MLB, it was AJ Pierzynski. If you know me, you know that I absolutely loathe AJ I tried to enjoy a Twins game once at U.S. Cellular field and who comes in and fucks everything up with a go-ahead homerun for the White Sox?...that's right, AJ Pierzynski. He used to be with the Twins and I didn't like him then and I have even more reason to hate him now.

The Catalyst:
As almost any true baseball fan knows, the annual cross-town series between the Cubs and White Sox is a big deal every year. The teams hate each other, their fans hate each other, and it all usually goes down right in the middle of the year when everyone starts to feel like kung-fu fighting. 2006 was no exception. I couldn't give you the exact inning this all went down, but needless to say, Pierzynski was on 3rd and Brian Anderson hit a fly-ball that was sufficiently deep that the slow-legged AJ thought he could score. As the ball was caught he started for home and the throw easily beat him, but as a player should he plowed right into a waiting Michael Barrett. When the ump called him safe, AJ slapped the plate and Barrett didn't like that at all and got up in AJ's grill. Barrett proceeded to grab AJ, he wound up and decked AJ right in the ear. This sparked off a bench-clearing brawl which involved Scott Podsednik tackling Barrett, Brian Anderson started fighting with John Mabry (Cubs 1st basemen) and the crowd...well the crowd yelled because that's about all they can do. Dusty Baker probably sat there and frowned.

The Outcome:
The four players who threw punches were ejected (Pierzynski, Barrett, Anderson and Mabry) and Barrett received a fine and a 10-game suspension, which he appealed, but ended up serving anyway. Pierzynski got what he deserved, a punch right in the face, though I wish Barrett had a little better aim and had actually given the little bitch a black eye.

Peep this Prospect: Neftali Feliz

Meet Neftali Feliz. You don't know him yet, but you will.

21 years old, 6'3", 180 lbs, Feliz hails from the Dominican Republic and was traded to the Texas Rangers as a part of the original Mark Teixeira deal. The only thing is that Feliz might have more upside and long-term value than any other piece, Tex included, in that deal. Also note: Atlanta gave up Elvis Andrus, Texas current starting SS, in that same deal. Ouch.

Let's backtrack to 2007. As a 19 year old, Feliz spent time in short-season ball and rookie A ball. He pitched a total of 42 innings, striking out 55 and posting an ERA of 2.55 and a WHIP of 1.299. That's a K/9 rate of 11.7, and a K/BB rate of 2.29, mind you.

Accordingly, expectations were high for Feliz going into the 2008 season. It was to be his first full season of professional ball. It was expected that Feliz would be forced to make adjustments as he moved up the organizational chain and hitters got tougher. Yeah. So check out what he did in A ball:

82 IP, 106 Ks, 2.52 ERA, 1.012 WHIP, K/9 rate of 11.6, K/BB rate of 3.79.

So, facing better hitters, Feliz struck out more, put fewer on bases, and improved his K/BB ratio. Not half bad. Texas promoted him to AA ball midseason, and this was his line:

45 IP, 47 Ks, 2.98 ERA, 1.257 WHIP, K/9 rate of 9.3; K/BB rate of 2.04.

For a twenty year old in AA, those are some crazy good numbers. Texas started him out in AAA this year, and some expect him to be a full-time fixture in the rotation in 2010. Here is what Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein says about Feliz:

His highly anticipated full-season debut in '08 exceeded all expectations; Feliz dominated all the way up to Double-A, and now stands on the brink of making it to the major leagues...Feliz has one of the best pure arms in the minors, sitting in the mid- to upper 90s with his fastball, frequently touching triple digits, and also featuring late movement.
The scouting report on Feliz is that he throws a low 80s, 10-4 slurve, and a rudimentary changeup to compliment his plus-plus fastball. 2009 will be a good time for him to develop that crucial third pitch.

Here is a slow mo video of Feliz's delivery. It's free and easy, baby.

We are adding Feliz to the Wieters Watch, along with Price. He'll be loads of fun to watch in 2009. His first start:

4 IP, 4H, 6BB, 4Ks. No runs.

Wieters Watch and Price too!

David Price did not pitch for the Durham Bulls last night. I believe he is scheduled for tonight.

Matt Wieters: DNP. Uh. WTF?

Rickey Says: Great Moments in Rickey Henderson History

Recently elected to the Hall of Fame, Rickey Henderson was probably the greatest lead-off hitter and base stealer of all time. He had a phenomenal career, one that puts him in the top eschelon of players to ever step in between the chalk.

He was also a lunatic. A very funny lunatic. And from time to time, we'll recount some of the moments that made Ricky an all-time classic. Let's start with one you probably know well.

The day is May 1, 1991. Rickey Henderson is one stolen base away from passing Lou Brock's all-time stolen base record. He takes off, slides in, and the record is his. The game stops and Brock and assorted others come onto the field. Then Ricky uncorks this beauty of a speech, with Lou Brock standing right behind him:

"It took a long time, huh? [Pause for cheers] First of all, I would like to thank God for giving me the opportunity. I want to thank the Haas family, the Oakland organization, the city of Oakland, and all you beautiful fans for supporting me. [Pause for cheers] Most of all, I'd like to thank my mom, my friends, and loved ones for their support. I want to give my appreciation to Tom Trebelhorn and the late Billy Martin. Billy Martin was a great manager. He was a great friend to me. I love you Billy. I wish you were here. [Pause for cheers] Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing. But today, I'm the greatest of all time. Thank you"

Yes you are, Rickey. Yes you are. Henderson went on to steal 468 more bases, which left him 1 shy of 50% more than Brock.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Couldn't have drawn it up any better

As if on cue, MLB Network just went live to the Orioles-Rangers feed. Ian Kinsler needed a triple to get the cycle and whaddyaknow, he got it by hitting it into the right-center gap. Makes me wonder - was he trying to get the triple? Or just doing what he could with a belt high heater?

Regardless, first O-Dog, now Kinsler. Season's off to a good start...

Prospect Watch

AK47 and I have decided to create a permanent installment on this blog. From time to time, we're going to hip you to an MLB prospect. He may be rocking out in the bigs, he may be in Single A, he may be in high school (for reals). We'll introduce you to him, and then follow him regularly in a daily roundup. Like Wieters Watch, but with others.

Keep ya eyes peeled.

MLB Network

How kickass is MLB Network? Live lookins, replays of out of market games, no Steve Phillips, no Joe Morgan, no John Kruk, no Peter Gammons...

How did I watch baseball highlights before this?

The Saga of David Price

Vanderbilt Pitching Record: 22-10, 3.23 ERA, 313 IP, 238H, 441K
2008 Minor League Record: 12-1, 2.30 ERA, 109.2 IP, 92H, 109K
2008 Major League Record: 0-0, 1.93 ERA, 14.0 IP, 9H, 12K (doesn't include postseason)

By now everyone knows that David Price was sent down the minors to start the year at the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays (Durham Bulls) because the Rays didn't want to "move his progress along too quickly." In other words, he's arbitration-eligible earlier than if he started the year with the big-league club, so they'll keep him in the minors for a month to a month and a half, ultimately saving them money down the road. This logic behind this decision shows you why Tampa Bay has been so terrible for so long. Instead of bringing up some proven talent to help them win now, they go for the 'saving-money' route which, in a tight AL-east race, may end up costing them a 2nd trip to the playoffs come October.

It's kinda funny, I wrote yesterday about the perils of drafting a pitcher in the first few picks of a draft, oddly enough Price was drafted #1 by the Rays in 2007. He had previously been drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers out of high school, but chose to go to college instead.

He has three pitches, a mid-90s fastball, a slider in the mid-to-upper 80s that he likes to throw as a strikeout pitch, and a so-so changeup. The bottomline with Price is that he has not only proven that he can pitch in the major leagues, but also that he can pitch on a big stage. He threw the final 4 outs of a game 7 ALCS win against the Red Sox in 2008 and threw 2 1/2 innings of relief (2ERs) in game 2 of the World Series and picked up a save. All this just goes to show that Tampa is really only concerned about money with him. I expect to see him back in the Majors by the end of May. As far as the whole 1st pick pitcher thing goes, time will tell. He has looked good so far and once he is a regular in the Tampa Bay rotation, we'll see what he's got.

Best Brawls: #5 - 2003 ALCS Yankees v. Red Sox

October 11th, 2003 - Game 3 of the ALCS

The Catalyst:
The first salvo was Pedro Martinez hitting Karim Garcia in the top of the 4th which resulted in an argument between the two players and the benches clearing, setting the stage for fireworks in the bottom of the 4th. In the bottom of the 4th, Roger Clemens throws high and inside to Manny Ramirez which sends both benching pouring onto the field and punches are thrown. Just as things were settling down, Don Zimmer comes charging out of the Yankess dugout and in one of the funniest moments I've ever seen, Pedro grabs Don Zimmer by his usually large melon and flings him to the ground...which of course leads to more mayhem. And not to be outdone, towards the end of the game, Garcia, Yankee pitcher Jeff Nelson and the groundskeeper for the Red Sox (wtf?) get into a brawl out in the bullpens. It was a wild and enjoyable game and really, how could you have a series about baseball brawls without starting with the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Outcome:
Zimmer was taken off the field in a stretcher and checked out at the hospital (nothing serious, cut on his nose), Karim Garica suffered a cut on his hand in the bullpen scuffle and was replaced. The Yankees won the game and eventually went on to win the series (Aaron Boone's walk off homer in the 11th inning of game 7), numerous players were fined as a result of the scuffle but no one was suspended.

**Sidenote: I'll try to get video of these things in future additions of Best Brawls but for now, if you're dying to see it again, look it up on YouTube or GoogleVideo.

Wieters Watch

Future greatest catcher of all time Matt Wieters had another so-so night last night. Facing the Charlotte Knights he went 1-3 with a single and a walk. His batting AVG is now .222.

In Defense of Swish

This past winter, Brian Cashman traded Wilson Betemit and assorted castoffs to the White Sox for Nick Swisher and his 22.5M/3 yr contract. Given the fact that the Yankees had no first baseman to speak of at the time, and that Wilson Betemit was obtained from the Dodgers in exchange for Scott Proctor's worn-out elbow, Yankees fans met this news with much rejoicing. But why? After all, this was Swisher's 2008 offensive line:

.219/.332/.410 (AVG/OBP/SLG, aka Tripleslash)
24 HR, 69 RBI over 496 ABs.

That AVG and OBP aren't anything to get too pumped up about. Once the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira, it became evident that the OF was crowded, and that there would be a position battle in RF between Swish and Xavier Nady. Some thought Nady should have the spot automatically, given his 2008 line:

25 HR, 97 RBI over 555 ABs.

So, which one is better? And is AK47 right when he says "God save the Yankees with Nick Swisher is the starting RF?" I respectfully submit that he is mistaken, and that Nick Swisher is the better player in virtually every respect.

Firstly, I think its easy to dismiss the RBI totals. For one, they are largely a function of lineup placement and OBP skills of other batters. Nick Swisher batted leadoff for the White Sox many times in 08, and Nady hit in the middle of the order for both the Yankees and the Pirates. Switch it up, and give Swisher 50 more ABs like Nady, and I think the RBI totals equalize. Plus, RBI isn't exactly a skill stat, so its really not all that important, truth be told.

Secondly, it is easy to see that Nady had a career year in 2008, out of line with past performance, and Swisher significantly underperformed his past performance.

Swisher - .262/.381/.485; 22 HR, 78 RBIs over 539 ABs
Nady - .278/.330/.476; 20 HR, 70 RBIs over 431 ABs

Swisher - .254/.372/.493; 35 HR, 95 RBIs over 556 ABs
Nady - .280/.337/.453; 17 HR, 63 RBIs over 468 ABs

Now for their 162 game average, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:
Swisher - .246/.356/.460; 28 HR, 88 RBI
Nady - .280/.335/.458; 21 HR, 78 RBI

Now for their OPS+, which neutralizes park factor and league strength (defined here at The Hardball Times):
Swisher - 114
Nady - 108

So, what we are seeing is that Nady's 2008 performance is largely out of line with past performance (his OPS+ was 128 in 08, had never topped 107 in any prior year). On the whole, Nick Swisher gets on base a fair bit more than Nady and their SLG is about equal. Of course, Nady has a remarkable platoon split, meaning he hits lefties way better than righties, whereas Swisher is a switch-hitter and hits both righties and lefties fairly equally (this splits are actually bizarre; he slugs better against righties, but gets on base better against lefties).

Now to the defense. According to defensive guru John Dewan, defense is worth approximately half as much as offense. He labelled this the most significant discovery of his career. We will use the Fielding Bible's Plus/Minus system and look at their defensive stats in RF.

Swisher -
2008: +1
2007: +6

Nady -
2008: -4
2007: -2

Not extreme differences, but its pretty clear Swisher is the better defensive player.

The Yankees gave Nady the RF job out of Spring Training, but I think it should have gone to Swisher. He is better offensively and defensively, and is more versatile. He's also due for a bounceback year in a big way, but that's another post.

Nady is better than just a bench player, but on this Yankees team I would like to see Swisher starting every day, with Nady filling in late in games and starting against strong left-handed pitchers. Thanks to Nady's unfortunate injury, the Yankees may have no choice.


Reports out of Tampa last night indicated that Xavier Nady experienced a "sharp pain" in his right elbow when throwing in the ball after Carlos Pena's RBI single in the seventh inning. Peter Abraham notes that Nady had Tommy John surgery in 2001.

Not so bold prediction: Nady is out for quite some time. This further cements Nick Swisher as a permanent fixture in the Yankees lineup, as he will no doubt take over RF duties.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Stephen Strasburg: Wunderkind or Big Gamble?

This is what you see, as a batter, right before Strasburg throws his high 90's (some say even low-100's) fastball by you or, if you've just seen his fastball, his devastating breaking ball. 

The big question out there right now among baseball minds is this: is Strasburg worth picking #1? The Washington Post came out with a fine article chronicling the very lackluster history of pitchers who have been taken as the #1 pick in drafts since 1965 (when the draft began). To sum up the article's point quickly, 13 teams have chosen a pitcher with their #1 pick, 9 of them were duds, the four who weren't duds: Andy Benes, Tim Belcher, Mike Moore and Floyd Bannister...not exactly a "knock your socks off list." In other words, of the 13 teams who chose a pitcher 1st in the draft, none of them lived up to the hype, not a single one.  In fact, as the Post's article goes on to say, no pitcher taken within the first 5 picks of ANY draft has even become a Hall of Famer...that's 102 pitchers taken within the first 5 picks since 1965 and none of them became a Hall of Famer. I'm sure some of them were decent, but none of them are memorable names. Some are saying Strasburg is the best amatuer they've ever seen and on and on, accolade after accolade, fact of the matter is, he's going against the grain if he is picked early and chances are, he won't buck the trend.

So, a fastball to rival Zumaya (Joel threw the fastest pitch ever recorded, by the way, at 104 m.p.h.), a complimentary breaking ball made more devastating by the speed of the fastball, and all of the potential in the world, but in an opinion I share with others, not a top 5 pick.

Strasburg's last start?
6.0 IP

I'll keep you posted on how he does until draft time.

The WORST Batter of All-time

So I can't take credit for this, I was listening to Mike & Mike on my way to work and they brought this to my attention. They dicovered the worst batter of all time, his name is Daniel Cabrera and it's no surprise, he's a pitcher for the terrible Washington Nationals. Check out his career batting line: 17ABs, 0Hs, 0BBs, 0R, 0RBI, 17Ks, 2SH. Every time he has been at the plate, he has struck out, save for the two times he managed to move a runner over via bunt. He's so bad he has a negative OPS. Here's to you, Daniel Cabrera, you suck at pitching too, but not nearly as much as you suck at hitting.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Naming Props

Before we get too involved here, props go out to my wife, Leslie, for her help in coming up with the name for this blog. I like phrases that have dual meaning and this one fits perfectly.

The Roller Coaster Ride has Begun

I was sitting in my apartment on Friday night enjoying the ending of an absolute drubbing that the Twins were laying on the White Sox. I was on cloud nine, drink in hand, high-fiving my wife as the Twins just kept scoring...fast-forward to Sunday afternoon, the Twins had already lost Saturday's game but I was confident that they could win the rubber-game and salvage the series. No dice. Buehrle was dealing, only allowed a run through 6 1/3rd innings, Twins lost the game and the series and now I'm down again, wondering if my team is good enough to make it to the playoffs this year, already questioning, after only a week of the season, if the offense is going to be able to score consistently and whether the pitching staff will be as good as it was last year. The roller-coaster ride has begun.

On a side note, just to show that I don't just watch the Twins, did anyone see Reed Johnson's catch to rob Prince Fielder of a grand slam last night, it was a beauty.