Monday, June 29, 2009

Ghosts in Milwaukee?

Thanks to Over the Baggy for the following about a supposedly haunted hotel in Milwaukee. The idea of Adrian Beltre sleeping with a bat is pretty funny if you ask me.

"Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had a late night room change at 3 AM in Milwaukee after what he thought was a ghost in his room. This is not an out of the ordinary charge at the Pfister Hotel. This old, but luxurious, hotel in downtown Milwaukee is over 116-years-old and has been the guests of visiting ballclubs for years. Numerous clubs have noted strange noises - Adrian Beltre, then a Dodger, slept with his bat in his bed the entire night. A few Marlins bunked together out of fear of the paranormal. Other guests claim they have seen the images of the hotel's first owner Charles Pfister overlooking the grand lobby. Carlos Gomez had a run in with the hotel a year ago when his iPod kept mysteriously turning on from across the room."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Joe Mauer Might be the Second Coming of Christ

That's right folks, you heard it here first, Jesus decided to have a little more fun the second time around and go by the name Joe and be a better baseball player than the world has ever seen. I'm grateful that He came back and decided to play for the Twins, though I'm slightly baffled as to why He didn't help the Cubs out,...oh yeah, that's right, He hates the Cubs.

In all seriousness though, people, it's time to start paying attention. I know we're in the middle of June, but Joe "The Man" Mauer is hitting .429 through his first 156 at-bats this season and has shown no signs of slowing down. He's hit safetly in 10 of his last 17 ABs, and 17 of his last 34 ABs. He could go 0-fer in his next ten at bats and still be hitting over .400.

In the post-steriod era, this is the kind of thing we're going to be looking forward to, players chasing .400 or chasing the SB record. This is pretty exciting though because when McGwire passed Maris for the HR title in 1998, it had only been 37 years since the previous record was set. However, it has been 68 years since the last .400 hitter in baseball (Ted Williams, .406, 1941). The closest we've seen in the past 30 years was Tony Gwynn who, when the players went on strike that year, was hitting .394.

By no means, am I saying that Mauer is a lock to hit .400, there are still 3 1/2 months of the season to be played, but I am saying that if anyone in the Majors right now has a shot, it's him. He's about as consistent a hitter as there has been in the last 50 years in Major League Baseball and he's looking 100% healthy which is really the key for Mauer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Take a look at those mechanics PART THREE

So I'm in a post-lunch malaise, which usually means I can only think, talk and type about baseball. Definitely no working. So it is time to do another roundup of pitching mechanics. "What's this?" you say. "Two posts in one day? Are you feeling OK?"

FUCK YOU! I like mechanics and if that motivates me to post more than once a day then you should say thank you and go on your way. Without further ado, I present the National League West. Lotta good ones here.

San Francisco Giants
TIMMAY! - MEH. But somehow he continues to defy all reasonable expectations, including a Verducci Effect sophomore slump. He's never been injured, so maybe he'll just stay the Freak.
Matt Cain - HATE. Timing flaws galore, overly raised elbow.
Randy Johnson - MEH
Barry Zito - MEH. He has the classic "hung arm", tension-in-the-wrist pose. But he's never suffered any injury, so I'm thinking that he doesn't have a severe timing problem.
Jonathan Sanchez - MEH

Los Angeles Dodgers
Chad Billingsley - HATE with the fury of a thousand suns. Chad Billingsley will hurt his arm. I am sure of it. Mark my words down on paper with ink.
Randy Wolf - LOVE
Clayton Kershaw - LOVE LOVE LOVE. Gorgeous. Like in a textbook.
Hiroki Kuroda - LOVE. Short, compact delivery just like Dice BB.

Arizona Diamondbacks
Brandon Webb - MEH. Looks a bit like Sonnannstine out there.
Danny Haren - LOVE to MEH. A weird delivery, he pauses for a long time over the rubber. I am a bit concerned about the inverted L you can see as he strides towards home, but like Zito I don't see a clear timing flaw. Here is some gorgeous slow-mo footage of him in a wind-up. You will only enjoy it if you enjoy slow-mo, frame-by-frame look at mechanics (which is the only way to truly evaluate them).

Doug Davis - MEH
Max Scherzer - HATE. But everyone knows that.

Colorado Rockies
Jason Marquis - LOVE
Ubaldo Jimenez - MEH. Too whippy. Extremely long arm action, like Ben Sheets or Mark Melancon.
Aaron Cook - MEH

San Diego Padres
Jake Peavy - HATE.
Chris Young - MEH.
No other player on the Padres is worth thinking about.

Rising Star: Pablo Sandoval

You're looking at a side-by-side of Pablo Sandoval and Prince Fielder, the two combined, could probably eat a restaurant out of food. They are BIG boys, Fielder a bonafide star (his his first grand-slam last night) and one a quickly rising star.

Pablo Sandoval (22 yrs. old, 5'11", 245lbs.) broke into the majors with the Giants late in the 2008 campaign playing 41 games for the Giants and hitting a robust .345 in 145 ABs. So far in his young career the Giants have had him splitting time between 3rd base, catcher and 1st base. What is surprising about Sandoval, especially given his obvious talent for hitting, is how many years he spent in the minors. He was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and spent the next 6 years advancing as far as AA ball. He had a staggering 1,899 minor league at-bats compiling a .303/.342/.445 line. With this type of hitting consistency it's not surprising that Sandoval made the jump from AA to the Majors but it is surprising how long it took.

Three things stand out to me about this guy:
a) the dude can absolutely hit the ball. Through 58 games so far this year he's hitting .332 with 8 HRs and 17 2B. He has been a consistent .300+ hitter throughout his minor and major league career and his .886 OPS through 99 major league games shows that he's got some pop to go with that 245 lb. frame.
b) He's surprisingly agile for his size. So far in his major league career he has played 48 games at 3rd base, 34 games at 1st base and 14 games at Catcher,...he's only committed two errors during all that time in 447 chances. He's also hit 2 triples this year and one last year. He's no 'speedy gonzalez' but looks decieve. Oh yeah, another cool thing, he's a switch hitter and a switch thrower.
c) HE IS YOUNG. He's 22, and looks to have a long career ahead of him.

So keep your eye out for this young rising star, he hit 2 HRs in last night's game against the Anaheim Angels with 4RBI. He's about as close to a solid threat that the Giants have in their lineup and looks to be fixture in the Majors for years to come.

Mechanics Part 2

Today I will continue my rundown of my likes and dislikes of the mechanics of each starter in the bigs. Last time out we looked at the NL East. Today we will look at the AL East.

CC Sabathia - LOVE. Like Hamels, a dream.
AJ Burnett - HATE. So many things wrong.
Chien-Ming Wang - used to be a LOVE, now its a HATE. The change no doubt affects his performance. He's dragging his arm late through the zone, which puts greater stress on the shoulder and decreases his ability to effect downward sink on the ball. Thus, tired arm, no sinking fastball.
Andy Pettitte - LOVE.
Joba Chamberlain - MEH. Can't decide on ole Jobber.
Phil Hughes - used to be LOVE, now its a MEH. His arm seems late through the zone too. Scary.

Red Sox
Josh Beckett - MEH. Elevates the pitching elbow a bit too high for my liking.
Jon Lester - LOVE. He's due for a down year because of the Verducci Effect, but I like his long-term chances. And it saddens me.
Dice BB - LOVE. Looks a lot like Kuroda mechanics-wise. Very sound.
Brad Penny - HATE. Like Rich Harden, opens his body early and decreases his ability to generate torque with his lower half. This puts greater strain on the arm.
Tim Wakefield - LOVE. Whatever, honestly.
Clay Buchholz - MEH. See Phil Hughes, same concerns.

Scott Kazmir - HATE.
James Shields - LOVE
David Price - LOVE. In my top 5 of mechanics-love
Andy Sonnannstine - HATE.
Jeff Niemann - HATE. Not long for this world...

Blue Jays
Roy Halladay - LOVE
Brian Tallet - MEH
Ricky Romero - MEH
Shawn Marcum - HATE
Scott Richmond - MEH
Casey Janssen - MEH

Jeremy Guthrie - LOVE
Everyone else will be gone next year.

Friday, June 12, 2009

"I'm not crazy about his mechanics..."

Recently DomeDog and I were having a friendly conversation about a baseball player and I remarked that I disliked said player's pitching mechanics. He responded by calling me a mechanics nazi. This is probably a fair charge. But then I realized that it is possible that some people think I'm full of shit about mechanics, because I never lay it all out there at once. So, I have decided to publish, division by division, team by team, which MLB starting pitchers I love and which starting pitchers I hate. Mechanically speaking. I'm also including a "meh" list, because there are some that I cannot decide on. We will start with...NL East.

The New York Metropolitans

Johan Santana - MEH. Elevates the elbow above the pitching shoulder, but doesn't seem to suffer injury. One of the more perplexing ones out there.
John Maine - HATE.
Oliver Perez - MEH.
Livan Hernandez - LOVE. Makes me sick to say so.
Mike Pelfrey - LOVE. Sad that they've overworked him so far.

Philadelphia Phillies
Cole Hamels - LOVE. Like a dream.
Jamie Moyer - LOVE. Dude is doin something right.
Brett Myers - LOVE.
Joe Blanton - MEH.
Antonio Bastardo - LOVE.
Thumbs up to the Phils.

Florida Marlins
Josh Johnson - HATE.
Andrew Miller - HATE.
Chris Volstad - MEH
Sean West - MEH
Ricky Nolasco - LOVE to MEH. Hard to tell.

Atlanta Braves

Derek Lowe - LOVE
Javier Vazquez - LOVE
Tommy Hanson - LOVE
Jair Jurrjens - LOVE
Kenshin Kawakami - LOVE
5 stars.

Washington Nationals
Stephen Strasburg - HATE
There is no one else on this team worth discussing.

Nice Try Selena

As a follow up to my post about Selena Robert's "hard-hitting" new book about A-Rod, I am happy to report, via ESPN, that Robert's new book has sold a grand total of...drum roll please....16,000 copies (*cymbal hit). Not only that, but her book sold 11,000 copies during the week of it's release, which means that in the intervening month or so, her pathetic attempt to further smear A-Rod's character has only sold 5,000 copies, or about 1,000 NATIONWIDE every week. My favorite part of this book's demise, is that Harper Collins printed 150,000 copies, meaning that they have about 134,000 copies sitting a warehouse somewhere that they could have an awfully nice bonfire with. Time to move on Selena Roberts, the sportsworld is tired of you and your books/articles. Go find someone else to bother, like Martha Stewart, she's a criminal.

Meanwhile, A-Rod, I know you had a two-run double last night, but seriously man, let's pick it up here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Before it is official

Before Stephen Strasburg is selected by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft this evening, I'd like to say a few things. We've enjoyed following Strasburg all year. He has had a remarkable career, and now he's overexposed and hyped-to-the-max. He's a superstar, and he hasn't started his professional career yet. It's well-deserved hype, don't get me wrong. He is quite possibly the best amateur pitching prospect...ever.

So, before what I'm about to outline happens, I want to get it out in the open. I'm going to issue a gigantic "I told you so", and I won't be ashamed to point to this post.

Stephen Strasburg is going to suffer shoulder and elbow injuries. He's not going to be Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, or Greg Maddux. He might be worth the value of his gigantic contract that will sign with the Nationals, because he might have enough bullets in his young arm, but he will not have a long, fruitful and injury-free career. If he gets to where CC Sabathia is today, having pitched tons of innings without any significant arm injury, then I will be very surprised and question my own intelligence. Here are the facts:

(1) Stephen Strasburg's arm action is long and whippy
(2) He has a substantial timing problem, meaning his arm isn't cocked and loaded when his leading foot plants.
(3) His follow-thru is piss poor. This increases the load on the shoulder and elbow over time.
(4) His glove-side arm flies open, slightly.
(5) He throws 100 mph
(6) The Washington Nationals won't change anything I just listed, for fear of hurting him, or making him lose his velocity, or being genuinely ridiculed for screwing up a "can't-miss" prospect.

It is the last fact that leads me to believe that Stephen Strasburg can miss. God knows I love him, the velocity, the Ks, the makeup and demeanor. Since he's so young, and didn't have a heavy workload as a youngster, it is entirely possible that he has a great career for the Nationals before hitting paydirt in free agency. But, as I said before, I dislike his mechanics a great deal and would wager that the Nats are just going to let him pitch as he always had. Why fix what isn't broken yet? Makes sense, I suppose. But ultimately I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that I expect Stephen Strasburg to have the same career trajectory as the last "can't-miss" college pitching prospect, Mark Prior.

Ridicule me if I'm wrong. I'd be delighted if I was. But I don't think that I am.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tommy Hanson's Numbers

66.1 Innings, 90 Ks, 3 Wins, 3 Losses, 1.49 ERA, 0.86 WHIP (5.29 K/BB).

uh huh, uh huh, uhhuh uhhuh uhhuh.

The Atlanta Braves ain't playin

In a span of a few hours the Braves made the following moves:

(1) Released Tom Glavine
(2) Announced that Tommy Hanson will take Kris Medlen's Sunday start
(3) Traded Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and Gorkys Hernandez to Pittsburgh for Nate McLouth.

I've thought for the past few weeks that the Braves are so close to contention. They have Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez, Jair Jurrjens and Kenshin Kawakami. That's a very solid starting 4. They have a solid infield that represents defensively and in OBP. They have a great backstop, and a decent pen. But the offense is weak, and they had Tommy Hanson rotting in AAA striking out ridiculous amounts of minor leaguers.

But as of today, the Braves have announced that the intend on contending hard for the NL East crown. The Mets and the Phillies have been hurt by injuries and poor decision-making by management (especially the Mets), and the Braves sense their opportunity. While they did give up a lot (A LOT...Gorkys and Locke? yeesh), I have to respect the straight up gansta of Frank Wren. I hope it pans out for my favorite NL team.

Oh, and all hail Tommy Hanson!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Best Brawls #2: 1965 The Marichal Bat Incident

As a tribute to how meaningful this day is to the sport of baseball, I decided it would be fitting to go back into the annals of baseball history to find a particularly memorable fight. For those of you not familiar, June 2nd is a date in which quite a few important things have occured in baseball. In 1935, Babe Ruth retired on June 2nd, Lou Gehrig died on June 2nd, 1941. Ken Griffey Jr. was drafted #1 by the Mariners on June 2nd, 1987. Ted Williams left to join the Navy on June 2nd, and on and on and on. Now, this brawl that I'm about to tell you about didn't happen on June 2nd, it happened on August 22nd, but it is known as the worst fight in baseball history. You'll see why after I'm done.

Date: August 22nd, 1965 - Giant Stadium

The Catalyst:
Marichal, the pitcher for the Giants that day had hit two Dodgers players and Johnny Roseboro, the Dodger catcher signaled to Koufax (the Dodger starter) to hit Marichal with the next pitch. Koufax ignored him and so Roseboro whipped the toss back to Koufax right by Marichal's ear. During the verbal argument that ensued, Roseboro whipped off his catchers mask and the players got in each other's faces. At some point during the argument, Marichal took a full on swing which connected with Roseboro's unmasked head causing him to fall to the ground. Um....needless to say, both benches cleared. According to reports, the game was delayed by 14 minutes as things were sorted out, Roseboro was helped to the dugout (and then to the hospital where he received 14 stitches), Marichal was ejected.

The Outcome:
Honestly, when I read this, I was shocked. Juan Marichal was suspended for 9 days and fined $1,750 by Major League Baseball for hitting and injuring Johnny Roseboro with a bat. Roseboro missed a couple of days and was back in the lineup. Roseboro ended up filing a lawsuit against Marichal over the incident and it was reported to have been settled out of court for $7,000. Marichal went on to win 243 games as a pitcher and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983. It's hard to believe Marichal received such a light penalty for such a terrible act. If that happened today, a player would risk being suspended for the rest of the season, if not banned from the game altogether. Interesting fact: this incident is still the only incident even in a major league game where a bat was used a weapon. A few years back it happened again in the minor leagues.