Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dusty Baker a little unsure about the number 15

Today, Johnny Cueto was scratched from his start and placed on the DL with a lat injury. Apparently the injury from his previous stay on the DL never healed properly and it’s still a bit sore. He only needs to rest it for a bit and he’ll be fine. Whatever. Doesn’t matter.

What does matter, however, is that he was placed on the 15 day DL. As most know, once you’re on the 15 day DL, you’re stuck there for 15 days since your last appearance (11 days from now, in Johnny’s case). But that might not be crystal-clear to Manager Dusty Baker. “He’ll miss one or two starts,” Baker said. OK. We’re good. We’re on message. But then this. “If he feels better, it’ll be one.” No! No, Dusty, it won’t! Because even if he feels better on May 11th, he won’t get to start. Because he’s still on the DL. He’s already missed one start. That makes two. Best case. Alright?

Now for some of my favorite Dusty Baker quotes. As anyone who’s frequented this blog since 2004 knows, he’s probably my favorite topic. Here’s a brief collection of just a few of my favorites.

April 23rd, 2005. LaTroy Hawkins has just blown another save, and Baker has announced that he is going to a ‘Bullpen by Situation’, as a ‘Bullpen by Committee never works.’ What’s the difference, Dusty? “[It’s a] bullpen by who’s pitched two or three days in a row. It could be a number of things. It’s not exactly by committee.” Well Dusty, how is that different from a bullpen by committee? “You say bullpen by committee, and that sounds like everybody, but that’s not everybody.'” OK Dusty.

April 24th, 2005. Chad Fox was called upon to save that night’s game. Dusty is then asked about Chad Fox’s health. Remember, this is shortly after he ruined Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. In fact, Wood would leave his next start – one of his last - for another trip to the DL. “You still have to protect [Fox], too. This guy is coming off, I don’t know what it is, two or three arm operations. He didn’t pitch at all last year. We have to protect him. He probably won’t go more than two in a row no matter what it is.”

April 25th, 2005. Dusty Baker uses Chad Fox in the 9th inning of a 10-3 game, the day after he said he wouldn’t use Chad Fox in back-to-back games because of his health. Sure enough, Fox ended up walking off the mound as though he’d been shot, and took another trip to the DL. He would only end up pitching another 3.2 innings in his career, allowing 7 runs. Baker: “It didn’t look good.”

March, 2004. After a performance in which his Cubs got 5 walks: "I think walks are overrated unless you can run. Most of the time you’re just clogging up the bases for somebody who can run… Have you ever heard the Yankees talking about on base percentages and walks? Walks help. But you ain’t going to walk across the plate. You’re going to hit across the plate… it’s called hitting. It ain’t called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking?” Not satisfied, Dusty went on, “Why don’t people leave me alone? Why do they always talk shit on me? People always have been trying to bring me down… that’s OK. That’s how it is. Actually, that makes me stronger. It’s OK. What are you going to say when I kick somebody’s ass?”

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yes. Hello?

Well, the interesting thing about this post is that I’m writing it four years after the previous post. Whoops. A lot has changed in those four years. So let’s rewind the clock. By one day.

One day ago, I was sitting at school. For some reason, I decided to search out my old blog. I was really more interested in seeing whether or not I was still paying money for the domain redirect, but… anyway, it turns out that Blogger keeps things online. Forever. So I started reading. I laughed. I miss having fun with baseball.

Since I wrote my last post, well... I graduated from college. I didn’t get a job. I lived out west for two months, hiked into Canada, and saw games at Busch, Kauffman, and Coors. I got a job. I went back to school. I did not watch the Tigers win the World Series. I got another job. I left school. I left the first job. I built websites. I did not watch the Tigers win the World Series. I got into medical school. I left my job. I moved to downtown Detroit. I did not watch the Tigers win a World Series. I studied in a windowless room for a year. I did not watch the Tigers win the World Series. I studied in a room for another year. I watched the Tigers manage their offseason bullpen like an ADHD kid who can’t be bothered with offseason acquisitions in MLB 2K13 because he’s tweaking too hard about his next 162-0 season.

You know, I miss writing about baseball. The degree program I’m in now is, let’s say, substantially harder than my previous one. I don’t have the time I used to have. So this is going to be an experiment. I’m going to see if I can maintain a baseball blog that discusses current baseball events, but without watching ESPN and without spending hours reading about baseball news. It’s going to be a little more difficult to gather material for these ridiculous stories. 

A lot has changed. But you know what? Dusty Baker still manages a Major League Baseball Team. The Houston Astros are still competing with the Ringling Brothers. The Detroit Tigers still show an utterly catastrophic lack of foresight with regards to their bullpen. And now the Marlins are trying to force Bud Selig into creating a one-team contraction scheme. So, actually, I think I’ll be just fine.

See ya soon?

Can you throw a baseball? The Tigers need you.” – March 30, 2009
Welcome to the Houston Circus” – June 12, 2007

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Roy Oswalt will now continue to destroy Cincinnati

RoyOswalt Most individual v. team stats don’t make a lot of sense in baseball. For example, Player X – normally a .268 hitter – hits .283 lifetime against Team Y. Thanks for the enlightenment?

That is, unless Roy Oswalt is pitching to anyone in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Oswalt, entering his ninth season as a major leaguer, has now compiled a 23-1 record in 26 starts against Cincinnati. That is a .958 winning percentage. There are not a lot of sure things in life; the Sun will rise, and the Sun will set. And then at 8.05pm tomorrow, Roy Oswalt will begin his ritual pounding of the Reds. That’s about as near to investment-grade sports gambling that you are ever going to get. Honey, go pick up that new dress you’ve been eyeing; we’ve just run into a windfall.

Unfortunately – depending on who you’re rooting for – things may get slightly more interesting this time around. Oswalt has not exactly been a robot so far this year, dropping his first two starts and allowing nine runs in 13 innings. And Houston has scored fewer runs thus far – 26 – than any other major league team; a full run per game behind the runner up, and a full five behind the Rangers. If you’re plating fewer than 3 runs per game, you’re not going to win very many games easily.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meet your Washington Nationals

SONY DSC                     The Washington Nationals are not on anyone’s list of NL East dark horses this year. That’s because there is next to nothing to like about this team, (six assistants to a vacant General Manager position, anyone? And that guy in the picture, shaking everyone’s hand? That would be the multiple-injury plagued, $5 million a year, Dmitri Young.) Well, at least the offense is not awful. The Nationals have scored 34 runs in 7 games (4.86 per game); not an atrocious amount. However, they have allowed 54 runs – at a rate of 7.71 runs per game, second only to the Indians eight. Rewind that. The Nationals team ERA is 7.71. Surely, this must be a statistical aberration, you say. Nay! Without getting too detailed, suffice it to say that the Nationals have three pitchers with ERAs under 4.50. None of them are starters. Daniel Cabrera, (4.91), Scott Olsen (14.63), and John Lannan (10.00) have each made two starts, and Shairon Martis (9.00) has added one. 31 IP, 32 ER, 47 H, 14 BB, 16 Ks… you find me a good number in that line. The 1.97 WHIP? The 4.65 K/9 ratio? The bullpen has got Julian Tavarez and Joe Beimel doing good work. And yes, I know we are dealing with small sample sizes here, but are these numbers going to change drastically anytime soon? Probably not.

As if this wasn’t enough, the Nationals Manager Manny Acta insists on handicapping his already borderline offense by batting Ryan Zimmerman in the three spot, in front of Adam Dunn, every single game. The result? His team is 0-7 (at least this time, it only took them 19 innings to get their first in-game lead). To his credit, this is a tricky situation, and I can see his side of it. Dunn has an alarmingly high affinity for the strikeout. And Zimmerman is really your only other half-decent, hit-the-ball-out bat on the team. But leaving Dunn in front of Nick Johnson? How do you craft his inflated .273 average into some sort of lineup protection? This leaves us with the following: Certainly, you have to lead off with Elijah Dukes and Cristian Guzman, because, let’s face it, you don’t want to start using up your automatic outs, (Kearns, .158 avg), in the two hole. Now it’s Zimmerman and Dunn left. I say put Dunn at #3, and Zimmerman at #4. Zimmerman isn’t the greatest hitter – although I am calling him for a semi-breakout this year – and he probably isn’t experienced enough to know when pitchers are pitching around him. But he will learn extremely quickly in this lineup. Zimmerman is certainly respectable enough to afford Dunn some protection, which is our main goal. You put Dunn in the 3-hole, you get an extra 17 or so at bats from him over the course of the year, and you actually give the guy a chance to hit. Johnson still falls into the 5-hole, but at least your primary home run hitter still has protection. Johnson isn’t a completely inept hitter, and as long as Zimmerman can realize when they’re trying to pitch around him, you do alright. Fill out the lineup with your remaining outs from Belliard (if he ever takes the field again), Flores, Kearns, and pitcher. How many games will the Nationals win with five hitters? To this point, that would be zero games. And, as many of you know, Nick Johnson is made of glass. It’s only a matter of time before he’s placed on the DL, and then you’re left with four hitters. That’s an ugly day.

Why am I making such a big deal out of this? Who cares if Dunn bats with no protection? Let me explain. Dunn is currently on pace to walk 254 times; he has 22 at bats and 11 walks. He has always had a good eye, but right now they’re just not giving him anything to hit. And why should they? Last year, Dunn had more doubles and home runs(63) than singles (59). In other words, if you pitch to the guy, and he makes contact, he’s more likely to land on 2nd or cross home than he is to stop nicely at first. The Nationals most common lineup has Dunn followed by Nick Johnson, Austin Kearns, and Jesus Flores, all of whom have .333 OBPs. Which wouldn’t suck, except that it is their collective slugging percentage as well. In other words, throw Dunn on base, you keep him at first, and chances are, he’s stranded there. Maybe he gets bumped to second. And guess what? Besides Dunn’s own two home runs, he has scored twice. He has made it on base 17 times, excluding those two bombs, and he currently has a .576 OBP, (yes, that is 1st in the NL). Listen, if you keep batting Dunn #4, your most powerful bat will continue to walk. He has a great eye; that’s fine. But his insane ability to launch balls 500 feet away from the plate is far more valuable.

On an unrelated note, the Royals have managed to go 5-3, while scoring only 27 runs (3.38 per game) and allowing 24 runs (3 per game). By comparison, the 5-3 Dodgers have scored 43 and allowed 24.

Congratulations, Washington – April 13, 2007

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Welcome to Happy Fun Ball

barry-bonds-perjuryu Quite frankly, my annual pay league – Happy Fun Ball – has found a way to pop up every season on this site, and it never makes much sense if I just throw it in the middle of the season, (see right). No doubt many of you will just skip this post; maybe fantasy isn’t your thing. But I’ll make the introductions now anyway. In this, the fifth year of Happy Fun Ball, Team Adventure Ball will be seeking the championship, attempting to return to the form of their 2007 Wire-to-Wire season, (hell, they started 9-0). A few notes: as seen above, people take the league very seriously. Equations are often used to describe events for no reason. This will become apparent as the season progresses, (B. Inge = MVP, anyone?) Other than that, it’s your typical, high-intensity, make-believe baseball league. With a monster jackpot at the end of the year.

happyfunballHere are the rules: Head-to-head league, weekly lineup, 12 teams, nine hitters (standard fielders plus utility), seven pitchers, six reserves, one DL spot. In addition, no taunting Happy Fun Ball. Bonus if you can spot that reference. Points are awarded as follows:
Hitting: 1B, RBI, R, and BB – 1pt, 2B and SB – 2pts, 3B – 3pts, HR – 4pts (note that the run and RBI make a HR worth at least 6).
Pitching: ER – (-1pt), BBI and HA – (-0.5pts), K – 1pt, IP – 2pts, CG – 5pts, W and S – 10pts.
Some notable difference between most leagues: batters are not penalized for strikeouts, and a walk is worth just as much as a single. There is no differentiation between relievers and starters. Some teams will load up with closers and others with starters. Since it it’s a weekly lineup league, I like to have a few closers on staff that I can plug in when my starters sit with bad matchups that week. When a starter has two starts in one week, he’s obviously more valuable, even if he’s normally a bad one-start option. Since it’s a 12-team league with 22 spots on each roster plus one DL, it’s a pretty deep league – 264-276 spots.

After my extensive draft prep, I’m more pleased with this team than I have ever been with any fantasy team. HFB was reincorporated in early February, and the draft took place on March 18th. I’ve given the list in draft order, with overall pick in parenthesis:

1st Round Mark Teixeira (1B, 7), Ryan Braun (OF, 18)
3rd Matt Holliday (OF, 31),  Roy Oswalt (SP, 42)
5th Adam Dunn (OF, 55), Brian Roberts (2B, 66)
7th Brad Lidge (RP, 79), Rich Harden (SP, 90)
9th Troy Tulowitzki (SS, 103), Chris Iannetta, (C, 114)
11th Joba Chamberlain (SP, 127), Ryan Zimmerman (3B, 138)
13th Gil Meche (SP, 151), Johnny Cueto (SP, 162)
15th Mike Jacobs (1B, 175), Huston Street (RP, 186)
17th Chris Young (SP, 199), Nelson Cruz (OF, 210)
19th Hank Blalock (1B/3B, 223), Chad Qualls (RP, 234)
21st Joey Devine (DL, RP, 247), Billy Butler (1B, 258)
23rd Paul Konerko (1B, 271)

adventureballlogo2 Here’s my breakdown of the team. Extremely strong offense. I like to stick to drafting hitting in the upper rounds, as pitching is hard to predict, (in general, hitters vary about 20% more than hitters year-to-year). And I love Nelson Cruz. I think he’s going to be putting up huge numbers this year, and I stole him in the 18th round. He hits in a loaded Texas offense. He is the next Josh Hamilton. I’m loaded down with backup first basemen in Butler, Jacobs, and Konerko  – all of which will probably spend most of the year on my bench, unless they can outperform Cruz, who currently has the utility spot. Otherwise, they’re drop-bait. In fact, Butler is standing on the plank right now with one leg over the water. I had Cruz starting the first week before I got nervous, freaked out, and threw Konerko in. Thus far, Konerko has contributed 17 points, (pretty good for a 23rd-rounder) while Cruz has gone for 31 points on the bench – tying Tulowitzki for the top scorer on the team. I’ve learned my lesson.

I’m confident that between Cruz, Blalock, Butler, and Konerko, I will have at least one guy who’s hot enough to throw into the utility spot each week. If Iannetta does what he can do, (meaning, the Rockies get some self control and stop sitting him for Torrealba) even the catcher spot is strong. The only weak spot is at third base; I’m banking on both Zimmerman and Blalock to breakout, at which time I can trade one for pitching. I’m predicting that at least one of these guys will hit 25HR this year. I can’t see any trades I can make that will strengthen the hitting on this team, except for Carlos Lee. Lee has been a fixture on every one of my fantasy teams. The problem with an annual league is that the guys know how you draft and exploit it. The Springfield Isotopes grabbed Lee in the fifth round. Boo yas and laughs ensued. The Isotopes were hoping to rattle me in the draft and collect a huge ransom in a trade afterwards. I refuse to play into these games, and thus Lee remains with the enemy. Prior to the start of the season last year, I traded David Ortiz – whom I got stuck with in the 2nd round – for Carlos Lee, whom my brother had picked up in the 6th. Accusations of “Ortiz > Lee” and collusion ensued. Lee easily outperformed Ortiz last year – so Lee > Ortiz. But even if I get him this year, who do I sit? The problem with Cruz is that I’ll never get fair value for him if he’s the real thing, because he isn’t well established yet. So I’d prefer not to trade him and keep him pumping in the Utility spot.

I’m less thrilled with my pitching, but I am still happy with it. Harden is great when he’s healthy, and when he isn’t healthy, he’s on the DL, so it’s a black and white. I don’t have to worry about him starting one week and putting up a crappy outing half the time. When he’s starting, I know he will give me 20 points without having to rely on the bullpen for the 10 point boost in the win. In his first start, he struck out 10 and earned me 18.5 points despite the losing the win to the bullpen. Last year, Aaron Harang was the antithesis of this. I knew he could pitch well, but he never got a win from the Reds and eventually started pitching like crap. I had to plug him in each week, however, because I was always hoping he’d come up with a huge, 30 point start. It never came and I benched him for the last few weeks.

Qualls is a solid, undervalued closer (20th round!? I picked him right between Ken Griffey, Eric Byrnes, Todd Wellemeyer and Mike Hampton) that pitches for a decent team in Arizona. I went with Lidge in the 7th round in keeping with one of my core draft strategies – draft the best player on the board that you can fit in your starting lineup. Interestingly, CBS projects Lidge to earn 497 points and Qualls 418 this year. That’s a 3 points-a-week difference in 13 rounds. Lidge is a consistent closer (his numbers really were never that bad in those two off years), and a guy I know I can plug in every week for solid points. Ditto with Harden and Oswalt, which leaves me with four spots to fill as matchups dictate. Qualls probably makes the cut most weeks. If Meche continues to pitch like he has been, it won’t matter if the Royal’s can give him wins, (which I think they will). He’ll start most weeks as well. That’s five guys that are going to be a lock most weeks, and I choose between Chris Young, Chamberlain, Cueto, and Street for the remaining two spots. Not bad.

And that is Happy Fun Ball!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Meche pitches out of skull; Farnsworth kills it.

There was one interesting game on this afternoon. Well, there was one game, period. Normally, Royals v. White Sox is not on the top of anyone’s list. Hell, it’s not even on Royal’s Fan list either.

Let’s keep this short. I think the Royals will surprise some people this year. I’m looking at David DeJesus, Alex Gordon, Mark Teahen, Billy Butler, Mike Aviles, and Mike Jacobs, and I see some potential. People have been waiting for Teahen, DeJesus, and Jacobs to start hitting for years, and I don’t think these guys have reached their potential yet. DeJesus is 29, Teahen is 27, Jacobs is 28. Alives is 28, Gordon is 25, Butler is 22. This team is young. Again, I don’t know exactly why I think these guys will start hitting. I’m not sure they will. Keep your eyes pealed.

Which brings us to Gil Meche and Zack Greinke. I think Greinke, now 25, is going to become a much better pitcher this year. And even though it seems like Gil Meche has been around forever, he’s only 30. In 2007 and 2008, he finished with a 3.67 and 3.98 ERA, respectively. Last year, he had 183 K’s and 73 BB in 210 IP. That’s a great start to a rotation. Will Kyle Davies, Horacio Ramirez, and Jamey Wright manage to keep it together the rest of the time? Probably not.

Which brings us back to this afternoon. Meche turns in the kind of performance that the Royals are going to need from him this year. 7 IP, 7 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 1 ER, 91 pitches. He leaves after the 7th with a one-run lead. Things are going well, right up until the 8th inning. Kyle Farnsworth allows two singles and then throws up a HR to Jim Thome. 4-2 White Sox, win spoiled. You need a decent set up man and a good closer to win games. Sure, the Royals should have scored more runs. But your excuse for being unable to win close games can’t be, “well, we didn’t score enough runs.” Seriously, can you see where that will take you?

How wasteful is an $11.4 million a year pitcher – yes, that is how much Meche is making – if you can’t get a win when he dominates?

Relief for a Royal Pain (Yahoo! Sports) – May 5, 2006

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opening Day Notes

It feels GREAT to be watching baseball games, absolutely outstanding. Here are a few thoughts:

Yankees v. Orioles:

  • Has anyone noticed that the outfield at Comerica Park is a spot-on impression of Camden Yards? Anyone?
  • Text Message from Kevin (Mobile): “OMG CC makin’ his Yankee debut is on! Boner!”
  • Speaking of Yankee debuts, Teixeira goes 0-4 with a BB, including a 2-out, runners-on-the-corners rally killer. Meanwhile, Sabathia gives up six runs in 4.1 IP, allowing 8 hits, walking 5, and striking out 0. And these guys are earning a paycheck the size of Bolivia’s GDP over the next several years.
  • When you’re up by one run in the 7th, one out, man on first, why do you bring in Jamie Walker’s 6.87 ERA? Right, because you’re the Orioles, and you just figure that the lefty will match up better against the left-handed Cano. Check your stats. Cano hit .292 v. lefties and .263 v. righties last year, and is now hitting 1.000 against Jamie Walker this year. Well done.
  • Joe Morgan: “You look at how great the new Met’s ballpark is, and you say, it’s time for the Cubs to build a new ballpark! Thing is, I don’t know if actual Cubs fans would agree with that statement.” So…?
  • Instant Message from Kevin: “Tigers are comin’ on but the Yankee game is intense right now too. It’s like choosing who do you love more, Mom or Dad?”

Nationals v. Marlins

  • The Nationals are going to need some help this year. In a prelude to the remainder of their season, they were demolished by Hanley Ramirez the Marlins, 12-6. New acquisition Adam Dunn knocked in four of the National’s runs.
  • The Marlin’s interesting 1-4 hitters – Emilio Bonifacio, Jeff Baker, Hanley Ramirez, and Jorge Cantu – combined to knock in 11 runs and went 9-16, (.563). Everyone else? 3-19, (.158).
  • That included an inside-the-park HR from Bonifacio. The first opening day, inside-the-park HR since Carl Yastrzemski. When asked how he felt about that, Emilio’s response? “Who is Carl Yastrzemski?” Uh, beg your pardon?
  • Someone has to ask the question – does Adam Dunn just like playing for bad teams? After eight seasons with the Reds, he is traded to the Diamondbacks, and then becomes a free agent. Does he resign with the Diamondbacks? How about one of the 29 teams that won more than 60 games last year? No thanks. Hello Nationals.

Tigers v. Blue Jays

  • Instant Message from Kevin: “Verlander v. Halladay tonight, that’s all I gotta say. One of my roommates said we should bong a beer for every strikeout, I was like, ‘you’re joking I hope,’ and he goes, ‘yeah but not really.’”
  • Justin Verlander is freaking out up there. Justin – slow down. Take a breath. Get the sign. Breathe again. Throw the ball. In that order. Is this the year Verlander returns to form? 3.2IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 4K. You make the call.
  • Verlander throws 34 pitches in the first inning. You know what that means; we’re going to the bullpen early. And you know what that means. (What it meant was that when Eddie Bonine came in in the 4th, he promptly gave up a 2-run HR to Adam Lind).
  • Roy Halladay will win the Cy Young this year.
  • Rod Allen: “Laird is not really your typical catcher in the terms of the way he can run.” Oh, you must be referring to his 11 career stolen bases. In 19 attempts.
  • Mario Impemba: “Curtis Granderson, and this one has a chance to go, and it’s outta here!” … As the ball lands in the upper deck of the Rogers Centre. Mario Impemba was the only person fooled about the trajectory of that baseball. And is that why no one in Michigan watches a Tigers game on FSN without firing up a drinking game with the announcers? You bet.
  • Adam Lind, DH, Toronto Blue Jays. 6 RBI’s. Why yes, you are correct, that is nearly 1/6th of his total from last year.
  • Enough. Did the Tigers even bother to play spring training games this year? Or did they just figure they’d show up on April 6th and wing it?

Can you throw a baseball? The Tigers need you – March 30, 2009
The Rod Allen drinking game (The Wayne Fontes Experience) – August 3, 2006