Sunday, May 1, 2005

D-Rays and Red Sox

I think this whole upstart Red Sox/Devil Rays rivalry is ridiculous. For starters, you've got Lance Carter, who, while he was a 2003 All-Star, did not have his picture on until midway through the 2004 season. This is a fact. This guy is throwing the ball at guy's heads. Whether this was his intent, we'll talk about later. And you've got a bench-clearing scuffle, because that's all it1100706901_5904_1 was. (I wish Pedro was still on the Sox, because I would watch a D-Ray game if I thought there was a 1 in 5,000,000 chance I could see Lou Piniella rush him, a la Don Zimmer. I think Lou's got it in him.) But then, you've got Lou sticking up for Lance, saying, "We didn't throw at guy's heads, but if we're thrown at, we'll defend ourselves." Then, you've got Schilling calling Lou Piniella an "idiot" who doesn't know how to play the game, and mentioning that the Rays players were saying that Lou is the reason they're a lock to lose 100 games a year and that he makes them throw at guys. Then, you've got Lou firing back that he's forgotten more baseball than Schilling will ever know, and he's disappointed in Schilling and is sure none of his guys would ever say that.

Here's the bottom line. The Devil Rays aren't a team of fiery competitors. They're not the 1986 Mets, they don't have a Kevin Mitchell running around dragging guys around the infield. The Devil Rays are one of the worst teams in baseball. They're a team of unknowns. And they don't have a deep bullpen of relievers with pinpoint, Greg Maddux-like control. From time to time, the ball is gonna sail away from them. Now, I'm not saying Lance v. Ortiz was an accident. However, is it really that unlikely that Carter might've aimed for Ortiz's forearm, and missed by a few inches? Here's the other thing. Boston doesn't need to throw at Devil Rays. They're not gonna lose the division because Devil Ray hitters come a little inside on Arroyo's dish. On the same token, Devil Ray pitchers don't need to defend themselves, from anything. As has been mentioned, they can't even defend themselves correctly. So lets move on.

By the way, Devil Ray pitchers hit 3 Blue Jays the following Tuesday after the Boston Series.

Kerry Wood and Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker's Bullpen
Dusty Baker is one piece of work. He's supposed to be so great with his players, and that may be so, (more on that later,) but he's one of the worst field managers in the game. First, Baker has decimated his own bullpen. After LaTroy Hawkins blew another 1-run save opportunity on April 23rd, Dusty announced that he was going to go with a 'bullpen by situation' concept. Apparently this is due to the fact that 'bullpen by committee' doesn't work. Pardon me for asking, but what's the difference? Well, we'll ask Dusty. Dusty, what's a bullpen by situation? "[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, how's that different from a bullpen by committee? "You say 'bullpen by committee' and that sounds like everybody, and it's not everybody." Oh, ok. What does that even mean? From what I gather, the 'bullpen by situation' is where Dusty decides, based on who he trusts on that given day and who's arm is rested, who his closer will be. On the contrary, a 'bullpen by committee' is when the manager and pitching coach decide, based on who they trust on that given day and who's arm is rested, who the closer will be. Forgive me for failing to see the difference. Why is this important? Because Dusty has a history of abusing his players arms - see Kerry Wood and Mark Prior. And here's the latest example. When asked about reliever Chad Fox on April 24th, who had just made his first save in about 2 years, Baker said, "You still have to protect him, too. This guy is coming off, I don't 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 days in a row no matter what it is." Well, he put the same Chad Fox, (who actually pitched in 12 games last year,) into a game the next day to protect a 10-3 lead in the 9th inning. Are you kidding me? You have to protect this guy, and with a 7 run lead you put him in instead of one of the 4 relievers in your bullpen who haven't pitched in days. Anyway, sure enough, Fox walks the first 2 batters, gives up a home run to Adam Dunn, and after 2 more batters pulls a Brad Penny. That is to say, after he made his 29th pitch he walked off the mound looking as if he had just been shot. Thankfully, we didn't see a trainer come out and tell him to throw another pitch, as we did with Penny. If you saw that happen, you were as confused as I was. Penny's up there, makes a pitch, and before he even finishes his delivery he springs up and screams, grabs his arm and is writhing around in pain. The trainer comes out and has him throw another pitch. I'm no M.D., but he looked like he was in some pain. I mean, was this guy an engineer for NASA? "Hey, let's shoot this booster into orbit just one more time, see if it still works." Good idea. Anyway, back to Fox. Baker said it, "didn't look good." No kidding. He's on the 15-day DL, along with fellow reliever Joe Borowski. Meanwhile, Nomar is also on the 15-day DL, and reliever Scott Williamson is on the 60-day DL. And so Dusty may be stuck using LaTroy Hawkins as his closer - who he fired down, saying he didn't know what was wrong with him but he was simply incapable of closing in 1-run games. While the stats back that up, (Hawkins is 21-44 in 1-run save situations,) you simply don't tell your player that. A little story from last year: when LaTroy was put into a game with a nice lead to protect against the Cardinals in the 9th, he served up a fat pitch right down the middle to Albert Pujols, who knocked it out for his 3rd homer of the night. There were runners on and so the Cubs lost the game. What happens? LaTroy got up and tried to fight the home plate ump, which was ridiculous, of course. He didn't tell you to pitch to a Triple Crown Contender who had already knocked 2 out that night. Sit down, LaTroy.

Dusty Baker's Kerry Wood/Mark Prior
Kerry Wood left the game last night after 3 innings of work with a cranky shoulder. Shock of all shocks. Who could've seen that one coming? After Wood left his last start after 5 innings with the same ailment, (this is the same right shoulder bursitis that sidelined him through spring training,) this was bound to happen. He has an MRI on Monday. Now forget all this, and take a step back and think - what has Wood really done since he struck out 20 Astros that May 6th? Struck out about 10.5 batters per 9 IP, but that's it.
Mark Prior, on the other hand, is going after it. He's got another game today against Cincinnati Red's killer Roy Oswalt, but before today's game, Prior has an ERA of 0.95. 19IP, 5BB, 22K's, and he's 3-0. So far, he's giving those fantasy owners, (including myself,) who gambled on him what they hoped for. I picked up Prior with the 31st overall pick, amid cries from the other owners of, "he's injured, you know!"
J.P. Ricciardi's Roy Halladay
31 may not be that good a bargain, but I think that Roy Halladay with the 51st pick was... Halladay's another guy people had forgotten about coming into this year. In 45IP, he owns a 3.40 ERA and a 4-1 record. He's only got 34 K's, but has an incredible 6 walks issued. So far, he's putting up numbers remarkably similar to his 2003 AL Cy Young winning year, when he went 22-7. And in those 7 losses, the team was shutout twice and combined for 13 runs in the other 5 games.

This blog
Obviously we're just getting started here, but hopefully the stories will get  better. Drop me an e-mail, ( with any suggestions or questions. I'm new at this, so any criticism is constructive. With the exception of comments such as, "Yankees suck, go Sox ahhhhh!" Scoreboard, 26-6.
Leave some comments as well. I'm hoping to add some more multimedia content and some better writing as soon as I get some more time. Until then, keep... following baseball.