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Tag: "baseball"

Tito’s Players Home Cookin’ Aren’t Talent Evaluators

[ 0 ] July 7, 2008 |

I don’t mind the defending World Series manager favoring his own players in marginal cases, but seriously, Jason Varitek? What a disgrace. I mean, he was a fine player for a long time, but he’s turned into Brad Ausmus without the arm. Well, maybe he’ll hit a feeble popup in a key spot like he did Saturday, and the NL will get home field advantage for once…

UPDATE: Whoops–Varitek was actually voted on by the players. I remember Bill James once running down the history of awards voted on by players with frequently ludicrous results, and this fits right in. And yet I’m sure we’ll hear more broadcasters talk about taking the vote away from the fans and giving it to the players every year…

On Omar

[ 0 ] July 1, 2008 |

Interesting discussion about Omar Vizquel here. Some thoughts on the two questions:

  • On the Hall of Fame issue, the conclusion of the more analytical observers seems right to me. I hate to say that — he’s been a favorite of mine since I saw him in Calgary as a minor leaguer, and he even worked out in my gym in Seattle in the winter. But I have to say no Evidently, this is a question of standards; he has a reasonable case under the historical standards for HOF shortstops, which the Veteran’s Committee has padded with Rizuttos and Jacksons and Bancrofts. But assuming we don’t want to use past errors as a baseline, I don’t think he’s even close. I think James went through this in detail at his site recently, but certainly we shouldn’t even consider Vizquel until Larkin and Trammell — also good shortstops if not quite Vizquel’s caliber and far better hitters — are in. Unfortunately, my guess is that the writers will compound their foolish rejection of Trammell by voting him in.
  • On the direct retirement question, everyone who have the “MYOB” answer is right. If put in a more useful way, however — should the Giants release him? — I’m going to be contrarian. Vizquel is still an excellent defender, and on a team with 1)a lot of young pitching and 2)no chance of winning, I say play him. Every hit he saves Lincecum and Cain and Sanchez helps the team’s future. I wouldn’t play him in front of a good young player, of course, but the Giants’ Opening Day shortstop can’t hit .200 in AAA. Anyway, the key lesson of the Rays this year is the importance of putting a decent defence on the field, especially when you have young pitching.


[ 15 ] June 29, 2008 |

I saw my first ever Mets/Yankees game yesterday, and it certainly sucked although my section didn’t have the fights that apparently happened in other sections. Especially with the effect of the rain delay, the striking thing is that after Reyes getting picked of second with 2 out and Wright up the crowd was completely dead, and for good reason. And although it was a one-run game the bottom of the ninth severely tested my irrational commitment to never leaving the park with a game in progress, given that it involved Rivera facing Didn’t You Used to Be Carlos Delgado, Fluke Season Tatis, and the Rapidly Decomposing Corpse of Trot Nixon. The term “overmatched” seems grossly inadequate.

Although I’ve seen this It’s not really accurate to say that Petite outpitched Santana. The latter had much better stuff; it’s just that the Yankees have this strange commitment to trying to put major league hitters into as many lineup slots as possible. I don’t understand how anyone could watch yesterday’s game and think that the Mets are underachieving. They had a washed-up third baseman whose last good year was 2000 in right, a shitty backup first baseman in left, an immobile utility infielder whose last good season as a regular was also in 2000 at second, and a washed-up anvil at first base. That’s four positions out of which you’re not getting any offense or defense. The more common lineup isn’t much of an improvement; Castillo can get on base but is barely better defensively that Easley at this point, and Schneider can throw but can’t hit at all, Chavez is a good outfielder but would be a bad hitter for a utility infielder, let a lone a corner OF. Three stars plus 5 below-average-to-entirely-unacceptable players adds up to mediocre even if you get good pitching. If Church comes back and is healthy and Minaya can find a major league left fielder (and, in fairness, who could ever have anticipated that Moises Alou would get hurt?), then maybe they can win a weak division, but with the kind of lineups they’re running out there now they’re not going to finish .500 if Joe McCarthy comes back to earth and takes over Manuel’s body. This team isn’t underachieving; it’s just not very good.

Clash of the Third-Rate

[ 9 ] June 25, 2008 |

Apparently all the Mariners needed was a trip to Shea Stadium, which suddenly turned R.A. Dickey into Phil Niekro. (And it’s hard to even bring up Wright being out of the lineup, given that Tatis was 3-4.)

How Much Are the Mets Underachieving?

[ 54 ] June 18, 2008 |

Calling all toasters claims that the Mets are grossly underachieving and that “the personnel is better this year than in 2006.” Kaufman and Sheehan disagree. It seems pretty clear to me that the latter two have the better case.

The Mets have three outstanding players in their primes — and all are having excellent seasons. (Wright ranks #4 among major league 3B in VORP, Reyes #2, Beltran #4 at their positions.) The one other non-old somewhat-talented player, Church, played brilliantly until he got hurt. (And I find it very implausible that it was Randolph’s decision to completely botch his treatment; it’s not like he started in Colorado.) This doesn’t add up to a good offense because…Minaya completely failed to flll out the roster. Castillo is, if anything, having a better year than could be expected for a 32-year old with absolutely no power who has lost most of his speed, putting up a .370 OBP. Schneider is an extensively proven non-hitter. Delgado is doing what immobile 36 year olds who have no skills but walks and homers do: stop hitting. Which of the washed-up guys who weren’t especially good when they were younger who compose the bench was Randolph supposed to turn into a star? As far as I can tell, the offense has been about as good as could be expected; the biggest problem is that Minaya signed a whole bunch of gimpy old guys to back up his stars and didn’t have any viable plan Bs.

With the rotation, it’s about the same thing; everyone’s within a reasonable range of expectations except maybe Perez who had an atypically good year…under Randolph in 2007. As for the bullpen, the current ERA+s of 186, 161, 153, 106, 102, 86, and 72 seems a pretty reasonable rate of return on talent to me. As for claims of 2006, I’d like c.a.t. to identify the Floyd, Valentin, Lo Duca, or still-skilled Delgado on the roster to back up the big 3.

None of this is to say that Randolph has done an especially good job this year. Most managers lose effectiveness over time, and if they haven’t significantly underachieved, they haven’t been over expectations either. (c.a.t also claims that Randolph is a horrendous strategic manager. Since the only example he cites is “pointless running,” and the Mets have an excellent 68 SB and 17 CS, I’ll dismiss the argument for lack of evidence.) But this question can only be discussed in relation to the alternative. If the Mets had a high-pressure manager with good credentials, I think a case can be made for a change. But for a low pressure manager with a record similar to Randolph’s who’s already been with the team? What’s the point? And I don’t see any way in which Randolph can bear primary responsibility for the current season. Given the injuries and predictable declines, the talent just isn’t very impressive.

But then I guess c.a.t. and I evaluate managers very differently; I’m not sure what it is about Davey Johnson’s “take over three mediocre or awful teams, turn them into contenders (including the second of third best team of the last 30 years), and have them get clearly worse when he left” (s)he doesn’t like…

Dog & Pony Show

[ 13 ] June 17, 2008 |

This is about right.

I can certainly understand firing Randolph last month; the team (after a historic choke) has underachieved on balance this year, although this is at least as much on the GM (I’m not sure what a manager can do when presented with no corner outfielders who hit well enough to be a good utility infielder, for example.) But to fly him out to the west coast for a day and fire him after a win? In the dead of night? And after a week in which the team actually played well but was undermined by am exploding closer and asleep-at-the-switch third base coach (who managed to survive the coaching purge?) To hire the bench coach with a similar personality and similar credentials you could have hired at any time? What a farce.

Djw’s Long Regional Nightmare Is Over

[ 24 ] June 16, 2008 |

Bill Bavasi mercifully fired. It makes sense; charitably assuming that the Mariners may try to find a major league manager at some point this season, you want a new GM to do the search.

Of course, the post title isn’t strictly accurate until we find out who option B is. Given the general philosphy of Lincoln and Armstrong, I’m thinking the Ms will follow the path of the 1985 Indians and try to assemble a whole committee of idiots Real Baseball Men with ghastly track records. Maybe Chuck LeMar will supervise Dave Littlefield and Jim Duquette, and at their first press conference they can announce the signings of Matt Morris and Victor Zambrano.

…in other news, looks like Wang is out for the regular season.

The Trot Of Desperation

[ 13 ] June 14, 2008 |

If 2004 comes back, I’m sure he’ll be very effective. And between him and Moises the Mets should have at least 20% of their remaining LF games covered.

Actually, all snark aside the frightening thing is that it’s not a bad move. He may be able to get on base, which is an improvement over the Mets’ current corner OF options, as none of them provide any offense at all and only Chavez can even play the outfield. I just hope that Troy O’Leary is keeping limber and in touch with his agent.

I also note that the Metropolitans have pulled into a tie with the mighty Pirates. Weiner’s hearing footsteps! I tell ya, that race is going down to the wire…


[ 78 ] June 12, 2008 |

Nixonland has enough writing about arson to satisfy me without having to watch the Mets’s bullpen. It’s unfortunate, but it’s hard to see Randolph surviving too many more of these.

Kiss Cam

[ 111 ] June 7, 2008 |

I’m surprised that this has come up in Seattle…

Most of the time, a kiss is just a kiss in the stands at Seattle Mariners games. The crowd hardly even pays attention when fans smooch.

But last week, a lesbian complained that an usher at Safeco Field asked her to stop kissing her date because it was making another fan uncomfortable.

The incident has exploded on local TV, on talk radio and in the blogosphere and has touched off a debate over public displays of affection in generally gay-friendly Seattle.

See also Savage. I’m forcibly reminded that the Cincinnati Reds employ a “Kiss Cam”; in the middle of inning 6 or 8, they focus on a series of (invariably heterosexual) couples and the crowd cheers for them to kiss. I don’t recall if they have one at Safeco, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Do you think they’d discontinue if I complained that the kissing made me feel uncomfortable?


[ 39 ] June 5, 2008 |

It’s hard to get much worse than getting swept at home by an Angels team without Guerrero (and not pitching Lackey). But I’m sure McLaren and company can find a way!

In other news, this has been building since several commenters argued last year that it was logically impossible for him to have allowed a run in Game 2 without the bugs, but Sweet Jeebus am I already sick of Greatest Pitching Prospect In Known World History Joba Chamberlain and the ceaseless hype surrounding him. If Saint Derek of Pasta Diving goes on the DL I think he can slide into the Most Irritating Yankee role right away.

I’ve Said it Before, and I’ll Say it Again…

[ 12 ] June 3, 2008 |

I am pleased that I resisted the temptation to trade Josh Hamilton straight up for Derek Jeter.

Incidentally, what kind of mojo was applied to the ink of the Hamilton-Volquez deal such that both became MVP-caliber players as soon as the deal was done?

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