Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Andy Pettitte and the Hall of Fame

One of baseball's stupidest tropes is the magic number for the Hall of Fame. 300 wins and your in the Hall of Fame. Don't and you're most likely not—especially of late. Nothing else gets taken into account.

For instance, this week, on ESPN's Mike and Mike radio show, they broached the subject of Jamie Moyer and the Hall of Fame. Jamie Moyer? Are you kidding? The man has a 4.22 lifetime ERA, has appeared in exactly one all-star game and has a scintillating 105+ ERA for his career. Why is there even a discussion about Moyer in the HOF?

Oh, that's right. Because he has a chance to win 300.

Never mind that the only way Moyer wins 300 games is due to longevity, not excellence. But, of late, most HOF writers would rather stick with the easy boundary. 300 and you're in. Not, and you're probably not.

Which brings us to Andy Pettitte. Pettitte has a very outside shot of winning 300—but its more likely he wont. But will the BBWOA consider his case even if he doesn't win the Golden 300?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Transactions....

Look at this depth chart and tell me, please, why the Giants drafted another DE with their first round pick? Look how banged up their DT situation is and they drafted yet another DE—They have 3 excellent ones and another fine one. Why do they waste a first round pick on another. And without trading one? How do they not draft DT Dan Williams or LG Mike Iupati? Really, really strange pick.

Usually don't agree with Jason Whitlock, but this paragraph from his column on the World Cup had me nodding my head, yes:
Someone—most likely an ESPN executive—sent out a memo that this is the yeargoes American mainstream. There’s no upside in discussing how boring soccer is. The smart money is on recognizing there’s a generation of 30-somethings who grew up playing soccer and a generation of 50-somethings who spent their 30s and 40s taking kids to soccer practices.
Very true. Soccer seems to be shoved down our throat the way the boys over at ESPN are covering it.

MLBTradeRumors.com had an interesting quote from Joel Sherman. He said that a better choice for a trade for the Mets might be Ted Lilly of the Cubs. Lilly is in the last year of a four-year deal with the Cubs—for which, he's been a bargain. Lilly has had a 1.136 WHIP for the Cubs over those 4 years, a 3.65 ERA, and this year has had a 3.18 ERA. he loved his time in New York with the Yankees  and would most definitely love to play for a contender this year. And, most of all, would probably cost a lot less than Lee.

Over at SI.com, Eric Winston does a nice job filling in for Peter King. He has a few ideas about how to change football for the better, the OT does, and some of them aren't half bad, especially the first one, which I have touted myself more than once. Go take a look.

This nonsense about if Jamie Moyer makes it to 300 wins, he gets into the Hall of Fame, is just that. Utter nonsense. Winning 300 shouldn't earn you a free ticket to Cooperstown. It took Moyer, what about 48 seasons to win 300. Look at Tommy John. he's not in, but has an ERA a full run per game lower. Why, because he only won 288 instead of 300? Moyer's WHIP is higher, his ERA+ is higher. Same thing for Bert Blyleven, who's not in. He has a WHIP and ERA are way lower than Moyer, but he's not in. Yet if Moyer makes it to 300, he gets in? Ridiculous.


I guess I was a little premature last week in saying that Roger Federer might be slipping.

If, as rumored, Chris Bosh and King James go to Chicago, you may, right there, have the next World Champions. Add those 2 to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng, and that's a starting five to match anybody.
Hey, Carlos Zambrano and B/J/ Upton. Play well, then you get to open your mouth. Upton, you're batting .223 and loafing after balls. And Zambrano, you've got a 5.56 ERA and a WHIP near 1.7. So, seriously, guys, shut up and improve your game.

Interesting point by Fangraphs.com where they push for Steven Strasburg to make the All-Star game. have to say, I totally agree with them. I haven't watched the All-Star game in years, but I might if SS were there.

You want the difference between the American League and the National League? Just watch the Yankees 9th inning against Jonathan Broxton. Broxton, the Dodger's closer came into the game with a downright silly .083 ERA, and who had allowed all of two earned runs all season. Then he met the AL East. And that is the difference.

As if it wasn't crazy enough that over 90,000 people went to the Spring Game at the U. of Alabama, but now ESPNU is running reruns of the game constantly. Really?

And lastly, a really and truly ridiculous kerfuffle has arisen in the political world. Namely, some left-wing politicos have queried "Is it racist to hate soccer?" I mean, what the hell? I can't hate the world's most boring, frustrating and tedious game because it might be racist. Heck, I've always thought of myself as a relatively open-minded guy, but if hating soccer is wrong then i don't want to be right.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I'm Right; Everyone Else is Wrong.

So, tooting my own horn in this blog. I’m going to go over past blog points where I said stuff that no one agreed with, and it turns out I was right.

Hating The Granderson Trade
Back in December, I wrote a blog post saying I hated, hated, hated this trade. I was looking forward to seeing Austin Jackson play for the Yankees, didn’t want to get rid of Phil Coke and Ian Kennedy and absolutely felt awful getting Curtis Jackson. SO, was I right? Granderson is batting .243 and a 320. OBA. Austin Jackson, the early front-runner for ROY, has cooled off, but is still batting .302, or 59 points higher than Granderson. He plays a flawless CF and is still only 23, and is far cheaper. Phil Coke has a flat 3.00 ERA and would fit nicely into the shaky Yankee bullpen right about now. And Ian Kennedy has a 3.77 ERA and has given up only 83 hits in 100 IP.

I'll put that one in the "hooray for me" category.

Allowing Brett Gardner To Be A Starter.
I wrote a couple of posts stating that Gardner could be an ideal outfielder and starter for the Yankees. A bunch of guys around the web, “Leading off and playing centerfield for the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees, number 11, Brett Gardner.” And this: “Everybody…Please stop. Brett Gardner is not going to start for the Yankees at any position. Period.”

Ooops.

That The Yankees Shouldn’t Sign John Lackey
Most thought the Yankees, one year after signing 2 of the top free agent pitchers on the market, that the Yankees should sign another one. One guy even thought the Yankees should ignore Roy Halladay to the point of signing John Lackey. In any event, I was against the signing. Here’s what I wrote last Nov.

The point being that, of course, John Lackey is an excellent pitcher and any team would love to have him. But the risk-reward analysis, mixed with the fact that everyone knows that the Yankees have overspent in the past and will try to use that to their advantage, makes Lackey a real hazardous sign.

Right now, Lackey has a 4.77 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP, has given up the 4th most hits in the AL. He makes 18.7 million dollars this year and is signed through 2014.

I should be running the Yankees, right?

Don’t Sign Derek Lowe
Last off-season, a whole bunch of sports gurus said the Yankees should sign Derek Lowe. However, if you checked certain numbers, it wouldn’t make sense. Here’s what I wrote in Nov 2008:
...when you consider his last three years in Boston, his innings per “games started” dropped each of those seasons, while both his “hits” and “runs” surrendered rose dramatically (his WHIP was a ghastly 1.615 his last year at Fenway), there’s something to be said for proceeding with caution on this one. Maybe there’s more to Boras saying, “Zito-type” when talking about Lowe.
The last two seasons have shown Lowe to have a 4.6 ERA. He led the NL in hits allowed last season with 232. He had an 8.35 ERA last season in interleague games, which is a terrifying thought when you consider he would have been playing in the AL all season. Lowe is in the second season of a 4-year 60 million dollar contract. The Braves tried to trade Lowe this past offseason, but could not find anyone to take him.

Do Not Trade Phil Hughes For Johan Santana
Have to go back to 2007 for this one. And unlike Mike Lupica who wrote seemingly once a day from 2008 until the beginning of this season, that the Yankees should have traded Hughes for Santana, back in early 2008, I voted against it harshly. Mainly for one reason; his arm strength was beginning to wane. An in the NL, in a pitcher-friendly stadium, that could be covered. In the AL East, in Yankee Stadium, it would not. 

So what has happened. Well, firstly, in interleague games the past 3 seasons, Santana, in 70.1 innings, has earned a 5.01 ERA. And after a fine first season with the Mets, his ERA has climbed each season. His K=9 has plummetted this season and his H/9 has gone up to the highest its been since 2001.

In short his fastball velocity has dropped 2 mph since 2008 and almost 3 mph since 2007. Santana has been trying to compensate by throwing more sliders and 2-seamers, but with the velocity of his changeup dropping as well, his overall arsenal isn't as dangerous as it once was. Even the major media peeps are starting to get wind of this.

And Santana's velocity will only get worse, not better.

So.......Right again.

All kidding aside, I am wrong often and spectacularly, but all the above articles I wrote basically follow the theme of the Yankees should be extra, extra cautious about trading prospects for big stars, and cautious about signing big ticket free agents. Not that they shouldn't have signed Sabathia and Teixiera—I was for both of those—and I was a fan of the Swisher trade as well as the Pudge Rodriguez trade. It's just that cliche's are true. Sometimes the best trade/deal is, is the one you don't make.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five

Sick today...so here's a very ill version of the Friday Five.

1. What's the weirdest/silliest injury an athlete has ever had?

2. What high draft pick/player, who was full of talent—but who's career was washed out by injuries—do you worst for?

3. Have you ever seen an athlete vomit in a game? What about something worse?

4. What was the worst in-game injury you ever saw?

5. When do you think Derek Jeter will be too old to play shortstop anymore. What about too old to play at all?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Is It Time To Switch Brett Gardner To Leadoff?


Brett Gardner is batting 324. His OBP is .404. second highest on the Yankees, and 77 points higher than Derek Jeter. He also has 23 stolen bases, by far the highest on the Yankees.

In short, he is the perfect prototypical and perfect lead off hitter.

Over his career, Derek Jeter’s batting average when batting first or second is exactly the same: .316. However, this year, for whatever reason, Jeter is expanding his strike zone and as a result, hitting many ineffectual ground balls. His O-swing % (swinging at pitches outside the strike zone is 28.9%. up from 22.0% last year, and up from under 20% for his career. Over his career, Jeter has a .261 BA on ground balls—effecting at shooting balls through the holes, especially to the right side. However, now with Jeter expanding the strike zone, he’s reaching and hitting balls softly to the right more than ever, and his BA for ground balls is just .221. Also, he’s hitting more ground balls than ever in his career—meaning he’s keeping it on the ground, and he’s hitting them harmlessly.

Who knows why? Could very well just be a slump. It probably isn’t the inevitable decline everyone is expecting to happen to Jeter—though it could be. Doubtful as that may be, I think a switch to 2nd might suit him well.

That said, Brett Gardner has made his case to be a lead off hitter. His OBP and speed make him perfect suited for the lead off position. And for a team slumping a little lately to score runs, having Gardner lead off a game might be a catalyst to
jump start an offense that hasn’t scored more than 4 runs in the last six games and is batting .238 for the last 14 games. At least for one inning.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Transactions....

Not saying I don't like the new Golden State Warriors logo—but let me just say this. First off, I have always hated the name Golden State. I mean, Golden State, where the hell is that? What is it? Just a stupid name. And second, the logo is kinda 70s, but in a not-so-bad way. It's just that it doesn't have anything to do with the name of your team, Warriors. Nothing in the logo reflects their name. So what are the Warriors doing, defending the bridge? I kinda don't get it.


Not sure who would trade for Albert Haynesworth at this point. An inveterate knucklehead, known for antics and laziness, who would trade for a guy with a 7-year, 100 million dollar contract, who last year, got 4 sacks, no forced fumbles and 30 tackles (roughly 2 a game). And even with Haynes there, the Redskins were a middle of the pack 16th in rush defense last year. So is this the guy—a headcase who underachieved—you want to taking tens of millions of your money?


Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times feels that the Angles should get Dan Haren in a trade. Well, sure fine, but you have to wonder if Haren is OK. After a banner year last year, where he had a WHIP of 1.003, this year, his WHIP is the highest since 2004 and his ERA is his highest since his rookie year at 4.71. His last outing had Haren getting rocked by the Red Sox for 4 runs in 5.2 IP. So, Angels, are you sure this this is the guy you want to bring into the AL and pay his salary through 2012?


Another thing I don't get—a ref not having to explain a call. Now, I know less about soccer than just about anyone. But, when a ref calls off a goal in the World freakin' Cup and doesn't have to explain anything at all—not what the infraction was, not anything. He doesn't have to because FIFA, the soccer organization who runs this thing said the rules state that a ref doesn't have to explain anything ever.  Which makes no sense. Especially when every single replays show if there was a foul, it would have been on Slovania who were bear-hugging some American soccer players. I knew soccer was boring, but I didn't realize it was insane. I mean, imagine an ump calling off a game-winning walk-off home run in the World Series, and not having to explain why. This has to change.


As this is being written, Roger Federer has lost the first 2 sets of his first match at Wimbledon. I know the man has to eventually decline, after an amazing career, especially at Wimbledon—where he has won 6 out of the last 7 Wimbledons. Yet, losing your first 2 sets is pretty dramatic. I'm probably being a little overdramatic, but after a decisive beating by Robin Soderling in the quarters of the French Open, and now this....I hope Federer will still be able to play some competitive tennis for a little while longer.


Sage Rosenfels should be traded soon. Why not Buffalo. They already have a roster filled with unproven, middling quarterbacks. Why not one more?


Have to give a big shoutout to Carl Pavano for making me look good. Right after I wrote my feature on him last week, what does the Pavaninator do, but dial up a one-run, complete game efort, holding the Phillies to 4 hits and no walks. And hell, who was pitching against him and took the loss loss, but The Hoss, Roy Halliday. Heck, beating Halladay in Philadelphia for a complete game. Thanks for making me look good, Pavano.


Trade proposal. Dan Uggla to the Padres. The Padres are 1st in the NL West, but they've been carried by their pitching. They are 3rd to last in almost every offensive category, including runs per game, Slugging, OBP, BA and home runs. All they can say is thank god for Pittsburgh and Houston. Dan Uggla could come in, take over right field (he's never going to get a Gold Glove at 2B anyway) and provide some pop for the Padres. And it would look good to local fans in San Diego that the Padres management is serious about winning the West.


You see Josh Hamilton going 5 for 6 yesterday, raising his average to .337 and his slugging percentage to .600, you have to look at him and say, damn, imaging what he could have done if he hadn't wasted all those years.


And lastly, let me just say, "I knew it!"

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday Five

1. Overall, which is the better franchise: the Lakers or the Celtics?

2. If you were at a game, and someone was playing that irritating horn from the World Cup right behind you....what would you do to them?

3. Where does Roy Oswalt end up?

4. Albert Haynesworth refuses to play NT, even though his contract is the biggest in NFL history for a defensive player. Is this the most obnoxious contract holdout in sports history? if not, who's was?

5. Can anyone explain to me—clearly and reasonably, how cutie, Jody Applegate ended up dating good broadcaster but Oscar Madison-type schlub, Michael Kay. Please, I really need an explanation.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Unexpected Redemption of Carl Pavano


I’ve always felt bad for Carl Pavano. His name, especially in New York, is a joke. He’s known as a failure, a guy who signs a big contract and does nothing to earn it. The Eddy Curry of the Yankees. “American Idle.” A loser.

Everybody, including his Yankee teammates eviscerated him in the press. They made fun of him, rolled their eyes and most of all, questioned his drive, felt he didn’t try to push past injuries, that he was a quitter. But, if that was so, why would he try to hide broken ribs from the team to go out and pitch? I always felt he got a raw deal.

It was bad luck, rather than a lack of drive, that damaged Carl Pavano’s career—in fact almost ended it. Well, at least for a while.

There’s no denying—either due to injury; not being able to get into a groove; or just plain stage fright—Pavano pitched awfully in New York. When he pitched. In 4 years, Pavano pitched a total of 145 innings, and racked up a 5.00 ERA—a disappointment to say the very least. Especially when you consider that he was coming off a year in Florida where he threw 222.1 IP and earned a 3.00 ERA. The Yankees, needing starting pitching, signed him for 4 years at just under 40 million dollars in the winter before the 2005 season.

And then the roof caved in.

Like a lot of National League pitchers coming to not only the AL but to the white-hot spotlight of Yankee Stadium, Pavano didn’t pitch well his first year as a Yankee. Actually, his first month was good, but by the end of his first year as a Yankee—which ended in early July due to right shoulder tendinitis—Pavano had been beaten up a bit and had earned a 4.77 ERA, not quite what the Yankees had in mind. That was his best season as a Yankee.

In 2006, Pavano didn’t pitch at all. First he badly bruised his buttocks (no joke) in spring training, and then broke his ribs in a car accident. The broken ribs, Pavano tried to hide from the Yankees. When they found out, the Yankees were “more than little disappointed.” In effect, that ended Pavano’s career in New York. The press and his own team were against him from that point forward.

In 2007, Joe Torre decided to let Pavano be the opening day starter against the Tampa Rays. He got shelled. His next start was much better. Unfortunately, it was his last one of 2007. A pain in his elbow became Tommy John surgery which shut him down for the year. Coming back from the surgery in late 2008, Pavano pitched exceptionally poorly and ended the season with a 5.77 ERA. Pavano was openly booed and mocked by fans and the media alike. His ego was crushed and his teammates had nothing but open scorn for him in the press.

Pavano got an incentive-laden contract with the Cleveland Indians. He didn’t reach the incentives—he pitched awfully in 21 starts. With a truly terrible Indian team around him, nothing rubbed off on Pavano—nothing positive anyway. It was obvious to anyone who watched him pitch in Cleveland that he was a shell of himself. He looked indecisive on the mound, and had none of his former talent at his fingertips. He tried to throw his fastball by people, except batters hit .298 off him, and righties hit .317. In his first start as an Indian, Pavano gave up 9 runs in one inning. Still a joke around baseball, Pavano ended up with a 5.77 ERA in Cleveland and was traded to the Twins for essentially a Twinkie and a nail file.

However...a funny thing happened in Minnesota. Dropped into the middle of a fierce pennant race on a very good team, Pavano began to pitch better. Not hugely better; he didn’t transform overnight, but he began to look more assured of himself. His first start as a Twin was against the rival Tigers. Pavano threw a 7-inning shutout. Next time up against the Tigers, with the Twins closing in on the AL Central leaders and needing a win, Pavano threw 7 innings and gave up only 2 runs for a win. Pavano ended the 2009 season on a bad 3-game stretch, but in the playoffs, against his old team, the Yankees, Pavano got a small measure of revenge. Pavano held the powerful Yankee lineup to just 2 runs in 7 innings, keeping it to a one run game, until the Yankees scored 2 in the 9th and put the game away. He held the most powerful offense in baseball to 5 hits and struck out 9.

Even if the Twins lost, personally for Pavano, it must have felt like a vindication. He showed on a national stage, his former team, who had badmouthed him publicly, that he could pitch. That he was more a victim of bad luck rather than a bad teammate.

This past off-season Pavano accepted arbitration from the Twins. And as of today, he is now, arguably, the ace of the Twin staff. With a 3.92 ERA and a WHIP of 1.145—lower than his banner year of 2004—Pavano has 7 wins, or 2 less than he had with his 4 years as a Yankee. Pavano is 3rd in the American league in BB/9 IP with 1.443. He has an outside chance of getting 20 wins for the first time in his career.

Yogi Berra famously said: “Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.” He could have been describing Carl Pavano. The half of the game that was physical was Pavano’s problem with the Yankees; he couldn’t stay healthy. And with his physical half repeatedly injured, Pavano’s 90% mental part became flattened. In short, his injuries caused his mental lock. When his teammates lost faith in him, he lost faith in himself. And when he lost faith, he lost games.

In a way, Pavano is extremely lucky. There aren’t many athletes who, when broken and faithless, get a chance to redeem themselves. Pavano got his chance to face his former team in a playoff game, and when he got that chance, pitched to the level he was capable of. And in doing that, he was able to grab the touchstone of his former self. To repeat, not many athletes get that chance, and the few who do often crumble under the pressure. We’re seeing Dontrelle Willis go through the same thing right now. Utterly broken and given up by 2 teams, Dontrelle is trying to find what he once had before, but lost. Can he make his way back to the pitcher he once was?

Who knows? But the fact that Carl Pavano can go from The Worst Free Agent Signing in Yankee History and One of the Worst Free Agent Signings of All Time to a successful front-line start for a playoff bound team shows that it can be done. Redemption is possible.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are the Yankees Trusting Their Farm System (a little)?

The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in the MLB. Which shouldn't come as a shock to anybody. The Yankees haven't "rebuilt" since the early 90s, so adding pieces rather than starting over had been the Modus Operendi for quite a while.

The core we all know is old. Jeter is 36, positively Jurassic for a shortstop. Alex Rodriguez is 34 and his hip is far older than that—his stats this year show that. Posada is 38 and probably will never be a full-time catcher ever again, as his body has finally realized how old and beat up it really is. Never mind Nick Johnson, who's body is 31 going on 63. Andy Pettite so far has given Father Time the slip this year, but who knows how long his shoulder will hang in there? And while Vasquez, Rivera and Burnett are pitching well of late, all have had their slipping-down moments and aren't getting younger, any of them. And if we're to believe Bill James, since all are over the age of 33, a steady decline is in store for all of them.

Point being, the Yankees, and their 40-23 record, have had less to do with their big-name, big-ticket star veterans—and more to do with young unproven kids—than it has been for a long, long time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Transactions...

As Public Enemy said, you shouldn't believe the hype....except when its that Strausberg kid. Kid is filthy. I mean his change-up is 90 mph. That's just unfair.


Jason Bay loves playing in Citi Field. I mean, come on! In Fenway last season, he had a measly 36 HRs. Now this season...he's got 4. Heck yeah! It's June 14th and he's got 4. Yeah, Jason, maybe you should have stayed in Fenway, dude. Oh and the Mets cannot be happy that 60 million dollars bought them a slugging percentage 70 points behind Rod Barajas.


So Texas and Oklahoma go to the Pac-10. Nebraska goes to the Big 10. And maybe West Virginia and Pitt goes to the ACC. Like I said before, I couldn't care less about all of this, as long as it ends up with 4 mega-conferences and a playoff system.


I can't help thinking that the Red Sox are going to trade Jonathan Papelbon. Maybe not in July, but next winter perhaps. Papelbon just doesn't look like the same guy from a few years back. Don't get me wrong, he's still an excellent closer. And that's the point. With Daniel Bard behind him and pitching extremely well, the Red Sox have the luxury of trading Papelbon, and still having a closer ready to step up. So they trade him to a team that needs a closer (Washington? Philadelphia?) and pull in some prospects.


For his own good, I felt Tom Izzo should have stayed at Michigan State, but if he does go to Cleveland, I think LeBron stays.


Great article on Jamie Moyer in the Baseball Times and how he deified the odds when it comes to the longevity of his career. A career that began with his first game pitching against....Steve Carlton.While the guy may never be a Hall of Famer (and he shouldn't be), you have to admire the man's perseverance.



Nothing like stompin' on truly awful teams to get your mojo back.


Didn't Shaq say a while back that he was going to retire before he got to old and busted? Pretty sure he did.


And finally, as if I needed another reason to hate the so-called "sport" known as soccer—oh sorry, I mean futball—the World Cup has provided one. The freakin' vuvuzela. Trying to watch the games with that constant irritating blaring for 3 ungodly hours....well it proved impossible. Seriosly, one of the most annoying sound I've ever heard—along with Bill Walton. The World Cup is wondering why the games selling out? How about because everyone around blaring these things in your ears for 3 hours while you watch an insanely boring game?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sabathia: One Guy's Opinion

Contrary to what some believe, I don’t think what we saw last night from Sabathia was the CC of old. It was the same Sabathia we’ve seen all season, just pitching to the hapless Baltimore Orioles.

The main problem is this: Sabathia’s mechanics are off. His shoulder is flying off too early and too many of his pitches are ending up in the zone and just outside on righthanded batters. Check out this video:  Even on one of the strikeouts, at 1:05, Cervelli sets up way inside on the righty hitter, but the curveball ends up way outside. Luckily for Sabathia, Atkins swung anyway. That notwithstanding, Sabathia is pulling a lot of his pitches up and outside on righties, and creating opportunities for batters to drive balls into the outfield, as Atkins and Izturis did in the 2nd inning. Normally Sabathia is able to bore his fastballs and jam righties or make them miss. Righties strike out 21% of the time against Sabathia.

Fortunately, Sabathia was pitching to the Orioles, who have given him 3 of his 4 wins this season. (His other win was against the Red Sox, even though he pitched terribly.) Last season, Sabathia started off a little cold, but by early June, he had dropped his ERA to a respectable 3.6 level. Hopefully, Sabathia takes this game as a good omen and rights himself. But from what I saw yesterday, Sabathia was more a victim of good luck and a bad baseball team, than a pitcher who gave a great performance.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is Joba Broke?


Right now, the Yankees are winning at a .621 clip, slightly down from last year’s .636 winning percentage. Considering Mark Teixeira is hitting like Mark Twain, Jorge Posada has missed a bunch of time as has Curtis Granderson, A-Rod isn’t hitting like A-Rod yet, and the bullpen has been, to say it politely, unsettled—that’s not too bad.

But one thing in the back of everyone’s mind, seemingly overshadowed by Teixeira’s massive slump, is Joba Chamberlain. His ERA of 5.26 belies something even more troubling. He looks unsettled on the mound, uncomfortable. He looks like a shell of the guy from 2007 and 2008. He looks broke. And that aforementioned ERA would signify that he is. But is he broke forever?

Probably not. It’s a long season, and as recently as May 14th, Chamberlain’s ERA was 2.16. Since then however, he has been utterly shelled 3 times and gave up a run his last time out as well.

When we compare his statistics to 2008—the last time he was a reliever full time—strangely, there doesn’t appear to be much difference between the 2 years. His velocity is the same, the movement on his pitches is on par with his past, and his first pitch strikes are the same as 2008. Also, his walk rate is lower than it’s been since 2007, as is his HR/9 number. What gives?

Two telling stats are O-contact percentage and LD percentage. O-contact is described as the “percentage of times a batter makes contact with the ball when swinging at pitches thrown outside the strike zone.” And for Joba, it’s way way up this season, one of the few stats that is very disparate from his past stats. What this says is that Chamberlain isn’t hitting his spots and is leaving balls in places hitters can drive them. Joba’s Z-contact percentage—the percent of times a batter makes contact when swinging at pitches in the strike zone—is the same. So when he hits his spots, his results are the same as always—Ks, and lots of them. It’s when he misses his spots—he doesn’t miss well, and hitters hit him hard. The second telling statistic confirms this.

Chamberlain’s GB/FB percentage is close to the same as they have been in the past; however his line drive percentage is way up. He’s leaving his pitches in spots where hitters can hit it. And not just hit them; but make good contact and drive them.

So overall, this is just about Chamberlain hitting his spots. Which isn’t a huge, huge problem. When Chamberlain does hit his spots, he can be a tough pitcher to face. Again, less than a month ago, he had a 2.16 ERA and 21 Ks in 17 IP. He’s got a live arm and a filthy slider. And remember, Chamberlain is only 24. And young pitchers often have mechanical issues that flair up from time to time. So, right now, is Joba broke? Yes, a little bit. But it’s nothing that can’t be fixed.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Transactions....

Don't look now, but Brett Gardner is batting .311. Or 100 points more than Mark Teixeira. Wrap your noodle around that one.


College divisions expanding. Yeah, sure. but only if it leads to a playoff system.


Regarding the MLB Draft that starts tonite.....just a friendly reminder...Albert Pujols was selected in the 13th round.


Really surprised that the Red Sox haven't been able—or haven't wanted to—trade Mike Lowell yet. Sure he's getting older, but he did bat .290 last year and had an OPS+. Though that someone like, say the Angels would be all over Lowell to fill in for the failing Brandon Wood, help fill in for Kendry Morales and be a mentor to the younger players on that team.

If I were Tom Izzo, I would not go to Cleveland, LeBron or no LeBron. Izzo, you're a great college coach. The pro game, and pro athletes are a whole different animal.


Could you imagine if the Blue Jays still had Roy Halladay on their staff? Their top 4 in the rotation would have been Halladay, Marcum, Romero and Tallet. That's a fierce 4 to go into the playoffs with.


Really people?


The National Football Post did a good job scouting and breaking down Terrelle Pryor's game. Short version. Great talent, but still not on top of the mental aspects of the game after two years. Worth a read.


Jayson Stark's article about the pitchers GM's project to be the best for the next 10 years is really interesting. Couple shockers. Surprised Phil Hughes, Zach Grienke and Matt Garza were so low and Josh Johnson was so high. And the fact that Tim Lincecum only got 3 votes. Kinda ridiculous. yes he's small, but so is Roy Oswalt.


I can't stand guys who've been in the league about half a hour complaining about their contract. Sit down, shut up and go win a ring before you start complaining


Sorry, but no.


And goodbye and farewell Ken Griffey. While the entire baseball world, seemingly, was taking performance-enhancers, you did it all on your own. God bless and see you in Cooperstown.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

What's Wrong With Buffalo?

Not too, too long ago, the Buffalo Bills were among the upper class of the NFL. They appeared in 4 straight Super Bowls, averaged an 11-5 record through 1988 through 1996 and had names like Marv Levy, John Butler, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly on their roster.

Since those days though, the Bills are a empty uniform of a football team. They've had Tom Donahue, Mike Mularky, Rob Johnson and J.P. Losman. They've had a first round draft pick arrested for stealing $20. Another first round picks suggested that the Bills should move to Toronto. They've been called out by their own players for a lack of direction. Mismanagement, poor coaching and even worse personnel decisions have shredded this franchise. In fact, during the entire decade that just passed, the Bills didn't play one snap of playoff football. They had one season over .500, a 9-7 season in 2004.

And now the Bills are mired in above-average poor football. I say "above-average poor" because, they haven't even crashed and burned and had to start over with very high draft picks—picks that become franchise anchors. In fact, in the last 5 drafts had the Bills select 9th, 11th, 11th, 12th and 8th. Just bad enough to be irreversibly mediocre.

Let's take a look at some of the recent poor decisions the Bills have made and how it led them to where they are now.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Five

1. Would you have changed the perfect game call? Explain.

2. Who would you rather have, Prince Fielder or Ryan Howard?

3. Which quarterback will be the first to get benched this season? Why?

4. If you had to guess, by the way his crickety bones move, how old would you guess Ray Allen is?

5. Besides the people who hang out outside OTB's, do you know anybody who goes to the horse races regularly? Have you ever been?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Derek Jeter vs. Cal Ripken

When Derek Jeter came up to the pros, he was widely considered to be the 3rd, or in some cases, 4th best shortstop of his era, behind Alex Rodriguez, Nomar Garciaparra, or even Miguel Tejada. As of now, with Rodriquez manning 3rd base, Tejada forever linked to a steroid scandal and the self-implosion of Garciaparra, few would argue against that Derek Jeter will go down in history as the best full-time shortstop of his generation.

But what about the previous generation? Iron Cal Ripken was the flagship shortstop of his generation. How does Jeter stand up next to Ripken and which was the better shortstop?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Radio Interview

A while back, I was interviewed on WIMA radio in Cincinnati. It was about Competitive Balance in Baseball. The discussion was lively and a lot of fun. Here are the 2 audio links. Enjoy.


Part 1

http://www.4shared.com/audio/xuN4_qBl/Paul_Catalano.html


Part 2

http://www.4shared.com/audio/Rz6LULgx/Paul_Catalano_2.html

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Transactions....

Seriously......what the heck is wrong with the Olympic committee? I mean look at the picture of their idea of the 2012 Olympic Mascot and tell me...is there oversight at all? I mean, it looks like something out of a child's sugar-fueled nightmare.

 
Did you see those drop shots Roger Federer was dropping in the first round. And with his first round opponent ranked something like 237th in the world. Just not fair.


Good brief from Ken Rosenthal about the Angel's problems. Sure, they are only 2-1/2 games out, but they are 1 game under .500. Brandon Wod is a bust, Erick Aybar is underperforming, and Matsui is just not young anymore. They are batting .250 as a team and OBP is just .315. And this year, they don't have the pitching to help them out. With Kendry Morales out, this could be a long summer for Angels fans.


Rosenthal also writes that considering the Cardinals recent injuries and their tenuous hold on the NL Central lead, that they might be interested in a trade for Mark Buehrle. With the White Sox fading, this might be a trade that makes sense. Says Rosenthal:

Here’s a thought for the Cardinals, though it is merely speculation: White Sox lefty Mark Buehrle, a native of St. Charles, Mo., who always has wanted to pitch for his hometown team. The White Sox, eight games back in the AL Central, would not necessarily concede by trading Buehrle; they could replace him in their rotation with Triple A right-hander Dan Hudson. Buerhle gains full no-trade protection on July 15, but the bigger obstacle would be the money remaining on his contract – the balance of his $14 million salary this season and another $14 million next season.

Interesting. And with Carpenter, Wainwright, Garcia and Buehrle....not to mention Brad Penny if he comes back healthy, they would have a devastating rotation heading into the playoff run.


Gotta love SI.com's Lebron Watch. up to the second data on where LeBron will sign and everything LeBron. OK, even a hardcore sports fan like me thinks this is a bit much.


So apparently, athletes like to meet women and arrange to meet them. Shocking! I am shocked!



Derek Jeter is as smooth as a politician speaking at a fundraiser. That said, if he is intransigent about a potential position switch...it could be trouble.



Maybe this is overly harsh...but has anybody ever gotten more press in his athletic career while accomplishing not a whole lot, than Vince Carter? Dude averaged 22.9 points per game in his career—about the same as Bernard King— on 44% shooting (King averaged 52% shooting for the points he got). That shooting percentage dropped to .415% in the playoffs—not the most clutch dude out there. Yes, the man could dunk. And I'm not saying that "VinSanity" didn't have a nice career, just saying that the hype he got was way past the results he produced.


Not to jump on the bandwagon...but yes. The MLB umpires do seem to be making more mistakes and getting more emotional about it this year.


Some people say that the Orioles might be willing to trade Adam Jones if the price is right? Why, well digging into Jones' splits, it seems Jones has developed this nasty problem of not being able to hit lefties. And it's getting worse, where this season he's batting roughly his weight (.226) against lefties. Should they get a team in need of defense & speed and young legs in the outfield, and who can tutor his batting issues, the orioles might do well to trade him for a pitcher who can actually pitch.


While it would be nice if everything worked out for Bobby Carpenter and the Rams—the Rams think they have their opening day WLB—and who knows? They could be right. but I do have to remind them, Carpenter has started 3 games in 4 years with the Cowboys. Not even a game a year.


And lastly.....maybe you saw this layup on SportsCenter...but you should see it again. Just for the look Phil Jackson gives right after.