Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday's Spring Training Games

Twenty-four more days! Twenty-four more days! With that scroll yet written, let's look at the scribbles that were made in Spring Training games today:

- The Angels beat the Cubs, 8-2. The Chicago's Gaudin was maudlin after getting mauled for six runs in an inning and two thirds. Kendry Morales, who is having a great spring and is hoping to make people forget about Mr. Teixeira, hit a homer and drove in four. Ryan Theriot, the Cajun affectionately known as "The Riot," is quietly having a super spring and is batting .444.

- Another squad of Cubbies beat the Mariners, who apparently can't even beat half a team. Sean Marshall had another great start and has a sparkling 0.68 ERA this spring. Mark Lowe, who is supposed to be the Mariner closer this year, did his best Todd Jones impression and gave up four baserunners in one inning of work.

- The Giants beat the Rockies, 7-3, in ten innings. Kevin Pucetas had a good, solid start for the Giants. Eugenio Valez had three hits while leading off for the Giants.

- In Manny's first game, the Dodgers beat the Rangers, 4-3. Manny had two walks and a base hit in three appearances. Both starters didn't fare well for the teams. All those who pitched after did well. Josh Hamilton hit his third homer of the spring and is batting .400. Ausmus had another hit and is still batting .444. The Rangers fielded four double plays with Elvis Andrus involved in all four.

- Aaron Laffey threw no hit ball for four innings and the Indians beat Oakland. Victor Martinez played first base and Shoppach caught the game. Get used to a lot of that this summer.

- Zack Greinke got cuffed around as the Royals lost to Milwaukee. Gallardo had a great start for the Brewers and Fielder and Weeks both homered. The Royals only got four hits in the game.

- The White Sox pounded San Diego, 15-4. The first four pitchers for the Padres got torched including Chris Young. Konerko hit his third homer of the spring and had three ribbies. Jayson Nix went 0-3 for the White Sox and is still batting .500.

- The Braves beat the Marlins, 9-2 as phenom, Tommy Hanson got the win and Parr was great after Hanson. Johnson had another good start for the Marlins, but then Sean West came in and blew it up with six runs given up. Omar Infante is batting .385 for the Braves. How does Bobby Cox DO that?

- Pittsburgh got another great start from a starter (Duke this time) and beat the Phillies. Jeff Salazar had a three run homer in his only at bat for the Pirates. The Pirates have a kid at second named, Brian Bixler, who is batting .391. He got three more hits today. Ryan Howard hit is fifth spring homer for the Phillies.

- The Cardinals beat the Orioles, 5-4, and got a good start from McClellan. Eaton got the start for the Orioles and only gave up two runs in three innings. Pretty good for him. Khalil Greene keeps pounding the ball and hit a homer for the Cardinals. Matt Wieters had two more hits. Are you listening, McPhail?

- Toronto beat the Bay Rays by the score of 3 to 1 and David Purcey pitched four fantastic innings. Some kid named, Bradley Emaus, had a double and a triple for the Blue Jays.

- Edwin Jackson was brutal for the Tigers, who lost to the Mets today, 9-3. Jose Valentin hit a homer. Freddy Garcia did not have a good start for the Mets, but he was followed by Parnell who pitched very well. Daniel Murphy had three hits for the Mets and is having a great spring.

- Micah Owings had a terrific four-inning start for the Reds who won the game, 1-0, over the Twins. Liriano pitched great too, but got the loss as he gave up the lone run on a homer by Gomes.

- Boston got first blood against the Yankees and won, 8-4. Wang got winged, but six of his seven runs given up were unearned. That rule doesn't make sense. Wang gave up two homers. He earned those runs pretty good, no? Red Sox Nation has to be happy that the trio of David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and J. D. Drew all had good games. Brett Tomko had five strikeouts in 3.1 innings of shut out ball. Interesting. And Igawa hasn't given up a run for the Yankees all spring. Imagine that! Papelbonhead had a great inning as did Daniel Bard (again).

- The Astros and Nationals played to a 2-2 tie in ten innings. Mike Hampton had a great start, going four innings without giving up a run. Comeback player of the year?

And that's the skinny on games for Friday. See you all tomorrow.

A Punny Thing Happened on the Way to This Week's Transactions

It's that time of the week again, Folks, when we review the last seven days worth of transactions in a slightly irreverent way. If you tend to roll your eyes and groan at your dad's stupid jokes, you probably won't want to read any further...

Most of these folks are headed back to the minor leagues so you may miss the fun if you are unfamiliar with the young players. Oh well. It's too late to turn back now. Here in Maine, the snow must go on.

- It wasn't an Easely decision to make for the Diamondbacks, but they sent their catcher, Ed, back to the minors.

- Another Diamondback, Brooks Brown, was sent down stream and went to the minors.

- Rockies catcher, Rosario, said he was Wilin to polish his skills further in the minors. But he is hoping for a chance in the majors soon.

- Oakland's Chris Carter couldn't catch a pass to the big league club and is headed to the minors.

- Former closer, Eric, said: "Gagne with a spoon, I'm a free agent again," after the Brewers released him.

- Ross, the Nationals hurler, is going to be in Detwiler he toils some more in the minor leagues.

- Cubs' pitcher, Brian Schlitter threw his glove at the ....uhh...toilet...when told he didn't make the team.

- The Cubs also signed a German to a minor league contract. Esteban is hoping that the chance will be his autobahn back to the majors.

- The Cubs also sent outfielder, Richie Robnett to

- Detroit pitcher, Rudy Darrow, was hoping that the jury was still out on his status, but he got the verdict that he was sent down.

- Detroit also had a pitcher named Jon Kibler who was impressive in bits, but the front office decided that Kibler in bits wasn't enough and demoted him.

- The fan doesn't understand it, but that pitcher named Wells Kips getting offers to pitch despite his history. This time, he signed with the Nationals with a minor league contract.

- When the rolls are called up Yonder, Alonso won't be there. The Reds pitcher was demoted.

- Too bad Chad Reineke wasn't named, "Meineke," because then he would have had options and his tailpipe wouldn't have been kicked to the minors.

- The Nationals didn't tell Brian a Brownlie or a whitelie and told him he needed to get better with more time in the minors.

- The Nationals' Destin Hood wasn't Destined to make the team. He got sent down.

- Matt Whitney didn't cotton to the idea that he has to go back to the minors. But he doesn't have a choice.

And there it is. Another day, another dollop of transactions in the FanDome.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday's Spring Training Action

That should be "Action" in quotation marks. But games were played anyway. Here is a run down or the low down, whichever homily you prefer:

- The Cards beat the Red Sox after a brilliant six innings by Beckett and Masterson. The Sox were ahead until McBeth came into the game. Though he didn't kill the Cardinals' King Duncan, he did kill the Red Sox and was the loser. Jason Varitek went 0 for 3 and is now batting .105. But Beckett and Masterson probably wouldn't have thrown shutout innings without him, right? For the Cards, leave it to Mather to win the game with a two run homer.

- The Pirates beat the Twins on Thursday and got another great start from a starting pitcher. This time it was Virgil Vazquez. This seems to be a very literary day. First there is Beckett, then McBeth, and now Virgil. And without leaving Homer out, Mr. Baker, fresh off a new big contract felt generous for the Twins and gave up four of those homers in his five innings of work. Ouch. Doumit, McLouth, Monroe had homers. In fact, Craig Monroe hit three of them. Who do you think has a better glove, Doumit or Betemit? Just asking...

- The Bay Rays won a low scoring game. Shields pitched great for Tampa Bay and Methuselah pitched great for the Phillies. Miguel Cairo had two hits for the Phillies, which goes to show that anything can happen in Spring Training. Kapler hit a homer for Tampa Bay, which will make Josh happy.

- Atlanta beat the Nationals, 6-2. Carlyle, who has the beat this spring and hasn't given up a run, got the win in relief. Brandon Jones was the batting hero for Atlanta and is having a good spring.

- The Marlins made a mess of Tim Redding Thursday night. He pitched an inning and gave up eight runs. Woof. Maybin had another good game for the Marlins as did Hermida. Uggla showed that he was Uggla. Three strikeouts on Wednesday, two homers on Thursday. That's Uggla. Santana did start for the Mets and held his own.

- Oakland beat Arizona today. Doolittle did much for the A's as he hit a pitch hit homer. Oakland got another good start from Mazzaro who got the win and hasn't given up a run this spring. Haran pitched okay for the Diamondbacks, but Rosales lost the game for them with a four run inning. Upton is batting .368 this spring.

- The Royals hammered the White Sox today. They got good pitching from Kyle Davies and Ramirez. The two pitched the entire nine innings. Jacobs went two for three for the Royals. He is going to help them. German wasn't well engineered for the White Sox and gave up four runs without getting a single out.

- Ian Stewart had a good day for the Rockies as they beat the Angels, 6-4. Ortmeier also had a good game at the plate. Kendrick had two doubles for the Angels and is batting .500 for the spring.

- San Diego and the Brewers played to a ten inning tie, 10 to 10. The Padres are scoring runs in surprising bunches this week. Prince Fielder hit his first homer of the spring. Kouzmanoff is having a great spring! Corey Hart hit his third homer of the spring.

- Japan beat Zambrano and the Cubs today. Young pitching sensation, Yu Darvish got the start for Japan and the win. The Cubs left 21 men on base.

- The Dodgers beat Korea, 4-2. Randy Wolf had a good start. Remember Shawn Estes? He might be back! He pitched two shutout innings for the Dodgers and hasn't given up a run yet this spring.

That's the round up. The weeds are dead and it's time for bed.

Papelbon Should Shut Up

Most sports fans by now have heard about Jonathan Papelbon's idiotic comments concerning Manny Ramirez. And to be sure, a good writer like Buster Olney, who should know better, but can't get past his Manny obsession, used the quotes as justification of his obsession. Are Papelbon's comments justification or just immature?

A commenter to Olney's post said it best when he mentioned that Papelbon is getting a case of Schillingitis. Great line and right on point. Remember, this is the same pitcher who was upset with his own manager because Francona had enough respect for the game to insist that Mariano Rivera would be his closer for the last All Star game in Yankee Stadium. The guy has some serious gowing up to do.

Do you imagine that his Red Sox teammates are happy with the closer for flapping his lips? Don't imagine they are happy at all. Isn't it the same writers who were so upset at Joe Torre's supposed violation of the clubhouse that are now applauding what Papelbon said? If there was a problem with Ramirez in the Red Sox clubhouse, that would be up to the manager and the leaders among the players to deal with and it would be dealt with in house. Obviously, it did not work for a variety of reasons we will never really understand and the Red Sox traded the guy.

There are always two sides to a messy divorce. Was Ramirez a saint in all this? Probably not. Did he have good reason to feel unappreciated? Probably. Were the Yankees and Bay Rays really happy not to have to face Ramirez when they played the Sox? You betcha.

In either case, it's a done deal. It's time for all parties to move on. Those same Red Sox clubhouse leaders that seemingly couldn't deal with Ramirez, should try to deal with Papelbon and just tell him to shut up. It's easy to toss stones when the target is a continent away. If Papelbon had any stones to begin with, these comments would have been made during the situation and not a half year later.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wednesday Exhibition Games and the WBC

And yes, for those cynical enough, that heading was redundant. Team USA lost, Puerto Rico won. Wait...isn't Puerto Rico a part of the USA? Oh never mind. Here is a look at what happened on Wednesday:

- Verlander had a bad start for the Tigers, but Sabathia was worse and the Yankees lost. Melky Cabrera, who has to feel like someone who forgot the words on American Idol, went hitless and is down to .238 for the spring. The writing is on the wall, Son. Sheffield hit two homers, but, is still old. Teixeira is batting .529.

- The Phillies and Braves had 36 hits between them in a Braves win. Just about every pitcher on either staff barfed except for Reyes. He might be one of the best Braves pitchers at this point. Philadelphia's starter, Kendrick, got bombed. But John Mayberry Jr. hit his third homer of the spring. He is making things interesting in the outfield for that club.

- We can't Harang Aaron today as he pitched very well against the Astros in a Cincinnati win. Homer Bailey pitched well after Harang too. He's looking good this spring. Yesterday in the FanDome, we wondered if De La Rosa was the only three word last named person in the majors. Don't know if he is going to make it past spring, but the Astros have their own: De La Vara. So that question is answered. Hanigan had another hit for the Reds and is hitting a incredulous .529. The Astros may lose 90 games this year.

- The bullpen blew the game for the Orioles as the Twins beat them. Kubel is having a great spring for the Twins. Span and Crede are really struggling though, both hitting well below the Mendoza line. Wieters had another hit and his average is still over .400. Bite the bullet, McPhail. Keep the kid in April.

- The Blue Jays and Pittsburgh played their way to an eleven inning 2-2 tie, which is a bit like kissing your sister except that it meant great pitching for both teams. Halladay was great again as was Pittsburgh's Maholm. Travis Snider is having a great spring for the Blue Jays after a nice September call up last year.

- The Marlins blew the save in the ninth inning, giving up four runs allowing the Cardinals to win 8-4. Wellemeyer looked great for St. Louis in the start. Khalil Greene is having a great spring. The Cardinals do seem to have a knack of taking castoffs and making good players out of them, don't they? Uggla had an ugly day: three at bats, three strikeouts. The Cardinals' Mitchell Boggs hasn't given up a run this spring.

- The Rockies blanked Cleveland today. Aaron Cook was fantastic for the Rockies. He pitched five full innings giving up only three hits and other than his seven strikeouts, there were nothing else but zeroes across his line. The other three pitchers for Colorado: Corpas, Chacin and Lindsay have all gone all spring without giving up any runs. Tulo is still scuffling at the plate though.

- Bush had a great start for the Brewers but Julio gave up four runs late (no surprise there) and Milwaukee lost to the White Sox. Buehrle, Russell, Jenks, Dotel and Egbert all pitched great for the White Sox. Can you imagine the teasing Egbert had as a schoolboy? Trot Nixon has looked brutal for the Brewers and is batting .085. He keeps that up and he'll be cut soon. Bet the Brewers can't wait to get Braun back.

- A kid named Chris Jakubauskas pitched well in the start for Seattle, but then Thomas came in and got whacked. The Mariners are desperate for pitching. They just can't get many people out. Mike Sweeney isn't going to go quietly at the end of his career as he fights valiently for a job with Seattle. The Griffey signing was bad news for him. Sweeney, one of the most likable guys in the majors is batting .400 this spring. Chris Shelton (remember him from the Tigers?) is batting .500. Alex Gordon really doesn't look that much better for the Royals after working with Mark McGwire over the winter.

- For some reason, Japan played the Giants today. Lincecum pitched well for the Giants but Justin Miller later worked an inning and gave up four runs and got the loss.

And now on to the WBC or the WBCIIOY as the Fan calls it (The World Baseball Classic Is It Over Yet?):

- The stacked Venezuela team beat the Americans today. Jeter went 2 for 4 and Braun went 4 for 4 and Iannetta hit a homer. But it was all for naught as Guthrie pitched an inning and gave up the game with four runs.

- Puerto Rico beat those naughty Netherlanders today 5-0. The Fan's man, Bernie Williams still doesn't have a hit in the series. Oh well. It was a nice dream while it lasted.

That's it for Wednesday. Only 25 more days until the real season starts!

The Mets Should Keep Valentin

Marty Noble is a wonderful writer and his piece for on Jose Valentin is a terrific article and well worth reading (in case you missed it). After reading the piece, the Fan is hoping Valentin makes the Mets. They would be better off with him than without him.

Okay, he hasn't played since 2007 and he is 39. So what? He can play all the infield positions and some outfield. He's batting .300 this spring while Reyes and Wright are off battling the world and he is a really good guy that the younger guys look up to.

Who are the Mets going to keep instead, Alex Cora? Oh please! He is only five years younger, is not as versatile and cannot slug like Valentin can (his slugging percentage lifetime is 100 points lower than Valentin. Cora has a lifetime OPS+ of 74. 74! Valentin's is 96. Not great, but at least close to league average.

Cora can only play short and second. His fielding records are all lower than league average for his lifetime in both positions. Get this: Valentin is above league average as a fielder (range factor) at short, second or third.

And the bottom line? Alex Cora is more expensive!! Keep Valentin. Keep Valentin! Keep Valentin. Come on! Join in the chant with the Fan: Keep Valentin!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Good News for Mauer - Sort of reports that no mysterious causes were found for Joe Mauer's back pain. The pain is just from inflammation of the CI join on his lower back. It looks like they will dope him up a little stronger in hopes of beating the inflammation.

For those of you with the Fan's curiosity, there is a word, "Flammation," which is an obsolete word for setting things on fire. So, if you add an "in" to the front of the word, then Mauer's back is on fire. Don't know why the Fan threw that in there. Just thinking out loud.

Anyway, at least further damage to the kidney was ruled out and that is a good thing.

Another Chavez Ravine

Rob Neyer reported on that Eric Chavez is hurting again and that the A's have shut him down for a while. Mr. Neyer, like most of us, is not surprised by the news. Baseball Prospectus said it best, "...he's been living an episode of House." The news cements Chavez as Billy Beane's biggest mistake since Beane took over in Oakland.

PECOTA projections do not have feelings. It's just a computer program. Therefore, there is no "hoping" that Chavez will approach his old self again. The projections predict Chavez will barely scrape together 330 at bats and will not bat as high as .240 and will only hit eleven homers. The Fan thinks the A's will be fortunate to even get those numbers.

Chavez cost the A's $11 million last year and they are on the hook for at least that much this year. Since Chavez only had 95 official plate appearances, the player cost the A's about $116,000 per plate appearance. Or if you want to look at it by game, he cost the A's about $478,000 per game. That's more than a rookie makes for a whole year!

According to Baseball Prospectus and PECOTA, Chavez will be worth about one tenth of what he is making in 2009, even if he gets the 330 at bats they predict he will have. Consider that the third baseman's slugging percentage has slipped for six straight years. Or that his batting average has slipped for five straight years. Or that his gradual decline started in earnest in 2004. Hmm...Some might wonder about that timing, if you know what the Fan means...

Time will tell where Billy Beane ends up as far as historical reference. We know that his two biggest batting stars, Giambi and Tejada were juicers. We know that he never won a World Series. And we also know that his team ruined most of its young pitching talent over the years. Did any of the Mulders, Hudsons, Zitos, Hardens, etc., ever live up to the careers they seemed to have when they were with Oakland?

And now we have Chavez, the once heralded third baseman, who may never be a meaningful player again. If that statement comes true, it will be an $80 million albatross around Beane's legacy.

Tuesday Notes from Spring Training Games

Only 26 days until opening day! Here is some observations looking at Tuesday's box scores:

- Baltimore won the game but Boston's Clay Buchholz didn't allow a base runner in his three innings of work. Papelbon worked a scoreless inning as did Daniel Bard. Remember Bard's name as he's a flamethrower and was the Red Sox minor league pitcher of the year last year.

- In other notes from that game, Varitek is batting below .130 for the spring...but he's a great pitcher's catcher...yup.

- The Cardinals beat the listless Tigers today. Inge made his third error already at third. Maybe he should have stayed behind the plate? Schumaker, Duncan and Ankiel are all having great springs for the Cardinals.

- Joba Chamberlain pitched much better for the Yankees today against the Reds. Brent Gardner again led off with a hit and Cody Ransom knocked in a run. New York could be interesting this April.

- The Mets and the Nationals finished in a ten inning tie <>. Brad Eldred is having a great spring for the Nationals. Zimmerman pitched great for the Nats but Maine didn't fare so well for the Mets.

- The Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks, 6-3. Kuroda pitched great for the Dodgers, Webb not so good for Arizona. The Dodgers aren't hitting very well. The only exceptions seem to be Casey Blake and...umm...would you believe...Ausmus? Ausmus is betting .438, probably the first time he's had that high an average since high school.

- The good news is that that Cubs banged out 16 hits. The bad news is that it was against Seattle and hardly any of their regulars played. The other good news is that Harden, Dempster and Heilman all pitched great. The other bad news was that it was against Seattle.

- The Angels beat the Indians today, but what is very good news for Cleveland fans is that Garko is killing the ball, Hafner had two hits and Kerry Wood threw one brilliant inning.

- The Giants beat the Rangers today, but the good news for the Rangers was three strong innings from starter, Feldman, before the bullpen blew up the game. Elvis Adrus is batting .292 and was part of two double plays today.

- In an ugly game, the Oakland A's got a good start from Cahill and then the rest of the pitchers gave up eleven runs in seven innings. The Rockies got a horrible start from De La Rosa (is he the only player in major league history with three separate words for last names?) and then had eight great innings from the rest of the pitchers. Cust had a typical Cust game. Walk-Strikeout-Run scored in two official at bats.

- The Bay Rays beat up Toronto today. After Clement gave them a decent start, the bullpen was awful. Pat Burrell hit a grand slam for the Rays. Longoria is only batting .500 this spring.

Over in the WBC, Venezuala whumped Italy, 10-1. Bobby Abreu, Miguel Cabrera, Jose Lopez and Ramon Hernandez all hit homers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mauer Still Not Doing Well

The news for the Minnesota Twins (and baseball fans in general) is ominous as Joe Mauer is still in pain two and a half months after his kidney operation. He is having a pretty comprehensive test as described here.

Let's all hope there is something found in this test and that this great, young player can get his strength and his career going again. It's not every generation that a catcher wins two batting titles and it's a shame that he is having this problem.

We'll be thinking about you, Mr. Mauer.

A Peek at Some of Monday's Box Scores

The Fan's lips are starting to moisten. It's getting close now. There are only 23 days left until the season opens. Ah yes. It's almost time. The Fan can always tell when it gets this close because the box scores begin to matter again and though the games don't count, the competitions for jobs do. Here is a look around at Monday's games:

- The Fan's favorite whipping boy, Kevin Millwood was absolutely shellacked today. He gave up 14 base runners today in just three innings and gave up ten earned runs. Yeesh. In the immortal words of Marlin, the fish in Finding Nemo: "Good feeling gone."

- It looks like Brent Gardner is winning the battle of centerfield for the Yankees. He hit his third homer of the spring today and is hitting a healthy .389. Melkey Cabrera is batting .279. The third centerfielder, Austin Jackson, the future star (according to many) isn't hitting at all so far.

- In the same game, Ian Kennedy got cuffed around pretty good. Doesn't look too good for him at this point. Swisher isn't hitting yet either. His average is around .114 right now.

- Hmmm...Andruw Jones is batting .280 and played centerfield for the Rangers today. Maybe he isn't done?

- The LaRoche brothers went 2 for 6 today. The third baseman is hitting really well. The first baseman, not so much.

- In the same game that Millwood got creamed, he was relieved by Kris Benson. Remember him? The former Pirate and Met pitcher threw three strong innings meaning he could be back or the Dodgers were just too tired to keep mashing by then.

- The Cubs finally had a good offensive showing at Kansas City's expense. Poor Piniella was getting a bit worried there.

- The Reds continue to play well this spring. Arroyo hasn't looked great, but he kept them in the game. Catcher Ryan Hanigan is looking really good so far.

- Both the Tigers and the Marlins threw blanks today as both teams pitched really well. Johnson was great for the Marlins and young Porcello pitched well for the Tigers too. Dan Uggla went three for three and they were all singles. Is he feeling okay? Young Corbin Maybin is batting .318 so far this spring.

- Ryan Rohlinger might be a name to remember. The 25 year old third baseman for the Giants has hit three homers this spring and is batting .444. He's a fantastic athlete who was a terrific wide receiver in football, an all-state guard in basketball and even made the all star tennis team. He is making it hard on the Giants not to go with him. Parra pitched well for the Brewers today against the Giants.

- The supposedly weak hitting Padres pounded Arizona pitching Monday. Jon Garland got pummeled as did the aptly named Newby. The Padres' Kouzmanoff looks really good so far this spring.

- The White Sox look sluggish this spring. They don't look very good at the moment. Sizemore had a good day for Cleveland and Carmona got the win. Good news for Indians' fans: Martinez is batting .400 so far.

- Braden had another good day for the A's and Giambi finally had a good day. Saunders pitched well for the Angels but received poor fielding behind him.

- Rajai Davis (who?) is having a great spring for Oakland.

Over in the WBC:

- Korea beat Japan Monday, 1-0, in what has to be a surprise.

- It looks like Italy is going to beat Canada. That's what the Canadians get for not playing Stubby Clapp. The second base man they did play struck out twice in two at bats.

Now if only the snow would melt here and the robins would come home, things would really start to feel great!

Monday, March 09, 2009

If the Rangers Can Pitch...

Previously in the FanDome, a story was posted concerning Texas Rangers' pitcher, Kevin Millwood. Millwood has been bloody awful the last two years while pitching for the Rangers. But he is far from alone. While the Rangers led the league in runs scored last year with 901, their pitchers also led the league in runs scored...for the other team. How does the number, 967, grab you?

Despite this horrific pitching, the Rangers only finished four games under .500. Imagine what they could have done if their pitching was only league average? The standard line is that the Texas heat wilts the pitchers. Come on! They only work every fifth day! The other eight guys play every day and they led the league in runs scored!

So how bad was the Rangers' pitching last year? Some of you might want to hide your eyes if you are squeamish:

Let's focus on starting pitching. The team had fifteen different pitchers start games last year. Not one of them pitched 200 innings. Those fifteen pitchers threw 913 innings and gave up 681 runs (granted, some of them pitched relief too). In those 913 innings, those pitchers gave up 1179 hits and 1565 total base runners for a whopping 1.61 WHIP.

There is a statistic called ERA+. As explains it, ERA+ measures the ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher. > 100 is above average. Of those fifteen guys, only two of them finished with an ERA+ over 100. Would you believe that Sidney Ponson was one of them? The other was A. J. Murray who only gave up two runs in almost eight innings despite putting 15 men on base.

Here is a list of the guys who started at least one game for the Rangers, number of starts, their ERA and their ERA+:

  • - Kevin Millwood: 29, 5.07, 87
  • - Vincente Padilla: 29, 4.74, 93 Padilla also threw an amazing 12 wild pitches, hit 15 batters and had three balks.
  • - Scott Feldman: 25, 5.29, 83
  • - Matt Harrison: 15, 5.49, 80
  • - Kason Gabbard: 12, 4.82, 91
  • - Sidney Ponson: 9, 3.88, 113
  • - Jason Jennins: 6, 8.56, 51
  • - Eric Hurley: 5, 5.47, 80
  • - Brandon McCarthy: 5, 4.09, 108 oops! Forgot him as one over 100 for ERA+
  • - Dustin Nippert: 6, 6.40, 69
  • - Luis Mendoza: 11, 8.67, 51
  • - Doug Mathis: 4, 6.85, 64
  • - Tommy Hunter: 3, 16.36, 27
  • - A. J. Murray: 2, 3.52, 125

Ouch. One more statistic to leave you with. Of the Rangers' nine guys who only started and did not relieve in any games, they averaged 5.6 innings pitched per start. That means that the bullpen was overtaxed during all of those starts.

These stats are just brutal and have to disappoint the front office there in Arlington. It appears that the Rangers' starters have had a decent spring so far. The team can only hope that the trend continues, because if this team has any hope to contend at all, it will all depend on how well the rotation pitches.

The Heck With Economics

Sometimes the financial wizards in baseball front offices go counter to the desire of the fans of baseball. Matt Wieters is a great example. Every scout, prognosticator and even PECOTA project him to have All Star numbers this year IF he gets the chance to start the year with the Orioles.

The catcher, who looks like the biggest thing since Johnny Bench, has started Spring Training with a bang. His current OPS is 1.324. Sure, it's only in 17 at bats, but in those 17 at bats, he already has 8 hits and has walked once and not struck out. He sure looks like the real deal.

But the odds are that he will start the year in the minors. Why? Because if he is not called up until June, he would have to wait one more year before he is eligible for arbitration and puts off eventual free agency one more year down the line. So, in other words, this won't be a baseball decision. It will be a financial decision meant to save the team some coin at the fans' expense. And that hardly seems right.

We all understand that baseball executives have to be good stewards and save money where they can. If only our elected officials could take a few lessens. But those decisions should always correspond to baseball decisions and what is in the best interest for the fans.

Yeah, yeah. It's just a few months. But why prolong the inevitable? Why deprive us of two months of checking the box scores every day to see what the kid is doing? The Fan will be surprised if the Orioles let him make the team. But, this lessen in business could backfire by telling the kid his interests are secondary to the team's bottom line. And with Scott Boras as the kid's agent, that lessen will not be forgotten.

If the Fan owned the Orioles, not only would the kid start the year, but after he won Rookie of the Year honors, he would be offered an A-Rod like contract to wrap him up in an Oriole uniform for ten years. If this Wieters is as good as he looks, the fans in the seats to see him play will more than offset the cost.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Great Article on Cody Ransom

The other day, the Fan wrote a piece about Cody Ransom playing third for the Yankees while A-Rod recuperates. To read more about Ransom, check out this fantastic piece here.

Bobby Crosby is NOT Happy

The reality of Bobby Crosby becoming the shortstop the Oakland A's thought he would become came to an abrupt end when the A's signed Orlando Cabrera as a free agent. Crosby isn't happy at all about this recent development. But the A's have done the right thing and Crosby apparently is unaware of his own numbers and how they compare with the rest of his peers.

It has to be hard and you have to feel for Crosby. He's been the star his whole life and was the next big thing for the Oakland A's when he came to the league. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2004, despite batting only .239. He was a good fielder and hit 22 homers that year. Injuries scuttled him for a couple of years but when he did play, he just never hit.

A year after his rookie season, he batted .276, his highest in his career. But his power faded and despite posting his best On Base Percentage of his career, he only played in 84 games. In fact, for the three years following his rookie campaign, he averaged only 91 games a year. So many in the game considered his poor showing to be a reflection of his injuries. That fantasy came to an end in 2008 when Crosby was healthy all year.

Crosby finally played a full year and got into 145 games. But rather than impressing with a full season to showcase what he could do, he didn't do much of anything. He did hit 39 doubles, but overall, his performance was lackluster. His On Base Percentage was a paltry .296. His OPS+ was 76 (100 is considered average). And although his range factor at short was still higher than league average, it was the lowest total of his career.

In short, he just never developed into the player the A's hoped he would be and the team faced reality and went after something they thought was better. But Crosby isn't buying it. He wants to be the guy. He asked for a trade. The A's put him out there and couldn't trade him. Crosby just isn't facing the reality that being 22nd among all shortstops in Win Shares isn't what the A's want or need from their shortstop position.

Cabrera is an upgrade in the field even though Crosby has been an above average fielder his whole career. And Cabrera has historically been a better hitter. Cabrera had 17 Win Shares last year. Crosby had 10. That's reality and Crosby doesn't get it.

To give him some benefit, Crosby is only 28 years old. It might be hard to have wisdom at such an age. With his fielding ability, Crosby could hang on in the league for many more years. Heck, he's much better than a lot of other utility infielders out there. But if he handles this poorly, teams won't give him a chance to prolong his career that way.

The rest of Crosby's baseball life will depend on how he handles this situation. If he works hard and keeps his head down and his tongue in check, he could get through this and still have a long career. But unlike his position with the A's, which is beyond his control, his comportment during the coming season is in his control.

Crosby's feelings are hurt. That's understandable. But it's time to face reality and to get a grip and work towards helping his team as much as possible and wait for another opportunity to get the job done, either for the A's or for somebody else.