April 2009

Trade David Wright!

David Wright needs to be traded. 

The month of April means the same as the month of September. 

You know that saying?  “A win is a win is a win.”

Yes, it means that David Wright isn’t helping his team win games, not as much as he did in the past.  And since a win now counts the same as a win down the stretch, Wright is putting the Mets in a hole.

Forget for a second that this guy has won consecutive ‘Gold Gloves.’  Forget for a second that has been a near ‘MVP’ the past few seasons–at least quality-wise.  And forget that he seems to be the only one speaking to the media when things go wrong.

Forget all that, none of that matters.  The past doesn’t exist, it is merely a fact now.

One month of a season is the only thing that matters when it comes to baseball.

This is a Mets team that already has issues with leadership and character.  So when David Wright struggles, its over.  At least when he is playing well he “leads by example.” 

The Mets could swing a deal right now.  David Wright straight up for Mike Lowell and Julio Lugo.

Then they can put Lugo at second, temporarily solving that problem.  Plus, they get a very capable player in Mike Lowell.  A 3B that excels defensively, and is an above average offensive player. 

The question isn’t why would the Mets do this.  The question is simply, why wouldn’t they???

If you are a fan of Joe Mauer…

…Which we all are.  Except those that believe Brian McCann is better than Mauer :)

This may not be the most inspiring of news, via BP:

Mauer is expected to be activated on Friday. At 6-foot-5 and 220
pounds, he’s not too much like the 6-foot, 180-pound Kendall. However,
as we remarked in BP2K9
this year, they do have one thing in common: through his age-25 season
(i.e. last year), Mauer has hit .317/.399/.457. Through his age-25
season, Jason Kendall batted .312/.399/.451. Kendall had caught 490
games to that point; Mauer, coming up a year younger, has caught 498.
The Twins have been more careful with their catcher’s workload than the
Pirates ever were with Kendall’s, but even so, the games pile up, and
both he and the club had best hope that the slide was peculiar to
Kendall and not something that comes unbidden with the job requirements
of being a top young catcher.

Joe Mauer is not Jason Kendall, simply similar in body-type, and performance.  Yet if I am a Twins fan, this is something I don’t want to read.  Mauer is supposed the be the savior this season, and joe is already the face of the franchise, the best player on the team. 

Not to mention, if the organization is going to lock one of their players up long term, for big-time money.  This is going to be the guy.  He is from Minnesota, he is great, and the fans love him.

The only thing that should disrupt any negotiations is the question of Mauer’s durability (or the Twins wanting to trade him for financial reasons). 

And this doesn’t exactly help his case.

Baseball influenced by Classical music.

Blogging while attempting to enjoy Classical music…

  • Lincecum isn’t struggling anymore:  At the beginning of the year, Lincecum was one of those pitchers who experienced a great increase in innings the previous year, and was a prime candidate to struggle the following year, or get injured.  And he did struggle…But Lincecum was still striking batters out while doing so.  In his first two starts, Lincecum combined for only 8.1 innings, walking six batters.  But as I mentioned, his K’s were still there, a total of ten strikeouts.  But Lincecum has shown us fact from fiction in his early starts, by dominating the past three games.  23 innings, 4 walks, and…33 K’s!  Granted the DBacks hitters collectively have holes in their swings.  But last time I checked, striking out 12 and 13 hitters is impressive no matter who the opponent is.
  • To Lester, from Lincecum:  And Lester is doing the same thing…in regards to the K’s.  Lester has 33 K’s in 36 innings.  Sure, his command isn’t what it was last season, but there are signs pointing to a return to form.  His fastball velocity is the same.  His K/9 is as good as it has ever been.  Jon Lester just needs some more time to get back on track.  See, last season was basically his first time around the league, so hitters had trouble.  Now, they made some adjustments with a revamped scouting report.  Some of it has to do with Lester not commanding his pitches, but some of it also has to do with hitters actually having an idea of what they are going to see when they step in against Lester.  When watching Lester’s starts, you can see that he is still there.  He just needs to work on getting back on track.  But with the way the Sox organization handles its pitchers, I can see a possible DL stint on the horizon–15 days because of “fatigue.”  Just to make sure that increase in innings last season doesn’t come back to haunt him.  
  • Hughes has one start of bliss:  Keith Law was asked a question in his chat earlier today about phil Hughes.  Law’s response:  “Looked pretty good, not outstanding, but much improved. The life on the
    two-seamer addresses one of the concerns I had about him in the past
    (four-seamer was pretty true). And he pitched out of a jam that I don’t
    think he would have escaped last year. Plus Detroit has a good lineup.
    Cautious optimism.”

Is Mariano Rivera finally declining? Finally?

Just to be clear, “declining” does not mean “finished.”  Declining is simply something that everyone does. 

Michael Jordan did it.  Remember those Wizards years?  Desperately clinging to what was once greatness, as he all of a sudden didn’t have Scottie Pippen by his side, minus the perfect complement of role players as well. 

Craig Biggio did it.  Remember Biggio sticking around trying to get his 3.000th hit?  And how he was just a shell of the great middle infielder/center fielder/catcher/ultimate team player/Bill James proclaimed “overachiever”/Hall of Famer? 

Emmitt Smith did it.  Went from one of the greatest offensive lines ever assembled, to a line that wasn’t quite that, to a team that didn’t have nearly the talent of those early Cowboys teams. 

All three weren’t as they used to be.

But there is a difference.  Those examples were merely examples of great players who were no longer great, players that declined.

Rivera still might be great.

After all, 8 and 2/3′s innings is far from enough to come to a conclusion.

But Rivera has given up two homers in, let us say nine innings.  That is half of what he gave up in 2008, half of his 2007 total, 2/3′s of his 2006 total, all of his 2005 total…

Rivera just doesn’t give up many home runs, he doesn’t walk many, and he rarely makes mistakes. 

This year is a little different, however. 

Rivera made a costly mistake to Jason Bay.  And Rivera made a costly mistake to Curtis Granderson (although not that costly to CG in terms of the game situation).

And John Kruk mentioned that Rivera may have a problem with his hip, even though it may be minor. 

That could be the “problem” to these past few appearances.

But it isn’t unlikely, that since Rivera is older, he could make a few more mistakes, leading to a few more losses. 

But I have a hard time believing that he will decline too much.  For just last season, Rivera was the best closer in baseball.

Maybe he won’t be the best, but top five seems pretty realistic seeing how Rivera IS Rivera.

Tidbits.

  • Losing is less fun than winning:  Yep.  Have to say that I enjoyed winning eleven straight much more than I enjoyed losing last night.  But eventually, it was going to happen.  And it might happen 60 or so more times this season.  Maybe a few more times, maybe a few less.  And losing because Lopez couldn’t catch a simple toss?  That was even more frustrating.  But these things happen.  Lugo couldn’t make a simple catch last night, Lopez couldn’t either.  Although Lugo was returning from injury, so we can let it slide, this time.  Even with that, it doesn’t seem too far from the real Lugo, the healthy Lugo.  He did have some good AB’s though, something that wasn’t expected in his first game back. 
  • Greinke is unhittable:  As if you didn’t know.  But I think tonight, my PIP will include Greinke in the corner, rather than the Yankees.  Luckily, this just reminded me to check out which game was on ‘Wednesday Night Baseball.”  Turns out that it is the Yankees/Tigers.  So I get the three games I want, although whatever the game is on ESPN, it would be on anyway, at least for part of it. 
  • Yovani Gallardo dominates:  And I mean DOMINATES.  A solo shot, and um, 11 K’s, 1 BB, 2 hits.  It would be an understatement if I used the phrase “eight strong.”  Gallardo now has a 2.86 ERA, and 34 K’s in 34 innings.  There is a reason they let CC walk…Oh yeah, because they couldn’t even come close to affording him.  But having a great young talent eases the mind a little. 
  • Joe Posnanski discusses greatness:  So who had the better “peak?”  Maddux or Pedro.  JoePo takes each pitchers best seven-year stretch, and discusses it here and here.  Some good discussion going on.  I’d take Pedro at his peak over anyone, ever, but you all know that.  One person noted that Maddux did lose two of his best seasons to the strike.  That person used this as Maddux getting screwed a little.  Another used it as a reason Maddux benefited.  At least his rate stats would have benefited.  The smartest pitcher ever would have experienced an even greater advantage in innings pitched over this time, but his ERA+, most likely, would have been a little lower (worse) if more innings were thrown.  But then again, Maddux is great for a reason.  And no one knows how well he would have pitched in those missing innings. 
  • Defense wins championships, 50% of the time:  That is my way of saying that scoring runs is half of the equation, and preventing runs is half of the equation.  People say that “pitching wins” or “you can’t win games if you don’t score runs.”  I just like a balance.  And the latter quote just irks me, Rob Neyer :)  Also, when people say “former” and latter” that kind of irks me too, just because I hear it more now than ever.  Anyway, my objective, when I set out anyway, was to say who the leader in “Defensive Efficiency” was.  And…it…is…the Pittsburgh Pirates?  Yes.  A reason they are actually succeeding this season.  I don’t know how well there defense will hold up, but the team will not hold up that long…or will they? 
  • Andy Pettitte a Hall of Famer?:  No.  No.  No.  Pettitte has been a good pitcher for a long time.  But he just isn’t good enough.  That is meant as no disrespect to someone who has done something that I, and most sports fans, envy.  The largest reason why Pettitte may get in is because he had great talent around him, that let him shine at the biggest stage.  And Pettitte was a large reason why those Yankees were in the postseason to begin with.  But if Andy were a Pirate his entire career, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. 

Bobby Bonds’ son as a broadcaster?

Yes, Bobby Bonds did in fact have a son, one that played baseball actually. 

I know, sorry to blow your mind with so much information at once.  But it is better you know, rather than to go through life never having known.

Anyway, Bonds, as most of you are already aware, joined the booth during a Giants/Dodgers game last night. 

And the results were…mixed?

Barry is not a likeable character.  Maybe not quite as UN-likeable as say, Javier Bardem’s character in ‘No Country for Old Men.”  And maybe we prefer Bonds to say, Chucky from Child’s play. 

But that is understandable, right?  Bonds is a better person than that of a psychopathic killer.  And dolls that kill, or even talk on their own, don’t exist anyway. 

But really, I could listen to Bonds talk all day about his approach as a hitter.  And his opinion of other hitters’ approaches. 

We are talking about a hitter that has arguably the greatest eye ever.  Right up there with Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Tony Gwynn, Robinson Cano, Mark Bellhorn, and Jeremy Giambi.

Sorry, I sort of got off topic there…

But my point is, when Bonds talks baseball, I am fine with it.  Especially the hitting part.

But how often will he get off subject?  How often will he annoy and rub viewers the wrong way?

Probably often enough.  Maybe worth a try, though.

But the likelihood it even happens, seems to be slim. 

PIP + ESPNHD

Three games at once last night.  With my attention focused mainly on one…

  • Red Sox, 11th straight win:  Discussed my feelings about Drew’s AB over at Fire Brand.  I don’t feel all that comfortable with Drew as a PH.  Something just feels off, like he has a hard enough time getting motivated to start a game.  So pinch hitting feels like a chore to him.  Maybe I am wrong.  But as a pinch hitter, Drew has a .238/.337/.440.  Not terrible in that role, as he still “passes the torch” at the league-average rate, and flashes decent at best power.  And again, the sampling is only 98 plate appearances.  But this is more of just a “feel” observation, rather than statistical.  But anyway, Jason Bay is on fire, Tim Wakefield is on fire, the Red Sox are on fire.  It is great while it lasts, but eventually they will stumble, get hot again, stumble again.  The end result is most important.
  • “Efficient” CC:  99 pitches, eight innings, a mediocre four runs allowed.  Could have been much worse.  But seven K’s to zero walks is a great sign.  But Sabathia has always struggled against the Tigers.  His ERA sits at 4.69 against Detroit, in nearly a full seasons worth of starts: 27.  It is a good sign that Sabathia made Detroit hitters beat him, and they didn’t beat him a sense that they dominated him.  They beat him because the pitcher on the other side of the mound was incredibly dominant, and six hits turned into four runs, something that isn’t going to happen too often.  Not with zero walks anyway.
  • Cardinals beat Braves:  This game was on the backburner down the stretch.  But Kotchman hit a beautiful looking double to right field, a lace, a rope, a bonafide line drive.  For some reason, I was very impressed by that swing, even though he isn’t exactly a great player.  Francouer is still too predictable.  I watched one of his AB’s closely.  And I knew he was going to swing, on I believe pitch 3, before the pitch was thrown.  The only way I felt that he wouldn’t have taken a hack is if the ball was way out of the strike zone.  I literally said aloud, “Anything close and he will swing.”  And he did.  Sure, it was a very hittable pitch, but if it was a slider breaking out of the strike zone, I felt as though he still would have pulled the trigger.  He may be making strides, but he definitely has a lot more room for improvement. 

Were the Yankees holding Abreu back on the basepaths?

Entering Monday, Bobby Abreu has successfully stolen eight bases.  And just as important, Abreu has not been caught once this season. 

I am not asking whether or not the Angels or Yankees run more, because it seems obvious that the Angels do.  Although in terms of stolen bases, it is much closer than we might think. 

The Angels are all about manufacturing runs, obviously.  It seems as though the Yankees would like to get a little closer to doing that, but not at the expense of decreasing their odds of scoring. 

A mixture of getting on base, hitting for power, and stealing bases–while not getting caught too much–is the way to go.  But not every team will succeed at all of these. 

But in the case of Abreu…maybe he wasn’t as aggressive as he could have been under the watch of the Yankees?

Who knows why exactly, they stole a lot of bases each year that Abreu was there.  And Bobby did have 25 and 22 steals in each full year he spent in New York.  Though in 2008, his final year with the Yankees, Abreu was caught way more than one would like (successful only 67% of the time). 

But so far, Abreu is making me think that maybe, just maybe, he can still be a threat on the basepaths. 

In 2004, Abreu stole 40 bases, while only being caught 11% of the time.  Which is crazy good.  But after that season, Abreu never attempted that many stolen bases again (45 attempts). 

I don’t watch the Angels much, just on occasion.  So I am not sure if Abreu has free reign on the bases, or if he simply going when instructed. 

And I am not sure of the variables either.  Maybe the high stolen base total is only because the right situations have occured more often than they normally do.  Maybe he has faced more weak-throwing catchers so far, or pitchers that don’t control the running game well.

I really don’t know.

But for a guy that is supposed to be declining, it seems strange that he is as good as ever as a basestealer.

…or maybe he is simply trying to maximize his talents in order to get some real money this offseason.  

A dot means a lot.

  • I like Sweeps; sweeps, sweeps, sweeps:  Of any team, not just the Yankees.  But prefer it to be against the Yankees.  What I saw this weekend?  I saw pitching that should improve, especially the starters.  Burnett and Beckett were both atrocious.  Lester and Joba were decent, but very far from spectacular.  The Red Sox bullpen, whether one wants to think so or not after this series, is actually still very strong.  Saito has good stuff, and as Francona mentioned, his control is the issue.  Hopefully that changes the more Saito takes the mound.  Papelbon hasn’t looked “Papelbon-esque” lately, even though he is getting the job done.  It would be nice if he could just throw the ball down the middle of the plate, making the batter have to beat him, when there is a five-run lead.  But instead, he walked a couple guys.  Papelbon has given up only one run in eight innings, however, does have five walks.  But it may just be a sample size thing.
  • Awaiting for Masterson’s return to the pen:  Masterson is best suited in the pen for now, unless the team needs him to start (as they do currently).  He didn’t pitch poorly, necessarily.  But his troubles with left handed hitters, well, they almost continued.  He makes mistakes to lefties, as he got away with one of those to Matsui–as he just hooked a ball foul.  Those “troubles” are no secret.  And left-handed hitters will have success off of him the way he is pitching, if it continues.  I think he can be a capable starter, but he isn’t Joba, and the team has plenty of starters right now, especially after Dice-K returns.  Now, in the case where a pitcher goes down, Masterson is a good option to have to be a mainstay for the remainder of the season.  But if everyone is healthy, Justin Masterson should be in the bullpen.    
  • Run Differential:  In the young season, there are currently five teams with run differentials of +30 of better:  The Blue Jays, Red Sox, Cardinals, Pirates, Dodgers.  As we are all beginning to realize, with time, is that run differential matters, a lot.  Is it the only thing that matters?  No.  But it has a very strong correlation to a team’s actual strength.  Now, maybe not so much over roughly 20 games, but definitely over the long haul.  For example:  The Pirates and Blue Jays will most likely start giving up as many runs as they score, if not more.  And the Cardinals are going to be the team no one wants to discuss, because no one knows this teams true strength.  But the Dodgers and Red Sox will definitely score more runs than they allow. 
  • Value Wins:  So Youk still sits atop the Value Wins category over at Fangraphs.  With Kinsler falling in second, followed by; Longoria, Mike Cameron, and Pujols.  This stat of course takes into acount, position, defensive contributions, and offensive contributions as well.  
  • You know what rhymes with “Win?” Zimmermann:  2-0, 11.1 IP, 8K, 3BB, 12H.  So far, Zimmerman has been a bright spot on a terrible team.  He has given up some hits, but hitters aren’t killing the ball according to his LD%.  His BABIP is a little high, which is good for him.  But its only a two-game sample, need much more than that to draw any kind of conclusion.  Still, promising news for an organization that hasn’t had much positive news, outside of Bowden being fired.  And to be honest, with the job he was doing, that may be more positive than anything that could ever happen to this organization…ever  :)

Waiting for Game Three of the Series.

  • Great game #2:  Well, for this one I had to work.  But I wasn’t overly busy, so I walked by the television many, many times, often stopping and staring.  The game was ridiculous.  I actually tried to give away my shift so that I could watch a great pitchers duel: Burnett vs. Beckett.  Both former Marlins, both with great stuff.  Both throw hard.  Yet, the game turned into almost a joke.  Beckett gets rocked, game looks to be over, yet then Burnett completely falls apart.  Teams battle for a while, then Red Sox pull away for good.  Didn’t see that coming, but who did?  Jason Bay and Mike Lowell are on fire right now.  Good sign, since Lowell is returning from a torn labrum.  And good sign that Bay is having success against the “more difficult” pitching in the AL.  Bay doesn’t “look” as good hitting a baseball as Manny does, and probably isn’t quite the hitter Manny is.  But he is pretty darn good, and too, can go to the opposite field, just not with the same “style.”   
  • Fantasy baseball:  I am actually playing this season.  But “fantasy” is far from “real baseball,” which is the reason I do not typically play fantasy baseball.  I have been taught–and researched myself into believing in certain numbers.  OBP in particular.  But then I join a fantasy baseball league and all of a sudden the traditional stats, the ones I used to think contained accuracy, are back:  AVG, RBI, HR, R, SB, W, K, ERA, WHIP, SV.  I mean seriously, SB=HR.  In the fantasy world, W’s matter, saves matter, and a HR has the same value as a stolen base.  There is a way to be a great fantasy baseball player, but it has little to do with being a great baseball mind.  And real baseball is >>>>fantasy baseball.  But I can let it slide and have a little fun, even though the numbers aren’t the best indicators of true talent.
  • Josh Beckett overrated?:  Josh Beckett was great in 2007.  And he was good in 2008.  But how he gets rocked sometimes is beyond me.  One hitter said last season, “I don’t know how anyone ever gets a hit off that guy.”  That of course was in reference to Beckett.  And when he is locating his pitches, working in that two-seamer, to lefties especially, he CAN be unhittable.  But what is it with him that he can just be crushed at times?  It must be mental, because physically he seems all there this year, not last year though.  I believe he will be really good this year, but I also believe that there is a chance that he ends up being merely “good.”  And it can be frustrating.  But I guess, it could be much worse.

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