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The Baseball Roundup (6/8/15)

June 8, 2015

Tony:

Well Mose, I guess we have a bit of catching up to do since we missed Sunday… I’ll start with baseball. I’m assuming this will dovetail into a bunch of Cavs and at least a little Game of Thrones…

I’m glad the Tribe’s front office reads our block. After I suggested Jose Ramirez and Lonnie Chisenhall may be best suited for a demotion on Saturday, both infielders were sent down on Sunday. Giovanny Urshela was called up, as expected, but Francisco Lindor remains in triple A. Instead, the Tribe called up utility man Zach Walters. This should mean Mike Aviles will be taking over full time at short.

Speaking of Aviles… Paul Dolan shaved his head to support Mike’s daughter as she begins her fight against leukemia. Jason Kipnis, Nick Swisher, and Ryan Raburn, among others, have also ditched the hair to support Adriana.

Francisco Lindor, meanwhile, has to be pissed he has hair. I wonder if he thinks he is in the club’s dog house. I’m sure he’s been in touch with Boston outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. who, despite hitting .338 in Triple-A and being one of the best defensive outfielders on the planet, remains in Triple A while Carlos Peguero, Alejandro De Aza, and Rusney Castillo (who is taking bad routes to balls and has a .461 OPS) continue to get at bats.

Bradley Jr. was the World Series MVP on the University of South Carolina team that beat Trevor Bauer and Garrit Cole in 2010.

Murphy Powell wanted to wait for may to finish before claiming Jason Kipnis was healthy again. It is interesting to see the numbers that show the transition from oblique injury to the mental block of an old oblique injury as the new season starts to oblique injury free existence:

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Cleveland lost 7 – 3 yesterday to Baltimore. Carlos Carrasco got hit pretty hard, giving up 5 on 7 hits and 2 walks in 4 innings. He only struck out 3. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters both went yard for the birds. Parades was 2/5 show how high contact guys are seriously streaky. Jason Kipnis was 3/5 for the Tribe. The team managed only 6 other hits. Only 2 guys in the starting lineup yesterday were hitting over .300. 6 were hitting under .250. Two were near the Mendoza line (Lonnie’s .209 and Yan Gomes’s .203).

Yesterday was the 79th anniversary of Yankees pitcher Red Ruffing throwing a 16-inning complete game in a 5-4 win over Cleveland. Ruffing recorded 48 outs without striking out a single Indian. ZERO STRIKEOUTS!?

Sounds like the Twins… Twins pitchers have the lowest K rate (5.72) in baseball. Think they can keep up the success without missing bats? Glen Perkins thinks so: “Saying that inducing weak contact isn’t a skill would be the same as saying that inducing strikeouts isn’t a skill.” Athletics manager Bob Melvin alluded to a similar conclusion, suggesting that weak contact is created by late movement.

Another “yesterday in history” anecdote? According to NationalPastime.com, the following happened in 1921: “Due to the body of a slain girl found at the ballpark in Kingsport, Tennessee, the game is called to prevent the bloodhounds from becoming confused.”

The Cards beat the Dodgers in dramatic fashion. Peralta homered and singled home the go-ahead run during a three-run eighth inning Sunday night, leading the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory. The shortstop was 11 for 21 with two home runs and eight RBIs during the seven-game season series.

The NL West-leading Dodgers were coming off a 2-0 victory Saturday night in which Clayton Kershaw held St. Louis to one hit over eight innings. All that talk of Kershaw being done starting to feel pretty silly, Moser? This is his third stellar start in a row: On May 26, he pitched seven shutout innings against the Braves, striking out 10 and not walking a hitter. In his next start he went seven more innings and allowed two runs while striking out seven against the Rockies.

Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke held the team with baseball’s best record to six hits through 6 2/3 innings and struck out eight, giving up his only run in the sixth on Peralta’s ninth homer. Dude has to be PISSED. He is winless over his last 6 starts. In 5 of those games he has allowed only 1 run… Ouch.

Andre Ethier stole his first base of the season Sunday night! The Dodgers have 13 stolen bases so far this season. The fewest steals in franchise history was 34, in 1924. Also, Matt Goldman claims Andre Ethier is good again. Truth is, some of the more advanced metrics look good:

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Similarly, are we seeing a new Josh Reddick?

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The BABIP isn’t crazy, the strikeouts are down, and the walks are up. Selectivity at the place could mean this is the real thing.

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Reddick and the A’s lost to the Red Sox 7 – 4 last night. Rusney Castillo hit a solo homer and an RBI single during a seven-run rally in the eighth inning that sent the Red Sox over the Oakland Athletics 7-4 Sunday for a three-game sweep. Boston entered with the third-worst total of runs scored in the AL.

Tough loss for the A’s. Kendall Graveman took a shutout into the eighth inning before Castillo led off with a homer. The aforementioned Reddick was 3/4. Your BOY Kung Fu Panda was 2/4. Dustin Pedroia went 2 for 5 and is hitting .394 over 16 games since being moved into the leadoff spot.

Kris Bryant was 1 short of the cycle last night. He tripled, doubled, singled and scored twice as the Cubs sent the Washington Nationals to their eighth loss in 10 games, 6-3 Sunday. It’s been a rough little stretch for the Nats. The Nationals fell out of the NL East lead, passed by the New York Mets.

Just a Bit Outside put together a little infographic for us about our NEW BOY Paul Goldschmidt:

Defensively challenged. Too slow. A small-school prospect who couldn’t mash at the highest level. That was the harsh scouting assessment of Paul Goldschmidt heading into the 2009 MLB draft, which dropped the Texas State slugger to the eighth round despite his earning two Southland Conference Hitter of the Year awards and All American honors. Those same scouting doubts also prevented him from cracking any major top 100 prospect lists in the minors, despite posting an OPS north of one thousand.

The Astros lost 6 – 7, to the Toronto Blue Jays, in the 9th on Sunday. Jose Bautista hit a pair of solo homers and Russell Martin added a two-run shot for Toronto, which scored three times in the ninth to complete a three-game sweep. Donaldson went 2 for 4 and has reached base in 38 consecutive games against the Astros, the longest active streak for any player against one club. Texas SS Elvis Andrus reached in 39 consecutive games against Cleveland from 2009-13. The AL West-leading Astros dropped their season-high fourth straight and lost for the first time in 30 games when leading after eight innings.

Lance McCullers starts tonight for the Astros. He will take on Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox. I have both guys starting in the fantasy league. Also playing for the Astros on Monday is shortstop Carlos Correa. Once he debuts, he’ll become the league’s youngest position player

I’m not going to get to all the games and news, but I’ll finish with Chris Archer. Archer made history on Sunday, becoming the first pitcher in more than 100 years to reach double-digits in strikeouts without a walk in three straight starts, leading the Tampa Bay Rays over the Seattle Mariners 3–1 Sunday. Saturday I mentioned that the high strikeout, low walk performances were becoming a league-wide trend. If nothing else, they are a trend for Archer. Archer has gone 23 innings without issuing a walk and just missed becoming the first pitcher since Randy Johnson in 2001 with 12 or more strikeouts in three straight games.

Seattle fell a season-worst seven games below .500 and closed out a miserable 11-game home-stand 2-9.

Oh yeah. Was shocked to wake up to the game recaps for the Cavs – Warriors last night. What an epic game: Lebron was Jerry West epic, Draymond Green’s block was *almost epic, apparently Matty D’s “D” was epic, JR was epically JR… my favorite though?

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What else ya got, Mose?

Kevin:

I really cannot talk much baseball after what happened last night: FINALS GAME 2! and THRONES! I realized that my emotional roller coaster for both viewing events was fairly symmetrical, and so with nothing further I give you…

NBA FINALS GAME 2: The Dance of Dragons

As the game gets to the 4th quarter, cavs go up 11.  Lebrons stares down history and his naysayers.

Jon Snow returns with the wildlings, and after some nail-biting waiting, is let through the gate, and we get to see the freakish giant again.

The Warriors start to gain momentum, rattling off 7 unanswered points.  I begin wondering to myself, “This cannot happen again…WTF!?”  Chain smoking begins, things get thrown against the wall, and I start questioning humanity.

Stannis sends Davos to Castleblack.  Given Melisandra’s recent thinking….I wonder to myself, “This can’t be happening. WTF?!?! And start chainsmoking and throwing things against the wall (shout out to Bogart for allowing indoor smoking).

Cavs steal the ball, Schumpert headed for an uncontested layup.

Davos gives Shireen a wooden horse, feel good moment.

SCHUMPERT BLOWS THE LAYUP!!!   Shireen being marched ominously by the Stannis’s guard.

Curry ties up the game….Shireen tied up to the stakes

curry layup 

At this point, in both forms of entertainment, I was racked with anxiety, and was really contemplating turning off the television and punching something.

Lebron has the ball with 7 seconds left, and does what I always want him to do, and takes the ball to the hole.  We are ready for him to save the game!

Shireen screams for her father, and finally Stannis walks out of his tent.  Her mother at first agrees it’s right to give in to the Lord of Light, then has a change of heart, and we expect/hope the Good Stannis that gave such a heartwarming speech two weeks ago has returned.  His eyes glimmer, we are ready for him to save Shireen!

Lebron gets ridiculously fouled (for the 4th or 5th time in the last 5 minutes) and misses the layup, then Tristan misses the put back as time expires.  Stannis shelves his concerns and we are left to watch one of the more heartwarming characters on Game of Thrones be burned at the stake in front of her parents.  This is where my Iphone first got cracked.  Hurtled across the room like Lebron on a fast break, the wall stopped it like Draymond Green at the rim. In both Thrones and The Finals, this is right around where I started to openly weep for what may have been, good times past, the forboding future, etc.

As overtime unfolded, the emotional rollercoaster was just getting started.  Soon, we had Schump hitting a 3, and seeing Tyrion sitting as the hand to the Queen is the fighting pits.

After Lebron hit 2 free throws to go up 5, I was back to feeling okay.  Jorah enters the fighting pit and continues to kick ass and take no prisoners. Eventually, he spears an assassination attempt to save the mother of dragons.

JR Smith reminds us that he is the most awesome player in the league.  This being a more archaic use of the word.  His play truly inspire awe.  Sometimes it is wonder and amazement, sometimes it is disgust.  But it is jaw dropping nonetheless.  He sent Curry to the line to take the lead and, presumably, prove once and for all the God Hates Cleveland. We were surrounded, and things were looking grim.

Daenerys, despite the life saver from Jorah, is screwed.  The slave masters are reminding her that ruthlessness and desire to be in control are intrinsically in the DNA of being a slave master.  There’s like a slavemaster ethic that goes with the territory.  She is surrounded by some guards with no balls, literally, a wee man and another woman who at least is willing to hold her hand. I’m beginning to wonder if this show can really take her out this way.  It’s one of the storylines I’m most interested in, and could potentially ruin the entire show for me.  

Cavs still have a shot to win it.  They come down and misfire, but Deli somehow comes up with an offensive rebound.  He gets fouled on the putback attempt.  Our fate relies in this guy’s hands.

Khaleesi seems to be doing some mind meld shit while holding hands with another babe.  Our suspicions come true when the Dragon swoops in and starts fucking things up.  He immediately commences with the burning and the biting of people. Starting to like my chances better…

Deli makes me out to be a fool by hitting both free throws, potentially saving the day.  I’m still gravely concerned because the Warriors are incredible offensively, and they have Steph Curry.  Even when he’s struggling he’s still Steph Curry.

The dragon kills a lot of bad guys.  Daenarys goes up to give him a loving pat on the nose, as he gets repeatedly speared. Despite the feel good nature of him showing up, I’m starting to get concerned about the damage he’s taking.  He’s unproven at this big stage, and the other side has the numbers…..

Curry misses, Bron rebounds, celebration commences

.dragons

Khaleesi hops on the back of the dragon and does a Jenner style victory lap.  Rubbing it in everyone’s faces that she just turned the tables, and has a freaking dragon.

At the end of both events, I was left dumbstruck, inspired, and hopeful. I also still have pit in my stomach. In Cleveland, we managed to steal one game, but the cards are still stacked against us.  In Mereen, Tyrion and the rest of her peeps are seemingly still surrounded.  Also, Mereen was D’s city to make a stand.  She would show how merciful rule could be adjudicated, and how peace could be maintained without violence.  She took the necessary steps, marrying a total cheesedick, and in the end, they still try to kill her.  Both ended on such notes of positivity but still left me with nagging doubts.  I will continue to tune in, and continue to be open to amazement.  Here’s hoping the two heroes reclaim the Iron Thrones.

Later

Tony: 

Interesting parallels. 15 final thoughts:

1) This terrorist attack ending was 100x more intense and enjoyable than last week’s episode of HBO’s The Walking Dead. Large scale battle is awesome. And the good guys can get their asses kicked, but I need the threat to feel real, and in Mereen it sure did. What a fantastic little twist.

2) The convo between Tyrion and the soon-to-be-dead-fiancee was fantastic. Little moments and dialogues like that propel the show just as much, if not more than 20 minute CGI-battle-orgies. ESPECIALLY when 90% of the show is really sick violence toward women or other generic pointless slaughter. Nice to be reminded at least once every 53 minutes that not everyone is THAT evil. For one thing, the show gets too unbelievable. It takes talent, or a special kind of genetic makeup, to be that evil. To suggest everyone is just walking around that way? Give me a break. Sunday’s was a great break. Really hope Tyrion gets her ear now and kicks this dragon propelled party into gear.

3) Thank God this dragon arrived. It saved D and it saved the show. Not that I was about to stop. And I really liked this season a lot, especially compared to what I thought was a weak season last year, but the dragon’s are the bringers of hope and possibility, whereas everything else, even the arrival of the White Walkers was e fully admitted inevitability (see: “Winter is Coming”). Some unpredictable possibility is a good thing.

4) Meanwhile, I’m still so confused as to how D has not been playing with dragons this whole time. I get it, they got a little big and intimidated her. Still, she wasn’t even trying! It seems like the two locked up haven’t even been fed! How the heck is she going to regain their trust and love? You know what happens when you lock two pitbulls in a dark basement for a really long time? Imagine if they were two dragons.

5) Beyond the practical necessities of actually caring for a creature to keep it alive and useful, if you have dragons as toys, even if you aren’t sure if they are safe and even if you aren’t sure what to do with them, how have you not at least been tinkering!? If someone gave me an M1 Abram’s tank (or three of them…), I would be scared to death of them. I would also start them up once a week to keep them in running order. And I would for SURE be trying to figure out how to use them.

Plans of action:

a) the library – getting your hands on some old scrolls might provide some secrets.

b) trying a new button every day to figure out how they work – you could start with a soothing song, maybe try feeding one by throwing a goat, then get them eating out of your hand, maybe even a nose pat by week two!

c) just rip of the bandaid – she survived a raging fire to birth them, they seem to come when she calls, screw it, go for it. Stare it down like you’re Harry Potter and it’s a hippogriff, and then get on that thing. FACT: a full grown horse could easily kill me and is very dangerous. FACT: if I had three in my possession, at some point (after steps “a” and “b,” though probably not long after) I would just give it a go and hop on that thing.

6) Jon Snow really risked things with the Watch for like 500 wildlings, many of whom are, presumably, the women and children they would have loaded first. Oops.

7) I totally feel you on the intensity of that dragon getting speared a bunch. I thought they were going to kill it off for a moment after which my laptop would have followed your phone into a wall.

8) How much better is this show when we don’t have to dedicate time to Brienne of Tarth?

9) Similarly, isn’t it great when we don’t have to watch eunuch-translator love scenes?

10) Are they starting to pare down some of the storylines now that they are lapping George? Could be a great perk…

11) King’s Landing is so tired, and the fanatics so unengaging, that I didn’t realize until now that we didn’t pop in.

12) The banking scene better come back around later. If that was an annoying and elaborate way of showing us that Arya ran into someone to kill, it was a bit much. Especially since no one cares about the guy from House Tyrell. BUT, if it plays a roll later, it would be one of those little nuances that keep everything connected that I love so much and that seemed so plentiful in seasons 1 and 2.

13) My dude Jorah touched the queen, like, a lot in that episode when “rescuing her.” Do you have to directly touch the infected part to get it? If so, why did Shireen get it from a wooden doll? Were they just sloppy? If so, shame on them. They made him roll that sleeve up in BOTH previous episodes to remind us…

14) Where is the super smart eunuch right now? I miss him a little bit. Didn’t miss Tommy Carcetti at all…

15) RIP…Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 8.52.25 PM

… not Joffrey. Fat Moser! This doesn’t even look like you now.

 

 

The Baseball Roundup (6/6/15)

June 6, 2015

Kev, I know you have the graduation party today, so I did a lot of heavy lifting for ya. Plenty here to riff off of, or you can go to yesterday’s results. I largely ignored the box scores.

Tony: 

I ended saying I didn’t believe in Panda yesterday, so I’ll start by saying that Rob Neyer doesn’t think it’s time to give up just yet.

Two days ago I told you I would take the Tribe rotation over that of the Mets. Well, according to Jeff Pasan, the Indians’ pitching rotation isn’t just fantastic, it’s also futuristicI didn’t realize it when I said the comparison assumed each team could control the assets going forward, but the Tribe DOES control their big 4 until 2020! Also, they “recognize that what Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz were to the 1990s, and Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder were to the 2000s, they can be to the 2010s.” Which, is just super fun to dream about.

Also, apparently Cleveland is pushing some boundaries in pitcher player development. One of the methods is weighted balls:

Cleveland’s devotion to pitching runs deep in the organization, where it has hired and unleashed player-development personnel whose philosophies don’t exactly run parallel to baseball’s deeply ingrained thinking on how to grow pitchers. Assistant director of player development Eric Binder came from the Texas Baseball Ranch, the pitching think tank run by independent coach Ron Wolforth, who helped fix Scott Kazmir and has grown more mainstream in recent years.

Binder’s use of weighted baseballs – regular-sized balls made with heavier material, up to 21 ounces – is pervasive among the Indians’ minor league affiliates. The idea behind weighted-ball use is to force the arm to pattern itself properly using heavier balls and build up additional arm strength and velocity along the way. Some programs include underweight balls, too – Bauer throws some as light as two ounces – to help pitchers emphasize deceleration of the arm.

Obviously Trevor Bauer is really into this Jedi training. He also uses the Shoulder Tube – a long, oscillating stick whose nicknames include “wiggle stick,” “cattle prod,” and “javelin,” amongst other more profane things.

Also, the team adopted that “mThrow” pitching sleeve I told you about a week or two ago!

During spring training, Marcum, Bauer and others wore the mThrow pitching sleeve, which has an embedded sensor that sends kinematic data live to a computer via Bluetooth. While there were some snags with the device – Marcum said the battery died too quickly, and Bauer’s sensor slipped out of place – the Indians’ desire for more data and a better sense of what their pitchers are doing speaks to their principles.

With all the data driven things going on in Cleveland, I’m confused about why we are still fielding the worst defense on the plant. With shortstop Francisco Lindor and third baseman Giovanny Urshela, they’ve got two Gold Glove-caliber fielders primed and waiting at Triple-A. Is it time to bring them up?

Look at what Lonnie Chisenhall and Jose Ramirez are doing at the plate:

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Lonnie’s fielding actually is actually good – in fact only he, Yan Gomes, and Jason Kipnis are playing plus defense. His Rtot (total zone fielding runs above average) is actually +5. But, Ramirez’s Rtot is -5. Who are the guys really killing Cleveland’s D? Michael Brantley (-7), Brandon Moss (-7), Carlos Santana (-5), Jose Ramirez (-5), and David Murphy (-3). I add Lonnie largely because I have given up on him, so if they want to give the Colombian a go, I’m down.

Paul Swyden wonders if the Tribe is being too conservative with Lindor. Answer: not really. But, if Ramirez doesn’t adjust soon, with Lindor hitting at AAA and other big name guys like Gallo coming up, it may be time.

Interesting question. Do hard hit balls cause more errors? That would explains some of the Tribe’s woes, since its boys through gass and, presumably, when contact is made, the ball is coming off the bat hard.

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Basically, not really. Look at that home team advantage from scorers though!

Red Sox rookie Eduardo Rodríguez has pitched brilliantly in his first two starts, in a way that nobody’s seen since Billy Rohr nearly a half-century ago. What happened next? You’ll have to read Billy Rohr’s story to believe it.

Really up and down night in Boston last night…

First, in the top of the second inning of the Red Sox’ 4–2 win over the A’s in Boston, a woman seated on the third base side of home plate was struck in the head when a broken piece of Oakland third baseman Brett Lawrie’s bat flew into the stands. The woman was bleeding profusely and was taken to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center with what officials termed “serious” injuries.

Then, all was well because… the best baseball story of the year took place in the same ballpark just five innings later, when Pat Venditte made his major league debut for the A’s, becoming the first full-time switch pitcher in the major leagues since the 1880s and, at most, the second ever in major league history.

Venditte began his major league career pitching left-handed to Boston lefty Brock Holt, getting Holt to ground out to first base on a 3-2 slider. He then switched arms and gave up a groundball single through the shortstop hole to Hanley Ramirez but, sticking with his right arm, got Mike Napoli to hit into a 4-6-3 double play on his very next pitch, an 86-mph fastball.

Here is some video:

As Anna McDonald writes, MY BOYYYY Michael Wachaseems to have a solid, well-adjusted head on his body. (Oh, also he’s now 8-1 with a 2.18 ERA.)

Remember how Jason Marquis was brought up for the Nick Cage award? Rob Neyer led with him in an article about the Reds and it made me remember why he was a legit candidate:

And if you want to question the decision to give Jason Marquis a key role on the pitching staff — the same Jason Marquis who didn’t pitch last year, and who sported a 4.56 career ERA — I certainly won’t argue with you. Especially considering that Marquis has just been designated for assignment after doing almost exactly what any data-driven analysis might have predicted.

Here’s the thing, though: Marquis probably hasn’t cost the Reds a single win. Or maybe a single one.

So bad, we know he’s bad, but he just isn’t bad enough to stop having a job. Still, he’s no Livan Hernandez.

With their 4–0 victory over the Royals Friday night, the Texas Rangers have now won 13 of their last 16 games.The Royals lost for the eighth time in 10 games.

Chi Chi Gonzalez made it happen for the Rangers. All Gonzalez did Friday night was shut the Royals out on three hits, all singles, and a pair of walks. In doing so he became just the second pitcher to throw a shutout in one of his first two major league games since Clay Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second major league start in September 2007 and just the eighth since the turn of the millennium to do so, the most recent being former Twin Andrew Albers in August 2013.

Gonzalez, who retired 12 in a row after walking Lorenzo Cain in the first, did not allow a Royal to reach second base until the seventh. Eric Hosmer had a bunt single and Kendrys Morales walked, but Alex Gordon grounded into an inning-ending double play. Did Hosmer employ the “Kyle Seager-Offensive Bunt?!”

Edinson Volquez (4-4) gave up four runs and six hits, while striking out six and walking three in 5 1-3 innings.

Love where the hype is going for the Astros. Latest? “Why The Astros are World Series Contenders:”

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Even though this is what some are calling the shallowest draft in the last 100 years, the Astros have an enviable draft position. They hold picks: 2, 5, 37, and 46.

Jeff Sullivan suggests that the AL has just gone bananas… Check out the actual vs. projected winning % in both leagues:

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That’s hilarious.

Nick Lampe, no doubt inspired by all the Shelby Miller love, reminds us he isn’t a Cy Young candidate. Beyond regression, he notes that there are just too many walks and not enough K’s. We shall see.

We talked about Jon Lester breaking Joey Hamilton‘s record for “Most PAs to start a career without a hit.” Henry Druschel wants more. He posits some interesting possible “worst” batting records for Lester.

Lester v. Cliff Lee is classic.

I’ll end with a recap of the Tribe game. They lost 5 – 2 to Baltimore. Adam Jones homered and tripled for the O’s. Paredes, who I cut earlier this week, was 0/4. That little fun in the sun is over. Feel great about him finishing outside the top 125 on the player rater.

Kipnis was 1/4 and David Murphy was 2/3 for the Tribe. Don’t look now, but Murphy is actually hitting. He is batting .325 on the year as a platoon guy. Yan Gomes was 2/4. Hopefully he can get back on track after a slow start and that knee injury. Even with all this pitching, we are going to have to hit to make a run at the World Series.

Shaun Marcum pitched for the Tribe, so I am not surprised, in the least, that they lost. His starts are the 20% of the time I assume things will go poorly.

Oh yeah, and since I always end with Bryce Harper. Obviously people are still cranking out thoughts on his year. I liked this one though. It looked at if this was the hottest every hot streak by a player… Interesting to look at the different streaks (they adjust the number of plate appearances to match Bryce up against other great streaks).

Kevin:

Thanks T.  I’ll go with a quick recap on last night’s games.

Yankees pull of with win 8-7 over the Angels.  Alex Rodriguez had 4 hits, his first time since 2011.  He also had another RBI to move past  Bonds into second place all time.  Guy just keeps climbing in the record books.  He scored another run to move past Musial into seventh place.  Let’s not forgot how historically great A-Rod has been.  The Yankees were up 8-1 headed into the 9th and nearly had a complete collapse, including the first Earned Run given up by fantastic young pitcher Dellin Betances. He’s been a stud, though some think, with his 27 appearances, NY is overusing him. Jered Weaver took the loss.  I remember 2010-2012, Dream Weaver looked like the next big thing.  He has kind of faded into above averageness, which is unremarkable and much less fun than greatness or totally falling apart.

Nationals break out of a hitting slump to take down the Cubs 7-5.  Espinosa had a homerun, and now leads all NL second basemen in this category. Storen picked up his 18th save to continue leading the league.  Not much to see here beyond that. Other than the Tribe’s pitching, do the Cubs have the best collection of positional talent?  Rizzo, Bryant, Castro is a hell of a young core.  And, as you pointed, out, more youth is on the way.

The Freak picked up a win for San Fran. One way you know your team is winning too many titles: Lincecum skipped the White House visit Thursday so he could fly straight to the ballpark and be well rested.  No big deal, another year another Presidential visit.  Posey hit his 9th homerun, and is showing he’s not just the best name in baseball.

Astros looked for some 9th inning magic, but came up way short, losing 6-2 to the Blue Jays. All 6 runs (5 earned) were given up by the artist formerly known as Fausto.  Too bad, really rooting hard for Fake Fausto to turn it around but his ERA is >7 in his last 3 starts. Astros will likely find out this year that you can’t take off the first 5 innings and rely on something miraculous, let’s hope they figure things out before falling back to Earth.

Pirates won 10-8 over the Braves.  Marte hit a solo shot, and the Bucs have now won 12 of 14. They are June streaking just as expected.  Not a lot of talk about Andrelton Simmons.  What’s going on?  Seems to be a little below average this year, and not quite living up to expectations.  Thoughts?

White Sox beat the Tigers in the 11th inning of a bases loaded HBP.  This is pretty rare and kind of awesome.  Sox also are showing some life lately.

Rangers beat the Royals 4-0.  Great name newcomer Chi Chi Gonzalez has now pitched 15 innings of scoreless ball to start his career in Texas.  Most importantly, in our Gallo watch, he struck out 4 TIMES YESTERDAY!! The coveted golden sombrero. He’s also now on pace for 278 K’s, which would shatter the major league record. I know it’s way early, but as promised I will continue tracking his K rate until it become unremarkable, or he gets benched.

In the Felbs Drew showdown, Milwaukee whipped the Twins 10-5.  Kyle Loshe got hit pretty good for the Brewers, which isn’t a surprise, because he’s actively bad.  Mauer had two hits.  And Adam Lind drove in 6 runs including a three run homerun.  Good win for the lowly brew crew.

Marlins beat the Rockies 6-2, and Giancarlos had his 18th dinger, this one travelling 482 feet.  What more to say about him? He’s incredible.

Couple games I didn’t get to. You’re more than welcome to get into them (Cards game and Rays game)

Later

The Baseball Roundup (6/5/15)

June 5, 2015

Tony: 

Matt Harvey led the Mets past Arizona 6 – 2. Both runs were surrendered via the long ball. He pitched 7 innings and struck out 9. Jeurys Familia got the 5 out save. This ends a 3 game losing streak for the Mets. One of the homers Batman gave up was to Paul Goldschmidt – it was his 16th. We love Paul, and I believe I have him in a board bet, so I was pleased to see this…

It was a great day for MY BOYS on the mound. Michael Wacha also went 7. He gave up 1 run and struck out 5 while walking none. The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 7 – 1. In the third, Jhonny Peralta and Mark Reynolds had RBI singles for the Cardinals. I can’t shake the fact that the previous sentence could have been from an Indians boxscore a couple years ago… Kolton Wong was 2/4 with 2 RBI. I guess he is really good, eh?

Perhaps the Dodgers need to move Joc Pederson out of the lead-off spot. 14 of Pederson’s 17 homeruns have come with no runners on base. That’s the most in baseball.

The Reds beat the Phillies 6 – 4. Aroldis Chapman struck out the side for a save. Todd Frazier was 1/4. Former Indians Brandon Phillips and Ben Revere were 2/5 and 3/4, respectively.

Aroldis was so good last year that we are starting to see articles examining why he is struggling. Dude has a 2.22 ERA, has 41 Ks in 24 innings, and is holding opposing batters to a .220 AVG. Of course, he isn’t as good as last year. Partially because last year was insane. Partially because his location is off right now. He has already walked 15 batters, more than half the total of walks he surrendered all last season (24). Following table is not pretty:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 1.54.26 PM

The Nationals finally activated Anthony Rendon! He spent time manning both second and third while going 2/4. Good times are on the horizon for Tony (and Rendon, and likely, the Nationals). Despite Rendon’s return, the Nationals lost 2 – 1 to the Cubs. Jake Arrieta got the win and Gio Gonzalez took the loss. With those two going it’s not surprising that I don’t get to report much about offense. Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, and Kris Bryant were a combined 3/10 with 1 RBI.

Finally, the Tribe beat the Royals 6 – 2. MY BOY Lorenzo Cain flashed some rare power, roping a 2 run homer. Cain’s homer was his first since May 2, a span of 91 at-bats. Bauer didn’t have much control, walking 4 batters and striking out 5. Still, it was enough. He has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, getting to the seventh in each of them. The game was delayed with one out in the bottom of the eighth as lightning and heavy rain rolled into the area. The umpires waited 44 minutes before calling Cleveland’s sixth win in eight games. Kipnis was 1/4 and even got me a stolen base.

Yesterday you brought up that Lance Lynn threw 117 fastballs (out of 118 pitches) the other night. Like you said, that count includes 3 – 4 different pitches: 4 seemers, 2 seemers, cutters, and sinkers. So, it’s not as crazy as it sounds. Often people won’t include cutters with fastballs because they work as an off speed pitch. This is far more common than you would think.

I remember it being a story in 2010, with David Price. Against the Red Sox, he threw 110 fastballs and 11 breaking balls. I looked up the frequency with which he threw each pitch in 2010 on Brooks Baseball – he was throwing a fastball (4 seemer or sinker) 75% of the time.

There is evidence that guys can succeed in the bigs with only 2 pitches. And, I think within that list, many of them are hucking fastballs A LOT. Chris Archer also comes to mind.

Speaking of two pitches… In his 11 strikeout game on Wednesday, that was Lance McCullers M.O. McCullers relied almost exclusively on a fastball-curve combo (61 of the former, 37 of the latter), mixing in just nine changeups.

At 21 years and 244 days, McCullers became the youngest pitcher with a complete game featuring a double-digit strikeout total since Kerry Wood’s 20-K masterpiece on May 6, 1998; Wood was 20 years and 324 days. McCullers does have the distinction of doing so earlier in his major league career (fourth start) than Wood (fifth). Only five pitchers have recorded 10/0 games earlier in their careers, with one repeating the feat, and one matching McCullers:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 8.29.31 PM

 

Albert Chen recently released an article that really celebrates young Lance… Workouts are fantastic.

He is 21 years old, 6’2″, 205 pounds, and can throw a baseball 100 miles per hour…

A few days a week, McCullers—who worked with Chinea through high school and reunited with him this winter after a rough 2014 season in the minors—pushed 4,000-pound cars in a parking lot, between 100 to 150 meters in distance, for lower body work. Days ended with McCullers standing over a tree trunk and swinging an ax 400 times into the wood, alternating horizontal and vertical swings with 30 reps, an exercise to maximize the shoulder’s structural rotation.

Note, he was the 41st pick in 2012 (a part of general manger Jeff Luhnow’s first draft class).

He has been working out with pitching coach Orlando Chinea, who specializes in Cubans(!) and also trains recent Marlins rookie of the year Jose Fernandez.

I’m not ready to call Eduardo Rodriguez for for Andrew Miller a steal yet. Andrew Miller is one of the best closers in the game right now, has been nasty for a while now, and is only getting better:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 8.16.50 PM

Eduardo Perez looked great in his first two starts, but so did Mike Bolsinger… Let’s give this kid a couple years before we call this a “steal.”

Looks like the Cubs have another big hitting prospect coming down the pipe: Kyle Schwarber. Terrible name.

You like Lackey over Lester? Deal. Bet is who is higher on the Yahoo! player rater at the end of the season? Add it to the board. Also, make the board you keep promising to make and post…

Kevin:

Kip looks good.  And like seeing the Tribe round in to form.  It almost makes up for last night’s devastating loss . Things are looking up in Cleveland sports.

Paul Goldschmidt is a legit MVP candidate, and again, a guy that may be underrated, despite being repeatedly mentioned as such. I got to thinking, in regards to the pitching stats, which pitchers relied most on one or two pitches, specifically starters?  Tim Wakefield threw knuckleballs 85 percent of the time on his career.  What about non-knucklers?  Aroldis threw 82 percent fastballs, not at all surprising.  The fastball leader for this season??? FAT BART! He’s still winging 85.5 percent fastballs.  Second is the aforementioned Lance Lynn.  I don’t know what any of this means, but is is weirdly interesting, and something I will investigate further.

Rangers won in the 11th 2-1 over the White Sox.  Shin Shoo Choo hit the winning RBI single.  Gallo was walked once, singled, and 2K’s.  How many times will he strikeout this year?  That might be my favorite story to watch on the season. He’s currently on pace for 222.  That would be one behind the major league record set by Mark Reynolds and would tie him in second with Adam Dunn.  Granted he’s already missed about 50 games, which would make it way more impressive.  I will be posting daily K watches on him, until he slows his role. Given Choo’s game winner, I think it would be fun to have a former Indians All-Star team.  I also suspect it would be a really, really good team.  Add that to your to-do list.

The Athletics took down the Tigers 7-5.  Oakland has now won 6 of 7, and Detroit has lost seven in a row.  Oakland is still in last place in the American League, so the optimism is certainly restrained.    The Tigers look so good on paper, with solid batting averages, and big names, but sit just one game over .500.  Do they come back to be the really good team we would expect?

Pitcher’s duel in Houston.  Keuchel had his shortest start of the season, and it was still excellent.  6 innings, 2 runs.  Wei-Yin Chen continues to be lights out for the Orioles.  Adam Jones hit a homerun, and the O’s pulled it out 3-2.  I have to think any team facing Houston in a close game is frightened in the later innings.

Twins keep winning, this time taking down the Red Sox 8-4.  Twins legend Joe Mauer dropped a bunt in the bottom of the 9th, and the throw was mishandled by Kung-Fu Panda, his second error of the game.  It makes me feel younger to be seeing the Twins play well, led by Tori Hunter and Joe Mauer.  They should resign Johan Santana and we can all pretend it’s the mid-2000’s.  Is Panda overrated?  Could him leaving have been a lose lose?  It doesn’t seem to be helping Boston, and San Fran could sure have used his bat at different moments this season.

As for the board, emailed you a draft, make sure it looks right.  Also, we can publish the Red Carpet Hollywood Awards tomorrow, in lieu of a Roundup, as I will likely be taken with this party all day.  Sadly a short roundup from me today, as you covered a lot of my talking points, and it was a smaller slate of games.

Out

Tony:

I’ll finish with a couple things.

The A’s called up SWITCH pitcher Pat Venditte! That’s exciting stuff – can’t wait to see this guy. Venditte uses a special six-fingered glove and typically throws left-handed to left-handed batters and right-handed to right-handed batters. Against switch hitters, Venditte must declare which hand he will pitch with. He throws with more velocity from the right side. Venditte pitched in 17 games for the Triple A Nashville Sounds this season, recording a 1.36 ERA and 0.970 WHIP in 33 innings.

Draft is almost here.

Second-base prospects are both scarce and rarely successful, so it makes sense that scouting directors tend to pass over them. Second basemen are commonly on the small side, with low offensive ceilings, and there’s usually little upside in a middling hitter who lacks the ability to handle a more demanding position at the amateur level.

They are the fielding position that tends to bust the most:

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 8.14.50 PM

A recent article on Just a Bit Outside talks suggests that second basemen and their “low ceiling” are being short changed: “It isn’t so clear that the “low ceiling” label is as accurate as is often portrayed, and perhaps that guy getting stuck with a utility player label has a better chance of turning into an All-Star than he’ll be given credit for.” Of course, the ceiling of the second baseman he lists is considerably lower than the ceiling on guys at other positions – specifically outfield and the corners. I think he misses the point. The fact that there are good second basemen, and that someone at second base becomes an all star, doesn’t mean they are being under-drafted…

My favorite part of the article? When he includes Jason Kipnis and Dustin Pedroia – a former centerfielder and shortstop… That’s exactly the point: guys playing second are typically passed over for better guys playing elsewhere that can be moved to second.

Want to know who has done really well in the draft? The Tribe!

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 8.15.03 PMOf course, that list doesn’t show which farm system the guy came up in. For example, Tribe gets credit here for drafting Chris Archer, even though they didn’t really develop him. Still, glass is half full!

I told you at the beginning of the season Panda was overrated. Nothing about this surprises me.

 

The Baseball roundup (6/4/15)

June 4, 2015

Kevin:

Figured I’d get us started with some quick hitters.  First, the Marlins took down the Cubs last night. Junior Lake hit a homerun that put the Cubs down 4, he stared at it for a while, then talked shit to the Marlins dugout while running around the bases. Check out the full video. The first guy out of the Marlins dugout was injured ace Jose Fernandez.  Can we just agree both of these guys are colossal assholes?  First, don’t talk garbage when down 4 runs.  Second, don’t run out of the dugout when you’ve had Tommy John surgery, and could probably reinjure it very, very easily (that’s why hes on the DL).  Drew has said he wants to get into this idea of “home run pimping” so I’ll let him really delve into it, but it had to be at least mentioned.

Tony: 

Great start. Lots for me to work off of there…

Let’s start with the obvious lead: TEN CENT BEER NIGHT* IS BACK!

*One 10c beer per ticket bought, available before the game only, 5 oz beers.

The Lake Erie Crushers are hosting it tonight! Stipulation should ensure we don’t see anything crazy, but it is a good deal. Especially when you consider beers on Thursday night during the game are only 1 dollar anyway.

Since that’s the blog’s namesake, it deserved a mention.

Entourage movie… I need it! Grantland wrote up a “should you see it” article. Dumb article. The answer is just, “yes.” Couple quick thoughts though:

1) Cadillac made an Ari Gould extended commercial:

but it’s just a poor version of Johnny Walker’s Jude Law commercial, “The Gentleman’s Wager”:

2) The Jeremy Piven – Kid Cudi spread in Complex, featuring the two of them playing chess in high contrast black and white, is awesome.

3) The thing that is going to annoy me about the movie? E. He is womanizing (COME ON…) so much that his failed (shocker!) relationship with Sloan is constantly strained (shocker!)?

4) The cameo list is fantastic. Check out the article.

It Must Be June: The Pirates are Good Again. Jonah Keri notes that Marte, McCutchen, and Cole are performing well again, but it was the organization’s ability to replace Russell Martin with Francisco Cerveli and the additions of AJ Burnett and Jung-Ho Kang that set the Pirates up for a repeat playoff run. What’s with their poor play in May? Just luck? Seems like some guys do just start slow (see: Adam LaRoche). Can some teams start slow?

After his two bombs in Colorado, Joc Pederson is the man of the hour. Rob Neyer wonders if he is better than Kris Bryant. He currently has a higher OPS, is better defensively, and his 16 homers lead the league in average true distance. Eno Saris included his thoughts on “hitting with the top hand” alongside Bryce Harper’s and Mike Trout’s. Thats good company. He hits the ball harder than almost everyone else. Right now, overall, Pederson ranks second in average batted-ball velocity. He had the highest exit velocity off a bat this year (it was a line out), and his batted balls are most often within 10mph of peak exit velocity. Very stong man. Funny we track these things now too, eh?

Bryant is having a bad week. Ben Reiter also wonders if you’d rather have him or Astros prospect Carlos Carrea. Dude has to be wondering what he has to do to just be left alone.

Kyle Seager is in a bit of a slump. He was 1/4 last night with 3 Ks. His recent struggles at the plate weren’t mentioned as motivation for his “weaponized bunt” against CC Sabathia the other day. Thoughts on more aggressive bunting? The Ned Yost sac-bunt-extravaganza was frustrating to watch, but I do like the aggressive bunts meant to be hits, or to score runs. Thoughts about Kyle Seager, one of the team’s best batters, laying one down? The Mariners lost to the Yankees 3 – 1 yesterday. Mark Teixeira hit his 16th home run and Mariners rookie Taijuan Walker had a second nice outing in a row. Kid went 8, giving up 3 runs and allowing 6 base runners while striking out 7.

Seattle traded for Arizona’s Mark Trumbo to give the lineup some more pop. He’s on my team, so I’m trying to decide if I care. Safeco isn’t supposed to be a great place to hit, but Nelson Cruz sure doesn’t care about that… Deal was another big one: 6 players. Lefthanded pitcher Vidal Nuno is headed to the Pacific Northwest alongside Trumbo, with catcher Welington Castillo, righty Dominic Leone, minor league infielder Jack Reinheimer and minor league outfielder Gabby Guerrero going to Arizona.

Remember how Collin McHugh was targeted by the Astros because his curveball spun a lot and induced more ground balls? I brought this up the other day. Well, Jonah Pemstein really broke down the “effects of spin on pitch outcomes.” Not breaking new ground on a lot of things baseball folk have known for a long time, but it’s interesting to look at and further point out that PitchFx could be valuable.

More on the future of baseball technology, Moser. I think you will have a lot to say about that: health, prepping for games with virtual reality, wearables, sensors that steal signs, enhanced vision… all game changing issues that are right up your instigative alley… Give me some thoughts.

You brought up Joey Gallo and his debut the other day. Lot being written about the beauty of his swing, and for good reason:

Dude looks like Griffey a little bit:

Gallo might be more Dunn than Griffey though:

Gallo has some of the best raw power many have ever seen, which has enabled him to hit a remarkable 114 homers in his 331 games as a pro — more than one dinger every three games. However, he pairs that power with an alarming amount of swing-and-miss. He struck out in a league-leading 34% of his Double-A plate appearances this year, which was actually a sizable improvement from the 40% clip he posted in his three months at the level in 2014.

Here is a closer numerical look at the prospect and his potential in the MLB.

I got to go to school, but there is a start for you. Lots of games to catch us up on and some other newsworthy stuff…

Kevin: 

Ten cent beer night!!! Our namesake.  I’m surprised they’re even having a game.  Given that Game 1 of the Lebron Finals Experience begins tonight, I can’t imagine many people headed over to see the crushers.  I love baseball, and I’ll still be all basketball the rest of the day.

As for Entourage, I’ll see it. Obviously.  But given the way the series ended, I have real concerns.  It’s funny that you hate on E, mainly because you are E.  I just hope there’s plenty of Johnny Drama, and a minimum of ‘the guys’ trying to make something of themselves and not just ride Vinny’s coattails.  They all have the dream, and they throw it away because they feel the need to earn it themselves.  The hell is the matter with them?  Given the coattail opportunity, I will have absolutely no qualms about enjoying the ride, and getting really good at hanging out with my superstar.

I buy into slow starting teams.  I think baseball is a sport filled with the placebo effect.  Guys convince themselves something is true, and so it is.  This goes for superstitions, streaks, etc.  Even if there’s no evidence it’s true, I will still choose to believe it, because it makes sports more fun.  (side note: we need to write our ‘great sports moments hall of fame’ article at some point).

Trumbo trade…I’m not sold.  He hits a lot of dingers, but that wasn’t Seattle’s problem.  This article explains that they needed more guys getting on base. He Billy Mays’ed them, solving problems for them that they didn’t actually have.

Pederson is interesting. The guy is hitting long balls and smashing velocity the same way Bryant and Harper are.  The difference: those guys look like freaks.  Tall, jacked, potentially roided.  Joc looks like the wiry kid who got picked late for teams. Damn near scrawny.  And yet the ball is jumping off his bat like a cat out of a bag (an analogy you’re personally familiar with). Fun group of young guys.  It will be interesting watching them take over the game and become superstars, though I hate now rooting for superstars notably younger than me; another reason I’m rooting hard for Lebron tonight.  Joc homered in his 5th straight last night, but it wasn’t quite enough, as the recently discussed Arenado hit a sacfly in the bottom of the 9th to help the Rockies pull of the comeback, 9-8.

The weaponized bunt was an interesting read.  Could that be the next revolution in baseball?  As teams implement more and more shifts, and teams fall out of the practice of bunting, it could be a market inefficiency (MONEYBALL!!!).  It’s now likely not happening enough.  Curious to see if anyone takes it to an extreme.  I know that if I went against Lester I would be bunting every inning, right at the pitcher.  See if that asshole has learned how to throw to first yet.  If not, bunts away!

Speaking of baseball technology, watch a game with google glass. You look like the biggest nob in the world wearing/owning them, but it looks like a fun way to watch a game.  I loved the idea of technology changing the game, and virtual reality sports games seem like they could occupy weeks of my life at a time.  I can only imagine myself VR’ing to Chapman until I finally make contact on one.  Can’t wait for VR video games.  I think for baseball the technology could be simpler though.  Sunglasses that track the ball and make it stand out in a different color could be hugely helpful; would these be legal?  How much of an edge would they provide?  The injury tracking stuff is legit, and some teams are already using it.  This could be the next big edge to be gained by organizations while some lag behind.

Gallo is stepping up just in time as my boy Hamilton is out 3-4 weeks. Gallo is going to strike out a lot, but homer a lot too. And give us plenty of opportunities for Gallo’s humor.  That’s just what he did last night.  3 strikeouts, one homerun to redeem himself.  The three strikeouts are understandable when coming against Chris Sale, who threw 13 K’s in another stellar outing. Sale, despite all the press he keeps getting, might still be underrated.  The guy has been lights out this year, and is my pick for the AL Cy Young (really going out on a limb).

Before moving on to the rest of yesterday’s game, one older thing of note: Lance Lynn threw 117 of his 118 pitches as fastballs the other night!!! That seems incredible, erroneous, or like a bad idea.  It points out that this included cutters, 4 seams, and varying speeds, but still seems loco.

Indians lose to the Royals.  Royals apparently play their best against Cy Young candidates, as their bats finally woke up.  RBI’s by Moustakas and Morales helped drive them to victory.  Not a terrible outing by Kluber Lang, as he gave up 4 runs over 8 innings.  Does a losing pitcher get credit for a complete game when only pitching 8 innings?  Also, if a losing pitcher throws an 8 inning no-hitter, do they similarly receive credit for the no-hitter?  Has this ever happened?

Eduardo Rodriguez does what no pitcher has done in the last 115 years, by starting his career with 2 straight games with at least 7 innings, less than 3 hits, and less than 1 run in each.  The Red Sox beat the Twins 6-3. Incredible.  The guy is here to stay with the Sox. He was brought to Boston last year in the Andrew Miller trade, and at the moment is looking like a steal.  How many starts before you’re willing to view him as legit? 5? That’s kind of the number I would go with.  For the Twins, Phil Hughes was pitching. Hughes sticks out as another potential worst pitcher.  He’s been around a while, and has some really bad years to his name.  Thoughts?

Offense finally picked up in the Brewers and Cardinals series.  Lackey continues to pitch like an ace.  Which former Red Sock would you want the rest of the year, Lackey or Lester?  Weirdly, I think I’d go Lackey, despite his advanced age.  Cards knocked in 7 and did it early against the Brewers, who’s pitching staff is really struggling. Hector Gomez got hurt chasing a Heyward fly ball in the game and had to leave.  Perhaps this is the most aggressive and effective play from Heyward thus far this season?

Tanaka was back for the Yankees.  He pitches 7 innings with only 78 pitches, yielding only one run.  Mark Texiera seems to be heating up, as he hit his 16th homer of the season.

You mentioned the Pirate heating up.  Francisco Liriano got the win last night.  He’s had a really weird career, though perhaps not quite 30 for 30 worthy yet.He gave up one run over 7 innings last night.  Not much else of note in this one.

Mark Buehrle threw a 93 pitch complete game as the Blue Jays took apart the Nationals 8-0.  Bryce Harper said afterwards, “He knows how to pitch,” though Harper did have 2 hits in the game.  Buehrle is also having a late career reawakening, and will be fun to dissect going forward.

Astros win 3-1, behind 2 homers from Carter, and another from Springer.  The Astros are now 21-0 when hitting multiple homers, which is a fun stat for a team that goes deep so often.  In other Stros news, there are talks of removing the hill and flagpoles in center field. This saddens me.  I’m in favor of any weird peculiarities that make ballparks different, and getting rid of them diminishes the game.  Given that baseball’s biggest strength, television wise, is in regional ratings, we should be pushing for more regionalized differences, not eliminating them.

That’s all I got for today.  Let’s plan on publishing the Red Carpet Hollywood Awards tomorrow?  Keep being French

From the Hidden Files: The Lost Roundup (5/31/15)

June 3, 2015

This never got up, and I have no Moser takes, but the Ben Ancheff lead alone is worthy of getting this up late…

Tony: 

Prospect Watch: Ben Ancheff.



The Jared Lorenzen of college baseball! Ancheff’s team, St. Thomas Bobcats, lost in the Championship game after winning 4 elimination games to get there.

The Rays beat the Orioles 3 – 0. The Rays came in with an AL-best 3.40 ERA but ranked 26th in the majors in scoring. Tampa Bay starters have not allowed a run in the last 25 1-3 innings.

Baltimore has been blanked four times this season, three by the Rays.

Adam Jones took the day off, Jimmy Paredes was 0/4, and Brad Boxberger got the save.

The Astros beat the White Sox 3 – 0. Dallas Keuchal pitched a 4 hitter and struck out 11. Given the emails I got last night, about heavy flooding, I’m surprised they played.

Heavy rain caused minor flooding inside Minute Maid Park during the game, but there were no delays.

Meanwhile. THE ASTROS TOTALLY RIPPED OFF THE TWINS:  the Astros celebrated Keuchel’s win by transforming the clubhouse into a club, complete with a strobe light, fog machine and multiple lamps that sent lights of all colors to every corner of the room.

Keuchal now has a major league leading 1.76 ERA. Last night was his 8th complete game.

The Astros improved to 31-19, tying the 1998 team that won a franchise-high 102 times for the best 50-game start in team history.

GGGAAATTTTTIIIIISSSS connected for his team-leading 11th homer with one out in the eighth off Dan Jennings. Five pitches later, Carter also got to Jennings, launching his eighth homer to left field.

Jon Niese lost again as the Mets fell to the Marlins 9 – 5. Giancarlo Stanton hit 2 bombs, including one that went 455 feet into the second deck. This is Stanton’s 15th career 2 homer game. Wonder who has the most 2 homer games. 15 seems like a lot given his age, right?

Miami bullpen was on last night. Six relievers combined for 5 2-3 shutout innings of two-hit ball, and Miami won consecutive road games for the first time since April 22-23.

The Dodgers beat the Cardinals 5 – 1. Michael Wacha was perfect through 5 before giving up 4 in the 5th. Freshly activated Yasmani Grandel tagged him for a 3 run homer.

The Tribe beat the Mariners 4 – 3. Kyle Seager was 2/3 with 2 doubles and Robinson Canoe homered for the Mariners. It wasn’t enough to top Jerry Sands and the Indians. Sands, called up Thursday, played right field and hit his first career home run. Jason Kipnis was held hitless and Nick Swisher contributed an RBI on a sac fly.

The Pelicans hired Alvin Gentry!? Meanwhile, I think the Bulls actually come out on top here if they can sign Freddy Hoiberg to a 5  year deal…

The Baseball Roundup (6/3/15)

June 3, 2015

Kevin:

To start out with, it’s good to see the commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, is as enamored with Fat Bart as we are, “Not having NL pitchers hit would deprive us of the entertainment Bartolo Colon has given us this year.”  Incredible honesty and hilarity from a commissioner.  Wish we got gems like this more often from any of the commissioners.

We get to talk Indians baseball. The tribe have now won 11 of their last 14.  Carlos Carrasco pitched a gem; you still haven’t given me an answer on which staff you’d take, Cleveland or NYM.  Also important in this game: Wade Davis finally gave up a run.  The son of a bitch hadn’t given one up all year.  After 22 scoreless innings, he was due (statisticians everywhere just cringed at that word). Also nowhere near the record, held by Orel Hershiser, of 59. Brantley knocked in the go ahead run (off Davis) for the clutch victory.  Another question: How many Indians pitchers could finish in the top 10 for Cy Young voting? Kind of a legitimate question right?  Especially if they start stringing together some victories.

The Nationals earned a split with the Blue Jays.  Before the second of those games, wunderkid Bryce Harper took a selfie from a fan’s cell phone.

This is awesome.  The guy continues to rake with a bat, and is reminding us that youth can be silly, immature, and generally great! How young is Bryce?  He has yet to face a pitcher younger than him.  IN HIS ENTIRE MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER…Craziness.  This is perhaps the most important story of the Jays Nats series.  The Blue Jays have a young stud, Roberto Osuna, that could end up being the first pitcher to bear this distinction.  This is cool baseball trivia, and an additional reminder of how young the guy is, and how high his ceiling.  For other reminders, HE HIT 13 HOME RUNS IN MAY…

The Cards followed up a 1-0 loss to the Brewers with…a 1-0 win at the Brewers.  Lance Lynn continues to get no damn run support, but still managed a victory.  The team is averaging well below 3 runs per nine innings in his starts, making his 4-4 record actually kind of impressive.  Also in this game, Matt Holliday got tossed in the 7th…ending his 44 game on base streak to start the season.  This was the longest such streak in NL history, and Jeter holds the record overall, with a 53 game season starting streak.  Do you get an asterick when the streak ended on an ejection?

Astros comeback with a 6-4 victory over the Orioles. This time, the comeback happened earlier, but it was a comeback nonetheless.  This is now their 17th come from behind win.  Not surprisingly this leads the Majors.  What is the record on this stat?  They did it in Astros fashion…dingers, GAATTTIIISSS, etc.  Comeback Astros wins, lots of K’s and a few homeruns are almost no longer worth noting.  Speaking of sameness, Jimmy Paredes went 1/4.  This is his box score every single game.  Can we start calling this the Paredes?  How’d Chisenhall do…”He went Paredes (he did).”  Solid, unremarkable, good contribution.

After getting called out for being potentially the worst pitcher in baseball…Brad Hand WINS!!! This guy has so many potential nicknames, I hope he does stick around.  Hand to the king, Party in the USA, Give me a…I would love to announce a game he pitched, just because of all the pun opportunities.  Dee Gordon hit for the Paredes, and..Giancarlo Stanton smashed his 16th homerun.  The guy leads baseball in average speed of a ball coming off his bat (certainly matches up with the eye test).  I think I’ve found the career arc for him: Dwayne Johnson.

Let’s see, his career began loudly and impressively.  After early success, wanted to gain more credibility, and went with a name change.  Instead of The Rock, decided to be Dwayne.  Side note: Fuck that, I’m always going to call you the rock.  Post name change, went full adult mode.  Began saving for a retirement fund, being named the godfather of friends’ children, and even attending company potlucks.  For Giancarlo, he smashed 60+ homeruns before turning 22.  He was a specimen with a rocket arm and golden bat.  Then he changed his name, and somehow became an even more adult baseball player.  I’m biased towards artist formerly known as Michael because I have him in the 2011 Baseball video game I own, and his numbers there are making his 2015 season look like Mendoza.  Still, it’s a proper analogy, and you’re more than welcome to start calling Stanton Rock or Dwayne, or just Mr.

The most shocking news, and today’s entrance in the Baseball is weird and beautiful category:

2 days ago, Andrew Cashner was the first pitcher in history to throw 10+ Strikeouts, give up 10+hits, and last less than 5 innings.  He stood alone in that record book for less than a day.  Last night, Noah Syndergaard repeated the feat.  After 100+ years of something never happening, it happened in one 24 hour span, from pitchers on two different teams, who happened to be playing each other.  Incredible…What does it mean?  Absolutely nothing, but it is still cool as hell.

Rays dismantle the Angels. But Albert hit his 14th homerun.  I feel like he’s done that quietly, and is suddenly in striking distance of the league lead.  I also feel he’s done this directly after I called him out.  We can assume he is one of the 8 readers. Most importantly, the game gave us this clip.

A rookie, Joey Gallo, led the Rangers in a 15-2 romp over Swags’ White Sox.  He went 3-4  and was a triple shy of the cycle…Cue the announcer, “That is the hardest leg to get..”  What player do you think leads baseball in near cycles in his career?  That’s your mission for today, answer the question.  The Rangers rookie joins a lineup that seems to feature a ton of big names from ages past: Choo, Hamilton, and Fielder.  Lots of previous success there, and apparently lots of old man, later career comeback potential.  It makes me wonder who is on the Rangers medical staff.  For those of us wondering where Gallo came from, and if he has learned greatness yet…

HE PLAYED LITTLE LEAGUE WITH BRYCE HARPER!!!!

Time is a flat circle.  Everything that was, will be forever, and so on and so forth.

You’re up Z

Tony: 

1/4 is the Rusney Castillo. See my previous post: 6 of his first 7 games. Not the Jimmy Paredes. Jimmy’s batting average alone should indicate that…

Speaking of, Rusney drove in the sole RBI in Boston’s 1 – 0 win over Minnesota. Shockingly he was 1/3, not 1/4 yesterday. Clay Buccholz pitched 8 shut out innings. He stuck out eight and allowed three hits and walked two. This win ended a 3 game losing streak for the Red Sox.

I can’t believe there are still “why the Astros” are winning articles being written. There is another dedicated to their bullpen on Just A Bit Outside right now. The gist: After two months, the Houston bullpen is ranked second among all major-league teams by strikeout rate and first by walk rate, and they also have the third-best ERA

The Dodgers and Rockies played two yesterday. In the second, MY BOY Alex Guerrero hit a grand slam off reliever Rafael Betancourt with two outs in the top of the ninth, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers rally for a 9-8 win over the Colorado Rockies. I cut Alex, and then picked him up again a couple days late, because… Cubans.

Zack Greinke entered the game for the Dodgers tied for the best ERA in baseball, but gave up a season-high five runs in six innings to watch it go from 1.48 to 1.97. He also allowed a season-most 10 hits.

Joc Pederson homered in both games. The first was a 467 ft bomb, the second travelled 480 ft – the longest in the MLB thus far this year. Videos in links.

In the opener, Jorge De La Rosa (2-2) allowed three runs and struck out six for his 71st win with the Rockies, one shy of matching Aaron Cook’s team record.

Talk about a team with very little historical pitching success…

You talked Nationals but didn’t mention that my boy Max Scherzer was off in the second game of the double header. He surrendered 4 in 6 innings, gave up 2 homers, and only K’d 5. That Blue Jays line up is tough…

We seem to have been really interested in Third Basemen a lot lately. Here is an interesting article about Nick Castellanos‘s defensive improvement. Doesn’t really address that he still struggles at the plate. What’s the point of a mediocre defender, who is mediocre at the plat, and doesn’t bring an particular speed?

Meanwhile, Joe Panik (GREAT NAME). Is really improving at the plate, giving San Francisco quite the middle infield.

Here is your super weird phenomenon of the day: Yordano Ventura throws GAS. Can hit 100mph on the gun, and guys who throw gas get pulled less (obviously, tougher to get out ahead of the pitch), but Yordano Ventura sports baseball’s SECOND HIGHEST pull rate? More than Jeremy Guthrie!? Bizarre.

Gerrit Cole has really become one of the league’s top young pitchers. An ace, really. I don’t think anyone would deny that. Just wanted to use this as an opportunity to show you A) how filthy that UCLA pitching staff was in college, and specifically B) how freaky good Trevor Bauer was…

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 8.05.32 AM

The Jedi!

Cole went #1 in the draft that year, Bauer #3. The only other time two teammates were selected in the top 3? 1978: Arizona State’s Bob Horner and Hubie Brooks went first and third, respectively. It’s possible this year’s draft could see it. Vanderbilt’s Dansby Swanson could very well be the #1 pick and Walker Buehler and/or Carson Fulmer could sneak up there. Vandy has a heck of a team this year…

Best name in this year’s draft? Louisville’s Kyle Funkhauser.

Anyway, back to UCLA… Bauer ended his career as UCLA’s career leader in strikeouts (460), wins (34) and innings pitched (373.1). Cole is second in strikeouts (376), third in games started (49) and fourth in innings pitched (322.1).

That year, the Bruins went 51 – 7, a school best. The team lost in the college world series, to South Carolina. Cole lost the first game giving up a career high 11 hits and 6 runs. Bauer pitched game 13, beating TCU and clinching a world series championship birth. He K’d 13 and have up 4 hits in 8 innings… Shocked he didn’t pitch game 2, which was 4 days later, but I guess 3 days rest is tough and he would have been the guy had UCLA been able to stretch the series to a game 3. The freaking Jedi…

Which brings me to your rotation question… It’s a fantastic question.

My understanding of your question is that by staff you mean starters and that we are talking about which I would have for the course of a season (not just a playoff series, for example), and theoretically, going forward, without having to factor in each franchise’s ability to actually pay and keep the pitchers.

If that’s the case, I’m taking Cleveland. You asked how many Cleveland starters could be in the top 10 for AL Cy Young voting this year? I think your answer is 4. In no particular order, my predicted Cy Young top 10:

Keuchal
Hernandez
Grey
Kluber
Archer
Salazar
Sale
Pineda
Carrasco
Bauer

When we compare the two staffs, we are really talking about 4 guys on each team. The Tribe is trotting out Shaun Marcum in place of TJ House and the Mets’ Jon Niese is not very good, neither is the injured Dillon Gee:

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 2.47.49 PMScreen Shot 2015-06-03 at 2.51.11 PM

While I love New York’s Three Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Syndergaard, Harvey, and deGrom – I don’t think think they are appreciably better, if at all, than Cleveland’s Three Musketeers – Kluber, Carrasco, and Salazar. Hopefully Matt Harvey can sustain his success over a long period of time and win a Cy Young (given the dead arm that seemed to have flared up in his last two starts, I’m worried). Kluber has already done that. deGrom and Carrasco are the same, excellent, young, strikeout throwing #2. Same thing goes for Salazar and Syndergaard.

So, it comes down to Fat Bart and The Jedi, and this is where the scales tip appreciably. While I love Fat Bart with all my heart, and while he is better than his 4.72 ERA indicates right now (check out that 3.84 FIP), and though he walks no one, he is 42 years old and one “YOLO ‘Tolo” moment away from breaking an ankle ala another great fat Met – Mo Vaughn (admittedly, Mo did it with the Angels, before arriving in New York). Or, just retiring from normal old age, in which case this boils down to a nubers thing: 4 studs or 3?

Meanwhile, The Jedi might actually be the best young pitcher in Cleveland and potentially, better than any of these young Mets as well. He walks too many batters right now, but so did Tolo when he was a young buck (when he was 24, Bauer’s age, he walked 4.3 batter per 9). The guy is such a cerebral pitcher, I expect he will figure that out.

Beyond the Bauer v Bartolo battle, I also am smitten with the strikeout ability in Cleveland. Look at those k/9 rates… Bauer is somehow bringing down the staff by still striking out more than a guy per inning… Crazy. Why is that important? For one thing, it’s currently making up for Cleveland’s horrific defense. If these guys had some gloves behind them, Cleveland would be terrifying. I know the big 3 in NY match the minuscule FIPs in Cleveland, which is supposed to isolate pitching from defense, but I think the change in ERA on those Cleveland guys could be more drastic than the stat accounts for. There are issues calculating fielding independent stuff

Let’s be real though, if you’re an owner/GM/coach with either of these staffs, you’re a very happy man. Though lets see if Cleveland can keep it together. I actually trust the Mets will spend to make sure they do. No so confident in the Tribe.

Oh yeah, some math helps explain my rock – pitcher – hard place situation we talked about last week when Mike Trout was walked, bringing up Pujols for a game winning single.

Quick tennis link. Getting to see the “King of Clay” on Monday at Roland-Garros for the French Open is one of the coolest things I’ve experience, but watching the “Scrappy Swiss,” Timea Bacsinszky, was almost equally fun. Heck of a match.

Photo is Mine - Had a Great Seat

Photo is Mine – Had a Great Seat

If you ever find yourself in Paris but don’t want to show up to get tickets, there are other cool viewing options…

IMG_1758TZ OUT

 

The Baseball Roundup (6/2/15)

June 2, 2015

Tony: 

Weird things going on…
1) Game of Thrones went World War Z on us… Complete my quiz:


Which is the zombie, which is the white walker?


Inline image 6

Zombie mass or white walker mass?

AA

Attack on Jerusalem or attack on Hardhome?

I know most people probably loved it. Needless to say, I hated that… I am OK with the white walkers potentially being shamans who can raise an army of the dead (I am also thinking they are connected to the Valyrians?), but the weird rage infected zombie mass didn’t feel quite right. Though, it was better than the “green cloud” of an undead army in Lord of the Rings: The Return of The King… SO, there’s that…

Shit, is that a white walker?!

I guess they’re different…

2) Bryce Harper might skip the home run derby because HIS FATHER, the BP pitcher, is nursing a shoulder injury. This would be an injustice to the American people. Nay, the people of the world.

The game is in Cinci this year. As of Sunday, 61 home runs had been hit there, tied for fifth among all MLB ballparks.

3) Astros prospect Derek Fisher (love it when athletes have the same name as other athletes), in his first game for Class A Advanced Lancaster, drove in 12 RBI, on 3 home runs, two of which were grand slams, and a triple… Fisher’s 12 RBIs broke a 61-year-old California League record. Videos in the link.

Some scores and notes:

Jacob deGrom took a perfect game into the sixth and allowed two hits over eight innings, leading the New York Mets to a 7-0 win over the San Diego Padres last night. deGrom has been smoke lately, he has allowed only three runs and struck out 34 over his last 29 1-3 innings while issuing one walk.

Daniel Murphy went 4/5 with a home run and the quality of the Mets line-up is shocking. Might they start hitting Bartolo higher in the order?

Jason Hammel struck out 11 in 6 and 2/3rds to lead teh Cubs over the Marlins 5 – 1. Hammel threw 117 pitches.Think he will need the knife now!?

The Cubs, who had scored only 13 runs in their previous seven games, showed a little offensive life with eight hits. Starlin Castro hit his fourth homer, and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant each had an RBI double.

Kyle Seager (kind of) saved a kid with a running catch in foul territory last night (that likely wouldn’t have hit him anyway, but we love sensational headlines). He was also 2/4 at the plate in the losing effort to the Yankees. Mark Teixiera hit his 15th home run and Felix Hernandez allowed an uncharacteristic 7 runs in 4 and 2/3rds innings pitched. King Felix walked more guys (5) than he struck out (4).

Dodgers beat the Rockies 11 – 4. Kershaw had 3 hits, looking more and more like Maddy Bumgarner every day… Kershaw allowed five hits and two runs over seven innings. He hasn’t lost to the Rockies in his last 9 starts. Moser, YOUR BOY Joc Pederson hit one of LA’s 4 home runs. But so did our new guy – Nolan Arenado! Is 3rd in as many games.

Phillies released Grady Sizemore.

Read this article about Johan Santana’s no-no from Phil Taylor. He essentially says the 131 pitch night ended his career. This is why people think pitch counts are holy. Dude’s suggestion is that had he only thrown 115, perhaps he would still be pitching… Never mind the major reconstructive surgery he had before the start.

Joe Vasile wrote an interested article about Dee Gordon. Title is excellent: The Overrated, Underrated: Or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love Flash Jr. I bring it up because Vasile accepted the premise that Gordon can sustain a higher-than-average BABIP. So, in the article, he assumed that .342 is Gordon’s true BABIP skill. Which is exactly what you wrote about yesterday.

I don’t think .300 is the hard baseline. It operates as one until a player has sufficient sample size to determine their own. This makes sense. While it’s typically used to determine if a batter has been lucky or not “Batting Average on Balls in Play” is supposed to illustrate if some guys have a knack for dropping one in, running out out, or shooting one through… I mean, there is nothing lucky about Dee Gordon’s speed. OK, it’s really lucky that he was blessed with it. But my point is, his BABIP should be higher than most hitters because by virtue of speed alone he is going to leg out some extra singles…

An interesting fact from Steve Martano:

102.2 – Miles per hour on an Aroldis Chapman fastball that Bryce Harper hit for a single. Per Daren Wilman, this is the hardest pitch in the PITCHfx era for any base hit. This is your typical power versus power, and is a testament to Harper’s insane bat speed.

Handle the rest of the games for me, especially the Astros. Gotta get to class.

Kevin:

No Indians game to get into, so we’ve got a pretty open slate. Thought we would take a look back at some topics we had shelved for later discussion. First, a quick look around the league, and some insights on what teams are doing.

The Mets smacked the Padres 7-0.  DeGrom threw two hit, shutout baseball for eight innings.  This Mets team is scary as hell.  Which pitching staff would you rather have for the next 5 years, the Indians or the Mets?  The Mets lineup didn’t feature a single batter hitting over .300, but they seem undeterred, as they just continue to pound out victories.  The Mets struck out 16 times in that game!! This lends credence to the belief that, as we reach for three outcome players (see Pederson, Joc) we see higher and higher strikeout rates.  This is not good for baseball, in my opinion.  It sucks not having balls  in play.  As Crash Davis says, “Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.”

What else could be contributing to this?  It certainly seems like the widening strike zone has a hand in it.  Do you think we should ever go to ‘robot’ umps?  Once this technology is available, do we just embrace it, or do we continue to love some of the antiquated aspects of the game?  As a frequent baseball purist, I’m curious as to what you would say.  Anything you mention I will automatically hear in the voice of Bob Ryan.

The Astros pulled off another late inning miracle.  It had all the ingredients of a typical Astros win: scoring in the 7th inning, Altuve doing the little things (a sac fly to start the scoring run), a home run by Valbuenas, and, of course, GAATTTIIIISSS! This team is fun to watch.  Despite their proclivity for K’s and HR’s, the worst to first turnaround, combined with their late inning heroics, has made them a fairly interesting team.

The Cards lose 1-0 to the Brewers.  Felbs pointed out: Jason Heyward sucks.  Would you do the trade again if you’re Saint Louis?  I know we’ve touched on this before, but it’s worth continuing to look at.  More importantly, Matt Holliday has a 45 game on base streak to start the season.  What’s the all-time record?  Ted Williams reached base safely in 84 straight game, so Matt is more than halfway there,

When dissecting the Indians lack of success in the free agent market, you pointed out that big name free agents don’t usually work in baseball.  Perhaps 2015 is the outlier then, cause check out this list:

Scherzer, Lester, Shields, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz, Jason Hammel, Rasmus, Morales, Delmon Young, Tori Hunter, and many more

Pretty damn impressive.  And very likely to have an effect on the pennant race.

Things to watch for today: Among active pitchers, Miami LHP Brad Hand (0-1, 4.50) has the worst record in the majors as a starter with at least 20 decisions, according to STATS. He’s 4-18 in 32 career starts with an ERA of 4.45 heading into Tuesday’s start against the Cubs. Hand pitched five shutout innings but received no decision in his only start this year. Any other nominees for current worst pitcher in baseball?  Must actually be playing consistently, as that is the real trick, being terrible but playable.

Another quick hit: Josh Hamilton is only getting paid 2 million per year from the Rangers.  This seemed like a great gamble at the time, and an even better gamble now.  Crazy the Angels couldn’t get more for him, given that they are absorbing almost his entire salary.

Finally, we’ve done some throwing around of the baseball movie bracket.  I’ve done a quick mock up, what do you think?  Any seeding changes needed?

bracket 1

bracket 2

Get back at me

Tony: 

Let me start by qualifying one  thing about Game of Thrones, that I think you already know. I didn’t hate last night’s episode. In fact, Tyrion meeting D-Money was what I’ve been craving and I just loved it. Also really enjoyed the next installment of Arya. I am just not necessarily taken but the CGI battles scenes, but particularly so when they are completely ripped off (The Watchers on The Wall = Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Hard Home = The Walking Dead…). I also don’t need them to last 20 minutes if A) I know no major characters can/will die, B) you’re big kill off is some lady chieftain I just met, but am supposed to feel remorse for because she had two kids. Noooooope. Pretty worried that this Sunday is just Gladiator, without Russell Crowe…

When Game of Thrones gets away from the… well, “game” of throne sitting: the plots, the backstabbing, the armies marching TOWARD King’s Landing, etc. It reminds me a lot of House of Cards. I don’t need Frank Underwood killing people himself, and I don’t need zombies. Zombies!? That’s as original as vampires right now.

As for robot umps… I don’t like the idea of going to them completely. I like them helping, but umping, to me, is part of the game. An example of this is the fact that the strike zone changes WITH EVERY BATTER. Baseball says the strikezone is not the umpires. I’m not suggesting that – it changes independently of the ump! It’s biology. Guys are different sizes. So beyond the difficulty of setting the system up to adapt to batters, since the zone is inherently malleable and subjective, at least it should be a human in control of it. If you are heading this in the voice of Bob Ryan, I should ass: “plus ça change plus c’est la même chose” (HE LOVES THAT LINE). But I actually think it applies. At least when it comes to strikezones, I think we would be having a lot of the same discussions, and likely new ones. How “deep” is the strikezone? What if a player tries to game the sensors with a super crouch? Here’s another one. The strike zone has expanded (particularly on low strikes). It’s still not as big as the rule book says it should be. I think umps particularly struggle with the corners. If we had perfect computer, what would be the consequence. MORE strikeouts, not less… Then we would be debating what the NEW strikezone should be…

Let’s do the bracket, I’m in. Seeding is messed up though. Little Big League and Angels in the Outfield is not a first round match-up… Also, where is 61*? BILLY CRYSTAL DIRECTED AND IT HAS BERRY PEPPER! Summer Catch? We need some Freddie and J-Biel! What about Sugar? ALL of these movies are better than Air Bud… Otherwise, I really think you did a great job.

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