Friday, October 29, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 10/29

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Type A Free Agent Relievers Listed, Unlikely to be Red Sox in 2011 
The official, ridiculously antiquated Elias rankings are out, and Charlie looks at how it affects the Red Sox' options for help in 2011.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Buehrle talks future; so does Plan No. 6
Jim evaluates the state of Buehrle's four-year extension as the pitcher talks about whether there's going to be another. Also, another reader provides his or her offseason plan.

Royals Authority: Why Eric Hosmer Isn't Going Anywhere
Clark thinks Hosmer's likely to stay at first base, even with Butler and Ka'aihue hanging around. Here's why.

Nick's Twins Blog: Bill Smith's Greatest Weakness
Am I the only one who insists on calling him "Billy"? Nick looks at some of the GM's questionable contract extensions.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The Worst Loss Of The Season
"There's a pie of responsibility to be divided four ways -- and arguably five, if you want to subdivide the pitching component into starters and relievers -- in any given baseball game: offense, defense, pitching and game management. Viewed from the four-way perspective, three of these components catastrophically failed the Rangers tonight."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Non-Yankees World Series Ratings Are Down, So What?
Jason argues that the drop in World Series TV ratings aren't anything to be concerned about, and that's even before you take into account all the CableVision users who can't watch it.
Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Addressing the need, Relief Pitching
How are the Braves likely to address this easy to fix weakness?

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook, Starting Pitcher
The Cubbies are going to need an arm or two, no matter how much Carlos Silva is Joe's "boy."

Dodger Thoughts: Dodgers had momentum, heart and purpose in 1978...and it wasn't enough
A valuable lesson: "Sometimes, the stars seem aligned; sometimes, you have every reason to believe. And sometimes you lose, even when you leave everything you have, absolutely everything, on the field."

Bay City Ball (Giants): Cain Conquers The Rangers
"If this game had a subtitle, it would be: 'Matt Cain is flipping awesome.'”

Mets Today: Since It Doesn't Matter Who the Manager Is...
"Now that Sandy Alderson is in charge, and we know he does not believe a manager has any impact on a team’s success or failure — provided, of course, said manager follows orders and executes the plan issued from the front office — then how do we go about choosing the next Mets manager?"

Nationals Baseball: That's Odd
Harper thinks we should cool it on the Bryce Harper worship since he's still only, like, 13 years old.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Dennis Blair to Emil Brown
Entry #2 in a great series Geoff is doing, looking at the forgotten Friars who got just a single hit with the franchise.

Redleg Nation: Oh, Dusty
That loveable scamp wants to use his electric lefty phenom, Ardolis Chapman, out of the bullpen forever.  Of course he does.  Oh, Dusty!  You so crazy!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

By The Common Man

There has been a lot of snark, in the wake of the Yankees' loss in the ALCS, about Joe Girardi and his little binder of pitcher-hitter matchup data (the use of which, as Craig Aaron points out, is in no way sabermetric).  On Tuesday, in his chat on ESPN, Rob Neyer stirred up a sample size hornets nest when he took a question from John in NYC:

John (New York, NY): Rob, the sample size of batter/pitcher matchups is of particular interest to me. Obviously a sample size of 5-10 PAs against a single pitcher does not yield any useful data. However, when you consider that in those 5-10 PAs, a single batter is only facing the repertoire of a single pitcher, my question is how many PAs are required before the data becomes significant? 20? 50? More? What do you think?

Rob Neyer: More than 20. I'm not sure if 50's enough. I'm not sure if any batter has ever faced a pitcher enough times to show us anything truly meaningful. I think what makes more sense is looking at how a hitter has fared against *types* of pitchers.
Later, another New Yorker had a follow up:

Jeff (NY): While I agree that 0-20 from one batter against one pitcher is too small of a sample size, aren't the odds higher that the batter will continue to struggle than if he were 0-2? I don't think varying degrees of samples, with regards to educated predictions, is talked about enough. For example, 0-5 is meaningless, 0-10 is less meaningless, etc. Does this make any sense? Is there any research I can read on it?

Rob Neyer: I don't know of any research, but yes I would assume you're correct: 0-20 is more useful than 0-2. The question is whether or not 0-20 is useful enough to use.
This piqued The Common Man’s curiousity, and he did some digging through Baseball Reference’s Play Index function to see just how much exposure a batter could get to a pitcher. First, though, a couple notes.

  1. The Play Index only has play-by-play data as far back as 1950, so all figures are from 1950-2010. This means that a few of the pitchers TCM looked at here (such as Warren Spahn, Robin Roberts, and Billy Pierce) have incomplete data.
  2. Second, TCM limited his examination to the Top 60 pitchers (measured by Innings Pitched) of the last 60 years. This is convenient for a number of reasons. For one thing, it limits the pool to a manageable size. For another, there are exactly 60 pitchers who have, since 1950, thrown more than 3000 innings in the Major Leagues. And finally, the opportunity for pitchers with fewer than 3000 innings to face a batter enough times to be significant is incredibly low.
  3. And third, TCM listed all batters who had more than 150 plate appearances against these pitchers, as well as a few select matchups that occurred 100-150 times that were particularly interesting.

The Team of Very Good

By Bill

Writing about Toby Harrah the other day got me thinking about a certain type of player, of which Harrah is one. I don't know what to call these guys, but what it makes me think of is one of my least favorite things people say when talking about baseball: "it's not the Hall of Very Good."

Because: where the hell did that term come from? Who thought that "Very Good" was a clever little play on "Fame"? What do those two terms have to do with each other? It makes no sense.

But anyway. It works well for the guys I have in mind. Guys I wouldn't call "overrated," necessarily, both because I hate that word and because I'm not sure it really fits; they're not Hall of Famers, but they shouldn't be, either. Guys who were excellent baseball players, just not great ones, and who have just been kind of forgotten now. You know, guys who were very good.

Here's a team of 'em, completely and frivolously subjective. The majority of these guys played between the 1950s and 1980s, because the prior eras already have way too many guys in the Hall and the later ones are still too well-remembered. So here they are (wins above replacement numbers from

SweetSpot Roundup 10/28

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Arizona Fall League Update
Conor looks at the M's youngsters playing in Arizona right now.  The news on uber-prospect Dustin Ackley's pretty good.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Wednesday Afternoon Notes
News on Rangers roster changes, Sandy Alderson, Cliff Lee, and World Series previews.

The Ray Area: The Hidden Payroll Disadvantage
"The Yankees ability to sign a marquee free agent — like CC Sabathia, Mark Texiera, or AJ Burnett — in December isn’t really what gives them a competitive advantage over the Rays.  Rather, it is the financial flexibility that allows the Yankees to remedy December roster mistakes by adding payroll during the season."

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): The Worst Trade in Red Sox History
Revisiting the notorious Jeff Bagwell for Larry Anderson deal, amongst others.

Royals Authority: Kansas City Royals Bullets
A whole mess of excellent Royals news, analysis, and links. 

Nick's Twins Blog: Ace in the Hole
"Aces are exceedingly difficult to come across and Liriano gives the Twins their best shot at having one over the next several years, so it's imperative that they keep him under team control."

Sox Machine (White Sox): Castro, Thornton on the Pick-up Truck, Plan No. 4
Jim checks in on the Sox' offseason plan, which is currently on track.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Wrapping Up 2010, What Went Wrong
Lots of great stuff on IIATMS today.  Though anything that starts with criticising Derek Jeter goes above the fold.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Offseason Primer
This is a monster, and a must-read; mapping out the Braves' next five and a half months, the kind of thing most team blogs tackle in a twelve-part series. Or a book. Here, it's just one awesome post.0

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook: Starting Pitcher
See what I mean? This one looks at the Cubs' 2011 starting staff--what they've got and what they might hope to get.

Redleg Nation: On Devin Mesoraco
Thoughts on the Reds' 2007 first-round pick.

Dodger Thoughts: Jerry Sands works on his game
Updates on some Dodger AFLers.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Check Out The Brewers Blogger Awards
These are much, much, muchmuchmuchmuch better than the Milwaukee BBWAA chapter's awards.

Mets Today: Sandy Alderson May Choose a Former Met to Manage
If and when Alderson officially becomes the new Mets' GM, rumors have arisen surrounding Clint Hurdle or Joe McEwing to manage. I wouldn't be able to get excited over either the Rockies retread or Eckstein Prototype A, but what do I know?

Bay City Ball (Giants): World Series Q&A with Joey Matschulat
In the last 2010 installment of what has been a great SweetSpot Network feature, Chris has four questions for Rangers expert Joey from BBTiA.

Fungoes (Cardinals): United Cardinal Bloggers Roundtable: How would you improve the World Series?
Everyone's got opinions about this one. Surprisingly, none of them seemed to answer "I'd put the Cardinals in it."

Nationals Baseball: New Uniforms: Greatest Thing Ever or Too Little Too Late?
"It's gotta be one or the other, right?"
I don't get what it would be "too late" for, but I really liked the old unis, so I'll go with that one nonetheless.

And today on the Platoon Advantage: Bill puts together a team of Very Good players most people have kind of forgotten about.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 10/27

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Possible Bullpen Help: Brian Fuentes
Eyeing a possible shut-down lefty for the 2011 pen.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Grace Period Doesn't Apply to 2005 White Sox
Yesterday was the 5th anniversary of the White Sox' first World Series victory in 88 years. Jim notes: "In one sense, the grace period was over years ago. In another, it may never expire."

Royals Authority: Kansas City Royals 2010 Positional Review: First Basemen
Continuing the look around the field, we land today on one of the relatively few bright spots.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Playoff expansion possible
Jason on the possibility of expanding the playoff field, and his own ideas.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Hindsights Vol. 9: Scattershooting
Mike fires off a ton of brief but interesting thoughts on the Rangers leading up to the big game tomorrow.

View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook, Outfielders
"Do I think that bringing back the current crop of OF for another year is the best course of action? Probably not, but sometimes you’re not really given much of a choice."

Capitol City Ball (Braves): Braves Top Prospects 1-10
As usual, the Braves have some terrific prospects, despite debuting 47 rookies (I estimate; didn't actually count) in 2010.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Put Up or Shut Up Time for Butler
The Brewers apparently didn't really get much when they dealt Greg Gross in 2008.

Dodger Thoughts: Should the Dodgers Retire More Numbers?
I vote an enthusiastic yes.

Mets Today: 2010 Analysis, R.A. Dickey
The most amazing sentence I've read all week: "What is there to say? R.A. Dickey was the Mets’ MVP."

Ducksnorts (Padres): Alderson Clearinghouse
Geoff had an extensive interview with Mets GM candidate Sandy Alderson in 2008, and it's very revealing about Alderson, his personality and his philosophy.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): One More Note About Chase Utley
The underappreciation of Chase Utley continues. Bill takes the Philadelphia Daily News to task.

Redleg Nation: A Strange Postseason
"After the Reds were eliminated from the playoffs this season, I found that I just couldn’t get excited about watching someone else’s team fight for a championship. My team should be playing these games! I watched the games, but I wasn’t as invested in them as in years past."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Get Your Best and Most Complete World Series Preview Here

The best and most complete World Series podcast you're going to hear is below the jump.  Chris Quick of Bay City Ball and Josh Garoon of Baseball Time in Arlington (fellow SweetSpotters, both) joined The Common Man, Bill, and Lar of to talk about the Giants and Rangers respectively. 

All your questions will be answered: 
What don't you know about the Rangers and the Giants, but should? 
Why will the Giants win? 
Why will the Rangers prevail? 
What scares Giants and Rangers bloggers about their opponents?
Where in the hell did Brian Wilson's beard come from (seriously, the whole podcast is terrific, but if nothing else just listen from 47:45 on)? 

Josh and Chris are both incredibly smart guys and were kind enough to offer their enthusiasm and considerable knowledge to make this our best podcast yet.  Thanks to both of them.

Happy Birthday...

Toby Harrah!

Hello, birthday post, my old copout/fallback/friend. I haven't done one of you in a while. But on the eve of the Texas Rangers' first-ever World Series game tomorrow, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate the career of the guy who, by at least one measure, is the fourth-best position player in the team's history. Harrah turns 62 today.

Toby Harrah made four All-Star teams and twice was named on MVP ballots, but my sense is that he's a guy who didn't get the credit due him when he played, and is scarcely remembered at all now. In an era in which the ideal shortstop was short, slight, and quick, and might put up an OBP of .280 but could slap it the other way or execute a sac bunt with the best of them, Harrah was more or less the opposite of that. Harrah played decent defense and stole a few bases (everybody stole a few bases in that period), but he wasn't terribly fast or flashy. He hit .300 just once (.290 twice) and put up a career average of .264, but at his peak, he drew nearly 100 walks and hit more than 20 homers a year. He was kind of a Cal Ripken Jr. lite, before there was a Cal Ripken Jr. Less defense and a better eye at the plate, and nowhere near the durability or staying power, but there's just nobody else from that period to compare him to.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/26

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): (Not) Spending Like a Champion
Joey argues using payroll to denote favorites and underdogs is problematic in the playoffs, when depth means a lot less than the regular season.

The Ray Area: How much is cohesion worth?  Maybe $8.7 million
Marc wonders if Pat Burrell's Tampa Bay career ended as much for off the field reasons as on.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Free Agent Spotlight, Cliff Lee
Somebody's not a believer in St. Clifford: "Given a closer look, Lee doesn’t seem to be the perennial Cy Young contender he’s portrayed these past three seasons. Rather, he looks more like an excellent #2 starter on a playoff-caliber team — contributing quality starts on a regular clip, but with a 3.50-3.60 ERA instead of a 3.20-3.30."

Royals Authority: Luck, Perseverance, and Hope
"A Rangers-Giants World Series probably is not exactly what Fox and MLB had in mind, but I find it intriguing.   This match-up should also remind long suffering Royals’ fans that your organization does not have to be perfect to eventually get it right."

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Monday Mankowskis, World Series Edition
"For what it’s worth, I expect the Rangers to knock the Giants for a loop in the World Series. San Francisco has shown an incredible ability to win despite, well, those players. They are, in my view, the White Sox of the National League and must be defeated — with Aubrey Huff going hitless, of course. Rangers in six."

Sox Machine (White Sox): Addison's Sox and Plan No. 3
Ever wonder why Hawk Harrelson sounds insane? Probably because he is. Jim's got evidence from Harrelson's disasterous year as the Sox' GM.

It's About the Money Stupid (Yankees): Robinson Cano and Playoff Success (or Jorge Posada and the Lack Thereof)
"You have to realize that the playoffs are really just an extension to the season and are bound to the same fluctuations that 5-10 games during the season are. Sometimes you’re good, and sometimes you’re not. Some guys just don’t play well for a few games."

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook: Third Base
Continuing the position-by-position look at how the 2011 Cubs might shake up, with the position to which A-Ram will be returning one last time.

Redleg Nation: This Day in Reds History
Lots of ownership and front office shakeups happened on October 25, and one pretty disastrous trade (but no, not that disastrous Reds trade).

Mets Today: 2010 Analysis: Elmer Dessens
Non-Mets-fan trivia time: Did you know that Elmer Dessens did not retire in 2004 or so, but actually has pitched for the Mets since 2009, and has put up a 2.71 ERA in nearly 80 innings? I seriously had no clue. Anyway, Joe isn't counting on a repeat performance in 2011 (and I think I can see why).

Ducksnorts (Padres): I Almost Prayed in Albuquerque (Bittersweet Symphony)
The first of a nine-part series, Goeff begins to chronicle the first day of his pilgrimage from San Diego to Cooperstown to see Tony Gwynn take his place in the Hall of Fame. Cool stuff.

Bay City Ball (Giants): Monday Visual: Giants vs. Rangers, Advanced Stats
Chris gives us, in pretty graph form, a comparison of the two World Series teams' MLB ranks in some sabermetric-type stats.

Fungoes (Cardinals): A review of NLCS game 6 key decisions: manager scorecard
Bruce's tactical decisions against Charlie's in the game that decided the NL champions. They both pretty much score a "meh."

Nationals Baseball: Beware the Insipid
"It's World Series lead up time, and worse yet, it's World Series lead up time with two teams pegged as unlikely to make it this far at the start of the playoffs. While sportswriting has incrementally improved in the past 5-10 years, it's still a bastion of nonsense."

And today on The Platoon Advantage: Bill wishes a happy 62nd birthday to Ranger great Toby Harrah.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Designated Hand-Wringing

Dave Cameron is worried about the Giants’ DH options in Games 3-5 of the World Series: “No matter what way they go, it won’t be a great option, and the Giants will be at a disadvantage in the AL park.” Rob Neyer tends to agree, calling it “just another reason to pick the Rangers.”

Sorry, but The Common Man isn’t going to start wringing his hands over the Giants’ supposed lack of a Designated Hitter in the World Series. For one thing, the pundits (TCM included) have a terrible track record over the last couple weeks. For another, it’s for three games, max. For a third this advantage is partially cancelled out by the Rangers using Vlad Guerrero in the field in San Francisco, or losing his bat to the bench entirely.

And for a fourth, if he’s willing, Pat Burrell is perfectly capable of putting on his big boy pants and being a DH for two or three days. But wait, you say, who will play LF in his absence?

Good news, Giants fans, that 5 year $60 million dollar contract Brian Sabean gave to Aaron Rowand can finally pay off. Rowand, you’ll tell The Common Man, was absolutely terrible this year, and TCM will tell you that you’re absolutely right. He was terrible. But why was he terrible?

Rowand’s .263 BABIP is ridiculously low, and something that, assuming Rowand is healthy, is masking how effective he can be in the upcoming series. And Rowand is a plus defender in CF, which would allow the Giants to move Andres Torres to LF, simultaneously improving their outfield defense (indeed, all three outfielders would be adequate CFers) and giving Torres less ground to cover if his hip and groin are limiting his movement. Indeed, Rowand is likely a better option now than Jose Guillen, and is certainly a better plan than starting Travis Ishikawa against a lefty.

And if Tommy Hunter does start Game 4 for the Rangers, look for Ishikawa to take over at 1B, while Aubrey Huff moves to the DH spot. Ishikawa can’t touch a lefty, but is relatively competent (768 OPS in ’10, 749 career) against righties, and is a slick fielder at the bag.

Problem solved. Now, let’s play some ball so we can stop worrying about these little details.

Our Second Job

Sometimes, if feels like watching baseball has become The Common Man’s second job, rather than his favorite hobby. Certainly, The Uncommon Wife feels that way. After all, the playoffs have been going on for almost three weeks now, and there are still at least four games left (but hopefully more). And TCM has caught most of these contests in full or at least in part, particularly when he’s been participating in ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Live chats.

So how much baseball have you been watching these last few weeks? If you’re like TCM, the answer is a lot. If you watched every minute of the division series matchups, you would have watched almost two full days of baseball (47 hours, 53 minutes). If you managed to limit yourself to just the primetime matchups, you’d have watched 21 hours and 27 minutes of action.

And while the number of teams and games were reduced in the Championship Series, that didn’t make as big a difference in the overall game time as you would expect. You still would have spent an entire standard work week watching baseball (41 hours, 5 minutes). And if you had limited yourself to just the featured game each day, you would have actually watched more baseball than in the division series, as the took seven days, while the Championship Series was spread out over nine. Those nine games totaled 30 hours and 46 minutes.

And the games have gotten longer as we’ve gotten deeper into the postseason. Division Series games were, on average, 14 minutes shorter than Championship Series games, fueled mostly by four games in the Rangers-Yankees series that lasted more than 3:45. There was just a single game in the postseason longer than 3:45 that the Yankees were not involved in (out of six).

So when you hear pundits and main stream media types decry relatively low ratings for ball games (especially compared to football ratings) and use them to suggest that people don’t love the game anymore, remind yourself that even the best of us need a day off from work every now and again.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/25

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Manuel hangs ex-Stroswalt out to dry, Lidge comes to the rescue again
Austin takes issue with Charlie Manuel's decision to use Roy Oswalt in relief in the NLCS.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): 2011 Top Prospects, 11-20
An in-depth look at players who might be debuting in Atlanta next year.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Parra Undergoes Hip Surgery
The Enigma gets a tuneup.  He's bullpen bound in 2011.

Fungoes (Cardinals): Best Cardinal Not in the Hall of Fame
No one ever votes for Jose Oquendo.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Good Call, Lloyd McClendon
The unsung hero of the '89 Bearcubs.

Dodger Nation: Fernando Nation, A Babe Ruth for All
The only baseball on Tuesday will be this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, which Jon promises is excellent, and a special World Series podcast with TCM, Bill, and Lar of

Bay City Ball (Giants): Giants Win NLCS, Head to World Series
I like how every Giants game is described as torture now.  A dozen naked, hooded Iraqis and the dozen remaining, and thankfully clothed, Pirates fans have something to say about that.

Mets Today: Mets Fans' Dream Comes True
OK, maybe seeing the San Francisco Giants and Texas Rangers face off in the World Series isn’t exactly a “dream” for a Mets fan. But a World Series played between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees is pretty much a Mets fan’s worst nightmare, isn’t it?

Ducksnorts (Padres): Friday Links
We haven't hit the expiration yet, so these are still good, even though Geoff left them out of the fridge all weekend.  And Platoon Advantage made the list!  It's the circle of life...

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): David Beats Goliath, Phillies Out of the Playoffs
TCM is as guilty about this as anyone, and yes the Phillies were favored, but let's not forget that the Giants have a heck of a team.  If Goliath was 10 feet tall and bulletproof, David was still Shaq.  Bill's takeaway message for 2010? "In closing, if I can ask one thing of the Phillies fan base in the aftermath of the NLCS — don’t harp on players for what they didn’t do in the post-season."

Redleg Nation: The Reds Disband
Don't worry, this happened in 1879 with the team facing financial calamity.  I'd say we're at least 2-4 years away from this problem resurfacing (I kid, I kid).  Seriously though, cool story.

Sox Machine (White Sox): A/V Room: Addison Sox and Plan No. 3
A multimedia collection of notes and Sox-related stuff, including one of the user-submitted plans for the team's offseason.

Royals Authority: Grading Dayton Moore, Part 2
Picking up where they left off on Thursday, here's a look at Moore's transactions from January 2010 up to opening day.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Lee v. Greinke
Mark weighs the options: sign the 32 year old best pitcher in the world of 2010, or trade for the 27 year old best pitcher in the world of 2009? It's good to be the Yankees, even a couple days after being eliminated from the playoffs...

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Assorted Thoughts and News
Ichiro's birthday, teal jerseys, the future for former interim manager Daren Brown, and lots of other stuff.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): How To Clinch The AL Pennant
"In actuality, I think this series was over before it ever bounced from New York back to Texas. A trusted attendee of the Game 4 proceedings at Yankee Stadium described to me how the in-stadium atmosphere shifted from hopeful to dejected -- and ultimately violent -- after Bengie Molina's historic home run, and how, even after Game 5, the prevailing sentiment ran more along the lines of 'well, at least they won't clinch on our field' rather than genuine optimism that a comeback could materialize."

Friday, October 22, 2010

Everything Old That Pissed Us Off Is New Again

By The Common Man

The Common Man found this in the course of researching another piece, and thought it was particularly relevant today. Last night, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson inexplicably called Roy Halladay’s foul bunt a fair ball, setting up the Phillies with runners on second and third with one out. Earlier this week, umpires refused to confer and review a Robinson Cano homerun, even though Nelson Cruz was mauled by fans as he went up for the catch. And, of course, the umpiring in each of the division series had some equally appalling moments. This has, rightfully, renewed the call for instant replay in baseball.

We tend to think of this as a new movement, one that is predicated on the new technology available to crosscheck umpire decisions and to finally “get it right.” What tends to get forgotten in this whole debate is that the proliferation of cameras and replay technology is not the first technological advance that has made review possible. And, indeed, the concept of reviewing umpire decisions is probably as old as photography itself. Indeed, as Lar of reminded everyone last week, bad calls are nothing new in baseball. Neither, it would seem, is the call to eliminate those bad calls.

In 1952, the Yankees were playing the Dodgers in the World Series (yet again). In game 5, two calls at first base infuriated the Bombers, and left them on the verge of elimination. In the 8th inning, Gil Hodges hit a grounder to Phil Rizzuto, who threw to 1B Johnny Mize. Umpire Art Passarella ruled that Scooter’s throw pulled Mize off the bag, however, and called Hodges safe. Carl Erskine, strangely, was allowed to bat for himself next, however, and grounded out to end the threat. In the bottom of the 10th, however, Johnny Sain also batted for himself and sent a grounder up the middle. Jackie Robinson went far to his right and threw to first, where Passarella ruled him out.

The Yankees fumed. Mize told reporters, “When you see umpiring like that it makes you want to quit. My foot was on the bag when I took that throw. And Hodges was two feet off the base when Sain crost first base. Why, you could have driven a wheelbarrow between Hodges and the bag on that play. Passarella missed both plays and won’t admit it.” Billy Martin, not surprisingly was also up in arms, “It’s the worst umpiring I’ve ever seen in my life.” Sain was surprised at the call, too, “I was amazed when I finally learned I was out. I thought I had beaten the throw by three feet.” Manager Casey Stengel held back his criticism, asking reporters, “You saw it, what did you think about it?”

Fortunately, or unfortunately for Passarella, photography had advanced to the point where photographers were able to capture the incident, so that reporters could revisit it and answer Casey with an informed opinion. The photos to the right are two angles on the Sain play. Hodges’ foot does appear to be on the base, but Sain also appears to be well past the bag as Hodges has caught the ball.

Impressed by the photos, United Press writer Carl Lundquist reported that
“Next Year for the World Series and perhaps for key games during the regular season, baseball may adopt an idea from horse racing and install a ‘photo finish’ camera at first base to double check the umpires. The idea definitely is under discussion, not because of…Art Passarella…but because top flight arbiters for some time have felt that they are placed on the spot and needlessly when close plays develop. Before the regular season ended, one veteran umpire stated that he had brought up the proposal and that it had received a very favorable response…. He explained that the use of a camera would not be feasible or practical for most plays, but that it would be ideal if set up exactly parallel to first base where many close plays develop and where the umpire there often is out of position to make a call…. It was pointed out by the umpire and by other baseball men that there would not need to be a delay of more than a minute or two before a picture that would either prove or disprove a decision at first base could be made.”
Gosh, that sounds familiar.

It's a Quade Pahty!

By Bill

It's been a couple days now, but it's worth noting that Mike Quade, not Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, was named the new Cubs manager. A lot of people here in Chicago are pretty upset about this. Phil Rogers was upset. Gene Wojciechowski was really freaking upset. Sandberg was a hero, obviously, and it was clear that he really wanted the job. Instead, they named some guy nobody had ever heard of before he was named interim manager (except the Cubs fans who noticed he was their third base coach), somebody who never made it out of the minors as a player.

Here's the thing, though: I don't think anybody has a clue whether Sandberg would be a better manager than Quade, or vice-versa. Not you, not me, not Gene or Phil, maybe not even Jim Hendry. Managing is a hugely opaque thing; there's no WAR or wOBA or FIP that's going to tell you if a guy is or will be a good manager. Winning percentage certainly doesn't do it. What you'd need to do, really, is watch the games as closely as possible to evaluate their decisions. And then interview their players, hang around the clubhouse, really get an idea of how they do at leading a team. If anyone did that, it's a lot more likely to have been the Cubs than, say, Wojciechowski or Rogers or the enraged fans next door.

Let's break down the fans' (and nostalgic hometown writers') arguments, as I see them, for Sandberg:

SweetSpot Roundup 10/22

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Braves 2011 Top Prospects: 31-40
Yesterday was the honorable mentions, and today CAC follows up with the first quarter of their top prospects list.

View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook: Shortstop
One of the relatively few bright spots on this journey.

Redleg Nation: This Day in Reds History
Always worth reading, and this one's just packed with interesting stuff. Did you know yesterday was the 35th anniversary of Carlton Fisk's big HR? Kind of surprised I didn't hear that mentioned at all.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): NLCS Headed Back to Philly
"Looking down the barrel of a loaded gun, the Phillies staved off elimination for at least one more day with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game Five of the NLCS."

Ducksnorts (Padres): One-Hit Wonders: Ed Acosta to Jim Beswick
This is a neat idea: profiling the first five of sixty-five guys who have picked up exactly one hit as members of the Padres.

Fungoes (Cardinals): United Cardinal Bloggers roundtable: For or against TLR's return?
"We think many Cardinal fans have succumbed to a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, in which we can’t imagine life without TLR, yet so much of our collective angst seems to point to him. Does it have to be this way"

Nationals Baseball: Post-Season Thoughts 
Some random thoughts on the postseason.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Your 2011 White Sox offseason plan 
That's right, yours. Jim wants your opinions on what the White Sox should do this offseason.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): The Detroit Tigers Podcast #124: Talking with Tigers Will Rhymes
That's right, THE guy with the coolest, 90s-rapper-iest name in baseball is a guest of Mike and Ian.

Nick's Twins Blog: Losing the Fever?
Should the Twins bring Jason Kubel back?

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Taking It Down To The Wire
"It was disappointing, and yet not especially surprising. If you traveled back in time to last Friday afternoon, managed to convince 100 random Rangers fans that the Rangers would lead the ALCS by a 3-2 margin going back to Arlington -- convincing them that you were capable of time travel probably would have been the more challenging task, come to think of it -- and gauged their reactions, I believe no fewer than 90-95 of your respondents would be ecstatic."

And here on The Platoon Advantage: Bill tries to bring some rationality into the uproar over the Cubs' puzzling Quade-over-Sandberg decision.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 10/21

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Braves Top 40 Prospects: Just Missed
Writeups on, basically, Braves prospects #41-68.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook: Second Base
Joe on the Cubs' 2011 keystone options.

Redleg Nation: Looking (Again) at the 2011 Roster
This time, the main question involves bringing back Jonny Gomes and Orlando Cabrera. And that question is: why?

Dodger Thoughts: Glenn Burke documentary readies for premiere
Preview of a documentary on the 1970s Dodger, the first player ever known to be "out" to teammates while active and the first former player to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality. This sounds like it would be fascinating. The note quoted in the DT piece notes that Burke's teammates believe that others' awareness of his sexuality "prematurely derailed" his career. That absolutely may be true, but it would make for a better study if -- and I really hate to say this -- he'd  done something with the chances he was given.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): The History of Nelson Cruz
Jack walks the path that led Cruz from Mets farmhand to star outfielder of the probably-soon-to-be AL champs. I had no idea he was involved in the Brewers' awful Carlos Lee trade -- or any  of that stuff, actually -- so it's very interesting.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Cole Hamels' Cut Fastball
Pretty graphs tracking the improvement of Hamels' cutter.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Off-Season Plans
Turning the page on 2010, Geoff lays out the weekly plan for the blog.

Fungoes (Cardinals): UCB Roundtable: Sign Westbrook, other free agents?
Whether or not Jake Westbrook is worth another go-round, and some other names the Cardinals might want to check out for 2011.

Nationals Baseball: The Greinke Options
I only briefly mentioned the idea of the Nats going out and getting a front-line starter the other day, because it seems to me they've got much bigger concerns to deal with. But Rizzo apparently wants a "#1 starter," and Harper looks at what it might take to land Zack Greinke.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Minor League Awards
The Mariners had unprecedented success in their minor league system, and Conor is handing out some hardware to the best of the best.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Bengie Molina, Playoff Hero
"What last night really exemplified best, however, was baseball's inherent unpredictability -- Bengie Molina, a guy who many observers had seemingly written off by regular season's end as being washed up, is now 10-for-26 with two homers during the Rangers' October run, and was heavily responsible for pushing the Rangers to the verge of capturing the American League pennant."

The Ray Area: Do I Have to Like Seth McClung Now?
Mark responds to Seth McClung's excellent mea culpa for his behavior on the Rays.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): The Best Trade in Red Sox History
The title is misleading, because Darryl gives you two, two, two trades for one, and redeems the reputation of Dan Duquette in the process.

Royals Authority: Grading Dayton Moore, Part I
Dayton Moore's first two months of last offseason were a net loss for the Royals, even before you take into account that he traded for Mike Jacobs (who he released in November) the offseason before.

Nick's Twins Blog: Three Offseason Predictions
Nick's predictions demonstrate just how in flux this Twins team is.  They could win 95 games next year.  Or lose 85.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Body by Jake
Who's to blame for Jake Peavy's injury problems and poor performance in 2010?

It's About the Money Stupid (Yankees): About Time the Yankees Caught a Break
Will conveniently forgets the Maier-esque homer in Game 4 and the bad calls in the Twins series (and the Twins rolling over for the Yanks entirely, in fact) and is glad that finally this put-upon team of All Stars with a $213 million payroll caught a break when a player on the other team got injured.  Joy.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 10/19

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Possible Bullpen Help: Grant Balfour
Kicking the tires on the free-agent reliever with the best/worst last name in the entire history of pitching.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Seeking (pain) relievers after Jenks
It's bullpen day, apparently! Jim wonders what might happen if the Sox got rid of that whole "closer" label.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Two for Tuesday: Postseason Flashbacks and the Tigers' Moonlight Graham
A Rat sighting! And, celebrating the 83rd birthday of the somewhat less than memorable Doc Daugherty.

Royals Authority: Kansas City Royals 2010 Position Review: Catcher
Oof. Jason Kendall is not a happy place to begin something like this.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Par (Keeping It Rational)
Larry tries to preach rationality to Yankees fans in the face of a Yankees loss, which is like trying to preach something to somebody else who is never ever ever going to do that thing. Analogy!

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Minor League Awards
Conor names the blog's minor league players of the year in various classes and categories. I'm not sure I could pass over Dustin Ackley.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): A Night To Remember
"[N]o matter how much we talked about it and even attempted to imagine what it might be like, this has surpassed all conceivable expectations. This is a modern-day baseball fairytale come to life."

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Oh, Happy Day!
CAC is real happy Melky Cabrera has been released: "Melky Cabrera was a god awful baseball player that had no business spending the entire year on the active roster, much less racking up 509 PA’s (4th most on the team). He was fat, slow, couldn’t hit, couldn’t hit for power, didn’t walk enough, had no idea what he was doing in the field, and was generally a giant waste of a roster spot."  Geez, how do you really feel?

View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook, First Base
An in depth look at a glaring hole on the North Side.

Dodger Thoughts: Dollars for Lilly
I can't believe Ted Lilly actually took a paycut.  Somebody likes living in LA.

Bay City Ball (Giants): Best Postgame Hair, Ever
Wow, Matt Cain.

 Mets Today: Review of 2010 Predictions
Joe revisits the predictions he made before a disappointing Mets season

Nationals Baseball: Was it that bad?
"I'm not ready to call the season a success by any means, but a few weeks out and I'm ready to look at it with a lot more optimism. It was a tough year - mostly by design.  Next year looks to be tough too. But in a different, much more appealing way.

Redleg Nation: How good was Joey Votto in 2010?
"It isn’t often that someone comes around who has all that talent, but Votto supplements that with the best work ethic anyone has seen. He is focused, he is driven, and he is the most indispensible player in this organization.... This might be the perfect storm: an elite player who has no interest in the bright lights of New York or Boston."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Joe Posnanski Ruins Everything With Beautiful, Beautiful Prose

By The Common Man

Damn you, Joe Posnanski

My Favorite Middle Reliever

By The Common Man

The baseball world, rightfully, has its attention focused on the playoffs these days, with a few occasional reports of managerial and front office shenanigans. Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, Robinson Cano, Roy Oswalt, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Cody Ross have elevated themselves in the last two weeks into the spotlight and into the consciousness of even the most casual of fan.

But today, The Common Man is thinking about another player who will not make any postseason contributions. He won’t even make a postseason roster. Or a Major League roster. Rather, The Common Man is thinking about Ian Heisel, a minor league reliever who TCM met as a young(ish) clubhouse manager in the Pirates organization.

Your 2012 Washington Nationals

I've been sitting on this idea for a while. Here's a quick look at what the local nine (well, roughly fifteen) might look like on opening day about eighteen months from now, the next time they might plausibly think about fielding a competitive squad, with their 2012 seasonal ages and guesses (where not currently signed) at the salary they might command in that season:

Catcher: Wilson Ramos, 24, near minimum
Ramos had an awful 71 games with the Twins' AAA squad in 2010, and didn't do much in the majors either, but had 20 games with the Nats' AAA team that were eerily similar to his encouraging AAA line in 2009 (.317/.341/.454 in '09, .316/.341/.494 with Syracuse in '10). That -- probably with a lower batting average and much closer to the 2009 SLG -- is right around what you might expect from him in the Majors someday, maybe in 2012. Coupled with reputedly strong defense, that would make him a well above average catcher. Derek Norris entered 2010 as one of the top catching prospects in the game, but batted just .235 (albeit with a .419 OBP) in high-A and is less than a year and a half younger than Ramos.

First Base: Adam Dunn, 32, $12 million
I've actually been dead set against the Nationals re-signing Dunn all along. It's hard for me to believe he's suddenly improved from the worst defender in the league at any position to an average 1B, and I've just assumed that he'd be more valuable to some AL team as a DH. But if 2012 is your goal, I'm not sure there's a better option. The organization's best 1B prospect, Chris Marrero, didn't have a huge year in AA and is pretty much stick-only himself. There are some good ones on the potential free agent list for 2012, but if you can see the Nationals landing Fielder, Gonzalez or Pujols, you should probably just stop reading now, because you and I aren't going to see eye-to-eye on much. If we're making a run at it in 2012, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think Dunn is the guy.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/19

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Cliff Lee's House of Pain
Cliff Lee is better than you at damn near everything, and Joey's got the data to prove it.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Free Agent Spotlight, John Buck
What if the Sox don't just resign Victor Martinez?  Is John Buck really the best fallback option? Yeesh.

Royals Authority: Greinke Trade Primer
Based on the trades of Santana, Bedard, Sabathia, and Lee, Clark looks at what the Royals might expect if they decide to move Zack Greinke.

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Two for Tuesday
Moonlight Graham isn't the only one who had an incredibly short MLB career.  At least Doc Daugherty got an at bat.

Nick's Twins Blog: Cut the Capps
Nick and I agree: "The Twins would be insane to bring back Matt Capps."

Sox Machine (White Sox): The Ten Worst White Sox Games of 2010
I am glad to see the Twins are on there three times.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees):  In AJ We (have to) Trust
"AJ hasn’t given any of us reason to believe but I’m feeling it. AJ’s stats do not foretell a successful start tomorrow. Yet still, I have a feeling he’s going to surprise."  Seriously, good luck with that.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): Offseason Outlook: Catcher
Now that the grades are over, the blog is taking a look at what to expect in the offseason from every position on the team. Not much in doubt when you've got a top-five player at his position just entering his arbitration years, but there's plenty to talk about anyway.

Redleg Nation: Zack Greinke?
The Royals are rumored to be trading their ace, and the Reds -- who, as Redleg Nation recently noted -- already have a bunch of capable starters. But Greinke's a lot more than capable. Chad's intrigued.

Dodger Thoughts: Yankee Fans Surrender
"I don't ever want to hear a Yankee fan again criticize Dodger Stadium fans about leaving early."

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): The Area Writers' MVP Ballot
Jack on the worst team MVP voting results since, well, 2008, when the Tampa Bay chapter picked the team's ninth-best player (14th if you count pitchers). But seriously, McGehee is a terrible pick.

Mets Today: Why the Love for John Ricco?
Joe wonders why the assistant GM of a terribly disappointing team gets so much credit while the GM-GM got skewered. I've never heard of the guy, but of course I'm not a Mets fan.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Is Ben Francisco Invisible?
Francisco's a perfect platoon partner and defensive placement for Raul Ibanez, but Ibanez hasn't been defined as a platoon player or a guy who needs a defensive replacement, so Ben just kind of wastes away.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Let Me Stay Here a While
"Worse, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, the Padres raised expectations and hopes for the future that may not be realistic in the short run. They also failed to answer questions about several young players expected to help deliver that future. When you are fighting for the right to play October baseball, you can’t afford to run Everth Cabrera out there and hope he suddenly remembers what he’s supposed to be doing on a baseball diamond."

Bay City Ball (Giants): Giants Beat Phils in NLCS Opener
"In a publicized ‘Battle of the Aces’ between Lincecum-Halladay, neither pitcher was exceptionally sharp — or exceptionally poor, either."

Monday, October 18, 2010

SweetSpot Roundup 10/18

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): 2010 Draftees Year in Review
Notice, these are two articles, but a great resource if you want a look at the next generation of Braves prospects.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Uecker Requires Second Heart Surgery
The worst news I got all weekend.  Get better, Ueck.

Fungoes (Cardinals): Is the Front Office Worthy of Fan Support
Is this even an issue, given that they brought in Matt Holliday last year, and Jake Westbrook during the season and the team plays in the 23rd largest market in the league?  Better question: Is the manager?

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): Management Updates
"It appears that the Cubs will attempt to grow more of their own talent and augment their needs (less) in free agency.  I’m in favor of this new approach – recently we’ve seen the Cubs throw money at players and what to we have to show for it?"
Dodger Thoughts: Community Ownership of the Dodgers, Bad Idea or the Worst Idea?
"Can I tell you just how much I hate this idea? I don't just mean that it's unrealistic, which it is, as pretty much everyone concedes. I mean it is really, really unappealing to me."

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): No Need to Panic After Game 1 Loss
All is well.  All is well!  ALL IS WELL!  Indeed, all was well

Redleg Nation: Reds got a big boost in attendance in '10
And with the traditional post-competitive team, attendance bump that comes the year after, things are looking good in Cincinnati.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): How Will the NESV Ownership of Liverpool Affect the Red Sox?
The gang would like to know what you think. Also, you think the Red Sox should sign Carl Crawford.

Sox Machine (White Sox): Top 10 White Sox Games of 2010
Summaries and highlights of the team's ten best victories of the year.

Royals Authority: Nick's Weekend Bullets and Links
Mostly-Royals news and notes, including a potential Greinke trade and the 2011 lineup.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): So Long, Freddy Sez
Jason pays his respects to a beloved Yankee rooter.

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Wedge Expected To Be Named Manager
"By all indications, Wedge seems like the most solid choice of the options the Mariners had on their shopping list.  Outside of his famous issues with Milton Bradley (getting so bad at one point that Bradley wore a shirt that said “F*** Eric Wedge” in the clubhouse with the media present), Wedge had a very good reputation of having solid relationships with his players, and for getting the most out of them that he could."

The Ray Area: Nobody's Perfect.
Three personnel decisions by the Rays' otherwise-brilliant front office that may have cost them a chance at the World Series.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Sunday Morning Open Thread: Five Questions (ALCS Edition)
Joey asks five playoff-related questions, and the fans answer.

Friday, October 15, 2010

On Will Carroll, Statheads, and Choosing One's Brush

By Bill

I like Will Carroll. And yeah, I'm using the present tense.

I've been a fan since before he even came to Baseball Prospectus, when he was producing his quirkily fascinating baseball-injuries-only e-mail newsletter. Had a couple e-mail interactions with him during that time, and he was very gracious and informative. I thought he was great at BP, I think he's a lot of fun to follow on Twitter, and I'm sure sometime soon he'll have some sort of big new gig (if he doesn't already), and I'll probably mostly like that, too.

But on Monday, Will had something to get off his chest. Problem is, I'm not quite sure anybody who read that really understands what that thing was.

We start (after an opening line on The Simpsons that's never really brought back in) with this:
It might surprise you to know Ryan Howard doesn’t know his VORP.
Roy Halladay didn’t know his xFIP.
Jamie Moyer doesn’t understand BABIP.
The Reds? You think I’m going to ask those questions in Dusty Baker’s clubhouse? Forget it.
These are true facts (well, the last one is a fact if you translate it to "Dusty Baker hates most statistics"). But the question that comes immediately to mind is: so what?

SweetSpot Roundup 10/15

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Top Prospects Year In Review: 11-20
Peter picks up where he left off yesterday and looks at the 2010 seasons of his top Braves prospects nos. 11 through 20.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): 2010 Final Report Card
Aggregating the staff's 2010 grades for all the Cubs players. Somebody gave Geovany Soto (3.5 fWAR in 105 games) a C!

Redleg Nation: The 2011 Starting Rotation
Taking a stab at ranking the Reds' seven viable starters for next season.

Dodger Thoughts: Hustle and flow: the mental game, John Wooden, Matt Kemp and me
A long, extremely well-crafted essay about Matt Kemp, effort and ability.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Phillies-Giants NLCS Preview: Q&A with Chris Quick
Seven questions with the proprietor of the SweetSpot Network's Giants blog, ahead of Saturday's big series opener.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Thursday Links (14 Oct 10)
A huge list of good (or at least interesting) baseball reading that ought to set you up for the weekend, at least.

Bay City Ball (Giants): NLCS Preview Q&A with Crashburn Alley
You guessed it: seven questions with the proprietor of the SweetSpot Network's Phillies blog, ahead of Saturday's big series opener.

Fungoes (Cardinals): Year of the Pitcher culminates in postseason performances
Whoever that guy was that was incensed that Bill James' fanciful "Game Score" ranked Lincecum's performance ahead of Halladay's is going to eat his left arm when he sees that by Pip's FIGS (Fielding Independent Game Score) ranking, Lincecum's game is second all time, Halladay's like 25th or so.

Nationals Baseball: The other youngest AFL players
Bryce Harper has become just the third 18 year old ever assigned to the Arizona Fall League. Just for fun, Harper looks at how the other younguns have fared.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Thursday Evening Notes
Good news in Texas about GM Jon Daniels future on the eve of the playoffs.

The Ray Area: The 2011 Rays
Mark doesn't think the 2011 Rays will have any trouble attracting the talent the team needs to stay successful.

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): 2011 Projections, Jonathan Papelbon
"Based on his last two seasons, Papelbon doesn’t appear to be the dominant force he once was. However, he should still be productive enough to contribute in a positive light for a Sox pen the needs a ton of improvement in 2011."

Royals Authority: Can Christian Colon Be the Next Troy Tulowitzki?
When you wish upon a prospect, please be sure your motives aren't suspect.  Anything you heart desires, you'll see in him.

Nick's Twins Blog: The Cuddyer Conundrum
"No matter what you think about Cuddyer, there's simply no denying that his hefty guaranteed salary next year poses a serious conundrum for a team that is already staring at some considerable payroll issues."

Sox Machine (White Sox): The sinking of May Flowers
Jim breaks down the change in swing that may have submarined prospect Tyler Flowers' 2010.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees):  And then there is the absurd
 You know that kind of idiotic, brainless Yankee worship that makes you hate certain Yankee fans and New York journalists?  Jason hates it too.

And on The Platoon Advantage: Bill has some respectful words for a wayward soul, Will Carroll.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Playoff Podcast, Part Deux

Last night's podcast was a rollicking good time with regular contributors Lar of, The Common Man, and Bill, as well as special guests Jason Rosenberg of It's About the Money, Stupid and Dan McQuade of Walkoff Walk (amongst other places).  What have we learned from the Divisions Series?  Exactly how good is Cliff Lee?  Why won't Bill just accept that the Phillies are the best team in the National League?  Do the Rangers even have a chance?  How obnoxious are Philly fans these days?  Did we go easy on Jason and Yankee fans?  And what's going to happen in the Championship Series that start tomorrow and Saturday?

All these questions and more are answered below the jump.  Take a listen.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/14

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Will the Red Sox Go with Mike Cameron in 2011?
Will Cameron have a starting role in Boston again next year? Darryl thinks so (and I don't think that would be such a bad thing).

Sox Machine (White Sox): Mitchell! season begins in Arizona
The AFL season begins, and Jared Mitchell plays his first baseball since suffering a terrible accident in spring training.

Royals Authority: Royals Player of the Year
Craig ranks your top three position players, with the pitchers to follow.

Nick's Twins Blog: Missing Lee
The Twins were once considered (in the media, anyway) the front-runners to land Cliff Lee, and it's tempting to think that might have made the difference. Nick doesn't think so.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Change of Plan
Will on the Yankees' rotation change for the ALCS.

The Ray Area: Heads Up Tampa Bay
"Do we know this “era” of Rays’ baseball is over?  Of course not.  We won’t know that until they start playing games again in 2011.  Do we know the next “era” of Rays’ baseball won’t be just as good or — dare I say it — better?  Of course not.  But let’s go ahead and kick everyone while they are down.  Also, let’s pretend like this team is a disappointment because they never won a World Series.  That is, quite simply, absurd."

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The Hero Of The Rangers Franchise
Cliff Lee is really, really, really, really good.

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): Top Prospects Year In Review
CAC looks at how the top youngsters faired in 2010.

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs):  2010 Cubs Report Card, Starting Pitchers
"There are a lot of ways you can look at these report cards. As for me, I tend to lean toward evaluating guys based on my expectations of them."  Then how on God's green Earth does Carlos Silva get a B?  What exactly were you expecting from him?

Dodger Thoughts: Scott Elbert Looking for Relieve in More Ways Than One
The former top prospect opens up a little about his past and his future.

Nationals Baseball: Super Starter #1 Trade Bait
This might be my favorite line ever: "[GM Mike] Rizzo seems pretty confident he can get the Nationals a #1 starter through a trade....  Since we have nothing better to do, let's play in Rizzo's dream world, the place where Carlos Pena swings a candy cane bat and hits a marshmallow ball safely into play one out of every 5 times."

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Phillies-Giants NLCS Preview, Starting Eight
Bill thinks the Giants have the advantage at 1B.  Logically, should Aubrey Huff get a 5 year, $125 million extension?

Redleg Nation: GMs Come and Go
On this day in Reds History, the club hired a GM in 1987.  They fired him exactly two years later.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bud Selig Was On the Grassy Knoll!

By The Common Man

The Common Man is not generally one for conspiracy theories. Indeed, his general answer to members of the tinfoil-hat brigade is that they need to get off the internet and back on some medication. That said, did anyone else notice that, during TBS’s coverage of the Rays-Rangers game last night, there were relatively few replays of close plays? And did you notice that the announcers did not spend a great deal of time talking about potential missed calls?  In particular, The Common Man remembers two close plays that directly resulted in runs scoring.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/13

Capitol Avenue Club (Braves): This is a mistake
Not a fan of the Fredi-Gonzalez-for-manager rumors.

The View from the Bleachers (Cubs): 2010 Cubs Report Card: Bullpen
The really unfortunate thing for the Cubs is that due to poor grades, almost the entire 2010 bullpen is going to have to be held back and forced to repeat the Cubs.

Redleg Nation: Taking a look at 2011
Plugging the holes in left, at short, behind the plate and at third.

Dodger Thoughts: Scott Elbert returns to the mound
And other Dodgers-and-AFL-related notes.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): Final Adjusted NL Central Standings
"Saying that Milwaukee played like an 84 win team seems moderately ridiculous, but I’m not sure it’s too far off, as much of the early season problems were due to one inning fits of horribleness from Trevor Hoffman and then the team effectively played .500 ball the rest of the way."

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): The Rangers Have Won the ALDS
"I love baseball, and I love the Rangers."  A more detailed retrospective on the Rangers' daring win in Game 5 is sure to follow. [Note: And here it is.]

The Ray Area: The Best Pitch in Baseball
"Strike one is not only the best pitch in baseball, it is Cliff Lee’s silver bullet."  After last night, we might reconsider and say the correct answer is Cliff Lee's curveball.  Nasty.  [Bonus: Mark thinks the Rays' era of being competitive isn't over yet.  I tend to agree.]

Fire Brand of the American League (Red Sox): Cheap Alternatives, Dontrelle Willis
Really, if the Red Sox are so desperate for bullpen help that they'll turn to Dontrelle Willis, they haven't yet turned over every rock at their disposal.  Jesse Orosco, for instance, if probably still interested in pitching.  John Candelaria?

Royals Authority: Kansas City Royals in the Arizona Fall League
The AFL opened today, and Nick's got a look at KC's representatives, including Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy.

Nick's Twins Blog: A Hearty Thank You and a Special Offer
Nick's got a book for Twins fans on the upcoming offseason.  For a limited time, it's at a special price.

Sox Machine (White Sox):  It's That Time of Year Again
What time?  The time that other teams, fan bases, and reporters all salivate over the upcoming free agents, and wildly speculate over where they'll end up.  We here at The Platoon Advantage promise to also get swept up in rampant rumor mongering and baseless speculation.  Cliff Lee to the Marlins.  There, I said it.

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Bring on the Rangers!
Jason wants to know how you feel about facing Texas in the ALCS.  How about after you heard Brian Cashman letting you down easy about AJ Burnett being your #4 starter?

And on The Platoon Advantage, TCM wishes a happy birthday to perhaps the worst player and manager in baseball history, and also has been turned into a conspiracy theorist.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Happy Birthday...Malachi Kittridge

By The Common Man

This is usually Bill’s schtick, but he’s deposing someone today, so…

The Common Man wishes a very happy birthday to Malachi Kittridge, one of the greatest-named, and most disastrous baseball men ever. Kittridge was a catcher around the turn of the century for several clubs, including the Cubs of the 1890s, the Boston Braves, and the Washington Senators.

He debuted with Cap Anson’s Chicago squad as a 20 year old and immediately was the club’s regular catcher. Like many catchers, traditionally, Kittridge was a terrible hitter. In 16 Major League seasons, he never had an OPS+ above 81, and was regularly in the 30s. His lifetime OPS+, thanks to his .219/.277/.274 batting line is the second worst of all time among players with more than 4000 plate appearances. It is 5th all time among non-pitchers with more than 3000 PAs. Any way you slice it, Malachi Kittridge was a terrible hitter.

SweetSpot Roundup 10/12

Austin's Astros 290 Blog: Oh No! Disas-ex-stros!
Autin looks at the tough weekend for former Astros.

Disciples of Uecker (Brewers): A Quick Look at the Brewers on the DL
The Brew Crew had a disappointing season but, as Jack points out, you can't blame injuries.

Fungoes (Cardinals): Bad Mistakes, Mo's Made a Few
"The 'unexpected injuries' excuse is valid but only goes so far. We don’t expect Mozeliak to offer up a public mea culpa or attend the winter meetings in sackcloth and ashes. But some acknowledgement of reality — and, yes, culpability — would go a long way toward healing a disappointed fan base, not to mention addressing player-acquisition strategy in an effort to improve it this winter."

The View From the Bleachers (Cubs): 2010 Cubs Report Card, Outfielders
"Instead we saw a guy that played hard every day, got on base more than he did in 2009, and played the most games in a season in his entire career. I like what I saw from Marlon Byrd and I’m excited that he’s not signed for a terrible albatross of a contract. Grade: A"  Interesting.  Starlin Castro got a B and Geovanny Soto a B+. 

Dodger Thoughts: This, I like
On current Braves goat Brooks Conrad being cheered by Braves fans during warmups today: "See, there is an alternative to booing. And ask yourself, if Conrad makes it into tonight's game, is he more or less likely to screw up now that he knows his fan base has his back?"  Would they have had his back if he were in the starting lineup though?

Bay City Ball (Giants): Sanchez's Slider
"Sanchez’s slurve boasted a whiff rate (misses/swings) of 78.5%. Batters took 14 cuts against Sanchez’s slider/curve and missed the ball completely 11 times. The 3 times Braves hitters did make contact resulted in foul balls. Not a single Braves hitter put Sanchez’s slider/curve into play."  Nasty.

Mets Today: Jeff Wilpon to be Interviewed by Sandy Alderson
"Miraculously, the Mets have found an individual who is universally accepted by the rabid fans, the blogosphere, the statheads, and the professional media."  Now, Joe implores Jeff Wilpon not to mess it up.

Nationals Baseball: I'm Back
Harper's back from vacation, and lays out his thoughts on the upcoming offseason in Natsville.

Ducksnorts (Padres): Dances with Spreadsheets
As Geoff points out, this may be one of the best Padres teams of all time.  The Common Man picked them to lose 110 games before the season started.  Oops.

Crashburn Alley (Phillies): Halladay-Oswalt-Hamels could be historically great
Bill looks at how the Phillies' Big Three handled themselves compared to other great tandems in MLB playoff history.

Redleg Nation: A Fun Season
Twins fans, take notes: "The Nation really needs to send our thanks and appreciation for a fun season to the Cincinnati Reds. It all ended more suddenly than we had hoped, but I have no complaints. I got more enjoyment out of this baseball season than I’ve experienced in at least a decade."

Pro Ball NW (Mariners): Look Ahead to the 2010-2011 Offseason, Part 3
Conor looks at some of the players that Jack Z might target via trade this winter.

Baseball Time in Arlington (Rangers): Josh Lewin Out as Rangers Play-by-Play Man
How do you lose on your day off?  Good luck to Josh, wherever he goes from here.

The Ray Area: Senior Night
"Rather than go quietly into that good night (“good night” = Scott Boras’s war room) Pena stoked the troops with a an apparently passionate speech about remembering this club’s humble beginnings.  Then he turned around and found his groove."

Royals Authority: Easy Monday
"With the Twins losing again in the first round of the playoffs, would you as a Royals’ fan want to be like them and always be in contention for the post-season but never really have much of a chance to advance?   Or, would you go the Marlins’ way and build to truly compete with the big boys once every seven or eight years, knowing that in between you will be pretty awful?"  Is this making the assumption that being like the Royals and Pirates, and never truly competing, is the worst fate of all?

The Daily Fungo (Tigers): Inge and Peralta are more alike than you think
"If you’re still coming to grips with the notion of Brandon Inge and Jhonny Peralta manning the left side of the Tigers’ infield next season, here’s something I noticed that will either make you feel better or worse – and nowhere in between."

Nick's Twins Blog: E-Z Passed
"As it would turn out, the arrogance was well warranted. The Twins brandished home field advantage and a $100 million payroll this time around, but the result was no different from past meetings with the Yankees: complete and utter failure."

It's About the Money, Stupid (Yankees): Grandpa Simpson Thinks Umpires Unfairly Criticized
"The bottom line here is that there’s no going back. Television replay is a basic aspect of the modern sports fan’s life, and that means we’re going to see every single blown call. The problem for baseball is that the sheer number of incorrect calls damages the game’s integrity…and the umpires’ credibility....  The arguments against doing so from people like Robinson and Bud Selig are venturing into the realm of self-parody now."