December 9, 2013
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
THT's latest e-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's new e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
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Thursday, July 23, 2009
The first move was to promote righty Jhoulys Chacin to the big leagues. Chacin was pulled from his Double-A start Wednesday night, fueling debate that he was about to be traded. Wisely, the move was instead to put him in the Rockies bullpen.
Chacin is a starter first and foremost, but lately teams are starting to realize the benefit of the Earl Weaver approach: taking stud young starters and apprenticing them in the bullpen while benefiting from their talent. 21, Chacin posted a 3.18 ERA on the year in 18 starts, with a 7.49 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9. The BB/9 mark is the worst of his still-young career, but it bears monitoring. He can dial up his fastball to 94. Coupled with the sinking action, it should make for a great fastball in Coors Field.
Chacin at the very least will spend several years as a top reliever or middle-of-the-rotation arm. As Baseball America notes, he is unlikely to turn into a top-of-the-rotation starter unless his curveball develops into a plus-pitch.
Chacin should greatly help a team ranked 26th in all of baseball in bullpen ERA, 13th in the National League with a 4.86 ERA.
The Rockies have been seeking a solution outside of the organization for a couple of months now. Takashi Saito of the Red Sox had his name connected with the organization, but nothing seemed to come to fruition.
Today, the Rockies acquired Rafael Betancourt from the Cleveland Indians for 24-year old Connor Graham, a starter in High-A Modesto. Graham, towering at 6'7" posted a 3.14 ERA and 87/41 K/BB ratio in 80.1 innings in 16 starts. It wouldn't surprise me to see the Indians move him to Double-A, given Graham is already 24. Baseball America denoted Graham as the Rockies' 12th best prospect in the organization, so it's not a bad haul. However, given Graham's age and spotty command, I'm bearish on his long-term prospects.
Betancourt, 34, makes $3.35 million in 2009 before a club option for $5.4 million pops up. Given Betancourt's slide back to middle relief status, the Indians were not likely to pick up the option. It remains to see if the Rockies will do so.
Betancourt's best season came in 2007, when he posted a minuscule 1.47 ERA in 79.1 appearances and single-handedly making every single postseason game 30 minutes longer than it had to be. His 2.22 FIP backed up that dominance, but the following year saw his ERA slide to 5.07 and FIP to 4.40. This year, he's at a fine 3.52 ERA (3.70 FIP) and 1.32 WHIP. He missed time with injury, KOing him for all of June. If you throw out April, Betancourt's ERA is in the mid-2.50s. Betancourt is unlikely to sustain this, however, as he's currently on pace for a career-low 12.3 line drive percentage and .288 BABIP.
Still, however, he should provide the Rockies with a solid arm -- certainly better than one Juan Rincon has provided the Rockies. The club could opt to option Matt Daley, but he's been effective on the year. Betancourt's addition could mean the jettisoning of Rincon; Chacin was added due to Manny Corpas being knocked out until September thanks to surgery for bone chips in his elbow.
It's refreshing to see the Rockies strike quickly and make two aggressive moves to bolster their bullpen in advance of a wild dogfight for a postseason berth. They're definitely a better team today than they were yesterday, and it puts the pressure on the San Francisco Giants to get a bat to keep pace.
The annual Cape Cod Baseball League All Star game will be held tonight in Fenway Park. As a native to Cape Cod, I am partial to this local summer league, but there is little disputing that the Cape League attracts the premier talent in college baseball. In 2008, there were 207 CCBL alumni playing in the major leagues (roughly 15 percent of all players). Nearly one out of three players who attended four-year colleges played in the Cape League.
Through the years I have been fortunate enough to watch future stars like Chase Utley, Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Mark Teixeira and countless others come through the league as rising prospects trying to make a name for themselves. Just about every year the league churns out the next group of promising players.
The All Star game is a chance for hundreds of professional scouts to gather and watch some of the premier collegiate talent. 2009 first round picks Tony Sanchez, Grant Green, A.J. Pollock each played in the game last year. The 2007 All Star game featured Gordon Beckham, Aaron Crow, Kyle Gibson, Yonder Alonso, Buster Posey, Jason Castro, Allan Dykstra, Reese Havens, and Conor Gillaspie, all of whom would develop into future first round selections.
So who will emerge from this year's crop? The West team's starting pitcher Brandon Workman (Texas) will be playing in his second CCBL All Star game. Workman is a big power pitcher and features a mid-90s fastball. He is off to a solid start this Summer after a promising Spring with Texas. Jedd Gyorko (West Virginia) is batting .368 with three home runs after hitting well over .400 this Spring. Gyorko played shortstop in college but is playing third base on the Cape.
For the East squad Brian Fletcher (Auburn) belted 17 home runs this Spring and his hitting .317 this summer. Brian is the son of former major league infielder Scott Fletcher. Derek Dietrich (Georgia Tech) has hit three homeruns thus far on his way to being named an All Star reserve shortstop. Dietrich was a third round selection out of high school but elected to go to college instead.
Below are the complete All Star rosters:
East Division Roster
West Division Roster
Yesterday I wrote a piece on the most recent 10-game winning streaks for all teams. Inspired by a comment made by a poster at BTF (as the site had a thread on my THT Live thing yesterday) here's the sequel: the most recent losing streaks for all squads. It's organized the same as yesterday's piece: the date listed below is when the 10th straight game was lost (which is also how they're organized) and in parathesis is how many games were lost in that streak.
Three teams haven't lost this many in a row in over 25 years - before looking, any guesses who they are?
Here they are, bunched into fives to make it easier to look over the list:
BAL 9/26/08 (10)
SEA 9/20/08 (12)
PIT 8/31/08 (10)
WAS 8/17/08 (12)
OAK 8/7/08 (10)
CLE 7/9/08 (10)
KCR 5/28/08 (12)
TBR 7/4/07 (11)
HOU 5/30/07 (10)
MIL 9/3/06 (10)
ATL 6/22/06 (10)
COL 5/7/05 (10)
NYM 9/7/04 (11)
ARI 7/21/04 (14)
DET 8/22/03 (11)
PHI 9/13/99 (11)
ANA 7/25/99 (11)
FLO 6/25/99 (10)
MIN 9/19/98 (10)
CIN 6/23/98 (11)
CHC 4/13/97 (14)
SFG 6/30/96 (10)
TEX 7/26/95 (10)
TOR 6/28/94 (10)
BOX 6/18/94 (11)
SDP 5/18/94 (13)
LAD 6/21/92 (10)
STL 5/25/80 (10)
CWS 6/20/76 (10)
NYY 6/3/13 (13)
No, that's not a typo at the end. The Yanks haven't had a ten-game losing streak in 95 years. Great googily moogily. I checked and was disappointed to find no ten-game losing streaks in the Federal League, otherwise the question up top of this piece would've been: how many franchises do you suppose have had a 10-game losing streak since the Yanks last did so? -- If the answer was 31, Lord knows no one would get that one right.
The White Sox also have the second-longest stretch without a 10-game winning streak. In fact, both their 10-game winning and losing streaks happened in 1976.
The Cards have had a trio of legendary managers helm their club over the last three decades: Whitey Herzog, Joe Torre, and Tony LaRussa. None lost ten in a row with the club.
I'm amazed no club has lost ten in a row yet in '09. Then again, they made up for that with five achieving the feat in the last two months of 2008.
The Dodgers haven't lost three straight games since last August.
In last year's Hardball Times Annual, I led off my Ten Things article with a brash finding: Major league players had gotten younger at a record pace in 2008. I double- and triple-checked all my spreadsheets and databases and it seemed to be true. A vast youth movement had taken over the game.
I should have quadruple-checked. Turns out that one little cell in my hundreds of cells contained a bad reference which made everyone one year younger than they actually were. The major leagues did get younger last year, but only by a little bit.
It's a good thing you can't see me, because I am totally red-faced here. I take my analysis seriously, particularly analysis published in a book. It's easy to correct something online, but once something is committed to paper and sent to the printer, corrections can't be made. I didn't live up to my high standards in this case, and I disappointed people who referenced my analysis.
So I pretty much know what one of my "Things I Learned in 2009" items will be in the next Annual. I first wrote about aging, using Win Shares as my multiplier, because it's such a fun thing to do, and I'll probably keep doing it. I promise to get it right from now on.