December 8, 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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Friday, March 22, 2013
There has been a lot of talk about Aroldis Chapman lately after Paul Dougherty wrote that the Reds intended to move him to the bullpen. No one else confirmed what Dougherty's unnamed source told him and the announcement certainly hasn't come down (Reds brass denied there was even anything to announce), so there's still a great deal of uncertainty.
Much has been written about Chapman, but I thought it would be a good idea to toss together a summary of all the issues at play.
1. Chapman's performance—You can place me firmly in the camp of those who believe Chapman should start (or at least undergo a genuine transition to starting), but we shouldn't deny his value as a reliever.
Last year, in 71.2 innings, Chapman generated 3.3 WAR. Much has been made of the unchanging frequency with which teams entering the the ninth with a lead win, but that is still a lot of value from a relief pitcher. Chapman finished tied for 34th in fWAR among all pitchers. He should provide serious value no matter what the Reds do with him.
2. Mike Leake—The forgotten man in this discussion is Mike Leake, who stands to be the fifth starter if Chapman closes. Leake is probably an average pitcher who's been a bit unlucky and plenty of teams would be thrilled to have him anywhere in the rotation. The Reds will likely hold onto him either way so he can slot into Bronson Arroyo's place when the latter leaves at the end of this season.
3. Expensive bullpen—Chapman officially makes only $2 million this year, but he got a hefty signing bonus and his real cost is more like $5 million per year. Sean Marshall will be paid $4.5 million this year and Jonathan Broxton, who was signed explicitly to allow Chapman to start, makes $4 million.
All three players are signed through 2015 and all will receive substantial raises over the next several years. That is a lot of money to spend on three players who are probably good for only as many innings in one year as Johnny Cueto will throw on his own. The Reds have shown a consistent willingness to overpay for relief talent.
4. Bob Castellini—Two things have been made abundantly clear this spring. Dusty Baker wants Chapman to close. Walt Jocketty wants him to start. Given that Jocketty is higher in the pecking order, it should be easy to figure out what happens. But it isn't. The reason, I have to believe, is Reds' owner Bob Castellini.
No Reds fans can complain about how the team has been run lately, but if the owner is going to start meddling in baseball operations, it's only going to add to confusion about who, exactly, is running this team. What is taking place right now is a organizational power struggle between Baker and Jocketty and who wins might tell us a lot about how the team is going to be run and who is most likely to be around over the next several years.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of a terrible tragedy in the world of baseball, an accident that killed two people and badly injured another.
On March 22, 1993, Indians pitchers Steve Olin and Tim Crews died on a boating accident that left teammate and fellow hurler Bob Ojeda hospitalized.
With the end of spring training in sight, the trio of pitchers did some off-hours bonding. Crews and Ojeda had known each other for years, but they had just gotten to know Olin in recent months. Crews and Ojeda were free-agent signings in the 1992-93 offseason. Both had spent the last few years on the Dodgers staff, Crews as a reliever and Ojeda as a starter. Olin had been with the Indians his entire career.
So on March 22, a day off from baseball, Ojeda and Crews went to Olin’s house for some quality down time. They relaxed, fished, and enjoyed each other’s company at a barbeque.
That night, Olin took them out on his 18-foot boat. His home was along a place called Little Lake Nellie, and Olin had cruised it many times. They went speeding around on the lake fairly quickly, enjoying the experience, when it all went to hell.
The boat struck a new dock extension that went over 200 feet into the lake. Crews hadn’t seen it in the moonless night. Later, authorities would determine that his blood alcohol level was 0.14, more than enough to make him legally drunk.
When paramedics got there, Olin was already dead. Apparently, the initial hit killed him instantly. Crews was unconscious, and Ojeda was drifting in and out of consciousness. Doctors diagnosed Crews with a injured lung and a massive head injury, but surgery would have to wait until his situation stabilized. That never happened, as he died the next morning.
Ojeda survived. He later credited his survival to the fact he was slumping when the boat hit the dock. He had major lacerations to his head but recovered. It would be a slow recovery, as he had to get over not just the physical damage, but the emotional issues that came with it.
He did return to action, however, throwing his first pitch on Aug. 7. He did okay the rest of the year but signed with the Yankees in the offseason for what would be the last year of his career. The Indians had a disappointing season, finishing 76-86 for the second straight year, not the progress they had hoped for. Having a hole in their pitching staff couldn’t have helped.
But that is clearly of secondary importance, at most. The main thing was the lives that were lost, and they were lost 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events today have their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim through things.
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