December 11, 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!
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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Athletics 10, Angels 8: Nineteen innings. Six and a half hours. Sixteen pitchers. Ended on a Brandon Moss two-run homer, his second of the night/morning. Albert Pujols had two homers as well. It ended less than an hour and a half before my alarm clock went off this morning. It was the longest game in Angels history and the longest game ever played in Oakland. At least they follow it up with a night game rather than a day tilt.
Braves 3, Nationals 2: Atlanta beats Washington for the eighth straight time dating back to last season. The kicker: the Braves did it without any home runs.
Astros 9, Yankees 1: Hey, even the worst teams win several dozen times a year. You just don't expect them to beat the tar out of Andy Pettitte, that's all. Catcher Carlos Corporan went 4 for 5 with a homer, double and four RBI. Lucas Harrell allowed only one run in six and a third.
Tigers 4, Twins 3: Prince Fielder's three-run homer helps the Tigers to their fourth straight win.
Marlins 4, Mets 3: The Marlins won in 15 innings, but they lost their best player—Giancarlo Stanton—to a strained hamstring and he may miss more time than that after saying he felt a "pop" in his leg. Five straight losses for the Mets. No one is leaving this game happy.
Indians 9, Royals 0: Ryan Raburn hit two homers and drove in four and Ubaldo Jimenez tossed seven shutout innings to notch his first win in 12 starts. Wade Davis was shelled.
Cubs 5, Padres 3: Darwin Barney went 2 for 3 with two doubles and Cody Ransom went 2 for 4 with a home run. Chicago, you may not have noticed, has won five of seven.
Brewers 10, Pirates 4: Milwaukee hit five home runs, including one from Yovani Gallardo of all people, in the rout. They hit three triples too. Gallardo likewise allowed only one earned run in seven innings. Miller Park continues to be a house of horrors for the Pirates.
Mariners 6, Orioles 2: Joe Saunders with a complete game, allowing only two runs against his old mates. At least I assume they were his mates. I dunno. Maybe everyone hated Saunders in Baltimore. Called him "jerkface" and stuff. We never can really know these things.
Reds 2, Cardinals 1: Mat Latos outdueled Adam Wainwright, extending his scoreless innings streak to 17. The Cards have dropped three in a row.
Giants 6, Diamondbacks 4: San Francisco halts its losing skid, coming from behind after Matt Cain allowed three home runs in the fourth inning. Brandon Belt drove in three.
Rockies 12, Dodgers 2: Colorado rattled off 19 hits. Including three from pitcher Tyler Chatwood who drove in two to [all together now] help his own cause. His six shutout innings helped that quite a bit too.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Pirates 9, Cardinals 0: Two homers for Russell Martin and a strong start from Jeff Locke. The Pirates -- the Pittsburgh Pirates -- are in first place in the National League Central. This goes with the Royals being in first place in the AL Central. I predicted each of these teams would be better this year. Maybe even surprisingly good compared to usual expectations. But I figured that meant the Pirates finishing a smidge above .500 and the Royals making third place. Second if absolutely everything went right maybe. That may be where each of them end up, but for now they gotta be enjoying the ride. This was the Pirates' 15th win. They last won 15 in the month of April in 1992.
Marlins 6, Cubs 4: Giancarlo Stanton hadn't hit a homer all year until Saturday, then he launched two homers yesterday. He was just giving everyone a head start I guess.
Yankees 3, Blue Jays 2: For years Blue Jays fans -- and often Blue Jays employees -- whined how it was so darn hard for them to break through in the AL East given the expensive star power the Yankees were able to assemble. Yesterday the star-laden Blue Jays got swept behind homers from Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay. What's the excuse now?
Reds 5, Nationals 2: Once my daughter found some random baseball trivia/facts website for kids and learned about the drop-the-third-strike rule which enables a struck out batter to go to first base. She thought this was quite rare and esoteric and asked me how a pitcher could strike out four batters in one inning, thinking she'd stump me. I gave her a bunch of dumb answers like "the batter distracts the umpire" or "the umpire is cheating" or "gamblers fixed the game." I pretended to be all exasperated with her and INSISTED that there can't POSSIBLY be a way for a pitcher to strike out four batters in an inning because EVERYONE knows that there are only three outs in an inning and a strikeout is an out. Later I admitted that I knew the rule and that I was just having fun with her. To this day she thinks I was lying and that I really didn't know the rule and she's the one who taught me. Guess I'll let her have that one. Anyway, Tony Cingrani struck out 11, including four in one inning. Because he was cheating, I assume.
Red Sox 6, Astros 1: John Lackey had one more tuneup against minor leaguers yesterday. Looks like he'll be set for his return from the disabled list Thursday versus the Twins. He's really gotta be looking forward to that.
Phillies 5, Mets 1: Carlos Ruiz came back, Ryan Howard -- who has driven in ten runs in his past five games -- came off the bench to deliver an RBI double and Cole Hamels got his first win of the season as the Phillies sweep the Mets. Hamels walked six dudes and the Mets didn't really make him pay for it. Man.
Rays 8, White Sox 3: David Price finally gets his first win of the year. And got into a big bunch of controversy with umpire Tom Hallion, too. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that, even if Hallion was 100% in the wrong here, MLB will do nothing to him publicly because, as history has shown us, umps can pretty much get away with murder. In other news, White Sox hitters struck out 12 times in all and Alex Rios allowed two runs to score when a catchable ball doinked off his mitt. Not a great day on the south side.
Dodgers 2, Brewers 0: Clayton Kershaw is a ridiculously good pitcher (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 12K). Carl Crawford joins Russell Martin and Giancarlo Stanton in the two homers on Sunday club.
Padres 6, Giants 4: The reigning world champs are swept by San Diego. It's the first time the Pads did that in about three years. Chase Headley had three hits including a dinger.
Twins 5, Rangers 0: Kevin Correia shut out the Rangers for eight innings. Just junked 'em to death. It's the first time Texas has lost two games in a row all year.
Royals 9, Indians 0; Indians 10 Royals 3: According to the AP gamer, this was the first day-night doubleheader in the history of Kauffman Stadium. That's pretty surprising. Anyway, without looking at the box score for the first game, I'm gonna assume that it was a forfeit. [looks]. OK, wasn't a forfeit. But I do love how forfeits go in the books as a 9-0 win. I'm sure someone like Neyer or Mark Armour or Bill James or whoever knows why that is, but I don't. Jeremy Guthrie got the win. He hasn't had a loss in 16 starts. That's something. In the nightcap Mike Aviles had five RBI. Good for him.
Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2: The loss of the game was bad, but the loss of Troy Tulowitzki to a strained shoulder was worse for the Rockies. The Dbacks take three of four and have won five of six overall.
Athletics 9, Orioles 8: Yoenis Cespedes gets activated and then hits a two-run homer to tie it in the ninth inning. In the tenth, Manny Machado -- who had four hits on the day, by the way -- threw the ball away on a sacrifice attempt, allowing the winning run to score. Welp.
Mariners 2, Angels 1: Jason Bay and Michael Morse homer. And the Angels keep pace with the Blue Jays in the Most Disappointing Team in All of Baseball race.
Tigers 8, Braves 3: What a blah of a series for the Braves. Wait -- I think they just struck out again. And ... again. God.
Last Friday was the 20th anniversary of one of the most memorable managerial tirades of all-time, when Hal McRae lost his mind after a Royals defeat. Today is the anniversary of a managerial meltdown that puts that one to shame. It’s the mother of all terrific tirades.
It was 30 years ago today on April 29, 1983, that Cubs manager Lee Elia completely lost his composure.
Odds are that more than a few of you out there in readerland are familiar with this one. It’s actually the most famous moment of Elia’s long baseball career, a fact that mortifies the one-time Cub skipper. Long story short, Elia did something managers rarely do: he completely tore into his team’s fans. And boy, oh boy, was it ever classic.
The Cubs had just suffered a tough loss, blowing an early lead to the Dodgers only to fall, 4-3. The loss dropped them 5-14 on the year, the worst record in baseball. This was all too familiar territory for the Cubs in recent times. Since Opening Day of 1980, they’d played 180-266 ball, a .403 winning clip.
The fans gave the club some grief that day, and Elia thought it went too far. In fact, some of the fans were so belligerent, Cub shortstop Larry Bowa and outfielder Keith Moreland nearly went into the stands to deal with some especially obnoxious louts.
Angry at the season, upset at the game, and irate at the fans, Elia had the 200 seconds that earned his place in the game’s folklore. Standing before a quartet of Chicago reporters, he unleashed this following profanity-laden bit of poetry. Here is the best part:
I'll tell you one f***in' thing: I hope we get f***in' hotter than s*** just to stuff it up them three thousand f***in' people that show up every f***in' day. Because if they're the real Chicago f***in' fans, they can kiss my f***in' a** right downtown—and print it!
One of the reporters, Les Grobstein from WLS, had a microphone turned on. Thus, Elia's tirade became forever preserved. He immediately apologized once he heard the tape and ever since then has regretted it. But it’s always there.
Oddly enough, a lot of the Cub fans I know don’t mind it that much. First, it was so long ago that it predates the rooting interest for many. Heck, the whole Cubs popularity phenomenon didn’t really get going until 1984, just after Elia. Besides, while some of the tirade is just profane, parts of it are just fantastic. 85 percent of the world works and the other 15 percent come here? Frankly, that’s a hilarious putdown of the fans of what was then the only park without lights.
Oh, and Elia didn’t last the season. That shouldn’t be too surprising. The club was losing, and the manger had a tirade like that. He made it several more months, though, lasting until late August. He even succeeded in finding another big league dugout gig, piloting the 1987-88 Phillies.
But there is only one moment people think of when they hear the name Lee Elia, and it was the tirade he had 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
Click for more...
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Saying that the Mets bullpen is not very good is an understatement. The bullpen season ERA was at 5.57 at one point during Saturday's game (in which a 3-2 deficit became 8-2 immediately upon starting pitcher Shaun Marcum exiting). Mets fans hope it can only get better from here. I have some humble suggestions:
-Promote sidewinder Greg Burke. Burke started with the big league team out of spring training, but got demoted after a 7.36 ERA in just over seven innings. The problem? Burke was actually pitching well in the limited time (2.31 FIP). He's dominated since getting sent to Triple-A Las Vegas and Steamer thinks he's good for a 4.04 FIP the rest of the way.
-Promote Collin McHugh. McHugh got some starts for the Mets last year and did pretty well; in 21 innings he had a 4.77 xFIP. His ERA skyrocketed because of a HR/FB rate of 18.5 percent that will most likely regress a fair amount. So far in Las Vegas he's pitching extremely well with a 2.34 FIP and 1.93 ERA, and Steamer thinks he's good for a 4.06 FIP the rest of the way. Importantly, he's a natural starting pitcher and can eat innings.
-Promote Gonzalez Germen. The underrated Mets right-handed prospect has dominated Triple-A this year with a 10.93 K/9 and 1.93 BB/9 in 14 innings. His career minor league numbers are solid, and Steamer likes him for a 3.77 ERA and 3.80 FIP in the big leagues. That's much better than what's currently on the roster.
-Demote Robert Carson. The kid just doesn't have it yet. After a poor outing today he has an ERA of 45.00, and both ZiPS and Steamer think he's a below-average big league reliever at the moment.
-Demote Jeurys Familia. Another kid who just isn't ready for the majors just yet. His control is supremely poor and he doesn't have the overpowering stuff to make up for it. At just 23 years old, there's time for him in the minors.
None of these are panaceas. Barring something surprising, the Mets will continue to have one of (if not the) worst bullpens in the majors. But marginal differences matter, and at this point changes have to be made.
Friday, April 26, 2013
Royals 8, Tigers 3: You can try to make Phil Coke a multi-inning reliever all you want, but he's still going to be a lefty specialist. And when he comes in and has trouble even getting the lefties out, you can't stick with him. He's not the one who gave up the grand slam to Alex Gordon, but he set the stage. Well, that and Jim Leyland intentionally walking Jeff Francouer, but the outcome was all but set when that happened. We were just waiting for it to finish playing out.
Pirates 6, Phillies 4: Hey, did you realize that Pittsburgh was 13-9? It's true. The Pirates are winners of 10 of 13. Gaby Sanchez homered and drove in three. The Phillies dropped their first home series against the Pirates in over a decade.
Red Sox 7, Astros 2: Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL David Ortiz! The Sox' DH was 3 for 4 with a homer and an RBI single. He's 11 for 20 since coming off the DL. Clay Buchholz struck out 10 while pitching into the eighth. Daniel Bard made his 2013 debut, striking out one in a scoreless inning. Oh, and alert the media and/or relevant first responders: Rick Ankiel drew a walk. His first of the year.
Dodgers 3, Mets 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu had a nice performance, holding the Mets to one run on three hits in seven innings while striking out eight. Andre Ethier broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth with an RBI single, followed up by Juan Uribe putting the Dodgers ahead with a single of his own.
Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: Robinson Cano, Vernon Wells and Frankie Cervelli went deep. The Yankees were down 3-0 early, but Hiroki Kuroda settled down after that and waited for the bats to boom. A record low crowd for Yankee Stadium. Which is kind of a shame, actually. This Yankees team isn't what people are accustomed to, but it's kinda cool seeing contributions from different faces and names in pinstripes. If nothing else, people should be bearing witness to a resurrection: Vernon Wells is hitting .293/.361/.587 with six homers on the year.
Nationals 8, Reds 1: If the bats are gonna sleep, it's up to the pitchers. That's what Gio Gonzalez must've figured, as he allowed only one hit -- a Joey Votto solo shot -- in eight innings. Except the bats did show up, actually, with the Nats rattling off a dozen hits, including a Danny Espinosa two-run homer and RBI double. Denard Span drove in three as well.
White Sox 5, Rays 2: Chris Sale walked four dudes, but allowed only two runs and four hits in seven innings. Adam Dunn homered. Life is more fun when Adam Dunn homers. He's now hitting a crisp .108 on the year.
Cubs 4, Marlins 3: It's 2013. Terrorism, war and ecological destruction ravage the planet. Still, I'm gonna offer that a Cubs-Marlins series is the worst thing affecting humankind at the moment. Luis Valbuena hit the go-ahead homer in the ninth. Afterwards he said "Ninth inning, two outs, I tried to hit a home run. I didn't want to play extra innings." I don't think any of us wanted to see it either, Luis. Give that man a humanitarian award.
Rangers 2, Twins 1: Nick Tepesch allowed five hits in six and two-thirds, with a solo homer to Josh Willingham the only blight on the box score. The Twins' best chance to get even or better ended, however, when Willingham hit into a bases-loaded double play in the eighth. Selah.
Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 2: Paul Goldschmidt with a two-run homer helped a not-great but good enough Trevor Cahill, who notched his first W of the year.
Orioles 10, Athletics 2: Nate McLouth singled, doubled, walked and drove in two. Chris Davis homered. Adam Jones had three hits. All nine starters got a hit and six different O's drove in a run. The A's have dropped six of seven.
Mariners 6, Angels 0: The Mariners' sleepy bats woke up. Including Carlos Peguero's, whose bat hit a 450+ foot homer, adjudged the third longest in Safeco Field history. Kyle Seager has a 14 game hitting streak. As for Anaheim, I'm not wishing any ill-happenings for anyone, but I'm still liking my "Mike Scioscia is the first manager fired this year" prediction.