December 5, 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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Let’s discuss the THT Annual (7)
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10th anniversary: the A.J. Pierzynski trade (15)
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Monday, April 22, 2013
I imagine everyone has seen the video already. If not, here it is.
In it, David Ortiz expressed his thanks to the mayor of Boston, the governor of Massachusetts and the city police department for their efforts in the wake of the April 15 bombing. All well said, and I—and everyone else around the country—agree wholeheartedly with the sentiment.
However, it seems somebody somewhere ought to point out that Ortiz's dropping of the F-bomb a few seconds later to a stadium full of people and to a television audience of millions was in error, even if it was heartfelt. (To his credit, Ortiz did apologize afterward, saying, "It just came out. If I offended anyone, I apologize.")
Instead, the Federal Communications Commission implictly endorsed Ortiz's choice of words with the following Tweet:
David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston - JuliusThe Julius credited with this message is Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC. As a Harvard grad—and, again, as an American—his personal feelings on this issue are completely understandable.
However, as the head of the organization charged with preventing indecency on the airwaves, Genachowski should have tempered his approval of Ortiz's language. I don't know if he has a personal Twitter account, but that would have been a better platform for such a statement. Sure, rules are made to be broken, but the rule-makers shouldn't be supporting their breaking.
Angels 4, Tigers 3: Watched most of this one as I painted a couple of rooms in my house. Two highlights of the game for me were (1) overhearing my girlfriend use some really bad language the second or third time the Tigers left the bases loaded; and (2) Tigers color commentator Rod Allen, when describing Prince Fielder's swing on his homer, say "he lifts, and separates." So I guess Prince Fielder is now a bra. As for that first part, it happened so often that when Mark Trumbo finally hit the walkoff homer in the 13th it had been three hours since she had written the game off.
Rays 8, Athletics 1: Roberto Hernandez -- who, if he had any style, should call himself "Fauxsto Carmona" -- got his first win since coming out as Roberto Hernandez. The A's, like the Braves, were once hot and now are not. From the AP Gamer:
One day after having a DJ play music in the clubhouse to help relax his team, Maddon had a magician doing card tricks Sunday.
Maddon is like the CEO at a 1999 dotcom startup. "Look, guys! We have a foosball table! And a free soda! It's not work if it's fun!
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 4: Colorado's eight game winning streak comes to an end. Didi Gregorius hit a home run and singled to start a two-run rally in the ninth inning. And he still has a name that sounds more like a character from "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" than a ballplayer, but that's OK.
Rangers 11, Mariners 3: Leonys Martin, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre each hit homes. Nelson Cruz did too, but his was a grand slam. The sweep.
Indians 5, Astros 4: Drew Stubbs made a slick over-the-shoulder catch in the first inning which turned into a double play, halting any further damage in a rocky start for Ubaldo Jimenez. He later homered. Thinking about creating a marco that writes" ____ take two of three from Houston" with one keystroke.
Twins 5, White Sox 3: Everyone had the Twins at 8-7 through 15 games, right? The White Sox are losers of 9 of 12.
Giants 5, Padres 0: Seven shutout innings for Barry Zito who has apparently chosen to alternate good and bad starts as opposed to go on extended hot and cold streaks. Always keeping us guessing. He won't be pigeonholed. Buster Posey hit his first homer of the year. And he was still out at second in the 2010 NLDS.
Brewers 4, Cubs 2: Seven wins in a row for the Brewers, who started so poorly. Ryan Braun hit a home run. He was later ejected for tossing his bat. And because Major League Baseball has it in for him, man.
Pirates 4, Braves 2: The Buccos take three of four from the previously-hot Braves, powered by two RBI from the previously-ice cold Clint Barmes because baseball. And because of those yellow caps and pullover jerseys, but I went over that last week.
Royals 4, Red Sox 2; Royals 5, Red Sox 4: The Royals sweep the doubleheader, winning the second game on a bases loaded walk in the 10th. Have a day Greg Holland: saves in both games with five total strikeouts.
Mets 2, Nationals 0: Dillion Gee gets his first win with a nice start and the Mets take two of three from the Nats. They were aided by Jayson Werth not really thinking.
Dodgers 7, Orioles 4: L.A. snaps a six-game skid. Mark Ellis drove in three. Jake Arrieta walked the ballpark and hit a batter.
Reds 10, Marlins 6: Joey Votto started the year slow but he had three hits and a homer on Saturday and did it again on Sunday. Don't hate the Marlins. They're performing a fantasy team assistance service here.
Blue Jays 8, Yankees 4: J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer of the year, helping the Jays avoid the sweep. Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera had good games too. All three of those have been mentioned in HardballTalk posts for either being in trouble or angering people for some reason over the past few years than for baseball stuff. Viva Evil.
Phillies 7, Cardinals 3: Erik Kratz scored the tying run in the seventh and hit a three-run homer to break things open in the eighth. Michael Young has a 12 game hitting streak. He was also called "a professional hitter" by Dan Shulman once. Now that he's actually hitting well he'll probably lose that moniker soon.
I was excited to see Allen Webster take the mound in a Boston Red Sox uniform Sunday night. Yes, I am a Red Sox fan, but I also am a PITCHf/x fan. To my knowledge, tonight was the first time that Webster has thrown in front of PITCHf/x cameras in a major league ballpark. Scouts rave about Webster’s fastball, and about how much it moves. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett had this to say about Webster:
His fastball moves so much that he doesn’t necessarily have to be really fine with it, throwing it to the black at all times. Because of the late action and the velocity that he has on that pitch, he has the luxury of probably pitching a little bit more to the halves of the plate or the thirds of the plate than the corners, like some guys need to.
Webster appeared confident in his fastball in the early going, as he challenged Kansas City’s best hitters with it. His fastball touched 97 mph in the first inning, though it didn’t really return to that level afterward. He threw two change-ups in the first inning, and he was able to generate great arm side movement on them even though his arm action seemed a bit tentative.
The right-hander was able to better spot his fastball in the second and third innings, and he also started to work his change-up in more often. I couldn’t tell if he was throwing one or two breaking balls, but he does throw both a curveball and a slider. He used breaking balls often to get a called strike, and none looked particularly impressive.
After allowing a solo home run to George Kattaras in the fifth, Webster came back with a breaking ball and two change-ups to strike out Elliot Johnson. He began to rely heavily on his off-speed stuff after allowing his second solo home fun in the fifth; it looked like Kansas City hitters were keying in on his fastball, which was no longer looking like a plus pitch.
After a long half inning on the bench, Webster struggled to control his fastball a bit in the sixth. In an effort to be more accurate with the pitch, it looked like he took a little off. His average fastball velocity in the sixth was 1-2 mph lower than in the first. It did look like he threw more two-seam fastballs as the game progressed, but he also was fighting control issues.
Now that we’ve seen Webster throw in front of the cameras, we can evaluate Crockett’s claim quantitatively. PITCHf/x results from the early innings revealed that his four-seamer moved around three inches horizontally and around 10 inches vertically (before accounting for the effects of gravity). His two-seamer had an additional three inches of arm side movement, and less “vertical” movement. According to Texas Leaguer’s league chart, average horizontal movement for four-seamers and two-seamers is about five inches and eight inches, respectively. Webster wasn’t far from the league average in terms of vertical movement, either.
Exceptional Movement? Live fastball? Not exactly.
Note: I heard that classifications on PITCHf/x data (made available a few hours ago) are rough right now , and I might not have been to able clearly differentiate between two-seam and four-seam fastballs. I defined fastballs as pitches that hit 90 mph or higher, and found that Webster might actually have more vertical fastball movement than I came up with originally.
Twenty years ago today, Chris Bosio had the game of his life. Though it didn’t look like that would be the case when things began, he ended up having easily the greatest day of his career.
When April 22, 1993, began, Bosio was a pitcher trying to help improve the Mariners pitching staff. Seattle had one of the worst staffs in the major leagues the year before, and they wanted some arms alongside their young core of starting players: Ken Griffey Jr., Omar Vizquel, Jay Buhner, and Tino Martinez.
To that end, Seattle had offered a huge $15 million contract to Bosio. With the Milwaukee Brewers, Bosio had posted a series of solid seasons. Just the year before he went 16-6 on a Milwaukee team making a surprise run at the postseason. The Mariners hoped the same thing would happen with them.
The early returns were a tad disappointing. Though Bosio pitched well in his first outing, he’d been roughed up since then. Today would be his fourth start, and he still was searching for his first victory as a Mariner.
Opposing him today would be a middling Red Sox team. Their lineup had plenty of notable names in it, but they were mostly either well past their prime (Tony Pena, Andre Dawson) or still hadn’t yet made their mark (Mo Vaughn, John Valentin). The most dangerous hitter may have been Mike Greenwell, and though he was a decent player, if he’s the most fearsome man in a lineup, the team has problems.
Still, at first it looked like Boston wouldn’t need much of a lineup to whump Bosio. Leadoff man Ernie Riles drew a base on balls from Bosio. A few moments later, Bosio issued another free pass, this time to outfielder Carlos Quintana.
You can just hear the sparse Kingdome crowd of 13,604 begin muttering. Their hot-shot free agent was flopping again, and it looked like another long season for the sad-sack Seattle squad.
However, Bosio soon righted his ship. Greenwell swung at the first pitch and promptly grounded into a double play, then Bosio fanned future Hall of Famer Dawson on three pitches. Well, maybe Bosio could get the win today anyway.
Sure enough, Bosio was on a roll. In the second inning, the heart of Boston’s order went down meekly, without anyone hitting the ball past the first baseman. They went down 1-2-3 in the third, as well, and again no one could get the ball out of the infield.
Meanwhile, Seattle went up 2-0 in the second and added another pair of runs in the third on the fifth career home run by a kid named Bret Boone. Seattle looked like it was going to win this game handily. The only drama was how well Bosio would do.
Well, he kept getting the job done. Boston’s big achievement in the fourth was finally hitting the ball out of the infield, but it was a line out to center by Greenwell. After another 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, people couldn’t help by notice that, you know, this Bosio fellow hasn’t allowed a single hit all game long.
In the sixth and seventh innings, Bosio not only kept his no-hitter going, but he retired all six batters on a series of ground outs. A Vaughn fly out to lead off the eighth ended that particular streak, but between that, an Ivan Calderon grounder, and a strikeout of Scott Cooper, Bosio was just one inning from a no-hitter.
Up came the bottom of Boston’s order. A young Valentin grounded out to short on a 1-0 pitch to lead things off. A well-past-his-prime Pena then grounded one to third. Bosio was just one out away now.
Up came Riles, the man Bosio walked to begin the day. This day ended the only appropriate way it could, a ground out, the 16th grounder of the day. Normally, at least one of 16 ground balls will seep through the infield for a hit, but not on this day. The young infield of Martinez, Boone, Vizquel, and Mike Blowers gobbled them all up.
And like that, Bosio had his no-hitter. Even more amazingly, he retired every batter he faced after that opening pair of walks. After that horrible start, he’d been perfect. Though it took Bosio 12 pitches to get the first out, he ended the day with just 97 pitches thrown. It was a great day for Bosio, and it was 20 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other baseball events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago) today. Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.
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