December 10, 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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Thursday, May 23, 2013
I understand that the Marlins don't have a lot to fight for this season. The rest of the year will be dedicated to (1) developing core players like Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Fernandez and Justin Ruggiano and (2) trying to hold on to whatever fan base they have left. But given that righty reliever Jon Rauch is already owed $1 million for the rest of the season (which is actually about 2.5 percent of the Marlins' entire payroll for 2013), all Miami is doing by releasing him is allowing another team to get a quality reliever for next to nothing, as well as decreasing the quality of its own bullpen (which is currently 10th in the NL in ERA).
Before even looking at the quality of Rauch's performance this season, let's look to the quantity: He's had 16.2 innings, which is a really, really small sample size to decide to let a player go during a historically poor season. You would think he'd get a little more time to straighten the ship given that Miami isn't exactly in a rush to do anything, but apparently the front office has seen enough.
Now to the quality. Rauch has a 7.56 ERA, which is obviously awful. However, even a cursory look at his peripheral statistics will show you that he has simply gotten unlucky and is actually not pitching too poorly. Rauch is walking 3.78 batters per nine innings, which is significantly above his career and recent season average and is likely to drop. But he's also striking out 8.10 per nine, which is also above his career trend but not likely to drop by much. That gives him a 4.22 xFIP, and a low home run per fly ball ratio puts him at a perfectly respectable 3.45 FIP.
So why the high ERA? His BABIP is at an absurdly high .393 (for his career it's at .277), which is completely unsustainable and is probably compounded by Miam's below-average defense. He also has a left on base percentage of just 57.4, a number far below league average that will almost certainly regress. Rauch is having a career high season in his groundball rate, which is absolutely fantastic for a pitcher, but grounders also have higher BABIPs than fly balls, which also helps explain his lack of luck.
ZiPS thins he's good for a 3.91 ERA for the rest of the season, and Steamer is even more bullish with a 3.56 mark. Miami's mistake will be some other team's gain, and there's one team in particular who makes a lot of sense for Rauch. He'll find a major league spot somewhere.
Phillies 3, Marlins 0: Cliff Lee shuts out the Marlins on three hits. Granted, it doesn't take anyone as good as Lee to shut out the Marlins, but that's nothing that Lee could help. He was dominant. Just like Benedict Cumberbatch in that scene when he killed all those [alien race redacted to avoid spoilers] in the Star Trek movie, which I went to go see last night rather than watch baseball.
Braves 8, Twins 3: Evan Gattis broke it open with a grand slam but the Braves were on their way to tattooing the Twins as it was. Starter Vance Worley was demoted to Triple-A after this one. Know who else should be demoted? Whichever screenwriter or script supervisor didn't notice that within the space of about three minutes of the Star Trek movie that they (a) had someone get transported with the shields up; and then (b) had a plot point where no one could be transported because the shields are up. Look, the bar for tech continuity in Star Trek is really, really low after all of these years. But I would hope they could keep it internally consistent for more than five minutes. Too much to ask?
Rangers 3, Athletics 1: David Murphy and Adrian Beltre homered in the three-run first inning, giving Texas everything it needed early. Know what else all got taken care of early? The plot to the new Star Trek, which was essentially written in [year redacted to avoid spoilers] for the [earlier Star Trek movie to avoid spoilers]. That's OK, I suppose, because it was still solid, well done and it was territory worth revisiting again. But wow, it was a little on the nose, I think, and makes me feel like it was phoned in.
Dodgers 9, Brewers 2: Don Mattingly spent his time before the game saying things which seemed like they were calculated to get him fired. But Hyun-Jin Ryu had a nice game and the bats built up a seven-run lead early which allowed them to cruise safely. Apparently, based on what I saw in Star Trek last night, a ship can totally cruise safely if they're in warp, given how surprised Kirk was when the Enterprise was overtaken in a chase/fight scene. So apparently the decades of scenes filmed for the TV shows in which ships chased each other and were overtaken while in warp never occurred.
Reds 7, Mets 4: Matt Harvey proves mortal. Zack Cozart is apparently his kryptonite, as he got four hits off the Mets' ace. Speaking of kryptonite, I saw the last Superman trailer last night. Not gonna lie: kinda stoked. I mean, it's Superman, not Batman, so it's gonna have inherent limitations. But it does look pretty good. Of course, like Trek, it's going back to an old well -- General Zod is in this one, which I can reveal because it's in the trailers -- but also like Trek it's a pretty deep well, so I think I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Blue Jays 4, Rays 3: Two homers and four RBI for Jose Bautista. Who began the first inning showing bunt just to mess with us, apparently. I feel like J.J. Abrams is messing with the Star Trek franchise a bit too. The movies are good, don't get me wrong. Better and more entertaining than anything which came out of the franchise from Star Trek VI-on. But you just feel like he's throwing out scenes and touchstones for fans like red meat without truly taking the universe seriously. Which is mildly concerning given that he has just been handed the keys to the Star Wars franchise. He can't be worse than George Lucas -- who took all of our red meat away in the prequels and demanded that we eat this new weird tofu dish he created -- but I sort of hope Abrams feels more invested in the Star Wars universe than he does in the Trek universe and doesn't feel like it's just something to play with.
Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 1: The Rockies finish their latest home stand 5-2 and find themselves tied with Arizona and San Francisco for the NL West lead. Which is somewhat surprising as I figured they were playing way over their heads and would swoon come May. I guess there's still time for that swoon, but in the meantime they're having fun. OK, I think I've exhausted the Star Trek thoughts which don't discuss plot points which will spoil it for those who haven't seen it yet. Please: if you go all Trekkie in the comments, try to give spoiler warnings.
Angels 7, Mariners 1: Four in a row for the Angels as C.J. Wilson strikes out 10. The Angels' next 14 games come against the reeling Royals, the underachieving Dodgers, the awful Astros and the nearly as bad Cubs. This could be where the season turns around for them. Or the part of the season where they can be officially written off. But they have to make their move now.
Nationals 2, Giants 1: Bryce Harper hit a home run. No word if Rafael Soriano's four year-old could do it better.
Orioles 6, Yankees 3: Chris Davis went 4 for 4 with his 14th homer. Homers from Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis too. Baltimore takes two of three from the Yanks.
Pirates 1, Cubs 0: Francisco Liriano has liked his change of scenery. After this gem -- two hits and no runs over seven -- he's now 3-0 with a 1.00 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 18 innings. All of the scoring in this game came on an RBI single in the first. Somehow still took 2:45 to play.
Tigers 11, Indians 7: 62- and 48-minute rain delays in this one, but they got it in. Justin Verlander actually came back after the longer delay to get two more outs and qualify for the W. Miguel Cabrera hit a homer that bounced off Michael Bourn's glove and into the stands. So I guess that's an assist for him. We should totally keep track of offensive assists in baseball.
Red Sox 6, White Sox 2: Sox lose.
Astros 3, Royals 1: Jordan Lyles pitched six solid innings and J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer. James Shields pitched well but didn't get the run support. In other news, don't eat the snow cones at Minute Maid Park.
Cardinals 5, Padres 3: Tyler Lyons won his major league debut. Got a hit too. Guess he can do everything. Know who else can apparently do everything? Ensign Chekov, who was promoted from ops to acting Chief Engineer in the movie last night because the plot needed him to. How many ensigns are getting that promotion? There is probably some Lt. Commander down in engineering who has spent a decade busting his butt since leaving the academy, only to see him passed over for the Chief's job because some wet-behind-the-ears ensign happens to be the captain's friend. Every Trek movie is like this, though. Hundreds of crew members who apparently only exist to get tossed around when the ship is hit by enemy fire, or to die in spectacular set pieces with nary a thought given about them. Meanwhile, every law of Man, Nature and the United Federation of Planets is broken in order to save the life of one of the handful of superstar golden boys. Typical. Know what I'd like to see? A movie made in the vein of the "Lower Decks" episode of "Next Generation" in which we see what it's like to be canon fodder for Starfleet.
OK, sorry. Just kinda preoccupied this morning. Promise tomorrow's ATH will not be about Star Trek. I think.