May 25, 2013
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Following are the one hundred most recent articles for the category Amateur .
05/25/2013: Closer watchby Karl de Vries
05/25/2013: Joey Votto’s bid for historyby Chris Jaffe
05/24/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/24/2013: Rick Anderson and pitching to contactby Scott Strandberg
05/24/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
05/23/2013: It is inexcusable to release Jon Rauchby Pat Andriola
05/23/2013: The daily grind: 5-23-13by Brad Johnson
05/23/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/23/2013: Strength of schedule: Adjusting pitcher valuesby Moe Koltun
05/23/2013: Visualization: Handedness through historyby Dan Lependorf
05/23/2013: The Roto Grotto: targeted z-scoresby Scott Spratt
05/22/2013: The daily grind: 5-22-13by Brad Johnson
05/22/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/22/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
05/22/2013: The hardest thingby Derek Ambrosino
05/22/2013: 20th anniversary: Blue Jays mascot ejectedby Chris Jaffe
05/22/2013: Currently historic: A plethora of new stuffby Jason Linden
05/22/2013: BOB: Owners’ meeting updateby Brian Borawski
05/21/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/21/2013: The daily grind: 5-21-13by Brad Johnson
05/21/2013: 50th anniversary: Jim Maloney: a star is bornby Chris Jaffe
05/21/2013: Diamonds in the rough: starting pitchersby Noah Woodward
05/21/2013: Profar could be on a Cingrani-esque scheduleby Jeff Moore
05/21/2013: Is 5/125 the new 5/55?by Greg Simons
05/21/2013: The Verdict: keep your trade secrets to yourselfby Michael Stein
05/21/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
05/20/2013: The daily grind: 5-20-13by Brad Johnson
05/20/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/20/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
05/20/2013: AL Central: state of the divisionby Chris Jaffe
05/20/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 8, Vol. 1by Karl de Vries
05/20/2013: Louisville slugging in 2013by Frank Jackson
05/20/2013: 5,000 days since Eric Milton’s no-hitterby Chris Jaffe
05/17/2013: The daily grind: 5-17-13by Brad Johnson
05/17/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/17/2013: Gems without whiffsby James Gentile
05/17/2013: 40th anniversary: Bobby Valentine breaks his legby Chris Jaffe
05/17/2013: Strength of schedule: Adjusting hitter valuesby Moe Koltun
05/17/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. IIIby Jack Weiland
05/17/2013: Card Corner: 1973 Topps: Mike Andrewsby Bruce Markusen
05/16/2013: The daily grind: 5-16-13by Brad Johnson
05/16/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/16/2013: How Scott Kazmir got his groove backby Kyle Boddy
05/16/2013: Three more for eternityby Don Malcolm
05/16/2013: Not exactly definitiveby Don Malcolm
05/16/2013: The all-decade team: the ‘40sby Richard Barbieri
05/16/2013: Of Uggs and Ugglaby Derek Ambrosino
05/15/2013: The daily grind: 5-15-13by Brad Johnson
05/15/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/15/2013: Running hot and coldby Shane Tourtellotte
05/15/2013: The Phillies should retool but not rebootby Brad Johnson
05/15/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. IIby Karl de Vries
05/15/2013: Currently historic: 300 strikeouts?by Jason Linden
05/15/2013: Mike Moustakas’ holeby Noah Woodward
05/15/2013: BOB: How bad is the Marlins’ attendance?by Brian Borawski
05/14/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/14/2013: The daily grind: 5-14-13by Brad Johnson
05/14/2013: How much do hot/cold starts matter?by Greg Simons
05/14/2013: 25th anniversary: The Jose Oquendo Gameby Chris Jaffe
05/14/2013: Jonathan Schoop and the value of role playersby Jeff Moore
05/14/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
05/13/2013: The daily grind: 5-13-13by Brad Johnson
05/13/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/13/2013: 30th anniversary: Reggie’s 2,000th Kby Chris Jaffe
05/13/2013: NL Central division update: May editionby Jason Linden
05/13/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 7, Vol. Iby Jack Weiland
05/13/2013: Last remaining teammatesby Chris Jaffe
05/13/2013: The Hot Seatby Scott Strandberg
05/12/2013: The curious case of Vernon Wellsby Matt Filippi
05/12/2013: 60th anniversary: Whitey Ford’s near no-hitterby Chris Jaffe
05/10/2013: The daily grind: 5-10-13by Brad Johnson
05/10/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/10/2013: Cooperstown Confidential: What really happened with Fritz Ostermueller and Jackie Robinsonby Bruce Markusen
05/10/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 6, Vol. IIIby Karl de Vries
05/10/2013: Still life, after allby Azure Texan
05/09/2013: Oh Dustyby Pat Andriola
05/09/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/09/2013: 40th anniversary: back-to-back first homersby Chris Jaffe
05/09/2013: The Roto Grotto: rates versus opportunitiesby Scott Spratt
05/09/2013: Swing rates: the John Farrell effectby Moe Koltun
05/09/2013: Winning, TWTW, and the purpose of baseballby Matt Hunter
05/08/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/08/2013: The daily grind: 5-8-13by Brad Johnson
05/08/2013: Fantasy Waiver Wire: Week 6, Vol. IIby Jack Weiland
05/08/2013: What nobody is talking aboutby Greg Simons
05/08/2013: Currently historic: A truly rare achievementby Jason Linden
05/08/2013: Craig Anderson’s greatest dayby Frank Jackson
05/08/2013: BOB: Stadium updatesby Brian Borawski
05/07/2013: And That Happenedby Craig Calcaterra
05/07/2013: The daily grind: 5-7-13by Brad Johnson
05/07/2013: Fun with minor league leader boardsby Jeff Moore
05/07/2013: 90th anniversary: Casey Stengel goes bonkersby Chris Jaffe
05/07/2013: THT Awardsby John Barten
05/07/2013: A.J. Ellis: hardly swinging, hardly missingby Noah Woodward
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June 04, 2012
Nats picked a great time to stinkThe Washington Nationals are leading the National League East by percentage points going into Monday's games. Major League Baseball's First-Year Player Draft begins Monday. These two events are not unrelated.
Two reasons the Nats are (finally) finding success are the contributions of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, two of the most hyped draftees in history. And Washington had the distinct pleasure of selecting these players with back-to-back No. 1 overall picks in the 2009 and 2010 drafts.
After dealing with Tommy John surgery that cost him more than a year's worth of starts, Strasburg has returned to the form he displayed when he first burst onto the major league scene. He is punching out 10.9 batters per nine innings with a 4.65:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, leading to a 165 ERA+. Traditionalists eat up his 6-1 record and 2.35 ERA.
Harper is tearing it up right of out gate, posting a .288/.380/.542 triple-slash line, good for a 148 OPS+. He's also walking nearly as often as he strikes out and making highlight-reel defensive plays with regularity.
Basically, these guys are living up to the hype, which is saying quite a bit given the lofty expectations placed upon them. The funny thing is, the Nationals wouldn't have either of these terrific players if they weren't so terrible a few short years ago. By posting awful 59-103 and 69-93 records in 2008 and 2009, Washington "earned" the first pick in both of the following year's drafts.
Yes, this is exactly how the draft is supposed to work. The worst teams from the previous season get the first shot at the top talent in the draft with the hopes of developing that talent into a cheap, young nucleus around which pricey free-agent pickups and savvy scrapheap acquisitions can be added. Ideally, these players all gel a few seasons down the road and the former doormat becomes a potential juggernaut. The Tampa Bay Rays are another example of how this is supposed to work.
But Washington had the additional benefit not only of back-to-back top picks, but also of having these two preternatural talents available and ownership's support to pay what it took to sign them, spending roughly $25 million on two kids with no professional experience. And while the Rays can pin some of their success on multiple No. 1 overall picks, only David Price has contributed directly to Tampa Bay's winning ways. The Rays also took Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young and Tim Beckham at the top of the draft, but none of those players did much to push the Rays to the top of the AL East.
Having the first pick is great—it's yielded such talents as Justin Upton, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones and Ken Griffey Jr. over the last couple of decades—but using that pick on the right player is crucial. After all, Matt Bush, Bryan Bullington and Brien Taylor have gone No. 1, and nobody remembers any key on-field contributions they've made.
Draft well, develop your minor league talent, and spend wisely to supplement that talent. It seems so straightforward, but we all know it's not. Just ask the Pirates.
But when it works out—and the baseball gods bless you with two consecutive über-talents—things can come together very quickly. Just ask the Nationals.
Posted by: Greg Simons
April 29, 2012
Holland and an imperfect gameI got my first chance to watch my nine-year-old nephew Holland play baseball on Friday. His game was, unsurprisingly, a very different experience from watching the big leaguers. I won't give all the gory details, but a short example from the third inning will show what made an impression on me.
Holland reached base on a 5-4 force-out. On the next pitch, the opposing catcher let strike one roll a couple feet away, and Holland swiped second. The next pitch, ball one, went in the dirt too, and Holland took third. Then, after a walk, the pitcher turned his back for a moment, and not only did Holland steal home, but in the confusion the runner on first got all the way to third.
From my rough scoring of the game (yes, I was scoring it), four and a half innings produced 18 instances of what in professional baseball would be judged wild pitches or passed balls. Nothing more need be said to illustrate the chasm between these kids and "real" ballplayers, right? The professional game, the true game, is on a plane of effective perfection, right?
Jump-cut to the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium that night. Game knotted at six, with Derek Jeter on first and Brayan Villarreal pitching to Curtis Granderson. The payoff pitch goes wild, and Jeter makes it all the way to third. Three pitches later, a slider goes off the end of catcher Alex Avila's glove, and Jeter beats the throw back to the plate to score the winning run.
This was a highly dramatic example, but not an isolated one. On that busy Friday night in major league baseball, there were four passed balls and 12 wild pitches (including two "dropped" third strikes) that led to 20 runners gaining extra bases. Ten of the 15 games on the schedule had at least one wild pitch or passed ball—and all five that didn't had at least one hit-by-pitch.
Maybe most interesting, one of those wild pitches led to that bizarre rarity: a four-strikeout inning. In the top of the eighth at Camden Yards, Oakland's Ryan Cook got the first two Orioles hacking, but strike nine to Adam Jones was a wild one that let Jones reach. Cook regrouped and threw strike 12 past Matt Wieters' bat to end the inning.
It was, according to MLB.com, the 59th four-K inning in history. (And the second one in four days. Who knew?)
So on a pretty ordinary day in baseball, arguably the two most interesting and memorable moments are defined by their imperfection, by someone goofing up. Kinda brings those multi-millionaire celebrities down to the level of nine-year-old boys playing for fun, right?
Well, no. Let's not get carried away. The pros are light-years in quality beyond those kids. But they aren't machines; they aren't infallible.
And thank God for that.
A flawless game is a sterile game. Tic-tac-toe holds no interest for anyone but kids, because adults can figure out the perfect strategy pretty easily and make a perpetual tie of it. Several years ago, computers solved the game of checkers, figuring out its optimum strategies, and the world of human tournament checkers has been reeling ever since. Once there's an equation for a game, the game is over. It's a solved puzzle, thrown out like a completed crossword in yesterday's paper.
It is the possibility, indeed the inevitability, of imperfection that makes the game what it is. The pitcher missing the outside corner; the batter getting under a fastball; the infielder's dive deflecting the hot-shot grounder. You can be perfect for a moment, or for a few at-bats. You might, like Philip Humber, be perfect for a whole game—but then there's the next game.
This should give us a bit of perspective. The players are going to keep striving for perfection, and we're going to keep rooting for our teams to exhibit it, and that's exactly as it should be. But the pursuit of that flawlessness is only interesting because it's so hard to achieve, even briefly, even for the best in the game. In baseball as in so many other endeavors, nobody's perfect.
Except for Holland's team, that is. They're 4-0 on the season so far—but there's still a lot of baseball left to be played.
Posted by: Shane Tourtellotte
January 23, 2012
Carmona points out an MLB inequityGoodbye Fausto! Hello Roberto!
As reported last week, 28-year-old Fausto Carmona is Roberto Hernandez Heredia and perhaps 31 years old.
There are implications here for Carmona-Heredia, for the Indians and, most importantly, for professional baseball and the uneven way it deals with international players.
Since being released on bail, The Sinkerballer Formally Known as Fausto has been apologetic but tight-lipped. He reportedly paid for a false identity that may have incorrectly represented his age. He may have been making periodic payments to maintain the false identity. He eventually balked at paying and somebody talked, leading to his arrest.
He is not the first Latin-American player to take this route. (Last year's most publicized example was Leo Nunez.)
So Heredia lied. But did he do anything wrong to the game of baseball? Does lying about your age and name affect anything about playing the game?
It does not.
While the lies are certainly deplorable, they do not affect the player's ability on the field. People will say that, because his age is uncertain, it could be advantageous for him to have people think he is younger. It could lead to larger bonuses and salaries. He’ll appear more successful since his ability will be compared to that of players younger than him.
But these are issue of deceit based on the current economic model and do not affect the play on the field.
If the same player was actually three years YOUNGER, would we be willing to rectify the situation financially? What happened, as before, is a player found a way to take advantage of the economic system in baseball. For him to be successful, he still had to demonstrate ability and skill.
In doing so, he allegedly broke laws in at least two countries* but he never de-skilled the game. While the misreported younger age would have been helpful during his development, the lying did not give him specific extra ability, or his ability to ignore Lake Erie Midges that Joba Chamberlain could not. Carmona’s lies do not hurt the on-field play of baseball.
* I have no idea if Canada would say anything about a player such as Carmona entering the country with false paperwork. I’m not even sure Canada would prosecute, but I am fairly certain that it is against Canadian law.
When looking at a situation like Carmona’s, I look directly at those running Major League Baseball and the teams. Lying about one’s identity is so advantageous for a specific set of players that it outweighs the risk of punishment. Instead of demonizing players like Carmona and Nunez, it is time to look at the system.
In Japan, younger players are able to develop in a system that gives them the ability to play in their homeland with the possibility of moving to the major leagues in America. In Latin America, players feel the need to break the law to be part of the system. So in one week, Yu Darvish, who has never pitched in even the minor leagues in America, got a $60 million contract after a team paid $51.7 million for the right to give him that contract. During that same week, we learned that, once again a player lied about his identity in an effort to get a portion of that amount of money.
In the end, both players will succeed or fail based on what they do on the field. How they got the opportunity doesn’t affect their ability on the field.
Major League Baseball needs to address the differences. If baseball officials are going to continue to encourage teams to deal individually with international players, they need to address the extreme differences in the system. It is not an easy task. How can baseball expect players not to take the route of Carmona and Nunez when the Darvish situation points out the inequity?
As for the Indians:
While Carmona has not lived up to the promise he flashed in 2007, he has shown, when healthy, to be able to provide a decent set of 30-plus starts and 200-plus innings each year.
In conjunction with this news, it appears the Indians finally pulled the trigger on obtaining Kevin Slowey. The Indians have been interested in him anyway, so this was not in direct relation to Carmona’s issues, but the trade was probably hastened. Carmona will likely end up on the restricted list, leaving the Indians with a hole in the rotation but with an extra $7 million. The Indians gave up Zach Putman, a young pitcher who may have competed for a bullpen position this year.
The Indians have other options for the rotation. David Huff and Jeanmar Gomez will be among those who compete with Slowey for spots behind Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Tomlin and Derek Lowe. In the end, the Indians' depth should be able to cover for Carmona's absence with limited hardship.
Posted by: Mat Kovach
April 08, 2011
Bear territory will still be baseball territoryToday, the University of California, Berkeley announced the reinstatement of its baseball program. According to press reports, $9 million was has been raised and the $10 million target will most likely be reached with ongoing fundraising. Thanks to Stu Gordon (former Cal pitcher, and the leader of a Cal Athletic fundraising program, Bear Backers) for heading up the fundraising efforts.
As background, faced with budget cuts last September, the university was planning to cut four sports programs—baseball, men’s gymnastics, women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse, with rugby being pushed into an intramural category. So far, only men’s gymnastics has failed to raise enough money to be reinstated.
I wasn’t expecting this to happen. With the constant talk about cuts in the UC system, it seemed like these sports were more of an afterthought for students. At a college where football is the main talk of the campus, it’s refreshing to see community members find resources to continue fielding these teams.
And as mentioned by Rory Paap, the Bears’ baseball tradition since 1892 and its development of many major leaguers are now preserved for the time being.
The team comes back to Evans Diamond on April 19, facing the UC Davis Aggies. And yes, the rivalry with the Cardinal will continue.
Posted by: Kevin Lai
February 23, 2011
Golden Bear baseball nears extinctionHere’s a list of people you may have heard of:
Les Claypool – the God of Bass – is from the band Primus, Julia Morgan was the architect of the Hearst Castle, Aaron Rodgers is a Superbowl MVP quarterback, Scott Adams is the creator of Dilbert, Gregory Peck won the Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Jeff Cohen played Chunk in the awesome and unforgettable film The Goonies and Tom Anderson is the co-founder and president of MySpace – though whether or not such an internet destination still exists is unknown to me.
What do they have in common? I’ll tell you, but not just yet. First, know they also have something in common with a handful of others…
Men like Jeff Kent who, according to FanGraphs, produced 61.9 over his career. He won the National League MVP in 2000 and has more home runs than any second baseman ever (377). For these reasons and others, I recently advocated his worthiness of Cooperstown while also admitting he may not be a slam dunk.
There’s also Xavier Nady. He netted the Padres Mike Cameron in a 2005 trade. The Mets received Roberto Hernandez and Oliver Perez (back when he was promising) for him back in 2006. He netted Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Daniel McCutchen and Jeff Karstens for Pittsburgh from the Yankees in 2008. So he may not be Lance Berkman, but he’s fetched a decent prospect or two in his day as a major leaguer. That’s worth something.
Conor Jackson nearly hit for the cycle in 2008, would have in his final at bat with a double off Greg Maddux. Instead, he motored to third for his second triple of the day. You don’t see that too often. He then got Valley Fever in 2009 which wiped out his season. He’s now playing for the A’s, until Billy Beane decides he is not—hey, it seems to happen pretty often.
Darren Lewis won a Gold Glove as a San Francisco Giant in 1994. That same season, his major league record was finally set at 392 straight games without an error when he let a Cliff Floyd hit slip under his glove after 938 consecutive chances of avoiding such a blunder. Heck, Dusty Baker even named his son—the same that owes his life to J.T. Snow—after him.
Brandon Morrow, Geoff Blum, Mike Epstein, Brian Horwitz, Jackie Jensen, Kevin Maas, Tyler Walker and Baseball America Top-100 player Brett Jackson are all professional ballplayers in their own right and of varying success. Given that, I suppose Jensen’s 1958 AL MVP is worthy of note and perhaps more so than Horwitz’s two career home runs over 42 plate appearances, one of which came versus Ollie Perez (who I mentioned earlier). But there it is.
What they all have in common, though, is that these fine people, ballplayers and otherwise, went to University of California, Berkeley, aka Cal. Let’s be honest for a second. The city is known for its hippies and runaway liberalism. In addition to that, it’s a great American city for no less than its many stark contrasts to America's heartland. Though not to the degree of the protests, one is such thing it's known for is its athletics programs, baseball among them.
Cal stands to have many more musicians, architects, actors, cartoonists, football players, brilliant minds and future millionaires spawn from their halls. It’ll also likely they’ll thrust upon us scientists, advocates & activists, writers, mayors, judges, astronauts, astronomers, mathematicians and Olympic athletes. As for the baseball players…
The University of California announced today it will not reinstate its baseball program despite vigorous fundraising efforts to save it from the chopping block…
Sadly, it’s currently unknown whether or not they’ll ever again send our way (read: MLBs way) another Jeff Kent or even a Brian Horwitz or two. Who knows, maybe one or several of the alums will save the day with a nice donation. It just really smarts someone like Barry Zito was a Trojan instead of Golden Bear. He’d fit right in, I suspect, and it seems his current salary might allow such a handout.
Posted by: Paapfly
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