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Thursday, July 30, 2009
From the strange mind of Richard Dansky:
Tony La Russa has the same sort of unholy fascination with Nick Stavinoha that your average Lovecraft protagonist does with the Necronomicon. No good can come of it, there’s a lot of consonants involved, and in the end, everyone’s reduced to a sort of mindless gibbering.
Cleveland Frowns does not like the Cliff Lee trade, but it's for bigger picture reasons, not necessarily because of the return realized by Mark Shapiro:
But it becomes harder and harder to care about how these trades pan out as it becomes easier and easier to be sure that any real star developed by the Tribe will be shipped out of town on or near a contract year . . . Competitive balance in baseball continues and will continue to get worse and worse . . . It's a classic case of the rich getting richer. There's simply no way to look at the data and conclude that payroll doesn't make a significant difference in teams' ability to compete.
The guys at Cleveland Frowns and I have gone around and around on competitive balance issues before. And though I'd argue that the Lee trade isn't a classic instance of "the rich getting richer" as Frowns puts it (there are lots of other things going on here), I'll grant that it's depressing to see so many stars go out the door.
But the fourth name on Frowns' "trail of tears" is worth thinking about: Bartolo. As in Colon. As in the big money pitcher who shipped out several years ago amidst the gnashing of teeth and the renting of garments. Shipped out in exchange for . . . Cliff Lee, among others.
If I had to guess, I'd say that there's no Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore or Brandon Phillips in the haul received from Philly, simply because that kind of talent doesn't grow on trees. Also because, unlike that Expos team, Omar Minaya isn't the Phillies' GM. But still, it's worth remembering that one can't judge a trade like this by only looking at the star that went out the door. One must also consider the talent returned. And, in the case of a prospects deal, the talent returned may take a year or two to consider.
As anyone who reads "And That Happened" on a regular basis knows, I'm a box score fetishist, and because of it, I've often thought of Henry Chadwick -- the man credited as inventing the box score -- as the feature's patron saint. Except it's not quite that clear that he did invent the box score.
As NPR's Mike Pesca explains in this wonderful feature on Chadwick (that link is to the audio, which should be up shortly here's a link to the text version), the box score, like most things in baseball, was less a product of invention than evolution, though Chadwick certainly formalized and popularized many of the box score's conventions. Great stuff, including the obligatory appearance of Bill James, that is definitely worth a listen and/or a read. This may be my favorite part, though:
Back then, according to Chadwick biographer Andrew Schiff, "the box score was the only way of showing the game, there really was no photography. So the writer really was the person at the center between the fans and the player at the game."
Let us laud Chadwick for his contributions to the box score, but let us lament the fact that he is inadvertently responsible for those writers and broadcasters who continue to place themselves at the center between the fans and the player at the game.
Yankees 6, Rays 2: Via Facebook, I leaned that Jason from IIATMS and I made the almost simultaneous observation about Joba last night: that he clearly watched Mark Buehrle pitch last week and decided that he was going to be a fast worker too. He was pretty clunky looking at such a pace, but you can't argue with the results: (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, and most importantly, only 101 pitches). And you'll be shocked to hear that Rick Sutcliffe was being stupid again. He spent, like, an hour talking about the glorious code of honor surrounding beanings and retaliation, and then said "but you kids at home, don't do that; only professionals do; you should never throw at anyone." Oy. Oh, and apparently in Sutcliffe's world, batters only go out and try hard once they see their pitcher is "gonna protect them" by throwing at the other team. Otherwise they just mail it in. Oh, and Joe Maddon is a "competitor." Sometimes I wish Sutcliffe would simply identify for me the guys who aren't "competitors." It would save some time.
Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2: Ryan Rowland-Smith was dealing. J.P. Ricciardi wasn't, which is why Halladay pitched. I know the popular sentiment right now is that they should trade him and that every day that passes, his value goes lower, but can anyone point me to an actual deal that everyone has confirmed was on the table for him? You wouldn't have given him up for what Lee brought, right, and by all accounts Philly was saying no to the better prospects. Isn't it possible that no one is truly offering sufficient value for Halladay? And does he not provide value in a Blue Jays uniform for a season and a half? I think people get deal-happy this time of the season.
Giants 1, Pirates 0: Cain (9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and Duke (7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER) were both on freakin' point, but no one could give them a run, and each ended up with a no-decision. Etiquette question: Freddy Sanchez was traded to San Francisco right after this game. Presumably, then, he could walk right over to the home clubhouse to drop off his personal stuff, right? There were probably still some Giants hanging around after the game. Does Sanchez high five them on the win? How long must his post-game moroseness last? Wait, bad example -- he's being set free from Pittsburgh, so the moroseness ended the moment the "d" came out in "you've been traded." But I'm still interested in the question on a hypothetical basis.
Angels 9, Indians 3: Who pays for the airfare when someone is traded, the team shipping the guy out, or the team bringing the guy in? I ask because the Phillies are in Phoenix, which is a short hop from Orange County. The other day the Indians sent Garko to the Giants, who were just a short flight up the coast. Part of me -- the absurd part -- wants to believe that these deals were in place for days, but that Cleveland waited until they were closer to their players' ultimate destinations. And that they asked Lee and Garko if they'd drive before reluctantly coughing up the airfare.
Cubs 12, Astros 0: Evidence that time travel is impossible: if it existed, some Astros fan from the future would have zapped into Wrigley Field and told the team just to forfeit the game after Derek Lee's sac fly in the first, so as to save everyone a lot of hassle on a miserable afternoon. Wait, that's not right; if Astros fans could travel in time there's way better things they could do, such as sterilize Ed Wade's parents and such.
Padres 7, Reds 1: Aaron Harang's outing -- coming as it does at time when the Reds are talking about trying to move him -- was the equivalent of your Camaro dropping a transmission in the driveway of the guy you to whom you were about to sell it.
Marlins 6, Braves 3: I can't recall a season, going all the way back to 1993, when the Braves didn't have a nice chunk of their season torn asunder during a trip to Miami. They could be on a 10-0 streak during which they've outscored the opposition 150-0, and they'd drop an ugly three-game series to the Marlins. Friggin' clockwork, as was Bobby Cox's ejection for arguing balls and strikes.
Athletics 8, Red Sox 3: Remember when the Sox were gonna deal Brad Penny? Yeah, not so much (5 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 4 BB). Boston is now 3.5 games out and are only one up on Texas for the wild card, at least in the loss column.
Twins 3, White Sox 2: Alexi Casilla was 2-3 with two big hits. Alexei Ramirez hurt his ankle and had to leave the game in the seventh. Alexi Laiho is a Finnish singer, composer and guitarist. Alexei Nikolaevich was the heir the Czar, and was murdered along with him at Ekaterinburg in 1918. Alexei Nemov is a gymnast who competed at the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, and who, according to this Geocities fan page, lists his hobbies as "cars, girls, going to the disco, and girls." I hope you were writing all of that down, because I don't want to have to go over it again.
Tigers 13, Rangers 5: Scott Feldman gave up six runs on ten hits in two and a third and basically kept the Rangers out of this one. Marty Feldman was a British comedian who made a career out of having Graves' disease. Corey Feldman . . .
Orioles 7, Royals 3: Zack Greinke has had better nights, but unfortunately, his bullpen was just as terrible as it usually is. Adam Jones and Nick Markakis each drove in three for the superior last place team in this wretched series. SABR people were probably at this game. Hello SABR people!
Brewers 7, Nationals 5: Casey McGehee hit a two-run pinch-hit home run in the sixth, allowing the Brewers to finally take one from the Nats.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw holds the Cards scoreless through eight, and it's a tight 1-0 game into the bottom of the ninth. Broxton retires Pujols and then Holliday -- you know, the hard parts -- but let's St. Louis tie it up on a Ryan Ludwick single, a wild pitch, and a Colby Rasmus single. How aggravating! Six innings later Albert Pujols isn't retired and he singles in Julio Lugo to end it. This one lasted nearly five hours.
Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 0: Yusmeiro Petit baffled the Phillies for some reason, allowing four hits in six innings, walking one and striking out eight. Maybe they were still shell-shocked over the Lee deal.
Mets vs. Rockies: Postponed: If there was a terrible storm outside, but somehow this dog lived through the storm, and he showed up at your door when the storm was finally over, I think a good name for him would be Carl.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
On Monday Daisuke Matsusaka spouted off. Yesterday, Terry Francona and John Farrell spouted back. Today, we may have achieved detente:
But it appears that, contrary to speculation, this relationship can be salvaged. During his weekly radio appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley Show," Francona said he spoke to the starting pitcher on Wednesday morning and he expects the hubbub to "blow over."
I wonder how many of these little three-day spats are truly resolved by the achievement of an understanding and how many are resolved by the GM or owner calling each side and telling them to find the nearest reporter and say it was a big misunderstanding.
MooseinOhio has a friend named Mike, who has followed the Indians for decades and decades. His friend reacted somewhat colorfully to the news of the Cliff Lee trade, and all involved were gracious enough to share that reaction with the rest of us:
Only Cleveland would trade the reigning Cy Young Pitcher who is currently performing as one the game's best for 2 minor leaguers on the DL and not even asking for the team's best prospect . . . What crap . . . If folks in Cleveland fall for this, then they deserve crappy teams . . . Charlie Manuel has discovered how to get what he wants from Shapiro, put on another team's uniform! Did somebody put a gun to Shapiro's head . . .
Because Lord Haw Haw always seems to rile you people up:
#sfgiants in serious talks for freddy sanchez. bowker, frandsen, guzman 3 of many names being discussed.
Sanchez would actually be a really good pickup for the Giants.
Sorry for the silence over here. Kind of a crazy day, as I pinch hit for the travelling Aaron Gleeman over at CTB. I had figured it would be two or three sleepy posts, but then Lee gets traded, the Pirates and Mariners trade a good chunk of their junk back and forth, and J.P. Ricciardi up and announces that "Craig Calcaterra was right all along (he's so smart!); we're not trading Halladay, because to do so and get value would mean trading him in the division, and doing that could mean the death of baseball in Toronto."
Well, he may have put it differently.
Anyway, for what it's worth, I'm back now and will try to put up some new stuff here shortly.
All of the cool kids are on their way to the SABR convention in D.C., so I'm doing a little extra duty over at the Blue Network this morning:
I didn't want to go to SABR anyway . . .[grumble grumble grumble].
Padres 3, Reds 2: If the recaps suffer a bit today it's because I was at a bar saying goodbye to a good friend last night (a friend longtime ShysterBall readers will remember, actually). Mark and I used to work at the same law firm together, and once I left at the end of last year he apparently couldn't go on anymore either, so he issued his resignation and is now moving down to Florida to, hell, I dunno, eat seafood and play shuffleboard and stuff. We had beers last night to celebrate. On the TV over the bar was Mark's first love -- the Redlegs, as he calls them. The sound was down, but that didn't matter, as Mark did his spot-on Jeff Brantley impersonation all night, going on about Ted DiBiase, UDF ice cream, the Civil War, and whatever else sounded funny in Brantley's drawl. Only time he broke character was to yell at Dusty Baker for leaving Arroyo in to start the seventh ("quit while you're ahead, man! He's gonna explode!"). As soon as he got done yelling Tony Gwynn hit that triple, and Mark yelled some more as Dusty made Arroyo issue an intentional walk and then leave the game. I'm going to miss that guy when he's gone, and I don't mean Arroyo.
Rays 6, Yankees 2: The rumor yesterday was that if the Rays dropped all three to the Yankees, Scott Kazmir could be shipped out. That's kind of a dumb rumor inasmuch as the Rays' management is a lot smarter than to make decisions based on the outcome of three piddling games. And besides, season stats notwithstanding, Kazmir is still good, as he showed last night, giving up a single run in seven innings. In contrast, CC Sabathia continued his "meh" season with another "meh" performance (5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R). More bad news: the Yankees learned that Chien-Ming Wang will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery. Girardi: "Hopefully this is will be the end of the surgeries for him and he'll have the rest of his career be real healthy." Yeah, because that's how it always works.
Nationals 8, Brewers 3: Memo to Milwaukee: a visit from the Nationals is supposed to be a cure-all, not a nightmare. The Brewers were bombed for the second straight night, this time from Nyjer Morgan, Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman. Dunn's was a moon-shot, bouncing over the Toyota Tundra and clear the hell out of Miller Park.
Twins 5, White Sox 3: Mark Buehrle followed up his perfecto with perfection through five innings, but then ran into a buzz saw, giving up five runs on five hits in six and a third. With the win, the Twins -- who never, ever seem to go away -- pull into a tie for second in the Central.
Mets 4, Rockies 0: Drama shmama, the Mets don't care what's happening in the front office or in the tabloids, they've won four in a row. Mike Pelfrey, who was given up for dead a week ago, pitched shutout baseball into the seventh and the hitters singled and sacrificed their way past Jason Marquis, denying him his 13th win of the year.
Marlins 4, Braves 3: The Braves' two-headed closer system has worked pretty well all year, but you're going to have nights when your guy -- in this case Rafael Soriano -- is going to have wonky control and not get the calls. When that happens, guys wait to tee off on the get-me-over pitches, and that's what Ross Gload did to end the game.
Rangers 7, Tigers 3: A two-run triple and a sacrifice from Ian Kinsler chased Luke French (really? "Luke French?" I think that name was on my fake I.D. senior year of high school) and led the Rangers to their eighth win in nine games. Kinsler had to leave with a hamstring problem after six innings, but by then the damage was done. Both to the Tigers and his hamstring.
Royals 4, Orioles 3: It's funny to think that, for about a decade there, this was a the natural preseason prediction for the ALCS matchup. This one ended in the 11th when the Royals manufactured a run on a dribbler single, a stolen base and an RBI single. The dribbler came from Mark Teahen, who topped the ball down the first-base line, which Matt Wieters watched and hoped would roll foul. I can only assume that Lex Luthor had the bottled city of Kandor held hostage at the time, and Wieters was thus coerced into not using his telekinetic powers to will the ball foul or something.
Man, weren't those Wieters jokes a lot funnier back in April?
Athletics 9, Red Sox 8: Things that don't happen every day: (1) Jonathan Papelbon blows a save, let alone one of the three-run lead variety; (2) The A's score nine runs; (3) The A's get 21 hits; (4) The A's win. Twenty-one hits! From the A's! In other news, walking trade chit Clay Buchholz was again largely inefficient, throwing 107 pitches in less than six innings. One wonders if the Sox couldn't have left him in the minors where he still looked alluring to would-be trade partners rather than expose him so blatantly in the Majors. Not that it's important, but I recall thinking the same thing when the Madonna Penthouse issue came out back in 1985.
Astros 11, Cubs 6: The 'Stros lost Roy Oswalt to a back injury, but beat up Ryan Dempster and the back end of the Cubbies' bullpen to win it. In the fifth inning, Fukudome hit a ball to Astros' pitcher Jeff Fulchino. The ball bounced inside Fulchino's jersey and he wasn't able to find it in time, allowing Fukudome to reach. Then the gang put on a show, with Mike Fontenot performing an off-key rendition of "The Barber of Seville" while Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fed red hots to a mule, which rampaged through Miss Crabtree's classroom. Or maybe I daydreamed that.
Angels 7, Indians 6: What? The Angels came from behind to win another game? That's unpossible! Of course they almost didn't hold on in this one because their closer, Brian Fuentes, can't seem to get anyone out these days (0 IP, 2H, 2 R, 2 BB). Before Monday, he hadn't given up a run since the end of May. Now it two days he's given up six runs and hasn't retired a batter.
Cardinals 10, Dodgers 0: They scored ten, but only needed one, because Adam Wainwright was on (8 IP, 8 H, 0 ER). Three losses in a row for L.A.. The game was delayed an hour and a half at the outset due to a threat of rain which never materialized. I can't recall that happening any time recently. Unless it's raining you go out and play, don't you? It's a rain delay, not a threat of rain delay, right?
Mariners 4, Blue Jays 3: Ichiro with the game-winning hit in the ninth. Talk in the game story of him intentionally flailing at a curve ball right before his hit so as to trick Scott Downs into throwing him another curveball. Um, OK, but if he had that all planned it meant he knew what was coming before the first curveball, and why didn't he just hit that one? Guess that's not as good a story. In other news, if Jarrod Washburn is getting traded, he's leaving Seattle on a high note (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Finally, the game story says it's supposed to be 100 degrees in Seattle today and they have a day game. That's interesting in a schadenfreude-tastic kind of way (Midwest summers make one jealous of those in the Pacific northwest), but why does that matter for the game? They still got a roof on that ballpark, don't they?
Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Cole Hamels was dominant, giving up an early home run and then nothin' else for the rest of the game (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K). "Hamels is getting there," Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's real close." Close? Jesus, I'd hate to see him once he actually arrives.
Giants 3, Pirates 2: Barry Zito is like a box of chocolates. A lucky box of chocolates at any rate, giving up only one run despite allowing nine hits in less than six innings. The Ryan Garko Era officially begins in San Francisco with an 0-4. Oh, and the Big Unit has learned that he has a torn rotator cuff. He's on the 60 day DL retroactive to July 5th, and there's a distinct possibility that he won't be back at all this year. Which, one doesn't have to be a genius to surmise, could mean that we've seen the last of perhaps the greatest lefthander in the history of baseball.