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Thursday, April 30, 2009
And That HappenedYovani Gallardo 1, Pirates 0: Yeah, you get top billing when you shut the other team out for eight innings, strikeout 11 and hit a homer for the game's only run.
Marlins 4, Mets 3: Despite the fact that Johan Santana has been repeatedly boned by his bullpen over the past couple of years, he still manages to keep his composure. Total pro. But no one can keep it locked in forever, and one day, 15 or 20 years from now, some writer is going to make an argument that Santana is not Hall of Fame worthy because his win totals weren't good enough, and that's when Johan will start killing folks.
Rockies 7, Padres 5: Todd Helton on Aaron Cook's solid start: "That's what you shoot for going into a series. That was a pretty big game for us today and Cookie set the tone," Helton said. "Cookie?" Really? You're going with "Cookie?" You've been his teammate for eight friggin' seasons, and adding an "ie" sound to his surname is the best you can do? You spend eight months a year living in close quarters with a guy -- playing, traveling, eating, showering, laughing, and crying with him, and you can't come up with a nickname better than -- Lord, give me strength -- "Cookie?!" If Aaron Cook played in the 1930s, he'd have seventeen better nicknames than "Cookie" within five minutes of getting off the train at spring training, and those guys all had important things like families and dust bowls and offseason jobs and Hitler and everything to worry about. Todd Helton has been the defacto leader of the Colorado Rockies for 13 years and has $100 million in the damn bank. After hitting the ball and playing first base, his number one priority should be to give guys decent nicknames, and he comes up with "Cookie." Some days I don't even know why I bother with this sport anymore.
Angels 3, Orioles 2: Koji Uehara got beat, but he's tough. Gary Matthews hit a line drive off his chest in the seventh. Uehara had to leave the game, but he had this to say afterwards: "No pain. I'm more upset about giving up that home run. I couldn't breathe for a moment, but after that I was fine." Just imagine what could have happened to him if a real hitter was at the plate when it happened. NOTE: I wrote this the night before learning of this awful story, and in light of it, I appreciate that this joke is now in pretty bad taste. I'm not going to delete it or anything because it's been up for like nine hours now, and nothing online that long ever truly disappears, so why bother. I did want to acknowledge it, however, and make clear that I do appreciate that it's dangerous out there, and maybe not the best source of jokes in the world.
Diamondbacks 10, Cubs 0: Doug Davis gave up two hits over seven innings. Despite the game already being out of hand, Lou Piniella throws the Cubs' three putative top relievers out there in Marmol, Samardzija and Gregg. Teams these days have 12-man pitching staffs. What, the Cubs can't find room for a mop-up man?
White Sox 6, Mariners 3: Ichiro takes his first walk of the season. It was intentional, but still. In other news, when can we stop pretending that he's a big star?
Yankees 8, Tigers 6: Joba Chamberlain gives up one run over seven innings. Why, oh why does Joe Girardi and the Yankees brain trust continue to misuse him this way?! Given that the bullpen coughed up five runs in the ninth, Chamberlain should immediately be moved to the pen and Jonathan Albaladejo should go to the rotation!
Red Sox 6, Indians 5: Speaking of bullpens, the Indians' sucks, as they help give away a game the Indians once led 5-0. Jonathan Van Every was the star for Boston, hitting the winning homer in the 10th and driving in another run. He also has a last name that sounds like a character from a 22 year-old's first novel. You know, the one with the story set in Ennuisville, in the state of North Commonland, and in which the protagonist, Mr. Van Every, faces conflicts from his estranged father, Distant McCold and his boss, Ignoramus O. Pression. Amazingly, the Van Every character is a writer himself. What are the effin' odds?
Cardinals 5, Braves 3: The Cardinals scored four runs in the fifth inning on six singles, five of which went up the middle. As Mac noted, that's just bad freakin' luck, and there's not a lot more you can say about it.
Twins 8, Rays 3: It was over when: Scott Kazmir's wild pitch allowed the fourth run of the first inning to score. Game ball goes to: Nick Blackburn, who gave up two runs on eight hits in seven innings. Stat of the game: 34; the number of pitches Kazmir had to throw in the first inning. In other news, I kind of miss college football season.
Nationals 4, Phillies 1: I'm not going to say that the Nats are desperate for bullpen help, but Julian Tavarez got the save. And it's not like he got lucky by, say, warming up for mopup duty while his team rallied. Nope, it was by design and everything.
Reds 3, Astros 0: Edinson Volquez and Francisco Cordero one-hit Houston. Cecil Cooper had this to say about Volquez: "I didn't think he was all that sharp. It looked like he had some life to his fastball. It looked like we had some pitches to hit, but we just didn't swing it very well. You have to give him some credit, but I didn't think he was like a one-hit performance tonight." I can't decide if that's idiotic, inspired, an act of disrespect or an act of stealth motivation. I don't feel bad, however, because I doubt Cooper knows either.
Royals 11, Blue Jays 3: SI JINX!! SI JINX!! OMFG! Greinke gave up teh first earned runs of the season and I'm all like WTF, SI JINX!! Oh wait, he was staked to ten runs in the first five innings and cruised? Well, then, I stand corrected.
Giants 9, Dodgers 4: Each year it feels like the Molinas come closer to their obvious goal of world domination. And it's so subtle too. I mean, they're not really in your face about it or anything, but their persistence is impressive. First they start showing up on every team. Then they start playing really well. Next thing you know the Molina spores will start shooting out of their chests, we'll all be infected, and that will be that. For now, though, the Molina West had a homer, a two-run triple and an RBI single pacing the Giants' 15 hit-attack.
Athletics vs. Rangers, postponed: Did you never call? I waited for your call. These rivers of suggestion are driving me away. The trees will bend, the cities wash away. The city on the river there is a girl without a dream.
Posted by Craig Calcaterra at 5:33am
For a team that supposedly doesn’t have any offense, the Red Sox seem to have a knack for coming back from large deficits. They’ve come back from being down 6-0 to the Orioles; down 7-0 to the Yankees; and down 5-0 to the Indians—and they’ve won each time!
As for Lester, he’s having an interesting season. Through five starts, he seems like he’s getting somewhat unlucky. Per Fangraphs, take a look at his stats through 5 starts:
2008 K/9 - 6.50
2008 K/BB - 2.30
2008 BABIP - .299
2008 LD% - 20.7%
2008 GB% - 47.5%
2008 FB% - 31.8%
2008 HR/FB - 7.0%
The K/9, K/BB, and LD% stats all indicate that he is outperforming last year’s great season. His GB% and FB% have fluctuated somewhat in the wrong directions, but they don’t indicate any intense struggles.
The issue seems to lie in his incredibly high BABIP and his HR/FB rates. His BABIP suggests that he’s been incredibly unlucky. His HR/FB rate has not only more than doubled by comparison to last year, but is completely out of line with his entire career. When you couple this with his slight increase in fly ball outs this year, it seems that he might be getting unlucky there as well. While I don’t have the HR data (in terms of how deep these home runs have been hit), it seems logical to reason that a couple of those balls may’ve been hit out by the slimmest of margins. I predict that he’ll turn it around at some point, but from the perspective of a Red Sox fan, it’s very frustrating to watch.
BTW, if anyone has that HR data, I’d be curious to see it. I’m bored to tears today, as evidenced by my geeky display above. If anyone disagrees, I’d love to hear that as well.
Posted 04/30 at 08:45 AM
I put the link for Lester’s home runs against in the URL comment field. Let’s see where that shows up.
Gallardo is, simply put, the man.
Posted 04/30 at 09:04 AM
I can’t get the link in there without being accused of spamming.
Go to hittrackeronline.com and click on Lester’s name in the “Pitcher” column to get a listing and plot of his home runs against.
Posted 04/30 at 09:05 AM
Well, Cook had been tossing batters “cookies” until this point. Maybe it’s not such a bad nickname.
And for Vazquez, he pitched really well last night and didn’t deserve those five runs. It was frustrating to watch all those bloop hits fall in. But I’d rather see a guy throw strikes and get hit than see someone walk the other team a lot. They’ll lose a lot less often.
Posted 04/30 at 09:09 AM
Matt S said...
You can definately find the HR data at http://www.hittrackeronline.com/
I would interested in what you find there. I think Lester has been inconsistent with his fastball location, leaving more pitches over the plate in his worst games, while hitting his spots well in his best games. That is the only thing other than bad luck that I have seen to explain his season so far. I think it will even out for him and he looks to be emerging into a complete ace for the forseeable future.
Posted 04/30 at 09:13 AM
Matt S. said...
Just found that Lester info (I really should be working, but hey-) According to Hit Tracker Lester has given up 2 HR classified as ‘plenty’ by their system, not bombs, but sure HRs. The other 3 are all ‘Just Enough’ shots with one being borderline Just enough and ‘Lucky.’ He is definately not throwing complete gopher balls to get to that 16.7 HR/FB rate.
Posted 04/30 at 09:32 AM
Kudos to the nickname protest and if I read one more novel where the protagonist is :gasp: a novelist, I am going to switch to NASCAR magazines. (Do they have NASCAR magazines?)
Posted 04/30 at 10:06 AM
For some reason, today’s snark reminded me of just how much I love ATH, day in and day out. Thanks, Craig =)
Posted 04/30 at 10:09 AM
NASCAR fans don’t read, Kelly.
Posted 04/30 at 10:09 AM
I imagine the day is going to be dominated by discussions of A-Rod and his tipping habits at Hooters (maybe he should’ve gone with Gruden), but, to me, yesterday’s games are much more interesting.
I love the rant against Helton and his nicknames. Terrific. But what’s with the comment on Ichiro? I can’t decide if it’s sarcasm or not.
Posted 04/30 at 10:10 AM
Craig Calcaterra said...
Lar—no sarcasam. Ichiro has been pretty damn pedestrian for a couple of years now, and still is treated as a near-MVP force by so many. I think an adjustment in his coverage that incorporates his empty batting averages and low power is in order.
Posted 04/30 at 10:15 AM
Keith Law said...
They call this guy “Cookie,” and he’s pretty fierce.
Posted 04/30 at 10:28 AM
Yeah, Ichiro was plenty lame last year I suspect that he’s done even having an OPS+ of 110 which is a real problem. But in 2007 he was still very very good. Yeah it was because of the .350 batting average, but if you hit .350 can live with lack of patience. Plus his stolen base percentage was 82% and he played very good defense in center. He certainly doesn’t warrant any MVP type coverage or votes, but even two years ago he was very useful. Now that’s he back in right though?
Posted 04/30 at 10:34 AM
Cook’s been Cookie for a long time. And where are all the other really brilliant nicknames for other players? A-Rod, K-Rod? Other than Dontrelle Willis’ “D-Train” I can’t think of a good nickname going at the moment.
Posted 04/30 at 10:42 AM
Eastern to mountain, third-party call, the lines are down; the wise man builds his words upon a rock, but I’m not bound to follow suit.
Posted 04/30 at 11:39 AM
APBA Guy said...
Ichiro is a “star” now in the sense of his presence and name awareness. If you ever stay up in Seattle for a few days, his commercials are prominent (and some are funny). No argument about his OPS +, it is what it is. But people pay to see him, because he’s still a good package, defense, speed, amazing bat control, good arm etc. But the .350 BA days are gone, since he never learned patience.
I’ve seen Lester pitch a few times so far this year, and it really is location that’s causing his problems. Probably the best way to establish this is Pitch fx, and what would be interesting is a plot of location vs hit %. What I saw were fastballs up and over the plate getting hit. And the correlating impression was Varitek setting a target down and on one of the corners. It seems Lester’s command is inconsistent, perhaps an artifact of so many innings last year. Keep in mind he just turned 25 in January.
Posted 04/30 at 11:48 AM
Ichiro is a demi-god who has been assigned the thankless task of teaching the world, by example alone, the power and importance of stretching. Ingratitude from mere mortals is all he has received in return.
In all seriousness though, he’s been a 4-6 win player for his entire career with the Ms. His combined WAR over the last three years puts him just ahead of Lance Berkman. Does that make him an elite MVP candidate? No. Does it make him a very very good baseball player? In a word…yes.
Posted 04/30 at 11:50 AM
that’s fair, Craig. Ichiro should never be considered on the same level as Pujols or anything.
But, like everyone else has said, he’s more than just a AVG/OBP number, so he’s still worth something. Personally, I just love watching the guy play. He’s like Bo Jackson, except as a contact hitter instead of a power hitter.
Posted 04/30 at 12:42 PM
Mark R said...
Beat me to it, MKD. Ichiro is a unique player with a unique set of skills (breaks PECOTA every year). Nobody’s saying he’s the best player in the game. Y’all are suckers for calling him overrated.
Posted 04/30 at 12:49 PM
BTW, I LOVE your REM circa “South Central Rain” lyrical quote regarding the A’s-Rangers game. I’m a huge REM fan here, esp. the IRS years. Reckoning and Life’s Rich Pageant two of my favorite CDs all time.
Posted 04/30 at 02:46 PM