News, Notes and Quotes (June 20, 2005)

  • THT’s Vinay Kumar took in a San Diego Surf Dogs game last week and got to watch future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. Henderson, who turns 47 years old in December, is hitting .302/.494/.397 with seven stolen bases in 20 games in the Golden Baseball League. I still think a big-league team with a young nucleus would be smart to pick Henderson up for the stretch run as a fifth outfielder/mentor, but it doesn’t seem very likely at this point.

    On the Surf Dogs’ website each player on the roster has a page devoted to him, listing stats and background information. One of the things listed is “Years Pro/Highest Level.” For most players, it says something like “2 Years/Single A.” For Henderson, it says, “25 years/MLB.” For some reason that makes me smile.

  • Here’s why asking baseball players to evaluate themselves isn’t always such a great idea: When asked who their pick to represent the team in this year’s All-Star game would be, the Pittsburgh Pirates “overwhelming” voted for Mark Redman. Now, Redman is having a nice first half at 4-4 with a 2.80 ERA in 93.1 innings, but the Pirates still have last year’s National League Rookie of the Year on their roster. Jason Bay is hitting .304/.390/.556 and is on pace for 30 homers, 45 doubles, 10 triples, 85 walks, and 10 stolen bases. Bay, who came into this season a career .283/.369/.546 hitter in 150 games, leads the team in nearly every major offensive category and has spent much of the season playing center field.

    Yet, as Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote last week, “Bay was the distant runner-up” in the team balloting. I’ll be writing up my All-Star picks in a few days, but the Bay/Redman situation is a perfect example of how my idea of an All-Star differs from a lot of people. In my mind, Redman is a mediocre starting pitcher (52-55 with a 4.21 ERA in 900 career innings) who has had a good three months, whereas Bay is a legitmately outstanding player who has been extremely good this season, just as he was in his rookie year. One is an easy pick to represent the Pirates at the All-Star game, while the other is someone you give a nice pat on the back to for a quality first half.

  • Quote of the Weak, from Ron Gardenhire on whether or not Luis Rivas will go back to starting at second base now that he’s off the disabled list:

    I think if Luis Rivas comes back swinging the bat and playing well, he will be out there.

    I admit I’m overly sensitive on the topic, but what kind of quote is that? At this point, any question involving Rivas clearly isn’t asking about a guy capable of “swinging the bat” and “playing well.” That is like asking someone if they’re going to go see a new Ben Affleck/Jennifer Lopez movie and having them respond: “If Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez work well together, the script is good, and they each turn in great acting jobs, I’ll definitely go see it.” From now on, any questions posed to Gardenhire should begin with, “Assuming hell doesn’t freeze over …”

    Incidentally, Mike Webber and I had the great honor of taking in Rivas’ triumphant return to the lineup Friday against the Padres in person at the Metrodome. Rivas went 1-for-3 with a bunt single to raise his season totals to .208/.256/.208 (that’s zero extra-base hits in 72 at-bats, if you’re curious). Just once I’d like Gardenhire to be truthful and say: “You know what? It really doesn’t matter if Rivas plays well or not, we’ll just keep sticking him out there to piss Gleeman off. Sure, it costs us some games, but it’s good for a laugh a week at least.”

  • My favorite part of this wonderful website? The “D.J. sucks too” page. Because, you know, it’s good to be thorough with this sort of thing.
  • I always feel bad for pitchers who get called up from the minors, take a beating, and get sent right back down. When a hitter tanks so badly that his chance lasts exactly one game, at least his .000/.000/.000 line for the season sort of blends in. But when you give up four runs in one-third of an inning, like Edgar Gonzalez did earlier this month before hopping on the first bus back to Tucson, that 108.00 ERA is going to stick out like a bloated thumb.

    Gonzalez’s one horrible outing this season gives him the following career stats spread over three seasons with the Diamondbacks:

     G     GS     W     L      ERA       IP     SO     BB     HR     OAVG
    20     12     2    10     8.59     65.0     46     27     19     .367

    Gonzalez’s 8.59 ERA is the fifth-worst in baseball history among pitchers with at least 60 career innings pitched, behind only pitching immortals Charlie Stecher (10.32 ERA, 68 innings), Ed O’Neil (9.26, 68), Glenn Liebhardt (9.00, 67), and Andy Larkin (8.86, 105.2). For Gonzalez to get his career ERA down to something somewhat respectable, like say 4.50, he’d have to toss 59 consecutive scoreless innings, which coincidentally is the exact length of the all-time record streak held by Orel Hershiser.

    This is one of those times when a pitcher has been so bad that even his decent-looking strikeout rate is misleading. Gonzalez has 46 strikeouts in 65 innings, which comes out to a perfectly mediocre 6.37 strikeouts per nine innings. However, much like back in tee ball, when each team avoided outs so well that they went all the way through the lineup before stopping each inning, Gonzalez’s innings have been so long that they skew everything.

    In other words, if he gets a strikeout but has to face 10 batters doing so, Gonzalez’s strikeout rate looks the same as a guy who got one strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning. This is an issue when comparing the strikeout rates of all pitchers, but it usually only becomes a problem in extreme cases like this one. In striking out 6.37 batters per nine innings, Gonzalez has actually gotten just 14.4% of the batters he faced to whiff. To put that in some context, Roy Halladay and Matt Morris have 6.55 and 6.44 strikeouts per nine innings this season respectively, but have recorded a strikeout 18.7% and 18.0% of the time.

  • Is it just me, or does this picture of Anderson Machado make him look like Francisco Rodriguez‘s brother? You know, in the same way that Frank Stallone looks like Sylvester Stallone‘s brother or Don Swayze looks like he’s brothers with Patrick Swayze. They are so close, but there’s just a certain something that’s not quite right. And speaking of not quite right, don’t gloss over those Stallone and Swayze links. In fact, I defy you to click on the Frank Stallone link and do anything productive with the rest of your day.
  • And speaking of Frank Stallone … actually, I have nothing. I just always wanted to say that.
  • Mark Simon, who is a researcher for Baseball Tonight and a frequent audience for my private anti-John Kruk rants, has started up a new blog devoted to chronicling walk-off moments in Mets history. Mark does a very nice job writing the “Baseball Tonight Extra” on ESPN.com every night, so I have no doubt that his stuff over at “Mets Walkoffs And Other Minutiae” will be solid. Go stop by and say hello, because Mark certainly deserves at least a few new readers for putting up with me constantly berating his employers.
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