Book Review: Black Sox in the Courtroom: the Grand Jury, Criminal Trial and Civil LitigationAuthor: William LambPages: 222Like many baseball fans, I’ve always been intensely interested in the Black Sox. I’ve read at least a dozen books, written articles on them and even defended one or two of the players based on what I’ve learned. This book takes it a lot further -- clearing up some points, debunking others -- based not upon the media hype or artistic license taken by many writers on the topic, but by examining nothing other than the legal battles fought in both criminal and...
Bryce Harper seems to run at one speed: all out, whether he’s hitting, fielding or running full tilt into walls. And while manager Davey Johnson was capable of joking “I feel kind of sorry for the wall if he keeps running into them,” there is plenty of reason to be concerned for the 20-year-old who has twice now required stitches in his head, precautionary x-rays and concussion fears.But that’s the way that Harper plays. He plays to win. Watching him play he reminds you of Pete Rose. Do whatever it takes, play to win and let the consequences of the...
Last week will not be regarded among the finest hours for umpires. There were the usual gaffes and miscalls that come with having to make split-second judgments, most of which can easily be written off as minor, but there were issues that simply left the fans, not to mention the sports media, scratching their heads or screaming for robot umpires.The first issue was a big one: when is a home run not a home run? Well when Robin Ventura hits it and never makes it around the bases is one scenario. A miscalled foul ball might be another. But never...
Yu Darvish burst onto the scene last season for the Texas Rangers as the prized import of the offseason. He baffled hitters with a variety of pitches and arm slots en route to an impressive first season.But Major League hitters these days have access to so much video footage that they’re able to study an opposing pitcher’s tendencies incessantly. That being said, it was almost a given that Darvish would not experience that same level of success as his rookie season.Darvish, though, has had other plans. His early body of work has brought him into the conversation as the AL’s...
It’s hard to call the Red Sox the surprise of 2013. They were dreadful last year, finishing last in the East with just 69 wins, three more than the Twins and one more than the Indians. But over the past decade we’ve gotten so used to seeing a level of excellence from the Boston nine that their resurgence doesn’t seem unnatural. Well not until you realize that this worst to first transformation seemed to involve gutting the team and dumping salary.The fact is that the front office deceived us. We thought they were rebuilding and that they’d have a number...
With David Ortiz’s recent 27-game hitting streak now over, it once again brings up the debate about whether hitting streaks should carry over from the previous season.He hit safely in his first 15 games this season after coming off the disabled list on April 20. He finished off last season on a 12-game hitting streak.In recent memory, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit safely in 38 straight games spanning the 2005 and 2006 seasons.Though Joe DiMaggio set the standard with his 56-game hitting streak all in the same season, a hitting streak that spans an entire offseason is actually harder to...
When NBA center Jason Collins came out last week, it was huge news. It was brave of him, not just because he was standing up for the rights of people to be who they are, but because he was coming out to both teammates and he wasn’t sure how all of them would react.But the truth is that professional sports have largely dealt with homosexuality already within their ranks. For the most part they’ve handled it quietly, perhaps occasionally with whispers and verbal jabs between themselves, but they’ve kept it within the ranks of ballplayers and people associated with the...
Not too many Cy Young Award winners have been traded the season after winning, but R.A. Dickey was. He was a coveted target of the Blue Jays' franchise overall, as it became an early favorite to win the American League East.However, Toronto already finds itself in the cellar of the division and the owner of the second worst record in the AL ahead of only the hapless Houston Astros.Dickey has been a reason for this early cold spell, as he hasn’t quite pitched to his Cy Young form. He’s just 2-5 in seven starts with a 5.36 ERA this year....
Book Review: Kid Nichols – A Biography of the Hall of Fame PitcherBy Jon Leshanski Title: Kid Nichols: A Biography of the Hall of Fame PitcherAuthor: Richard BogovichPages: 262McFarland publishes a lot of biographies about baseball players. Some are better than others and some are definitely more interesting. Richard Bogovich’s look at one of the most obscure Hall of Famers ranks in that category.
Nichols is one of those players who has really slipped between the cracks of baseball’s history and gone largely unnoticed. His best years really came before 1900, a time when baseball’s history seems especially murky. Bogovich...
With a league-best 12 home runs in the first month of the season, it’s almost inevitable that Justin Upton would be among the league leaders in RBI, too. But that’s far from the case, and Upton can only look to his teammates for his limited run production based on his home run total.So far, 11 of Upton’s 12 home runs have been solo blasts. He’s currently tied for 17th in the majors with 19 RBIs.The guys hitting behind Upton in the Braves lineup have actually produced offensively. With Brian McCann out, Freddie Freeman and feel-good story Evan Gattis have the...
This is what collecting cards has become...a video game and a dated one at that. Wouldn't it be cooler if it were some full motion video of the player or something besides this 3-D image that looks like it was ripped from the MLB 2k4 on the PS2? The card collecting industry is struggling so much that the only way they can conceive of trying to attain some portion of the valuable fleeting attention spans of 7-15 year old kids that is being concentrated mostly in video games is to turn the cards themselves into them.
While I would, in theory, agree with what he says, I doubt there really are 3-D baseball cards. This is the video he talks about:
Ok, come on, this must be fake. Where are the projections supposed to come from? Reading in a card via Webcam, I can buy that, but that the card is able to create a 3D projection? No way, there is no such technology (and if there were, I doubt that baseball cards would be the first device to implement it.
Dave Studeman and Mike Webber of the Hardball Times worked with Bill James on his The Bill James Gold Mine 2009, collecting "short, interesting and meaningful" statistical "nuggets". Not all their finding made it though, and they present the rejected nuggets on The Hardball Times. Here are some highlights:
33% of Barry Zito’s innings required 20 or more pitches, the second-highest figure in the majors.
Zito threw the fifth-slowest fastball in the majors last year. The only pitchers who threw slower fastballs were Tim Wakefield and old guys like Greg Maddux.
Zito threw the second-slowest changeup in the majors last year (74.1 mph)
Zito now throws his changeup more often than his curveball
Batters are sizing up even his pitches out of the strike zone. They were much more likely to swing at pitches outside the zone last year than in previous years, and also more likely to make contact when they did swing.
Pitches outside the strike zone... Swung at Made contact 2005 21% 52% 2006 22% 62% 2007 20% 64% 2008 26% 72%
No wonder Zito was so bad last year. If hitters start smashing your pitches outside the zone, where are you going to throw? Another reason why Zito's contract is one of the worst active contracts in MLB.
Dodger pitcher Hiroki Kuroda pitched some of his best games against the best teams, but only had a 1-2 record to show for it. Yet he posted a 5.66 ERA against the worst teams and posted a 2-1 record against them.
Opponent G IP W L SO BB ERA .600 teams 3 21.2 1 2 19 5 1.66 .500 - .599 teams 12 66.1 3 3 43 16 3.66 .400 - .499 teams 12 74.2 3 4 40 14 3.86 sub .400 teams 4 20.2 2 1 14 7 5.66
I guess that's the kind of pitcher you need in October. The ERA, not the wins. And now to the complete opposite case:
B.J. Upton batted .200 with a .598 OPS against the best pitchers he faced and .361/1.013 against the worst.
AB H HR RBI Avg OPS Pitcher with ERA <= 3.50 155 31 2 15 .200 .598 Pitcher with ERA 3.51 to 4.25 144 34 0 9 .236 .688 Pitcher with ERA 4.26 to 5.25 123 41 4 18 .333 .924 Pitcher with ERA over 5.25 108 39 3 25 .361 1.013
Check out the rest yourself over at HBT. And if those are the rejected nuggets, what actually made it to the book really must be pure gold.
The Netherlands have done it again. They beat the highly favored Dominican Republic in dramatic fashion, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the eleventh inning to come from behind and take the game 2-1. Unbelievable!
Let me just list a few well known names on the D.R. team: Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada, Jose Guillen, Robinson Cano ...
No a few names on the Dutch team you might know:
The D.R. got seven hits and seven walks but managed only one run. They left 23 men on base. The Netherland struck out 15 times, walked once and got five hits, but won because Carlos Marmol, the Cubs closer, made an error on a pick-off attempt that allowed the tying run to advance from first to third. The winning run then came home on a fielding error by Willy Aybar (Recap). If you needed more prove that fundamentally sound baseball wins games, you got it here.
If you want some impressions from the Dutch team, I suggest you head over to Canadutch, where Leon 44 blogs about his WBC experience. Leon 44, I'm sure, is noone else but Leon Boyd, a Canadian with a Dutch passport and the closer of the Dutch team. I'm sure once he is done celebrating with his teammates, he will have a few things to say about how it feels to first give up the potentially losing run and then ending up the winning pitcher in the greatest upset the WBC has seen so far. So drop over and say hello.
Addition: I did not know that Bert Blyleven is the pitching coach of the Netherlands. He is certainly doing a great job. Hat Tip: Babes love baseball
Much like AHP, Foxsports.com is currently running down its season previews. Athlon Sports (that must be a pseudonym) takes on the Dodgers and I was a bit surprised about what I read:
Blake DeWitt was supposed to start the 2008 season in Double-A, but he ended up — partly through attrition — as the Dodgers' starting third baseman on Opening Day. He hit a respectable .264 in 117 games and was supposed to take over at second base for the departed Jeff Kent. But the Dodgers signed Orlando Hudson in late February and he'll push DeWitt back to a reserve role or possibly to the minors.
That sounds a bit like the Dodgers made a mistake signing Hudson when they have a solid in-house option in DeWitt. However, DeWitt's batting average is misleading, he slugged only .383 (even though he got on base well enough with an OBP of .344). Hudson on the other hand hit .305/.367/.450 last season AND he provides gold glove defense. Given his moderate price tag, I'd say that was a good move.
Casey Blake, acquired just before the trading deadline last summer, re-signed with the club for three years and $17.5 million after he failed to generate much interest on the free agent market. Blake hit just .251 after the trade, but his 10 home runs and 23 RBIs were critical to the Dodgers' late-season push to the division title. He also became a leader in the clubhouse.
I stand by my claim that Blake was one of the worst signings this off-season. Three years, really? After all, he will turn 36 this August. But anyway, what bothered me is the claim that his "10 home runs and 23 RBIs were critical to the Dodgers' late-season push to the division title". How exactly did Mr. Sports come to this conclusion? After all, Blake hit .280/.333/.400 in close and late situations and only .190/.269/.259 with RISP (many thanks to Retrosheet for the data). How about 0/8 with the bases loaded (no walks)? I'm sure this contribution was so critical that no other player could have provided it. Oh, and he is a leader in the clubhouse.
Russell Martin remains one of the most durable catchers in the game, and the two-time All-Star has shown no signs of slowing down.
Only that Martin did slow down in the second half. A lot! He went from .294/.394/.436 before the break to .260/371/.336 after the break. His power pretty much went AWOL in the second half.
General manager Ned Colletti appeared to be hanging by the thinnest of threads at midseason last year, the result of a handful of bad contracts and the fact the Dodgers couldn't seem to take charge in baseball's weakest division. But that all changed after the acquisitions of Blake and Ramirez turned the Dodgers' season around and led to the club's first National League Championship Series berth since 1988. Torre is a future Hall of Fame manager, if not a Hall of Fame player — the former MVP came up short on the veterans' committee ballot yet again in December — and he managed to get the most out of a notoriously fractured clubhouse last year. He is simply among the best in the business.
I'm not here to bash Joe Torre. But why gets he the praise for "getting the most out of a notoriously fractured clubhouse" (what does that even mean?), but the blame that his team "couldn't seem to take charge in baseball's weakest division" is on the GM (who should indeed be tarred and feather for signing Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones to ludicrous contracts)? That's not fair, is it?
And now to the best part:
Dodgers officials don't expect newly signed, veteran infielder Mark Loretta to bat .300 or hit 20 home runs. They don't even expect him to play all that much. But what they found perhaps most enticing about the Southern California native is what he brings to a clubhouse that should have a dramatically different personality this year. Gone are the perpetually sour Jeff Kent; Brad Penny, who at times seemed to be focused on everything but baseball; and Derek Lowe, a happy-go-lucky sort who never seemed quite as comfortable in Los Angeles as he had been in Boston. Loretta represents something of a 180-degree turn, the type of leader this team has been seeking since Robin Ventura and Jose Lima departed after the 2004 season.
Mark Loretta - difference maker! I don't believe it. He could have taken Manny, Furcal, Billingsley or any other regular for crying out loud, but he goes with a bench player because he is a leader - in the clubhouse. I believe that good chemistry comes naturally when you are winning, but even if you follow Sports' logic, if Kent, Penny and Lowe had been the problem, it's addition by substraction, what do you need Loretta for? The Dodger already have Casey Blake, who is "a leader in the clubhouse", too, if you recall.
Allowedly, our previews on AHP are by no means perfect, but I think my colleagues are doing a pretty good job, especially if you consider that we do the previews in our free time while the guys on Foxsports get paid for them. I think I can expect a little more under those circumstances, can't I?
*Francisco Rodriguez/Closer- 76 g, 68.1 ip, 77 k, 62 sv, 2.24 era, 1.29 whip. The major piece of the Mets bullpen reconstruction is the newly crowned single season saves record holder. K-Rod brings instant respect to what was a laughable relief group.
*JJ Putz- 47 g, 46.1 ip, 56 k, 15 sv, 3.88 era, 1.60 whip. Was hindered by injuries last year, but still managed to strikeout far over 1 batter per inning. He would be the Mets bright new shining star at closer if not for K-Rod, so he slips into the setup role...which is just scary from an oppositions viewpoint.
The NL East has come down to the wire the last two seasons and the Mets blew many games in late innings when they faltered down the stretch. K-Rod and Putz should add a few wins over the course of the season and with the Philles losing maybe two wins by replacing Burrell with Ibanez, I can't help but wonder if this will finally be the Mets' year.
When it comes to my second baseman, I’d like him to bring something to the table in terms of counting stats. Give me power potential. Give me speed potential. Give me something. Unfortunately he brings neither, not excessively anyways.
He’s reached double-digit stolen bases once, but seems much more likely to be in the 7-9 range. Yeah, it helps, but it certainly isn’t something that is going to make me jump at the opportunity to draft him.
He is a 10-15 HR guy as well, nothing more and nothing less. Again, that’s a nice number, but it isn’t going to win anything for you. It’s solid, but not excessive.
When you compare him to someone like Polanco, things just don’t match up well. If Hudson were guaranteed to fill the #2 slot, then maybe, but Polanco is guaranteed a spot hitting in front of Miguel Cabrera meaning he could continue to circle the base paths on a regular basis. He has similar speed and a little less power to Hudson, but a significant potential advantage in runs scored meaning that Polanco remains a better choice.
This is why I will never be a successful fantasy player. It simply baffles me how a player that is so clearly superior can still be just as clearly inferior in fantasy terms.
Rotoprofessor also wonders who the Dodgers will hit second with Hudson, Casey Blake and Russell Martin being the options. Blake, in my opinion, should hit eighth (or ninth), he is clearly worst hitter in the lineup (how did he get three years and $17.5 millions again???), but Martin has a higher OBP than Hudson, so Hudson might indeed find himself in the #7 spot.