At what point do you simply write off a player as too fragile? It depends on how much talent they have, and Troy Tulowitzki is immensely talented. When he’s playing he’s one of the best shortstops, possibly the best, in the game. The problem is that in his seven-year career he’s only twice played 150 games or more, and only one additional time did he manage more than 122 games.
Photo by SD Dirk, used under creative commons license.
Some people have dubbed him Larry Walker 2.0. Maybe that comparison is fair, maybe it’s not. Larry Walker in his 16-year career...
The trade deadline is approaching, and one of the teams most likely to make some deals are the Chicago Cubs. General manager Theo Epstein has pitching to offer and will be looking to grab good prospects. Ideally he’d like those close to major league ready, but he certainly wants to add to the farm system so that when the team is ready to compete they can field a good number of homegrown players as well as having some blue chip type trading assets.
Photo by Scott LaChance816, used under creative commons license.
While they probably won’t be trading much in...
Each league features unlikely saves leaderBy Jim MancariIf you said Mariano Rivera and Jason Grilli would be leading their respective league in saves in mid June before the season started, many people would have thought you were crazy.In any other year, Rivera wouldn’t at all be a stretch, but coming off a torn ACL at the age of 43, it was difficult to predict how he would come back.
The Pirates' Jason Grilli
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But Grilli, who had never been a team’s primary closer in his prior 10 seasons, was not even supposed to...
Since the late 2000's, if your baseball team didn't have the lead after the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians, you could call it a game. The trio of right handed submarine style pitcher Joe Smith, right handed reliever Vinnie Pestano and right handed gunslinger Chris "Pure Rage" Perez have eliminated any sort of rally years in the late innings. Smith would do his thing in the seventh, dazzling Clevelanders with his unusual delivery and realease point making it very difficult for hitters to see the ball off of him. Pestano would attempt to hold to lead in the eighth....
Three years ago, Domonic Brown wasn’t really ready. Sure, there was plenty of hype -- he was tagged “a superstar in the making” -- but he was only 23 and had less than 300 ABs at Class AAA. Nonetheless fans and pundits were looking at a 22 home run season split between AA-AAA and 62 big league at bats. It didn’t matter that he was over-matched in his big league at bats, hitting just .210 in them. Everyone saw the .327 average split between AA and AAA.
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So 2011 was supposed to...
Talk about bursting onto the scene.This famous cliché is always tossed around when a player has a hot start to his career. But to use another cliché, Yasiel Puig takes the cake.Through his first nine games, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 22-year-old phenom batted .471 with four home runs and 10 RBIs, including a number of clutch hits. He became just the second player since 1900 to hit four home runs in his first five games, with the other being Mike Jacobs of the New York Mets in 2005.
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Puig, who was scratched...
There was a time when Alex Rodriguez was considered the best player in baseball. Now he’s essentially a pariah in New York. The fans want him gone, the Yankees would like him to be gone. The problem is they still owe him roughly $114 million dollars, and A-Rod doesn’t want to walk away from that.
Photo by Keith Allision, used under creative commons license.
And Alex may still be able to play baseball, even still be a very good player. But at 37 and coming back from hip surgery, he’s not an elite player. That’s not anything new. A-Rod hasn’t had...
I absolutely love the enthusiasm from one of the game’s best pitchers, but it’s tough to consider any scenario in which Justin Verlander gets voted into the Home Run Derby.About a week ago, Verlander discussed with reporters that he would participate in this year’s Home Run Derby at Citi Field if fans voted him in. He said he could probably hit about three or four home runs and called himself a batting practice hitter. In 24 at-bats this season, not only does he not have a home run, but he also doesn’t even have a hit.
Photo by Keith Allison,...
Major League Baseball needs to throw the book at the players associated with the Biogenesis Clinic and to take the offensive once again on the war on PEDs. Initial reports are that MLB has the paper trail and testimony of disgraced PED pusher Anthony Bosch, giving them enough evidence to suspend perhaps more than 20 MLB players for violating the PED policy even without any of them testing positive. And the powers that be in MLB want punitive damages added to these suspensions due to the players lying about PED use and knowingly gaming the system.
Ryan Braun is he the...
Some guys can just never please everybody.Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto has evolved into one of the best hitters in the game today. Yet, he’s recently come under scrutiny for his lack of power hitting.He has just 10 home runs and 28 RBIs this season. During his NL MVP season in 2010, he blasted 37 homers and drove in 113 runs.
Photo by Keith Allison, used under creative commons license.
But so what if his power numbers are a bit down (though based on games played, he’s still on pace for around 30 home runs this year)? The guy...
Let the misguided votes and ballot box stuffing begin! Major League baseball announced today that it would start its balloting for the 2009 All-Star Game, which will be held in St. Louis. In case you're wondering, the game doesn't happen until July 14.
I know it's way too early to make any sort of predictive judgments about players or teams now, but here's how my ballot would look if I voted today. (Note: There is no vote for starting pitchers, but I'm naming one anyway.)
American League C Victor Martinez (.394/5/9) 1B Miguel Cabrera (.444/4/12) 2B Ian Kinsler (.407/5/16) SS Jason Bartlett (.373/2/5) 3B Evan Longoria (.415/5/16) OF Nick Markakis (.397/2/18) OF Torii Hunter (.348/5/10) OF Jermaine Dye (.352/4/10) P Zach Greinke (3-0/0.00/20.0)
National League C Yadier Molina (.348/1/10) 1B Albert Pujols (.351/6/21) 2B Orlando Hudson (.377/2/8) SS Felipe Lopez (.361/2/4) 3B Aramis Ramirez (.362/3/14) OF Matt Kemp (.364/3/14) OF Carlos Beltran (.404/2/12) OF Ryan Ludwick (.353/5/18) P Johan Santana (2-1/0.46/19.2)
What would your ballot look like? Is it way too early for voting to even begin?
By now, anyone who is a fan of baseball is aware of the fact that Patrick Schuster, of Mitchell High School in New Port Richey, Fla., threw his fourth consecutive no hitter. This improbable feat broke the Florida state record and is two away from tying the national record. No matter what happens from this point on, Schuster is immortal in prep baseball.
However, let's keep it in perspective folks; this is not Carl Hubbell striking out Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin in the first two innings of the 1934 All-Star game. This is a lanky kid from the Tampa area striking out high school juniors and seniors.
Don't get me wrong, give Schuster all the credit in the world, he deserves it. However, let's keep it tempered. I have heard that he is being labeled as the next Nolan Ryan; he is not the next Nolan Ryan. It is wrong to disrespect Nolan Ryan like that and even worse to set the kid up for failure in that manner.
He has a double kick thing going on in his delivery, he throws from an odd motion and is all arm. Additionally, he is pitching once a week for seven innings against 16 and 17 year olds.
He is generally ranked as the 75th best prep prospect; prior to his four no-hitters, he was around 190th. He might be a late second- or early third-round pick in the upcoming MLB draft, and just in case, has also signed an NLI to go to the University of Florida. The kid is covered.
So let him enjoy his 15 minutes for right now, and then in a few years, when he is ready and physically able, we can all burden him with unachievable expectations. I thought one of the nice things about this story was it caught me by surprise. Keep an eye on what happens when he gets lit up in his next game or even throws "just" a three-hit shutout; it will be "so much for Schuster," and that certainly will be a shame.
Bad news for Oakland: reliever Joey Devine is finished for the season with Tommy John surgery. This all but confirms reports heard earlier in the season that said Devine was visiting Dr. James Andrews. Andrews, from my experience with him, is a good guy, but pitchers must hate seeing him. From Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
I just had it confirmed from Devine's agent that Devine had Tommy John surgery, otherwise known as ligament replacement surgery. Considering the length of time the team expected him to miss - at least the remainder of the season - this is not really a surprise, but it does mean that the recovery time could be more like a year and a half. The fact that Devine is a reliever will shorten the time a bit, but it is unlikely that he'd be back in action for the A's until midseason next year, just based on others who have had the same surgery.
Manager Bob Geren says that co-closer Joey Devine had surgery on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Tuesday, but details were sketchy besides that.
Geren said that the team has not been informed yet the nature of the surgery - i.e., if ligament replacement was involved, which would probably keep Devine out more than a year. Clearly, however, the surgery was more than a routine arthroscopic cleanup, which would only sideline a pitcher for six weeks or so.
It seems kind of odd that Devine's agent was able to confirm Devine had Tommy John surgery, while his own manager didn't have many details beyond his pitcher had surgery on his ulnar collateral ligament and team hadn't been informed of the type of the surgery. This just seems like something they should've known.
Anyway, this isn't a death blow to the Athletics. They're still in second place in the American League West, and with the injuries the Angels have had, the A's still have a chance to win the division. (Obviously, I think the Mariners are going to drop to earth and badly.)
However, this certainly limits Oakland's margin for error. Devine was supposed to close for them, allowing Geren to use Brad Ziegler in a setup role. Ziegler, who has taken over the closer's role during Devine's injury, should keep his job closing out games. Looking at his statistics from last season, he wouldn't be a bad pickup, though he's likely been added in your fantasy league.
Joe Posnanski is by far my favorite baseball writer because he has both a sense for the factual side of baseball, the hard, cold numbers, as well as for the narrative side, the stories, the emotions. You could say that he understands that the RBI may not be the most meaningful stat in baseball, but also knows that driving is the run in the moment that creates excitement. Okay, that sounded better in my head, but there is a reason why I am not a well paid sports writer. Anyway, Joe recently published a story about his new favorite player on the Royals, first baseman Mike Jacobs, that is a must read:
I think everyone here knows how I feel about Mike Jacobs. It's fair to say that Jacobs not only has a few baseball traits that drive me mad, but he is that actual archetype of a player I cannot stand. He doesn't walk or get on base. He's utterly limited defensively. He doesn't help you on the bases when he actually gets there. He's next to worthless against lefties. He strikes out a lot. A lot. When the Kansas City Royals traded for him this offseason, well, that was my fourth-least favorite move by general manager Dayton Moore.
The reason I have come to like Jacobs and to root for him ... well, I guess it started on what was supposed to be Opening Day in Chicago. The game was snowed-out, and so the Royals had a voluntary workout. Jacobs was there, and it was cold, it was windy, few players were outside. He went to home plate even though there was no pitcher. He dug into the batter's box. He swung at an imaginary pitch. And he hit an imaginary home run. He ran around the bases with his arm in the air, like Tom Berenger in Major League. Now, as someone who loves baseball and Major League and the ridiculous, I can't help but appreciate that.
And so, I started watching Jacobs a bit more closely. And suddenly, involuntarily, I found myself rooting for him. Like I said up top, I don't know exactly why. But I think it's because of this: There's a certain thrill in watching a Mike Jacobs at-bat. He seems -- and I have to say "seems" because I have never asked him about this -- he seems to understand exactly what's happening around him. There's something in his body language, in the joy he seems to get out of baseball, in the way he holds his bat ... he seems to be saying to the pitcher:
"You know, I know, everyone here knows that I have some holes in my swing. And you know, I know, everyone here knows where those holes are located. I'm not going to hit the good fastball up and in. I'm not going to hit the sharp breaking ball. I'll probably chase a pitch when behind in the count -- let's face it, I can't really help myself, those pitches really look good. So, yeah, let's be perfectly honest here: If you throw good pitches, you're probably going to strike me out. And if you're left-handed, you don't even need to throw especially good pitches, you're probably going to get me.
"Actually, BUT -- it's a big BUT ...
"But if you make a mistake, I'm going to freaking hit the ball 700 miles."
Sure it's fun to watch Albert Pujols hit and watch Johan Santana pitch, but I'm just not sure how close you can get to that sort of genius.
The weird thing is that my opinion about Mike Jacobs as a baseball player has not changed at all. As a baseball evaluator I still see all his weaknesses outweighing his strengths. As a GM, I would not have traded for him. But as a baseball fan ... I just enjoy the heck out of watching him step to the plate, kill or be killed. The other day he faced Cleveland's Jensen Lewis, and he took a high fastball for a ball, and then watched a 90-mph fastball go by that was right in his wheelhouse, I mean the perfect Mike Jacobs pitch -- 90 mph, just above the knees, outside but caught too much of the plate. That's the sort of pitch you only get once, and you could see Jacobs grimace for a second as if to say, "Man, that was it."
Two pitches later, stunningly, Jensen Lewis threw that exact pitch again. This time it was 87 mph. And this time Jacobs did swing. He jumped out of his shoes to swing. And he hit it 700 miles to center field. It clanked off the railing out there, bounced behind a wall, an absolute mammoth shot. Will he do that enough to make himself a valuable player? Maybe not. But, yeah, it will be fun every time he does it.
Great writing, I'm sure I will root for Jacobs the next time I see him at bat.
With Chien-Ming Wang's abysmal start a hot topic on AHP (See here and here), I would like to point your attention to an article on MLB.com:
"The important thing is the consistency of his sinker," Girardi said. "He's gotten up in the zone and that's where his stuff flattens out. The importance is seeing his sinker down with movement. We'll evaluate it after that."
While Wang has repeatedly said that he is healthy -- he did so again on Tuesday -- Cashman said that he is not completely convinced. The Yankees medical staff will continue to test Wang, making sure that last June's right foot injury is not affecting him in any way.
"I'm sure it's going to take some time," Cashman said. "The first [step] is to try and determine what's wrong. His velocity is down, his command is off. That could indicate health. He feels so far that he's healthy, so we're evaluating his mechanics.
"... Those indicators, you can't ignore. I've been down that road before. I don't rule out health being an issue. As of right now, everything is on the table and we're in full laboratory mode."
Wang said that his confidence has not been affected by his struggles, but Girardi said that he is clearly "chapped" by the experience.
"I don't think it's what he necessarily wants to do," Girardi said. "He wants to pitch. I think he understands that we're doing what we think is best to get his stuff right. It's hard and it's humbling when you're struggling and they ask you to do something that's out of the norm."
I suggest that you head over to this article and watch the video clip that is featured on the page. You can see that Wang has a lower leg kick this season and that he is less stable on the mound. It certainly does look like the foot injury is still affecting him in some way, even if only mentally.