Clutch or not: Papi vs. ARod

With a hat tip to the guys at RAB, they discussed an article from The Numbers Guy blog (Carl Bialik) at the WSJ. Bialik uses the miracle of small sample sizes to question the clutchness (and the perception of clutchness) for Big Papi and ARod. Funny how these things work.

In his last 16 postseason games, the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez has collected eight hits in 56 at bats, with one home run and one run batted in. In his last 13 postseason games, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has 10 hits in 51 at bats, with no home runs and five runs batted in. Rodriguez is famously un-clutch; Ortiz famously clutch. Yet both have had ups and downs in their playoff careers, which provide too small a sample size to reach definitive conclusions, as I wrote last month, and USA Today echoed. Now Ortiz, the hero of the 2004 playoffs, is beginning to experience what A-Rod has: doubts about his clutch abilities.

Continue reading Clutch or not: Papi vs. ARod

Not-so-good seats available!

They might not have a clean line of sight, or some of the things you might normally expect a seat to have, but they will be available for the rest of the Rays home games! (emphasis mine)

The upper-deck seats were covered in part because they’re not exactly the best seats in the house. Tropicana Field’s infamous catwalks block the view of the field for a number of those seats.

Some are obstructed-view, some don’t have seatbacks, and they’re pretty high up,” [Rays president Matt] Silverman said, according to the Tribune. “But you’re in the ballpark and you’re there making a difference to the team.”

No seatbacks?!? Awesome. Did they just conveniently forget to install them or was it a conscious cost-cutting decision? “Hey, we’ll only use them when we make the World Series {giggle, giggle, chuckle, chuckle}…who’s gonna ever know?” Continue reading Not-so-good seats available!

More on Peavy, staying in the NL

OK, I get it, pitchers like to pitch in the NL because they also like to hit.

At season’s end, Peavy said he would not accept a trade to the American League. Asked recently if that is still true, Peavy said he didn’t “want to get into any speculation” on trade scenarios.

His agent, Barry Axelrod, acknowledged that the American League isn’t Peavy’s first choice.
Axelrod said Peavy also considers his hitting ability an advantage in the NL, because he is a better hitter than many opposing pitchers. Peavy batted .265 last season, one year after batting .233.

Does that seem like a good enough reason to use to want to stay in the NL? Is that much better than Mike Hampton choosing Colorado for their schools**? Why can’t they just come out and tell us there’s a better reason for staying in the NL: It’s an easier place to pitch and win! Just ask Greg Maddux, Peavy’s former teammate:

Peavy isn’t the only pitcher who prefers the NL, which exempts the designated hitter. Greg Maddux, a friend and mentor of Peavy’s, often has quipped that he stayed in the NL for his entire career because he’s “not stupid.”

And the places his agent listed as possible NL markets where Peavy might waive his NTC and accept a trade to:

Among the cities Axelrod mentioned were Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

Maybe Peavy looks at likely AL teams (for now, let’s just consider the two financial superpowers, NY and Boston) and tells himself that he wants no part of pitching against the rest of the AL East. Could you blame him? I think if the Angels were to want to add even MORE pitching, that would be a good situation for Peavy. An hour or so north of his home in northern San Diego. A pretty weak AL West.

But if Peavy truly restricts his likely destinations to the NL, he hamstrings his management’s ability to maximize his value. St. Louis might have some players to deal. The Mets might throw the rest of their farm system that they didn’t deal to get Johan to get Peavy (What a rotation that would be: Johan, Peavy and whomever else they deem fit!).

I still hope that Peavy will want to land in a place that will keep him surrounded with the talent to compete year in and year out. I also hope he sees that place as the Yanks.

There’s more about Peavy here.

And unless the Padres are knocked off their feet by an offer —- think similar to the six prospects the Arizona Diamondbacks sent to Oakland in exchange for ace pitcher Dan Haren —- they don’t have to move Peavy, who is 86-62 with a 3.25 ERA in 199 career starts.

But Peavy ceases to become a bargain in 2010, when his salary climbs to $15 million and increases from there. If the team picks up its option for the 2013 season, Peavy will receive a $22 million salary.

And remember kids, if the team you are running is going to suck even with a high priced pitching stud, you can suck without him:

“Now we get hit with this,” [Agent Barry] Axelrod said. “If he’s here, he’s going to make a significant portion of the team’s salary. And if this is going to be a long-term build from within, it doesn’t make sense to have Jake here if that’s what they’re going to do. If you’re going to win 75 games a year, why pay him all that money?”

Also, if you can only win 75 games, you can do it without that pricey stud…and still turn a tidy profit. Which is good when your owner is in a nasty divorce battle and is considering selling the team to resolve that situation (something about community property vs. MLB’s rules about ownership).

** Just to make your head spin on that Mike Hampton contract, did you know that with the compensation pick that the Mets got when Hampton left, they selected David Wright? Crazy. Continue reading More on Peavy, staying in the NL

Make of this what you will

I am very hesitant to bring up race (and politics and religion) here since that’s not what we’re here to discuss. We’re here to discuss (mostly) baseball. And then I read this from Ken Rosenthal, who discusses the lack of non-White players on the RedSox. This is not to bash the Sox whatsoever. I had no idea and there’s a part of me that wonders if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Is it good that I didn’t notice race or bad that I didn’t notice the homogeneous face of the club?

[I once had a lengthy discussion with someone back in the early 90’s who was adament that the Yanks needed to get “whiter” to appeal to the higher spending corporate folks. I’m no angel and maybe I am excessively naive, but I took the stance that the city would embrace a winner regardless of skin color. Is Paul O’Neill any more beloved than Bernie Williams? Mariano might be sainted once he’s done playing. Did the Yanks get “whiter” over the years? Charlie Hayes gave way to Boggs to ARod. Jeter’s a child of an African-American man and a white woman. Knoblauch became Cano. Tino to Giambi. Posada/Girardi to just Girardi. Net change in the IF: none. Chad Curtis/Strawberry to Hideki in left. Bernie to Damon/Melky. Paulie to Abreu. Again, very little change. Wang’s in the rotation where once Doc Gooden pitched. The balance of the starters have been, for the most part, White. Saint Mo is still the Sandman. Bottom line, I think NYC is diverse enough that race plays less of an issue than other cities. Bottom line, winning helps.]

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Continue reading Make of this what you will

Peavy prefers the NL

He also prefers Jagermeister. Sure, I would prefer the NL, too, if I were a pitcher. Who wouldn’t? I prefer ice cream to broccoli. Convertibles to mini-vans. Fresca to Sprite. Paparadelle to spaghetti. A big flat screen to an old tube. Pool to ocean. Sun to rain. Grey Goose to Jagermeister. Anyone else to Red Sox.

Buster has the latest:

The San Diego Padres have begun the process of sorting through initial trade conversations about All-Star right-hander Jake Peavy, and to date, their talks seem to have been with National League teams; Peavy has a no-trade clause and prefers to play in the NL.

One team — perhaps St. Louis — is discussing the possibility of expanding the package beyond Peavy to include shortstop Khalil Greene, who is under contract for 2009 for $6.5 million. It would make sense for the Padres to move Greene, who is coming off a disappointing season in which he hit .213 with 10 homers and 35 RBIs, a year after he hit 27 homers and drove in 97 runs. Greene, who turns 29 next week, is eligible for free agency after next season, and in moving Greene in a Peavy
package, the Padres would create even more payroll flexibility as they look to acquire more consistency in their offense.

Continue reading Peavy prefers the NL

Gillick: Special Assistant to the GM?

Joel Sherman had a really good idea: Cashman should hire outgoing Phillies GM as a special assistant/consultant.

The Yanks should jump at that, because Gillick can enhance their sketchy player-choosing process.

He might be the best evaluator I have ever been around,” said Philadelphia’s director of major-league scouting, Gordon Lakey, who has worked with Gillick in three locales over 38 years.

Cashman considers Gillick the role model for all GMs. That admiration, in conjunction with Gillick being 71 and not wanting to be a GM any longer, should remove any threat Cashman would feel employing Gillick.

I think this idea has some merit. Gillick hasn’t been perfect; no GM ever has been.

Of course, Gillick has made mistakes. The Phillies are in the NLCS despite Gillick having signed Adam Eaton as a free agent. But they also are here because of the skills that helped four different Gillick GM-ed teams reach at least the LCS.

He transitioned the Blue Jays from expansion to champions. He is the lone GM to guide the Peter Angelos-owned Orioles to the playoffs. He was the architect of the record 116-win 2001 Mariners.
The Yanks will look at a lot of free agents this offseason. Gillick might be the most important.

This could be a very smart move for Cashman, adding a senior, experienced voice that brings a sense of calm to the chaos that is the Yanks. He could spend some/all of his time in Tampa by Hank & Hal to keep them in the loop on all the nuts and bolts going on behind the scenes.

Phillies fans, what say you about Gillick?

The NY Times’ Tyler Kepner had an interesting article on Gillick just the other day. Gordon Lakey, as noted above, added this:

“Very rarely in a meeting will he inject his opinion. He will one on one, but he doesn’t want his opinion to outweigh the suggestions of the people that work with him. You don’t work for Pat. You work with Pat.”

That’s a great for him to have if he would assume this imaginary role.
“I try to be all-inclusive,” Gillick said. “There’s always, I guess, a philosophy that if you come in, you want to change all the parts, you want to change everything over. I’ve always tried to preach that consistency and continuity are very, very important. So if I know the baseball people, and I know they’re competent and could do the job, I don’t see any reason to replace them.”

I like it already. Continue reading Gillick: Special Assistant to the GM?

Torre's bullpen mismanagement continues.

It came as no surprise when Scott Proctor finally had to undergo season-ending surgery. Anyone who watched the mid-90’s – 2007 Yanks knows that amongst Joe Torre’s many, many strengths lied an ugly sore spot: bullpen management. Torre made a habit of finding one or two middle relievers he was comfortable with and he’d ride them into the ground. Proctor, Flash Gordon, Stanton, etc. Even an unnatural affection for ineffective side arming lefty Mike Myers (who could seemingly never get out Big Papi, the reason he was on the team in the first place). The rule was never to sign a middle reliever after he was on the Yanks. I know I joked that once Torre wasn’t coming back that the relief corps threw a party.

Now, in full disclosure, I didn’t watch much of the LA/PHI game last night –I was busy watching my Giants get thrashed– but T.J. Simers of the LA Times sure did and was quick to kick off the second guessing of Torre’s bullpen management.

At times like these, it’s hard not to sound like a Steinbrenner.
But the Dodgers have Game 4 won, and several times, until Torre, more gambler than manager, just goes bonkers.

He takes a pressure-tested Derek Lowe out of a tense game after only five innings, the Dodgers ahead 3-2, and replaces him with a 20-year-old who calls him Mr. Torre.

And Mr. Torre’s fallback plan after the kid puts two men on is Chan Ho-No He Just Wild-Pitched Home the Tying Run.

On blind faith, of course, along with 13 straight appearances in postseason play and four World Series wins, we’re supposed to believe Torre knows what he’s doing.

Now, not for nothing, but Derek Jeter called him “Mr. Torre” every day and most of the people I know found it refreshingly respectful, even if seemingly contrived.

But the truth is, Dodger fans, that Torre relies on hunches a ton and often (too often?) goes back to the guys that he trusts.

Maybe he was right in pulling Derek Lowe after just five innings while pitching on short rest, but it sure sounds like Torre didn’t consult the parties involved:

Russell Martin is asked if he’s consulted on how Lowe is throwing, and he says, “No, that’s the manager’s decision.”
Meanwhile, standing in front of his locker, Lowe remains befuddled. He says he’s still in the game, he goes to the clubhouse to use the men’s room, comes out and is told, “that’s it.”

He still doesn’t understand why. “That’s the manager’s decision, and they make decisions in the best interests of the team,” he says. “It wasn’t like I was going to throw a hissy-fit; I had already thrown stuff around in the first inning” after giving up two runs.

Lowe went through the next four innings, though, without giving up a run. In his previous 11 starts, he had yet to give up more than two earned runs, and here he was again.

And I just had my easiest inning yet, which is what I needed,” he says. “I felt fine.”

Maybe Torre’s just having another “I’m Keith Hernandez” moment. Wouldn’t be the first. Continue reading Torre's bullpen mismanagement continues.

Victorino illustrates the unwritten rules

I just loved this moment in the game. Kudos for Victorino for being as descriptive. Could he have been any clearer?

Bonus like in this picture: the dual ear flaps on the helmet, little league style.

(yes, I know he’s a switch hitter, before you write to call me names)

UPDATE: (10/13/08, 12:15pm): Courtesy of Buster (emphasis mine):

As Jimmy Rollins batted with one out, Martin twice gave demonstrative signs for Kuroda to throw the ball the inside, and shifted his body so that he was almost behind Rollins’ knee. Kuroda threw a fastball to strike out Rollins; two outs, nobody on base, the Dodgers with a big lead. The conditions were perfect for retaliation. Victorino probably walked to the plate assuming that he was going to get drilled.

Once again, Martin gave a particularly demonstrative sign to Kuroda for a fastball inside, and again, Martin set his target nearly behind Victorino — and Kuroda threw the ball over Victorino’s head.
So it was not a surprise that in the instant after Kuroda’s fastball buzzed past Victorino’s head, he handled it as diplomatically as you could. He didn’t rage, he didn’t rant. He gestured at his body and then his head and yelled aloud to Kuroda, saying something along these lines: “Hey, throw at my body, but not my head.” And as he continued to say this to Kuroda and to Martin, he put a hand on Martin’s arm collegially, making it clear that he understood and respected that Martin and the Dodgers were mad, and he understood why they retaliated. He wasn’t angry about the pitch, just the placement of it, and he made his point.

Victorino repeated his words to Kuroda after grounding out, and then others rounded out. And when others became involved, the Phillies and Dodgers engaged in one of those silly bench-clearing staredowns, in which nobody really intends to fight. But the whole thing had already been defused by how Victorino had responded.

Well document, Buster. Couldn’t agree more. Continue reading Victorino illustrates the unwritten rules