Sunday night link-around, catch-up

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Why I Love Sports

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Sports are a big part of my life. I’m not athletic – I was my pitch-to-yourself softball team’s catcher, and the only sport that I’ve ever been reasonably good at is ultimate frisbee. But between the hockey and baseball seasons, I don’t spend a whole lot of time during the year without devoted day-to-day following of my favorite teams. I’m a total filmy, but I probably enjoy movies like The Rookie, Invincible, Miracle, Mystery Alaska, Tin Cup, and Bull Durham more than any Coen Brothers or Wes Anderson film. And of course, I’ve been having a blast blogging about baseball for more than 4 years now.

I really loved Vancouver’s Winter Olympics. I’m always in the woods for the Summer Olympics, and the 2006 games were on tape delay, so this is the first time in a long time that I’ve truly experienced the thrill of the international competition. My friends will tell you that I was screaming like a madman when Team USA would make a tough shot in curling, or when Shaun White made a sick run for the half pipe gold medal.… Click here to read the rest

What Does It Mean To Be A 5th Starter? Part 1

Longtime readers know that one of my pet peaves is the arbitrary designation of how good a starting pitcher is. People like to classify guys as “#1 starter”, “#3 starter” etc. Its not an uncommon way to classify players in sports – because its fairly intuitive. I’ve been involved in a lot of debates about whether or not Scott Gomez was a “true #1 center’ for the Devils – and I absolutely hate the designation.

Each team in a normal rotation has to carry 5 starters. The Yankees have Javy Vazquez, Andy Pettitte, C.C. Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett, and the last spot is up in the air. Besides for an extra start or two possibly handed to C.C. Sabathia due to off days, and a few taken away from the Joba/Hughes competition for the same reason, but for the most part until the playoffs the rotation order is completely meaningless. Whether or not Javy Vazquez is the #2 or #4 starter has absolutely no impact on the game.… Click here to read the rest

Montero Determined to Catch at Major League Level

While this headline is rather obvious, the young Venezuelan made it very clear in an interview with NJ.com’s Marc Craig (h/t to River Ave. Blues) that he wants to be a catcher going forward.

When asked about possibly playing another position in the future, Montero was vague: “I don’t know. Maybe in the future, two, three, five years more, maybe they’re going to put me in another position. But I’m working to be a catcher. I want to be in the big leagues as a catcher.” Any player would likely say the same thing about staying at his natural position, but it’s great to see Jesus showing great desire for wanting to stick to catching. Craig asked a follow up and Montero said he wants “to be a catcher with the Yankees.” Of course, when a player is as big as Montero is behind the plate, it’s hard for him to master that position. Montero, though, is working. On changing his throwing mechanics: “Last year, I got a lot of outs when they told me that, more than before.… Click here to read the rest

And you thought today’s MVP voters were bad!

Last night before I went to bed I took a look at Lou Gehrig’s stats on Baseball Reference. That’s the kind of guy I am. I’ve been obsessed with baseball history since I was about 5. Every now and then I like to take a look at some of the old-time greats, mostly to see how dominant they were. In Gehrig’s case, last night I saw something that would have made Ken Tremendous explode if the internet and FireJoeMorgan existed in 1934.

Baseball Reference highlights a player’s stat from a given year if that player led his league, or both, in the statistics. 1934 jumped out at me because Gehrig led all of baseball in BA, OBP and Slugging, with a .363/.465/.706 line, good for an OPS+ of 208. (Before I go any further I feel I should mention that I’ll turn into a puddle of warm goo if any one of the 2010 Yankees puts up an OPS+ of 208.) The reason this jumped out at me, aside from the fact that Lou was an absolute beast, is also because he came in 5th in the MVP voting in 1934.
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Burnett working on his change

According to the Star-Ledger‘s Marc Carig, right-hander, A.J. Burnett, is refining his changeup this spring and hopes to overcome a fear he has of getting beat by the pitch in order to employ it more often in 2010. “I think it’s a big key,” noted Burnett when discussing the pitch, which he used only 3.1% of the time a season ago, the lowest rate of any American League starter with at least 180 innings accrued. “Whether I throw it or not, I don’t know, but I’ve been working on it,” he added. Carig states that Burnett is trying to get comfortable with the offering in camp so that he can utilize it specifically when his curveball is off in the upcoming regular season. Earlier this month, I actually suggested that Burnett should use his changeup more this year, citing the 33-year old’s weak fastball numbers from last season, according to pitch type values, as a reason for the increase in usage.… Click here to read the rest

Theo makes the case for Gardner in left

In an interview with WEEI, while discussing left field for his ballclub in 2010 and stressing the importance of defense at that position, Red Sox architect, Theo Epstein, inadvertently made the case for starting Brett Gardner in left field for the Yankees as well. And, though it pains me to give any Red Sox fan credit, his argument was rather effective.

Here’s what Epstein had to say via a WEEI transcript (the interviewer’s words are in bold, Epstein’s are not):

We knew Julio Lugo stunk and Lowell was hurt. But we never thought Bay was less than average or Ellsbury was less than good.

What you will see this year, contrast with Carl Crawford’s left field defense for example, with what we’ve typically see in left field. We’ve had bat-first left fielders. If you don’t see a left fielder making an egregious mistake, that doesn’t mean he’s doing a great job. Look at how hard it is to hit doubles when we play Tampa Bay.

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Anybody but the guy with the career .414 wOBA in pinstripes

In Joe’s piece on A-Rod’s press conference he points out that Anthony DiComo’s article for MLB.com — despite an epic postseason redemption — still manages to undersell A-Rod, which is somewhat remarkable for a story titled “Much has changed for A-Rod in a year.”

It seems that even when trying to write something positive about Alex Rodriguez the media just can’t help but still take a dig at any opportunity. I hate to waste virtual ink on this — especially as I’ve probably spent more time defending A-Rod in the last six years than just about any other Yankee-related topic — but it still irks the hell out of me that these are the types of high-profile opinions, much as we wish this they weren’t, that shape the public narrative and perception of A-Rod’s career for those who cant be bothered to think for themselves or objectively evaluate his contributions.

The following bit in particular left me shaking my head in disgust:

“Pressure.
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