Exaggerated Claims Distort Dodgers’ Current Plight; McCourts Have History with Distressed Franchises

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog). Move aside Barry Bonds. Fred McCourt is one of the most vile, reprehensible men in the history of baseball. At least that seems to be the popular sentiment expressed in the wake of Bud Selig’s decision to wrestle away control of the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s impossible to deny, not to mention excuse, the abuses that have pervaded McCourt’s tenure as owner of the one baseball’s flagship franchises. It seems likely that the organization and the city of Los Angeles will be much better off under someone else’s guidance, but that reality Continue reading Exaggerated Claims Distort Dodgers’ Current Plight; McCourts Have History with Distressed Franchises

Quick Afternoon Hits

Joe Girardi is not ready to bench Brett Gardner just yet. While I laid out the alternatives to Brett Gardner the other day, I can’t say I’m shocked he’s not being benched. It makes sense to give him a handful more plate appearances to see if he can right the ship. Not so fun fact: Brett Gardner’s total bases and OPS+ are equal so far this year: 9. This morning, Josh Norris laid out just how well the Charleston RiverDogs have been pitching in the early season: Charleston RiverDogs starting pitchers: 74 innings, 77 strikeouts, 20 walks. Those numbers mean Continue reading Quick Afternoon Hits

Fun with small samples

It’s late April, so we’re getting to the point where the stats we see in the batters’ graphics every night will start to (kind of) mean something. But, it’s also still early enough that there are some ridiculous stat lines up there. Let’s start with IsoP. Currently, the Yankees have SIX (!!) players in the top ten of the American League’s IsoP leaderboard. Curtis Granderson leads the pack with a .418 mark. Alex Rodriguez is right behind him at .415, and Mark Teixeira is third at .379. Jorge Posada and his .300 mark are in sixth place while Russell Martin Continue reading Fun with small samples

Friday fun facts & figures

Happy Friday to all and a Good Friday to those celebrating. Absent of breaking news and game review discussions, here’s a collection of random facts and figures from around the game:

  • The Kansas City Royals, yes, THE ROYAL, lead MLB in average road attendance with 36,406. The Mets second with 36,196.
  • So the Royals are the draw when they are on the road, but at home, no one seems to care as they are second from the bottom with a meager 15,509 average. Least supported home team: Cleveland Indians, averaging 14,391.
  • The easiest ticket to get when they are in town (so far): The White Sox, with an average road attendance of 15,779.
  • There are four teams who have played to at least 98% capacity at home so far this season: Phillies 104.2%, Boston 101.2%, SF 99.7%, Minnesota 98.0%. In case you’re curious, the Yanks sit 6th in home attendance capacity at 82.9%.
  • Home warriors: Phillies lead in average attendance with 45,483. Yanks sit third with 41,685.

[Of course the attendance figures are skewed by the teams they are playing and where they are playing, not to mention the vagaries of the weather. But it’s early and drawing false conclusions are easy, not to mention fun.]

  • The Yankees lead all of MLB in home runs with 30 in 16 games played. Not surprisingly, they also lead in OPS with .824.
  • This might be my favorite factoid: The Yankees, as a team, are averaging a home run once every 17.5 AB’s. The MLB average is 42.2 AB/HR. For comparison, Alex Rodriguez is averaging, for his career to date, 14.37 AB/HR.
  • And then there’s the Twins, who might need to bat from second base to help their measly 102.3 AB/HR rate.
  • San Diego (26, 74% success rate) and KC (24, 86% rate) lead their respective leagues in stolen bases. Catchers can rest easier when facing Baltimore (4) or the Cubs (2), however.
  • Feeling a breeze, Pittsburgh? Leading the league in whiffs with 169. Texas (94) and Yanks (99) are the least whifftastic.
  • According to fangraphs.com, the American League “leader” in the worst WAR so far this season: Carl Crawford at -1.2. Our own Brett Gardner is not far behind, in a three way tie for second worst with a -0.5 WAR.
  • Best WAR so far: Howie Kendrick at 1.2. Winners, please bring your ticket to the booth. Curtis Granderson is tied with Kendrick at 1.2.
  • wRC+ leader: ARod at 236. Russell Martin is 4th with 182, followed quickly by Curtis Granderson (181) and Mark Teixeira (180).
  • wRC+ dogs: Brett Gardner -7 and Carl Crawford -4. The only two AL players in the negative. I always hoped that Gardner would develop into a Crawford-lite. Except now, not so much.
  • Into ISO: Three Yankees lead in isolated power: Granderson (.418), ARod (.415) and Teixeira (.379). Skipping Carlos Quintin, the next two are Jorge Posada (.300) and Martin (.294)
  • Team leader in OPS+: Yankees at 126.

Got a favorite fact, stat, figure that I didn’t hit on? Add it below in the comments. Continue reading Friday fun facts & figures

Analyzing Bartolo Colon’s Outing

To say Bartolo Colon has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees this season would be an understatement.  His signing (along with that of Freddy Garcia) prompted a lot of snarky jokes about the fact that it is no longer the year 2005 (a brilliant observation!) and that Bartolo Colon is fat (so perceptive!).  Considering that he did not pitch in the majors  at all in 2010, it was easy to write off Colon as finished, and put him in the same category as Mark Prior (a nice story if he’s able to contribute anything, but likely a non-factor).  Even Continue reading Analyzing Bartolo Colon’s Outing

Cashman's Offseason Additions Paying Early Dividends

Brian Cashman’s offseason was widely viewed as disappointing by Yankees fans and baseball pundits alike. The club missed out on Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke was moved to Milwaukee, and Cashman was left to pick up scraps. Even among the leftovers, some expressed discontent with Cashman’s choices, preferring players such as Brandon Webb to the minor league contract crew of Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Kevin Millwood. Cashman’s big move, the signing of catcher Russell Martin, came at a position of perceived strength and represented an addition of a player who had declined for 3 consecutive seasons. Taken together, these signings Continue reading Cashman's Offseason Additions Paying Early Dividends

When Will Montero Arrive?

Jesus Montero is raking in AAA right now. After another 3-5 night, he’s now up to .423/.423/.558 on the year, with 1 home run and 4 doubles in 52 plate appearances. Understandably, there has been quite a bit of commotion to call him up as soon as possible. I don’t think we’ll be seeing him anytime soon though and it’s probably more prudent to wait. Here are my quick 3 reasons. 1. Russell Martin has been playing better than anyone probably expected. Whether we’ll see that going forward, I have no idea. To this point though, there’s no need to Continue reading When Will Montero Arrive?

What Slower Aluminum Bats In College Baseball Mean For Prospects

The NCAA finally began enforcing its provision against most high-end composite metal bats this season. Fangraphs has a great post up on some of the implications for hitters and for scouts: As part of its ongoing attempt to temper the trampoline effect of metal bats – and in part lessen on-the-job hazards for pitchers and infielders in the college game – the NCAA this year mandated that bat manufacturers follow a new standard that now makes metal bats only slightly more lively than wood bats. So no ping. Not even a craaack. These days, the sound of ball meeting bat is more Continue reading What Slower Aluminum Bats In College Baseball Mean For Prospects

The Dodgers won’t be the Expos

With Major League Baseball seizing control of the Dodgers yesterday, the most obvious comparison that comes to mind is baseball’s ownership of the Montreal Expos in the early part of the last decade, and that’s exactly what Jonah Keri, arguably the world’s most famous Expos fan, thought of. If you’re interested in what it was like to have your favorite team run by the offices of MLB, the article is well worth a read.

That said, this is likely to be where comparisons between the Dodgers and Expos end. The problem with the Expos situation, as Jonah notes, was the total lack of long-term certainty for the franchise. Baseball had just tried to contract the team and it was a virtual certainty that they’d be moving to another city in the best case scenario. This just simply isn’t the case with the Dodgers, who are operating in one of the largest markets in the world and are one of the crown jewel franchises in baseball. The long-game here is obvious; force the end of the McCourt ownership, straighten out the franchise’s finances, and sell them to a new, more competent, owner.

Though there’s really no comparison that’s really similar to this unprecedented scenario, as far as the incentives of the baseball operations team are concerned, this is probably more akin to what the Rangers went through last year than what Omar Minaya faced with the Expos. In the latter case, Minaya was mostly concerned with showing off in the short term to try to win another job somewhere else. With the long-term future of the franchise in total doubt, it’s not clear he had any concern for long-term thinking, or even that he should have for that matter. Jon Daniels, on the other hand, faced much less doubt about the fundamental future of his team, and was more or less charged with navigating through the middle of a messy change of ownership.

If nothing else, the difference in baseball’s response is illuminating in itself. With the Expos, baseball assumed ownership as a last resort for a doomed franchise. In the case of the Dodgers, they’re moving swiftly to keep the McCourts from doing even more damage to one of the sport’s most valuable assets. That alone probably says as much as anything else could about how the Dodgers are likely to be run until a new ownership team is in place. Continue reading The Dodgers won’t be the Expos