Archive for September 2010

My take on Ken Burns’ 10th Inning

September 30, 2010

I watched Ken Burns 10th inning on PBS the past two nights and like most baseball fans, I have some opinions I’d like to share. It’ll be pretty incoherent, so hopefully you don’t get lost.

Topics that should have been covered

– George Steinbrenner: I feel like he should have been touched upon for more than the minute that he was. Like it or not, he was one of the more dominant figures in baseball.

– The Blue Jays winning the 1992 World Series. For the first time ever a non-American team and city won the World Series. You’d think Ken would have talked about it a little bit. Instead, nothing.

– The same goes for the 1991 World Series as well. Some people consider it the greatest World Series ever played. Not Mr. Burns apparently. He found time to talk about the 2009 World Series though.

– Players that should have been talked about: Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols. Players like Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Manny Ramirez, and Mariano Rivera should have had more than just a blurb. I know he can only show so much given the time allocated, but still, it would have been nice to talk about those players.

Topics I liked

– 2001 World Series. It’s no secret to me that I believe the best two games of baseball ever played are Games 4 and 5 of the 2001 World Series. Game 7 wasn’t so bad either. However, even though I liked that he did mention it, I thought his coverage of 9/11 and baseball was way too brief. The Mike Piazza home run wasn’t even shown!

– I did enjoy the advanced stats section. That portion was totally unexpected. Jon Miller also sounded like an idiot talking about VORP. VORP is so 2005. Oh, and you can just say “O-P-S”, Jon, not “OPS” like it’s some special military mission.

– Pedro Martinez getting a portion of the show dedicated to himself was nice. He is a top three pitcher of all-time and a unique personality. He deserved the spotlight.

– Ballparks. It was nice that Burns delved into the construction of new stadiums. Mainly because it’s cool to look back at these new, awesome stadiums. Very aesthetic, very pleasing.

– Don’t Believe the Hype by Public Enemy was played! How awesome is that?

Other thoughts

– Selena Roberts? Really? That weakened the documentary’s credibility. Big time.

– Why was Jacoby Ellsbury the face of the Bottom of the 10th? Of all players to put in the standstill picture, Ellsbury was the player chosen? C’mon, man.

– In the original Baseball series, the title of a new chapter would show on a black screen. In this version, that was not the case. I preferred the black screen. Just something about produced a greater, more dramatic affect.

– Without Buck O’Neil, the documentary lacked something. It was good, but O’Neil really made the original series special. Also, it was interesting to say how the people interviewed in 1994 aged. I mean like, really aged.

– I just want to point out far baseball feel from 1993 to 1994. In 1993 a Canadian team won the World Series (again) via a walk-off home run. Baseball was on the clouds. Then in 1994 there is a strike and baseball is at an all time low. I mean, they go from Joe Carter to no World Series. Just a complete 180 turnaround. Very saddening.

– I feel like the organization of the steroid section was too scrambled. It was a topic that reoccurred every so often. Personally, I would have preferred if he had just dealt with it in one take, rather than going back and forth.

All in all, it was good. The original series was much better in my opinion, and I believe the people interviewed in the original were a lot better than some of the new interviewees. I also feel like he tried to touch upon several topics, but was way too brief on them. That made it feel rushed to me. Overall I’d give it a C+/B-.

New York Yankees playoff roster

September 29, 2010

With the Yankees clinching last night, I want to take a look at the possible Yankees playoff roster for the ALDS (as every quasi-related and fully related Yankees blog has done within the past 24 hours).

First, let’s take a look at those players who are a shoe-in to make the roster.

Catcher

Jorge Posada

Francisco Cervelli

Infield

Mark Teixeira

Robinson Cano

Derek Jeter

Alex Rodriguez

Lance Berkman

Outfield

Brett Gardner

Curtis Granderson

Nick Swisher

Marcus Thames

Austin Kearns

Starting Pitchers

CC Sabathia

Andy Pettitte

Phil Hughes

AJ Burnett

Relief Pitchers

Mariano Rivera

Dave Robertson

Kerry Wood

Joba Chamberlain

Boone Logan

For those of you counting at home, that is twenty-one players who pretty much have a spot locked up. That means there are four open slots on the roster. I would guess they would take an extra infielder defense, an extra outfielder for defense, and two pitchers considering pitching is a concern. I do not think they will take a third catcher for a five game series.

The available options for the infield are Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez. Personally, I would take Pena. While Nunez might be a better hitter, neither should be in the game for offense. The only playing time they should get is to base run or to replace A-Rod/Jeter on defense. Pena has a better glove and their base running skills offset, so give me Pena.

In the outfield the only option is Greg Golson. He would also be the main pinch runner and could be a defensive replacement for the hobbling Nick Swisher, or Marcus Thames if a situation occurs where he had to hit for Brett Gardner or Curtis Granderson late in a game.

Now comes starting pitching. The options here include Javy Vazquez, Ivan Nova, Dustin Moseley, Chad Guadin, Sergio Mitre, Royce Ring, and possibly Demaso Marte. Ring was in AAA all season and Marte is supposed to still be hurt, so I won’t even consider them. That leaves Vazquez, Nova, Moseley, Gaudin, and Mitre. Chad Gaudin has been all season so throw him out. Throw out Moseley since he hasn’t been great either. Despite recent struggles, I am bringing Javy Vazquez. He could be effective for a few innings at a time. The same goes for Ivan Nova. I know Sergio Mitre has been on the team all season and is a good GB pitcher, but Nova is just better. I think he could dominate for 2-3 innings where his fastball will be juiced up.

So my final roster is:

C- Posada, Cervelli

IF- Teixeira, Cano, Rodriguez, Jeter, Berkman, Pena

OF- Gardner, Granderson, Swisher, Thames, Kearns, Golson

SP- Sabathia, Pettitte, Hughes, Burnett

RP- Rivera, Robertson, Wood, Chamberlain, Logan, Vazquez, Nova

Despite our so-so performance the past two months, I’m feeling confident about this team on paper.

In my opinion, if we start out on the road, Phil should start game two. He is a mega FB/HR pitcher, so he pitches well on the road. Presumably the Yankees would be facing the Twins if they are the Wild Card team and the Twins play at Target Field, a big ballpark. That can help Phil out with his fly ball tendencies. So the Game 1 and Game 2 match-ups would be Sabathia/Liriano and Hughes/Pavano. Then Game 3 would be Pettitte/Duenseng. While the Twins are throwing good pitchers, I feel comfortable with those match-ups. It’s game four that could be scary with Burnett pitching. That is why I think we should throw a combo of Burnett/Vazquez/Nova. To limit the potential damage of each pitcher, each guy should get about one go around of the opponent’s lineup. It’s a strategy endorsed by Tom Tango as well, considering that the more times through a lineup a pitcher goes, the worse his wOBA Against is.

If the Yankees start at home, they would be play Texas. In this case, I would throw CC and Pettitte at home, and throw Phil game 3. For Game 4 I would still do the same thing I mentioned earlier.

Obviously I’d love to win the division and play Texas, but I’m starting to feel more comfortable about playing Minnesota. They will be a tough team, but not unbeatable. With four super good teams, the AL playoffs should be one of the more exciting playoffs in recent history.

My Colin Cowherd rant

September 29, 2010

Yes, I know he is a mediot, so I shouldn’t be getting worked up. But I am anyway. On his radio show today he ignorantly declared Mike Mussina is not close to being a HOF’er and said Garvey was a no-doubter.

Reasons against Mussina- he nibbled, never won a lot of games, was not an ace, and didn’t throw hard.

Reasons for Garvey- he was overshadowed by Ron Cey but was good and won the MVP.

Wow, just wow.

Please, stop being ignorant, Colin.

WINS AND LOSSES ARE MEANINGLESS! THEY WERE CREATED IN THE 1860’S WHEN IT COULD BE USEFUL BECAUSE PITCHER’S OFTEN THREW COMPLETE GAMES!

Now pitchers are given full credit for a game when as starters they have around a 1/3 impact on the game. C’mon!

Mussina: 7.11 K/9, 1.98 BB/9, 0.95 HR/9, and the kicker- an 85.6 WAR.

Schilling (who Cowherd compared Mussina to) : 8.60 K/9, 1.96 BB/9, 0.96 HR/9 and 86.1 WAR

Hmmm.

And please, don’t complain about the stats, Colin. Just because YOU think it’s nerdy, that doesn’t take away the legitimacy of them. Mussina is a HOF’er, as well as Schilling.

Remember, Mussina DID throw hard. Back on the Orioles. Just because he threw 90 when he was old, it means how he pitched in his 20’s doesn’t count?

Garvey is not a HOF’er. I’m not going to spend time on this one.

Too bad he won’t read this.

Jose Bautista- Ya just can’t predict baseball

September 24, 2010

Although his name appears in the title, I am not writing about Jose Bautista. I just simply wanted to comment on a fascinating aspect of baseball seasons. Each season there is always a unique, unexpected storyline that seemingly comes out of nowhere. That, is one of the many reasons why baseball is awesome.

This year nobody expected Jose Bautista to hit fifty home runs. Last season Aaron Hill hit thirty-six home runs as a second baseman, after hitting two in 2008. In 2008 Josh Hamilton burst onto the scene after a solid partial season in 2007. Before that year began, did anyone think Yankee Stadium would be chanting his name at the Home Run Derby? In that same season the lowly Rays won 98 games in the regular season and advanced to the World Series. Even though SABR-heads thought the Rays would be good, I don’t think anyone expected them to be that good.

The point is- ya can’t predict baseball. And that’s why baseball is awesome.

20 wins or 50 home runs?

September 24, 2010

The other day on YES during a Yankees broadcast, the text question of the day was which is more impressive: 20 wins or 50 home runs in a season.

I just want to comment on how silly this question is. The answer by far is 50 home runs.

1) There are only 26 different people in baseball history who have hit 50 homers in a season. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of pitchers who have won twenty games or more in a season. Hundreds. 26. Hundreds. 26. Yeah.

2) Just look at recent history. So far this season three pitchers have won twenty games. There is just one person who hit fifty home runs. In this decade, 50 homers were hit on nine different occasions- by seven players. There have been 34 50 game winners this decade.

3) As you all know, a home run is the most influential single event in a baseball game. Wins are a worthless stat that don’t tell us much about the pitcher. So a home run>a win. On that basis alone it should be more impressive.

So yeah, based on the points made above I’m going to have to say 50 home runs is more impressive than 20 wins.

Joe Torre the coward

September 23, 2010

In a recent podcast, former Yankee David Wells called Joe Torre a “coward”. Here is the quote in full:

Quote:

“I had [Yankees pitching coach] Mel Stottlemyre come up to me in ’97 and tell me they were going to sit me out in the first round against Cleveland,” Wells told us. “I said, ‘If you’re going to sit me out the first round, you might as well just send me home.’ That pissed me off because I won like 15, 16 games for them. […] That’s pretty degrading when you have your manager tell your pitching coach to tell you, ‘Hey, you’re going to sit out,’ rather than telling you himself. That’s what Joe Torre is to me, a coward.

“I don’t like him at all. As a manager, I think he’s terrible. He wasn’t a fair manager. He didn’t treat people the same. He definitely didn’t treat me the same. […] If he tells you anything else, he’s a liar.”

Talk about being blunt.

Now, I don’t hate Joe Torre, but I’m not his biggest fan. He is one of the more overrated managers in baseball history. Yes, he won four World Series, but the teams he had were not only insanely good, but had their share of luck come the SSS of playoff baseball (hello, 2000 and 2001). He’s been given too much credit for the Yankees success, considering managers have actual little affect on outcomes of games as, in the end, it is the players who play the game. His in-game managing is brutal (A-Rod batting 8th) and he sure knows how to ruin a bullpen (Scott Proctor, Jon Broxton).

More to what Boomer is saying and something that often goes unnoticed- he treats players unfairly. This is not the first time someone has accused Torre of that type of behavior. Both Kenny Lofton and Gary Sheffield complained of receiving different treatment from Torre. Alex Rodriguez also had his differences with the former Yankees manager.

The MSM has a deep love affair with Joe Torre- mainly because he is considered a winning manager. But lets take a step back from the field. On many repeated instances, his leadership and character have been questioned. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I think it’s about time people start changing their tune about “Clueless” Joe and start to examine his character a little bit further.


A look at the 2010 Cy Young races

September 22, 2010

With only a couple weeks left in the season, there are still some exciting races in baseball- the AL East division crown, the NL West division crown, and the NL Wild Card. But playoff races aren’t the only races heating up. Both the Cy Young and MVP awards in both leagues will be going down to the wire. So I thought I’d take a look at the Cy Young races today, since I really haven’t checked up on it since summer.

American League favorite

In my book, Francisco Liriano still is the favorite to win the award. As of today, the award is between him, Cliff Lee, and Felix Hernandez. Honestly, you could pick one of their names out of a hat and I’d be cool with that person being the winner. But I like Liriano based on several things. First, there are three outcomes a pitcher has control of- strikeouts, walks, and home runs. Liriano is third in the league in K/9 at 9.38, and his K rate is better than that of King Felix and Cliff Lee. BB/9 is where Liriano “falters” as Hernandez and Lee have better marks (Lee has an ungodly 0.72 BB/9). But when it comes to homers allowed, Liriano blows the field away. He leads the league with a 0.25 HR/9. Talk about preventing runs. Liriano strikes guys out and doesn’t allow homers. You can cite Target Field, but Felix pitches in Safeco, and Lee pitched in Safeco for a couple months.

Delving further, Liriano has the best FIP, xFIP, and tERA in the AL. A clean sweep. The triple crown of DIPS. When I throw that into the fact of the three things a pitcher can control, Liriano is better than Lee and Felix at two of them, I have to give Liriano the award.

American League candidates

2) Cliff Lee- As I mentioned, I wouldn’t care if he won the award. His fWAR leads all pitchers in baseball at 6.5. He doesn’t walk anybody. He throws a lot of innings which is real valuable. If he hadn’t missed April, he very well could be the clear leading candidate.

3) Felix Hernandez- Again, I’d be cool if he won the award. He is in this spot because of an AMAZING second half. But when I did the dirty work, I just liked Liriano better, and then put Lee second partly because of IP. I know Felix has thrown more innings, but that’s because Lee missed a month and then some. On a per start basis, Lee eats up more innings.

4) Jon Lester- As the Red Sox fortunes took a turn for the worse, people seemed to tune Jon Lester out. But he’s been his amazing self, leading the AL in K/9 and racking a 5.6 fWAR.

5) Jered Weaver- He fell off a little bit, but he is second in the AL with a 9.40 K/9, and has a 5.6 fWAR. Not too shabby. He should get some votes.

Who will win

I think CC Sabathia will win. Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee could give him a serious run for his money. Unfortunately, that small streak of “poor” pitching by Lee a few weeks ago will be taken into consideration by the voters. Despite the W/L record, I believe Felix will get a ton of support, since he has been getting a good deal of attention lately by people trying to show that W/L is crap. Attention is always good for winning awards. But CC has 20 wins, pitches for the team with the best record, and has been good- if not Felix good. The worst part is that Carl Pavano will get more votes than Liriano.

National League favorite

Right now, its gotta be Roy Halladay. I was really hoping Josh Johnson would win the award, but his season ending injury has done him in. But he’s been so good that despite missing September, I still think he gives Halladay a run for his money. However, Doc is just a horse. He’s tossed 241 innings. He’s thrown eight complete games. He has three shutouts. He leads in the NL by far with a 1.12 BB/9. His K/9 is 7.10 which is the best mark of his career. His 6.4 fWAR leads the NL. He has a 3.07 FIP, leads the NL with a 2.95 xFIP, and has a 3.43 tERA. ‘Nuff said. He has been brilliant.

National League candidates

2) Josh Johnson- Until his injury, Johnson was almost literally unstoppable. His 2.43 FIP did lead the NL, and by a fair margin. He was third in xFIP at 3.17. His tERA is 2.78. Yeah. His 0.34 HR/9 led the NL and his 9.11 K/9 is better than the strongest candidates for the award. It’s a shame he got hurt, because the award was all his. I mean, Doc has tossed 241 innings and has a 6.4 fWAR. Johnson threw 183 innings and has a 6.2 WAR. Yeah.

3) Adam Wainwright- I don’t know how or why, but Wainwright gets overlooked a lot. But he has a 2.86 FIP, 3.15 xFIP, a 2.92 tERA, and logged an impressive 224 innings. His fWAR is 6.0 and he is a strong challenger to Doc for the Cy Young.

4) Ubaldo Jiminez- He may have had that fantastic come to a screeching halt sometime in June, but he has kept up the dominance. His fWAR is 5.9 and he continues to strike people out at a fantastic rate. Considering he pitches at Coors, it’s amazing his HR/9 is second in the league at 0.36 HR/9. It’s also amazing that considering his best pitch is the fastball, he can still succeed at Coors. I’ve mentioned before how the altitude lessens the movement of the fastball, which is key for Ubaldo along with his velocity. But he is a freak and should get some votes.

Who will win

Doc Halladay. He won twenty games. He has pitched well by average standards. The award is his. Ubaldo still might challenge him, but his campaign trail has been losing steam for sometime now.