Update: ZOMG! Pictures of snowy birds? Fuck that. Via Dave at Go Jays Go, I've been alerted that Ichiro dabbles in the dark pitching arts, mostly because he can. I love Ichiro so very much more now.
The 3:10 to Joba guys are having a contest! You can win a hat! They're awesome anyway, so you should read them without the lure of a free hat. Though, ordering and shipping a Blue Jays hat to Canada would cause J a tremendous amount of pain. A fate worthy of any Yankee fan.
Professor Griff speaks, but this time he says something worthwhile! Ole Griff send baseball a big sloppy kiss today, and it really showcased his strengths and voice. Better yet, he didn't mention baseball transactions or stats, so it's highly readable. Good work Griff.
Following up on my Steve Phillips-bashing, his team lost in the first round of the ESPN made-for-page views tournament. I feel slightly vindicated.
Fancy talkin' Baseball Graphs Meal
While reaching for tastes of spring, Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts offers up his annual tasty treat: pitcher categorizations! Looking for an exciting break from work to look at charts and examine percentages? Here's your chance! Organizing pitchers by their strikeout and ground ball rates, two keys to pitching success. Unsurprisingly, Roy Halladay sets the standard, missing bats and inducing ground balls. Were Lederer to include walk rates, the third pillar of pitching Islam, Halladay would surely stand out even more.
The upper right section is where you want to be, so it's unsurprising that A.J. and Halladay both hung out in that area. Jesse Litsch is in the north west section, the kind of guy that relies on throwing strikes and the fielders behind him. If the ball starts flying out the yard, he could be in trouble. Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan are found in the lower right or SE quadrant. Not bad, though the lower ground ball numbers can obviously lead to more extra base hits and tater tots. For all his obvious physical gifts, McGowan is the closet Jay to the dreaded south west quadrant, aka The Shitballers of the Highest Order. For McGowan to succeed, he must increase his strikeouts. Considering what he's shown thus far, a career along the lines of Javier Vazquez shouldn't be a disappointment. Which is disappointing.
But what about the 2009 rotation? The candidates are many, outcomes unsure. No question the Jays will miss Burnett, he of the numerous Ks and solid GB numbers. Litsch will be fine if he continues to improve and allow batters to get themselves out. Now for the question marks:
- David Purcey: Another solid strikeout pitcher, Purcey posted a K/Batter Faced rate of 20% in 2008 and a GB rate of 31.8%. Not bad, enough to land him in the south east quadrant. Very similar numbers to fellow serviceable lefty heartbreakers Ted Lily and Oliver Perez. Lily may not sweat as much as Purcey, but I bet he has a similar case of ADD. Good news Dave, in a few years you'll be horrifically overpaid!
- Casey Janssen: Never much of a K threat, Janssen posted K/BF rates of 13.1% (as a setup man in 2007) and 10.8% (mainly as a starter in 2006). His ground ball numbers sit right around 50% for his career. Not exactly awe inspiring, though they are nearly identical to teammate Jesse Litsch. Somehow I convinced myself of a higher ceiling for Janssen than Litsch, apparently I was wrong. The biggest determining factor for Janssen is keeping the ball in the park, something he did much better as a reliever (5.3% HR/FB) than as starter (11.3%). Other pitchers with similar rates include Joe Saunders, Pat Maholm, and Braden Looper. Uhhh, let's move on.
- Canada's Sweetheart Scott Richmond: The grittiest, hardest working motherfucker around is another hoper and prayer. His numbers may be misleading, as he only pitched 27 innings in the bigs and 48 innings at AAA. At three levels in 2008, his K/BF rates were good at AA (21.54&), not good at AAA (10.26%) and medium for the Jays (17.7%). Only posting a 36% ground ball rate in for the Jays doesn't fill me with promise, as he's dangerously near to the shitball quadrant. If his Ks stay up, he will avoid the 6th starter hell that swallowed Dave Bush, Paul Byrd or recent JP refuse pile Brian Burres, who sucks something awful.
- Other hopefuls: Who else is out there? Brian Burres is AAA rotation filler (obviously, if you read the preceding listicle point). Matt Clement's always been a good ground ball guy, but without K numbers similar to his 2004 levels, my precious will time be wasted yet again. The Japanese guy? I reserve comment to keep from losing face.