Monday, May 31, 2010

Get Ready for a Whole Bunch of This

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News isn't the first, nor will he be the last. Expect whispers to grow into murmurs in no time flat.
Jose Bautista equaled his career high home run total on May 30th...Alex Gonzalez's isolated power and slugging percentage are each up over 100 points...Vernon Wells rediscovered his power stroke at 32...John Buck's home run per fly ball rate is 50% higher than his career rate
Baggarly didn't actually accuse Bautista of anything, I got there all on my own. With a certain Anthony Galea still in the news, vague innuendos could pair up with nagging doubts to make this a most uncomfortable time.

Nevermind the team-wide philosophy of going for broke. You'll have to ignore the complete and utter disregard for anything less than a full swing of every single batter in the lineup; Dwayne Murphy's calling card perhaps. The longer this madness lasts, the more pointed the criticism becomes. The more national columnists who might peak their nose over the 49th parallel then claim to smell a rat.

If I'm right and the Jays incredible start brings skeptics out of the woodwork, how will you react? I suspect many Jays fans would dismiss any allegations out of hand, as that's what being a fan means. "Our guys? No way!" I don't think for a second anything untoward is going on under the watchful eye of Alex Anthopoulos, not for one second!

But were it the Orioles who suddenly went crazy and hit 53 home runs in May thanks to the contributions of Julio Lugo, Ty Wigginton (whoops!), and Garret Atkins, you'd better believe I'd be skeptical. Good thing the Jays are doing it so I have nothing to worry about.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

That Which Cannot Be Undeleted

So I had a whole post written about the Jays defense, about how despite the team's ability to strike chumps out, take chumps deep, and change speeds on a chump; their bad habits will catch up. Especially if they commit all three of their egregious sins (walking guys, refusing to walk themselves, and playing slightly shitty defense) at the same time. Unfortunately, that post was track-padded into the internet ether (no thanks to YOU chromecacheview, you Russian piece of shit) so I'm left with this defensive tangent.

Instead, we will play the "What If?" game. Think back to Alex Gonzalez's excellent defensive play yesterday: the whole which saved the game. It saved the game briefly, but oh what could've been. Watch the video, play extra close attention to second base around the 30 second mark. Look for what you see below (screengrabbed from MLBAM.)

With the bases loaded and one out, Juan Rivera stopped between second and third base then RETURNED to second base. The throw obviously went home (to save the game) but what couldda shouldda wouldda happened next.

To recap: John BuckJose Molina prepares to throw to first to complete the double play, having recorded the force at home. Erick Aybar nearly reaches second base, Howie Kendrick takes off his batting gloves having reached first base an instant after making contact. But there is poor Juan Rivera, a mere 10 feet from from second base, 80 feet from safety. Our hero Aaron Hill unfortunately demonstrates the evils of ball watching.

A weird example for sure, but an interesting game of What If? What If Aaron Hill notices Juan Rivera standing frozen on the base path? What If his shouts and gestures catch BuckMolina's glance, even for a second? What If John BuckJose Molina sees Rivera's fat frame lumbering near the base out of the corner of his own eye?

Extremely unlikely during the tense potential last play of the game. It's entirely possible Edwin Encarnacion didn't move an inch when the ball was hit, he simply enjoyed the view just like Aaron Hill. But still, a toss to third gets Rivera by 40 feet, ends the inning, prolongs the game. O! Drama!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Say What You Like About the Tenets of Citocity, At Least it's An Ethos

or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb.

Last night's three solo home run outburst cinched it. The 2010 Blue Jays are a one trick pony who are going to have a hard time staying out of their own way. But you know what? That's okay.

I used to write a lot about style on this page, even though style and baseball are slightly dissonant ideas. This 2010 Blue Jays team, it has style. It's brash and obnoxious and its own worst enemy, but damn if it isn't fun to watch. The numbers are clear - this cannot sustain a ballclub over 162 games. But who cares?

"Plan your work, work your plan" an oft-repeated cliche. Clarence hardly planned this, claiming in a doddering moment this spring that the team would create offense and move runners around and all that good shit. This ran in direct opposition to a later (truer) claim that a bunch of guys could possibly knock a truckful of dingers.

The cruelest irony of the Jays free swinging ways, the greatest victim in the great paradigm shift of 2010: Aaron Hill.

So often chided for being a free-swinger, Bizarro Hill is now the most patient hitter on the team. The worst hitter, but the most patient. After we all wailed about his inability to talk a walk, he's now seeing next to nothing in the strike zone. The result? Sky-high walk totals and rock bottom line drive rates.

I wonder what this says about our desire to stretch players across all five tools? Did Aaron Hill hear the whispers of his impatience and change his entire approach? Is he now pressing; mad worse by the dearth of quality pitches he's offered to hit? It is a troubling time for Aaron Hill, for the most part. He is the streakiest man alive, so we have that to hang onto.

But these 2010 Jays, they are throw-your-hands-in-the-air-in-disbelief awesome. Bang-your-head-off-a-table-in-anger awesome. This-can't-possibly-work awesome. They are the bad movie you quickly realize is one of your all-time favorites. They are a bad team playing well. They are ours.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Summer Sun

There is no way I can possible finish the woe-is-me post I've labored over across multiple nights this week. Look outside, the weather is amazing and we're coming into a long weekend.

Who cares that the Jays run of success is utterly unsustainable? Worse yet, it doesn't matter if they DO somehow sustain it, they STILL won't topple the Rays and Yankees while holding off the Red Sox.

Honestly, I need to let it go. Enjoy walkoffs and cardiac kids and silly podcasts to wile away long hours in traffic.

Enjoy National League beatdowns that actually detrimental to a team like the Jays playoffs hopes, win or lose. Just enjoy it. Enjoy Fred Lewis doing his Southern Fried Ichiro and Alex Gonzalez hurtling to Earth at the speed of sound going for broke. Admire the incredible starting pitching and smile at thought of it continuing into the foreseeable future.

Just have fun. Don't become a fart-sniffing cynic like me. Watch the highlights of the Reds collapse in Atlanta the other day and remember none of it would have happened if Scott Rolen's in the game. Watch Franklin Gutierrez cause Death to Flying Things. Drink a beer and take a run at a girl out of your league. It all happens pretty fast, like Ferris said.

Monday, May 17, 2010

BAS Auction

Jose Bautista certainly isn't making it easy for me to hate him. Well, dismiss him. He doesn't really do anything interesting enough to win my support; he simply mashes dingers at a breathtaking pace.

When I first looked at Bautista's hot September, the conclusion wasn't "JoeBau is lucky and without skill", it was more "he's good at one thing in particular, a skill possessed by many professional baseball players. That he can hit a fastball is nice, but not especially unique or noteworthy." I tried to show that — as with many miraculous months of September — bad or inexperienced pitchers serve up juicy meatballs that a not-quite league average guy like Jose Bautista jumps all over.

Remember the difference between my interpretation of Randy Ruiz's month and the other dudes (EE, BAS) was the quality and variety of pitches taken deep. Unfortunately for everyone, Randy Ruiz now appears to audition for his ongoing employment with every swing, resulting in some pretty ugly but mercifully short at bats.

Fast forward to today and Jose Bautista cannot be stopped. Suddenly the Jays have versatile Three True Outcome monster that isn't afraid to knock 450 foot dingers into the second deck, like a shittier American League version of Mark Reynolds. He's swinging a hot bat and playing excellent defense at two corner positions. That's something I can, short of joining a society, appreciate. After all...
ap·pre·ci·a·tion   [uh-pree-shee-ey-shuhn] –noun
1. gratitude; thankful recognition: They showed their appreciation by giving him a gold watch.
2. the act of estimating the qualities of things and giving them their proper value.
3. clear perception or recognition, esp. of aesthetic quality: a course in art appreciation.
4. an increase or rise in the value of property, goods, etc.
5. critical notice; evaluation; opinion, as of a situation, person, etc.
6. a critique or written evaluation, esp. when favorable.
Heck yeah, Jose Bautista's hot streak might just create a tidy little trade market for the valuable slugger*. Fangraphs (somewhat inevitably, real life delayed this post while Dave Cameron fired off two posts. FML) pointed out both Jose's potential trade value and (hyperbole alert) his opportunity to be this year's Ben Zobrist! Unfortunately it takes two teams to dance, so who might benefit from some hot BAS in their lives?

The Angels

Handing the job to young Brandon Wood seemed like a good idea on paper, in fact it IS a good idea. Which is exactly why Mike Scioscia likely pines for a veteran guy who can play multiple positions. The Angels minor league system isn't much better off than the Jays. Fireballing reliever Kevin Jepsen is a high-ceiling power arm with command issues. AA seems bullish on that type, the Angels prefer proven guys in their bullpen.

The Braves

Ole Chip is nearing the end of his impressive career, even more impressive when you consider he managed not to shoot himself on his countless hunting excursions. The Braves aren't quite rebuilding but replacing their aging pieces one by one. A team with a glut of young pitching, I'm sure Bobby and friends could cough up something worthy Bautista. Hey, they could always package Eric Hinske and Troy Glaus.

The Mariners

Geez, the Mariners are turrible! They can't score runs to save their lives. The final act of the Jose Lopez experience is almost to curtain. The M's need an infusion of pop, even if they must sacrifice their precious run prevention.

The Mariners system is a little skimpy, maybe the Jack Z could trade one of his bullpen arms? Looks like the guy they picked up in off season —I think his name is League?— is off to a slow start. I bet they'd totally part with him. That guy might fit well as a Blue Jay.

The Twins

Nick Punto? Brendan Harris? Are you kidding me? Jose Bautista can bunt if you really ask him nicely? He'd fit in nicely with all the left handed power kicking around that snow-choked tundrahole.

The Twins lack both "high upside prospects" and "a roster capable of winning any other division in baseball:, so the pickings are slim. Maybe their sick of J.J. Hardy already, though where would he play? Matt Guierrer is pretty awesome, though bullpen arms are hardly worthy trade pieces. Especially 31 year old pitchers with declining strikeout numbersDAMMITT my nerdiness ruins my own damn game.

* - Upselling!

Image courtesy of Bautista Appreciation Society founder Ian Hunter

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This is What I Know About Being Gigantic

Though I promised a Character Assassination earlier this week (and will deliver soon enough), taking time out to recognize greatness is always a good idea. The Jays may have scored a million runs last night against a parade of ineffective Rangers hurlers; but the turning point of the game — nay, the fate of the franchise — came in the third inning.

If you or anyone you know called for Travis Snider to be sent down, watch this. If you expressed concern over Travis Snider's ability to handle a big league fastball, read on. If you worried Travis Snider may not be ready now or ever, give your head a shake and scroll down.

Travis Snider turned in an amazing at bat against a hard throwing Rich Harden. An amazing 11 pitch at bat. He fouled back fastballs inside and up in the zone. He handled 4 straight fastballs, then fouled back a tough slider, then fouled off ANOTHER fastball before turning on a change up down and in.

At bats like this are the reason he gets so much rope. At bats like this are why platooning him with the likes of Jose Bautista drives people to drink. Travis Snider is a professional hitter. Please to enjoy below.

Travis Snider will violate your spouse of significant other

Saying "Travis Snider Comes Alive" is slightly inaccurate, as Snider's turned in great at bats for weeks now. He showcases his incredibly strong hands on a near-daily basis, flicking the bat through the zone to cover offspeed junk. He'll still get tied up by a decent fastball up and in, but Travis Snider can hit like very few, and it's a pleasure to watch him evolve and improve. Exciting even. So exciting I'm throwing in the Gameday version of the at bat. Wheee!

Travis Snider is the king of all creation

Good stuff via Brooks Baseball, Gameday, and Crack of Dawn

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mind Your Outrage

Trust me, there isn't anybody around here who wants to see Roy Halladay return to Toronto more than me; even if he's wearing a different uniform. When the inevitable happens and the series is moved, I'll be pretty upset.

But please, please, please do not let a displaced baseball game distract from what's really important: this G20 event turning our fair city into a complete police state. A preemptive police state, with foreign governments dictating the movement and ability to gather and speak freely in our own city.

I'm hardly a keffiyeh-wearing class warrior, but the real bullshit is "free speech zones" and an entire city on lockdown. Baseball takes a distant backseat to glad-handing politicians and their dog and pony shows.

Update: It's official. The games moved. So did the Designated Speech Zone. It's a doubleplus good weekend all around!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Clarence and the Bullpen

Clarence makes the move we all saw coming
One truism of the Blue Jays fandom goes like this: Cito doesn't relate to the pitchers. Cito doesn't deploy his bullpen well, he falls in love with guys and their Roles and waits too long to change them. With a bunch of interesting takes on evaluating bullpen usage floating around last week, I thought I'd try my hand.

Before we go any further: a refresher on leverage index. Leverage index measures the degree which any given event impacts the final game outcome. Bases loaded in a tie game = high leverage. Two out, nobody on in a blow out = low leverage. Fangraphs tracks more than just LI, they track the average LI of all plays for a given player (pLI), the average LI for pinch hit appearances (phLI), as well as the average LI when a pitcher is introduced into the game (gmLI). This one will work for us in this instance. xFIP normalizes home runs in using a myriad of components to generate an ERAish number. In this situation it might serve as a good "who's throwing well" barometer, the kind of thing Cito might have internally.

I'm opting for gmLI rather than player LI because of Jason Frasor. Basically, Jason Frasor took a few high leverage situations and pitched himself into even higher leverage situations by walking and/or allowing the lead-off man to reach nearly all the time. And that isn't The Manager's fault, not in a way I can prove. (Yet.) Another time I'll look at each player's deployment (like the Fangraphs link above) but we'll use this as a long view for now.

What you see below is a graph of gmLI against xFIP. In a perfect world, the better pitchers (lower xFIP) would have the highest gmLI - they're used in the most important times. This isn't always the case, let's see how Cito does.

Anything interesting here? Shawn Camp continues to pitch nearly as well as anyone on the team, yet his usage suggests he isn't considered as important as Frasor or Downs. Accardo and Casey Janssen threw that ball equally poorly in nearly the same type of situations. Josh Roenicke, Rommie Lewis, and Merkin Valdez don't really have the innings to make their xFIP worth much, but they're straight up mop up dudes. Roenicke got into the game a little later on Saturday and promptly ruined the sheets. Consider that your shot Josh.

The Jays and Cito are in a unique situation because this bullpen doesn't really have a LOOGY. Downs is Cito's second favorite with good reason, The Manager asks him to both get tough lefties and pitch the 8th inning against whomever. Overall, the Jays graph looks pretty much as it should, or as you'd expect. Better the pitcher, the higher the leverage.

For fun and reference, let's look at two other examples (and we'll include a trendline for ease of use.) The backwards-ass White Sox — who use the unhittable Matt Thornton in odd situations — and the Rays: the most match-up wacky team around, thanks to Overmanagin' Joe Maddon.

Poor Ozzie. Well not, poor Ozzie. Lucky Ozzie in that he's blessed with a great pen full of fire-tossing animals. Poor White Sox fans have to watch him continue to lean on Bobby Jenks and ineffective lefties-only guy Randy Williams while Matt Thornton sits around eating planets, waiting for his chance to save a damn game.

OJM uses his bullpen well, using his two best pitchers when it matters most. The Rays long man — Andy Sonnanstine — is a Litschian 5th starter time reduced to relieving because the Rays are just too fucking good.

No real shocks here. The Jays bullpen had a tough two weeks or so but are now keeping them team in enough games for their magical bats made of hanger-attracting magnets & sprinkled in stripper smell to win them game after game they have no business being in. One thing the bullpen clearly lacks: an exceptionally hard-throwing enigma with a boatload of tattoos, bad glasses and penchant for ground balls. Other than that, it's a wonderful time to be a Jays fan.

Thanks to Royals Review, Beyond the Box Score and Fangraphs for the ideas and Fangraphs for the LI data. Getty Images took the picture that Daylife stole. I only borrowed it.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Fred Lewis Freedom Collective Disbands, Get Real Jobs

Just like the hippies who turned to the corporate world once they single-handedly pulled the troops out of The Nam, it is time for the Fred Lewis Freedom Collective to move on to bigger and better things. Unlike the hippies, we in the FLFC won't attempt to ban everything fun or take all pointy toys off the market, we'll just slink onto our next white whale. As it turns out, Fred Lewis has no need for us or our pan flute-playing, hemp-worn quiet wars. He fights his own battles, and fights them valiantly.

Fred Lewis is, currently, on fire. As a man with a horse in this race, I'm delighted. Lewis is driving the ball well and grabbing extra bags left, right, and centre. The walks creep up and the strikeouts, well, whatever. He's Fred Lewis! More encouraging news: his slightly swollen BABIP is normal for him. Lewis is the kind of player who sneaks his way on base thanks to his speed and all fields approach.

Because of my own self-interest in the success or failure of Fred Lewis, I take his every at bat to heart. I was a little concerned because isn't doing the Fred Lewis-ey things we in the Fred Lewis Freedom Collective come to expect (read: walk.) He's certainly provided a glimpse into the things that drove Giants fans to drink over the past few years (make the third out at third base, strike out looking times 5), but I'm reasonably satisfied that he gets a chance to play nearly every day.

The early season found money success of Fred Lewis and Dana Eveland are great signs for Blue Jays fans, for two reasons. It speaks volumes on the eyes for talent possessed by Alex Anthopoulos and his crack team of thousands. Secondly, it maybe-kinda-hopefully represents a change in fortune for the Toronto Blue Jays baseball club.

The Jays took the short end of various sticks for years. Beyond the futility of the AL East, they constantly underperform their Pythag records, couldn't score a decent reclamation project, and generally lived under a bad sign for years. A little good fortune can only grease the wheels back to respectability and full buildings. A little luck goes a long way, but the wily manouvering of Alex Anthopoulos pushes the old "you make your own luck" adage a little closer to truism.

Daylife and Reuters keep us alive

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Month of May Means Mea Culpas!

Ordinarily I'd be content to luxuriate in the wondrousness of The Fred Lewis Experience, marveling at his warming bat and discerning eye. Now would be a great time, on the back of the goodness that is @Fdotlew, to throw my support behind the acquisition of spurned Royal Alex Gordon. In due time, so long as Dayton Moore and the rest of the reflexively foolish Kansas City front office "braintrust" keep dicking Gordon around.

Instead, I'll use today for the opposite reason: to admit a few errors in judgement. Giving too much credit to strong months of April is not my style (as is widely understood) but some of the hottest Jays in April were guys I wanted nothing to do with.

Kevin Gregg caught a heaping spoonful of my scorn all off-season long. I compared him (unfavorably!) to Josh Roenicke and griped about the prospect of watching the human form of compensatory picks giving up frequent home runs. Kevin Gregg responded by morphing into some kind of strike-throwing dynamo, sonning the American League with little regard for anyone's safety.

Gregg is awesome because he doesn't throw nearly as hard as it seems, but he keeps throwing his splitter and slider to great effect. The ball stays in the park, the walks stay down and Alex Anthopoulos looks like a genius (get used to that, it's going to happen a lot.)

The Alex Gonzalez signing didn't excite me, though I quickly warmed to his arrival for the obvious reasons. He'd save outs and hold a place until somebody (the Cuban, it turned out) was ready for the show. Alex Gonzalez indeed saves outs, but the sudden power surge? Crazy.

That Alex Gonzalez has 8 home runs and an ISO more than double his career average is a pennies from heaven situation nobody could have foreseen. Even if he completely shuts down for the rest of the season, his offensive numbers are pleasantly surprising.

Nobody in their right mind, as the nerdy dude webisphere proved all week, expects Alex Gonzalez to sustain even half this pace. Alex Gonzalez makes Jeff Francoeur look like Kevin Youkilis. You could roll the ball between your legs and A-Gon would swing. He wakes his wife twice a week by swinging at phantom pitches in his sleep. His plate discipline is even worse this year than usual, he just keeps connecting.

It won't last but who cares? An aging guy comes to town with a giant neon "JUST PASSING THROUGH, NOT A PART OF THE SOLUTION" sign over his head, only to provide so much excitement and help the Jays win a surprising number of games in April is worth it for me.

Of course, I would be remiss were I to ignore the ongoing contributions of Jose Bautista. He knocked a bunch of taters in April just like he did in Sept[record scratch] Nope, can't do it.

Sue me, I've got it out for Jose Bautista. Excuses made for other, sexier players quickly turn against the BAS guest of honor. Travis Snider struggles? It's his low BABIP! Bautista struggles? It's because he sucks. Fred Lewis is on fire! Who cares whom he beats? Jose Bautista only hits home runs against crappy teams and crappy pitchers. Because he sucks.

It's sad but true. I try to be fair and look objectively when the time comes, but I don't think I'm alone is looking for reasons to dismiss Bautista (and his ilk) while looking for reasons (or hope) in Lewis and Snider.

I hope it doesn't discredit the "analyst" brand I've worked hard to cultivate, but nothing short of a .400 wOBA or an opposite field home run at Fenway can save Bautista in my eyes. Alex Gordon can't get here to steal his job soon enough. The promise of next year will diminish the reality of this year nearly every time.

Images courtesy of Complex Magazine and the ether.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Sitting down to right another post (one that'll hopefully surface later today) I quickly learned Brett Cecil was pretty effing special tonight. His ongoing study in the advanced art of change-uppery is a site to behold.

The moderately hapless Indians were rendered completely without hap by Cecil's changeup, thrown in nearly equal measure to his fastball(s). The magic of Pitch F/x let's us appreciate an incredible start like this on another level. Strike zone plots help Jimmy play, and show how staying out of the middle of the plate is a very good thing.

A couple things to remember: the strike zone isn't actually shaped this way. Again I rounded the corners to give a better representation of what umps actually call, but the strikezone isn't wider than it is tall. I just do that to fill the frame a little more and give a better sense of where each pitch crossed. Again, we're looking from the catcher or ump's perspective, left handed batters stand on the right of the diagram.

So. Awesome. Cecil had incredible control of all his pitches Monday night; throwing his change almost exclusively to the righties in the Tribe's lineup, keeping them off-balance with his sinking fastball, thrown to the same half of the plate. Cecil spotted his fastball decently and threw his nasty slider and a few curves against the tough lefties (Choo, Sizemore, & Hafner) and generally looked every bit the stud.

That he kept the ball down and away from righties with both his hard sinker and feathery changeup is incredible. Cecil earned 5 big whiffs with his change, 12 total raising his season rate. That's how you amass 10 Ks in 8 innings, bringing that season total to 21. Against 3 walks. In 20+ innings. Bonertown.

Interesting: Cecil threw 29 four seamers, 27 two seam or sinking fastballs, 24 changeups, and 20 sliders. Wacky. That is some Shaun Marcum, any pitch in any count shit right there.

Further to that point, Cecil dangled his vaunted changeup in any number of counts.
  • First pitch change: 4 times.
  • 1-0 change: 4 times.
  • 1-1 change: 4 times.
  • 2-1 change: Twice.
  • 0-1 change: 3 times.
  • 0-2 change: Once.
He also (awesomely) threw a changeup in a full count and while behind 2-1 twice. He threw it in 2-2 counts twice, once ringing up a strikeout and once missing the zone. He doesn't give a damn, he just throws it.

He worked quickly and he worked well. We're all better for it. The Brett Cecil that crushed the Tribe last night isn't the same pitcher that crushed the Tribe last year: he's a new man with a terrible new weapon.

Pitch f/x data courtesy of good old Brooks Baseball. Check out their new forum & blog, they do an invaluable service. Image courtesy of Surfer Mag. THEY COULD BE BROTHERS AT LEAST

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Second Tale of Two Brandons

We Can Dance If We Want To
Adding a wrinkle to a pitcher's delivery is a lot like giving a kid a new toy. He wants to play with it all the time, his TV friends don't want to talk about anything else, and whoever gave it to him is sure he's going to break it in a matter of minutes.

Brandon Morrow, as you're well aware, dropped his arm slot a few starts ago and now everything is sweet naked nectar. Nothing but strikeouts, ground balls, and the occasional half-dozen walk outing. Which stands in stark contrast to his swap partner and namesake — Morrow's results are quite positive. Is there anything to this lower arm slot? Does it help him throw strikes? Is it even real? The nerdmachine will tell us all the answers.

It's safe to say that, yes; Brandon Morrow dropped his arm slot. He's no Quisenberry, but he moved it down and out. I know the release point numbers pitch f/x spits out aren't super reliable from one park to the next, but trust me when I say I looked at outings from Rogers Centre only and they checked out.

But the movement's the thing, right? I know I saw Brandon Morrow toss some filthy tailing fastballs Friday night, really fooling hitters who gave up on fastballs that looked to be headed directly for their front hip. Is that new or just newsworthy because he threw them for strikes?

PitchHorizontal Break - Old SlotVelocity OSHorizontal Break - New SlotVelocity NS
Four Seam FB-2.4193.5-6.893.4
Sinking/Tailing FB-6.2589.9-8.791.6

Dramatic as some of those changes are, they come with some provisos. I ignored vertical break for no good reason. I used the pitch classifications as they came - save one exception. I treated all Morrow's change ups as sinking fastballs. Surely some of these pitches are indeed changes while others are straight up fastballs masquerading as funkier stuff, but I don't have all night here.

The important takeaway here is how much more Bruce Walton has Brandon Morrow's electric fastball moving around. If it isn't astounding, it's close. Whether Morrow can keep throwing it for strikes is one thing (and by my rough count, his new arm slot produces slightly more pitches in "the strike zone"), but he'll miss a shit tonne MORE bats (13.4%) than he already did (7.6% in the higher slot.) And that's a good thing.

If Bruce Walton's next trick is using this lower arm slot to keep Brandon Morrow healthy, I won't know what to do with myself. Make Walton the new manager! NO WAIT &mdash don't change a thing. Fire up the quality starter assembly line and go with a 162 man rotation! A no-hitter every night! The fun we'll have!!

Emasculating image courtesy of Reuters/Daylife. Pitch f/x help from Joey and Brooksie, two people who don't deserve hockey nicknames.