Monday, May 30, 2011

Don't Make Me Do This

Remember that time you hated Kevin Youkilis? Yeah, me too. EVERYBODY hates Kevin Youkilis, what with his douchey batting stance, constant dialog with umpires, and multi-positional annual excellence.

Hating Youkilis is hardly unique. See, even his teammates used to hate Yook. They hated the way he'd slam his bat and bark like a dog on barbiturates whenever things didn't go his way, no matter the score. It got to the point that his Red Sox teammates spoke to him about it.

Then it continued. So Manny popped him in the chin in the dugout. Because Manny's awesome. And Youkilis is a detestable douchebag.

Because the one thing that seems unanimous - from post-game quotes to quick deference to the contributions of teammates - is big leaguers are out to win. That's what they want to do: win.

When asked about the game or his own ability to clout home runs, Jose Bautista reflexively brings the conversation back to the team and the team's performance. He's a Leader, that's what they do. What leaders do not do, however, is slam their bat and curse about their at bat when they're winning by 7 runs.

Was John Danks obviously irritated with his own performance, thus lashing out at the One Man Gang? Of course. But that doesn't really "make it okay." If it were any other guy on the team, I have a strong inkling Jose himself would pull the offending player aside for a quick conversation about respecting the opposition.

I'm all for swagger and showing emotion on the field, I'm just so strongly in the "don't do what Youkilis does" camp that I can't abide this isolated incident.

It did, however, give rise to this. At least some good came from this ugly episode.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Alex Anthopolous on the Jeff Blair Show

Jays GM Alex Anthopolous joined Jeff Blair on the air this morning, responding to various queries from the emeritus Jays beat dude. Seeing how I'm sitting here and you're sitting there, I thought I'd provide a pointless redundant valuable service and give you the highlights.

Let's do it. These are paraphrased with my own 2 cents peppered in wherever I see fit.

Blair: How much longer can the DFA All Stars play before the natives move from "restless" to "elsewhere?"

"That's fair (Ed: the discontent.) A lot of games have been tough to watch, making some errors and doing some things. It's one of those things...It's easy to say we're going to bring them up (Ed: the kids) and let them struggle but sometimes they're not ready, even to struggle."

Alex Anthopolous answers questions without answering questions via the age-old skill of talking in circles. It's good that he gets it but doesn't seem too interested in straying from The Plan. He goes on to mention that Rivera's playing better though losing Lind was tough.

The bullpen isn't as bad as it seems, AA (rightfully) claims. Then he comes with a little Real Talk on a Friday.
When it seems to happen to you, you feel like it's worse than any other place.
Agreed. It always seems worse when you're in it.

AA then says something interesting which I'll come back to later.
We're hoping to get these kids up here and here to stay. Hopefully sooner rather than later but we want to make sure we time it right.
Hmmm. AA spoke of Lawrie's mandate to improve his walk/strikeout ratio as the team knew his high batting average wasn't sustainable (swoon!)

Getting technical with prospects - more than just the slash line.

The team sent Mike Mordecai to work with Lawrie and some of the other guys, says Lawrie is getting better at third base.

The team feels like in the minors, they can "work on things, work on technique but it isn't life and death if you make a mistake." Less attention gives more space for growing pains. The atmosphere in the minors is such that the wins don't matter. Anthopolous refers to the development of Kyle Drabek.
We can force Kyle Drabek to work on his changeup in New Hampshire, even if he gave up a home run every time we can tell him it's okay. We need you to work on it and make it a better pitch...We want them to work on the process so that we when they get up here they can worry about the results.
The last line is the money quote for me. Plan the parade.

Frank Francisco

AA claims FF is "Showing good arm strength, good stuff, plus curveball at times, plus split, plus velocity. Missed the first month so he's just getting it going." I tend to agree, though if he's not ready, why run him out in the 9th inning?

When asked who will assume the role, AA suggests Rauch pitched well as a closer last year but FF has bigger stuff, making him a better option.

The bullpen on the whole? "We'll have bad stretches, it happens over six months." AA points out that, why the bullpen's gagged up some leads, the 'pen still ranks well against the rest of the American League.

On Super Two status: Anthopoulos has "no issue" with the Super Two designation going away, as anyone who runs a baseball team would feel. He claims it "takes away from what we're trying to do as a brand." NO HUSTLE OR HEART IN MANIPULATING SERVICE TIME.

Then comes the big takeaway: Over 80% of arb eligible players use an option. They almost always go down. Snider, Cecil, Wells, all used options. You'd love for guys to come up and stay up but, odds are, they're getting optioned at least once. Once they go down Service time goes right out the window, according to the braintrust.

Anthopolous cites JPA and Kyle Drabek as proof the Jays don't tinker or concern themselves with service time. AA states Super Two only really impacts a team if he becomes a superstar. Great problem to have.

I don't disagree with AA's statements here but doesn't it completely undercut the earlier soft sell re: coming up and staying up? I worry a little bit about peddling a future you know you cannot provide. They all go down and take their lumps.

Finally, on trades.

It is far too early in the season to get people to be motivated to do things. After the draft it will kick into high gear. Teams are just too leary of doing something too early/waving the white flag. They're always active and seeing who is out there.

Jose Reyes? Read that, heard about it. Can't talk about it. Any rumour - we're almost always linked to any player. 90% of things he read were bunk, you almost have to roll your eyes.

Telling stuff when Blair asked him directly about Jose Reyes. "We have a great shortstop - ready to be an all star and two more years of control. We have areas on this club we need to improve, shortstop is not one of them."

Again, can't say I disagree. Thoughts?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Defense Matters Question Mark

Many smart and calm people are quick to point out that the Jays, despite all the hand wringing, sport a decent record and continue making a decent account of themselves in the AL East.

The offense, powered by the One Man Gang, is the only aspect of the team that rates evenly slightly above average. The pitching is middle of the road (with the bullpen ahead of the starters) and the defense is merely adequate.

Merely adequate isn't all bad, when the litany of injuries and Encarnacioning is considered. The Jays manage to put out a league-average defensive club at worst for most nights. Comically early as it is, I thought I'd take a look at how the advanced metrics view the Jays so far in 2011 with some commentary of my own to follow.

I cut off the innings played limit at 45 to, um, ensure John McDonald was included. Science!

Safe to say EE isn't a very good defender at third base. SHOCKING, I KNOW. Whoever could see that coming when the team shoehorned him in there with a week remaining in spring training? WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?!?

Okay, with that out of our systems, we can move on. John McDonald, good at things! There is some slight disagreement regarding his play at third base but the sample is so tiny as if to render it useless. Short and second show his skills once again. Does that mesh with our collective view of John McDonald? I'd say so.

So Jose Bautista is good at baseball. Even baserunning! His legendary throwing arm is stuff of, err, legends. It also rates slightly behind Eeyore Rivera according to both Dewan and UZR. That is...less believable.

Both systems value Rivera's defense highly, mostly on the strength of his arm. His range might be negligible but his arm seems accurate and his release quick. Hard to ask more of a guy brought in to be Not Vernon Wells.

Both systems cast Yunel Escobar in a negative light with UZR fingering his lackluster range as the culprit. I can't say I disagree with this too strongly. He's fun to watch but I think we might see him at third base before all is said and done.

The Travis Snider number really distresses me. He looked so good out there this year, limiting extra bases and showing off the great work he put in during the offseason. Luckily, this is a tiny enough sample size from which I can cherry pick the numbers that suit my agenda.

On an unrelated note: Rajai Davis just isn't that good.

Any other thoughts on what you see here or the Jays defense in general? The Gordie Dougie crowd can rest easy in knowing that even if the Jays bring up Lawrie and he's terrible, he won't be worse than the alternative!

I'd like ot know your best (yet most realistic) defensive lineup if the Jays had a one-run lead to protect in the 9th. Do your worst.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This is Your Brain on Bautista

From Saturday's two home run performance against the Astros, I LOVE the look of pure exasperation from Astros catcher Humberto Quintero towards the dugout.


This Bautista character is pretty good.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Second Guesses on First Pitches

Swinging at the first pitch is a lot like stealing bases. Nobody minds too much when it works but loves pointing out what a horrible mistake it is when it goes wrong.

Last night the Jays got a lesson in BABIP from Rays starter Wade Davis. A known strikethrower, the Jays stayed aggressive by swinging early and often. Davis rode the Rays new pitching backward philosophy to a measure of success - allowing just three runs in 7 innings.

Wade's low pitch count was a discussion point for much of the night, with the prevailing opinion that the Jays were playing right into his hands by aggressively hacking away.

In all, Davis faced 33 Blue Jays and distributed the first pitches this way:
  1. Four seam fastballs: 8
  2. Curveballs: 7
  3. Changeups: 6
  4. Two seam fastballs:6
  5. Sliders: 5
There might be some bleed between two-seamers and changeups but Davis clearly mixed his pitches very well to start out the Jays hitters.

I remain of the belief that swinging at the first pitch isn't a bad thing as long as you get something to whack. Below is a strikezone plot of all the first pitches, including Juan Cruz's first pitch cutter. Let's see what we find.

Other than a few cases, you can't really say any Jays expanded the zone. Rajai Davis swung and missed a curveball in his second at bat after singling on the first pitch in his first PA.

In all, the Jays took 19 pitches, fouled three off, reached safely with hit and Juan Rivera hit his second inning home run on the first pitch he saw. The Jays hit .333/.333/.667 on the first pitch last night. Not too bad at all, I'll certainly take it.

As always, we must fight what we see with what we think we see and what we know. Swinging at the first pitch from a guy always around the plate is certainly not a bad play as a rule. Context matters a lot but going up to the plate looking to rip is not something I oppose.

It is what happens next that defines hitters: can they show some patience and stay in hitters counts or are they aggressive in way that hurts them? I think that is the million dollar question, quite literally.

Pitch F/X data from Joe Lefkowitz.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Soft Skills

Jayson Nix made his return from the disabled list last night with a start at third base. The Jays, in honor of his return, put forth more effort kicking the ball around than I've seen from TFC in five years. These two things are not related but they do make me think about one player: John McDonald.

Thanks to numerous injuries around the infield, Johnny Mac already has 24 starts in 2011. All this exposure did a great job cementing what I should have known long ago: John McDonald is a joy we will not soon forgot and may never fully appreciate.

It strikes me as increasingly odd that the prevailing John McDonald narrative is an "up-from-the-bootstraps" story of perseverance. Watching John McDonald play nearly everyday — at nearly every infield position — it is abundantly clear to me that many things John McDonald does on the baseball diamond cannot be taught. They cannot be practiced, they cannot be learned. Chocking it up to hustle and determination does him, in my mind, a great disservice.

It might be stretching to say these abilities are innate but consider his comments from John Lott's excellent profile and companion piece (both of which do a great job of steering clear of the normal Johnny Mac cliche on top of being simply outstanding) when asked about anticipating balls off the bat:
...Watching how their swings are, and knowing what our pitcher’s doing, how well he’s locating his pitches. If pitches are down and in to a lefty, there’s a good chance they’re going to hook that hole to my left. You also try to anticipate through your pre-game work. The information that the coaches give you on the hitters, what they’re going to do, helps you lean in a certain direction, helps you get a jump, so sometimes you need to trust that.
The ability to think about the game in real-time like that is not a skill possessed by all baseball players. The ability to recognize its value is a separate skill all its own.

Lott's profile details the long hours spent improving footwork and learning the fine points of the middle infield. This time spent honing his craft is no different than the amount of time any given hitter puts into the cage learning about pitchers and their tendencies.

The preternatural way he transfers the ball from glove to hand and throws from off-balance and/or bizarre angles is not something you just pick up on the sandlot. This is not the stuff of "gym rats" but a special athlete with a skillset unique to his specific duty - preventing runs.

In many ways, McDonald makes me think of Edwin Encarnacion. EE puts in time with the Guru Butter and the results, well, they speak for themselves. If only it were that easy. Defense and fielding takes just as much skill as hitting. Edwin Encarnacion is a talented hitter and deeply flawed fielder - there are plenty of guys like that around baseball. Some are in the Hall of Fame, others made tens of millions of dollars in their career.

Hardly a hitter of this magnitude, Edwin Encarnacion wasn't wanting for work too long his winter and continues to play nearly every day. His defense is a punchline. His inability to field an affront to basic baseball skill. We deride EE for his ham-fisted fielding as though this is something he should have no trouble just picking up.

John McDonald does scrap and hustle and play the game the right way but first and foremost: he is a supremely talented baseball player. Very few people can do what he does on the field, not to mention staying healthy and ready to play at a moment's notice. With his 10 years of service time coming later this season, his future is secure as a fully-vested pension plan member.

Judging by what is written and said about him, Johnny Mac has a bright future in the game after his playing days finish. His legacy in Toronto as a fan favorite is secure, I just hope we're able to remember and honor him for what he is: one of the finest defensive players we will ever see.

Reuters image courtesy of Daylife.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

John Farrell is a Professional Fun Sponge

Fun-spongery is pretty much right there in the job description. Removing Ricky Romero just one out shy of a complete game shutout was a curious choice yet, even though my job is complaining loudly about the excruciating minutiae, I didn't find it that reprehensible.

Allow me to bust out a chronological timeline of my paraphrased feelings/sentiments as expressed on Twitter (if you don't follow, you should! My personal level of life satisfaction is directly proportional to my follower count.)
  • When Farrell first came out for a mound visit, I was a little shocked. It was (I think) right after Ricky Roma made Jason Kubel look downright foolish. Romero then demo'd the concussed remnants of Justin Morneau. Romero looks good, why disrupt the rhythm?
  • After a seeing-eye single by Delmon Young, Farrell brings out the hook. Romero looked a tad salty but didn't make a big production out of it. I admire his ability to balance competitive fire and leadership as making a scene when exiting the game with a lead is a little gauche.
  • I begin my passive line of John Farrell defese - if Farrell left Romero in to face Cuddles (a lefty killer who handles changeups with aplomb) and Ricky gives up the lead, we'd kill him. We'd kill Cito for doing the same thing (Cito would've almost assuredly let Romero try to finish.)
  • Farrell brings in "closer" Frank Frank to get Cuddyer. Francisco does his top-step-of-the-dugout routine and Ks Cuddyer - game over! Everybody's happy!
Except many people on Twitter were anything but happy, which I get. As I said: leaving Romero in for one more batter is exactly what I'd do but going to the 'pen doesn't stretch my credulity in the least.

Perhaps John Farrell isn't the trailblazing revolutionary many of us pined for. Going to Francisco is the safe thing to do, both in a traditional baseball sense (ill-informed matchups!) and in an optics sense (insulated from criticism! Safety first!) Calling for Farrell's job or claims that yanking Romero hampers his development is impulsive at best and recklessly disingenuous at worst.

It isn't that big a deal, in my mind. Pulling Morrow earlier in the week remains the far greater disservice even if the goal (keep winning games!) is roughly the same.

Are we demanding too much of Farrell? How many hats is the field manager supposed to wear? Is the "informed" fan's view of this season as a bridge to future success really the responsibility of The Manager, a guy who already needs to balance so many different egos and agendas?

This is one instance I cannot summon too much ire for the choice. I don't see one batter at the tail end of a game as a real teachable moment - the costs of failure might just outweigh the benefits of success. It's a lot more complex than it seems and more complex than many fans assume, myself included.

While Parkes, Stoeten, and I spend a lot of time killing many of Farrell's questionable in-game moves, this is one I don't feel the need to assail. He made a safe choice, one I don't think will have repercussions beyond last night. He's the manager (not yet The Manager) and it's still just the middle of May. I think I can reserve ultimate judgment for a few weeks yet.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Protest Too Much

Everyone who reads this site knows that I like Mike Wilner. He and I share a lot of (commonly-held) opinions on baseball and this team, I deduce from our respective writings and dealings on the game.

Jesse Litsch is the place Wilner I diverge. I will gladly admit that Jesse Litsch exceeded my wildest expectations this year, posting numbers I didn't know he had in him. He's better than I thought - full credit to him for pitching consistent to his role at the back of the rotation.

It is rather odd, to me at least, that respected Blue Jays analyst Mike Wilner makes with the hard sell on Jesse Litsch so often. Take this passage from last night's blog post:
It was another good, solid outing from Jesse Litsch, holding the Red Sox to a run on four hits with one walk through the first five before giving up solo shots to Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the 6th.
If Litsch pitched well — and he did, against a tough lineup getting hot all over — then let it be that. Don't frame it as though the two long home runs allowed don't count. They do. They don't diminish what he did (limit base runners and throw strikes); they certainly count all the same.

Again: every time Jesse Litsch takes the mound, I feel like the he gives the team a chance to win. As fifth starters go, you could do much worse. I applaud his effort and well-deserved health in 2011.

Despite my perceived bias, I am able to let his success stand on its own merit without people bashing me over the head and insisting I acknowledge some grave error in underestimating his ability.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Michelle Budziak

John Lackey is in Denial

Did you hear John Lackey is not a good pitcher anymore? It is true, he really isn't. Due to his past association with the (hated) Los Angeles Angels, my personal level of contempt was already well-developed. His move to the Red Sox only brought this object of scorn to my doorstep. (Ed. note: this paragraph was edited for shittiness.)

Last night, John Lackey was bad. He didn't pitch well just as he hasn't pitched well all season. Broadcasters love telling us how much a winner and a bulldog Lackey is, which apparently means pointing fingers of blame as you come to grips with your own decline and inevitable death.
John Lackey gave up two big hits to John McDonald last night. John McDonald is not a very good hitter (more on him later today, with any luck) yet John McDonald stuck Lackey for a tater tot and a huge two-run double.

Terry Francona had no business leaving Lackey out there to suffer for as long as he did, unless he wanted to send a message about showing up teammates. If that is the case, I applaud it.

After the game, John Lackey had some less than complimentary things to say about John McDonald: Offensive Juggernaut.
"Everybody has had success with him in the past, let's be honest," Lackey said of Toronto's utility man. "You can't give up hits to him when you've got other guys in that lineup that can hurt you."
Putting aside the fact that he's right, that's a punk move by Lackey. Hey John, maybe you should try not hanging curveballs and missing your spots by a fucking mile if you want to retire John McDonald.

To wit:

That's Salty's target for the 2-1 pitch, a curveball on the outer half. Falling behind John McDonald is the first sign you're not on your game, John. But hey, don't give in and throw a fastball for a strike - you're better than that.

Whoops. Turns out you aren't better than that. Curveball down and away? How about a cookie up and in, which the world's newest pull-hitting dynamo yanked into the left-field corner to effectively ice the game.

Just maybe, after you're DFA'd or whatever Theo manages to do with your rotting corpse, you can reflect on your ugliness last night and admit that you were wrong. You were wrong for screaming at Carl Crawford's inability to play Spiderman on the massive fly ball you surrendered to Jose Bautista.

You were wrong, really, in thinking you could survive away from the JV division. You were wrong about John McDonald for the second time in his career. You were wrong. I'm sure Theo thinks the same thing every fifth night.

Just so you know, this offer still stands.

Reuters Image courtesy of Daylife, screencaps from

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dumping Ground

There is an lot of stuff going on and I am having a hard time addressing all of it. Instead, I'll mention some of it in passing. Lose-lose!

Social Media Dump

If you don't listen to the Getting Blanked should. You can stream it here or download it here. I encourage one of each.

Speaking of media, the tidy GROF facelift comes courtesy of graphics God MPH. Check out his sweet site and follow him on Twitter. Thanks again Matias, great work!

You should also like Getting Blanked on facebook so you might enjoy both our empty pontification and good looks. This week we talk about no-hitters, and how we feel when they happen to "our" team. And cheap drugs.

Classy Segue

Though I didn't realize it then, my feelings on cheering for no-hitters was perfectly encapsulated by Tom Ley during Pitchers & Poets inaugural 90s First Basemen Week (keep your eye on that spot for a brief appearance by yours truly.)

Ley quoted a semi-famous joke by semi-famous genius David Foster Wallace, as seen below:
Two little fish are swimming around in the ocean and along their way they happen across a much bigger, older fish. The big fish nods at them and says, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” The big fish swims on without the little fish answering; who stay silent for a few moments after the big fish has left. Finally, one of the little fish looks at the other and says, “What the hell is water?”
Which is to say: if you can't get out of your own way once in a while and appreciate something special going on around you, you're doomed.

Brandon Morrow's Identity

Am I crazy or do the Blue Jays and Brandon Morrow have a very different views of Brandon Morrow's abilities and durability? The DL session in the spring, the early hook based on a dropping arm slot - the team seems convinced his arm will come flying off at a moment's notice.

Morrow, as one would expect, feels differently. Can we safely say that the team doesn't have a great deal of confidence in Morrow to stay healthy? That the red flags shine brightly to the smart people who monitor such health risks? Consider what he told Shi Davidi:
"I didn’t really feel like I was losing velocity or getting fatigued," said Morrow. "I was throwing 88-89 mp.h. sliders. I didn’t hit 98. I hit 96, sat 93 most of the time. It was cold last night. The changeup I threw that Don Kelly hit was 89 miles per hour. Changeup."
Hard to argue with a man who says "changeup" to signify "boom - roasted."

Allow me to again voice my skepticism of the Jays offering to extend Brandon Morrow beyond his arbitration years. Based on nothing (really) I think the kid glove treatment reflects an organizational plan to get the most out of him while they can and let somebody else overpay when he is due to hit the open market.

Which isn't a bad idea at all, better to be cautious than go Dusty Bakering every young arm in sight, I suppose.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Effusive Praise for Jesse Litsch

He pitched like an animal. A wide-eyed Tiger killing machine. It was great.

Swinging strikes by the boat load. Ground balls a-plenty. Jesse Litsch pitched really, really well. No qualifiers or backhanded compliments. Real talk, as they (shouldn't) say.

Looking at his pitch selection, he may have used his four seamer more than usual. It is really hard to tell, which might just be Jesse Litsh's best weapon.

On the radio broadcast, Gregggggg Zaun mentioned Litsch was pitching backwards, working off his cutter with a four seamer the Tigers simply weren't prepared for. If that is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn't.

When Litsch can run the cutter off the outside corner then bust the FF back inside - he's really tough. When hitters give up on what they think is the cutter off the plate, only to watch a four seamer for strike three - he's even tougher.

According to Brooks Baseball, he didn't have any swinging strikes with his four seamer but he did have a high number of called strikes - unlike his slider which was nearly 50/50 between called strikes and whiffs.

Litsch handled the few lefties in Detroit's lineup nicely. He kept the ball in the ballpark and obviously struck out a career high nine batters.

I don't expect Jesse Litsch to go out and strike out 9 hitters every time he takes the mound. While he didn't deserve his early demotion he didn't pitch well in several starts - but last night he pitched beautifully.

If he is able to throw his four seam fastball as effectively as he did last night, there is no reason Litsch can't be a viable rotation option in the future. That's a lot of ifs — a lineup with more than two lefties remain a better test of his abilities — but I am officially impressed with Jesse Litsch's performance.

AP Photo courtesy of Daylife.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Jays Muster Moral Victory, Elude No-Hitter

When the top of your order goes Davis/Patterson/Escobar — better known as "Adam Lind leads off the second inning" — you have to take what you can get.

At least they're coming home to face the Tigers. Rumor has it I might even be in attendance Friday night. That should guarantee...nothing. I don't know if I remember how to compose myself at a professional baseball contest. Should be fun.

David Price image courtesy of

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Farrell's Favorite Toys

I (awesomely) had this post marinating for the better part of a week. The Jays bullpen went through an incredible stretch before Jon Rauch gave up two squarely hit baseballs. Balls hit about as squarely as one could ever ask, really.

It is difficult to separte the quality of the bullpen's performance from the wise hand of John Farrell as he smartly deploys them in depending on the situation. Some might counter that allowing Octavio Dotel to pitch against a lefty in anything close to a leveraged situation is a mistake. Impossible to argue as that may be, I think he's doing a good job so far.

Below is a graph of the main Jays bullpen arms - graphing their shutdowns against their meltdowns with the average leverage upon entering the game represented by the size of the bubble. It is a similar study to one I undertook for Getting Blanked but all Blue Jayed up.

Hmm. Call me crazy but it looks like, outside his Capital C closer, manager John Farrel uses his best two performing relievers in the highest leveraged spots to great success. RZep has just one meltdown on the season (That Game) and pitches in some of the toughest hitters.

Odd that Dotel and Frasor have nearly identical numbers. Frasor saw a massive dip in game leverage when he entered blowouts against the Red Sox and Yankees. Dotel has been good when properly deployed HINT HINT.

Another way I want to look at this is including average batters faced. More windows into the mind of a madman!

I used xFIP- because it seemed like the weirdest thing I could possibly do. I actually used it because it helped spread the bubbles out in a way that pleased my eye. The bubble size still indicates average game leverage (when the pitcher gets the call.)

I think this does a solid job of laying out which guy has which role. Breaking it down by batters' faced shows us that Villanueva is clearly the long(ish) man and RZep is closest thing to a LOOGY. Casey Janssen does an admirable job in his low leverage chances.

Jon Rauch, prepare to have you leverage dialed down a touch. Probably very soon.

In the end, the bullpen's been great and Farrell runs them out there in an orderly fashion. Something to certainly keep an eye on as he continues to "learn on the job."

Reuters image courtesy of Daylife, all stats from Fangraphs.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What is This I Don't Even

Wow Drew, I can't believe a month of the season is already gone. And what a month it was! The good players played good and the bad players played bad, wouldn't you say?

Hard to disagree with that Drew, though I'll surely try. Some might argue the collective braintrust isn't exactly putting the good players in "the best position to succeed." I suppose that is tough to do when the bad players outnumber the good and when the bad players put the team in such a position that the good players are simply left to pick up the pieces.

Speaking of which, how about the decision to send Travis Snider to the minors? That seems like a totally sensible move in line with the greater organizational philosophy...

..or it seems like a giant odious mess. What can they possibly know from a 100 PA chunk at the beginning of the season? Why the garbage about fielding a competitive club when clearly "getting something for nothing" is far, far further up the priority list?

At least it gave the team a chance to take a look at David Cooper! That's good, right? Always important to get a good look at a first-round pick, even if he's a vanilla white singles hitter without, it appears, an ounce of personality or power. Even his stance is boring! But yeah, anytime you can bring up Sean Casey without the glove, you have to do it.

Wow Drew, that's some next-level cynicism. Why don't you give Alex Anthopoulos the benefit of the doubt? He's clearly earned it, from you of all people. Why do you get so bent out of shape when Snider goes down but don't say much about Brett Cecil? Don't let the horses you clearly have in this race cloud your "unbiased analysis."

I'd love to give Anthopoulos the benefit of the doubt. I really would. In fact, I think I will.
I don't know that the challenges Cecil faces and the demons plaguing Snider are analogous situations, in the end. Maybe that's because of pitch f/x, where the struggles of Cecil are laid bare while everything around Snider is so touchy-feely.

In the end, I probably just want it more for Snider. I think he has a higher ceiling and, unabashedly, like him more as a player. Sue me.

You sure whine about the manager a lot. What's the deal? He really doesn't have much to work with as we discussed above.

Are you familiar with the saying "you gotta have the horses?" If you want your team to run and chug and go-go-go, you better have the horses. I appreciate the challenges an injured lineup present, but seriously, enough all ready.

Enough what? Now that Rajai Davis is back, Corey Patterson is safely secreted away at the bottom of the order. Davis even had a great series, despite your previously stated concerns.

The better Davis is, the better I feel about this season on the whole. No pressure.

What kind of positives have you taken from the first month of this season? Does anything warm the cockles of your cold, black heart?

Brandon Morrow is rather excellent. Travis Snider became a tidy little left fielder. Ricky Romero is excellent. Despite his fear of more than one inning outings, John Farrell (and the excellent bullpen corps) handles the bullpen with aplomb1. It is probably too soon to tell. They lost more games than they won. I think we should all get used to that.

1 - The kids call this a teaser.