May 2011

Prince Albert Canned

It’s easy to fall in love with an amazing baseball player, but what happens when the wheels begin falling off?  I was a big Preston Wilson fan, a truly random player to follow and like, but when he blew up in both 2000 and 2003 for monster fantasy seasons, I was the one who had been on board the whole time.  But what about the superstars?  David Ortiz had a downfall, only to somewhat rebound to hit for lower averages with solid power and still very productive run producing.  Looking back further, you can see where players totally fall apart.

That’s where Dale Murphy comes along and makes you wonder about Pujols terrible start.  Murphy could have been considered the top player in baseball from 1982-1987.  Then, 1988 came up, his age-32 season, and he was done.  Sure, players were already taking steroids then, see Canseco/McGwire in Oakland, but this bad?  From 1982-1987, Murphy averaged a .289 AVG, 29 2B, 36 HR, and 105 RBI.  Then, from 1988 to 1993, Murphy was a shell of his former self, averaging a .234 AVG, 18 2B, 15 HR, and 56 RBI.  He wasn’t close to his MVP-calibur seasons, but most importantly, he never came close to them again.  Injuries and age caught up with him and he was limited to just 44 games in his last two seasons.

So, Albert Pujols and his .262/..329/.411 slash-line makes you wonder if this is the end.  He is under a lot of pressure in a contract year, but this start isn’t helping his apparent need of a $300 million contract.  Pujols’ typical season over his first ten year is a .320 AVG, 42 2B, 41 HR, and 123 RBI.  His, well, poo-holes-like 2011 has him at just the .262 AVG, 5 2B, 9 HR, and 30RBI, which over a 162 game season, would be just a .262, 15 2B, 27 HR, and 88 RBI season.  Dale Murphy’s dropoff season was a .226, 35 2B, 24 HR, and 77 RBI campaign.

These two players are not very alike in their approaches at the plate.  Murphy had one season with an OBP over .400, while Pujols’ only season with a sub-.400 OBP was his 2nd season, 2002, at the age of 22, when he posted a .394 OBP (which would have been Murphy’s 2nd highest in his career if the numbers were switched).  Don’t discount the falloff, but know that Pujols has the tools to overcome this start.  When the ball starts flying in the summer heat of St. Louis, his numbers and free agent price tag will rise again.

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Colon Craps on the A’s Lineup – 1st SO since ’06

Bartolo Colon ate his way out of effectiveness in 2006 and 2007 when he and his ERA ballooned to 5.90 over 28 starts, where he went just 7-13.  This after going 39-20 with a 4.22 ERA over 67 starts in 2004 and 2005.  He certainly didn’t live up to expectations, especially after winning the AL Cy Young in 2005, as he totally fell apart.  He made 19 starts between 2008 and 2009 for the Red Sox and White Sox, going 7-8 with a 4.08 ERA, prior to disappearing for 2010.  What exactly happened in 2010?

Well…apparently, Fatolo and a doctor decided to use his own fat to better his body, injecting his fat into his fat shoulder and fat elbow.  This new technology shows that fat is pretty incredible, so don’t feel so bad about having three hot dogs and six hamburgers at your Memorial Day grill-out!  Colon is showing that fat has lasting effects, going 3-3 with a 3.26 ERA for the Yankees in 2011, posting a 62/15 K/BB in 66 1/3 IP.  He is legit again and he could be an asset, while sporting a large one, for the remainder of the season.

Beefy

Brandon Phillips – Video Blog

Sometimes people make plays like this every night and they are overlooked.  Brandon Phillips seems to do something like this every night.  Follow the links to enjoy:

5/30

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15368507&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_15368507

5/29

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15368507&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_15368507

Others…all from 2011…the man does it every night!

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=15368507&topic_id=&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_15368507

 

 

Check Yaself Before Ya Wreck Yaself

Ice Cube is a philosophical wizard in the world of lyrical poetry, aka gangsta rap, but his words are perfect to throw to John Danks.  Danks had this to say about Jose Bautista after the slugger threw his bat down in anger on an infield popout:

“I just told him to run the bases. He was out there acting like a clown. He’s had a great year and a half — no doubt. He’s one of the best players in the league. But he’s out there acting like he’s Babe Ruth or something.  Just the way he was acting. He ran halfway down the line and stopped and spiked his bat. I get it. He’s upset at himself. He’s a good hitter, he’s had a great couple years. But he isn’t that good to be acting like he needs to hit every ball out of the ballpark.”

Really, John Danks?  Really?  You’re 0-8 with a 5.25 ERA and you’re calling someone else out?  I remember when John Danks was relevant, but it isn’t this season.  Sure, Danks just turned 26 and had gone 40-31 with a 3.61 ERA in 608 1/3 IP from 2008-2010, but give it a break.  This is like Danica Patrick calling out someone who actually wins a race, maybe even Omar Vizquel telling someone they can’t hit anymore.

You know, the White Sox have had a six man rotation since Jake Peavy came off of the DL and Phillip Humber looks like the one they are moving to the bullpen.  This is the same Humber who has a 2.85 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 60 IP.  Maybe Danks should just shut his yapper and look at his lack of production before he calls out the current best player in baseball.  If Jose Bautista isn’t that good, what the hell is he?  When he said, “I get it.  He’s upset at himself,” he should have left it at that.  Now Danks is just another nobody who, at just one game over .500 for his career now, thinks that he is the next Cy Young.  You’re not that good to say something like that, John.  Start winning some games and keeping the opposing team from scoring, then maybe you can be taken seriously.

The Lawrie Need

Just how bad do the Blue Jays need June 1st to get here?  Look at this write up from Rotoworld.com:

The Blue Jays’ third basemen have gone an astounding 0-for-45 over Toronto’s
past 13 games.

Over that time-frame, Jayson Nix is 0-for-22, John McDonald
0-for-18 and Edwin Encarnacion 0-for-5. On the year, Nix is now hitting .164,
McDonald .222 and Encarnacion .236. For the season, the Blue Jays’ third basemen
entered Saturday the owners of a combined .170/.227/.266 slash. Meanwhile, down
on the farm, Brett Lawrie continues to abuse Pacific Coast League pitching for
Triple-A Las Vegas, batting .341 to go along with 12 home runs, 17 doubles,
three triples, 40 RBI and a .403 OBP through his first 234 plate appearances.
It’s only a matter of time before he gets the call to the big leagues.
Yikes…maybe it is worth a Super-Two payday to have an upgrade in their lineup.  Even if you’re not taking your chances of winning the AL East this year seriously, you can’t really run guys out there to stink up the joint, right?  I mean, having the roof on the SkyDome/Rogers Centre, that’s like a huge dutch oven, am I right?  Lawrie needs to be up ASAP.  Bautista needs help and Lawrie, along with Adam Lind’s return, could move the Jays up the standings.

Who is That Guy – Anthony Swarzak

Anthony Swarzak touched the lives of baseball fans on Saturday night when he went     7 1/3 hitless innings, out of nowhere, for the Twins in his 14th Major League start.  Swarzak seemed like a career Minor Leaguer, but at 25 and after 66 starts at Triple-A Rochester, including 22 last year and parts of four seasons in Triple-A, Swarzak finally made good on his opportunity.

Swarzak was a 2nd round pick in the 2004 MLB Draft and was ranked in the top 100 prospects by Baseball America in 2006, albeit as number 100.  He hit a snag in his development on April 20, 2007, when he was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a “drug of abuse,” clearly not steroids.  It threw off his development and could have ended his career, but he battled through it and reached the Majors for a 2nd time this season after spending all of last year in Triple-A.

Swarzak’s numbers have never been eye-catching.  He seems like an inning-eating type, possibly a long reliever long-term.  His numbers really took a hit in 2010, as he went 5-12 with a 6.21 ERA in Triple-A.  He isn’t someone to take seriously in fantasy leagues, even AL-only leagues, but you have to appreciate someone who has overcome a mistake to reach the highest level.

Reds C Depth = Giant potential

The Giants are going to have to upgrade at the catching position, whether Brian Sabean wants to try to fool the world by saying Eli Whiteside deserves a shot or not.  Sure, they should be connected to Ivan Rodriguez, he is the oldest catcher available and would fit right in on the Giants roster of veterans.  How about calling Cincinnati and Walt Jocketty, though?  Not only do the Reds have both Ryan Hanigan (.253, 2 HR, 10 RBI) and Ramon Hernandez (.321, 7 HR, 17 RBI), but they have two of the top catching prospects in all of baseball.

Devin Mesoraco is 22-years-old, toiling away in Triple-A Louisville waiting for a chance.  He was the Reds Minor League Player of the Year in 2010, finishing with a .302/.377/.587 slash-line, with 25 2B and 26 HR over three levels in the Minors.  He is hitting .296/.383/.480 this season, showing a little more patience at the plate while clubbing 13 2B, 5 HR, and 23 RBI in 152 at bats.  He is nearly Major League ready and could easily replace one of the veteran catchers in Cincinnati if they traded one of them.

Yasmani Grandal is also a 22-year-old, currently receiving for the Bakersfield High-A team in the California League for Cincinnati.  His numbers are a little inflated at .284/.416/.507 with 9 2B, 8 HR, and 30 RBI, but his 41/34 K/BB in 148 at bats show that his patience and his bat are in line with the hype that made him one of the best college bats available when the Reds drafted him in the 1st round, 12th overall, in the 2010 MLB Draft.

Could the Reds, who have had a lot of young talent reach the Majors in recent years possibly swap a catcher for a Giant starting pitching prospect?  With the depth in the Minors and the severity of the Posey injury, the Giants may need another catcher, allowing Posey to move to 1B to save his ankle or knee that he injured in the collision at home this week.  Zack Wheeler could look good in Red for Cincinnati if they play their cards right.

Giant Mistake by Bochy

Bruce Bochy is going to get a lot of credit for being a brilliant mind, managing the defending World Champion Giants is his current fame.  However, after Buster Posey was lost for the remainder of the season, Bochy started off with a very stupid move.  Sure, it is still early in the post-Posey era, but replacing Posey’s bat is very necessary, and it isn’t going to happen by just replacing him in the lineup with Eli Whiteside.

The Giants made several moves the same day they put Posey on the DL: INF Mike Fontenot was put on the DL and OF Darren Ford was put on the DL, while DFA INF Ryan Rohlinger.  They followed that up by purchasing the contract of C Chris Stewart and recalling 1B/OF Brandon Belt from Triple-A Fresno, and reaching for SS Brandon Crawford from High-A San Jose.  Stewart is a 29-year-old journeyman, clearly incapable of helping the team, but they needed the depth at catcher with Posey gone.  The real issues come with the prospects, Belt and Crawford.

Crawford is 24 and he has spent the last two seasons going back and forth between High-A and Double-A.  This season, he was playing in San Jose, High-A, playing in 14 games and hitting 3 HR with 15 RBI with a .322/.412/.593 slash-line.  However, in the two seasons before this, he has hit just .264 with 17 HR and 71 RBI in 806 at bats.  This has been done, mostly, in the California League, a notorious hitter’s league.  He received his first start Friday night and promptly hit a grand slam, finishing 1 for 3 with 4 RBI.  So, what’s the big deal?  That he is starting and they can’t find room for the actual prospect.

Brandon Belt struggled in his taste of Major League action earlier this season, hitting just .192 in 52 at bats.  However, his K/BB of 13/8 shows that he wasn’t totally lost, but they needed to do something with their lineup in San Francisco and cleared 1B for Aubrey Huff when Cody Ross returned from the DL on April 20th.  Belt has nothing left to prove in the Minors, especially considering that the Giants starting outfield consists of one player who isn’t replaceable, and that is debatable, in Cody Ross.  Andres Torres, Aaron Rowand, and Pat Burrell are hitting a combined .244 with 7 HR, 26 RBI in 348 at bats.  Belt was hitting .337 with 4 HR and 21 RBI in his first 101 Triple-A at bats.  This is after he rocketed through three levels in the Minors last year, finishing with a .352/.455/.620 slash-line, piling up 43 2B, 10 3B, 23 HR, 112 RBI, and 22 SB as a 22-year-old in 2010.  If you team up the Giants lineup without Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval and with Rowand, Burrell, Torres, Miguel Tejada, and Aubrey Huff as offensive “weapons,” the Giants can’t afford to let Belt sit on the bench or be up to just come off of the bench when needed.  They need him now.

Bruce Bochy was a genius who managed the Giants to the World Series because Brian Sabean drafted Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner, not because of moves that he made with a long list of veteran hitters in his lineup.  If he doesn’t get on board with Belt, Giants fans will be ready to whip him with theirs.

Non-Pitcher Performances

With Wilson Valdez gaining a huge “W” for the Phillies in the 19th inning yesterday, it is interesting to look back on other position players who took to the mound.  I was amazed at how many position players had actually gone to the mound, as baseballreference.com had a list of 477 position players who have pitched, among them:

Ted Williams – 1 G, 2 IP, 4.50 ERA, 1 K, 0 BB

Jimmie Foxx – 10 G, 2 STARTS!, 23 2/3 IP, 1.52 ERA, 11 K, 14 BB

Wade Boggs – 2 G, 2 1/3 IP, 3.86 ERA, 2 K, 1 BB – Boggs apparently had a nasty knuckler, check out the NY Times article about his appearance: http://www.nytimes.com/1997/08/21/sports/boggs-and-his-knuckler-are-the-stars-of-the-show.html

Rocky Colavito – 2 G, 1 W, 5 2/3 IP, 0.00 ERA, 2 K, 5 BB

Kevin Seitzer – check this out: 1/3 IP, 1 K – the man has a 27K/9 IP record for his career!

Obviously there were many more and baseballreference.com lists players like Babe Ruth and Rick Ankiel, both pitchers before becoming full-time position players.  Check it out if you have time, as this is a great statistic site: http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/fieldPitch.shtml

Pocket Full of Posey…

Feel that lint in your pocket?   Just like the shelf in your 85-year-old grandparent’s living room, Buster Posey will be gathering dust on the DL, a victim of the position of catcher in MLB.  Posey was plowed at home in the 12th inning of Wednesday night’s game, blocking home plate without even catching the ball, thrown in by Nate Schierholtz, as Scott Cousin of the Marlins trucked the young superstar.  If you haven’t seen the highlight, I posted the link on the Twitter feed…Ugly.  MRI is scheduled for today and his agent is asking MLB to change the rules about fielders and runners colliding.  Interesting.

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