Pat Burrell Signs With The Rays, Sensible Baseball Fans Scratch Their Heads

January 5, 2009

Former Phillies’ OF Pat Burrell is apparently on the verge of signing with the Tampa Bay Rays for $8 million a year. This development means that I am on the verge of discontinuing, out of sheer frustration, my quest to understand what some general managers are thinking. Allow me to explain. Read the rest of this entry »


Al’s Quote of the Day: 4/17/07

April 17, 2007

Al Hrabosky and Dan McLoughlin are discussing where Scott Rolen ranks all-time at the hot corner:

  • “I think he’s still got a ways to go to edge out Brooks Robinson, but he’s already vastly superior to Mike Schmidt.”
  • Schmidt and Rolen are both better hitters than Brooks Robinson. But Mike Schmidt had like 12 years with a WARP3 of at least 10, including a peak of 13.3, and he slugged way more than Rolen ever will. Brooks Robinson is widely acknowledged as the best fielding third baseman of all time, so this assessment would make more sense if he was just talking about defense. But it’s still wrong because Schmidt edges Rolen for Fielding Runs Above Replacement out of sheer longevity, though this may change in the next few years. Usually when you don’t use any qualifiers in these debates it means you take into consideration the whole package, in which case Schmidt is clearly the best of the three.

    Al, one can’t be vastly superior to the best of something. I don’t care if we are losing 5-0 to the Pirates at the time and Preston Wilson is playing all three outfield positions at the same time. This is no excuse for your crazy talk. You are the color man. It is arguably the greatest job in all of broadcasting, because you have no obligation to provide up-to-date information about the game being played; you can literally say whatever the hell you want. With great power comes great responsibility: please don’t shape more young homers who think the Cardinals have fielded the best player of all time at every position.

    PS: I have of course have nothing against Scott Rolen; I think he is a likely first ballot Hall of Famer.


    Rites of Spring Day Three: PHI@CIN

    March 5, 2007

    Given the unique opportunity of being thisclose to so many superstar athletes, so many promising prospects, I could pretty much write about anything I want.

    I could write about how good Wes Helms looked.

    I could write about the potential upside and downside of trading Chris Duncan for the reliable Jon Lieber.

    I could write about the unique, dilapidated charm of the Reds’ spring training facility and how darn nice all the ushers were.

    I could even live up to our byline and write about some idiotic sports story in the news right now.

    But no.

    I’m going to write about a random fan who ruined today’s game.

    One of the Phillies hit a long fly ball down the first base line, and Reds right fielder Norris Hopper ran it down for an impressive out. An old fat guy several rows behind us commended Hopper on his hustle, and I, the snickering sabermetrics subscriber, cleared my throat, ready to make an easy joke about scrapiness or scraptitude or whatever you want to call it.

    But before I could, the aforementioned geezer (we’ll call him Aloysius) unfurled a doozy, literally taking the words right out of my mouth:

    “You’d never see Adam Dunn do that.”

    I was literally about to say the exact same thing in an overly ironic, boisterous tone. You see, it’s funny because Adam Dunn is REALLY¬†GOOD. Let’s look at Dunn’s stats from 2006, a relatively disappointing campaign:

    In 160 games and 561 at-bats, Dunn had a .234/.365/.490 line with 24 doubles, 40 home runs, 112 walks, 99 runs and 92 RBI. True, he led the league in strike-outs with 194 but he gets on-base at such a good clip that it doesn’t matter. All in all he was worth a .290 EqA and 4.9 WARP3.

    Here are the numbers for Hopper, the gritty scrapster who hustled to make something happen:

    In 111 games and 429 at-bats split between AA and AAA, Hopper had a .340/.376/.389 line with 13 doubles, 4 triples, 0 home runs, 26 walks, 54 runs and 10 RBI. He only struck out 28 times, but . . . he had 17 extra base hits. And none of them were home runs. I don’t know his EqA or WARP3. Those stats are only for players good enough to be in the majors.

    So a minor-league singles hitter with no power and no patience at the plate is more deserving of praise than the Reds’ best offensive producer.

    Aloysius, you are an IDIOT.

    And other Reds fans: why was I the only one applauding when Dunn came to bat? I don’t expect every baseball fan to understand complex Prospectus-type stuff, but isn’t it reasonable to think a person with half a brain could understand why Dunn and Pat Burrell are extremely valuable to their respective teams? Lookin’ at you, Mike Schmidt. Jim Edmonds was practically the same hitter (if not a little better), but he’s never had these perceived “hustle” issues in St. Louis, of all places.

    So anyway, that’s how an old douche spoiled a otherwise pleasant NL ballgame. Tomorrow we make the switch to the east coast, and then it’s time to get really excited as we follow the Cardinals until Sunday.


    Rites of Spring Day Two: NYY@PHI

    March 4, 2007

    The game was kind of a slog and I’m tired, so I’ll be quick tonite.

    The highlight of my day was waking up and learning that Carl Pavano was scheduled to start for the Yankees. Since I only really started following the game last season, Pavano has been built up that certain enigmatic quality of a mythical, extinct creature. It was like planning to go to the zoo and finding out that a unicorn would be on display. An oft-injured, league-average unicorn.

    Well, I saw it: Carl Pavano can, indeed, pitch. He just can’t throw strikes. I don’t think he threw more than three (EDIT: according to MLB.com, he three 16 of 33 – so the illusion of no strikes came from the fact that he fell behind often and early). I would be worried if this was a middle-rotation candidate, but since Pavano is ostensibly slated as the fifth starter, he should be passable. But just for fun: how soon until Hughes gets the call-up? I’ll put the over/under (after/before) at July 21st and say after.

    Otherwise, not too much notable. Lefty Cole Hamels looked sharp for the Phillies; the Yankees only had four regulars in the line-up, and the game got out of hand when the Yankees’ scrubs + Johnny Damon rallied for four runs in the fifth inning. The Yankees had about 23 baserunners in three innings, and Torre got to take a nice little nap. For two teams whose rotations are being talked up, Boston and Philly may have relief emergencies from the look of it.


    Rites of Spring Day One: PHI@BOS

    March 3, 2007

    While Special K is off in South Carolina building houses for the impoverished and down-trodden (bless his soul), I’m on a whirlwind tour of the Grapefruit League with a sabermetrics pioneer. Saturday brought us and the Philadelphia Phillies to the home of Special K’s favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. First the juicy stuff:

  • Papelbon’s “Start”: Even though he came in for the third inning, converted Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon considered today’s two-inning appearance to be his first start. Semantics aside, the Boner (that’s my new nickname for him) looked electric, striking out four (including the side in order in the third inning) and allowing no baserunners. Key moment: getting MVP Ryan Howard to whiff on a 93-mph fastball (or as Jon Miller likes to say, “FASTBALL”). True, it’s only two innings, which is almost standard for an experienced closer, but Yankees be warned: this dude looks like trouble.
  • Wakefield’s “Start”: If the Red Sox do indeed have the best rotation in baseball, it ain’t because of this guy. Despite the rock-solid presence of Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield’s command looked shaky from the first pitch, and though he struck out two, he threw one wild pitch and gave up three hits, including an RBI-double by Howard.
  • Eaton Alive: I’m working on my bad punny titles; what’d y’all think of that one? Free-agent signing Adam Eaton was solid through three innings; he looked sharp against the signature Sox thumpers, and his only hit was a (controversial) home run that seemed to come more from sloppily underestimating a AA hitter in the nine-hole than lack of command.
  • Boston’s Pen Pall: Jayston Stark is an idiot. Today was an open audition for the closer role, and it was the baseball equivalent of the first horrendous weeks of “American Idol.” The oddly heralded Joel Pineiro gave up four runs in one and a third innings, including a two-run shot by Triple-A regular Greg Dobbs. Manny Delcarmen lost a ninth-inning tie off three hits and two walks. None of the other guys looked particularly impressive. The best showing came from Julian Tavarez who allowed no baserunners and brought his ERA down to a respectable 13.50.
  • Other random notes:
    – The aforementioned Greg Dobbs had a spectacular day for Philly, going 4-for-5 with 2 runs, 4 RBI and a walk. He may have earned a spot on the bench, but in all likelihood you’ll probably never hear of him again.
    – Phillies’ invitee Brian Mazone may have reached the high point of his career during the fifth inning, when he struck out David Ortiz swingingand worked to 0-2 on Manny Ramirez. He then walked Manny and gave up a three-run Mike Lowell homer. Despite two more seemingly unfazed innings, it was never quite the same as that magical afternoon forty-five minutes earlier in the day.
    – One pitcher (don’t remember who) was having a difficult battle with Doug Mirabelli. I suggested that he throw a knuckleball, with the hope that Mirabelli would instinctively drop his bat and try to keep the ball from going to the backstop. Alas, the pitcher did not heed my advice, and Mirabelli got on base.
    – Dustin Pedroia looks sharp and he should be on track to start at second. He did not get on base today.
    – Randall Simon, known primarily for assaulting anthropomorphic meat, hit a bloop single before getting picked off. According to one vocal spectator, he “hit that sausage harder than he hit the ball.”
    – Reason #4,238,909 why the win is a bad statistic: Phillies’ reliever Jeff Farnsworth gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game. The Phillies rally in the tenth, some dude from AA earns the save by shutting down Boston’s AA players, and Farnsworth gets the win. If he did that twenty times in one year, he would technically be a legitimate Cy Young candidate.

    This was my first spring training game since converting to hardcore baseball fandom, and it was interesting to see how the game slowly regresses from a somewhat relaxed exhibition contest into a Double-A war of attrition. Basically, you shouldn’t get hung up on your team’s record in March; or, as Special K likes to say, it’s not about the result, it’s about the process.