Results tagged ‘ Houston Astros ’
The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the AL West, where everyone is welcoming in the Astros, and my predictions are pretty predictable.
5. Houston Astros
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 50/1, 125/1, 250/1
Stuart sees: a franchise that got forced into the AL West when the club got sold and bought, and now there will be interleague all the time and it’s all your fault, Houston. (Is nothing sacred anymore?!?!?) I’m not sure how bad this team will be, especially in the AL West. I’m going to say all overall aspects of this roster are below average, and when that kind of thing happens, get ready for nobody showing up to Minute Maid Park, and continued talk of what will happen in the future. If you read that Danny Knobler article on the Astros and agreed with everything, I don’t know what to tell you besides that article was a load of [noun]. Hopefully last year was the worst of what we’ll see out of Houston, but it may be this year. Don’t see them beating out Seattle for fourth.
4. Seattle Mariners
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 15/1, 50/1, 100/1
Stuart sees: a bunch of guys that guy play first base or hit designated-ly. Have fun Seattle Mariners pitchers, because you get Michael Morse, Jason Bay, and Raul Ibanez guarding those foul lines for you, although might they still be able to hit? Maybe, yes, but gosh this team’s overall defense is just going to be one giant sad face. Despite having a lineup that might be able to hit, an “eh” rotation, and a maybe decent bullpen, help is on the way, and it’s in the form of arms and a new battery. RHP Taijuan Walker, LHP Danny Hultzen, LHP James Paxton, RHP Brandon Maurer, and catcher Mike Zunino are all expected to be called up some time in 2013, it’s just a matter of when will that happen? Should these guys mentioned hit their ceilings, Seattle won’t have an unbeatable rotation, but they will have a strong, and deep set of guys ready to go.
3. Oakland Athletics
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/1, 16/1, 33/1
Stuart sees: a team that could sneak in again if the Rangers lose their way like they did at the end of 2012. I’m not sure they can pass the Angels, but the Athletics have a decent lineup with good depth in Chris Young, and Derek Norris, although I’m not expecting the lineup to blow you away. The rotation, led by Brett Anderson and Jarrod Parker, should be good again, but my question mark will be the bullpen and how they do this year. I’d love if the energy from the Coliseum is there on a routine basis just like it was at the end of the season, but I think we all know that their stadium and their stadium situation is just a mess. Bringing the Astros into this division definitely will not hurt Oakland’s (or Texas’, or the Angels’) chances of lowering their win-count.
2. Texas Rangers
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 9/4, 15/2, 16/1
Stuart sees: a team that did well in the offseason not to overdo it on guys like Josh Hamilton, Kyle Lohse, or keep around the statue of leadership known as Michael Young. Lance Berkman was brought in for what looks to be his swan song, while questions of “how will top prospect Jurickson Profar fit” will keep the masses talking. The lineup still looks like it can hit, and the rotation should be strong. The bullpen should get a nice addition in Joakim Soria in May, but they’ll hope he’s not too-damaged goods and will be able to make that back-end of the bullpen into a game over scenario. Neftali Feliz also had Tommy John surgery in early August, so he will be a welcome force once he is ready to come back for the home stretch. Can this team overtake the Angels of Orange County? Yes, but they’re going to need some help from the Angels, and from their bullpen to keep their team in the games.
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 2/3, 9/2, 17/2
Stuart sees: money money moneyyyyy being spent all over the place but who in the heck knows how they were just able to get rid of most of Vernon Wells‘ contract to the Yankees. What will doom the Angels is their starting rotation after Weaver and C.J. Wilson. You have Joe Blanton, Jason Vargas, and Tommy Hanson. Your first thoughts after that should either be 1) who’s in the minors to take one of their spots (answer: ???), or 2) how’s their bullpen (answer: decent). Lucky for the Angels they have the bats to combat this lack of back-end pitching that will allow some homers here and there. The top half of the Angels lineup will be trouble for the opposition, and if that top half stays healthy, the Angels will probably be riding those bats and their top two arms to a division title. If something goes wrong, specifically with their rotation, I could see this team missing the playoffs.
This AL West set of predictions was pretty standard, but if you got some dark horse picks/flippity-floppity going on or you want to agree, I’d love to hear it in the comments section!
Not a typo. That does say 88 losses. You may have heard the Astros are bad, but may not have heard that they’ve been this bad in 2012. It’s true — the Astros are 5-17 in August, and were 3-24 in July. That’s 8-41 in those two months and all sorts of bad. For the record, the Giants went 12-12 in July and are 15-9 in August. This series also begins a run for the Giants against two notoriously bad teams in the Astros and the Cubs. The Giants must win the games they’re supposed to, since they shouldn’t expect the Dodgers to wilt against the rest of the NL West. The Giants are 5-1 against the Astros this season thus far.
Tuesday, August 28th: RHP Matt Cain vs. RHP Bud Norris
One sentence summary: Incredibly odd, but Bud Norris has a 2.18 ERA at home, and a 7.27 ERA away, and normally I don’t bust out ERA for talking points, but I guess his pitch execution and defense are that much better at MMP.
Wednesday, August 29th: LHP Barry Zito vs. LHP Dallas Keuchel
One sentence summary: Progress for Keuchel as he hasn’t allowed more than two walks in a game since the end of July while Barry Zito hopes he doesn’t get blown up by Houston in their park for the 3rd time in 4 career starts at Minute Maid.
Thursday, August 30th: RHP Ryan Vogelsong vs. RHP Jordan Lyles
One sentence summary: 12/19 of Lyles’ starts he’s given up 2 or 3 BB so there’s that, and Vogelsong hopes to see fewer than 3 men cross the plate for the first time since his outing in St. Louis.
When Joaquin Arias is still your hottest hitter in the last week by the numbers (.607 wOBA L7, .303 wOBA overall) I’m pretty sure that’s “LOL” quality, but if you’ve watched him, he is making it look pretty easy out there. Angel Pagan’s return to the role of leadoff has been well spoken about and the numbers back it up as well (.463 wOBA L7, .334 wOBA overall). While you will take baserunners at any time, it is nice to start the game off putting pressure on your opponent, as we saw in the most recent LA series. Gregor Blanco, while maybe not what you’d classify as “hot,” is contributing again (.360 wOBA L7, .314 wOBA overall), which if you’re going to be a starter, is obviously pretty important. Power bats that really need to step up are Hunter Pence (.224 wOBA L7), and Pablo Sandoval (.220 wOBA L7), as it would undoubtedly be great to get some confidence in before they head back West from this Houston and Chicago excursion.
Chris Snyder has had 10 PA in the past week. He also sports a Joaquin Arias-like .624 wOBA in his past week (.287 wOBA overall), so I can’t wait to see how that continues. Jason Castro is also contributing a little bit recently (.351 wOBA in 12 PA, .305 wOBA overall), but from there it’s all below average production, which isn’t the biggest surprise for a 40-88 team, and a team that’s gone 5-17 in August. Scott Moore might embody the Astros’ season in his past week: 22 PA, .069 wOBA, -70 wRC+. Ugh. I’d guess Houston fans might be thinking some these guys can only improve… but if they can, let’s hope they wait until after the Giants leave town.
Hunter Pence’s homecoming should be a good one for the most part for the Giants, although I’m not convinced they’ll sweep. It’s baseball, ya’ll, and the Dodgers just got beat 10-0 by the Rockies of all people.
Tuesday: Giants win (Matt Cain doesn’t need to be his best)
Wednesday: Giants win (I can’t believe there’s someone that much worse than Zito statistically)
Thursday: Astros win (I think the Astros win one, just couldn’t figure out which one it’d be)
Good Morning! Why did you go to sleep?
Last night may have been the most eventful night in some time in terms of baseball transactions, with Wandy Rodriguez being traded to the Pirates, Cole Hamels being signed to an incredible 6-year/$144MM extension, and then the cherry on top of Hanley Ramirez being shipped to the Dodgers. There are more pieces to the Pirates and the Dodgers deals, but I’m going to stick with the headliners because I don’t doubt you might have woken up today, and especially if you’re a Dodger/Giant fan you went “UUUWHHHHHHHATTTTTTTT???” which is pretty much the sound I made.
Which Hanley are the Dodgers getting?
The Hanley Ramirez the public will think of when we think of what he can do is the 2007-2010 Hanley Ramirez. In those years he put up 29, 33, 24, 21 HR; 51, 35, 27, 32 SB, an OBP of .386, .400, .410, .378; a wOBA of .411, .405, .410, .373; and an fWAR of 5.7, 7.5, 7.4, 4.6 if you’re into any of those stats.
In 2011 and 2012, we’ve seen somebody different, and granted he only played 92 G in 2011 so perhaps he should get cut some slack. The HR aren’t too bad with 10, 14; 20, 14 SB so he’s a little behind the normal pace this year; an OBP of .333, .322, which is a little concerning; wOBA of .317, .329 which repeats that concern; and an fWAR of 1.3, 1.4 which further drives home the point that he hasn’t been able to put forth what’s been expected of him.
Even if he magically bounces back to 2007-2010 Hanley due to meshing with the Dodgers clubhouse, he’s got 64 games in the regular season left with them, and you may see 10-12 more HR, and SB, maybe gets on base at a .370 clip, and gives the Dodgers maybe two or three extra wins in total (remember, 64 games left, not a larger number) than they would’ve had without him. Something of a close comparison may be the 2010 Matt Kemp that put up 28 HR, 19 SB, but a .310 OBP and a .323 wOBA — he’ll get big hits, but you can see there’s something more there and it will kill you that he’s not reaching that potential.
The consensus fear is that the Hanley of 2007-2010 shows up for the Dodgers. I believe the realistic expectation to kind of echo Wendy Thurm is 2011-2012 Hanley shows up this year, then wait and see what happens in 2013-2014, where he could return to form. He will still be good though, I’m not saying he will do nothing.
So how do we react?
Well, we take it in, and just go, “OK. The Dodgers have Hanley now.” This really shouldn’t change things for the front office because we’ve known all along the Dodgers would try to go big this season, and they might not be done in trying to get Ryan Dempster, and/or Shane Victorino, or maybe there’s other stuff out there we don’t know about (very real possibility). Therefore, the Giants knew before the Hanley deal they needed bullpen help, knew they’re trying to land someone that will help the team in 1B/RF. The only thing that changed because of last night’s Panda stretch is possibly the need for a 3B, especially if the position remains a black hole of hitting production. This deal doesn’t mean, “OHMYGAHH THE GIANTS NEED TO TRADE FOR ZACK GRINKY OR WHATEVR THAT GUYZ NAME IS… OR WHADDABOUT ELVIS ANDRUS FOR NATE SCHIERHOLTZ/?!!?” because really, with the Giants farm system (and wallet) being what it is, it’s not gonna happen.
So the Dodgers have Hanley and the Giants haven’t traded for anyone, OK. 6 days left in the non-waiver trade deadline and I’m sure you know we’ve acquired guys in August in the past as well, so getting an impact arm or bat isn’t out of the question. Relax, have fun speculating what it’ll mean, and enjoy these next couple of days from a trade deadline perspective. Just don’t panic, because if the front office isn’t panicking over that Hanley deal, why should you?
Whatever really small sample sizes were around before the All Star Break happened, I’d say 4 days off can be enough of a break to make that SSS even more irrelevant going into these upcoming games. This isn’t a new season starting, but the grass may look a little greener, the garlic fries may taste a little better, and the beer may hit you a little quicker (ah, who we kiddin’) after nearly four days off from regular season baseball. The Giants have already won a series against these ‘Stros at home, and you may remember something happened the last time they were here — that’s right, they won a game by 10 runs. Pretty impressive!
While the Giants “re-start the second half” of the season, Santiago Casilla may be the biggest name that comes back for them, but the Dodgers expect to get Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier back into theirs, so now is when things could start becoming frustrating for both fanbases expecting to see some ground to be gained, or some separation to be made.
Friday, July 13th: LHP Wandy Rodriguez vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
One sentence summary: The Astros have made this a much more even matchup on paper, featuring two guys that should frustrate the other fanbase.
Saturday, July 13th: RHP Jordan Lyles vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
One question summary: What don’t you know about Tim Lincecum’s struggles this year?
Sunday, July 14th: RHP Lucas Harrell vs. RHP Matt Cain
One sentence summary: Everyone will want Matt Cain to be perfect again, but I will bet money he won’t be against the Houstons.
By the way, Lyles and Harrell have both been hit hard away from home this year with an over 6 ERA, but it is a small sample size, so take it with a good sized portion of salt.
Four Astros have over 300 PA, and half of them are made up of Jed Lowrie (14 HR, .350 wOBA, 8.9 wRAA), and Jose Altuve (15 SB, .343 wOBA, 7.5 wRAA). J.D. Martinez is another one of the four and he is doing alright with the stick (11 HR, .314 wOBA, -0.4 wRAA), but it’s hard to say they’ve had any other consistent offensive threat, not that Carlos Lee was a big masher himself or anything (5 HR, .324 wOBA). Jordan Schafer (20 SB) works the bases like Altuve can so if either of the top two guys get on, they could get annoying.
The Giants are looking for a second member to their double digit HR club, as Buster Posey (10 HR, .356 wOBA, 10.1 wRAA) is currently the only member, but Melky (8 HR, 10 SB, .389 wOBA, 21.8 wRAA — 16th in MLB), and Pablo (8 HR, .366 wOBA, 133 wRC+) are closing in on joining the club. The Giants have two speedsters themselves in Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, who both have 15 SB, but with their OBP at .330, and .337, respectively, they will need to step up the pace a little bit in order to be those guys that can really disrupt the rhythm of the game for opposing pitchers.
This is a series the Giants should win, and with the confidence of the ASG performances right at their backs, this should be an attainable one at the friendly confines, although it has become more interesting with Wandy now moved up to face Bumgarner.
Friday: Giants win (pitching duel goes to the home team)
Saturday: **Giants win (bullpen keeps Giants in the game long enough to let them beat the Houston Altuves)
Sunday: Giants win (Matt Cain’s pitching, and the Astros will want revenge. That’s nice, I want to win the lotto, and that’s not happening.)
I’ll be at Saturday’s game up in the View Reserved Section 314, Row 10, hopefully no SHADOWS though, you know how narrative-y those can be!
Right? If you write about baseball, or you think you can right about baseballs (lulz), chances are you can make predictions or give a take on the second half of the season that has/hasn’t been said before, or provide first-half analysis, but do it in a different way from other people.
I use Excel spreadsheets:
Boom. How you like these apples? You may have seen something like this in a Fansided post I did last month, and now it’s updated. Spent all night updating it, so I hope you appreciate the work. If you don’t, well take in the numbers that are important here: the Giants are 20-20 against teams with a .500 record or better (despite their most recent 9-10 stretch versus winning teams) and have 30/76 (~40%) of their remaining games against those teams including 12 against the Dodgers, who may or may not look the same the next time we see them. I have a hard time seeing top Dodger prospect Zach Lee making it through this season without being traded. As long as the Dodgers don’t win it all, this could be a season we look back on and kind of point and laugh at them much in the same way people do at the Giants for that deal last year involving a different Zack. In both scenarios though, the deal needs/needed to be done to acquire an impact player, and I don’t know how impact of a guy they can get in this market. The most important number may be that they have 13 games against the Rockies, who are hopelessly lost right now. The next most outside of the NL West are the 7 against the Braves, and the 6 against the Jose Altuves.
Despite being one game under .500, the DBacks are 4 back of the Dodgers, and 3.5 behind the Giants, so for now we will consider them being in the hunt and not giving up on Justin Upton, which is another issue in of itself. The Dodgers, though they have swept the Cardinals, have 8 left against them, and still have to finish their season series with the Nationals, Pirates, Reds, Braves, and the Mets (Giants are done with two of those guys, DBacks, are done with the Braves). The Dodgers, despite starting very well against winning competition, have regressed to one game over, but have one win up on the Giants at the moment. The Diamondbacks in terms of their schedule have more games against over .500 teams to finish the season largely in part to the Giants, Dodgers, and Reds, but have struggled overall against such foes going 19-26, which hopefully is a number that only gets worse (for them).
Unimportant observation: Did you notice the summed up records of opponents that are below .500 for the Giants and Dodgers were exactly the same? How ’bout that.
Key part of the schedule: Friday, September 7th through Monday, September 24th. Here’s why:
Giants face: vs. Dodgers (3), @Rockies (3), @DBacks (3), vs. Rockies (4), vs. Padres (3)
Dodgers face: @Giants (3), @DBacks (2), vs. Cardinals (4), @Nationals (3), @Cincinnati (3)
DBacks face: @Padres (3), vs. Dodgers (2), vs. Giants (3), vs. Padres (3), vs. Rockies (4)
Notice a difference in the degree of difficulty the Giants and DBacks face versus what the Dodgers have to go through? Shoot, the DBacks barely have to travel during that stretch, and the Giants go as far as Colorado while the Dodgers get to go to the other side of the States. This could make the end of the season an interesting one for the NL West.
And now, for the part that anyone can do (and will probably be wrong): The prediction.
Thursday, July 12th
Dodgers 47-40 –
Giants 46-40 0.5
Dbacks 42-43 4.0
Thursday, October 4th
Giants 90-72 –
Dodgers 88-74 2.0
DBacks 87-75 3.0
This means the Giants have to win 58% of the games left. Should be doable, especially if the starters (I’m thinking of specifically two of them) can give the team a chance to win. It’s a long season, and I may be a bit optimistic, but we’ll hope for the best (for us and only us).
As an educator, your dream is to watch the kids you’ve led to reach personal, and set milestones. I was at a graduation yesterday for a few hours on a night that happened to coincide with a personal milestone for many members of the San Francisco Giants organization, and because of that, was unable to watch the game until today from beginning to end.
You know the story: Matt Cain looked good early — as if he was floating on water, you could say, continued to dominate the second time through the order, and with the help of his defense swimmingly advanced and chomped down on the Astros to complete the 22nd perfect game in MLB history. You’ve heard Matt Cain’s “Game Score” was 101. Did you know J.A. Happ’s was only 10? J.A. Happ’s Game Score was not even 10% as good as Matt Cain’s. Incredible. You know about the 14 strikeouts, with an even distribution of 7 looking and 7 swinging. You know Matt Cain didn’t shake off one pitch by Buster Posey.
Remember this? This shot off the bat could have made yesterday just another game:
That ball hit by Jordan Schafer ruled foul kept the game perfect. This, of what I consider to be one of the four major plays of the game, is the one most overlooked, but astute fans remember this and wipe their brow remembering what almost was. For the record, I thought this ball was fair, but I’m not putting any asterisks by anything.
Defensive changes were made in the 7th. Brandon Crawford to Short, Joaquin Arias to 3rd. I don’t know about you, but I was scared anything hit to them would spell the end for Cain, much like Juan Uribe did for Jonathan Sanchez in 2009. They did not disappoint. When Dave Flemming said “broken bat” in the 8th, I panicked. When I heard the ball was going to Brandon Crawford, I hoped nothing kooky would happen, and when what would be the final out when to Joaquin, and he gathered himself as he sidestepped to his right, my fiancee and I let out a cry of desperation for Arias to make the throw, and for the runner to not make it. We were not disappointed, and neither were fans of the national pastime.
A “wonderful” night, as Coach Harbaugh said. Matt Cain’s pitching was wonderful, and let me show you how it was wonderful:
This is a pitch speed graph showing you the speed and the numbered pitch at which Matt Cain threw it. Notice the consistency in the 90′s, and that it doesn’t regress, suggesting he tired. If anything, it got a little bit better as the game went on. You can even see he reached back for what would be the final pitch of the game. And now, a pitch plot:
The two-seamer (“FT”) was a beautiful strikeout pitch, but you can see here the Astros had pitches to hit all night (look at the two hanging curveballs (“CU”)). It is not Matt Cain’s fault that the Astros couldn’t be better than him because Matt Cain is better than you. That’s just the way it is. Here is a shot of Gregor Blanco, who made my favorite play of the night:
Matt Cain, your thoughts?
Do you remember the Houston Astros playing in San Francisco last year? Good, I don’t either. Sure, I was there for the extra inning win where I got my Tim Lincecum bobblehead and waited in a stupid long line just to get it. Worth it though? Absolutely. The Giants go from losing their first series since early May to Los Doyers to losing one against Texas, and now another team from the “Don’t Mess with” State saddles on in to town.
Tuesday, June 12th: RHP Bud Norris vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
Wednesday, June 13th: LHP J.A. Happ vs. RHP Matt Cain
Thursday, June 14th: LHP Wandy Rodriguez vs. LHP Barry Zito
The Hitters: Some SSS and Overall Numbers
Brett Wallace is having a pretty hot start to his season, and 26 of his 30 season PA came in the last 7 days, sporting a .512 wOBA including a dong. All Star candidate and guy I traded away in my fantasy league 2B Jose Altuve hasn’t walked in the past week and sported a .429 OBP in that span (.367 overall, with a .361 BABIP). Jed Lowrie is certainly providing some value at his position with 3 HR and .423 wOBA in the last 7 with 12 HR and .387 wOBA overall, not bad at all (especially compared to the 1 HR and .250 wOBA the Giants have got from Brandon Crawford).
Ryan Theriot is finally regressing, still above average though hitting at a .385 wOBA pace this past week (.278 for the season) who also stole 4 stolen bags this week; Gregor Blanco has a matching BA/OBP at .357 for the last 7, with .283/.379 and a .364 wOBA overall. Angel Pagan has a .387 wOBA at home compared to a .332 on the road and has a .450 BABIP with 2 SB in his last seven.
The bats for the Giants will be the key, as they always are. You expect MadBum and Cain to come through for you, as I’d say the confidence in Zito and Lincecum from my perspective at least is “can the offense score at least 5 runs today?” The Giants won without Pablo, so they can win without Melky if it comes down to it (hopefully does not). In the end, the Giants need to take at least 2, and I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see the following go down before the Giants head off to the Pacific Northwest:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: Giants win
The Giants do a good job against sub-.500 teams, as I will talk about in my next post for Around the Foghorn. Enjoy the games, folks.
I had a conversation with a good friend of mine recently who’s a big football fan and a sports fan in general. His shortcomings include rooting for the Atlanta Braves and Florida State for no good reason but whatever. We talked about the future of baseball and I thoroughly enjoyed it. With the new Collective Bargaining Agreement announced today that was signed by BOTH MLB and the MLB Players Association (some people forget the latter is involved and want to blame Selig for everything), we get a better picture for the immediate future and the immediate future includes 5 years of baseball guaranteed.
The MLB Draft
This was the area that took the biggest hit and I’ll let Bill Shaikin give you a quick rundown:
That’s a pretty big deal to me. A lot of people (especially the Kevin Goldstein’s of the world) talk about how you would not see kids like Bubba Starling of the Cubs and Zach Lee of the Dodgers on a baseball team but roaming the gridiron of the football fields. One of Baseball America’s scours, Aaron Fitt thinks it’ll strengthen the collegiate baseball programs and I can’t disagree that it won’t, but I just worry how many of these multi-sport athletes we lose to football or basketball? This is something can could legitimately affect franchises for a decade, maybe even two, and to me that’s a problem. I want the best athletes that can play baseball in baseball. Not football. Not basketball. Lots of writers have talked about how the majority of the teams went over slot recommendations in the 2011 Draft (approximately 20 of the 30 teams). Kids still want to see the money, and by baseball owners not willing to shell it out, they take a gamble on the popularity of their own business.
Oh by the way, with the new “Super 2″ ruling, players can become Free Agents faster. Good for them, bad for the fans.
Remember when the NFL and its fans were all scared of instant replay? Well Baseball is finally catching on, now saying they’ll review fair/foul and trapped balls. MLB needs to keep up with the technology and maybe Fox will even let them use their thermal imaging camera. Don’t be afraid of technology, baseball… there will still be a human element to the game. I mean shoot, we’ve had A Machine win the World Series two years in a row!
HGH Testing and Tobacco Usage
These were issues pushed by the players and I think it’s great. They want to have a clean image free from steroids and just an overall positive image from the public because let’s face it: most celebrities are not like you and me. They’re really good at something that pays a lot of money, and I’m really good at something that pays only a little bit of money. There might be other differences in there. Baseball needs to continue to be ahead of the curve when it comes to public perception of a dishonest game. You can tell steroids are mostly out of the game by the numbers and despite the lack of HR records being set, there are still people coming out and tuning in to watch a ballgame. If baseball has a scandal on the horizon though, they need to make sure it gets addressed and not try to sweep it under the rug.
It’ll be interesting to see what’s done re: Social Media policy. This is probably going to be better known as the “Logan Morrison Rule.”
The “Derek Jeter Rule.” I get athletes want time with their families and such but you’re in the entertainment business whether you like it or not. So dance for me, monkey! The way things were, you couldn’t blame someone for taking time off — the season’s grueling and everyone’s hurting by May, and it gets worse as the months go on. The fans vote on the position players they want to see, whether they’re right in voting a player in or not so don’t the fans deserve to watch who they voted in? I say yes. This was a good move in my opinion.
Expanded Playoffs and the Houston Astros
It’s gonna happen. The only question is for the expanded playoffs: “when?” 2012 or 2013? It’ll be a one-game playoff for the right to participate in the AL/NLDS. It will be fun for baseball fans and probably 9 innings and plenty days of suffering for the two 1-game playoff teams. Don’t be surprised to see this kind of thing expanded to another team so that there are four one-game playoffs in the distant future. Don’t ask me how it’d work, I just think it’ll happen.
The Houston Astros in 2013 will be in the AL West to soak up the cellar there for a little bit and will finally rid the Giants of their season-ruining ways with their AA lineup. This of course makes for interleague all-season long. No more “The Cardinals and Rangers have only played 3 times” dialogue but will be more like “The Giants took 3 of 4 from the Royals this year, how will that change the gameplans of both teams?” My take on it: it may not be as bad as everyone thinks it will be, but I do like the old way better. What it hopefully does is decrease the amount of divisional games and expose fans to more teams, more ballparks, more players and more great minds out there in the game.
Baseball needs the competitive balance to keep working towards maintaining the competitive balance in the sport. And expanding the playoffs might do just that. But check out this little nugget I found on the summary of the CBA on mlb.com:
One team exceeded that $178MM and it was who else: the New York Yankees. The luxury tax limit goes up $11MM since for some reason the economy will get better and everyone can afford $4,000 season tickets in the nosebleed sections in LF thus giving teams the power to give players like Aubrey Huff 2 year/$30MM contracts to play the OF once he’s done in San Francisco. I like that 50% number. Anything that penalizes the Yankees makes me happy.
Replacing the Baby Boomers and Advanced Statistics
This part was not in the CBA. This was all inspired from that conversation I had. My friend noted that the Baby Boomers are going to die off sooner or later and with that will die off a significant number of baseball fans, thus leaving baseball to rely on its younger crowd now to make sure the fanbase stays. I said to my friend that every sport, especially baseball in its more than a century of existence has had to deal with the challenges of marketing to its fans. The future will be no different and they need to ensure that baseball is an accessible game for all and this is being done with newer baseball stadiums, their MLB Network and even the encouraging of the use of social media to be connected with the game. Fans of the game want to be a part of the game in some fashion. This is one way.
The other way is through advanced statistics. Baseball isn’t just for the middle-class Joe, it’s for freakin’ everyone. Short people, tall people, skinny people, David Wells, stupid people and definitely smart people. The people that have brought us different advanced statistics show us new ways to think about the game, and it’s beautiful. They challenge us to not rely on the common stats of AVG, HR, RBI but maybe consider other things such as OBP, wOBA and wRC+ for a hitter. That’s awesome.
Baseball needs to stay connected with its fans and do its best not to alienate them. With the newest CBA, I’m not convinced they had that in mind to the highest degree as a lot seems to be focused on money for the owners and for the players. Baseball is still a business. But it is still our pastime.
Word is there’s a team that’s offered Jamey Carroll a multi-year deal and we’ll find out who it is sometime in the next 24 hours I’m guessing. With that said, this article is only going to be good for a short amount of time before we either accept Jamey Carroll or turn our full attention to Clint Barmes. Since the Giants were reported to have gone after Willie Bloomquist for a multi-year deal, we know Sabes and Co. is shopping for an infielder on the cheap. Someone that we think Bochy will platoon with Brandon Crawford but will only really play and start whomever’s signed more often and then we’ll have to live through all the fan banter of “Bochy loves veterans” again.
Let’s look at the guy who will get off the market quicker: Jamey Carroll. The man is going to be 38 in February and has not hit a HR since 2009. However, in his last two seasons he’s averaged better than a .290 BA, about a .370 OBP, a 99 OPS+ and a 104 wRC+. With all these stats he just SOUNDS like a Brian Sabean type of guy. Jamey Carroll won’t get the type of money other SS Free Agents will get because he doesn’t steal 40 a season (he’s got 12, 10 in 2010, 2011, respectively), has no power and oh by the way, thanks to the RBI stat being relevant to some people is probably what will cost him most. He has 40 RBI in the last 2 seasons. For someone with more than 900 PA, that just sounds odd. But whatever, we’ll get past that. Interesting to note that his UZR is worse at 2B in 2011 (-3.2) than it was at SS (-1.9). The guy’s 5’9″ and 168 lbs. Plays his little heart out, but he’s going to be 38.
The next guy is the one that the bloggersphere would be satisfied with landing and that is Clint Barmes who was with the Astros last year. Immediately you’re thinking, “The Astros? Hey, they had lots of offensive players on their team last year,” or “How did we lose a season series against those guys,” or “Didn’t they move to Montreal or something?” and I commend you for your baseball knowledge there. Because the Giants tried to take everyone who was an Astro before 2011 or in 2011, this seems like the perfect fit for Barmes. The lad will be 33 in March and only played the SS position last year for the team that will get the No. 1 Draft pick in June and put forth an Orlando Cabrerian .244 BA… and that’s where the comparisons stop between him and TDaddyNeal’s trade partner. Here’s where people start to settle: 12 HR last year, 12 HR last year and 12 HR last year. At the SS position. His wRC+ was at 94 and OPS+ at 93 in case you were curious. And so what if his OBP was right near Panda’s BA at .312, I hear you but his UZR was at a positive 7.9 last year. So, without watching any video (because really, who watched the Astros last year), I can tell you that Clint Barmes plays amazing defense, although will make the occasional 12 errors (there’s that “12″ again) like he did in 2011.
So who’s gonna get the 2 year/$8MM package that Sabean will inevitably roll out for one of these two guys? Will it be the guy with no power, or the guy with power? To echo my sentiments in July, I’d rather have Jamey Carroll, but I understand the push for Barmes and would settle for him. If these guys sign though they have to remember to not slump because if they do, it’d be like having Brandon Crawford out there, and while I love watching the kid play on the field, he can’t hit a lick. And then we’d just all call Sabean mean names for signing an over-the-hill veteran and that song gets old after a while.
There’s not much to do nowadays, so I thought I’d do a “season in review” for as many players as I can. Since I have until Spring Training, I think I can cover the roster that put in some time, maybe a free agent or two as well as some new acquisitions (CC, Jose Reyes and Prince Fielder, right guyzz?!??!!). So we begin here and by the power vested in me, I chose to start with Dan Runzler.
2011 Pitching Stats: 31 G, 27.1 IP, .367 BABIP, 8.23 K/9, 5.27 BB/9, 6.26 ERA, 2.95 FIP
For most of the season, the 26 year old Danny Boy would have me screaming at whatever was displaying the Giants game. I would bring out the kleenex, get the pillow to yell obscenities in and throw across the room after he had thrown his first pitch, and roll my eyes after every 95 MPH fastball that ended up outside the strike zone by a foot. But then all of a sudden he starts having a nice September. Seriously! In 11 G, even though he was only used in 5.1 IP, he only allowed 2 H and 2 BB in facing 20 batters and didn’t allow an ER. Sure, the competition may have been weaker, but this was the same guy that couldn’t get through 2 innings of Houston Astros baseball.
I don’t remember this above highlight, so I thought I’d include it. It was something good that happened for him, and as much grief as I gave him all year, I feel like he is still owed a positive highlight to counter….
…This. Poor Danny Boy. Overall, April wasn’t so good (8 ER in 12 IP, but 10 Ks and a 1.167 WHIP in 49 Batters Faced though), May sucked (6 BB, 6 ER, 12 H in 7.2 IP) and August I can’t find the word for (19.29 ERA, 3.857 WHIP, 0.5 K/BB ratio in 2.1 IP). Was September a glimpse into what he can be, or was it merely a facade created by inferior opposition? We all want to hope it’s the former, and as long as his injury doesn’t hinder him being at 100% when pitchers and catchers report, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sporting a 4 ERA in the bullpen of the 2010 Champs.
Status in 2012: Long Relief Man/Zito extinguisher/Brandon Belt AAA roommate
Projected Salary for 2012: $425,000