BREWERS MAKE IT THREE IN A ROW
The Brewers won 6-3 last night at Coors Field to extend their winning streak to three
in a row. Amazingly, it was the first win for the Brewers at Coors Field since September 3, 2000. The Brewers have matched their season long win streak and their best record of the season as well. It would be nice to see the Crew win again tonight and keep the victory train rolling.
It was really enjoyable to watch Chris Capuano pretty much dominate the Rockies hitters last night. I think that having a changeup might be the best pitch in Coors Field, because it won't flatten out like the curve or slider will in that altitude, and it can allow a pitchers' fastball to appear that much better.
How the Brewers drew four walks in the first inning and only scored one run is beyond me. Especially when Estes walked the bases loaded with 0 out on 19 pitches.
With the NL Central being as close of a race as it is, no team can really afford to hit a rough spot or they run the risk of being left behind. With two more games in Colorado and then four this weekend in Pittsburgh, this could be huge roadtrip when all is said and done.
I was just glancing at Bonds' numbers so far this year and this is what I noticed.
I don't know what to be amazed by...
HE'S HITTING .358!
HE HAS AN OBP OF .619!
oh yeah, and he's slugging .764.
Bonds has drawn 113 walks in 67 games played. This is just unreal.
BREW CREW IN COORS COUNTRY
The Brewers open up a three-game set with the Rockies tonight in the thin air of Coors Field. I asked for a sweep last week in Miller Park and instead got a series loss, so this time I won't say anything so bold.
I was really beginning to feel that the Brewers were going to go into a 4-15 streak or something and fall back below .500, but then they go off and win two straight in a row in Minnesota. That's the second time I had that feeling (the other being the west coast trip in late May/early June), so maybe this team is for real. I can't help but be skeptical just because of how many players are overachieving, especially on the pitching staff. I really want this team to be good and play .500 ball all year long, but eleven straight losing seasons will leave a person cynical and jaded.
CRAIG BIGGIO is a gamer. I know his skills have diminished a lot over the past few years, but the guy is a ballplayer. BILL JAMES ranks Biggio as the 5th best second baseman of all-time and 35th best player in MLB History. About Biggio...
"Craig Biggio is the best player in Major League Baseball today (2000). If you compare Craig Biggio very carefully to Ken Griffey, Jr. in almost any season, you will find that Biggio has contributed more to his team than Griffey has. Let's do 1998 as a starting point...in 1998 Ken Griffey outhomered Biggio 56 to 20, which was a huge thing, 36 homers. Biggio's advantages were...well, everything else." - Bill James, The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract
As you may have saw, the Astros moved Biggio to left, Berkman to right and have newly acquired Carlos Beltran in centerfield. Biggio was an all-star catcher and they moved him to second base. He was an all-star second baseman and they moved him to centerfield. He's been in the big leagues for almost 20 years and now they just moved him to leftfield. He never complains about it and he plays hard. This year Biggio is having a better year than his last two (.298/.360/.464), and I can't help but pull for him to have a solid '04 campaign.
TRADING SEASON UNDERWAY
With RICHARD HIDALGO being sent to the Mets last week, and now the latest deals involving CARLOS BELTRAN to Houston and FREDDY GARCIA to the White Sox, the trading season is officially underway in Major League Baseball.
Teams usually wait at least 50 games before deciding to go in another direction or give up on a player. Some people would argue that 50 games isn't a broad enough sample, but you have to remember that GMs don't have the luxury of waiting to see every player have 800 at-bats in the bigs before making a decision. Sometimes management has to make a decision based on a limited amount of playing experience, which is why scouts will always have a place in baseball.
A FEW DAYS OFF
It's amazing how fast the days add up when I don't write. It seems like I wrote two days ago but sure enough the last time was the 24th. I've been busy with working (a long twelve-game homestand) and with going down to Summerfest, but with the Brewers out of town now I should be all right.
BREWERS LOSE TO COLORADO
Before I head down to Miller Park for game three of this series let me vent a little frustration.
The Rockies are losers. How do you lose that game last night? Bases loaded with one out in the eighth and a run doesn't score. Chacon walks Counsell to lead off the ninth, then throws to second and doesn't get an out. With runners on first and second and nobody out the Brewers have to bring it at least one run.
I thought it was interesting to walk Jenkins to face Overbay. On the surface it sounds like a questionable move, but when you think of it, would you rather face Overbay and Clark or Jenkins and Overbay. Plus with the bases loaded that sets up the double play.
Anyway, time to go check out game three of the series, hopefully the Brewers can win their fifth straight series.
FUNNY STORY INVOLVING THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS AND BILL MICHAELS
Those of you who have attended Milwaukee Brewers games this season may have noticed that closer DAN KOLB has "Stand Alone" by Godsmack as his introduction song.
Well Monday night on BILL MICHAELS' THE BIG UNIT radio show, which is on 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee, Michaels was going off about how the Brewers should have a song for Kolb, and he suggested "Enter Sandman" by Metallica. Besides that song being really original (what do about five closers in MLB have that as their song?) he failed to realize that Kolb all ready has a song that he liked. Word of Michaels tirade on the radio got back to the Brewers and one of their people sent him an email saying "yeah he all ready has a song, watch a game before you criticize the productions staff at Miller Park" or something of that nature. Michaels then sends an email back saying "Sorry I didn't know. By the way, can I get some tickets for tonight's game?"
INJURIES ON THE RISE IN MLB
PETER KEATING writes this article for ESPN The Magazine that is also available on ESPN.com here. The basic idea here is that injuries have continued to increase in MLB and the author believes that steroids are to blame.
While I think that steroids are one of the causes, I don't think it is the main one. Players are bigger and stronger now just from lifting weights (and yes, some from 'roiding up). The bigger and stronger these players get the more tendons snap and strain when they run, throw or swing a bat. Like the old saying goes, you can't pull fat.
The basic premise of this article is an interesting one, but I feel that it is incomplete. Are the injury levels in the NHL, NFL and NBA rising or staying the same? Could it be that injuries are just being redefined today. For example, a player used to just 'have his bell rung' and that was it, now they actually will give cases and diagnose a player with a concussion. That's why concussions are on the rise in the NHL, players have always been getting them, just now they are finally being diagnosed.
I'd like to hear what others think on this topic. Are players being injured more because of weight lifting, because they are 'roid monsters or because clubs baby them more now a days? Let me know what you think.
BIG SERIES FOR THE BREWERS STARTS TONIGHT
COLORADO (25-43, .368, 12.5 GB) at MILWAUKEE (35-31, .530, 4.5 GB)
Milwaukee and Colorado in June a big series?
I think it is. The Brewers are 4.5 out of first place and welcome the last place Colorado Rockies to town. Colorado has the second worst record in the NL, the worst staff ERA (6.18 !!!) and is just 8-25 on the road this season. They have given up almost 100 runs more than any other team in the NL, and have scored the second most in the NL (both probably a direct result of playing in Coors Field). Needless to say, however, the Brewers need to AT LEAST win this series, and better be in position to sweep this one.
Tuesday, June 22, 7:05 CDT
COL- Jason Jennings (6-6, 6.75 ERA)
MIL- Doug Davis (6-5, 3.44 ERA)
Wednesday, June 23, 7:05 CDT
COL- Shawn Estes (7-3, 5.55 ERA)
MIL- Chris Capuano (2-2, 2.89 ERA)
Thursday, June 24, 1:05 CDT
COL- Aaron Cook (1-2, 6.13 ERA)
MIL- Ben Sheets (6-4, 2.59 ERA)
PODSEDNIK AND BASE STEALING
TOM HAUDRICOURT has an article in today's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel about the stolen base (article here).
He states that the "Moneyball" desciples don't like the stolen base. Again, this isn't entirely accurate. The "Moneyball" philosophy just believes that unless you're stolen base success rate is less than about 70% it's a counter-productive action. With SCOTT PODSEDNIK stealing at a 93% clip right now, not even Billy Beane would put the shackles on him (well, probably not).
The value of the stolen base is something that varies from team to team. The Brewers don't really have a power-hitting team, so anytime they can get into a situation where a player can score on a single or easily on a double is a good thing. When you have GEOFF JENKINS (10 HR), LYLE OVERBAY (8 HR), and then guys like BILL HALL, BRADY CLARK, BEN GRIEVE and KEITH GINTER in the middle of the lineup you need to take the extra base when you can. It's not like they have any 40+ homerun guys, or even many 20+ homerun guys. Jenkins and Overbay get their fair share of extra-base hits, but the others can't really be counted on in that respect.
Again, stolen bases are good when you are good at stealing them and don't hit a lot of homeruns. The Brewers seem to fit that description right now, so for the time being I would say green-light Podsednik and let guys like Spivey and Counsell run occasionally as well.
COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
I've found myself watching more of the College World Series this year than ever before. I never really was that interested in the college game, but maybe I am now that I am a part of it. Anyway, what really surprised me is how many pitchers in the College World Series did not throw all that hard.
I watched Miami and Cal State Fullerton yesterday and each team started a lefty. Miami's starter was J.D. COCKROFT, who was 9-4 entering the game last night. He lived with his fastball at about 78-81. For those of you who don't know, you can probably go check out an American Legion game or a local high school game and find somebody that throws 78-81. Odds are somebody in your household right now can throw 78-81. Still, this guy was effective enough to start at one of the top Division 1 baseball programs in the country and compile good numbers. Cal State Fullerton's lefty, RICKY ROMERO was throwing from about 80-83. With the win last night Romero improved his record to 13-4. Cockroft was drafted with the 771st pick this year by Texas.
The point I'm getting is that there is this myth that every professional pitcher and major Division 1 pitcher throws 90+ gas. It's simply not true. Even a lot of the right-handers in the College World Series are throwing about 83-86 consistently. Pitching is about changing speeds and locating, not just blowing people away. Very few people can just throw their fastball by hitters consistently.
I didn't have internet for the past two days so I was unable to update Against the Grain. I'm back now, so I'll have a few posts coming up shortly.
BREWERS WIN; BEN SHEETS GETS THE VICTORY
The Milwaukee Brewers continue to throw the ball well as a staff, defeating the Minnesota Twins 4-1 last night. BEN SHEETS improved his record to 6-4, despite obviously not having his best stuff. Here are some quotes from the paper about last night's performance...
"He was off just a little bit. It's tough to be razor-sharp every time," Yost said. "But he had enough."
And the Journal mentioned these statistics that I thought were impressive...
"Six times this season, the Milwaukee Brewers right-hander has taken the mound when his team has lost the previous game. And six times the Brewers have won, including a 4-1 decision Friday night over the Minnesota Twins at Miller Park.
Sheets' numbers in those six games: 4-0 with a 1.23 earned run average."
Some of what Sheets is doing after the Brewers might be "luck" (meaning he would've pitched well regardless), but nevertheless he is getting the job done when the team needs him and you can't discount that at all.
I have just added a link to the Baseball Corner. My link should be on their site pretty soon so I suggest everybody stops by and gives it a look. It appears to have a lot of links to a lot of different areas regarding baseball. Once the website is further developed it has the potential to be very useful.
It's been a while since I answered some emails. Well, no time like the present. Let's get started.
I'm an Angels fan. I first of all would like to say I was impressed with your Milwaukee Brewers, they have a solid team this year and seem to play hard. My question is do you remember when people criticized the Angels for signing Vladimir Guerrero to that big deal? Where did all those people go? What are your thoughts on this topic?
Will Levest, Orange County"
Thanks for the email, Will. I wrote about the Guerrero signing a long time ago and said this...
"I know Anaheim is only two games into the season, but all ready it looks like the Vladimir Guerrero signing was a great deal. Some people were skeptical that Guerrero's back problems were too big of a risk to sign the former Expos slugger. All spring he looked healthy and so far he looks to be swinging the bat just fine. Vladimir Guerrero couldn't have landed in a more perfect place. Anaheim is a small enough market where he doesn't have to deal with intense media scrutiny, and the lineup is strong enough where he has protection and doesn't have to do it all."
I'm not one to pat my self on the back every time I make a good prediction, because as people who read the sites know I've made some pretty bad ones so far (KC winning the AL Central?!?!?!". Guerrero is an amazing player who is in his prime and looks to be a great fit in Anaheim. That's how I felt then and I still think that is true today.
How long do you think the Brewers pitching staff can keep it up? Your breakdown of the pitching staff was great. I just have a bad feeling that these guys are all going to start getting knocked around the yard like they should be.
Oh ye of little faith. Thanks for the email, Mark. I'd say that the likelihood of the staff ERA being under 4.00 by season's end is low, but that doesn't mean that they can't still be a productive staff. Every year players perform far beyond their previously thought to be expectations, so why not a few guys on the Brewers? Maybe a guy like Victor Santos will be this year's Esteban Loaiza (to a smaller degree). That's what makes baseball, and really all sports, so great. No matter how well you think you've broken down the game, team, player or whatever to a science somebody can come out of nowhere to surprise you. That's what makes the games so great. If we knew who was going to win every time why would people play? Why would we watch?
I've been watching the Brewers a lot this season. One thing I noticed is that Geoff Jenkins seems to be a really good defensive outfielder. Why don't the Brewers consider moving him to CF or RF? I know Podsednik is faster but he takes bad routes to balls and has a really weak arm. Wouldn't you want your best defensive outfielder in RF instead of LF?
I actually wrote about this very topic back in spring training. Rather than tell you to search back through my archives here is my exact post.
"It really is an interesting question. Especially when considering the following:
1) Jenkins is a very good outfielder.
2) Ben Grieve (likely RF for MIL) is a very bad outfielder
3) The Brewers plan on giving Brady Clark and Keith Ginter innings in RF
Notice I didn't mention Jenkins' arm strength in this. While it is certainly an advantage for a RF to have a strong arm, I think its a misconception to believe that is why a player is put in RF. The reason you put a talented defensive outfielder (or the better defensive OF of the two corner positions) in RF is to prevent singles from becoming doubles and doubles from becoming triples. There are very few triples hit to LF. It is true that a strong arm can prevent bases from being advanced, but in general an OF's ability to cut a ball off in the gap or make a good read on a ball will have a greater influence on how many bases are advanced as opposed to just pure arm strength.
I can address the statement that "RFs have strong arms" by explaining it this way: RFs are good defensively, so that is usually why they have good arms. It just goes with the package. Rarely will you see a player who is a mess in the outfield but has a cannon (although there are exceptions)...Typically you will see players like that in LF. Shannon Stewart is a guy that has an incredibly weak arm but played RF because he is solid with the glove. With the Mets, Cliff Floyd had a better arm then Cedeno, but they kept Floyd in LF and Cedeno in RF.
I'm guessing that since Jenkins came up a LF and has established himself as one of the best defensive LFs in the game they don't want to mess with him now. Burnitz blocked him in RF when he came up, but Burnitz left after 2001 and since then the Brewers were filling RF with guys like Jeffrey Hammonds, John Vander Wal, Matt Stairs, Brady Clark, Izzy Alcantara, Jim Rushford, Jason Conti, and whoever else has played RF for the Brewers. Why not move him to RF before the 2002 season? In baseball, just like in life, people get labeled all the time. Maybe the Brewers just "think" Jenkins is a LF...Just like the White Sox labeled Chad Bradford as a "successful minor leaguer" that couldn't get hitters out in the big leagues for example."
That is from March 26th. I don't know if Jenkins would have the range to play CF everyday, but he certainly could if the Brewers were desperate to get another bat in the lineup in the future. As his errorless streak reaches about 190 games the likelihood of him switching positions gets less and less. Added to my theories on why he is still in LF would now be the possibility that Brewers' management feels that they'd rather have a very good LFer, which defensively Jenkins is all ready. Why mess with that? Also, with the way Brady Clark is used as defensive sub the damage Grieve can do with his glove has been minimized to a certain degree.
Thanks to everybody who wrote, I hope you found my replies sufficient. A lot of them were just copy-and-paste jobs from a while ago, but sometimes that's all I'm good for. Thanks again and keep the email's coming.
BREWERS PITCHING STAFF
It is June 16th and the Brewers have a staff ERA of 3.86.
Here are the starters...(ERA as starters only)
Davis.....3.61 (14 starts)
Sheets....2.66 (13 starts)
O'Mueller.5.98 (9 starts)
Santos....3.50 (9 starts)
Kinney....9.72 (6 starts)
Capuano...2.86 (5 starts)
BREWERS STARTERS: 3.96 ERA, 343.1 IP, 326 H, 32 HRA, 118 BB, 256 K.
Less hits than innings pitched, 6.71 K/9, 32 HRA while playing half of their games in Miller Park is also impressive. K/BB ratio over 2:1. The starters have been getting the job done.
MATT WISE, BEN HENDRICKSON, ADRIAN HERNANDEZ and CHRIS SAENZ also made a start (Wise made two). If Capuano could stay healthy, the Brewers would have a stellar rotation of Sheets, Davis, Santos, Capuano and Obermueller. Obermueller has been throwing the ball better as of late. He still struggles to locate the ball, but has good enough stuff where he can get away with it at times. His ERA is a little higher because of an unexpected relief appearance he made when Capuano got hurt in Houston back in April.
Now to the bullpen. If somebody would've told you that the Brewers bullpen would be doing the job it is right now before the season started you would never have believed it. No lefties? No problem. Little experience? No problem. These guys have been working in a lot of tight games and come out and pound the strike zone and get hitters out. It's nice to see.
Here are the numbers out of the pen.
Adams....0.00 (13 IP)
Kolb.....1.09 (24.2 IP)
Kinney...2.04 (17.2 IP)
Kiesch...2.70 (26.2 IP)
Burba....2.87 (31.1 IP)
Vizcaino.3.34 (29.2 IP)
Bennett..3.66 (32 IP)
B Ford...7.20 (20 IP)
BREWERS RELIEVERS: 3.71 ERA, 221 IP, 204 H, 23 HRA, 76 BB, 146 K.
As a staff, just like the starters, the Brewers relievers have allowed less hits than innings pitched. The 23 HRA in 221 IP is a little high, but when as a bullpen they have an aggregate WHIP of 1.27 a lot of the homeruns are coming as solo or two-run shots. As my pitching coach said my freshman year of college "nobody gets beat on solo jacks". The bullpen's K/BB is just a hair below 2:1, but close enough to be effective.
These are the guys with the most work out of the pen so far this year. Other than Ben Ford, look at how well everybody has been doing. The name that really jumps out is MATT KINNEY. Since moving to the pen he has been throwing the ball a lot better. This could be a result of a few things...
1)Different mentality coming out of the pen
2)Hitters only see him once, gives him advantage
3)He's worked out whatever mechanical glitch that he has and would be throwing well if he started right now too.
Whatever it is it has helped the Brewers pen so far.
Another concern about the Brewers bullpen is that they broke camp without a left-hander. Anaheim did the same (and perhaps another team, I can't recall). So have left-handed bats dominated the Brewers bullpen? Lets look at the numbers.
These are the players being used out of the pen the most. The thing with lefty/righty splits for relievers is that they're often only based on about 50-70 at-bats from each side this early in the season. Still, while it isn't 100% accurate, I think you can get a decent read off of these numbers.
You might notice guys that are more successful versus lefties. Vizcaino and Kieschnick are the two with the most IP, so I'll discuss them. Vizcaino throws that splitter and a tailing fastball, which both run away from a left-handed hitter. He doesn't throw his slider very much anymore (which was usually his designated HRA pitch). Kieschnick pounds the outside corner of the plate to lefties and has good tail and sink on his fastball, which is not only difficult for lefties to drive out of the park, but is difficult just to make solid contact.
Brewers as a staff...
Vs. L...(.243/.302/.377), 19 HRA in 885 AB
Vs. R...(.254/.317/.403), 36 HRA in 1242 AB
The Brewers have been playing good ball this season, and it is directly a result of the pitching staff keeping them in games. The Brewers pen is comprised of journeymen, unproven players and a Rule V draft pick so it will be interesting to see if their success so far this season is luck or if it is for real.
PISTONS DOMINATE LAKERS IN FIVE
About two weeks ago all you heard the "experts" saying was that the Lakers would sweep the Pistons. This was supposed to be one of the most lopsided NBA Finals ever. Well, the Detroit Pistons had something to say about that. They dominated the Lakers in all five games, and realistically should've swept the series if they wouldn't have had a mini-collapse in Game 2.
JOE DUMARS has turned almost into the BILLY BEANE of the NBA. Look at some of the deals he made since he took over the Pistons. Things like acquiring BEN WALLACE when he traded GRANT HILL, trading JERRY STACKHOUSE for RIP HAMILTON, picking up RASHEED WALLACE for the stretch-run this season and many other moves. He did a great job assembling that team and I think deserves a ton of credit for finding undervalued players while dumping overvalued ones (like Stackhouse and Grant Hill).
I'm really glad that the Lakers plan of signing Hall of Famers for the league minimum didn't work. The failure of the 2003-2004 Lakers might at least curb that trend for the next few years. A lot of people feel that the Lakers are going to be completely dismantled now. KOBE BRYANT will leave, PHIL JACKSON will retire, KARL MALONE and GARY PAYTON won't be back, and probably some others too. I don't know if the team will be that much different, but it should be interesting to see how it all unfolds.
The big rumor going around in the CARLOS BELTRAN sweepstakes is this...
Some Padres fans are a little nervous of giving up on Sean Burroughs, but consider that...
1) Carlos Beltran is an absolute stud
2) Josh Barfield is a year or two away from the Bigs
When super-prospect Josh Barfield is ready to take over at 2B then the Padres can move Mark Loretta to third. XAVIER NADY is a guy who could be a productive Major Leaguer, but I don't see him getting that opportunity in SD. With Klesko, Giles, Payton, TLong, and the fact that the team is competing, there really isn't much time to let Nady get 400 at-bats and see if they have something to hold onto there.
With the Royals playing awfully, the Carols Beltran sweepstakes are officially underway.
There is an excerpt from the new Bill James and Rob Neyer book The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers on ESPN.com right now (article here).
The excerpt is about the best fastballs ever, and also gives a little history on the pitch. It often gets lost in the mix, but the located fastball is the best pitch in baseball. Always has been, always will be. If you can hit your spots with a fastball you can go a long way in baseball, even if you don't have overwhelming velocity. There are guys like DOUG DAVIS in Milwaukee and of course JAMIE MOYER in Seattle that live at 83-86mph with their fastballs and have been pretty successful, and at least successful enough to GET to the Major League Level. Both Moyer and Davis feature a cutter, which runs in on right-handed batters, thus making the fastball seem faster because it has the ability to jam right-handers, but nevertheless, you'll see Moyer and Davis get big league hitters out with their straight 84 mph heaters.
It is somewhat of a myth that all big league pitchers throw 90+ mph. Even if you watch the radar gun at a ballpark or on tv that isn't entirely accurate. I've sat behind homeplate with advanced scouts and their radar guns are consistently 2-3 mph slower than the stadium or tv guns. Why the difference? It's entertainment. People like seeing the radar gun read 95mph instead of 92mph or 90mph instead of 87mph.
PISTONS TAKE 3-1 LEAD OVER THE LAKERS
It's nice to see that the Pistons are one game away from winning the NBA title, but I still wouldn't count out the Lakers. With KOBE BRYANT, SHAQ O'NEAL and old angry guys like KARL MALONE and GARY PAYTON, if the Lakers can win Tuesday night and push the series back to Los Angeles it could get interesting.
I love reading stuff like this though...
"Snapshots for the Lakers in Game 4. Kobe Bryant screaming at the referees and picking up a late technical foul; Shaquille O'Neal yelling at someone in the Lakers' huddle, most likely Bryant, after two particularly egregious shot selections; Karl Malone staying parked on the bench for the entire fourth quarter, a nonfactor again; Gary Payton getting toasted by Hamilton again."
I know when talking about sports it's best for a person with a website like this or whatever to remain as unbiased as possible. I don't like the Lakers, I admit it. I don't like Gary Payton or Karl Malone, and I don't really like Kobe Bryant either. I hate teams that don't play hard, and these guys haven't played hard consistently all season long and it's nice to see them in a position where they just can't turn the switch on and win when they feel like it.
BREWERS LOSE IN MOST FRUSTRATING FASHION
The silver lining on the black cloud that was Sunday's game was that the Brewers did win the series against one of the best teams in baseball. Still, that doesn't mean that Sunday's game wasn't incredibly frustrating.
The Brewers left 13 runners on base, including 10 in scoring position. With runners on base the Brewers struckout in seven of fourteen opportunities.
In the Seventh the Brewers had the bases loaded with nobody out and failed to put a ball in play. KEITH GINTER, who had a particularly awful night (0-4, 2 K, error, 9 runners LOB), BEN GRIEVE, and CHAD MOELLER each struckout, failing to score any runners.
BEN GRIEVE took a fastball right down the middle for strike three. He and Ginter both do this a lot. I'm all about being patient at the plate, working the count and whatnot, but how can you ever take a fastball down the middle for strike three with runners in scoring position? How can you allow yourself to be fooled by a fastball down the middle with runners in scoring position and less than two out? I know NED YOST and BUTCH WYNEGAR mentioned that the have been talking about approach to all of their hitters, but it doesn't really seem like anything is getting through.
The shadows at Miller Park are really bad, and from personal experience, hitting when shadows are in play is really difficult. It makes the ball appear faster or slower (depending on whether or not it goes from light to dark or dark to light) and it makes it difficult to pick up the seams and thus determine the pitch. With that said, however, I'm sick of the Brewers using it as an excuse for offensive futility. There is another team that plays against them and they have to deal with the same circumstances. This is from Butch Wynegar...
"You try swinging against Lidge and Dotel with those shadows. You can't see the ball. I'd almost rather they shut the roof."
At least GEOFF JENKINS sacked up and took some responsibility...
"Any time you're hitting in the shadows it's tougher, but no excuses...(The Astros) are hitting under the same circumstances.
"A lot of times today all we needed was a hit, not a home run, and we didn't put the ball in play."
BREWERS TAKE FIRST TWO FROM HOUSTON
How fun is this? Really.
It's mid-June and I've all ready had more fun in any Brewers season that I can remember. The Brewers had big crowds on both Friday and Saturday and did not dissapoint. It always seemed like for the past five or ten years that whenever there was a big crowd that the Brewers would not only lose, but just get stomped, not even allowing the home fans a chance to get into the game.
The Brewers put up a five-spot in the fifth against ROY OSWALT last night which helped to fuel the victory. CHRIS CAPUANO (2-2) struggled in his five innings of work, but still managed to get the win. The Brewers are now 31-28 and 2.5 games out of first place.
SPIDERMAN 2 WEEKEND IS FINALLY HERE!!!
Do you hear that? It's the buzz generated by the HUGE Spiderman 2 promotion going on in Major League Baseball. Honestly, even though Milwaukee was last in the playoffs before I was born, the Houston/Milwaukee game definitely has a playoff atmosphere. I heard they are all ready sold out for this whole series...So many people just want a part of this historic promotion. Also, I bet that there will be at least 20,000 kids under 10, just so excited to see blatant advertising all over the park.
Of course that was all sarcasm. I had to go into Miller Park yesterday and noticed a few SPIDERMAN 2 banners on the inside and outside of the park. I believe tonight the Brewers are giving out a lot of Spider Man 2 merchandise, which is fine I suppose. As long as the game isn't completely whored out I can't complain.
PLAYOFF EXPANSION AGAIN?
Commissioner BUD SELIG admitted that there was serious discussion of adding two more teams to the MLB Playoffs this past off-season (article here).
"We had a serious discussion this past winter. I went into it thinking I want to add two more teams. But the more I looked at it, the more we talked about it, it was so great last October, this time I'm not sure."
Adding two more teams to the playoffs is a bad, bad idea. Here is why...
1)It will further diminish the significance of winning a division title. While it's good that it would create a distinction between winning a division title and being a wild-card team, it would allow another potentially mediocre team into the crap-shoot of a playoff system that baseball has become.
2)Under the proposed system, the two wild-card teams would play a one-game playoff to see who advances. A wild-card team with 94 wins plays a wild-card team with 88 wins on practically even ground? That's more ridiculous than a 100 win team playing an 89 win team in the best-of-five.
3)The more mediocre teams that are allowed into the playoffs, the more chance that a mediocre team will win it all.
4)Three rounds of playoffs is enough. You play 162 games to determine the best teams. If you can't beatout a few teams in 162 games, you don't deserve to be in the playoffs. If the MLB playoffs continue to expand, it'll turn into the NHL or NBA post-season, where nobody really cares about it until the conference (or league) finals and then the championship series.
Remember when you could remember all the teams that made the playoffs in baseball? It used to be a significant thing. In '91 the Pirates lost to Braves and the Twins beat the Toronto in the LCS. In 1982 the Brewers defeated California and St. Louis beat Atlanta. I can pretty much remember all the teams in the post season since divisional play began in 1969...Honestly, now I have difficulty remembering all the teams that made the playoffs two or three seasons ago. There is very little pride in making the playoffs...Look at the Atlanta Braves of the 1990's and into this century.
I know my friends tend to be purists, so I know how they feel. Is this something people want to see? Do people want to see an NBA/NHL styled post-season? Please let me know on the comments portion of this post.
WOMAN STRUCK BY FOUL BALL HAS NO GROUNDS TO SUE
This is one of those classic "I can't believe this was even heard in a court of law" kind of cases (article here).
You can read the entire article, but basically what happened was this woman was sitting close to the action and got seriously injured when she was struck by a foul ball. It's sad that it happened, but there is no way that anybody can expect the Red Sox to be liable. As the judge decreed, the risk is assumed. If she just was watching the game, this probably wouldn't have happened.
After the court ruling she got off this gem of a quote...
"I'm more than angry. I was in critical condition," Costa told The Boston Globe. She said Red Sox management and players are "bickering over millions and millions of dollars to hit a ball, and when one of their fans get hurt, they don't care."
Such an ignorant comment from such an ignorant person. I love whenever anything happens regarding professional athletes and they drop the "they make X amount of dollars" as an attempt to make them look bad. Ms. Costa needs to go away.
PISTONS TAKE 2-1 LEAD
Detroit took a very important 2-1 series lead over Los Angeles last night with a 20 point dismantling of the all-star team a.k.a. Lakers. Out of the previous 31 series that were tied 1-1, the team that wins game three is 27-4. That bodes very well for the Pistons, who still have two more games at home before returning to Los Angeles for Games 6 and 7 (if necessary).
All the "experts" were saying that there would be a sweep by Los Angeles. I did go as far as to say I think the series would go a minimum of six games, but I admit I wasn't confident enough to say that I thought Detroit would win it all. Still, the series is only 2-1 and who knows, the Lakers could end up winning this series 4-2.
BREWERS POUND ANAHEIM 12-2
It's about fricken time...
The Milwaukee Brewers finally scored more than 5, which they hadn't done in about a year it seems like. It was nice to see guys like BRADY CLARK and BILL HALL do well when they got the opportunity, as well as see GEOFF JENKINS and LYLE OVERBAY swing the bat better than Tuesday night (although it wasn't tough to top their Tuesday night performances).
VICTOR SANTOS pitched well enough to get the win, obviously helped by the run support. He had a lot of runners on base but got the timely groundball when he needed it, getting three-double plays in his six innings of work.
The Brewers have won the first two games of the series, helping to knock Anaheim out of first place for the time-being (you're welcome Nor Cal friends).
The NL Central is still a cluster. CINCY and STL are tied in first at 34-25 while Houston is 1.5 out and Milwaukee is 29-27, 3.5 out of first. The Cubs are also 3.5 out with a record of 30-28. Pittsburgh is in last place, with a record of 24-30.
Let's all hope the Brewers and WES OBERMUELLER can get the sweep and have the crew finish with a winning road trip tonight.
BREWERS WIN 1-0...IN 17 F#!@ING INNINGS!
I can't believe what I just saw. The Milwaukee Brewers just beat the Anaheim Angels in 17 innings. The game was scoreless after 16. I watched pretty much every pitch (except when I turned away for a little to catch some of the NBA Finals) so I have a ton of thoughts on this game.
First off, how about BEN SHEETS. What an outing. He was perfect through 6 2/3 IP. The one hit he gave up was on a curveball that VLADIMIR GUERRERO golfed literally an inch off of the ground into the 5 1/2 hole between short and third. That was the only hit Sheets gave up. He walked a batter in the ninth. Those were the only runners Sheets gave up. This was the first outing Sheets had since he had a bad ear infection that caused him to miss his last start. Of course, Sheets got a no-decision despite throwing another tremendous game.
The bullpen continued to throw well for the Crew. LUIS VIZCAINO, MIKE ADAMS, JEFF BENNETT and winning pitcher MATT KINNEY (3-3) all held the potent Angels offense to zero and then DAN KOLB came in and picked up his 16th save. It was good to see that Kolb had his velocity back. I noticed in his save against SD in Milwaukee that his fastball was at about 92 and same with his blown save in LA. Tonight he was around 94-96, which is awfully tough to hit no matter what the count or the location.
The Brewers offense was just awful tonight. It has been pretty awful for the good part of the last two weeks now. There is a difference between having a guy throw a good game against you, sometimes that happens and you can't do anything about it. KELVIM ESCOBAR had good stuff tonight, but not as good as the Brewers made it look like. GEOFF JENKINS went 0-7 with 6 punchouts, tying the MLB record for most strikeouts in an extra-inning game. BEN GRIEVE went 0-6 with 5 Ks. LYLE OVERBAY went 1-7 with 4 Ks and KEITH GINTER went 0-7 with 4 Ks.
SCOTT PODSEDNIK drove in the game winning run in the 17th. He still had a few awful atbats. I'm starting to come to the realization that he's probably not going to be more than a .345 OBP guy that hits about .260. His bat is slow and pitchers seem to have figured that out and have been pounding him inside so far this year. After he was getting jammed a lot started worrying too much about getting the bathead around and that has caused him to be out infront. It's correctable, but maybe we're seeing why he was in the minor leagues for 7 seasons.
I don't mean to make a big deal about the strikeouts, but it's a little ridiculous. Punching out 15 times a game is all right when you're drawing walks and hitting homeruns, but when you're managing just five or six hits (all pretty much singles) a game you have to be able to move runners by putting the ball in play. If you're only hitting singles it'll take three of them to score a run unless you steal a base or move a runner along.
DARON SUTTON mentioned a conversation he had with EDDIE PEREZ when Atlanta was in town. Perez said the best pitch to get Ginter out with two strikes was a fastball down the middle of the plate. I hadn't posted anything, but I had noticed that Ginter watches strike three an awful lot on fastballs down the middle. What that tells me is that he is either 1)hoping to get walked or 2)looking offspeed. My guess is the latter, because you don't get to the big leagues by being afraid to swing the bat.
This was a great game to win for the Crew. They stay above .500 and didn't send me to sleep angry because they lost a 5 hour game. Now lets hope the Brewers can win the series tomorrow.
JLO MARRIED TO MARC ANTHONY
Okay, emailers...Here's my take on JLo's third marriage, but as soon as I'm done with this it's back to sports, because after all, this is a SPORTS blog.
JLO has had two previous marriages, one for a little more than a year and another that lasted nine months. Also, everybody remembers here engagement to Ben Affleck and the clever name of "Bennifer" that was attached to both of them. Anyway, if this marriage did in fact occur, then I'm setting the over/under at 14 months. I know it's high, but I have a feeling that JLO would stick it out just to avoid being the next LIZ TAYLOR for as long as she can, although it would appear that it's inevitable.
As for MARC ANTHONY, he would neither confirm nor deny reports of this marriage. He did get divorced LAST WEEK(!!!) from former Miss Universe DAYANARA TORRES and has two children with her. If he got remarried a week later, dude's got issues.
I find it all quite interesting that this story broke right before Anthony has an album coming out. I wonder how long until I get to marry JLO for a few months...
TED WILLIAMS 59' UNIFORM SOLD FOR 70K
I read about this the other day but forgot to comment on it (article here). Some guy remembered that he had TED WILLIAMS' 1959 full uniform in the attic and then decided to put it up for auction, and got 70 grand for it. When I first read the article I was hoping he sold it at a garage sale or something though.
You know it's summer time when there are garage sales everywhere. I always thought the whole concept of a garage sale was condescending. It's like "hey, we don't need this garbage, but you probably could use it you poor bastard". It's always middle-class people selling to middle-class people too. Like if BILL GATES had a garage sale for example, that might be somewhere where you'd want to go. When some dude that lives down the street from you is selling his garbage, odds are it would probably be your garbage too.
STANLEY CUP GOES TO WHERE IT BELONGS...TAMPA?
Like most Americans, I really don't care all that much about the NHL, but I did watch most of Game 7 last night, as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Calgary Flames. Of course, this series was setting all kinds of records for it's low TV ratings, but I really think that is too bad. The NHL is a good product, and a few years ago it seemed to be growing in popularity, but then for whatever reason that popularity dropped off significantly.
I am upset with the fact that the Tampa Bay Lighting won the Stanley Cup. Not because they are from Florida, or the fact that the team is like ten years old, but because they don't have a team name ending in 'S'. Teams winning championships that don't end in 'S' are reserved for things like the Arena Football League and any level of soccer.
Part of me feels bad for the United States having the Stanley Cup here for about the past twelve years or whatever. About 98% of the country could care less about hockey, yet Canada, where hockey is life, hasn't had a drink out of Lord Stanley's cup in quite a while.
Well, let's hope for the NHL's sake that there is no lockout or strike so training camp can resume in two weeks like it is scheduled to do. I think the regular season starts in about six weeks, so lets go NHL!
Interleague play got underway last night with Pittsburgh/Texas, Cincinnati/Oakland, and Houston/Seattle. I was never a fan of interleague play, but I'm smart enough to know that it is here forever. Really though it exists for three reasons...
3)So the Yankees or Cubs can come to different cities
I always thought that for every good series you get (i.e. Mets/Yankees) you get tons of scheduling fodder (Montreal/Kansas City, Pittsburgh/Texas, San Francisco/Tampa Bay, etc). The real question is that do the costs outweigh the benefits?
Each team plays 12-18 interleague games, which I think is too many. I never understood why, for example, the Brewers will play Minnesota six times this season but will only play teams in the NL East and NL West that many times as well. It would be best for interleague play to be reduced to a maximum of twelve games every year and maybe even as low as six or nine. That way you get your big rivalries but not at the cost of so many garbage games that makes you wonder why interleague play ever began in the first place.
BREWERS FIRST ROUND SELECTION MARK ROGERS
This was said about Gatorade National High School Player of the Year and Brewers' first round pick, MARK ROGERS.
"one of the best high school pitching prospects seen in 15 years of scouting"
Well there are two ways to look at it. You can think "great JOSH BECKETT, KERRY WOOD, Mark Rogers" or you can think "TODD VAN POPPLE, JM GOLD, NICK NEUGEBAUER."
PETER GAMMONS was on ESPN radio this afternoon and was raving about Mark Rogers, saying that he has excellent command and strong mechanics. Gammons did say that this draft was reminiscent of the 2000 draft, which has been regarded as a rather weak class.
Rogers' numbers in high school are nothing short of amazing, 9-0 with a 0.16 ERA and a 142 K's in 56 IP. As impressive as his 17.8 K/7 (remember, high school games are 7 innings) is, remember that he was playing against completely inferior competition. It wasn't like he put these numbers up in Miami/Dade County or Southern California, he did this in hockey/ice fishing land. Of course he can't help who his competition is, and no matter who you are playing an 0.16 ERA is amazing. You could put Randy Johnson in his prime in rookie ball and he wouldn't post an 0.16 ERA. Nevertheless it'll be interesting to see how he adjusts to facing guys that aren't completely overwhelmed by a 88-92 MPH fastball. That is always the knock on good HS pitchers. They never develop their off-speed stuff because nobody can hit their fastball, then when they get to the next level and their fastball isn't so dominant they start getting lit up like a Christmas tree.
JACK ZDURIENCIK, the Milwaukee Brewers' director of scouting has done a phenominal job in stocking up the minor leagues, so for the purposes of the draft I pretty much close my eyes and nod my head to whatever Zduriencik says and does. The man has proven that he knows what he is doing so far. If this were SAL BANDO making the selection I would be more nervous, but with the way the organization has been having successful drafts for the past five seasons now, I am willing to go along for the ride.
BREWERS TRADE FOR BERGERON
The Milwaukee Brewers sent two prospects, outfielder JASON BELCHER and pitcher JASON CHILDERS to the Montreal Expos in exchange for speedy no-hit outfielder PETER BERGERON and a player to be named later.
Bergeron actually showed solid plate discipline in the Dodgers' organization with good gap power, but quickly regressed after being sent to Montreal. Bergeron had several chances to win the starting CF job in Montreal but failed each time. He had a solid spring training but it didn't carry over to the regular season. He has only played in 11 games and was on the DL all ready this season.
Bergeron definitely seems like a player who is in need of a change of scenery. I think he is a decent 24th man/backup CF. Keep in mind that he is 26 years old and has all ready accrued about 1200 MLB at-bats. He probably won't be a guy who has a Scott Podsednik type explosion, but as I said, will be a decent backup OF.
I liked Jason Belcher as a prospect, although he was rated as the club's 30th best prospect (a combination of under-rating Belcher and a deep farm system). Belcher was hitting .283 at AA Huntsville, but think about the options the Brewers have in the OF. COREY HART (who shouldn't play 3B), BRAD NELSON, DAVE KRYNZEL, TONY GWYNN, JR., and of course GEOFF JENKINS and SCOTT PODSEDNIK will be there for a few more years. The point of a deep farm system is to help make improvements at the MLB level, either by trading those prospects for proven talent or for developing the players in to MLB quality players.
Belcher put up huge numbers at A+ High Desert, but since the California League (especially High Desert's park) is an offensive dominated league, his numbers were probably inflated. This could be a trend that the Brewers could continue to capitalize on--have a hitter put up big numbers at High Desert and then ship him off while his stock is over-valued.
Jason Childers was throwing well in AAA this year as the Indianapolis Indians closer (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 15 saves). He had solid peripherals (24 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 22 K, 0 HRA) and could become a decent reliever in the Bigs eventually.
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYERS IN BASEBALL
JAYSON STARK (minus the mustache of course) wrote an article about the best defensive players in baseball at each position (article here).
The list was put together by asking front-office types and players. Of course GEOFF JENKINS isn't on the list. The guy hasn't made an error in almost two years and he isn't even considered one of the best left-fielders in the game? Not only does Jenkins not make errors, he makes great plays too. He has a strong arm and covers a lot of ground. You know if Jenkins hit more homeruns or played in a bigger market people would be talking Gold Glove for him.
I found myself (just like 28 other people did last night in America) watching Game 1 of the NBA Finals. It was a sloppy, half-court grind-it-out Miami Heat/New York Knicks-style game circa 1996, but I was happy to see that Detroit won. I know that a lot of people were thinking that the Lakers would sweep the series, but you have to remember that the Lakers are a soap opera, winning the series easily wouldn't be as dramatic as losing Game 1 and losing home-court advantage.
I still don't think the Pistons will win the series. You may remember a few years ago when Philly beat the Lakers in Game 1 and then they ended up losing four games in a row. The team that wins Game 1 of the NBA Finals goes on to win the series 72% of the time though, so that bodes well for Dtown.
NATIONAL LEAGUE STANDINGS
By glancing at the NL standings today, I noticed that 12 teams are at .500 or above. Twelve!
Obviously this can't last, so which teams are the most likely to dip below .500? Here are my thoughts.
Yes, they are my team, but I can't imagine them finishing up at 81-81. They have been playing good ball, but there are still too many holes on this team, and to finish over .500 in the NL Central this year would be a real chore.
2. San Francisco
If only Barry Bonds could pitch and hit in like seven spots in the batting order. The fact that they have been outscored 278-240 might have something to do with the fact that I feel like they are overacheiving at .500 right now. With nobody infront of or behind Bonds and a pitching staff that isn't anything special, it would be difficult to maintain a .500 record.
I know they are ten over .500 right now and have a good offense, but it's only a matter of time before Griffey, Jr. is hurt and somebody like Ryan Freel or Wily Mo Pena is starting in CF. I still don't believe that a rotation of Paul Wilson, Jose Acevedo, Todd Van Popple, Aaron Harang and Corey Lidle can hold up over an entire season.
4. New York
A team with Karim Garcia, Todd Zeile, and Ty Wiggington all in the everyday lineup cannot finish over .500. The Mets don't have the 2003 Dodgers' pitching staff, but so far they have a staff ERA of 3.46. The Mets have a decent pitching staff, but not one that is going to post a sub-4.00 ERA.
Those are my four leading candidates to fall below .500 by season's end. Of course somebody has to because no matter how poorly Montreal and Colorado play, twelve teams cannot finish over .500.
Yesterday afternoon I watched the Pirates score two in the ninth to beat the Cubs 2-1. I happened to be watching the Pirates broadcast of the game, and found one promotion particularly interesting.
Basically, you have to write in and pick an inning for the Pirates to turn a triple-play, if so, you win $1,000,000.
Think about this. In order for you to win that million dollars...
1)The Pirates have to turn a triple play (very slim odds)
2)You have to have your name selected on that day (very slim odds)
3)You have to have the inning selected (1 in 9 shot)
Just for getting your name selected means you win $1,000 which is cool. It is so ridiculously improbable to win the million though that I wonder if they even have it. They could say that the winner of this contest gets a billion dollars, it's not like a winner will ever happen.
ROB NEYER TO ESPN INSIDER
If you read Rob Neyer's latest column on Zack Greinke you might notice that about half-way down the article there is a box that says...
"Beginning June 14, you can read Rob Neyer's column four times a week as part of ESPN Insider. You will find Rob's insights at MLB Insider, as well as peppered throughout ESPN.com's baseball coverage."
For those of you who don't remember, ESPN Insider was originally "Sportstalk.com", a free website filled with sports rumors and links to articles about all major sports teams. About two years ago it was bought out by the conglomerate known as ESPN, and now they are taking Rob Neyer with them.
I hope this isn't a new trend in on-line journalism, because if so it would be a real shame. Websites like ESPN.com get so much money from advertisements as it is. For example, the billions of popups on ESPN.com right now, or the commercials they make you watch when you're trying to view a highlight. The fact that they took one of their writers who has one of the most loyal readerships on to the pay-portion of ESPN.com is a travesty and a sham and a mockery, ITS A TRAVESHAMOCKERY!!!
Is Rob Neyer to blame for any of this? Of course, by only reading his columns he doesn't seem like the kind of guy that would be for this form of whoring himself out to ESPN, but if he's bound by contract or whatever there really isn't much he can do. Either way I'm almost certain that he is going to get a little extra cash for doing this, and if he really wanted to put up a fight against this I'm not sure if ESPN.com would still have made him gone.
Please post your thoughts on the comments section of this, I'm really interested what people have to say about this.
The Friday email feature is back. I'm sorry for neglecting it the past two or three weeks but I'll make excuses below and then I'll get to answering some of your questions. Enjoy.
I noticed that you haven't answered many emails lately? When are you going to do that again? That was one of my favorite things about your website. I don't have any questions or anything, just that. What's the deal?"
Today, my friend, is the answer. The reason I haven't answered any emails lately is a two-part answer...
1) I haven't been writing as much lately, which means people haven't been sending as many emails.
2) The emails lately haven't been good (JK!!!)
3) Since school ended I have trouble remembering which day it is.
I figured out a way to keep track of what day it is (ESPN.com's MLB Scoreboard says what day it is) so now I should be on top of things. Thanks for your concern.
Did I read on another website who's identity I'll keep a secret that Milton Bradley's 4 game suspension was too harsh? What do you think of this? To me Bradley is a troublemaker who should've been suspended for at least 6 games. That behavior shouldn't be tolerated in my opinion.
The idea that Milton Bradley's suspension was too harsh is ridiculous. First of all, he'll appeal the suspension and it'll probably get reduced to two games anyway, but nevertheless you need some sort of deterrent against behavior like that. As funny as it was to watch, in the grand scheme of things you can't have players throwing objects onto the field and inciting a riot every time they get ejected. Also, in Bradley's case this isn't the first run-in with an umpire he's had in his career. I personally think four games is bit too light, I would've liked to see it become a six gamer. Regardless, you need to find a way to discourage this kind of behavior because it is bad for the game.
Dude, How many times is ESPNEWS going to show that kid fainting at the National Spelling Bee?
Last night I was listening to the Anaheim/Boston game on MLB Radio and I had ESPNEWS on mute and I swear every time I looked up I saw that kid faint. I must have seen it 15 times last night. You just see this kid draw a blank on how to spell the word and then his eyes bug out of his head and then he stumbles and fall. I swore I heard somebody say "DOWN GOES FRAZIER!" Did anybody notice that nobody came over to see if the kid was all right? Only one little girl got up to see if he was okay? I know all the other kids were competing against him or whatever but it's a SPELLING BEE. The kid faints in front of like 10 kids and none of them even flinch. Who knows, maybe the kid was a prick (just a joke). I thought it was impressive how after he fell down that he nailed the word (which I think was Thamedcazuquealcada or something of that nature.
This brings me to another point. Why the hell is this thing on ESPN anyway? It's not a sport, so that can't be why it's on there. The thing is that it's been on ESPN for years now, so this isn't a recent development of the downfall of ESPN either. Here are my ways to improve the National Spelling Bee to make it more fan friendly...
1) Allow the fans to heckle the kids.
2) Somehow involve cheerleaders
3) Encourage the children to talk trash
Simple adjustments to the current format, but if done I would be much more inclined to watch.
Will you put my email on your website?
Don't you miss IV?
Andrea in ISLA VISTA!!!"
Yes I do. Come on, walking down DP with my cup down? Who wouldn't miss that.
Thanks to everybody who emailed me and to everybody who reads. Let your voice be heard, fill out the comments section or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLB DEBUT OF BEN HENDRICKSON
I got a few emails about top Brewers' pitching prospect BEN HENDRICKSON's MLB debut last night, so I'll combine them all into one sort of question...
"I thought he threw in the low 90s, what's the deal?" or "How come every prospect doesn't throw as hard as everybody says he does?
If you watched the game last night you would have noticed that Hendrickson pretty much lived at about 88mph with his fastball last night. I would offer up a few suggestions as to why he wasn't hitting 90 consistently...
1) He was just having an off day. He didn't have very good command last night (49 of 82 pitches were strikes) so it is possible that his mechanics were out of synch. I've had person experience with this so I know it is possible.
2) He may not have ever consistently thrown in the low 90s. Think back to every pitching prospect you have ever heard about and I swear that almost all of them throw with less velocity than advertised. The reason for this I think is that there is a difference between touching 90 and throwing 90. I've hit 88 on the radar gun before, but by no means do I throw 88. If you're a scout and you're high on a prospect and you've seen him throw 94, you're not really lying when you say he "throws 94", but it isn't really accurate either. I remember when VALERIO DE LOS SANTOS was in the minor leagues with the Brewers and people said that he "threw" 98. I saw him pitch for about three years in Milwaukee and I never saw him cut loose at more than 94mph. Sure, he might have dusted 98 in the minors on one night when everything was going well, but I doubt he ever did it consistently. That is my theory on why a lot of prospects don't throw as hard as advertised.
THE GREEK GOD OF WALKS
KEVIN YOUKILIS, who was dubbed "The Greek God of Walks" by Paul DePodesta and Billy Beane in Moneyball, has been up in the Major Leagues now for about two weeks and is playing really well, hitting .321/.431/.472 after 53 at-bats. The John Sickels scouting report on Youkilis can be found here.
I read somewhere in the 2004 Baseball Prospectus book that minor leaguers with no power that draw lots of walks don't translate to very solid Major Leaguers. If that statement is true, Youkilis would be a prime example of a guy who walks a lot but has little power. He doesn't even have doubles power from looking at his minor league statistics. Power can be developed later in a career, as we have seen with guys like Steve Finley and Luis Gonzalez, so maybe it isn't anything to be too worried about.
Why would guys with no power and high OBPs not be productive Major Leaguers. I think the reason would have to do largely with how they are pitched. Nobody is really afraid of guys with no power in the Major Leagues (with some exceptions), meaning that the pitchers will go right after those hitters. If you are an OBP type guy that takes pitches, it works fine when the pitchers are nibbling on the corners against you, but it's quite another thing when the pitchers start you out 0-1, 0-2. If that is the case than your walks will decrease until you prove to Major League pitchers that you can beat them by swinging the bat.
KURT WARNER TO THE GIANTS
I know that he's just a stop-gap until Eli Manning is ready, but does this signing make any sense at all? He hasn't won any of his last 8 starts and has been absolutely horrible every time he has played in the past two years or so.
Warner could be a guy that would benefit from a change of scenery, but my feeling is that if he can't do it with Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, he probably won't be able to do it with Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer and Jeremy Shockey.
The Major League Baseball first-year player draft is this June 7th and 8th. Rob Neyer of ESPN.com writes an article on why the MLB draft won't ever become the media circus that the NBA and NFL drafts are (full article here).
One point that Neyer doesn't make and that I think is the most important thing is that nobody really knows who the hell the guys being drafted are. Even hardcore baseball fans would struggle to name five players that will be drafted in the first round, what do you think the average or casual baseball fan would know about the players in the draft?
Another point that Neyer doesn't make is that each team has 50 draft picks. Nobody can even remember who their team takes even if they wanted to. I bet almost every GM can't memorize all of the 50 draft picks made each year.
The MLB draft is exciting when you read the scouting reports of the players your team has drafted and how they project as Major Leaguers, but it's not a draft that you think "boy I hope _____ falls to my team" because even avid baseball fans don't know anybody in the draft this year probably with the exception of Jered Weaver.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM SAVES A GUY FROM JAIL
This is a pretty crazy story, read it here.
For those of you who have HBO (and some of you who don't) if you've seen CYE you are probably a fan. It is the creation of Seinfeld co-creator LARRY DAVID, who the character George Costanza is loosely based upon. The show is similar to the humor that is displayed in Seinfeld, but since it's on HBO obviously a lot more can be said and done.
The episode that was filmed at Dodger Stadium was hilarious, and without giving away the entire show's storyline I can just say that Larry David went to the Dodgers' game with a prostitute so he could drive there through LA traffic in the carpool lane. What a show.
BREWERS WIN, MILTON BRADLEY IS A PSYCHO
So it isn't impossible for pitchers to throw off of three days rest...DOUG DAVIS gave the Brewers six shutout innings, despite having runners on all night and pitching from behind a lot, but he battled and managed to get out of some jams. Also, it looks like GEOFF JENKINS is starting to get his timing down, and SCOTT PODSEDNIK might not be far behind. DAN KOLB got his 14th save of the season and the Brewers won 4-1 in Los Angeles.
The biggest story of the night was the outburst by troubled Dodgers outfielder MILTON BRADLEY. There was so much that happened with this, I'll just copy and paste the description from the AP report...
"Bradley was ejected by plate umpire Terry Craft moments after stepping into the batter's box to lead off the sixth.
Bradley...had to be restrained by manager Jim Tracy. He then removed his batting gloves and left them near home plate with his bat and helmet before putting up his hands in disgust and walking to the dugout.
Once in the dugout, Bradley grabbed the ball bag from the top step and hurled the contents onto the field before throwing one of the balls to the warning track in left field..."
Milton Bradley has problems. There is no other way to say it. This is not normal behavior. It's one thing to have an attitude or just to be a bitch, but it's quite another to behave like this. Bradley's numbers have slipped after a hot start with the Dodgers, so perhaps his 2003 statistics were a fluke and he is closer to the .270 hitter he has been so far this season and most of his career. There is no question that he has a tremendous amount of talent, and as long as he does teams will put up with his antics. One thing is for sure, whenever Terry Craft is behind the plate Bradley better go up hacking because he won't be getting any calls on the corners. Umpires never forget. You'd think they'd be more professional and call a fair game, but they're not.
Well, the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons are going to meet in the NBA Finals. All of the experts are writing off the Pistons, but I think they will give the Lakers a series. Ben Wallace will be able to matchup with Shaquille O'Neal, and the Chauncey Billips/Rip Hamilton combo at the guard spots should be able to run with Gary Payton and Kobe Bryant. Still, the Lakers will most likely win the series, but I hope that it's an entertaining one.