Monthly Archives: October 2017

Jake Marisnick is like a secret 30-homer player off the bench

Dallas Keuchel is outstanding. He’s probably not Clayton Kershaw, though, and the ERA will eventually get over 2.00.

Jake Marisnick is like a secret 30-homer player off the bench, but he’ll regress.

Uh, I guess Brad Peacock is a thing. And, really, the entire bullpen is filled with weirdos and ne’er-do-wells who can strike the world out, which I wasn’t expecting, at least not to this degree.

Yulieski Gurriel has a .303 OBP and 100 OPS+, which isn’t what a team should want from its first baseman. His plate discipline is a concern, and he’s not making up for it with his average, power, speed, or defense. He’s 33 and close to replacement level, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Girardi was much less diplomatic, noting that another player on the Rays, outfielder Carl Crawford, was involved in a home plate collision earlier in the week against the Houston Astros.

Maybe if it happens too much, you should mention it, Girardi said. I don’t understand it. During the season, I’m all for it. It happens in the season. But, he added, In spring training, I don’t believe in it.

Girardi isn’t exactly a beacon of justice here, given he’s fine with these collisions happening in the regular season, but spring training? Come on, Maddon. Granted, this is from 2008, so things have changed since. Like, as a random example, the rules about crashing into catchers and how baserunners aren’t supposed to be doing it.

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Florida and Louisville met for an absolute gem of a matchup.

They took a hard one on the chin against Louisville to open their Omaha set, 8-4, and there’s a certain poetic appropriateness that they should crash out of the CWS at the hands of TCU, with whom they played a 16-inning monster in the super regionals back in 2010. No such luck in 2017, though.

In the highly anticipated evening session, Florida and Louisville met for an absolute gem of a matchup. The Cards’ Kade McClure throws as hard as anyone in the game, with a fastball that reach up into the mid 90s. So no surprise, then, that he should retire the first three batters he faced.

Florida strong arm starter Brady Singer who cussed and hollered like a champion after Game 3 of the Gainesville super was suspended due to weather took the mound for the Gators, and he also struck out the first batter he faced. His mechanics are rigid, nearly robotic, and it’s little wonder that he also took down the side in order to begin the outing. Oh yeah, he can throw 95 consistently, so there’s that.

McClure dusted off the side in order to start the second, and Singer allowed the game’s first hit on a liner to left, but still neither team could break through and the pitchers’ duel was on.

I promise that I haven’t looked at Rizzo’s batting average on balls in play yet. I have absolutely no idea. But it’s going to be at least 75 points below his career average. Here we go, I’m going to look … opening the page … and …

It’s .284, which is 78 points below his career average. I swear on my Willie Mays bobblehead that I didn’t write the preceding paragraph for effect after doing research. I didn’t even go back and change the part about 75 points. It’s not that I’m good at this, it’s that sometimes, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

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Is it time for Cubs fans to panic?

One of you greedy fools wished on the severed monkey paw. You were not supposed to do that, for it is cursed. And you wished for the Cubs to win one lousy World Series, just one, without thinking of the repercussions. They won that World Series, but now you’re wondering if the phrasing just one constitutes a legal monkey-paw technicality.

The question at hand is if the modern game has gone too far. Verducci bemoans the lack of action between the homers and whiffs, and he isn’t alone. My former boss spent many thousands of words on the same complaint and that was before the strikeout rates went truly bonkers around the league.

If you want to distill everything into a crude sentence, here you go: Baseball is getting dumber. The dumb is being obscured by numbers spin rates, exit velocities, launch angles but it’s still obvious. Throw ball HARD. Hit ball HARD. If ball not hit hard, player in TROUBLE, but chance to hit ball HARD always come around again. This is disconcerting, I agree.

And yet, holy heck, did you see Bellinger’s home runs? The dude whips his bat through the zone with an uppercut that makes it look like every third frame was removed from the video. It’s not dumb. It’s art. It’s a delicate ballet, a triumph of the nervous system over physics.

Sometimes it’s right to stare at different FanGraphs pages and pretend you understand what linear weights to tweet you, and sometimes it’s right to point at a low batting average and say, THAT BATTING AVERAGE SHOULD BE HIGHER. This is time for the latter.

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Dyson earned a hit early in the inning

This was Wake Forest’s first super regional win in program history, and the game was remarkable for featuring seven home runs between the two teams.

And wouldn’t you know it but Game 3 could barely get two innings in before yet another delay sent the teams scurrying to the clubhouse. Florida had scored a run in the bottom of the second, then the game was suspended in the top of the third. Florida’s starter, Brady Singer, was understandably pissed the hell off.

So, after play was suspended around 4 p.m. ET, the teams retook the field just after 8:15 p.m., and righty Tyler Dyson took the hill in place of Singer. Dyson earned a hit early in the inning, but pitched his way out of the jam to get back to the dugout with no nicks.

In the bottom of the same frame, Schwartz picked his bat up from where he had left off in the early game to crush a solo homer to left, which landed in or around the same area his earlier mash had.

Stage 3 lasted six seasons, past Colon’s 43rd birthday. He was a middle finger to age, to our preconceived notions of what a successful baseball player should look like. And even though there were controversies along the way (performance-enhancing drugs and a second family, the usual), he was so much damned fun that he became an essential part of being a baseball fan.

It was his 44th year on the planet that did him in. Colon will likely be the last active player to appear in a game last century, unless Tomo Ohka’s knuckleball is progressing well in an undisclosed location. Colon will be remembered as the ace of an Indians team that needed him, the undoing of an Expos team that didn’t need him, the star of the Angels, the bane of different colored Sox, the surprise of the Yankees, and the gift of the Mets.

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Maddon is known for his candor with the media but rarely criticizes his players publicly.

Maddon was not in the clubhouse to hear Montero’s comments Tuesday, instead first learning of them via text message on the bus ride to the team hotel. After his initial reaction of wow, the manager called president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and the decision to part ways with Montero was jointly made.

Maddon is known for his candor with the media but rarely criticizes his players publicly. While Maddon emphasizes freedom with what his players can say and do, he acknowledged the potential negatives of speaking to the media.

You’ve got to put the limits on yourself and work with some type of internal monitoring system regarding what you think you can say or cannot say, Maddon said. Then you take chances some times. I’ve had my butt put in a sling a couple times myself. I never want anyone to withhold saying what they really think, if they want to.

Veteran players can really elevate a group, and veteran players can really drag down a group. It depends on their agenda.
Maddon, the owner of two World Series rings and the claim as one of the highest-paid managers in baseball history, is a proud member of the Stage 5 club in coaching. He created the system as a young coach in the mid-1990s with the Angels, realizing that he could better understand players by categorizing their development in a five-step way.

Stage 5 players also have the important responsibility of being role models for players in Stage 1-4, who have less experience in the majors and are aiming to reach Stage 5 themselves. The players with the most malleable minds, according to Maddon, are in Stage 2. Past the Stage 1 point of just being happy to be here, Stage 2 players focus on taking in their surroundings and absorb messages from older teammates in an effort to shape their futures.

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College World Series 2017 scores and bracket: Oregon State chases LSU out of the park

Sunday saw the highest scoring game of this year’s College World Series, with Louisville shutting down Texas A&M, 8-4, and the lowest scoring game, with Florida outlasting TCU, 3-0. The early session on Monday saw Florida State eliminate Cal State Fullerton from Omaha, 6-4, while Oregon State thoroughly dismantled LSU, 13-1, in the nightcap to hand the Tigers their first loss. One more failure and they’re done.

The Phillies, Giants, Padres, et al, have other things to worry about, and they’re all trying to figure out what they’ll look like for 2018 and beyond. Colon won’t be there for those teams, regardless of how much we beg.

So if it wouldn’t make sense for Colon to go to a contender or a non-contender, where could he possibly land? There probably isn’t a spot, not unless he wants to hang out in Triple-A again.

It was just three weeks ago that the Braves gave out a Bartolo Colon bobblehead. And now, it looks like his career might be over. The only thing that makes me stop sort of definitively saying it is over is that Stage 3 was one of the most absurd, unlikely developments in recent memory, and it lasted approximately 30 times longer than anyone could have imagined.

We’ve all written Colon off before. Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to do it again. From here, though, it looks like this might be the end of a very, very fun carnival ride. If so, we should probably be happy that it happened in the first place.

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So many good dogs showed up to Brewers game for Bark at the Park

Good news! Two of America’s favorite things met again Tuesday when the Milwaukee Brewers had their Bark in the Park night during their home series against the San Francisco Giants.

Plenty of good doggos came out to support their team.

If you’re the Pirates, and you’re reasonably confident with your pitching development system, how do you approach the draft? Do you focus on hitters at the top and figure that you can polish pitchers selected later, or do you hope that you can turn good prospects into great ones and pick them early?

It’s a fascinating conundrum, and we know what the Pirates are trying to do. They’ve had a rough year on a couple fronts, including with injuries and developmental stalls. This pick doesn’t make up for it, but it’ll help them feel a little better, at least.

The Marlins had baseball’s worst farm system before the season started, according to Baseball America, and it’s going to take more than one draft pick to get them out of the cellar.

That written, it’s hard not to be impressed with the raw physical ability they just added to the organization, and if everything goes right, this could pay off for the better part of a decade. They just have to figure out what’s happened with the system over the years, other than dubious trades.

Related: David Eckstein was hit by more pitches (76) from 2001 through 2004 as the non-Eckstein shortstops were in the remaining 13 qualifying seasons (61). He was so, so amazing. If you know him only from gritty jokes and general obnoxiousness, please reevaluate. He was the Mike Trout of annoying.

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College World Series 2017 scores and bracket: LSU and TCU force elimination rubber matches

LSU took down Oregon State, 3-1, and survived elimination for another day to force a bracket-deciding elimination game against the Beavers on Saturday in the College World Series. In the evening session, TCU defeated Florida, 9-2, to also score a bracket-decider, and for the second year in a row every game of the eight-team bracket round will be required to decide this year’s two finalists.

Oregon State entered the early game with a 23-game winning streak, including a 13-1 thrashing of Friday’s opponent, LSU, on Wednesday. Nevertheless, the Tigers came out angry, and immediately scored Greg Deichmann from third for the first run of the day. Then the next batter plated Zach Watson on a bunt-home plate squeeze, and LSU was in business, 2-0 advantage.

That’s the same thing as a home-plate collision, aesthetically. The only difference is that Bronson Arroyo’s career wasn’t in jeopardy because of that play.

And because it was such a dumb baseball play to begin with, at no point in any of the hundreds of baseball games that I’ve watched since the new rule passed have I thought, Ugh, that play would have been so much cooler under the old rules.

Making the catcher drop the ball because of a weak-side blitz should be the last thing that crosses your mind, and that’s because it was always the worst skit on your favorite album. It never made sense as a baseball play. It was something that would have been invented if Vince McMahon tried an XFL-style league to compete with MLB, and it was a shame it was ever allowed. It took more than a century to get it out, but the game is unquestionably better without it.

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College World Series 2017 scores and bracket: Texas A&M eliminated, Florida remains unbeaten

The College World Series are thoroughly underway in Omaha, and the group of eight’s second team has been eliminated. Texas A&M’s postseason hopes are over after a 4-1 loss to TCU.

No. 6 overall national seed TCU faced down Texas A&M in the early session, 4-1, and the Aggies end a rather amazing tournament run that began with them upending the Houston regional hosts. They went on to host lovable underdogs Davidson in the College Station super, but the Wildcats had nothing to offer in the way of wins.

So. With LSU trailing 4-3 but nibbling at the tail, Florida State committed three heinous blunders on the same play that plated the Tigers the tying run. They would go on to score the winning run in that inning, and holy hell, it was the end of day. How do you even score this play?

It’s important to remember that these teams don’t ever really meet during the regular season even though they should because this game was chaos and historic baseball wrapped into one. Let them ever play at a neutral site, for no other reason than to provide the nastiest baseball we’ve ever seen.

And oh yeah, LSU trailed by a run as late as the bottom of the eighth. The Tigers knocked in two balls to pull ahead of Florida State despite that, so they are in business or whatever.

That’s absolutely filthy stuff from LSU’s first baseman, and a testament to these Tigers’ severe commitment to containing their opponents’ hits within the lap of Omaha’s big bad stadium. Not many can hit out of that ballpark.

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We are ingesting high-fructose corn syrup, and we cannot stop.

You can see the tension between the two extremes in those two SI tweets, eight minutes apart. The message of the first one:

Add them up and virtually half of Bellinger’s turns at bat, 104 of 210, served as a proxy for how the game is played these days: All or nothing.
The message of the second one:

The first one makes me nod. The second one makes me click. This is the push and pull of baseball in 2017. We are ingesting high-fructose corn syrup, and we cannot stop.

Except, hold on. Allow me to posit a wild new theory: Things aren’t nearly as bad or different as they’re made out to be. Not yet. Even if baseball isn’t just in the middle of something temporary and cyclical probably the likeliest explanation, if history is any guide we are not drinking a six-pack of soda just yet. There is room for indulgence before we get to gluttony. A soda every other day is tasty, and it doesn’t have to kill you. More dingers are fine. We don’t have a problem yet. We’re fine.

The Cards finally busted through in the bottom of the seventh, thanks to a Colin Lyman blooper to right that plated two-way ace Brendan McKay. Josh Stowers then moved McKay over to third on a wicked single to left, and suddenly Singer was taking on water. That run ended a 24-inning streak of scoreless pitching from Florida’s staff, and Singer wasn’t done there.

Nick Horvath began the eighth for the Gators, but he lasted just two outs before getting spelled by Tyler Dyson, who inherited a runner at second. In any case, Dyson got himself out of that situation and Florida plated no runs in the ninth to hand the potato back over to Louisville.

Dyson forced a grounder to the shortstop, then struck out the next batter, and gassed the third to close up shop. Game, 5-1, Gators. Here are your current scores and schedule.

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