Friday, September 26, 2008

Quick links

  • There's an article on about the continuing story of corruption and bonus-skimming in the Caribbean, here specifically in the Dominican. This is a very important story for baseball, not least because it may implicate some very high-profile executives and team officials.
  • This article was written a while ago; I just kept forgetting to mention it. SI's Tom Verducci has written a great column about the misuse and misunderstanding of relief pitchers in baseball. It's something that's been said many times, but having Verducci say it will make more of an impact.
  • Buried in this chat with Keith Law is one person's question that just delighted me. They were referring to the fact that it's nice for teams to come up with decent or mid-level players so that ownership will not be tempted to fill the whole with an expensive and grossly overrated free agent. He refers to such a mid-level player as an "Armando Benitez Protection Device." I would be thrilled if this phrase caught on.
  • And this is just hilarious.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hitting Curveballs

Zack Greinke's genes gave him a career as a star pitcher. But then they almost took it away.
Greinke was supposed to be a star pitcher. He was a top-notch prep pitcher who was supposed to be the total package: a pitcher with good stuff, great control, and strong makeup. And he was.

The Royals drafted him in the 1st round of the 2oo2 draft. The Royals pushed Greinke aggressively through the minors, and he seemed to respond well. Well, maybe "aggressive" isn't strong enough. Greinke made just three starts in Rookie League, two in Low-A ball and then pitched one game in High-A. That's three levels, 12 innings, 18 years old.
The Royals didn't stop the fast track in 2003, when Greinke was still just 19; he began the year back in High-A and pitched very well. He threw 87 innings, posting a 13:78 BB:K ratio and a 1.14 ERA. That's simply amazing for any level, especially for a player who's younger than the competition. So he got bumped up to Double-A, and while he wasn't amazing, he was still quite good (3.23 ERA, 5:34 BB:K ratio in 53 IP) which is, again, fantastic for his age. The Royals had a promising year in 2003 (83-79), and it looked like Greinke might move up and complete the renewal of a moribund franchise. But the team's success in 2003 was misleading and illusory; one could argue that this disappointment and the need for some good news (and good pitching) played a part in Greinke's promotion to the majors in 2004.
Of course, they may have just brought him up because he was good. The team started him in Triple-A in '04, and he pitched very well in 6 starts. With the major league team suffering and with little competition among the resident starters, Greinke came up to the majors.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

S.O.M.M.: Stuff On My Mind

    This will be a fascinating offseason. And I do sincerely feel really bad for the Brewers. With that in mind, and with the Miracle Rays (I hope that catches on) headed for the postseason, let's discuss:
  • The ESPN Power Rankings must be the ultimate measure of front-running on the internet. But I guess it's more exciting if there's a new team at #1 every week, regardless of their overall performance. So how do the teams look, overall? Here's where we are right now (as of Friday 9/19 games):
    pW-pL denotes Pythagorean record. Stats followed by league rank in parentheses:

    : 92-60 (1st), 810 Runs Scored (1st), 631 Runs Allowed (2nd), pW-pL 93-59 (1st)
    This is why people pick the Cubs to win the pennant. They do look like the best team in baseball. No team is close in terms of runs scored, and they're a close second in runs allowed to the Dodgers.
    New York: 86-67 (2nd), 762 R (2nd), 668 RA (5th), pW-pL 86-67 (3rd)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

State of the Baseball Union

Apologies for the one-month absence. Health issues persist, I'm sorry to say. But what a fascinating month in the world of MLB.
  • Ned Yost was fired, in a pretty unprecedented move, with just 12 games to play in the season. The Brewers were struggling, but in real terms, what's the difference between Yost and Sveum over a 12-game period? It could be positive, but that's assuming that Sveum makes none of the same mistakes as Yost (which everyone seems to be assuming for some reason). This smacks as a panic move, and my problem is that panic is really contagious. So when ownership starts yelling, screaming, and gnashing their teeth, they can't expect the players to maintain their calm. While most people agree that Yost deserved to get fired, it's hard for me to accept that this was the best way to resolve the issue.
    As a side note, GM Doug Melvin has given Yost a great deal of praise, and it seems that the decision was made above his head, at ownership level. If Melvin was totally unwilling to fire Yost and the move needed to be made, I can understand management stepping in. Just not in mid-September.