Friday, November 07, 2008

Brian Fuentes

I'm supposed to be working on a paper right now. I have this group project where we have to evaluate a process from beginning to end and calculate throughput times and such, and suggest ways to improve the current process. I'm responsible for consolidating the first draft of the paper that's due on Wednesday, and I've been working on it, but while I do, I like to have some background noise. Tonight, that background noise is Game Four of the 2007 World Series.

(An aside... I love these A&E World Series DVD sets - they really should release more of them. There have been some pretty good series in the last 20 years that they haven't released: 1991, 1996, 1997, 2002, 2003... 1991 is especially perplexing since they released the Twins 1987 set, but 1991 is widely considered to be one of the best World Series ever. But I digress.)

So I'm almost done with this stupid paper, and I glance up at the TV for the start of the top of the 8th inning. The Rockies brought Brian Fuentes in to start the inning, and the Red Sox had the immortal Bobby Kielty hit for the pitcher to lead off the inning. First pitch, home run, making the score 4-1 in a game the Sox would eventually win 4-3. First pitch? Really, Brian? I know the odds were stacked against the Rockies coming back, being down 3-0 with Beckett scheduled to go in Game Five, but that was a complete "it's golf season" pitch.

Anyway, I guess I have three points: I love procrastination, I love nostalgia, and I hope - for Warren's sake - that the Mets don't sign Fuentes this off-season.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dan O'Dowd: Still a bad GM

So the reason the Rockies didn't draft Evan Longoria is because they didn't need a 3B. Sigh...

It really is sad that a semi-fluke World Series appearance last year is going to keep this guy employed for another few years.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fan Interference

In the bottom of the 5th tonight against the Rangers, David Ortiz hit a shot to dead center that might have left the yard for his third homer of the game. The problem is, some morons in the bleachers reached out and one of them grabbed the ball, and the umpires correctly called fan interference and ruled it a double.

The replays were inconclusive - the fans definitely made contact with the ball while it was above the plane of the top of the wall, but at the angle it was descending, you couldn't tell if it would have left the park or hit the very top of the wall. If the fans had let the ball go, the worst case scenario was a double. The best case was that it cleared the wall and was a home run. By touching it, the guaranteed that it was a double, eliminating the best-case scenario.

The one moron who ended up with the ball was ejected (or at least, he was being talked to by security on TV right after the play). That made me happy, but didn't really soften the blow of losing a run in a two-run game. What did soften the blow was Kevin Youkilis following up the "double" with a home run of his own, making the score 14-10(!) in the bottom of the 5th.

Slightly off-topic, this Texas team is crazy. Their pitching is so bad that Scott Feldman gave up 10 runs in the first inning tonight, and he still ended up pitching into the third. But even after the 10-spot, their offense is so good that I was worried after they got two right back in the top of the second, and sure enough, they closed the gap to 12-10 after four and a half. I have a mid-term tomorrow - I can't handle a 4-hour slugfest tonight.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Visualizing the Platoon

There's a lot to digest, but this Dan Brooks article about the platoon split was really interesting. I've often heard the theory that it's easier to hit a ball moving towards you than one moving away from you, but I've never completely understood why it would make such a huge difference.

Instead, you sometimes hear players say that they see the ball much better when the pitcher throws with the opposite hand, but this is the first time I've seen someone actually show how pitches look different depending on which batters' box you're standing in.

These two graphs show Justin Masterson's fastball and slider from both batters' boxes (the first one is the view for righty batters, the second for lefties). You can see how a lefty could distinguish the slider from the fastball much more easily than the righty. Shifting a few feet to the side (even from 60 feet away) gives you a much different view, especially when the pitcher has a low arm angle like Masterson.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Um, That Sucks?

Admittedly, I haven't been to many games at Fenway this year. I went to a Yankee game in May, and the 1-0 Beckett-Chamberlain game on Friday, but that was it, until tonight. Of course, I was almost at the Royals game that sits immediately below this post yet was two and a half months ago, but that doesn't count. Almost doesn't mean anything in baseball.

After missing my chance to see Lester's no-hitter, I started to wonder if I would ever see one. I mean, what are the odds? Ross has seen a no-no and a perfect game, but that was during a ridiculous string of luck at Yankee Stadium. In my lifetime, three no-hitters have been thrown at Fenway Park, and they've all happened in the last six years. That's a streak, but it's also a sign that Fenway's luck is about to run out. After turning down tickets to Lester's gem, I figured my luck had run out, too.

Then tonight happened. I went to the game with my friend Cory, who got his tickets as a free gift for buying... something else of substance. We had great seats behind the third base dugout, and with the Sox struggling to hang with the Yankees and Rays (that still feels weird to say), the team's struggles against the Angels, the ongoing Manny Ramirez drama, and the Teixeira trade an hour earlier, we had plenty to talk about in the early going. Three innings flew by in 45 minutes, despite two unearned Angel runs due to two Sox errors (Cora's error was later changed to a hit, but it looked like an error to us), and Lackey, despite giving up a lot of fly balls, still hadn't allowed a hit. I noticed the zeros on the scoreboard after three, but Cory, having forgotten his glasses, didn't. It was way too early, so I didn't say anything, even though it was impossible not to think about.

After five, it was 4-0 Angels, and Cory finally realized what was happening. Lackey was still giving up lot of fly balls, but had allowed only a hit batsman to reach base. If a Sox pitcher was working this magic, we probably wouldn't have said anything, but since it was the enemy, we talked openly about it... "Five innings... that's not insignificant, but it's still early. We can't root for this, can we? No, there's still time to come back. The Sox have hit Lackey well in the past, it's not over yet."

Still, part of me actually hoped he would do it. I wasn't sure if it was okay to think that, but I did. I can't deny it. After seeing Danny Darwin and Paul Abbott come so close in the past, and blowing off Jon Lester just months earlier, I felt like I was running out of chances. The Yankees were losing, but the Rays were winning, so I was torn as I tried to look at it practically. As if sensing my moral dilemma, and knowing full well the regret I felt over not being there for Lester's no-hitter, Ross send me a text asking if I was at the park. My reply: "Actually..."

He followed by asking what I was rooting for. Obviously, I wanted the Sox to win, but this was baseball history at stake. I went back and forth with myself until the top of the seventh, when the Angels scored two more off of the Buchholz/Hansen pu pu platter. Staring at a 6-0 deficit, my mind was made up.

Even if the Sox managed a hit, even if they scored a run, at this point, it was unlikely that they would win. As Cory and I silently conceded that we were, in fact, the Angels' bitches this year, we also acknowledged that history was more important than this one July win. As some pink-hatters filed out of the park and others tried to start the wave in the bleachers, we both passively rooted for the no-no. After dodging the Alex Cora bullet in the bottom of the 8th (we were both convinced that some stiff like Cora, who had no business not being pinch-hit for in that situation, would break it up with a swinging bunt or a Texas Leaguer), we gave up on being passive. This was happening - we were sure of it.

Finally, in the bottom of the 9th, we stood. In the break before the final half-inning, everyone stood, but as Ellsbury dug in to start the frame, the five or so rows in front of us all sat down. Not wanting to block people's views, we sat as well, but we felt really bad about it.

After Ellsbury struck out, we noticed that people one section over were standing - all of them. I knew we had time to run over and find some empty seats in that section and stand for the remaining two outs because, damnit, that's what you do for a no-hitter. So we did, and no sooner did we get there than did Cory mention how he'd never seen a no-hitter before. Like clockwork, Dustin Pedroia grounded the next pitch into left field, and we started pointing fingers at each other. Cory blamed me for switching seats, I blamed him for talking about this being his first.

Next thing you know, Youkilis homers, and it's a 4-run game with one out and Ortiz and Ramirez coming up. This is the worst case scenario; the no-no is gone and the game is still out of reach, but they're making a comeback just to pull you back in. I'll give you 1,000 guesses as to the final score, but suffice it to say, I went home with a bad case of baseball fan blue balls.

Did I deserve this? Maybe. Whether it was for skipping the Lester game or rooting against the home team, talking openly about it or thinking about it too early... it's hard to think back and consider all of the things I could have done differently. Lackey was not on his game tonight - he allowed tons of fly balls and only struck out four - and the Sox seemed deflated, whether by the Teixeira acquisition or something else. Maybe it just wasn't, or shouldn't have been, meant to be.

Or maybe it's just me. Baseball makes you think about stuff like that, for no good reason. But that's one reason why we keep coming back. You just never know.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lesson Learned

Last week, a co-worker said he knew someone who had five tickets to tonight's Sox-Royals game. He asked me if I wanted them at face value, $45 each. I said I'd try to get some people together and let him know. I figured I'd try to get a few of my cousins together, so I e-mailed one to see if he'd be interested. He didn't respond right away, and I wasn't in the office on Thursday or Friday, and that co-worker wasn't in today. I pretty much forgot about it, since it was the Royals and Beckett, who was supposed to pitch tonight, got moved up a day to face the Brewers after Buchholz hit the DL.

Fast forward to 5:30 this afternoon. After being away late last week, and after Danielle worked nights most of the weekend, we had barely seen each other. She told me she'd make a nice dinner tonight, and it was relatively cold and windy downtown today, so when my boss called me and said someone from the regional office had extra tickets to the game tonight, I thought about it for about five seconds and said no thanks. For the second time in a week, I decided I didn't want to spend tonight at Fenway Park.

I will never make that mistake again.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Only the Yankees left out

The only team in the Yankee organization not in first place, is the Yankees. Every one of their minor league teams is in first place, with a combined 83-43 record between the teams.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Old Man Wells

No, I'm not talking about soon-to-be 45-year old David Wells. I'm actually referring to the 29-year old Blue Jay centerfielder Vernon Wells. Despite not yet reaching his 30s, Wells is the AL East's oldest centerfielder by 5 years.

Boston: Jacoby Elsbury, 24 Years Old
New York: Melky Cabrera, 23 Years Old
Tampa Bay: BJ Upton, 23 Years Old
Baltimore: Adam Jones, 22 Years Old

There are actually just 2 AL starting Centerfielders older than Wells, 32-year old Torii Hunter and 34-year old Ichiro Suzuki. The 14 AL starting centerfielders average being under 26 years old, and have a median age of 25. I'm assuming both are the youngest for any AL position.

The NL Centerfielder average age is just shy of 29, with a Median age of 28. Jim Edmonds at age 37, is the NL's oldest centerfielder by 5 years, thanks to Griffey's move to rightfield.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Minor League Catchers

Posada has a 4-year contract, and the Yankees have two catching prospects. This can work well as the two prospects are just 18 and 19 years old, in Jesus Montero and Austin Romine, respectively.

My favorite is Montero who many think is by far the best hitter to come out of Venezuela since Miguel Cabrera. The Yankees decided, due to their age and inexperience, both were only ready for low-A ball, playing in the Sally League.

I actually like it a lot. Every day they both play. One catches and the other DHs. They have been alternating every day, so they are both in the starting lineup every day, and are getting very little abuse to their bodies, as they're not even catching two days in a row.

Montero's bing weakness so far is that he's only walked one time in 8 games, but has a .960 OPS nonetheless. If he keeps hitting like that, the two may get split up.

My favorite most underrated Yankee prospect remains reliever David Robertson. With 7 shutout so far at AA, he now has a career 0.89 ERA in 91 minor league innings. He's from the same draft class as Chamberlain and Kennedy. The only problem that I can see at all with Robertson is his height. He's 5'11". With his stuff, I don't think that will be a problem at all at AA or AAA, but we'll see (my guess is this season) if it's a problem at the big league level with ML hitters getting a little longer look than they do against the taller pitchers.


I think Shelly Duncan is quickly fitting that category. He seems like he can't do any more in AAA. He played his first game back at Scranton, went 4-for-5 with 3 doubles and a home run.