RRR’s Chewbacca Defense*

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron Roenicke seen attempting to call the bullpen.

Ron did something really really stupid the other day. Ned Yost thinks it was stupid. You see, Ron forgot to warm up a left-handed pitcher, and then attempted to bring one in. But it’s not quite as simple as that. His explanation as to exactly what happened makes no sense whatsoever. None.

Sometimes you’ll watch an old movie (by which I mean “from the 90s”) and the entire plot will revolve around a miscommunication that could have easily been solved in the age of ubiquitous cell phones. That’s pretty much what happened here, except it DID take place in the age of ubiquitous cell phones, constant video surveillance, and, in a pinch, loud yelling. Despite the existence of all of these technologies, one of the Brewers’ most valuable assets was put in harm’s way for no reason. That’s enough from me, let’s get to Tom Haudricourt’s account of Ron’s mind-destroying explanation. He’s in bold. I am not.

*The Chewbacca Defense was made famous by South Park during the OJ trial. IT conveys the idea that if you can convey something mind-bogglingly nonsensical to your audience that they will give up on believing the rules of logic. It’s basically the only explanation for what follows, because THAT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE. 

“But Brewers manager Ron Roenicke took full responsibility

Oh good, I can hardly wait to see how Ron goes about taking full responsibility. I certainly hope he doesn’t take that full responsibility, cram it in a bag, and throw it under some kind of bus.

for the debacle that resulted in reliever Will Smith taking the mound without warming up.”

It is actually pretty strange that baseball has a rule that essentially forces a player to perform without proper warm-ups under certain circumstances, however it’s even weirder that a major league baseball manager doesn’t know how to use a phone.

“It’s my fault; miscommunication,” said Roenicke. “There’s a certain way we do things and when Kranitz isn’t here, I didn’t go back and tell Rick Tomlin who to get up and bring in. So, it’s my fault.

There is a certain way that Ron tells Rick Kranitz, the pitching coach, who he would like to have up in the bullpen. And that way is not to say “I would like Will Smith up in the bullpen.”

“You do things the same way every day and when it changes, it just changes what goes on. I had to make the change.

Remember, we’re literally talking about telling a person who he would like to have warming up in the bullpen. Ron is not operating complex machinery or doing a pairs figure skating routine. He is telling another person to tell a certain bullpen pitcher to start warming up. It’s already weird, but are you ready for the weird part? This is the weird part. Keep in mind we live in a world with telephones and video monitors showing you the bullpen at all times.

I sent Maldy (backup catcher Martin Maldonado) to run down to the bullpen because we needed two guys up.

How to interpret this sentence…I am literally sitting here attempting to write this, clenching fists and gritting my teeth because this sentence….

First of all, WHY? Does he mean that the phone would have worked for one pitcher but because he needed two guys up he personally sent his backup catcher (one of his active bench players) down to the bullpen to personally relay the message? Does he mean that the importance of the message warranted a personal visit? Does Martin Maldonado do this a lot?

Maldy went down there and said, ‘I think it’s (Zach) Duke,’ but he never got the call on who it was. So, we didn’t call.”

And the most baffling thing of all, that Maldonado went to the bullpen charged with telling them that two relievers needed to be warming up, a righty and a lefty. According to this account, he only told them the wrong lefty. Brandon Kintzler, the righty, DID warm up so someone somewhere managed to tell the pen that the righty should warm up WITHOUT disclosing the lefty. How did this possibly happen again?

Roenicke wanted right-hander Brandon Kintzler and lefty Smith warming up, but only Kintzler got ready.

Ron: Maldy, tell them to get up Will.

Maldy: Get up Duke I think purple monkey dishwasher.

“We knew what was going to happen with who they were going to probably pinch hit,” said Roenicke. “We needed both guys up. That’s why I sent down our backup catcher.

“I needed to make sure Jean Segura was shifting properly against this guy, that’s why I sent out our set-up man.”

Maldy told Duke to get loose because that’s who Maldy thought it was going to be, but really I wanted Smith.”

WHY did he think that? Why? I’ll tell you what I think. I think Ron told him to run down to the pen and get “the lefty” up and Maldonado just thought Duke before he thought Smith. This doesn’t answer the question of why he sent his backup catcher in the first place, why he didn’t notice on the monitor that only Kintzler was warming, and why Duke wasn’t warming up, but it answers one thing at least. I mean, if you assume everyone involved is basically a moron.

With the Brewers leading, 4-2, Roenicke removed starter Matt Garza with two on and one out and summoned Kintzler. Gerald Laird hit a bouncer that caromed off the glove of diving third baseman Mark Reynolds and into shallow left for what became an RBI double, leaving runners at second and third.

Roenicke then went to plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth to make a double-switch and pointed to the bullpen for a lefty. There was no lefty warming up so Duke volunteered to come out, but Roenicke told Culbreth he wanted Smith.

The rules state that a new pitcher can throw no more than eight pitches after taking the mound. Because Culbreth was informed Smith had not been up in the bullpen, he asked Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez if he would agree to more pitches and Gonzalez said no.

He then proceeded to laugh his ass off and text all of his friends about it.

Culbreth then put on the video replay head set and called an umpiring supervisor to see if there was any way to allow Smith more pitches, and was told no.

After further review, the rules of baseball are still the rules of baseball.

In the meantime, Smith had to stand on the mound during that lengthy conversation back to New York, which didn’t help matters.

“The good thing is I usually only throw eight pitches in the bullpen before I come in anyway,” he said. “They told me it was only eight (when he got to the mound). I felt ready. I felt good to go.

See, now that’s how you take responsibility. I’m sure Will Smith hated having his routine destroyed, but when push came to shove he just said he should have gotten the job done anyway.

“Ron told me, ‘Don’t do anything stupid here, Will.’

“Like all that stuff I just did? You should do the opposite.”

The home plate umpire told me the same thing. He said, ‘Listen kid, be careful. Take care of yourself.’ But the adrenaline took over.”

I wonder how frequently a baseball manager has put his player in a position where the umpire actively fears for his safety? There is a time and a place for that kind of thing and it’s called football.

The Brewers moved the infield in to try to cut off the tying run,

Let’s fix that. “The Brewers moved the infield in to try and make it easier for Ryan Doumit to get a hit because they’re managed by an idiot.”



pinch hitter Ryan Doumit punched a grounder past shortstop Jean Segura

“which would have been fielded easily by a player playing at normal depth, and was hit hard enough to still possibly allow for a play at home, especially for someone with an arm like Segura’s

to drive in the runs that decided the outcome.

“Because dumb.”

It was an awful way to lose a game in which Garza was in command most of the way, leaving the Brewers with three losses in the four games here and a 2-5 record on the trip.

“I feel bad about everything,” said Roenicke. “You can’t do that to a player.

Sources originally believed that the “player” in question was Zach Duke, but subsequent interviews showed the Ron actually meant Will Smith.

“I should be able to adjust to different things.

Like, you should be able to give clear instructions in your native language to someone besides Rick Kranitz.

We had Lee in there yesterday and that was a little bit different. Rick (Kranitz) is always involved when we talk, and I know he’s taking care of calling somebody.

So that’s Maldy and Lee and Kranitz under the bus so far.

“When you have somebody else in there that doesn’t know what we usually do, it’s not his fault. I didn’t turn around and tell (Tomlin) to make the call. I just assumed it, which I shouldn’t do.”

Instead of instructing someone else to make a call after I realized that no one had, I sent my backup catcher in person, but didn’t tell him any instructions.

As for shaking off the loss, Roenicke said, “It’s going to be hard on me. They’ll be fine; they’ll move on. But it’s going to be hard on me.”

I’m sure it was hard on Ron. Perhaps not as hard as it was on Will Smith’s elbow, but hard nonetheless.

Mark Reynolds and Regression

Reynolds retroWe here at RRSMB love guys like Mark Reynolds. We used to own Russell Branyan’s b-ref page and it’s a pretty sure bet that we’ll own Mark’s at some point as well. There are a few reasons we like players like this:

1. Home runs are awesome.

2. Really really far home runs are even more awesome even though they don’t count for anything extra.

3. We like a guy who isn’t too proud to take a walk.

4. We like a guy who understands that striking out isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things.

The other day Rob Neyer did what all national media people do when a team they see as mediocre at best gets off to a hot start: write about how unsustainable it is. It’s easy to pick apart a team when it’s winning at a .700+ clip, but near the end Neyer made a flippant aside about two Brewers:

“Right now, they’re … actually, I’m not convinced they’re good. Take away these unsustainable things — by the way, I haven’t even mentioned Carlos Gomez and Mark Reynolds yet — and they’re just fair.”


This caught my eye. You can certainly argue that Carlos Gomez, currently enjoying his finest season, might come down to earth a bit.* I’m not sure the case is that strong for Mark Reynolds.

*Or maybe he’s just super awesome and finally completely adjusted to the changes he’s made at the plate while enjoying hitting lead-off.

Will Mark Reynolds experience regression to the mean? Of course. Everyone does. The question is always “what is the mean?” For Mark Reynolds, it’s probably better than you think. It’s almost certainly better than Rob Neyer seems to think.

The first thing to note is that Mark Reynolds is not old. He is nearly 2 full years younger than Corey Hart having turned 30 last August. He may not be in his prime anymore, but to the extent he’s entered his decline, it just started.

The 2nd thing to note is that Reynolds isn’t actually off to that great a start considering his historical numbers. His current .339 wOBA would only be the 4th highest total of his 7 year career. He had a .335 wOBA just 2 seasons ago when he hit .221/.335/.429 in Camden Yards. It’s not as if this start is unprecedented. A lot of analysts expected roughly this kind of production.

Mark Reynolds

Current slash line: .229/.297/.486, .335 wOBA

PECOTA preseason projection: .220/.323/.440

ZIPS(U): .232/.322/.478, .349 wOBA

Steamer(U) .222/.313/.455, .337 wOBA

While his power might be a bit on the high side*, we would actually expect his OBP, and therefore his overall value, to go up.

*Though maybe not in Miller Park. Camden Yards has actually been a decent place for right-handed power hitters lately but Miller Park is consistently one of the four friendliest.

There are some things you can nitpick about his early numbers. His HR/FB rate is high at 28.6%, but it’s not that unusual for Reynolds to have a HR/FB over 20% and he finished 2009 with a 26% mark. Miller Park is a very friendly home run-hitting environment and seeing a jump into the 20s isn’t that strange. While his LD% is down a bit that statistic is notoriously unreliable (especially over a small sample), and his BABIP isn’t strange in any way. Looking at his swing rates and contact rates doesn’t raise any huge red flags either. I suspect Neyer just saw his raw numbers, assumed they were better than they should be and didn’t look any further.

There is one other indicator that Reynolds may actually see his numbers get better. Historically about 30% of his PAs have come against left-handed pitching and while he doesn’t have huge platoon splits he does hit lefties better, especially in the OBP department (.315 v RHP, .360 v. LHP). This season only 20% of his PAs have come against lefties despite the presence of a platoon partner. He’s made up for this a bit by absolutely destroying the lefties he has faced (.300/.417/.600 in 24 PAs), but if that ratio normalizes a bit he could see further offensive gains just by reducing his right-handed exposure.

The Brewer have done a good job with Reynolds to this point. Keeping him mostly at first has limited his defensive problems and according to fangraphs he’s actually been substantially better defensively than Lyle Overbay. He’s a quantum leap over what they had last year and there is reason to believe that he may actually get better as the season goes along. He faces lefty Francisco Liriano tonight and I am looking forward to it. To close out, here’s a dinger.


Last Night Was A Joke

Let's get those Cardinals!

Let’s get those Cardinals!








“Tyler Thornburg replaces Lyle Overbay (PH) pitching and batting 9th
Martin Maldonado replaces Aramis Ramirez (3B) playing 1B batting 4th
Mark Reynolds moves from 1B to 3B









“Will Smith replaces Tyler Thornburg pitching and batting 9th”

I'm not so sure about this...

I’m not so sure about this…








“M. Carpenter Reached on E3 (catch) (Ground Ball to 2B); Peralta to 3B; Ellis to 2B”










Khris Davis attempts bunt. Strikes out swinging.








Despicable Brewers

I think it’s about time that we all embraced the evil.* The Milwaukee Brewers are my team and I will always love them, but they’re definitely on the “villain” side of the MLB spectrum. This can work. It worked for the Bad Boy Detroit pistons and it actually worked for the untuck ‘em Milwaukee Brewers just a few years ago.**  The Brewers have been the most successful when they’ve been showing up other teams with Beast Mode or celebrating the Jekyll and Hyde that is Nyjer Morgan/Tony Plush, one of the single most annoying players ever to play the game if he’s not on your team. It’s great to feel the joy that ensues when your team wins, but it can be almost as fun to wallow in schadenfreude when the other team loses to your team (especially if it’s the Cardinals) and the intensity of their suffering only increases as our own team becomes more insufferable to non-fans. In short, the more villains the Brewers have, the more enjoyable their winning can be. Let’s give in to the Dark Side together.

*Except for K-Rod. He’s not the fun kind of evil, he’s the kind of evil that makes the world a worse place.

**even if the very idea of getting offended by someone untucking their shirt is the stupidest thing in the history of the world. YES IT IS. Look, man, back off or I’ll UNTUCK MY SHIRT! See how stupid that sounds?

Gentlemen, welcome to the Evil Team of Evil.


Ryan Braun

He takes performance enhancing substances like Underdog* or Bane or Disney’s The Gummi Bears**. He lies to cover his tracks. He’s super strong and can somehow do this creepy upside-down smile which just has to be evil. He is roundly booed everywhere he goes and is so despised that even his own union sold him out. He is cocky beyond belief and can generally back it up. Losing on a walk-off to Ryan Braun must be completely soul-crushing. Just the way we like it.


*Underdog has the best theme song ever.

**You may argue that some of these are heroes, but they all take PEDs so they’re all obviously evil. Duh. 

Martin Maldonado

Over the past three days Martin Maldonado hit a baseball so hard he destroyed it, hit Travis Snider in the head so hard he destroyed it, and destroyed Jody Mercer on a questionable takeout slide. His twitter handle is @Machete1224 . He’s basically already a super villain.

Jerry Narron

Sure he seems like a mild-mannered guy with his lineup calligraphy, but as soon as a fight breaks out he’s getting in the umps face and getting tossed.Total wild card.

Jonathan Lucroy

Jonathan Lucroy is one of the best pitch framers in baseball. Basically he fools the umpire into calling more strikes for his pitchers than they deserve. This is just a step short of cheating and reminiscent of the mind-warping abilities of The Shadow.* Moreover, Machete1224 excels in this skill as well suggesting Lucroy has been spreading the dark arts.


*Who knows what strikes lurk just outside the zones of umpires? The Lucroy knows. Also, that is just a horrible movie, so I’ll just say we’re talking about the old radio shows.


Mark Reynolds

Every group of supervillains needs some indestructible muscle.

Scooter Gennett

Every group of supervillains needs a diminProfessor_Chaosutive toady to kick around.

Matt Garza

Matt Garza has evil-seeming facial hair and has gone on terribly ill-advised sexist twitter tirades against his opponent’s spouse. Also, bunting is his Kryptonite.

Carlos Gomez

Carlos Gomez plays super hard, loves making big plays, talks a ton of shit, starts fights, breaks bats over his knee, and genuinely annoys the piss out of a ton of opposing fans who call him “thug” as well as any number of other racist codewords. He taunts pitchers after he beats them and was once blocked from scoring on a home run by noted Aquaman* wannabe Brian McCann. This weekend Gerrit Cole told Carlos Gomez not to talk shit immediately after allowing him to hit a triple, yet most pundits seemed to think Gomez was preening inappropriately. Carlos Gomez is faster and stronger than everyone else, he can jump higher than anyone else, and he’s not afraid to tell you about it. If the Brewers have an anti-hero, it is Carlos Gomez.


*I’ve always found it amusing that Aquaman gets so much guf for being a lame superhero when the Marvel version of Aquaman, Namor the Submariner, is about a thousand times lamer. I suppose the main reason is that he’s simply not as well known as Marvel didn’t have anything like the Super Friends back in the day, so he escapes scrutiny. The main lesson is that water-based superheroes are incredibly lame, just like Brian McCann.

The national media and all opposing fans are going to call Braun a cheater and Gomez a thug, and that’s just how it’s going to be. The Brewers know this which is why they hired a puppy to be the face of the franchise. What do you think they’re trying to hide? You know who needs a puppy out in front? Brash, egotistical jerks, that’s who. They break the unwritten rules, they cheer their own home runs, they rub it in their opponent’s faces. They’re also really really fun if you’re a fan. I say we roll with it.

Old Man Yells At Cloud*

old-man-cloud*I’ve sprinkled several Simpsons references throughout. See if you can find each one! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Most of the baseball-writing media are past stat-nerd bashing, and are at least aware that they will receive some pushback. Those who cannot deal with the new reality are often either on the staffs of dying newspapers or on First Take where you have to actually bother to transcribe something if you want to rip it. I think Fire Joe Morgan was a big part of that and Twitter’s instant feedback drove it home, but every once in a while you still run into a writer who has apparently never heard of either of these things. This one is interesting because Scott DeSmit, of TheDailyNewsOnline which seems to serve an area around Buffalo New York not only watches The Simpsons, but also knows enough about Sabermetrics to put a fake qualifier letter in front of his fake WAR.  He calls it gWAR. I assume this is a tribute to GWAR, a high concept rock band who recently suffered the loss of their frontman Dave Brockie, who died unexpectedly at the age of 50.  Or maybe it’s because g is the letter after f. Let’s find out! He’s in bold. I am not.

“You made me love baseball. Not as a collection of numbers, but as an unpredictable, passionate game, beaten in excitement only by every other sport.”

-Lisa Simpson.

“I made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes.”

-Bill James, scientific analyzer of baseball who coined the term “sabermetrics.”


No one who likes the Simpson could be evil.

Computers have ruined baseball and “Sports Illustrated.”


In fairness, we should mention that computers have ruined basically every magazine.

This is what I need to know and what I want to know: What’s the guy’s batting average, how many dingers has he hit and how many runs he batted in.

(Awkward sentence containing a list of statistics)

I want to know a pitcher’s ERA and his won-loss record. Maybe, if he’s Nolan Ryan, how many strikeouts he has had.

Ugh. “Has had.” Look, I make at least 3 spelling/grammar mistakes every time I write something as I’m afflicted by a disease which prevents me from effective proofreading before I hit the “post” button. It’s awful. And I’m generally pretty forgiving about such things, but reading that sentence hurt. The only thing worse than a win-loss record is a won-loss record.

I can read a box score.

I was genuinely surprised after the previous sentence to find that this didn’t read “I can haz read box score.”


Wait, so now you do want to know about strikeouts? Or are those only the strikeouts that Nolan Ryan has had?

*Not the Contra code. 

Pretty simple. Derek Jeter went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs and scored once.

He’s now batting .280.

It’s so simple it tells you almost nothing! It doesn’t tell you is Jeter hit a double or a home run, it doesn’t tell you how the players scored, how he scored, and his batting average after the fact is almost meaningless. I like watching baseball and seeing how things happen.

When I read “Sports Illustrated” I want insight into the game, great stories about the game and its players.

Not this:

“A .296/.373/.489 hitting in the minors … and he was one of the top five prospects as rated by gWAR, a proprietary measure of a player value similar to Wins Above Replacement.”

Much is made of the Stats v. Scouts debate that no one is actually having. Baseball Prospectus, one of the first and most well-known advanced baseball stats sites is now as much about scouting as about numbers. WAR is never used to evaluate minor leaguers, especially to declare someone a top prospect in list form. To write parody actually requires an understanding of the subject. This reads like a 4th grader who didn’t do the reading cranking out an essay five minutes before class started.*

*Ivanhoe is the story of a man and his tool…

The pitcher was one of the best, “according to gERA or defense-adjusted ERA.”

God forbid we take a stat like ERA, which measures how many runs the team as a whole allowed (after making some asinine concession to the official scorer) and attempt to isolate what the pitcher himself was responsible for.

They actually have a yearly conference, a SABR Analytics Conference.

They all get together and rent out the basement of a GIANT convention center and play advanced dungeons and dragons and have LAN parties and they all get special pocket protectors and argue over whether Captain Kirk is better than Captain Picard while they talk about “analyzing” baseball.

I will now return to writing this article in which I try to uhm…analyze baseball.

Scouts are no longer gruff men with beer guts and a cigar dangling from their mouth but computer geeks who wouldn’t know a good baseball prospect if one came up and slapped them in the face with a Louisville Slugger.*

1. I’m quite sure some of them still are.

2. None of that stuff would qualify you to be a scout in the first place.

3. Scouts certainly use more numbers than before and it is probably a career-killer not to be familiar with technology, but by and large scouts are still out there trying to figure out how a guy will grow into his body, what his tools are, etc.

4. What Sabermetrics has changed more than anything is our valuation of certain baseball skills. Scouts might focus more carefully on different things now, but scouting is still done mostly by people. (For now).

5. So this section is just wrong.

*Oh, Kent, I’d be lying if I said my men weren’t committing crimes.

It’s one thing to have these statisticians, it’s another to write about them.

They know exactly where every pitch ever thrown has been placed.

Isn’t it cool? You can see Felix’s brilliance in more detail or see how a guy missed and allowed a game-winning home run…

“27 percent of his sliders hit the inside corner of the plate, providing the temperature is above 63 degrees and the wind is out of the south at less than 9 mph.”

Allow me to set this straw man on fire. It is perhaps possible to actually come up with this kind of information using PitchFX, but no one ever does, and no one would want to. It’s not interesting. This reminds me of this Colin Cowherd quote from the FJM classic “12 Minutes of Hell, with Colin Cowherd:

“The problem with the Hall of Fame – it’s become Nerd World. [ridiculous “nerd” voice] “Hey, if you look at his OPB — yes you know me — his OPS, if you multiply it using a sliding chart and you put some marmalade on your toes, he appears to be a 14th ballot Hall of Famer.” The Hall of Fame has become “Nerd World in Orlando.”

A sliding chart is not a thing, a 14th-ballot Hall of Famer is not a thing anyone cares about, and the way in which information is gathered and used by sabermetricians is not anything as strange as this idiocy.

PitchFX has been used to pick out pitchers in decline, it is the most important part of the revolutionary pitch framing research we’ve all been reading about, and it can pick out good umpires and bad umpires. Those are all useful things. Interesting things. It’s easy to make up your own boring garbage, just don’t go blaming other people when you have to move your town 5 miles over.

It has infiltrated every aspect of the game.

One of the reasons for this is because looking at data actually works, whereas relying on folk-wisdom leads to outbreaks of the mumps at Ohio State. Giant companies are attempting to win and make money, they can’t afford to rely on gut feeling.

Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012.

The Triple Crown is a series of horse races composed of the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.  We sometimes apply this nomenclature to an arbitrary group of three somewhat terrible baseball statistics and say that a baseball player “won” it. While home runs are cool, we have learned over time that batting average is pretty terrible, and that RBIs tell you more about the guys hitting in front of you than anything else. But hey, it has a neat name! It’s sacred! It’s rare! It must be good.

And there was a debate as to who deserved the MVP.

Uhm, I mean, kind of. People argued about it. Mike Trout was pretty significantly better, but I suppose if we’re being generous…


I hate this new tradition of baseball people having spirited debates about things.

Sabermetrics, whatever that means.

You clearly read the wikipedia article since you mentioned that Bill James “coined” the term. So you totally know. Or, you at least know as much as Wikipedia tells you.

Just 16 players have ever won the Triple Crown.

Only Fernando Tatis has ever won the coveted “Biathalon” given to a player who hits two Grand Slams in the same inning. He’s the only one ever to do it! Yet he was somehow denied the MVP award that year. Shameful.

Cabrera bats .330, hits 44 home runs and drives in 139, you bet he deserves MVP.

I wonder if any other players played baseball that year, and if so, if any of them had similar, or even better batting numbers!

It wasn’t even a unanimous vote, thanks to Sabermetrics.

How dare not everyone haz agreed with my flawless logic.

Mike Trout deserved the MVP because of Pythagorean expectations, speed scores, ultimate zone ratings, VORP, wOBA and PECOTA, or Player Empiracal Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm.

I can’t believe we’re still doing this, but the case for Mike Trout was anything but complicated. The only thing that a baseball layperson might even have a slight issue with is park adjustment. Angel Stadium is typically very pitcher-friendly while Comerica is fairly neutral, and Trout gets a bump for that, but most of the case for Trout over Cabrera can be summed up as follows using no numbers at all.

1. Mike Trout was almost as good a hitter as Cabrera.

2. Mike Trout stole a ton of bases while rarely getting caught and was an excellent baserunner in general, while Miggy is slow, and a terrible baserunner.

3. Mike Trout plays a difficult defensive position well while Cabrera plays an easier position terribly.

That’s it. Trout does a lot of the stuff that old baseball men tend to love. He takes an extra base! He steals! he’s sound defensively. Funny how some anti-analytics people now sound like the Moneyball-era Athletics.

Think baseball was boring before?

No, I love baseball and want to learn more about it.


Spellcheck probably should have caught that.

Yes, baseball has always been stat-driven. That’s why I love reading box scores.

NEEEERRRRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!  Did you get a load of the nerd?

But it’s also driven by gut instinct.

Maybe sometimes if it’s a close call, but it’s not really worth talking about, and where data is available data always wins.

Taking David Ortiz out of the World Series lineup based on Sabermetrics? Because the bench player had a better OPS/WAR against the pitcher on odd-numbered days and when the defensive lineup consisted of 38 percent Hispanic players with DRSes of .678 or above?*

Sabermetrics is totally racist, you guys.

Also, David Ortiz has played in 13 World Series games and he’s never had fewer than 4 PAs in any of them. Ortiz probably has been removed occasionally in NL parks for defensive purposes (Doug Mientkiewicz, everybody!), but no team would ever do something like this because David Ortiz is awesome at hitting. This is another example of Colin’s Toe Marmalade.

*Aw, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent.
Forfty percent of all people know that.

Blah blah blah.


You can have your computer-generated scouting reports.

Give me that kid who dives into second base headfirst stretching a single or smashes into the outfield wall leaping for a fly ball or hits 450-feet home runs or bats .320 and steals 50 bases

That guy’s name is Mike Trout.

and give me that pitcher who waves off his manager when he reaches 100 in the pitch count.

That guy blew out his UCL making the waving motion.

And I’ll take a Triple Crown winner over anyone.

I don’t care if it’s a cloudy day or not.*

I will list a series of things I like in a ballplayer and then just go with the Triple Crown because Sabermetricians care about the weather too much.

*And with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of old-timey baseball. They had banished the awful lemon tree forever, because it was haunted. Now let’s all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.

Fans Send Bad Message To – uhm – Fans

Jim Caple is mad. He longs for the days when cheating wasn’t strictly illegal and therefore a gentlemanly pursuit. He doesn’t understand why anyone would cheer for Ryan Braun, let alone give him a standing ovation. The one thing we do know is that music has something to do with it, so let’s get to it. He’s in bold.

On Opening Day in Milwaukee, Ryan Braun returned from last season’s 65-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs and received a loud standing ovation from the hometown crowd. On Tuesday night, a fan ran onto the field to try to high-five him. For those two games, Braun earned roughly $124,000 of a contract that guarantees him at least $117 million in pay.

Let’s start by conceding that Ryan Braun is probably not a very good guy. He’s probably a bad guy. You know what? A lot of baseball players are bad guys. A lot of athletes are bad guys. We don’t cheer for them because they’re paragons of virtue, we cheer for them because they’re good at their jobs and help our teams win. That’s it. I might also point out that on Opening Day most fans show up promptly at 9:00 am when the parking lots open (followed by the people who believe the lie about the lots opening at 10), drink for four straight hours, go into the stadium, drink for another 2 hours, and then hopefully not drive home.* On Tuesday the guy who ran out onto the field probably wasn’t sober. Citing the actions and opinions of a bunch of super-drunk people as some kind of indictment of society is asinine.

*I might also mention that the starting pitcher in that game, Yovani Gallardo, was arrested for DUI in the offseason, a sin 1000x times worse than anything Braun has done. The person who closed the game, Francisco Rodriguez, has a nasty habit of beating women and their parents which is unfathomably worse. 

So … that’ll really teach him not to do it again, huh?

That’s what the giant quasi-legal suspension was for.

At spring training, when Braun addressed the media about his use of PEDs, he said he made a “mistake.” That’s not accurate. Braun did not make a “mistake.” He cheated.

Look, I hate non-apologies. I hate the use of the passive voice in apologies. I sincerely doubt that Ryan Braun offered up anything that could be considered a “sincere” apology. BUT, this argument that past transgressions cannot be considered “mistakes” is simply wrong. Occasionally someone will actually learn a lesson and change their behavior, and in that instance it is not uncommon for that person to look back on their past actions as “mistakes.” Mistake can mean typing “they’re” instead of “there” but it can also mean past actions that one has come to regret. If you don’t believe Ryan Braun just say you think he’s an insincere asshole, you don’t have to make weak semantic arguments.

I’ve been more lenient than most on this subject when it comes to players such as Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds (who received a smattering of jeers at his Opening Day appearance in Pittsburgh).

And I completely ignore the transgressions of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron and anyone who took any foreign substances before guys got huge and started hitting giant home runs. And I don’t care about Gaylord Perry throwing spitballs either.

That’s because when players of that era used or were accused of using, baseball had no hard and fast rules in place regarding PEDs. (It’s not cheating if it isn’t against the rules.) Milwaukee’s welcoming response for Braun angers me, though, because he was caught after PEDs were firmly and officially banned, not just frowned upon. And he’d already narrowly averted a previous ban due to a technicality.

1. Drunk people on opening day are THE BEST at making highly technical moral distinctions regarding baseball rules.

2. In the end he didn’t actually avert the ban. The incidents were connected.

If we — media, fans, players, the league and teams — truly want to rid the game of PEDs,

A lot of us don’t care. Like at all. I like watching games and being entertained.

then we must thoroughly punish players when they are caught breaking the rules. That means in addition to serving suspensions, players who are caught should not be placed on a team’s postseason roster, as the Tigers did with Jhonny Peralta last October.

The idea that the Tigers pulled some scam here…I mean, Peralta was done serving his time. He served his suspension and was allowed to rejoin the team.  The team isn’t required to keep punishing a guy forever, that’s Bud Selig’s job, apparently.

Baseball addressed this last week by toughening the punishments for PED cheats, including banning them from playing in the postseason in a year in which they are suspended. Which is good, but we also should not then reward them with four-year, $52 million new contracts, as the Cardinals did with Peralta over the winter.

And we should not welcome them back by standing and applauding their return.

The story of how baseball players fought and eventually won free agency is a good one, and ultimately many people* will tell you that most of this steroid nonsense mostly serves to give ownership back a chunk of the power they’ve ceded over the years. Most of Caple’s “reforms” here mainly help management, hurt players, and condescend to fans. In short, I’ll cheer for whoever I damn well please, and in free agency teams will pay for players if they think the players will help them. St. Louis had a dumpster fire sitting out there at short last year. They probably were not willing to forego a 3-4 win upgrade to prove some obtuse moral point.

*Joe Sheehan, most loudly.

As long as players know that even if they’re suspended, they still will receive multimillion-dollar contracts and the adoration of their hometown fans, what is the incentive not to cheat?

Here’s a better question: Given this scenario, what is the incentive to punish cheaters?

Last week’s changes to MLB’s drug rules increased the initial suspension from 50 to 80 games and a second from 100 to 162 games. And that’s fine. But it still doesn’t address the larger problem: A suspension really accomplishes little beyond giving a player a couple of months off during the summer.

The idea that a suspension is not a punishment is laughable. Most of these guys want to win. If they are caught, they then have to be around a bunch of guys they let down. They don’t get paid. But yeah, I’m sure Braun cares much more about getting a standing ovation than losing a couple of million dollars.

I don’t believe first-time offenders should be banned for life, but I want them to truly get the message that PED use is not tolerated. Here’s how to send it:

I’ve been waiting for this part. This is the crazy part. Are you ready for the crazy part?

• Get caught cheating, and not only are you suspended without pay (as is currently the case), but your current contract should be voided.

There is zero chance that this could ever happen. It would have to be negotiated with the union and there are no circumstances under which they would ever agree to such a thing.  But it gets so much worse…

• When you return from the suspension, you should also lose whatever negotiating leverage you’ve accrued. You should not reach free agency until at least one full year after you would otherwise be eligible.

When I read this the first time I assumed he meant by magic. Like everyone should forget how valuable the player is so they have no leverage. What I think he actually means is that you will go back to the equivalent of a first year of team control. If you were in your arbitration years you lose arbitration. If you’re about to become a free agent you lose that. Functionally what that means is that you’d make the minimum or sit out. Oh, but it gets crazier still…

• So that your team, which might have looked the other way at rumors of your PED use, does not benefit, it should not retain rights to your service beyond when it normally would. If that time frame expires before you are eligible for free agency, you should go into a “cheaters’ draft” in which each team, in reverse order of record, can pick you or not. Teams could only choose one cheat per winter. Hopefully, there never would be occasion for a second round of the cheaters’ draft.

CHEATERS DRAFT! It raises so many questions! If you have a 5-year contract what happens? Anything? Does this only apply to players in their first 6 years of service? So if say Jean Segura failed a drug test, when he reached his free agent year he could instead be drafted by the worst team in baseball and play for the minimum? What if it’s still the Brewers? It might still be the Brewers. Would opposing teams start spiking beverages? Would Jeff Luhnow sneak into the Angels’ locker room and pop a few steroid gummy bears in Mike Trout’s Gatorade?

And I’m sure we all know the true winners of the Cheaters draft. ESPN!* They’d televise the shit out of that. I assume it would be at Madison Square Garden and that all draftees would arrive in orange jump suits. Bud would greet them at the podium with a new cap and a urine collection kit.

*employer of JIM CAPLE.

It gets crazier.

As for the fan response? Fans are always happy to boo a returning PED cheat with an opposing team. (Just wait until those fun-loving Fenway fans get their crack at Braun this weekend.) But fans also will boo an opponent who wins the Triple Crown and donates his salary to Habitat for Humanity. It’s how they regard their own team’s players that is at issue.

Boston fans are totally in a great position to boo steroid users.

Obviously, fans can’t be forced to behave a certain way or instructed not to cheer.

“Dear University of Wisconsin Student Section. Please Stop doing the E@T Sh*T, F^CK Y0^ chant. – Chancellor X

Student Section – (Increases volume 800%)

But there are rules that could be enacted so that a returning cheat doesn’t feel as welcome as Braun and others have.

We can have RULES that STEER you to cheer PROPERLY, like the Bark Board at Bucks games. Everyone likes the Bark Board.

No walkup or entrance music for his at-bat or relief appearance.

That’ll learn him. How would Erig Gagne get fired up without Welcome To The Jungle?

In fact, no introduction whatsoever.*

This would definitely not lead to more standing ovations as a fanbase started to feel unjustly persecuted. They’d all totally stay silent during the intro.

*”Programs! Get your programs! You won’t know who the roiders are without a program! Because we’re not going to tell you!”

For at least one season, the player should have to take his position to official silence on the home team’s part.

“Attention Fans! Per Major League Rules we will be OFFICIALLY SILENT during Ryan Braun’s introductions. Please do not cheer wildly to fill the void as it would appear a bit gauche of television. Thank you for your cooperation.”

Let that silence be a reminder that he cheated.

“And now a moment of silence to remind us all of our sins.” – World’s worst baseball game.

If the fans still want to cheer him, so be it. But teams shouldn’t encourage an environment for applause.

Also, Braun should be forced to play in a hairshirt.

I would include a Hall of Fame ban, but any player who tests positive for PEDs isn’t going to get 75 percent of the BBWAA vote anyway.

Yeah, they don’t get elected to the hall, they just coach hitting for the Dodgers and present awards in Pittsburgh.

Sure, there are flaws in these suggested measures.

I agree with this 100%.

For one thing, there would need to be some ways to prevent teams from manipulating the rules just to get out of an expensive contract.

I’m sure no team would ever abuse these rules to not pay millions of dollars. If there’s one thing we know it’s that giant multi-million dollar corporations always act in the best interest of everyone.

But that and other issues could be ironed out. At least it’s a starting point for getting serious.

Let’s get serious. Ban music!

I’m all for giving a player a second chance after he makes “mistakes.” But to really discourage the use of PEDs, players must also know that when they come back, all will not be forgotten, all will not be forgiven, and life in baseball will not be the same.

Hester Prynne didn't make a "mistake", she was a DIRTY WHORE.

Hester Prynne didn’t make a
“mistake”, she was a DIRTY WHORE.

Let’s just put a god damn scarlet A on his jersey.