Fun With The Play Index

The All-Star Break is boring, so here’s a stat dump from the Baseball Reference Play Index

Remember when Corey Hart used to be fast? He has the 15th and 16th most stolen bases in a single season for the Brewers with 23 in both 2007 and 2008.

Pods has the franchise record with 70 in 2004. After that it goes Molitor (45), Molitor (41), Molitor (41), Molitor (41).  Those seasons span from 1982 to 1988.

Most plate appearances by a Brewer in a single season? Rickie Weeks with 754 in 2010.  He made the most of that too, hitting .269/.366/.464.

Most HBP in a single season? You know it’s Rickie, in that same year. He led the league in both PAs and HBP.

Rickie does NOT lead the Brewers in most ABs in a single season. That honor hoes to Mr. Molitor with 666 in 1982. Rickie only had 651 official ABs in 2010.

Molitor has the single season record for triples with a league leading 13 in 1991. That probably pisses off Robin Yount, who owns the next 6 spots on the list. Carlos Gomez is lurking with 9 this year. Jeromy Burnitz had 8 triples in 1997. Triples are weird.

RBIs are so cool that Richie Sexson and Jeromy Burnitz are 3-4-5 on the Brewer all-time list, Sexson in 2001 with 125 (and who will ever forget that 2001 team), Burnitz with 125 in 1998, and Sexson again with 124 in 2003.

A Brewer has only had 100 RBI in a season 37 times.

Only 17 Brewers have had 100 RBI seasons.

Greg Vaughn never did it (98), which is amazing.

Casey McGehee did though.

Geoff Jenkins? Nope.  (95)

Rob Deer? Nope. (86)

Sixto Lezcano? Yes! (101 in 1979).

You know who has the franchise record for doubles. We love you Lyle.

But we shouldn’t punish guys for turning doubles into triples. The franchise record for 2B+3B belongs to Yount, who is first and second with 59 in 1980 and 58 in 1982.  Lyle is 3rd with Ram in 4th. Jeff Cirillo cracks the top 10 at #7 with 51 in 1996. Yay Jeff.

We all love sac bunts and no one was more money at getting one down than Don Money, who had 14 in 1978 and 10 in 1974. Paul Molitor is tied for 2nd with 10 in 1982. Actually kinda shocking they made the World Series doing that.

Greg Vaugh had 7 in 1990, good for 7th, which makes me want to go back in time and start a zine called Tom Trebelhorn Stole My Baseball. Jesus.

Yount had 6 in 1980. Cecil Cooper had 6 in 1979. Gorman had 6 in 1978. So much pointless sacrifice…

Who hates walking? Bill Schroeder, that’s who. Rock walked only 8 times in 1984 over 226 PAs. He walked only 16 times in 1987 over 270 PAs. Sandwiched between those two seasons we have Dick Davis who walked 16 times in 353 PAs in 1979.  But you all know who the true all-time Brewer walk-a-phobe is. That’s right. Yuniesky Betancourt walked just 16 times in 584 PAs in 2011. No one else in the bottom ten has even 475 PAs.

And finally, the 13th best OPS in team history belongs to Aussie catcher David Nilsson who hit .309/.400/.554 with 21 HRs in 1999. Who doesn’t miss the Lloyd-Nilsson connection? 

You can’t spell Ass Pan without Passan.

Note: This is by Rubie even though it was posted and (lightly) edited by me.

Yesterday, ESPN unleashed the latest news in MLB’s never-ending, never-escalating, “we’re really gonna suspend you guys, we’re totally serious, it’s coming soon” crusade to get to the bottom of whatever was happening at a glorified vitamin store in south Florida: according to the Mothership, Ryan Braun refused to answer any questions about Biogenesis or Tony Bosch when MLB investigators tried to interview Braun last month.

Of course, all the players MLB has tried to interview about Biogenesis have, on the advice of and at the urging of the MLB Players Union, refused to cooperate with the League. But that pesky detail didn’t get in the way of Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, who decided it was time to dust off his hatchet and take aim at one of his favorite targets:

Ryan Braun is so, so good in public. This kills the people at Major League Baseball who believe he used performance-enhancing drugs and want to suspend him for it. He is handsome, well-spoken, authoritative. He projects as an alpha assurance special even in a sport of alphas.

Apropos of nothing, Take 1: “Alpha Assurance” totally sounds like it would be the name of one of the fragrances of that Old Style pit spray, with the commercials that feature a dude who’s a centaur or whatever.

Braun could swear the grass is blue and the sky green, flash a smile and sure enough some people would believe him. He’s that smooth.

“I have nothing to hide,” he likes to say. This is funny. For somebody with nothing to hide, Ryan Braun is a fireproof safe inside of an armed vault behind a Scooby-Doo pull-a-book secret door.

Apropos of nothing, Take 2: aren’t all safes fireproof? What the fuck good is a safe to store your valuables if it’s just going to burn down with the rest of your house?

And re: Scooby Doo: I always had a thing for Velma. I’m not sure why; it may have had something to do with the juxtaposition of the short skirt plus knee-high stockings and the oversized turtleneck sweater. She was like a mystery book where you got to read the first chapter and were just intrigued enough to want to read more.

Sorry, that got weird. Maybe we should start getting to the point here.

All he does is hide. When MLB asked him questions about his positive testosterone test more than a year and a half ago, he wouldn’t answer them, and now he’s all Mr. Fifth Amendment again as the league investigates players’ links to Tony Bosch, the alleged PED pied piper of the Biogenesis clinic near Miami.

To be all technical and lawyer-y for a second: I know Passan is using “Mr. Fifth Amendment” as a cheeky way to say “Braun’s not talking,” but he really shouldn’t, because: outside of a courtroom or a deposition or an interrogation by police officers, you don’t invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, and, more importantly, the Fifth Amendment is a right against giving a statement which incriminates you. And there’s really no indication that Braun went in and said: “I’m not talking to you about Tony Bosch because my answers could tend to incriminate me.” Instead, I think it’s likely that Braun (and everybody who’s been summoned before MLB’s crack investigation/Inquisition squad) told them to pound sand as part of a larger plan by the Players Union. More on that in a second.

Braun’s refusal to talk – first reported Tuesday by ESPN.com and confirmed by Yahoo! Sports – came as no surprise,

Which makes the premise for Passan’s column all the more bizarre, but whatever, we’re rolling here.

and not just because he has spent almost two years running from questions that could help clear his name. The MLB Players Association doesn’t want anyone saying anything, not after Bosch, his associate Porter Fischer and others have agreed to varying levels of cooperation with MLB. The unity of members is sacred, the strongest defense against a pursuit some within the sport fear has veered into witch-hunt territory.

I’m not sure it was intentional, but to say “the MLBPA doesn’t want its players giving statements because Bosch and Porter Fischer are cooperating with MLB” is really misleading. I don’t think the MLBPA is quaking in its boots at the thought of Bosch and Fischer turning Commissioner’s evidence, for the simple reason that Bosch and Fischer are (to use a term of art in the legal community) pieces of shit. If MLB’s case is built upon the word of two people who’ve, from all indications, shown a disturbing (but probably not surprising) tendency to shape their stories to please whomever’s willing to pick up their tab at Sizzler, then MLB doesn’t have much of a case at all. The MLBPA knows this, and it also knows that any lawyer worth his salt would eat Tony Bosch for breakfast and have time to sneak in 9 holes before noon.

That brings us to the larger picture: I suspect that the Union recognizes this Biogenesis nonsense is much, much bigger than Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez or even any of the 20 or so other players who might get suspended next week. What’s at stake isn’t merely Braun’s reputation, ARod’s career, or the livelihood of the lesser known players caught up in this scandal. This is about the continuing viability of the Joint Drug Agreement, and, on a much grander scale, the power of the Union vis-à-vis the Commissioner’s Office.

To be a little less obtuse: look at this from the Union’s perspective. The Commissioner (if what ESPN is reporting is true) is threatening to suspend a decent chunk of your membership pursuant to the terms of a drug testing program without a single one of those players flunking a drug test, under some amorphous concept of “just cause” (which, amazingly, isn’t freaking defined in the JDA). And not only that: the Commissioner’s going to treat at least some of these folks as second-time offenders, hammering them with 100-game suspensions because the Commissioner has concluded those players were lying about their association with Tony Bosch — which, in the warped mind of some underling in the League office, somehow constitutes an offense distinct and separate from the underlying association with Bosch and can be punished as such. (This is akin to charging someone with Super Duper Extreme Burglary because he robbed a home and then lied to the police about it. If that sounds kind of crazy, that’s because it, y’know, is.)

If you’re the Union, you have to take the hardest line possible against that kind of action (which, at best, is an aggressive interpretation of the powers bestowed on MLB by the JDA, and, at worst, is a gross abuse of authority), don’t you? And that means not only fighting MLB on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields and in the streets, but also telling your charges: “They want to interview you? Fuck them. We aren’t participating in this farce any more than we absolutely have to.”

That, I believe, is why the players are refusing to answer MLB’s questions.

Of course, Braun could break from the pack if truth-telling were his ultimate imperative.

For one: when has any player openly defied the Players Union in the manner that Passan’s suggesting? Remember what happened when ARod wanted give back some of his salary so he could join the Red Sox ten years ago? For two: if you can think of any reason it would benefit Braun to piss off one of, if not the, most powerful unions in the history of the world, I’d love to hear it. I’ll hang up and listen.

It isn’t. It never has been. He drives his narrative, saying what he wants while dodging anything that might actually answer how he ended up entangled in this mess. Braun’s conduct throughout the process – the vehement denials against strong evidence, the unconscionable smearing of sample collector Dino Laurenzi, the grand and sweeping statements of innocence and, yes, the public vows that he has nothing to hide – have steeled MLB in its pursuit of him.

Keep this “steeled in pursuit” line handy, would you? I think you’ll find it comes in useful in a few moments, when Passan derides anyone who thinks MLB has a “vendetta” against Braun as a “Braun truther.”

Let’s skip past the rehashing of Braun’s successful appeal of his positive PED test, because yawn, and move on to this:

Baseball values the truth because it deserves it.

I wish I had the words to convey to all of you how hard I just rolled my eyes. I’m not the writer Jeff Passan is, so suffice it to say: I rolled my eyes really, really, really, really fucking hard just now.

Even if the rules are draconian – no professional sport has yet to have an honest discussion about PEDs, because it would go against so much of what the last decade-plus has established – they are rules the players themselves bargained through their union, rules by which they agree to adhere and rules with clear punishments for those who run afoul.

We can debate whether the punishments authorized by the JDA fit the crime, but that’s not really the point, because the problem isn’t with the punishments, the problem is with the rules, which fall woefully short of adequately detailing exactly when the Commissioner is authorized to impose those severe punishments in the absence of a positive drug test. And, to be sure, the Union and its lawyers deserve a healthy portion of blame for not insisting on a definition of “just cause” for a non-analytic positive in the JDA, but to say: “Well, you agreed to this” skips a whole bunch of crucial steps, the most important of which being: agreed to what, exactly?

Braun declined comment to reporters through the team Tuesday, like he’s done since releasing his statement following the Biogenesis link. The Braun truthers will do what they’ve done from the start and focus more on the peripheral aspects of the case – MLB’s supposed vendetta, or Bosch’s credibility, or the sample being spiked – because it’s easier to do that, to believe a smile and empty words, to rail against the system when the player is the one corrupting it.

Many Brewer fans, myself included, think Jeff Passan has something of a hate boner for Ryan Braun. They’ll cite as proof, for example, columns like the one we’re currently dissecting – where Passan pulls five words (“I have nothing to hide”) that Braun’s apparently said twice over the last year, pairs it with Braun declining to answer questions about Biogenesis (after being asked to do so by his Union), sprinkles in a pinch of “yeah, he beat the positive test, but you know that was bullshit, right?”, and then spends 1000 words rubbing his hands together at the thought of Braun being knocked from his pedestal.

Passan scoffs at the suggestion that he’s got it out for Braun, repeatedly insisting that’s he’s presenting all sides of the story. But when you categorize anyone who thinks Braun might’ve had a good point about the handling of his urine sample in the first appeal, or anyone who’s slightly disturbed at the measures the Commissioner’s office is apparently willing to employ to crush anyone associated with Biogenesis, as a “Braun truther,” and dismiss things like the credibility of the League’s essential witness as a “peripheral aspect of the case,” you can kind of see where we’re coming from, right?

Right?

Yuni The Unlucky

Yuni’s played in 81 games and had 266 PAs. Ron has referred to him as unlucky. Other people have referred to him as unlucky.  They usually cite his BABIP.

Yuni isn’t unlucky, he’s bad. Math says so. If he is unlucky it’s not by very much. In at least one case he’s SUPER LUCKY. That stat is HR/FB. Currently, 11% of Yuni’s flyballs are leaving the yard. His career rate is 5.4% and his previous career high is 8.2%. He’s been fantastically lucky in this regard. 

Of course it would help if he actually hit a flyball every now and then. He’s hitting 1.21 grounballs for every flyball he hits, the 2nd worst rate of his career (assuming flyballs are good and grounders are bad). His groundball rate is a career high 46.9%. His line drive rate is a career low 14.2%. His flyball rate is the 3rd lowest of his career, and in the two years in which is was lower he hit far more line drives.

This brings us to his BABIP, which is frequently misused as an excuse. Sabermetric shorthand says that to figure out expected BABIP, take LD% and ad .12*. We expect Yuni Betancourt’s BABIP this year to be roughly .260. 

His actual BABIP is .213. That’s not a huge difference. In fact, given that all of his peripheral numbers indicate that he’s routinely making terrible contact, I would expect his BABIP to be under his expected BABIP to some degree.

As I said before, we’ve played 81 games and in those 81 games Yuni has 52 hits. The difference between his BABIP and his expected BABIP is 9 hits, or 1 hit every 9 games. If you add those 9 hits to his resume and attribute those 9 hits in accordance with his current breakdown of hits (basically, give him credit for six additional singles, one additional double, and two additional home runs), his slash line goes from .206/.237/.348 all the way up to .241/.277/.380. Yay.

So yes, Yuni’s bad luck has made a terrible player into a terrible player. By the way, his career slash line is .262/.287/.389. He’s a terrible player. Let’s never talk about luck and Yuni again please. 

*It’s not exact, but it will do, and it probably overstates his expected BABIP if anything. I suspect that as guys get down into truly awful territory we should expect more bad contact, and hence, expect a lower BABIP. 

“This Time It Counts!”

“A bet is a tax on bullshit” – Alex Tabarrok

I think Major League Baseball gets far too much guff for using the All-Star Game to decide who gets home field advantage in the World Series. Frankly, I don’t think there is enough at stake. I hate watching “exhibitions”. The Pro Bowl is awful because no one cares. Maybe the NBA All-Star game is worth watching, I wouldn’t know. And the NHL’s is alright, but that’s because hockey players are insane.

I remember when Randy Johnson faced Larry Walker and no one took anything seriously. Walker turned his helmet around, hit righty, ended up drawing a walk. The whole thing made me want to wretch.

Herman Edwards may be a terrible football coach but I fully agree with his “playing to win the game” mantra. Having an exhibition is meaningless. It only serves to placate those who follow sports as a means of celebrity worship because they’re too embarrassed to just break down and subscribe to Us Weekly. The only other reason to have the All-Star game to bribe cities to build new stadia. But hey, if you all want to keep your celebrity-worshipping, billionaire-subsidizing bit of baseball onanism, be my guest.

Just don’t complain when people try to turn it into a real game. And if we’re going to have a baseball game, it would be nice if everyone involved treated it like a real baseball game, because, and I can’t stress this enough, people trying to win is what makes sports exciting.

“But Paul?” you say in your absolute whiniest voice, “the World Series is important, and the All-Star Game is not, and one should not influence the other.”

Oh. Oh is home field in the World Series super important? Is it? Is that why everyone gets to play in the All-Star Game and why Matt Harrison (career 4.15 ERA 1.387 WHIP) was once allowed to give up runs in an All-Star Game? Or why noted top pitcher Matt Thornton was allowed to pitch in a high-leverage situation with the bases loaded*?  Or why Mariano Rivera was saved for a SAVE SITUATION in this game?

That’s why I say there’s not enough at stake. The guys managing the All-Star Game, who theoretically have a chance to be managing in the World Series, don’t seem to give a damn about home field.

I have some more bad news for you too.

The correct way to decide home field advantage will make you even madder than all of the incorrect ways.

The old way was not the correct way, but it was every bit as dumb as the current method and didn’t have the side benefit of increasing the stakes in a boring exhibition game. The leagues used to alternate. You get half, we get half. That’s it. No one got it on merit, we just went with good old communism.

Most of you complaining about the current system neglect to mention this fact and instead assume that the replacement for the current system would be that the best team gets home field advantage. What you mean by this is the team with the best record.

It is at this point that I like to point out that:

  1. The team with the best record is often, and I would say usually, not the best team in baseball, that
  2. The NL plays mostly the NL, the AL plays mostly the AL, and teams mostly play within their own divisions, and therefore strength of schedule varies greatly, and
  3. A worse team in a terrible division can often put up a great record compared to a great team in a great division.

So “the best record” is really just a lazy proxy for giving home field to the best team because let’s face it, work is hard. We can, of course, figure out the actual best team. We do things like that all the time. We could just invent some kind of power ranking that accounted for strength of schedule, 3rd order record, actual record, and the like called something like, I don’t know, the Baseball Championship Statistic and rank teams based on this BCS**…oh, you don’t like that suggestion? But I thought you wanted to be fair and reward the best team.

So anyway, managers don’t seem to care enough about the All-Star Game for my taste even with the added stakes, so I have a few additional suggestions:

  1. Winners get a bunch of money. Losers get nothing. This one is self-explanatory.
  2. Winners have a year of service time added to their resumes so they reach free agency faster, if applicable. Losers are subjugated for an extra year. If applicable. Vets get no-trade protection added/taken away.
  3. The managers of the winning team are allowed to wear casual clothing the rest of the year instead of uniforms. (Work uses this one sometimes. Seems effective.)
  4. Since players don’t seem to like playing in the All-Star Game, if you win the All-Star Game, you don’t have to play in next year’s All-Star Game. If you lose you must return next year.
  5. Change the rule that requires every team to have an All-Star. As an owner, if your team fails to produce an All-Star, you must reimburse your community 1/3 of whatever stadium subsidy you received immediately. Since you’re saving so much on baseball operations you can surely afford it.

I think any of these suggestions would really add to the fun of All-Star weekend and, more importantly, turn the stupid thing into a real actual competitive event.  Let’s make it happen.

*OK, so it was a lefty-lefty matchup and not that terrible, but still, Matt Thornton made a fricking All-Star Team.

**Yes, yes, the BCS was horribly constructed and didn’t really work, especially when people started messing with it because it didn’t line up with the polls enough because we developed a system to deal with the fact that the polls were flawed. My god we’re dumb.

When Clint Coulter was sent to Helena, did it spark Jorge Lopez’s breakout?

I want to start off by saying a few things about this little experiment with a few disclaimers, and an explanation, because (spoilers!) my theory turns out to be at best un-provable and at worst (and most likely) junk*.  But sometimes it’s good to look at the things that don’t work out, and anyway, someone might actually be able to make use of this data at some point.

I got the idea for this post when AK and I went to see the Rattlers play a few weeks ago. At that game Jorge Lopez threw an absolute gem and, I thought, 3rd string catcher Brent Dean caught a great game. He frequently brought low balls back up into the strike zone and controlled the running game when guys did get on.

If you follow prospects you probably know of Clint Coulter. Coulter is believed to have some of the highest upside in the organization, and the Brewers hope to turn Coulter into a catcher in order to make the most of that upside. Coulter started the year in Appleton but has since been sent back to Helena for some more seasoning.

Jorge Lopez is a decent prospect in his own right and is considered to be having a breakout season. Since I saw Dean basically make Lopez better, I thought it might be worth looking into whether Coulter made him worse. If Lopez is having a mid-season breakout, perhaps it coincides with better guidance behind the plate.

FIP by Catcher:

Parker Berberet – 4.356

Brent Dean – 6.5

Clint Coulter – 3.857

I’m using FIP just because minor league defense is such garbage I figured we’d stick to what he has some control over.  If you just look at FIP Coulter looks to have been Lopez’s best friend, but it’s not quite so simple. Lopez has appeared in 14 games this year. In his first two starts on April 7th and April 16th, he was absolutely destroyed. This is Lopez’s first year above Rookie ball, and it’s not really surprising that this would happen, and while I’m loathe to simply discount stats I don’t like understand that:

  1. Dean and Berberet caught those first 2 starts.
  2. Lopez has allowed 6 HRs on the season. 4 came in those first two games (3-Dean, 1-Berberet).
  3. That in his 2nd start against the Cedar Rapids Kernels (52-33), Lopez recorded only 1 out while the Byron Buxton led Kernels batted around.  Lopez’s FIP for that game was 223.2. Which is bad.
  4. Lopez struggled in his first turn with Coulter behind the plate as well, though not to such a disastrous extent. He made it through 5.1, but allowed a HR and walked 2 (and drilled a guy) while only striking out 2.

If we eliminate the month of April, things look better for everyone involved.

Berberet – 3.610

Dean – 2.2

Coulter – 3.138

So again, things look good for Coulter. Dean jumps a ton only because he only caught Lopez twice and this eliminates a game. At this point I’m just including him for the sake of completeness. The funny thing about this is Berberet has caught every recent game – Lopez’s “breakout” – but you can make a decent argument not only that Coulter was better behind the plate, but that Lopez’s breakout happened as early as May 5th.

Now, there are a few other things worth mentioning. In May, Lopez alternated starts and relief appearances. If we remove relief and just look at starts:

Berberet – 3.917

Coulter – 4.819

Coulter looks much better due to two Lopez relief appearances. On May 5th Lopez worked 4 innings of relief, walking 1 and striking out 3 for a FIP of 2.45. On May 17th he worked 3.1 innings of relief walking 2, but striking out 6 for a FIP of 1.265. Coulter caught both games, and while Lopez did throw significant innings, relief is often easier for a number of reasons (working against the bench, able to throw your best stuff more frequently, etc.).  With Coulter behind the plate Lopez has K’d 22 batters in 22 innings, but relief appearances contributed greatly to that. With Berberet it was only 20 Ks in 29 and two thirds.

The bottom line is as follows. From April 29th to May 23rd, (early) Coulter caught Lopez. In starts he had FIPs of 6.14, 5.53, and 3.36 (in chronological order).   Lopez had his only two instances of 5+ walks in two of those starts but he also had his only 7 K performance.

From May 28th through July 3rd, (recently) Berberet and Dean caught Lopez. In his starts he had FIPs of 4.033, 2.87, 2.2, 3.93, 2.7, and 2.6 (in chronological order).

And at this point I will simply declare that you can’t tell anything about the catcher’s influence on anything. It would make as much sense to say that he was simply bad/adjusting early and got progressively better. Sure he wasn’t as good in 3 starts with Coulter but that hardly seems fair, and he did get progressively better with him over time. The fact that this progress continues as time goes on is merely an indicator of a pitcher continuing to get better. I was looking for a drastic jump and for Lopez to be consistently bad under Coulter but there’s certainly not enough data to say that, and even looking at what we have, Berberet and Coulter are too close to draw any firm conclusions without resorting to statistical gymnastics.  Cutting out all relief appearances is hardly fair when they’re 3+ innings, and it involves not only cutting out some of Coulter’s best appearances, but also one of Berberet’s worst, a one batter relief appearance in which Lopez allowed a HR.

Just to cover my bases a bit I took a look at the two pitchers who have thrown more innings for the Rattlers than Lopez**: Tyler Wagner (3.63 ERA, 89.1 IP) and Eric Semmelhack (4.68 ERA, 75 IP).

Tyler Wagner, FIP by catcher:

Berberet – 2.40

Coulter – 4.15

Dean – 6.18

Tyler Roberts – 5.577

Looks good for Berberet, but…

Eric Semmelhack, FIP by catcher,

Berberet – 5.323

Coulter – 5.033

Dean – 4.19

Roberts – 8.1

So in answer to the title, probably not.

Breaking Down the Haudricourt Chat

(I’m filling in for AK since he’s busy doing something else.)

Welcome back Mr. Haudricourt! Now this is a sight for sore eyes.

Let’s take a look at some winners and losers. Of course with Tom back, we’re all winners.

Loser

  • Q: Larry Ervin, Brookield. WI - Hey Tom How are you? I’m doing ok.Hey are the brewers really considering getting rid of Gallardo? Thet would be kid of silly if you ask me?What does it look like on Corey Hart contract status? Hope not.I see Weeks is starting to come around now since Scooter is here now? To late now Rickie.I think has Rickie’s job.I think they waiting til all-star to tell Weeks that he lost his job.Thats too bad.How is Braun doing ok?Well lets do somehin or do something soon.They will bring up Scooter and get rid of our clohes.Ok take care. Larry E.

 

Larry says he’s doing OK, but I beg to differ. I’d like to keep my clohes on, but I will take care.

Winner, and still Undefeated and Undisputed Champion

  • Q: Derek, Superior - Hi Tom. Are there any players either in the Brewers minor league system or otherwise available as a free agent who are actually better players than Yuni B? I know he is an excellent defender and an extremely patient hitter with massive power potential. But it seems he is going through a bit of a slump. On the other hand, I would hate to quit on the guy too early and have him turn it around for the Royals later this year. After all, he has produced above replacement level as recently as 2008. I guess these are the hard choices GMs have to make.

 

Derek and Tom together again! The sarcasm, it drips off the page.  It cuts like a knife. We love Yuni-bashing, especially subtle Yuni-bashing, and for that reason Derek will also be a winner in our hearts, because Derek gets it.

Loser

  • Q: Matt - Why is Morris regarded as the heir apparent at first and Gamel not in the conversation? Gamel seems more advanced as a hitter and not any worse a fielder. Is his knee so bad he’s on the scrapheap? Is it his attitude which at times seems to have been questioned?

 

Oh, sure. “Matt.” Clever alias with the two Ts. We know who you are.

Winner

  • Q: Ball Girl, Madison - Hi Tom, I’ve read your comments regarding MLB adding a 5th umpire and I totally agree with your thinking. My question is do you think MLB is giving this serious consideration? Thanks.

 

  • Q: Ball Girl, Madison - Hi Tom, Do the Brewers have any legitimate prospects at 3rd base or is there anyone you think could be moved to the position. This seems like a weak area organization wide. Thanks.

 

  • Q: G-Man, Reeseville WI - Tom, Players on the bottom of the roster who might go back and forth to the minors many times, are they paid differently each time they are moved? I would think there would be a big difference in salary, right?

 

Solid questions Ball Girl. Short, focused, to the point.  Nicely done.  G-Man also shows genuine curiosity, keeping it short and sweet. We all learned something from these people. And learning is for winners. 

Loser

  • Q: Lee Harrington, Ludington, michigan - Hello Tom, While I am not advocating this I have to ask…..with the PED episode surrounding Ryan Braun and with the mediocre condition the starting pitching staff is in might this be time to trade Braun for some starting pitching or a great group of prospects. With Gomez, Lucroy, and Segura as our future core maybe it’s time to add pieces to the team. Any thoughts? Nice to have you back. Lee

 

Everybody, they’re not trading Ryan Braun. It’s not happening. Knock it off.

Finally, our two biggest Winners.

  • Q: Derek, Superior, WI - Is Cesar Izturis avaialble to play 1B for the Brewers. I think he has the skill set the organization looks for in this position. Former SS, check. No prior experience playing 1B, check. Terrible hitter, check. Has played for the Brewers in the past, check. Seems like an obvious fit. Maybe Bill Hall? Jose Hernandez? So many options.

 

Double the Derek is double the fun! Cesar was so excited at the thought of being mentioned by Derek that he went 3-4 with a double yesterday for the Reds. I’d like to kick the tires on Billy Spiers, myself.

  • Q: Andy , Chicago - Glad to have you back Tom! In a recent mailbag Adam McCalvy told the story of how you had sprinted from the airport gate to buy a hat before you got on the plane, was wondering what your side of the story was, and if you have any good Adam McCalvy stories you’d like to share in response?

 

And Tom did! That’s some nice work from “Andy from Chicago,” whoever you are. We’ll probably never know. 

What’s wrong with this stupid quote?

“With Frankie getting the 300, it makes it easier for me — now we just pitch the guys who I think are pitching the best” – RRR

Let’s break it down:

  1. Ron is admitting that he would have/did stick with K-Rod for non-performance based reasons.
  2. Ron is admitting that he cares about a stupid statistic and will manage accordingly.
  3. Ron is admitting that he cares about a big round number in front of that stupid statistic and will manage accordingly.
  4. Ron is admitting THAT HE KNOWS BETTER, and now that big round milestone number has been achieved he can play his best players in the proper situation again.
  5. You may be doing this, but DON’T SAY IT. He was pitching well, that’s enough.  It can be a happy accident that he got to 300.

Twitter defenses and why they are wrong:

  1. But they’re losing anyway! Well la-di freaking da. Let’s have everyone swing as hard as they can every AB then, try and set all HR records. NO SINGLES ALLOWED.
  2. But Ken Macha did the same thing with Trevor Hoffman! That team finished 77-85, and Hoffman was a big contributor to that. It was dumb then, it’s dumb now.
  3. But K-Rod WAS the best guy for the job! Maybe he was, but his stated process was idiotic.

Dealer: Player showing 19…

RRR: Hit me.

Dealer: Are you sure? Dealer shows a 5 and…

RRR: You heard me. I’ve successfully hit 34 times in a row.

Dealer: Very well sir.

RRR: Damn right.

Dealer: A two, player has 21.

RRR: See, 35 times! Now I can go back to hitting at the appropriate moments!

Cougars-Rattlers: Your RRSMB Farm Report

AK and I attended the Kane County Cougars-Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game on Friday to do some “scouting” and because there was some guy named Rock Shoulders playing*. The Rattlers dominated the contest behind a strong performance by Jorge Lopez with an assist by gigantic 5th/3rd Bank Ballpark, which has high fences and is 335 down each line.  Here’s a brief report on the major contributors:

Brent Dean:

Brent Dean is 26 year old catcher playing in Single-A ball, and I suspect is only seeing action right now due to an injury to Clint Coulter (Note: Just found out that Coulter was demoted back to rookie ball). Being a 26-year-old in A-ball says a lot about your potential future as a major leaguer (you don’t have one), but guys like Dean stick around for a reason. On Friday starting pitcher Jorge Lopez was masterful, and a good chunk of the credit for his performance should go to Dean, whose work behind the plate was one of the only things in the game that stuck out as major-league caliber.  Lopez was able to work consistently low in the zone and Dean brought a ton of balls back up for called strikes. He set an excellent target, didn’t flinch or reach for balls, and made great use of Lopez’s ability to locate. He also gunned down Alfredo Almora attempting to steal second, showing a plus arm and quick release.

Dean was not just a defensive superstar either.  He crushed an RBI double off of Cougars’ starter Mike Heesch in the 6th which was probably the hardest hit ball of the night by anyone not named Vogelbach.  Dean then proceeded to steal third. He might not ever play above A-ball going forward, but on Friday Brent Dean showed why he gets paid to play baseball.

Alfredo Rodriguez:

The Rattler lead-off hitter and 2nd baseman went 2-5 with a double and 2 RBI.  At this point I would like to mention that with the exception of Victor Roache, Mike Heesch, Rock Shoulders, and Dan Vogelbach, every player in this game looked to be about 12 years old and 145 pounds. Alfredo was no exception even though he’s 23 and listed at 6 feet tall. He made solid contact several times and to my untrained eye, was competent at 2nd. He’s played SS in the past but has been moved over (I assume) for Orlando Arcia.

Orlando Arcia:

Orlando had a rough game at the plate, going 0-5. He didn’t strike out, which was a positive I suppose. He did have some nice elevation to his swing and got the ball in the air with some power a few times, and I can see why scouts are optimistic. He acquitted himself well on defense though no one on the infield was really tested much. He was quick, moved laterally well for the opportunities he was given.

Tyrone Taylor:

Taylor had one of the least impressive 4/5 nights in history.  He reached on a bunt in the first and was caught stealing.   He hit a nice line drive single in the 4th but was stranded.  In the 6th he led off with an infield single and eventually came around to score on a sac fly, but it was a minor league infield single.  Finally, in the 9th he singled on a fly ball, but was subsequently picked off by Shawn Camp. You can see Taylor’s athleticism as he runs very well, but he was reckless on the base paths and his defense in CF can charitably be described as a work in progress as his speed bailed him out of bad reads on several occasions.

Victor Roache:

Roache stood out as one of the men among boys in this game. He’s only 21 but already looks powerful. The knock on Roache from what I read is his ability to make contact. That wasn’t a problem on Friday as he hit the ball hard several times, going 1-3 with an HBP.

Jorge Lopez:

Lopez was outstanding allowing only 2 hits and one walk over 6 innings while striking out 6. He missed bats, induced a bunch of weak contact, and kept the Cougars off balance all night. According to the stadium radar gun he mostly sat high 80s occasionally touching the low 90s.  He kept his breaking stuff down and excelled at locating his fastball. If he can add a few ticks to that fastball they might have something here.

Some Cougars

Albert Almora:

Almora is one of the top prospects in the Cub organization, and quite possibly their top prospect.  He’s only 19 and has been destroying Low-A to this point. This was not the greatest game to display his talents as he reached on a single in the first but was caught stealing, and was quiet for the rest of the game. He seemed to cover a lot of ground in CF, I will say that. 19-year-olds will have the occasional unremarkable game.

Rock Shoulders:

The man with the best name baseball had one of the Cougars five hits on the night, a harmless infield single in the 9th. Other than that, Shoulders mostly looked intimidating while grounding out.  He looks to have outstanding power potential and hit one out on Saturday, but Lopez had his way with him on Friday.

Dan Vogelbach:

Dan Vogelbach will not be selling any blue jeans. Vogelbach is generously listed at 6’0” and his build is distinctly Fielderian.  I hear he’s actually cut a lot of weight and if he can keep himself in shape he may have a bright future. BP lists him as having 80 raw power and in a smaller park he would have had at least one home run on Friday. You’ve probably already guessed that he’s limited to first base.   He went 1-4 with a harmless ninth inning bloop single to left (beating the shift), and was gunned down trying to stretch it into a double, but had a few loud outs to go with it.

Best play of the night:

1-unassisted.  I have to confess in my memory the 3rd baseman made this play unassisted, but according to the box score it was instead gigantic lefty starter Michael Heesch. With Orlando Arcia on 1st, Tyrone Taylor laid down a bunt and 3rd baseman Jeimer Candelario tried to barehand the ball but overran it. Since there was no one covering 3rd Arcia just kept running. Heesch picked up the ball, sprinted over to 3rd, dove, and tagged Arcia just before he got in. Taylor was subsequently caught stealing for a truly TOOTBLAN-y single-A inning.

Overall experience: AK and I sat 3 rows back just on the home base side of the rattlers dugout for 12 bucks each. They have an excellent beer selection and a nice fireworks display after the game which allowed us to beat traffic as we don’t really care about fireworks. The food was solid and the between-inning Jimmy Buffett music was just fine. Also, due to a lack of between-inning commercials and some efficient pitching, the game only lasted two hours and twenty-five minutes. Not too shabby. A great baseball experience if you don’t mind going all the way out to Geneva, IL.

*And it was Jimmy Buffett night, which mainly just increased the quality of the music between innings.