Better Ask A Lawyer: WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE Edition

We write this post with heavy hearts.

Yesterday, you see, we lost a great friend. After an all-too-brief existence, the defamation lawsuit filed against Ryan Braun by intrepid online law student (and RRSMB commenter) Ralph Sasson was unceremoniously kicked to the curb. We gleefully covered the suit’s filing in this space last year, we closely followed its twists and turns over the last 10 months (read: we totally forgot it was still alive until like 36 hours ago), and now, with its passing, Paul and I slap on our lawyer hats once again for our latest and greatest edition of BETTER ASK A LAWYER.

So what happened yesterday?

The long and short of it: Ralph Sasson’s case against Ryan Braun and Ryan Braun’s agent and Ryan Braun’s agent’s agency and Ryan Braun’s hair got thrown out of court. That result, in and of itself, wasn’t surprising.

Yeah. Didn’t you guys tell us last summer that was going to happen? What took so long?

We did. And we were wrong about how quickly it would happen — we figured the case wouldn’t survive a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, which is legalese for: “Even assuming everything you say is true, you don’t have a case.” Sasson got past that stage of the game, which allowed him to begin what we call the discovery process: requesting documents from Braun and Braun’s agent, asking them to admit to certain things, and, most importantly, taking depositions of some of the defendants. And that was ultimately Sasson’s undoing: the judge found yesterday (among other things) that Sasson was being such an unrepentant shithead (my words, not the judge’s) during discovery that his case had to be dismissed.

Oh. What was he doing?

Lots of stuff. You might remember that, right at the beginning of the case, we noted how Sasson’s first set of discovery requests to Braun were completely ridiculous and irrelevant; he asked Braun to admit he cheated on tests and his girlfriend and his ex-girlfriends and Aaron Rodgers and didn’t actually like Remetees and so on. None of that, of course, matters when the issue in the lawsuit is whether Braun said something factually untrue about Sasson that caused people to think less of Sasson.

Probably not surprisingly, things, um, escalated from there: because Sasson was making these puzzling requests and, apparently, seeking to depose people who had nothing to do with his case, the judge did a couple of very unusual things earlier this year: one was to conduct the depositions in the judge’s chambers so he could immediately rule on objections, which any lawyer will tell you is practically unheard of. (This is what depositions, conducted without judges, usually look like.) The other was to order that filings had to be made under seal — which means that documents, depositions, etc, were only to be seen by the judge, lawyers, and parties, and not made available or disclosed to the public.

Ralph Sasson, the judge found, wasn’t very good at following that order.

Why did the judge put all of this under seal in the first place?

You will be shocked to learn that Sasson appeared more interested in fishing for embarrassing facts about Braun than he was about actually proving his case. The court was worried that all of these weird and totally irrelevant allegations would prejudice a jury against Braun and so he ordered everything — including the deposition of Braun’s agent, Nez Balelo — under seal. In its order, the court found that Sasson not only revealed the content of that sealed deposition to the General Counsel of the Major League Baseball Players Association, but he also lied about what Balelo actually said (more on that later).*

* This is, ironically, defamation.

The judge also says that Sasson was making bizarre objections to discovery requests from Braun’s lawyers. Just out of curiosity: did Sasson attempt at any point to assert the attorney-client privilege even though that privilege covers communications between an attorney and his/her client, and Sasson is a non-lawyer representing himself?

You bet he did.

What did the court think of that?

“…they are for the most part, nonsensical, and without a valid legal basis.”

How does objecting to discovery work, anyway?

In litigation, both sides serve requests on each other seeking documents that will help them prove their case. The evidence sought must be non-privileged (meaning it’s not something you told your lawyer or your pastor or your wife), and either relevant to that party’s claim or defense, or reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In short, you can’t just go asking for everything that anyone has ever said or written. Both sides are allowed to make objections and those objections usually have to do with the breadth of the request (i.e., you’re asking for too much stuff), the availability of the evidence (i.e., we don’t have this and can’t get it, or you have just as much access to this as we do), or the privileged nature of that evidence (i.e., this is something my lawyer wrote to me). In almost every case, there is usually some minor battling over discovery, but by and large judges hate to get involved in discovery disputes and both sides usually come to some sort of agreement on the subject.

What they do not do is write the following, which Sasson submitted in his responses to the requests from Braun’s lawyers:

“Plaintiff’s responses shall not be deemed to constitute admissions that any statement or characterization in Interrogatories/Requests for Production/Request for Admission is accurate or complete.”

I know when people see legalese their eyes tend to glaze over, but that’s not legalese. That’s barely English. That’s just nonsense. Doesn’t mean a damn thing. I’m not sure what book he copied it out of but he should take it out back and burn it as soon as possible. The court had this to say:

“The verbiage of General Objection No. 3 is incoherent and lacks any apparent legal foundation.”

But Sasson’s single biggest issue wasn’t his nonsensical writing. In his complaint, he claimed he had evidence that Braun defamed him in writing. (We call this libel. We call defamatory statements that are made orally slander.) When Braun’s side asked him for these documents in discovery, Sasson objected to turning them over. You … you can’t, you know, do that.

Braun’s side filed a motion to compel (which is what you file when you think someone is impermissibly holding something back) and Sasson provided a printout of a Facebook page containing a private conversation with one of his friends (and nothing from Braun). Finally, Sasson admitted he had nothing else.

So all he had to show that Ryan Braun had defamed him in writing was a Facebook message from someone who’s NOT Ryan Braun?

Yep. And because that’s all he had, he then tried to change track and use a legal theory called “compelled self-publication,” which is used sometimes (and not with very much success) when, say, a former employee wants to sue an employer for defamation. You’ll recall, young padawans, that when you want to sue someone for defamation, one of the things you have to prove is that the defendant published (that is, made public to one or more people) the false information. So if, for example, your former employer fired you because another employee accused you of trying to have sex with the toaster in the break room, and you claimed it wasn’t true (because, honestly, who tries to put his hoo-hoo-dilly in a toaster?), you might try to sue your former employer under a theory of “compelled self-publication,” which gets you around the issue of your employer not publishing the information. In other words, you’re saying: When I’m now applying for jobs, and I list you as a former employer, I have to tell prospective employers that I got fired because someone said I was trying to boink the toaster. I’m COMPELLED to make your false accusations public.

Sasson, it seems, was trying to argue that the defamatory writing from Braun was (deep breath) Sasson’s own lawsuit, which contained Braun’s alleged defamatory (oral) statements.

Did that fly?

About as well as that toaster you were lubing up with KY.

What’s the worst thing Sasson did during the case, in your opinion?

Legally speaking, all of this stuff is pretty bad, but my favorite (keeping in mind Ryan Braun’s Jewish background) is probably this statement from the court’s order:

“Sasson’s habit of making Jewish jokes and references to the Jewish attorneys involved in this case is particularly inappropriate.”

Sasson also sought sanctions against one of Braun’s attorneys for saying “shit” in the hallway following a hearing while simultaneously swearing like a sailor throughout the duration of this case, including during his own deposition.

Bronze medal: the court also notes that Sasson made this “threat” to opposing counsel in a voicemail:

“I’m a reasonable cat, but don’t come at me with unreasonable shit. “Cause when you start acting unreasonable, I’m going to act unreasonable, too. And just like I told Jeremiah, when I get unreasonable I start to discriminate indiscriminately.” As FJM’s Ken Tremendous once wrote, phrases like “I start to discriminate indiscriminately” are poetry for the half-wit.

Man, this seems really out there. Nothing involved with the case could be crazier than this. Could it?

Make no mistake: Sasson’s shenanigans are totally nuts, and my face was reacquainted with my palm at several points while reading the judge’s recitation of what Sasson’s been up to for the last few months. But none of that stuff is the wackiest thing to happen in the case. Nope: it was footnote 2 of the judge’s order that left my jaw on the floor, where the judge mentioned that during his deposition, Nez Balelo acknowledged that he’d hired (and had the approval of the head of the MLBPA to hire) Sasson to help with Braun’s appeal.

Yeah.

Last summer, we were scratching our heads when we wrote: “The high-powered agent for very, very rich baseball players reaches out to a dude living in Milwaukee with no apparent training as a private investigator who describes himself as a law student … to do recon on one of those very, very rich baseball players, and (1) dude doesn’t immediately realize that it’s Braun?, and (2) for emphasis’ sake, what the hell?”

And yet: it sounds like that’s exactly what happened.

Again, and for the sake of emphasis: WHAT IN THE BLUE FUCK.

The judge said at the end of the order that he’s dismissing the case “with prejudice.” That seems bad.

That is bad. When a case gets dismissed, the judge has two options: one is to give the person who filed the case an opportunity for a do-over, to correct the mistakes he’d made and re-start the case. We call that a dismissal without prejudice. The other option, and the one that’s reserved for the cases involving the most egregious conduct, is a dismissal with prejudice, which means: you’re done. Your case is gone, and you can’t file it again.

It’s a very severe penalty, and, generally speaking, you only see it in cases where the plaintiff has gone really out of bounds — by withholding evidence that the other side is absolutely entitled to see, by willfully and repeatedly disobeying the court’s orders, by pursuing litigation for vexatious (taken from the Latin word for: just to annoy the piss out of) purposes.

Leaving voicemails for the defense lawyers referring to them as “cupcake”?

Yeah, that too.

Listen: lawyers — and especially highly-paid civil litigation lawyers — are not the most pleasant people in the world. We’re generally (1) aggressive Type A personalities who aren’t very good at listening and (2) miserable, not only because of our massive student loan debt, long hours, and difficult clients, but also because we spend most of our time dealing with aggressive Type A personalities who aren’t very good at listening. Ask any lawyer who’s been around for a few years and you’ll probably hear that there’s been a marked increase in incivility between opposing counsel (and, hell, between judges and counsel, and even judges and other judges) recently. Lawyers are just kind of dicks to each other, is what I’m saying.

All of that said: I’ve never heard someone call opposing counsel “cupcake” before. As Lawrence once said in Office Space: “I believe you’d get your ass kicked sayin’ some shit like that, man.”

Suffice it to say: based on all of this, the judge found that what Ralph Sasson was doing was way, way out of line, so he invoked what amounts to the nuclear option.

What does that mean for Sasson, going forward? He can try to pursue an appeal of the judge’s decision, but that’s generally a tall task. The better option, in my mind, would be to accept our standing invitation to join RRSMB as our senior legal and cupcake correspondent.

Until then, though, we say: good night, Sweet Prince. Thanks for the memories.

Power Ranking the Wall of Honor Attendees

Ranking my excitement level for the former players in the house tonight. Bonus points if the players haven’t been back much or if they played during the 90s. Negative points if they were responsible for destroying the team during the 90s.

  1. Hank Aaron
  2. Bob Uecker
  3. Ben Sheets
  4. Teddy Higuera
  5. Greg Vaughn
  6. Rollie Fingers
  7. BJ Surhoff
  8. Geoff Jenkins
  9. Sixto Lezcano
  10. Robin Yount
  11. Charlie Moore
  12. Mike Caldwell
  13. Cal Eldred
  14. Bob Wickman
  15. Cecil Cooper
  16. Moose Haas
  17. Ben Oglivie
  18. Ted Simmons
  19. Jim Gantner
  20. Don Money
  21. Richie Sexson
  22. Mike Fetters
  23. Daryl Hamilton
  24. Bill Wegman
  25. Fernando Vina
  26. Gorman Thomas
  27. Dan Plesac
  28. Jamie Navarro
  29. Ken Sanders
  30. Jeromy Burnitz
  31. Jim Slaton
  32. Johnny Briggs
  33. Bill Travers
  34. Jim Colborn
  35. Bud Selig
  36. Craig Counsell
  37. Mark Loretta
  38. Bill Castro
  39. Jerry Augustine
  40.  Sal Bando

Good Teams Bad Players -The Forgotten Brewers

Last night a discussion broke out on Twitter over random, bad, former Brewers. What started with Irving Falu spiraled into a Chris Magruder, Trent Durington and Brandon Boggs discussion. This got me thinking, what would an all-bad Brewer team look like?

Couple parameters – to be eligible this player had to have been on an at least moderately successful Brewer team (we’ll set the bar at 80 wins) because otherwise we’d just list the entire 2002 roster. I’m also going to limit this to the last decade or so, since I’m more familiar with that era than earlier “successful teams.”

Edit – A response on Twitter got me thinking about other parameters -this player could not have been a non-injury related full time starter (sorry Yuni) nor have enough value that he could have been traded for something (Chris Dickerson)

C –  Wil Nieves – Nieves saw 54 PAs on the 2011 team. He broke camp with the team due to a Jonathon Lucroy injury and even stayed on the team for a couple weeks after Lucroy returned as the Brewers decided they had to keep him and his .140/.189/.180 slash line around as part of a 3 catchers rotation.

He was then traded to the Braves for $1. I wish I was making this up.

Runner up: Yorvit Torrealba – does anyone remember he was on the team?

1B – Brad Nelson – He only played 2 innings at 1B as a late game fill-in for Prince but that’s enough to make the list. Poor Brad Nelson. He went 0-21 to start the 2009 season and was never heard from again.

2B - Scooter Gennett, Hernan Iribarren –  Hernan actually put up a pretty good line as a 23 year old in Hunstville in 2007 (.307/.363/.430), fell off a little bit in AAA the next year but got the call up for the 2008 Brewers. He had 29 ABs over the next two years, hit .185 and was never heard from again.

Runner up – Eric Farris

SS – Irving Falu – He has more game crushing GIDPs than hits so far in 2014.

Runner up – Edwin Maysonet

3B – Brooks Conrad – Conrad saw one game at 3B on the 2012 which is enough to make the list. Brought in because he could switch hit (or something) he went 3-40 at the plate during his short time with the team.

Runner up: Trent Durrington

OF – Mel Stocker – I loved Mel Stocker, a poor man’s Herb Washington. Brought up to be a Pinch Runner in September of 2007, he went 0-3 at the plate but appeared in 7 games strictly as a PR, going 4-4 on Stolen Base attempts.

OF – Erick Almonte – Almonte had a good spring training in 2011 and the Brewers rewarded him with a roster spot. He rewarded them by going 3-29 at the plate and was promptly cut, never seeing the majors again.

OF- Elian Herrera – He’s just as bad as most on this list, yet has 55 PAs and counting. He’s hit a robust .226/.241/.264. He does look like a smaller version of Yuni so that’s something I guess. We’ll forget all about him the moment he is gone.

Runner ups: Chris Magruder, , Chris Duffy, Jason Bourgeois, Corey Patterson

With these parameters in place, who’d I miss?

Brewers Bullpen Usage

After the top bullpen guys pitched seemingly every single day in April there was a lot of worry about usage, the “on pace for 124 games” and the like. With the season officially a third of the way done, a look at where the top guys stand.

K-Rod is on pace for 81 IP
Thornburg – 75 IP
Smith – 75 IP
Duke – 63 IP
Bunch of other guys projected for less

Compare that to the 2011 team, which I’ll use since it was the last competitive team where the bullpen would be pushed to the max and top guys would be needed frequently to close out games.

Axford – 73
Loe- 72
K-Rod 71
Bunch of other guys with less innings

So its slightly over, but nothing huge. K-Rod is on pace for a lot, but he’s only pitched 11 innings in May, even recently coming into a non-close game because he needed work. Plus I think we’re all fine with burning him out this year while he’s going good and long term isn’t really a concern.

Brewers Schedule so far

Early season usage gets somewhat tricky because there are oftentimes a lot of weather related postponements and unscheduled off days.

The Brewers however, haven’t had many of those (thanks Miller Park!). They’ve played 54 games already. Two teams have played 55, and 19 teams have played 53 or less. The Tigers amazingly have only played 49 games.

Extra Innings

Another key factor on usage is extra innings. Bullpen is obviously going to be huge for that. The Brewers have had to cover 17.2 extra innings. For comparison, they averaged 26 innings per year from 2011-2013. This team is either going to have LOT of extra innings to cover this year, or the first third of the season is an outlier and we’ll have much fewer of them the rest of the year.

Close games

They have played 18 one run games (multiply that out, 54 one run games). They averaged 49 one run games from 2011-2013. Is this team destined to play a ton of one run games due to the offense being less than it once was? Perhaps, though their 33% percentage of one run games is already very high, and much more than that seems like a reach. As others have pointed out, the offense has been better and creeping back up to previous levels.

What the above is getting at:

They have played an above average number of one run games. They’ve had to cover an above average amount of extra innings. They haven’t had many off-days (scheduled or otherwise) for breaks.

With all that in mind, the top of the bullpen can probably expect less work in the final 2/3rds of the season vs the first third.

There is the factor of September when pitchers may be asked to pile on the innings when games become literal must-wins. In 2011 Axford only pitched 11 innings, K-Rod 11.2. This might have been an outlier, just how the games fell, but even if its the most extreme usage needed I’m not sure it will be able to match the pretty high usage of this April.

Even projected out the first third, with above average extra innings, close games and few off days, the pitchers STILL aren’t projected for a crazy amount of innings. At most it seems like they’ll end up in the low to mid 70s in IP and while high, certainly seems do-able.

wang

 

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGG

So I’ve made it this far in a post about bullpen usage without mentioning everyone’s favorite pitcher. Unbelievable I know.

Even with him taking a roster spot, the top tier bullpen guys aren’t on a Dusty Baker path to destruction with IP and it seems completely do-able at this point.

They may have gotten through the worst of the schedule/close games/extra innings where they’d be needed. When rosters expand in September and games really start to matter (fingers crossed) he’ll be a non-factor anyways.

Flexibility with options and injuries

The other nice thing about the Brewers pen, in addition to everyone being pretty good is that they have options and depth. Figaro, Hand, Nelson and Fiers are sitting in AAA, a phone call away. Wooten will probably join them when/if Henderson is ready. If they need help after a 12 inning game, taxing doubleheader or an injury, they have the guys ready to go.

This team seems like an ideal fit to bury a guy. A solid bullpen where everyone other than Wang has a sub 3.50 ERA, lots of options if needed in an emergency and a good starting pitching staff that averages over 6 innings per start.

There is of course the risk that they get into a 14 inning game and have to use Wang in a close game, but the rarity of that situation, plus Wang still being an MLB pitcher (3 of his 6 appearances have been scoreless, so you never know!), makes it worth the risk of keeping him around.

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.”

but

“and”

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.

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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

Interesting...

Interesting…

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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”

Hmmmm....

Hmmmm….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Khris Davis attempts bunt. Strikes out swinging.