Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Lightning 3.28.2010

  • Surprise players, 2010:

These names have nothing to do----in my addled mind anyway----with fantasy baseball. 99.99999% (a friend told me that's not really a number, but whatever) of my fantasies have nothing to do with baseball (don't ask); and I have no idea how fantasy baseball even works with the value of this stat over another, but I do suppose my mentioning of the following players might make them worthwhile to pick up in a fantasy league.

The following players are under-the-radar in some cases; ridiculed in others, but if I'm right about them----and I usually am----you'll understand what I was saying in hindsight. Personally, I don't deal in hindsight; I deal in foresight...and ruthlessness.

David Robertson--RHP, New York Yankees:

Robertston is probably most known for being the pitcher that Yankees manager Joe Girardi pulled for a "favorable matchup" of Alfredo Aceves vs Howie Kendrick against the Angels in game 3 of the ALCS. This was after Robertson looked dominant in retiring the first two batters he'd faced in the bottom of the 11th inning. The matchup was favorable alright----for the Angels as Aceves blew the game almost immediately.

Be that as it may, Robertson has devastating strikeout stuff (he had 63 in 43 innings last season) and could be an option as a set-up man for the Yankees. Bear in mind that Robertson also has quite possibly the worst mechanics I've ever seen in my life, landing on a painful looking stiff front leg and a bullwhipping arm after every pitch.

If he's healthy, he'll be good.

Josh Roenicke--RHP, Toronto Blue Jays:

His big league numbers aren't very good; he could be an odd man out in the Blue Jays overstuffed pitching staff as they reload; and he makes me feel old (his dad's Gary Roenicke, whom I remember as part of the early 80s Orioles as he combined with John Lowenstein for an MVP-quality platoon); but there's something about him I like.

He throws hard; strikes out a lot of hitters; and has closed in the minors. He's a little wild, but worth a look to see if he puts it together.

Ryan Perry--RHP, Detroit Tigers:

Tigers manager Jim Leyland seems to really like Perry; he used him a lot last season as a rookie and the pitcher performed well with 60 strikeouts in 61 innings. He can get wild and gives up a few homers, but Perry's still young and has set-up man potential.

Luke Hochevar--RHP, Kansas City Royals:

Hochevar was a first round pick in two straight years (the Dodgers didn't sign him and he went first overall to the Royals the year after in 2006). He's big and throws hard, but he needs to be bridled. When I first saw him, he reminded me of Roy Halladay in body-type. If I were advising Hochevar, I'd suggest he do what Scott Feldman of the Rangers did and copy Halladay's motion and approach.

As poor as Hochevar's results have been, he's still only 26 and has time to develop.

Joel Pineiro--RHP, Los Angeles Angels:

Pineiro is going to have a better year than the pitcher whose spot he's taking in the Angels rotation, John Lackey.

Much is made of the implication that Pineiro is another in the long line of reclamation projects of Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan; but it's easily missed that those pitchers----Jeff Suppan, Garrett Stephenson; Kent Bottenfield----weren't very good before they got to Duncan; and weren't very good after they left Duncan.

Pineiro was a good pitcher for the Mariners in the early part of his career and was sabotaged by a declining team and injuries. The way Pineiro has learned to rely on a sinker and by pounding the strike zone is going to translate seamlessly back to the American League and the Angels. He's going to have a big year.

Ryan-Rowland Smith--LHP, Seattle Mariners:

For some unfathomable reason, the Mariners and the stat zombies have an unnatural interest in Jarrod Washburn. It'd be fine if Washburn was any good, but he's not. They're considering him as a rotation cog if Cliff Lee is out, but Washburn presumably won't be ready until the

end of April, when Lee should be back (they'd better hope he's back).

Smith looked comfortable and impressive as a starter last season; he throws strikes and has the feeling of a winner. His stuff isn't just a little better than Wasburn's, it's a lot better.

Ryota Igarashi--RHP, New York Mets:

Or, as noted baseball expert Mike Francesa calls him, "The Japanese Guy".

If someone goes to the lengths that Francesa does to portray himself as an "expert", is it that hard to learn a man's name? What if it was a black player; or a Puerto Rican player? What would be said then if Francesa referred to them as "the black guy" or "the Puerto Rican guy"?

Be that as it may, I've seen Igarashi a couple of times and while he's struggling with a new slider, he throws hard, popping it into the mid-90s; and he's shown an impressive, strikeout split finger (at least I think it's a split finger).

You never know how Japanese players are going to adjust. Looking at the Red Sox continuing failure with Daisuke Matsuzaka and success with Hideki Okajima exemplifies this. While the media has taken a shine to another import for the Mets, Hisanori Takahashi, I like what I've seen from Igarashi. A lot.

Wandy Rodriguez, LHP--Houston Astros:

He came thisclose to really busting out into the public consciousness last year going 14-12 with excellent across the board numbers. With a better team, he would've won 20 games. There still seems to be a surprised reaction when Rodriguez's performance is examined.

"Oh, I didn't know he was that good."

Well, I've been saying it for a few years, Rodriguez is that good.

Andrew McCutchen, CF--Pittsburgh Pirates:

I saw him run the bases on a triple and he might be the smoothest and fastest baseball player while running I've ever seen.


Luke Gregerson, RHP--San Diego Padres:

Gregerson has closed in the minors and has gobbled up strikeouts everywhere he's been. I was very impressed when I saw him last year; if and when the Padres trade Heath Bell, Gregerson is the best bet to take over as closer and he'll be very, very good.

  • Ruben Amaro Jr's "legacy":

Here's a clip from Bill Madden's column in today's NY Daily News regarding Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. and Cliff Lee:

"I'm not talking any more about Cliff Lee," Amaro said when I dared to broach the subject with him the other day. "I said all I'm going to say about why

we traded him. Now if you want to talk about the prospects we got in the deal or the prospects in our system, I'll be happy to."

What has obviously frosted Amaro has been the fan and media criticism he's taken for not keeping Lee so he could team up with Halladay as co-aces and make the Phillies overwhelming favorites to return the World Series for the third straight time. In particular, the criticism has been that they traded Lee for payroll reasons. According to Phillies insiders, however, Amaro is concerned about his legacy and the long term, and is intent on keeping the pipeline of talent coming well beyond next year when the contracts of Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Raul Ibanez and Brad Lidge all expire. Scouts agree the Phillies pretty much depleted their system of top prospects with the Halladay deal, in which they surrendered major league-ready righthander Kyle Drabek and outfielder Michael Taylor, and they are only lukewarm on righthander Phillippe Aumont, the key prospect Amaro got from the Mariners for Lee. But they are unanimous in their opinion that outfielder Domonic Brown, the one prospect Amaro refused to even consider trading, is a budding star.

Whether Lee's injured or not----and I do not want to hear Lee's injury used as a justification for that trade from Phillies defenders/fans as if it was predicted----it was a stupid trade and the criticism (first delivered forcefully and cogently by me----link) was all valid.

I'm not here to talk about the past.


The thing that jumped out at me in Madden's piece were the following words:

Amaro is concerned about his legacy...

Concerned about his "legacy"?

What "legacy"?

Ruben Amaro Jr. is in his second year as the Phillies GM; he's 45-years-old and he's concerned about his legacy in what should be a long career as an executive?

This type of garbage is what concerns me about today's GMs. We're seeing it with the Yankees' Brian Cashman; the Athletics' Billy Beane; and now with Amaro. Their rampant egomania is interfering with doing what's best for the club.

If this assertion from Madden is accurate, I'd have very deep reservations as to what Amaro's doing if I were the Phillies ownership. Which is more important? Amaro's self-aggrandizing concerns to preserve a non-existent "legacy" or doing what's best for his club immediately and for the future? If he's confident in his abilities as a GM, he could've kept Lee and worried about later later and rebuilt if he had to.

Rebuilding is the true test of greatness and excellence as a GM/executive. If you look at the true greats from yesteryear----and greatness is timeless----see what Connie Mack did with the old Philadelphia Athletics.

In 1914, the Federal League was competing the Major League Baseball and buying up big league stars. Mack tried to keep the stars from his championship dynasty, but couldn't afford to do so and sold off Eddie Collins; released Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, and Jack Coombs; and sold Herb Pennock and Bob Shawkey.

For seven straight years, the Athletics finished in last place.

Then Connie Mack resuscitated his club and crafted it into one of the best teams ever.

Finding players like Al Simmons; Mickey Cochrane; Jimmie Foxx; and Lefty Grove, the Athletics were a wrecking machine by the late 20s; after being edged out by quite possibly the greatest of the great teams ever----the 1927-28 Yankees---the Athletics went to three straight World Series from 1929-31 and won the championship in 1929-30.

This was due to recognition of talent and brilliance. It's hard to believe that Mack's ego was so involved in what he was doing that he was thinking about history; but his history grew----as most great things do----organically. There was no plot to keep his name in the books as anything; he was doing what was right for his club.

Is that what the likes of Ruben Amaro Jr. are concerned with?

Is the Phillies front office on board with Amaro's selfish interests apparently trumping what was best for the team?

Egos get in the way and that may be what happened in Philadelphia. It was a mistake.

  • Viewer Mail 3.28.2010:

Jane Heller at Confessions of a She-Fan writes RE Joba Chamberlain and Brian Cashman:

I don't have a problem with Cashman saying Joba is a reliever who can start....or he's a starter who can also relieve. The decision has been made to put Joba in the pen and I agree with it, but it's a luxury to know there's a guy who's had experience in the rotation - as inconsistent as he's been.

The problem I have is the refusal to admit that Chamberlain may be better suited as a reliever in all aspects; and as I discussed in the bit about Ruben Amaro, Jr. it seems to be more of a concession to Cashman's ego than what's good for the club. Dave Eiland has evidently said that Chamberlain's in the bullpen all year and won't be used as a starter; and that's a good thing.

Gabriel (Capo) writes RE Chamberlain and Cashman:

I think Cashman said that to tell everyone that he's the one steering the ship, and that though Hughes won the competition, Cashman is right and you'll see it during the season, Chamberlain WILL start some games.

I would've thought the same thing before Eiland came out with that statement. That doesn't mean Cashman wouldn't try to force his manager and coaches to use Chamberlain as a starter if someone gets hurt, but since this is now part of the public record, it could get messy if they backtrack on it as it's clear the decision will come from above.

Jeff (Acting Boss) at Red State Blue State writes RE stat zombies and Vicente Padilla:

Mmmm... BRAINS! *CHOMP CHOMP* Yum, yum....mmm.... BRAINS!

Good for Torre usin' Flopsweat Padilla to start day one. What's more intimidating than a guy willing to shoot HIMSELF!?!?

Brilliant move.

The term "flopsweat" never fails to crack me up.

The Brooklyn Trolley Blogger writes RE Chamberlain and Cashman:

We share a brain on the Joba/Hughes debate. The Yankees have proven again they are better at paying the premium for other team's pitching than they are developing their own. In The Boss Era they have developed 4 starting pitchers who've done anything worth speaking of in a Yankee uniform; Guidry, Righetti, Pettitte and I'll be generous and say Wang. There is no other in over 35 years. Cashman is the one who looks bad in Joba's development. I've never seen such a thing. The Yankees were like little spoiled kids who opened their X-Mas gifts too early and broke them all (Joba, Hughes and Kennedy all DL'd). That's what you have minor leagues for. Joba called-up after only 88 minor league innings? C'mon! Yankees are still better buyers of pitchers than producers. And even then, only they can afford to make all the mistakes they've made.

I wouldn't go so far as to say they haven't developed any pitchers. Doug Drabek comes to mind immediately even if he fulfilled his potential for the Pirates. There are probably a few others that they traded away.

I've said I understand Cashman's point of view, but I don't agree with it. He seems to become hypnotized if he's presented with a bunch of charts and graphs that "prove" the optimal use of players; but it's an evaluative process that has to be taken into account when working with human beings and that has grownincreasingly lost on the Yankees GM.

Plus, I don't see why it's all of a sudden a dirty thing to buy other teams' pitchers and players; they've got the money, why not spend it? It's not going into Cashman's pocket!

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Join me and I will complete your training.


Peter said...

Amaro Jr's legacy, almost as absurd as the Howard and Pujols deal also sourced from mysterious insiders. I guess we'll know come October if the Lee move was better for the team, I think it was...

She-Fan said...

Call me naive, but regardless of what any of these GMs say, I don't think they sit around thinking about their legacies.