- Stuff I maybe, possibly, by happenstance got.....wr...wr....wr....wrong:
I've never been shy about gloating (even in May) over stuff I got clearly right in my still available and still endlessly useful book; but with that, there are things that it's clear (even in May) that I got wrong. I'm not prepared to abandon a bunch of the predictions (it's still May), but there are things that are clearly not going to come to pass. Let's take a look.
They're not playing good; they're playing great; and it has to be remembered that they're 29-11 with their projected everyday catcher hitting .181; they just dumped their DH; and their star-talent center fielder is hitting .224 and pouting.
The performances of Dioner Navarro; Pat Burrell; and B.J. Upton aside, the Rays have lived by their pitching. The starting pitching has been nothing short of wonderful; their bullpen has been good; and they're getting non-stop clutch hitting.
Before the season, I thought the bullpen was going to be an issue and the starting rotation at the back-end was going to be short. Wrong!!!! Wrong!!!! Wrong!!!!
It's been a reasonable question to ask if they're pushing their young starters too hard early in the season. David Price's pitch counts have gotten up there (111 in one start; 119 in another); as have Matt Garza's (114; 115; 117); but that shouldn't be a problem. They're young and strong and the Rays have been so ruthless in their handling of players, I wouldn't be surprised if the front office quietly said to themselves: "Hey, by the time they're burned out, they'll be too expensive for us to keep anyway; let it be someone else's problem."
I hate arbitrary pitch counts, but it is something to keep an eye on. If they've been monitored and limited as they've advanced, that can't be abandoned without it at least being considered. The hot start has put them in a position that a playoff spot could be locked up by late July and they'll be able to manage their young starters' innings and pitch counts until the playoffs.
They're not without holes. Ben Zobrist hasn't homered yet lending credence to the idea that he had his career-year in 2009; the DH gap is glaring; Jason Bartlett has reverted to what he is after last season's performance; and there's Upton; but aside from that? Their pitching is carrying them and they're accumulating a lead that's going to be hard to overcome in a race to the playoffs.
After a rocky start with his pitch counts and results looking eerily similar to those which got him bounced from the Yankees, he's been great----2010 Gamelogs. He's pounding the strike zone and getting his breaking pitches over; more importantly, he's keeping his mouth shut.
I'm not prepared to say he's turned the corner completely. With pitchers like Kennedy, there's always a chance of him revisiting his faults (becoming impressed with himself; overthinking and fiddling by making the mistake of "how great would I be if I did this in addition to what I've been doing") but he may turn out to be a useful starter after all.
Imagine where the Diamondbacks would be without him. It would not....be....good.
Like last year with the Athletics, I got caught up in the hype that was surrounding a flurry of off-season maneuvers. Instinctively, I was iffy about them, but I put that aside and thought they'd contend. It's the phenomenon of "well, the man must know what he's doing"; last year it was with A's boss Billy Beane; now it's with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik.
Partially damaged by The Stone Cold Killer, Cliff Lee missing the first month of the season with an abdominal strain, that doesn't account for an offense that can only be described as revolting. Aside from Ryan Rowland-Smith, the pitching has been good (even Jason Vargas----we'll see how long that lasts); but if you look at their lineup, it's embarrassing.
Rob Johnson (batting .180).
Casey Kotchman (batting .197).
Chone Figgins (batting .194).
Jose Lopez (batting .215).
Milton Bradley (batting .230).
Ken Griffey Jr. (batting .183----when he's not having nap/storytime that is).
No one could've expected their offense to be this bad; but they were drastically overestimated based on the ballooning and now flattening "genius" of Zduriencik. My guess is he'll start the sell-off (make your bids for the Stone Cold Killer now) sooner rather than later.
My other picks (the White Sox; Mets; etc.) are too early to abandon. It's MAY, after all!!!!
Here's Kerry Wood's line from last night after entering the game in the ninth inning to protect a 4-3 Indians lead over the Royals:
Innings 0.1; Hits-4; Runs-5; Earned Runs 5; Walks-2; Strikeouts 1; 30 pitches, 15 strikes.
That's not blown; that's detonated.
- Ah, the mainstream media----where would I be without you?
Here's Buster Olney's defense of Brewers manager Ken Macha in its entirety----link.
And here are the main points from his posting about Macha and the Brewers:
Ken Macha is in the last year of his contract with the Brewers, and Milwaukee is off to a terrible start, winning just 15 of 40 games. The Brewers have dropped eight in a row, and there is speculation about whether Macha might get fired -- and given the results-oriented management style of Mark Attanasio, it would not be a surprise if a change was made. Remember, Attanasio was the driving force behind the dismissal of Ned Yost in the last days of the regular season a couple of years ago.
Olney---accurately----gets into the Brewers issues on the mound and adds:
So firing Macha might feel good, and might placate some corner of the Brewers' fan base. But the real problem is pitching. Milwaukee finished dead last in starters' ERA in 2009, and right now, the Brewers rank 28th in ERA, at 5.25. Until that changes, the standing of the their manager, whoever it is, will always be in question.
In fairness to Olney's point, I can't blame Macha for the Brewers sluggish start either. He's seen his closer, Trevor Hoffman, blow six games they should've or could've won; they won one of those games in a comeback of their own. What else was he supposed to do? Did Macha put this team together? No.
Last night, I swear, I saw something I'd never, ever seen before when Ryan Braun tried to use the overshift on Prince Fielder to get to third base as he stole second when third base was uncovered. Andy LaRoche saw Braun take off, stop and try to get back to second and tagged him out. It was inexplicable on so many levels that Macha must've wanted to start bashing his head into the dugout wall.
The Pirates led by two runs; it literally meant nothing whether Braun was on second or third; and to get hung up there? There's no excuse. Is that Macha's fault?
Overall, Olney's missing the point. Would Willie Randolph do a better job than Macha? Maybe; maybe not. I do think that a change for change sake is a positive thing whether or not the new manager is "better" at his job. Macha, in the last year of his contract is old-school and not particularly popular with his players or upper management because he speaks his mind. That truth-telling aspect is refreshing but not conducive to keeping one's job.
For the record, Randolph's the same way but would be more agreeable to the players.
Making the change because the hammer is hanging over an unpopular manager could be a tonic to get things back online; with the Brewers, a managerial change doesn't make them any better than a .500 team at best, but at least there wouldn't be this onus floating around the players and they'd know the manager is there to stay.
This is a little confusing with good reason. Here's Rob Neyer's full posting about Theo Epstein being ripped for going to a Pearl Jam concert----link.
And here's the bit I'm wondering about:
With a little luck (and time), the idiots ripping Epstein will achieve Enlightenment and forget all about this (and perhaps the Red Sox, too, but let's not get ahead of ourselves).
Normally, it would be obvious that Neyer's referring to those that are attacking Epstein for going to the concert. I agree----they're idiots----I'm not quite sure what they'd like Epstein to be doing. Is he supposed to be sitting in his office with a Howard Hughes beard and Guinness Book of World Records length of fingernails looking for the secret formula to "fix" the Red Sox? They're not playing well; their lineup is short; they're not pitching; and they're not fielding; it doesn't take a genius to see what's wrong.
But with the stat zombies and after Moneyball, they have a tendency to refer to anyone who doesn't buy into their reliance on numbers as "unenlightened idiots". The exalted Bill James is the King of this type of vitriol in all his pomposity and condescension.
I tend to think Neyer was referring to those partaking in the silliness of attacking Epstein for taking in a concert as a form of relaxation, but I'm not exactly sure.
Like the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer, I'm just a caveman; and your numbers frighten and confuse me.
Since Jon (The Blocking Machine) Heyman blocked me from following his tweets on Twitter, I've been deprived of his 140-character brilliance. Such was the case yesterday when I learned, through the beauty of Re-Tweeting, the following:
1 really bad sign for jerry manuel is they already have a replacement in mind. no, sorry, not bobby v. it's bob melvin
So, the Mets have a replacement in mind if they choose to make a managerial change?
What would I do without this in-depth knowledge garnered during a career of covering the sport of baseball provided by The Blocking Machine?
Name me one team anywhere in any sport that doesn't have someone in mind just in case they decide to make a change. One. And we're not talking the Geoge Steinbrenner days of "fire first, worry about the replacement later----or just hire Billy Martin"; we're talking about every team, everywhere.
Is it a secret that the Mets hired Melvin to be the "manager-in-waiting" and do have in mind the slight possibility of throwing the bomb with Bobby Valentine? Or that any team would be remiss in their responsibilities to not have someone in mind "just in case"?
I see what I'm missing, and what I'm missing ain't all that much.
You can't rely on anybody these days, you gotta do everything yourself, don't we? But that's okay, I came prepared. It's a funny world we live in speaking of which, you know how I got these scars?