Showing posts with label Tim Lincecum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tim Lincecum. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Ryan Howard's Contract Doesn't Look So Bad Now

Will the contract Joey Votto eventually signs make the Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols deals look obsolete? Will it put an exclamation point on how prescient the Rays and Rockies were when they locked Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki up to long term deals so early in their careers? How will Tim Lincecum’s decision to bet on himself and take short-term payouts rather than long-term security and wait for his free agency look?

Criticism of a contract at the time it’s signed is easy but the power of hindsight puts them into greater perspective and diminishes the impact.

Ryan Howard’s contract extension looked atrocious when he signed it because it was done so far in advance (almost 2 years) of his potential free agency and the market was going to be flush with other, better options—Pujols and Fielder among them.

Howard’s extension begins this season and, if he were a free agent this winter and signed it, the criticism for his representatives would be loud and endless.

5-years and $125 million?

Fielder is 4 1/2 years younger than Howard and is a more productive hitter, but they’re in the same realm and Fielder received 9-years and $214 million.

Of course, in reality, the deals are pretty much the same thing. But agents don’t want to hear about age and other factors when hawking their players to the highest bidders. Fans and analysts with an agenda don’t want to hear about the breakdown of the dollars equating identically. They’ll focus on $214 million vs $125 million as the common denominator even if it’s not so common.

The final number is the way they keep score in spite of it being inaccurate and twisted.

Pujols is another story.

He received the $240 million contract from the Angels—a contract that will pay him $30 million on 2021 at age 41—coming off of his worst season in the big leagues. In fairness, Pujols’s worst season still landed him fifth in the NL MVP voting in a season in which his team won the World Series, but that doesn’t alter the fact that it was his worst season.

As much as Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is lambasted for the way he lavishes long-term contracts on his players, signs free agents and has gutted the farm system to try and win immediately, I’m starting to think he’s savvier than any of us realize.

The market was going to be stacked with first baseman this winter. Had Amaro waited Howard out, Howard might’ve wanted a contract commensurate with Pujols—not close to what Pujols received, but certainly not half the guaranteed money that Pujols received either.

For Howard, he got paid, is staying in one place for essentially his whole career and the Phillies didn’t have to enter into protracted and contentious negotiations to keep Howard or consider alternatives.

It’s idiotic to savage the contract based on Howard’s torn Achilles tendon suffered—adding injury to insult—when he made the last out in the Phillies’ NLDS loss to the Cardinals. This isn’t a degenerative injury to a joint that was known to be a potential issue before he signed; it was a freak occurrence that could happen walking down a flight of stairs or getting out of bed. It happened and it’s no one’s fault.

The simplicity that outsiders place on running a club is astounding. To believe that front office people are “stupid” because they make a decision that some disagree with is the height of arrogance and I’ve done it myself.

Perhaps both sides weighed the pros and cons and made the conscious decision to avert what happened with the Cardinals and Pujols where a negotiation that was fait accompli (“Pujols isn’t going to leave the Cardinals”—something I also said repeatedly) and turned out to be completely wrong.

Putting a financial value on a player in an open market is a fruitless endeavor. Few teams stick to a stated budget if they have a choice and as Fielder and Pujols proved, there will always be that one owner who has a reason to spend a perceived loony amount of cash to get the player he wants. The best a GM can do is to make his recommendations to his bosses, come to conclusions of the best way to move forward and deal with the fallout if it fails or accept the accolades if it works. No matter how many people try to find a way to calculate what a player is “worth”, it has little to do with what he actually winds up getting.

Market dictates salary. Not the other way around.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Idea For A Yankees Reality Show During The Postseason; A Note For Chris Lincecum

  • Since they're not going to be playing this October, maybe there's a way to keep the Yankees in the public eye:
In general, I can't stand reality shows; the only ones I watch are Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares or whatever my fiancee watches that I happen to catch a glimpse of out of the
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corner of my eye while doing something creative and intelligent that I'm benevolent enough to share with the townspeople. That being said, I have an idea that will keep the Yankees in the spotlight this October and that is having cameras follow the principal players in former manager Joe Torre's departure as they watch him managing the Dodgers in the playoffs. It could work and it could work BIG!!!
Think about it. What kind of reactions would Randy Levine, Hank Steinbrenner, Hal Steinbrenner, Felix Lopez (they could film him taking care of the lawns on the fields in Tampa) and even Brian Cashman elicit as the Yankees are cleaning out their stadium without any post-season revenue and Torre simultaneously has his new team receiving the national exposure and is cementing his
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reputation as a "wizened baseball genius" with his thirteenth straight post-season appearance? It was Levine and the Steinbrenners who wanted Torre out and Cashman didn't go out of his way to save his longtime partner, so why not give them a forum to vent as their decision, in the short-term at least, looks horrendous?
They could even extend the coverage to broadcaster Michael Kay, who did the equivalent of dumping on Torre's Yankee managerial grave only after the manager was gone indicating some vague sense of protectiveness over the Yankees organization by not saying what he really felt about Torre over those long years as if that was part his responsibility as a supposedly "unbiased" broadcaster.
It would be even better for the show if the Dodgers had to play the Mets at some point during the playoffs, so those that are embittered enough to wish ill-will on Torre and loathe the idea that the Mets are still playing and the Yankees aren't would have to make a choice
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between rooting for their former manager or rooting for the Mets or even at some point having to root for the Red Sox. Just imagine...
I'm half-kidding about this, but there is a point. While I'm sure that the majority of the Yankees organization wishes Torre nothing but the best, you can't tell me that it's not going to make those that pushed him out the door crazy if he coaxes the Dodgers into the playoffs after their handpicked successor, Joe Girardi, had such a struggle in his first season as the manager; you can't tell me that many of the players still in that clubhouse who fondly remember Torre's handling of everything inherent with the job of managing that team don't miss him and wish he were still there.
I'm trying to imagine the irony of the Yankees hierarchy sitting in their offices watching the
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playoffs in either the NLDS game five or NLCS game seven and chanting, "Let's Go Mets!!" over and over again so they don't have to hear about Joe Torre managing in another World Series with the Dodgers while the Yankees are plotting a way to overcome the embarrassment of a $210 million payroll that finished in fourth place. After everything that happened, it would be kind of appropriate...and a ratings winner!!!
  • Chris Lincecum should strike now and write a book about his son Tim's workout regimen:
With the number of blog hits I get from people looking for information about Tim Lincecum's
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workout, mechanics and stretching program, Chris Lincecum should write a book about how he taught his son to pitch. I've already advised those that end up here looking for information not to follow advice they find on the internet without truly understanding what they're doing----Blog 8/31, but they're still searching for it and doing so at their own peril. There's a market for such a guide and he should get it out there while his son is still healthy and it's such a hot topic.
  • Rays 4-Red Sox 2:
Here's something I don't quite understand, Troy Percival was removed from the game because his back tightened up from all the warming up and sitting down throughout the game; but if he wasn't feeling right, why was he well enough to start the bottom of the fourteenth inning, but suddenly not well enough after he'd loaded the bases with nobody out and needed to be replaced because of the injury?
  • Giants 4-Diamondbacks 3:
I generally don't question pitch selection unless there's an egregious and obvious error; many times, the pitch is the right one, but is in the wrong location; but after the latest Diamondbacks loss, I
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have to wonder what catcher Miguel Montero was thinking in calling for closer Brandon Lyon to throw a high fastball instead of another curveball to Giants utilityman Eugenio Velez with two outs, two strikes, two runners on base and a one-run lead.
Maybe the Diamondbacks scouting reports said that Velez was vulnerable to a high, hard fastball and Lyon does throw in the upper nineties, but Velez had also looked clueless on two curveballs thrown by Lyon; Montero called for the high fastball; exaggerated the call by making a rising motion with his catcher's mitt; and was only in a half-squat because he wanted the pitch so high. Lyon made the pitch and Velez ripped it into the gap to score the tying and winning runs and send the Diamondbacks spiraling out of San Francisco.
And where was Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin during all of this? During his playing
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career, Melvin was a defensively minded catcher who only lasted in the majors as long as he did (ten years) because of his defense and handling of pitchers; doesn't he see what's happening on the field and let his catcher know what he should be doing not just based on scouting reports, but by observation? I guarantee if Lyon had thrown a hard curve in the dirt, Velez would've struck out; but he threw a fastball up in Velez's eyes and the results are there for all to see, especially for a Diamondbacks team in full and apparently unstoppable free-fall.
  • Heads must roll in San Diego for the good of the organization:
Buster Olney linked an article yesterday in which Padres GM Kevin Towers wouldn't guarantee manager Bud Black's return next season----Article. It would be of infinite arrogance and a total lack of interest in the remaining fans of the team if no one took the fall for this
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soon-to-be 100 loss disaster, but should Black be the one to take the blame and pay the price?
The Padres, a Moneyball team led by their team president Sandy Alderson, install the manager and instruct him on just about every aspect of his handling of the team and pay him a relatively meager salary in comparison to other organizations. Black's done a bad job this year, there's no question about that; but look at their roster. With the lack of power that Black has is an implied lack of responsibility. If he doesn't get credit for the wins, then he shouldn't get the blame for the losses either.
I'm convinced the Padres are arrogant enough to move forward with the same crew that created this mess, but they're not that stupid (I don't think) that they'll move forward without doing something to placate an angry fan base and let them know that they're making a move even if said move isn't going to make much of a difference one way or the other. Heads are going to roll in San Diego; the question is if they're going to be the right heads; if they're sacrificing Black and no one else, then it would be little more than a sham to deflect blame from the real culprits who spawned this woeful and hapless organization into their current state, most prominently team president Sandy Alderson.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Lesson From One Of The Best (And Most Ruthless) Executives In Sports

  • Dodgers 7-Diamondbacks 0:
I'm not an advocate of rash firings unless they're warranted; nor am I in favor of someone
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losing their job especially when what's occurring isn't their fault; that being said, the Arizona Diamondbacks have done everything right in trying to create a championship contender including acquisitions before and during the season; giving young prospects a chance to play; and building an overall roster that should be better than 71-69 and a half game ahead of a Dodgers team that had lost eight in a row until last weekend and can't seem to get out of their own way half the time despite splashy trades of their own. In looking at everything they've done up to this point, the Diamondbacks may have to consider taking the bold step of changing managers at this late stage of the season if they have any hope of advancing as deeply into the playoffs as they thought they would when the team was constructed.
This is not the fault of manager Bob Melvin. He generally makes the correct moves during a game and he's a likable field boss despite the criticism he receives for being too vanilla in his personality. Sometimes a change has to be made for the short term in order to achieve a goal that just isn't going to happen otherwise. The Diamondbacks may want to take a page out of
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the book of one of the best and most successful executives in sports----New Jersey Devils hockey czar Lou Lamoriello.
Lamoriello operates in relative obscurity as the Devils are the second fiddle (that's being generous; it could be argued that the Devils are behind the Rangers, Islanders and Flyers in that NHL equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle of the New York metropolitan area); the negatives to that are obvious----they don't get the recognition for being as great an organization as they are; no one appreciates their three Stanley Cups; they have trouble filling their building even when they're on the way to a championship----but one of the main advantages of that obscurity is that Lamoriello can pretty much do whatever he wants and no one's going to say anything. Lamoriello treats his coaches and players as part of a machine; everyone has their value, their role and position and if they start to believe that they're too important to fit into the team structure or if something's not working, there's no vacillation; no wishy-washy hand-wringing over what to do next; Lamoriello acts sooner rather than later and doesn't look back.
Twice he's fired coaches days before the playoffs started as the team was at the top of their conference because he didn't think they were going to be able to win in the playoffs with the status quo. Once it resulted in another Stanley Cup; another time, in which Lamoriello himself took over as coach, it didn't work as they were eliminated in the second round; whether he succeeds or fails when he makes such a decision, at least he doesn't sit on his hands and worry about the public reaction when he feels the right move is to make a change. Players who want too much money or don't accept their roles are quickly dispatched; blockbuster player acquisitions occur without anyone even knowing that the Devils were involved until the last second. Everything in the organization is dedicated to one thing----winning; and they win under a budget. Lamoriello's smart and ruthless and dedicated to that one goal in his professional life----winning----which should be first and foremost with every sports executive even if in many cases, it isn't.
Of course it works to Lamoriello's advantage that he does have carte blanche with the
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organization due to those three championship rings (it's a circle, he's allowed to do what he wants because he wins and he wins because he's allowed to do what he wants); and that the NHL has very little attention paid to it until the playoffs start and barely much attention then; but no matter what kind of organization he ran, I believe that Lamoriello would function in the same way----mysteriously, close to the vest, ruthlessly----and do what's best for the moment. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, they've tried everything else, perhaps it's time to set off a bomb in their clubhouse and fire the manager. Melvin is a solid guy and a pretty good manager; he was blamed unfairly for what happened when he managed the Mariners and all of Lou Piniella's and Pat Gillick's players got old at once; there would be a major uproar if they pulled the trigger on Melvin, but it's something to consider even at this late date because as things stand right now, they're well on the way to blowing a division that they should be winning easily and all of those aggressive acquisitions will be seen as a waste because they haven't worked. It may be time to do something drastic and as Lamoriello has proven, firing the head coach/manager is about as drastic as it gets, and it might even work.
  • Phillies 3-Mets 0:
When Brett Myers was struggling earlier in the season and wound up back in the minor leagues to get both his arm and his head straight, it was thought that Myers had either never
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completely gotten his head and body out of the rush of closing; that he was overworked last season after being thrust into that unfamiliar role; and that he needed to rediscover his fastball and get his confidence back. It's clear that Myers's problem earlier in the season, whatever it was, is gone because he was confident and determined in the dominating performance against the Mets last night and, most importantly, he had his fastball back.
Whatever the cause, Myers's fastball was short that critical few inches to make his wicked curveball effective. A devastating curveball isn't as much of a challenge for the hitters if all they have to worry about is an 88 mph fastball, which is what Myers was throwing early in the season. Last night, he was popping 93-94 which puts the hitter in the position of gearing up for the fastball and adjusting to the curve rather than waiting for the curve and knowing he's going to be able to catch up to that average fastball. I'm sure Myers still misses the rush that comes from being the closer and having every game and everyone's hopes pinned on his shoulders, but after last night and the way he's pitched since returning from the minors, he's not letting that stop him from pitching as well as he did last
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night in a game the Phillies had to win.
  • Reds 10-Cubs 2:
I quit gambling, but if I had one bet to make today, I'd wager a chunk of money that Cubs manager Lou Piniella is a likely candidate to get ejected and go on a base-throwing, red-faced, Lou-natic-asylum level tirade tonight in Cincinnati. His team needs to be woken up and snapped out of this malaise; flipping out and getting ejected (sometimes for no reason) is Piniella's thing. It's worked before.
  • Mariners 3-Yankees 1:
As Tim Lincecum has overcome his doubters (due to his size, quirky mechanics and "stage-father") to become an All Star, there have been questions as to what the Mariners were thinking in drafting Brandon Morrow five spots ahead of Lincecum especially since
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Lincecum is from Washington and pitched at Washington State. After watching Morrow handcuff the Yankees last night as he begins his transformation from the bullpen to the starting rotation, I have to say that even with the hindsight of the past two years, I'd still take Morrow over Lincecum. Morrow's fastball was in the upper 90s, his motion is clean and he just looks like he's going to be more durable over the long term than Lincecum.
The argument to ignore "tools" over performance isn't to be completely ignored, but the jury, to me, is still out on Lincecum. Listed at 5'11", he's about two or three inches shorter and that motion and his specially-designed exercises will
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only be borne out in the even greater hindsight of five or six years from now; Morrow, 6'3", simply appears like he'll be able to handle a heavier workload and his fastball matches that of Lincecum. There's been righteous indignation as Lincecum has risen to All Star, Cy Young Award contender and cult hero to the undersized, but Morrow was a safer pick and if I had to choose between the two even now, I'd still take Morrow; the Mariners shouldn't be faulted for a scouting decision that took everything----size, mechanics, projectable future----into account because the final results remain to be seen.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mid-Season Award Winners

Here are my picks for the mid-season award winners:
  • AL MVP: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
I shook my head in confusion after seeing that Jayson Stark had selected Kinsler as his MVP considering the massive numbers that both Josh Hamilton and Milton Bradley have put
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up, but in looking at the numbers, it's bizarre. Like previous Rangers players (Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock), both Hamilton and Bradley have huge numbers at home and solid enough (but nowhere close to MVP) numbers on the road. Kinsler has far better power numbers on the road than at home; his batting average is .376 at home and .299 on the road. He's obviously benefiting from the cozy confines of Arlington and by having Bradley, Hamilton and Michael Young in the same lineup, but his production can't be denied especially since it's been so consistent at home and on the road.
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  • AL Cy Young Award: Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians
Lee has been unappreciated for several years as a solid and consistent winner, but this year his fastball appeared to have picked up some life; combined with his control, he's been dominating on a struggling team with a shaky bullpen. He's been brilliant across the board, throwing strikes, not allowing homers and racking up wins.
  • AL Rookie of the Year: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
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Longoria has 84 hits and 40 are for extra bases. An All Star as a rookie, a very good fielder and an emerging voice in his clubhouse simply by the professional way he carries himself.
  • AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, Minnesota Twins
Before the seven game losing streak to end the first half, it would have been Rays manager Joe Maddon, but a team with an eye on
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making the playoffs cannot get swept in a four-game series by an Indians team that has pretty much thrown in the towel on the season. Because the Twins aren't in a playoff position and they're more of an under-the-radar story, many miss the fact that their roster is weaker and in many ways, less established than that of the Rays. Gardenhire is nursing a very young pitching staff to an over .500 record when they were expected to have a rebuilding year. This is also a body-of-work award because Gardenhire has been such an unappreciated top-tier manager for so long without recognition; Maddon is in his third year, let him pay some dues.
  • NL MVP: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
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Pujols is almost alone in that lineup which accounts for his league-leading (by a lot) 22 intentional walks. To be able to put up the numbers Pujols puts up while seeing maybe one or two pitches to hit a game is indicative of how great he is. Chase Utley was an early favorite, but has petered out in the past couple of months and if Pujols were in the Phillies lineup, he'd win the Triple Crown.
  • NL Cy Young Award: Edinson Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
Many are picking Tim Lincecum because of his quirky personality
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and motion; his diminutive size and interesting story, but Volquez has been better across the board. He's given up fewer hits, runs and homers (pitching in a far easier home park to hit in than Lincecum), has a lower ERA and a better strikeout/innings pitched ratio. If the Reds were in contention and Volquez hadn't had those extra few days in the big leagues while with the Rangers, he's have an argument for being the Cy Young winner, Rookie of the Year and the MVP.
  • NL Rookie of the Year: Geovany Soto, Chicago Cubs
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Cubs manager Lou Piniella is rough on his catchers and to have a rookie come in and perform as well as Soto has at and behind the plate is very difficult and implies a mental toughness that portends a great career.
  • NL Manager of the Year: Lou Piniella, Chicago Cubs
Tony La Russa is the obvious choice because of his ability to do a lot with limited talent, but that thinking can distract from a manager
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whose team also had question marks coming into the season. Piniella has the Cubs in first place with a rookie catcher (Soto); a closer in training (Kerry Wood); and a scrapheap pickup as his center fielder (Jim Edmonds); he's also been without Alfonso Soriano for a big chunk of the season and still managed to drag the Cubs into first place by sheer force of will just as he did last year. Managers are often rewarded not for winning, but for having their teams play above their heads with what was perceived to be a lack of talent. Results are what they are and Piniella has the results so far this year to get the nod over La Russa.

*Note: I do not care about the home run derby; I do not want to know about the home run derby; I think the home run derby is a colossal waste of time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Mets Miss The Lincecum Memo And Other Stories

  • Mets 7-Giants 0:
While they said all the right things about being impressed with Tim Lincecum's stuff and how bright the
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diminutive righty's future is, the Mets apparently missed last week's issue of Sports Illustrated because they knocked him around pretty good on the field. Carlos Delgado sending one of Lincecum's fastballs deep into the Flushing Meadows night was impressive in and of itself considering how Delgado's had such trouble catching up to power fastballs this year; I would hesitate to think this is a renaissance for Delgado because the pitch was up and out over the plate; he still can't get around on a power inside fastball at all which indicates a location mistake on the part of Lincecum. Mike Pelfrey and his reliance on his power sinker is starting to make him look like a young Kevin Brown.
  • Yankees 5-Rays 0:
Andy Pettitte was masterful against a hot hitting and tough lineup in the Rays. In looking at Pettitte's numbers----stats----if he hangs around for two or three more years and can win between 13-15 games each year in addition to this
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year's likely 16 wins, he's going to make the Hall of Fame. A winner; a gutty innings-eater; honest about his brief PED usage; and a post-season record of 18-7 (as of now) plus around 240 wins will make Pettitte more of a no-brainer for the Hall than Curt Schilling. Another thing about Pettitte that many people may not know is that he wasn't even drafted; the Yankees signed him as an undrafted free agent in 1991. That's some pretty good scouting, luck or both.
  • Did the Dodgers owner nix a deal for C.C. Sabathia?
The Pasadena Star-News reported on Monday that Dodgers owner Frank McCourt nixed a deal that would have brought C.C. Sabathia, Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll to the Dodgers for a package of youngsters----Story----the main reason is implied to be financial. McCourt may receive criticism for this after the fact especially if Sabathia pitches the Brewers into the
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playoffs, but McCourt has every right to do what I see as the right thing for his franchise by stopping his GM from mortgaging a big chunk of his team's loaded farm system to win right now.
Dodgers GM Ned Colletti is already under fire for the team's underachieving and the huge money contracts he doled out to Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt with literally no return. If the Indians, a smart organization that knows how to scout prospects, were trading three players with expiring contracts who are in demand, there would probably have been at least five prospects going to Cleveland including the likes of Matt Kemp, Andy
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LaRoche and lots of young pitching. The Dodgers are getting their injured players back and with manager Joe Torre's history of hot second half finishes, along with the way the NL West is looking like it might only take 85 wins to take the division, why make such a desperation move? Add in that McCourt may be keeping an eye on the Brian Cashman/Yankees situation with the possibility that Torre and Cashman will be reunited on the West Coast after the season and there was no reason to allow Colletti to make this move.
Despite McCourt's attempts to win within a budget and create a clone of the Oakland Athletics when he hired Paul DePodesta to disastrous results, he's spent a load of money and allowed Colletti to be very aggressive in trying to win immediately over the past three years; he shouldn't receive criticism when he finally says enough's enough.
  • Is there an agenda in place here?
I don't know the circumstances with Keith Law's departure from the Blue Jays in 2006, but reading between the lines in the comment about Chad Gaudin in the Rich Harden trade, and
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you have to wonder if there's a bit of sniping going on underneath what masks itself as an opinion:

Chad Gaudin is an outstanding second player -- hate to call him a "throw-in" here -- for the Cubs, as a short reliever who could be dominant in that role in the NL. His fastball/slider combo has produced over 300 innings of above-average pitching since Toronto discarded him after a grand total of two big league starts, and his career-long vulnerability against left-handed batters has vanished this year, in large part because of his improved control.

If Law's letting personal biases enter into his judgments (intentionally or not), he should try and put them aside if he intends to be a credible media voice. For the record, I wouldn't have touched Rich Harden unless I was getting him for nothing because he's completely unreliable health-wise from one day to the next.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tim Lincecum's Mechanics And The Bandwagon Jumpers

Tom Verducci wrote the cover story about Giants ace Tim Lincecum in this week's Sports
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Illustrated----SI Story----and as usual whenever someone new and unusual bursts onto the scene there are the criticisms of those who think in the "conventional" way and make decisions based on categories other than velocity and results. Lincecum's father, Chris, is quoted extensively regarding the unusual motion and regimen used by his soon-to-be All Star son; along the way, other pitchers like Mark Prior, whose mechanics were considered "state-of-the-art" just five short years ago are suddenly being ripped because their mechanics turned out to be not quite as great as everyone thought.
Lincecum is healthy, throws bullets and uses an unusual motion that has been compared
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and hooks the ball skyward behind his back, then uses a very long stride----Rick Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe also happened to be 6'7", which would make Lincecum nearly a foot shorter. In the article, much is made of Chris Lincecum's insistence that the coaches that ran Tim's teams not fool around with the specially designed delivery.
Amid all the criticisms of pitchers like Prior and the required ravaging of teams that dared to take other players over Lincecum due to size and injury-concerns, the question left unasked is how many pitchers make it to the big leagues as quickly and successfully as Lincecum? Luke Hochevar and Brandon Morrow, two pitchers drafted before Lincecum, are big, hard throwers who haven't established themselves in the majors to any reasonable degree as of yet; that doesn't mean that they won't end up having better careers than Lincecum; Lincecum just happened to make it faster and has an interesting storyline of an unusual way of going about his job and that he's so small it's hard to imagine him launching fastballs at the velocity he does.
One thing that would have been useful between the lines was how many coaches and self-styled "experts" looked at Lincecum as he was coming up, folded their arms and tilted and shook their heads in disapproval and said, publicly or privately, "that kid's never gonna make it at his size with those mechanics and I don't care how hard he throws." It begs the question of how many talented pitchers and hitters had their natural way of doing things changed, altered and destroyed by coaches demanding that they do things "their" way or not play. Tim was lucky in that he had Chris around to keep an eye on him and the goods in that 98-mph fastball to back up the demands.
The thing about pitchers is that there's no way to know how long they're going to be able to
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hold up before breaking down regardless of their mechanics. Pitch counts, computer generated mechanics and corrections and better exercise technology are supposed to keep them healthy, but there seem to be more injuries from less exertion than ever. It may be time to reexamine
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everything that is believed about pitchers and how they're selected from the ground up. Pitchers like Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Roger Clemens and Lincecum have been called "freaks of nature"; but Ryan and Carlton had excellent mechanics and above-and-beyond work ethics; Clemens apparently had chemical assistance; and Lincecum has his own way of doing things and the important factor of having a father who wouldn't allow others to arrogantly and condescendingly mess around with him.
I have a problem with calling someone who does something well and stays healthy a freak, and those that do something well and get injured are considered normal. Ryan and Carlton never heard of a thing called pitch counts as they sometimes racked up 200+ pitches a start with all the walks, strikeouts and complete games. Even with the drug allegations, Clemens kept himself in great shape and was always fine-tuning his motion to maximize effectiveness while minimizing injury.
There have been pitchers like John Smoltz who gave everything they had on the mound and got hurt despite having great mechanics. The Kansas City Royals of the mid-80s developed four pitchers----Bret Saberhagen, David Cone, Danny Jackson and Mark Gubicza----who had
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mechanics focusing on hard leg drive and power pitching similar to that of Ryan and Tom Seaver and the only one to stay completely healthy for the duration of his career was Cone and Cone battered himself (on and off the field) more than any of the four. Sutcliffe had numerous arm injuries throughout his career, as did Hershiser.
The computer generated motions and mechanics are all well and good, but if a pitcher is destined to get hurt, he's going to get hurt no matter his mechanics. Steps can be taken to minimize injury and with Lincecum, he's doing such radically different things before and after starts with stretching and declining to ice his arm, he may be starting a new era or it may be seen as having been a mistake after a few years; the only way to be able to tell will be in hindsight; right now Lincecum is the flavor of the moment, but in five years, the same credit may turn into criticism and instead of crediting the Giants for drafting Lincecum and leaving him alone, the Royals may get the same credit for selecting Hochevar. The only thing that will truly determine the outcome will be after the fact.