Baseball Jeremiad


A Curiously Intelligent Baseball blog

Dog Bites Man (Again)

Nick Johnson will miss significant time due to a [fill in the blank].

The NYT can do that for you:

A torn tendon sheath in that same wrist required surgery in 2008 and limited him to 38 games for Washington, but it was unclear whether Johnson had injured the same tendon. Even before receiving the results of the M.R.I. test, the Yankees anticipated losing him for a while, and they recalled the utility player Kevin Russo from Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.


When asked how many weeks Johnson was expected to miss, Manager Joe Girardi said, “Several is more than two and less than many.”

Also in today’s Times, we learn that David Ortiz is grumpy.  And so are Sox fans.


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From THT, BAIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) leaders and trailers.

The day job is kicking DC Matt’s rear, so I’ll swallow my pride and link to a Yankees article.  Seems like Joe Girardi is misusing David Robertson. 

Looking for your Stephen Strasburg fix?  The WaPo “Baseball Insider” has the video and report.  This kid, by the way, says all the correct things all the time.

Richard Sandomir writes a business of sports column for the Times’ print edition.  Today, however, he’s on the “Bats” blog making note of the number of appearances the Mets have made (and will continue to make) on ESPN.

So, if Dave Duncan fought Mike Ditka, who would win?  Jamie Garcia keeps rolling up ground balls and DD is gettin’ more love.

TUCK! skewers Big Papi.  Hoffman next?

There are already “seller” whispers circulating about Atlanta.  Somehow, this wasn’t the farewell that Bobby Cox had planned.

Meanwhile, Barry Zito is tossing up 0’s again this year.  The answer, blogs Rob Neyer via Ann Killon, may be mental.  Oh, and he’s throwing harder this year: that might help too.

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Vecsey Mea Culpa as Mets Torch Third HOF Manager in a Row

In yesterday’s NYT, George Vecsey allowed that he may have been just a slight bit off in his “Abandon Hope” column in which he previewed the Mets season.  Yesterday, Vecsey even offered the Metropolitans a bit of praise:

Having predicted dire things for the Mets, I confess to having been charmed by their 20-inning game in St. Louis, when Manuel managed to produce Pelfrey for a first career save and the resident genius of the Cardinals, Tony La Russa, went down with two position players pitching and a pitcher in left field. Was that a turning point for the Mets?


The funny thing about this homestand is that the Mets are encountering visiting managers with New York ties and vastly more credentials than Manuel.

First came the Cubs’ Lou Piniella, 66, who blossomed with the Yankees, and the Mets took three of four from him. Then came Bobby Cox of the Braves, who turns 69 on May 21, whose only major league playing was with the Yankees, and the Mets took three straight from him. Now comes Joe Torre, 69, of the Dodgers, who played and managed for the Mets before winning four World Series across town. He’s working without a contract beyond this season, for a franchise whose owner, Frank McCourt, is going through a divorce.

As a result of this new found Mets renaissance, we experience the bizarre.

And around the league we go:

Are you sold on Stephen Strasburg yet? DC Matt is.  Craig Calcaterra is.  I think I am too.

Since Moutain Frank hasn’t weighed in yet, we’ll turn to Rob Neyer who reflects upon Chris Iannetta getting farmed out in Colorado.

Here’s the last link on the Ryan Howard contract, this time from Dave Studemen of THT.

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Cleaning up the Reader

Some of the items we’re reading today at Baseball Jeremiad… 

Jason Stark reviews eight teams and asks whether their early performance is a reality or illusion. 

His take on the Mets: 

Mets (6-9, last place in NL East)

 Rating: Reality 

Twice in the last week, we’ve heard two scouts make a remark like this: “I think Washington is a much better club than the Mets.” 

From where we Rumblers and Grumblers sit, we wouldn’t go that far. At some point, you can take these predictions to Vegas: Jason Bay will hit a home run. And Carlos Beltran will get a hit. And Francisco Rodriguez will save a game. And a starter other than Johan Santana and Mike Pelfrey will win a game. But is this a good enough, or deep enough, team to hang with the Braves, Phillies and Marlins? We’re not hearing anybody say that except the Mets themselves. 

“You know, baseball needs the Mets to be good,” one scout said. “Baseball is more fun when the Mets are good and that rivalry between them and the Phillies is cooking. But this just isn’t a real good team. If you look past Santana, and Pelfrey the way he’s pitched so far, you see where the Mets’ problems lie. They’ve got legitimate concerns in that rotation. I watched that bullpen six days, and they’ve got four guys on pace to pitch over 80 games. That says their starters just are not getting deep enough. And I don’t see that changing.” 

 Meanwhile, Stark reacted to DC Matt’s dis of Jorge Cantu: 

Yes he Cantu: How many hitters in baseball are more underrated than Marlins hit factory Jorge Cantu? He may not be Albert Pujols. But he’s the only player in the National League who has gotten a hit in every game this season. He has more extra-base hits (10) than singles (eight). He’s second in the league in RBIs. He’s hitting .429 with men in scoring position. And as we mentioned last week, the only NL hitters with more RBIs than Cantu since the 2009 All-Star break are Ryan Howard, Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp and Prince Fielder

Forbes Magazine explains why the Phillies have remained so good for the past three seasons: 

The Phillies have stars like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who came up through the team’s farm system and have been signed to long-term deals. This has left money free to patch holes with the occasional expensive free agent, such as newly acquired Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, who signed for $60 million over three years. 

The results have been spectacular. The team won the World Series two years ago and made it back last year before losing to the Yankees in six games. This year the Phillies will try to win three National League pennants in a row, which would tie a record set during World War II by the Cardinals. “We had a plan. We wanted to get good in a way that we could stay good,” says team President David Montgomery. 

Former Met and Phillie Bruce Chen rides again, this time in Royals Blue. 

I had a running joke with a friend of mine from Jersey that certain Yankee pitchers broke into cold sweats and possibly soiled themselves whenever they heard Joe Torre’s voice.  The joke, of course, was that Torre had a penchant for destroying Quadruple-A pitchers by pitching them multiple innings multiple days in a row.*  Thus, we laughed like hell when Torre became manager of the Dodgers and Scott Proctor found his way to LA.  All of this is an extended set-up for worrying that Jerry Manuel plans to have the same effect on Francisco Rodriguez

*I don’t know, empirically, whether or not this is true.  Was our perception reality?  Not too sure.   

Benjamin Hoffman of the “Bats Blog” of The New York Times investigates the autonomy of an at-bat

Last week, DC Matt and I picked up Barry Zito to make a spot-start for the Centristfielders.  He threw a gem.  Fangraphs’ Matt Klaassen wonders why.  His answer: might just lucky, he guesses. 

Joel Sherman of the New York Post makes some baseball jokes and observations in his blog.

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Chass: ‘Zealots Can’t Have It Both Ways’

I possess many mixed feelings about Murray Chass.  He hates the Times with a passion (and possibly with good reason).  He can be a whiner.  Then again, he’s still insightful and shoots from the hip, sparing no prisoners. 

In his latest article, Chass reviews the situation regarding Edison Volquez’s recent suspension for using a banned substance.  However, this framing seems to merely provide cover for him to launch verbal broadsides against his former employer and the anti-doping community.  Yet, there are a few points Chass makes that bear mentioning:

The zealots claim that one positive test is one too many, but they also have cited the absence of positive tests as evidence that baseball’s testing regimen isn’t tough enough. They want it both ways, but common sense says you can’t have it both ways.

The players could have avoided the whole steroids nonsense if they were as intelligent as they were good at playing baseball. In 2003, the first year of testing, if fewer than 5 percent had tested positive, players would have been free and clear of testing. But about 100 players, nearly 7 percent, tested positive, and regular testing was established.


But even if the union and the commissioner’s office were to agree to HGH testing, the zealots would find fault with something else. Label them never satisfied.

I find fault with the conflict of interest practiced by Dr. Gary Wadler, who is the go-to guy for reporters to seek out as one of the so-called experts on performance-enhancing drugs. Wadler is quoted more widely than probably any other individual on the subject.

There’s nothing wrong with being an expert, but I think there is a problem when the expert is connected to the agency that pushes for world-wide adherence to its strict policies and is in business to make money.

Wadler is involved with WADA but seldom is identified as being connected to the anti-doping agency. Why newspapers ignore that connection is puzzling. I used to raise that issue at The New York Tines [sic], but the Times is probably the leading newspaper in Wadler quotes.

In other columns written today by writers about whom I have mixed feelings, William Rhoden, still of the Times, wrote today about a funny feeling in New England: peace.  Rhoden’s thesis is that winning two championships in the last decade have caused Sox fans to mellow out a bit.  This blogger, however, is not buying that explanation.  Thankfully, Rhoden includes a bit of reality (aside from his anecdotal evidence provided by three Sox fans) from Red Sox Manager Terry Francona:

After Tuesday’s exhilarating victory at Fenway, Terry Francona passed through the Red Sox’ clubhouse. He didn’t feel the peace. He wasn’t buying the idea that because of World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, there was a diminished sense of doom when the Red Sox lost.

Francona shook his head. “The sky is still falling,” he said.

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