Baseball Jeremiad


A Curiously Intelligent Baseball blog

Cleaning Up the Reader (Vol. 2)

Another sprint through the links of the last week:

The Good Phight thinks the Phils have a prospect brewing down on the farm.

PhilliesNation reflects on the late Robin Roberts and his pitching style. 

Are the Sox of Red in a must-win situation tonight?  Perhaps, think their fans.

Andy McPhail is unpleased.  Do you blame him?

Courtesy of The Book and TangoTiger, via the WSJ: the size of the strike zone for different batters.  This is a must read.

Beyond the Box Score names the least valuable players in baseball right, sabermetrically speaking, of course.

Also from BTBS: ten players with whom to start your franchise.

And finally, Tim Lincecum strikes many batters out.  He does it consistently too.  Don’t believe me?  Check the graph.

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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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Chass: Mets, Sox Switcheroo; But, It’s Early

Murray Chass, formerly of the Grey Lady, has an interesting piece up regarding the starting pitchers of the Red Sox and Mets.  Granted, there’s no big revelations within his column.  Yet, he notes the sensible reality — all too infequent these days — and reminds his readers that it is still mighty early in the season:

Before we pronounce the Red Sox as the odd-team-out, though, remember that we are talking about 20 games of the 162-game season. There’s plenty of time for the Boston starters to correct themselves, just as there is plenty of time for the Mets’ starters to reclaim their question-mark status.


The Red Sox starting corps could yet perform as advertised. It’s more likely to happen than not happen. Whether the pitchers will make the Red Sox good enough to overcome the Rays and/or the Yankees is another question. As Epstein said, the Red Sox can’t afford to fall too far behind no matter how much time is left in the season.

There’s far too much of the season, on the other hand, left for the Mets. They won’t surpass or match the streak that put them into the N.L. East lead. That reality prompted the e-mail general manager Omar Minaya received from a friend after the Mets had completed a three-game sweep of the Dodgers that gave them a seven-game winning streak.

“My advice for you: resign immediately,” the friend wrote. “It’s not going to get better than this. If they should go on to win the division, make the playoffs or even win the World Series, it will always be said that it was the team that Omar Minaya put together.”

Rob Neyer is attempting to find the Orioles’ silver-lining.

I don’t know what is worse: expanding the All-Star rosters further, or instituting the designated hitter from year to year in the game.  This might be a trifling argument (and the subject of a later post), but the term All-Star doesn’t mean that everyone in baseball is considered a star.  I know that the terminology might be confusing here, but said term means that the game in question can only contain stars.  68-plus players are stars?  I don’t think so.

Fantasy tip: pick up John JasoRyan Hanigan is hitting pretty solidly too.

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Waste Hours, Lose Your Friends and Job (Cleaning up the Reader)

Late night or early morning time wasters:

  1. Fan Graphs has pitch type splits available now.  They’re introduced here.  An example of one is here.
  2. Think about why Ned Colletti is throwing bombs.  At Matt Kemp.
  3. What’s wrong with Josh Beckett?  Bobby V thinks he’s throwing his cutter too often.  Beyond the Box Score thinks it might be an overuse of his mediocre change-up.
  4. Ponder the difference between BaseRuns and Pythagorean Won-Loss expectancy.
  5. Kris Benson.  Yes, the Kris Benson left his start tonight with a shoulder injury.  Ask yourself if you’re surprised.  Meanwhile, be thankful you didn’t watch the 12-11 D’Backs win over the Rockies.
  6. Could John Harper have changed his tune about the Mets any more quickly?
  7. The Nats are heavily relying upon … Livan, among other cast-offs.
  8. Bloggers hate Thomas Boswell.  OK.  Fine.  But he wrote a book a while back, Why Life Imitates the World Series, that I have to admit, was a pretty darn good read.  I missed the column Boswell penned a few days ago in theWashington Post.  Sure, it’s a bit glib.  But he got the quotes he needed to make the story work.  It’s worth your time. 

Well, that should be enough to ruin any attempts at productivity tomorrow morning.

You’re welcome.

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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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Baseball Musings

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