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On the Struggles of the LA Angels

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If you are an ESPN Insider, you should read Buster Olney’s piece from this morning.

If you are not an ESPN Insider, I shall summarize. Olney writes that no baseball owner could throw around cash the way Angels’ owner, Arte Moreno, has without being really upset about their miserable start to the season. And it’s a lot of cash: close to a billion dollars either already spent or committed in future contract value since the last time the Angels made the playoffs (2009). Despite this spending, the Angels already trail the red-hot but wounded Oakland A’s by six-and-a-half games. Hamilton has been just awful, topping off his horrific performance at the plate (.179 AVG, .261 OBP, .051 ISO, .228 wOBA, 35.9% K rate) with an unthinkable baserunning blunder, which ended the Angels’ 5-0 loss to the wretched Astros, which has to really hurt since some expected the series with the Astros to be a sure-fire cure for the Angels’ woes.

As I am a fan of small-market teams (MIN, PIT, SEA, TB, MIL), I find the angst surrounding the Angels…amusing, particularly because T. J. Simers is such an ass, by which I mean bitter old hack.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 13, 2013 at 16:40

Indians Rotation Wretched, as Expected

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Wow, with the exception of Justin Masterson, the starting pitching for the Cleveland Indians has been, well, terrible.

This does make them, you know, kind of entertaining, as their offense is decent, and could end up being better that merely decent, so they will play in lots of softball-like games with plenty of scoring. This will, of course, drive the true Indians faithful, a long-suffering lat for sure, crazy, for they will lose a number of games in which they score 6—or even more—runs.

The real lesson out of all this, of course, is that major league teams should stop paying Brett Myers a single penny above the major-league minimum salary, and that might even be too much money as he may well be the poster boy for “below-replacement-level fodder.” But perhaps I’m being too hard on Myers as Ubaldo Jimenez, pictured above, has also been awful.

 

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 12, 2013 at 13:34

Los Angeles Dodger Primer

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NEWS

Los Angeles Times

Dodger Talk

Dodger Thoughts

Dodgers Now

Dodgers Report

Inside the Dodgers

Lasorda’s Lair

True Blue LA

 

ROSTER

Rotation

Kershaw, Clayton

Greinke, Zack

Beckett, Josh

Ryu, Hyun-Jin

Billingsley, Chad

Others

Chris Capuano

Ted Lilly

 

Bullpen

Closer: Brandon League

Setup: Kenley Jansen

Ronald Belisario

Middle Javy Guerra

J. P. Howell

Scott Elbert

Matt Guerrier

 

League got big contract despite Jansen’s ridiculous K/9. Belisario riding huge K% increase, but his sFIP fueled by low BABIP. Guerra’s value lies in low BABIP & high LOB%, so he is not as good as core numbers would suggest. Howell as primary LHRP, but he is declining. Consensus view is that it is weird to elevate League over Jansen, unless the thought is towards Bill James’ optimized bullpen ace useage pattern. Jansen is a strikeout machine. But it is likely that LAN will use League as closer. Jansen will be an extremely important setup man. 

 

 

Projected Lineup

1 Ellis, Mark 2B

2 Crawford LF

3 Kemp CF

4 Gonzalez A 1B

5 Ramirez H SS

6 Etheir RF

7 Cruz, Luis 3B

8 Ellis, A. J. C

 

 

 

Minor League System and Prospects

Minor League Affiliates

Prospects—BP

1 Yasiel Puig OF

2 Zach Lee RHP

3 Corey Seager 3B

4 Chris Reed LHP

5 Joc Pederson OF

6 Matt Magill RHP

7 Oneiki Garcia LHP

8 Chris Withrow RHP

9 Garrett Gould RHP

10 Zachary Bird RHP

 

 

Prospects—FanGraphs

1 Zach Lee P

2 Chris Reed P

3 Corey Seager SS

4 Yaseil Puig OF
5 Jesmeul Valentin SS

6 Garrett Gould P

7 Onelki Garcia P

8 Chris Withrow P

9 Joe Pderson OF

10 Zachary Bird P

11 Aaron Miller P

12 Tim Federowicz C

13 Rob Rasmussen P

14 Paco Rodriguez P

15 Ross Stripling P

 

 

 

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 11, 2013 at 21:03

Posted in Baseball, Dodgers

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About Those “Entertaining” Brewers….

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Yeah, well, maybe not so much.

There has already been some attrition to the Brewers’ lineup, with Aramis Ramirez re-straining his knee and going to the D. Then on Sunday, making matters more dire, young shortstop Jean Segura was involved in a collision at second base on a double-play turn, and he left the game with a bruised quadricep. He is being listed as day-to-day with that injury.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel glumly reviews the opening week of the 2013 baseball season, saying

[I]t’s almost unbelievable to think that six games into the season, the Milwaukee Brewers are already in scramble mode.

Their starting pitching has struggled as a whole. The bullpen, even with an extra arm, is being overworked. Ryan Braun has missed time with a neck injury. Aramis Ramirez is already on the disabled list. The bench is short and inexperienced.

The end of yesterday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks proved shocking and dismaying.

First, we have John Axford losing his job as closer by, well, blowing another save failing to prevent the Diamondbacks from scoring in extra innings in spectacular fashion. Analysis of his highly combustible start to the season points towards a change in his release point.

Next, there was a Ryan Braun holding a bat sighting in the bottom half of the inning in which Axford ignited the Diamondbacks’ offense. Rickie Weeks was at the plate with two men on base and Heath Bell laboring on the mound. The Brewers had already rallied against Diamondbacks closer J. J. Putz, and with Weeks and apparently Braun set to come to the plate with only one out and the winning run on base, it looked as if they might show real “grit,” real fight, real heart and pull out a victory despite their terrible bullpen and incredibly shallow bench.

But Weeks watched three strikes sail by him, and then Braun was withdrawn back into the dugout and pitcher Kyle Lohse (?!?) was sent to the plate, lumber in hand, game on the line. I guess Braun’s neck is really hurting. Predictably, Lohse had a poor plate appearance, striking out, ending the game, and sending Brewers fans home sad.

Ron Roenicke spoke with the Journal Sentinel about Braun’s non-plate appearance, saying,

“He (Braun) couldn’t hit,” Roenicke said. “He was up there so if it came down to it, they had to figure out if he could hit or not and make a decision whether to maybe walk Rickie or not. So, just send him up there and see what happens.

“But he couldn’t swing.”

On the other hand, despite the loss, the game saw lots of scoring, there were comebacks and a near-comeback, and the game proved pretty entertaining in the abstract. But for fans of baseball in Milwaukee, this game does not portend and enjoyable future, at least in the short-term.

Braun returned to the lineup for Monday’s game against the Cubs, and, as of this writing, he is 2 for 2 with a double, and RBI, and a run scored. So, despite their troubles, the Brewers are proving capable of clubbing the Cubs, which should light up some smiles in the Brewers dugout, clubhouse, and the whole city of Milwaukee.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 8, 2013 at 12:31

More on Gardenhire’s Questionable Thought

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I already despaired over Gardehnire’s bullpen usage. Here, I despair over his thinking over lineup construction, specifically, who to put in the second spot in the batting order. He is such a victim of the “old school” conventional wisdom.

Aaron Gleeman, who writes a lot about the Twins, wrote a post about this in which he pointed out:

Gardenhire has used middle infielders in the second spot regardless of on-base skills and overall hitting ability, and not surprisingly the results haven’t been good. None of the seven players with at least 75 starts in the No. 2 spot had a .350 on-base percentage there and only Revere, Jason Bartlett, and Orlando Hudson were above .330. Cristian Guzman, who started most often in the No. 2 spot, had a terrible .283 OBP there, and Luis Rivas was even worse at .276.

The stupidity of Gardenhire’s approach lies in its acceptance of making outs at the top of the order. Sacrifice bunts, after all, are intended to trade outs for advancing a baserunner one base. In certain situations they are good plays, such as, say, in the late innings of a tight game in which one run can either tie the game or put your team ahead. But, as a general rule, unless you know one run is all you will need, playing for one run is not a great strategic decision.

However, the really, truly stupid part of his approach is his past reliance on low-on base percentage players as second-place-in-the-batting-order hitters. On-base percentage measures the proportion of times a hitter reaches base out of all his plate appearances. It is, in short, “not-make-an-out” percentage. After all, 1 – OBP=the percentage of times an out is made. Thus, putting low-OBP guys into the second spot of the batting order amounts to putting out-makers at the top of the lineup. Why, oh why, would one do that?!?

During the dead ball era, when extra-base hits were rare, errors were common, and run production was low, it made sense to put a guy who could “handle the bat” into that slot of the lineup, as advancing runners without basehits was a skill upon which managers put a premium. But the reason that skill was important was that it wasn’t easy to get a hit because baseballs just didn’t travel that far. They were kept in play until they were practically mush, discolored and all scuffed to hell. Now, however, when balls leave play after hitting the dirt, the batter always has a brand new baseball to hit.

The fact that lots of errors were made is important too, for if there is a decent chance the fielders will make an error, bunting does not amount to an automatic out. But as equipment and fielding skill has improved over time, sacrifice bunts almost always result in outs.

But, putting the bunting aside, the use of low-OBP middle infielders in the second spot is just plain perverse in a game where (a) making outs helps the team in the field, (b) teams have limited numbers of outs to work with in a game, (c) you only win by scoring runs and scoring runs requires producing baserunners.

Gardenhire just appears to be living in another century when it comes to thinking about the game of baseball. Sure, there were plenty of sacrifice bunts in the World Baseball Classic, but that doesn’t make it the smart play, particularly at the Major-League level.

Intentionally making outs should never be encouraged.

And it is nice to see Mauer in the 2-spot in the lineup, even nicer to think that the Twins’ resident stat-head may actually be getting through to Gardenhire. Now if he could just sell Gardy on optimal relief pitcher usage. Of course, Gardy is hardly alone in using his bullpen suboptimally, as Jim Leyland showed us this past week. Hell, the entire sport uses bullpens suboptimally.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 7, 2013 at 16:41

Chris Davis, Ray Slayer

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The Baltimore Sun beat writer tells us “Chris Davis [is] off to a scorching start.” Indeed. And the day before.

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 4, 2013 at 10:29

Spiking K Rates and Power Arms (Updated)

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Srikeout rates are spiking to all-time highs in Major League Baseball. Meanwhile, crazy hard throwers seem ubiquitous. Astros and Braves hitters at a tipping point?

Written by jjvedamuthu

April 3, 2013 at 21:33