Good afternoon, everyone. Let's get going ...
Is blowing kisses after home runs gonna be in style now? Or did Harper really like that pitcher?
Apparently the pitcher didn't like that Harper briefly admired his mammoth home run. I like Harper. We need a little personality in today's game and a little arrogance will make him a lot more interesting to watch. Back to '80s style of baseball I say ... Rickey Henderson, Jeffrey Leonard's one flap down, Pascual Perez pointing his fingers after strikeouts. What's not fun about all that kind of stuff?
Are you going to do a blog post on what's wrong with the Cubs or would it exceed the word limit at ESPN?
You know, I had written a long post after Big Z's outburst on Sunday, but another columnist ended up writing on the Cubs, so I changed topics. The brief summary: Castro, Barney and Garza are the only good players under 28, and Barney isn't really any good. It's an old, expensive team and the farm system is lacking in top 100 prospects as well. It's going to be a long haul back unless they have the money (questionable) to sign Pujols and other FAs.
David, last week you pretty much crushed Daisuke Matsuzaka in the SweetSpot blog. The point about Matsuzaka's career that I've always found most interesting is how different he has pitched on the international stage (aggressive, throwing strikes) as opposed to MLB (nibbling, copious amounts of walks). You touched on this dichotomy of styles, but I was wondering if you had an opinion about why Matsuzaka has been so tentative in Boston. Is it merely a confidence issue as MLB lineups are stronger than even those of many national teams, or is it something deeper?
Good question. The traditional Japanese pitching method is to nibble a lot more than pitchers are taught over here, so that's part of it. But like you say, during his two World Baseball Classics he seemed much more aggressive. I don't doubt he lacked confidence, but I suppose in Japan, where you don't have as many power hitters as in the U.S., he could fall behind in the count and still challenge hitters. You do that here and you'll give up home runs. He was just never able to change that mind-set for whatever reason. (And as much as the Red Sox preached to throw more strikes.)
Any shot we'll ever see teams being allowed to trade picks in the MLB draft? I get why it's kind of pointless without a hard slotting system, but assuming that goes into place with the next CBA, it just seems kind of odd that the MLB is the ONLY league that doesn't allow this...
Seems like that will be an issue discussed during the current CBA negotiations ... although pretty low on the priority list, compared to a hard slotting system, compensation picks for free agents, and even bringing in international players into the draft (unlikely, sounds like it would be a logistical nightmare). I would like to see the trading of picks -- the more flexibility front offices have, the more interesting the sport becomes.
David, Love your work and its been great to read your blog each day. My twins have been mighty depressing this year. As you yourself said, they are just awful. But they have shown some signs of turning it around. Even in the tigers series, they hit. Is this an abberation or a sign of things to come? Please give me hope that the Twins have some 2006 or 2009 magic and that this summer isn't a total waste! Thanks!
Thanks for the kind words. I hate to give depressing news, but I just don't see it. Even if Mauer comes back and Morneau starts raking, they're 22-37 and have too many holes. They don't really have an ace, the bullpen is a little shaky ... I think the big thing to watch with them is if they can trade Cuddyer and Kubel, get a couple youngsters, and maybe try to re-sign those in the offseason.
The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers have quality, veteran bench guys like Kotsay and Counsell. Although neither guy is putting up great numbers offensively I would argue that they are very important in helping the younger studs like Braun, Fielder, and Weeks put up good numbers because they set a great example. Do you agree or do you think I am putting too much stock in the leadership qualities that Kotsay and Counsell bring to the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers?
I'd rather a bench guy who can it. I still think the Brewers' bench is a huge problem. (Heck, Gallardo is probably their best pinch-hitter, but of course they never use him.) Reminds me of a quote by Jim Leyland when he managed Bonds: "I'll tell you what leadership is: Leadership is 30 home runs, 30 steals and a .300 average."
When is the redsox hype going to come back down to reality,there pitching is average at best,pedroia isnt hitting nouthing out of right field,catcher or shortstop and not to mention an average bullpen I know they are close now but i just dont see it eveybody had the going to the world series I dont see that at this time..
I still like the Sox, although the back of their rotation and bullpen are issues. What does everyone think? Are the Sox overrated?
What are the odds my Braves could get Denard Span away from the Twins?
That's a perfect fit for the Braves and the Twins do have prospect Ben Revere just about ready, another speedy center fielder (albeit with no power). But Span is still pretty cheap and having a good year, so I don't see the Twins trading him unless the return is pretty high (Mike Minor + something else?).
Do I sense a little bit of homerism with your AL all-star picks??? You list Pineda as a reserve pitcher, and not that I disagree, but you didn't list Vogelsong as an NL pitcher. At first I thought it was your comment about not letting a few good weeks create an illusion, but then I saw the Pineda pick. I mean, I couldn't think of a better story than a guy pretty much out of the league, coming back and dominating the way he has making the ASG. With Bochy picking reserves, maybe there will be a homer pick...
You're not really comparing Ryan Vogelsong to Michael Pineda are you? Vogelsong has been one of the great stories of the year, for sure. But it's eight starts, as good as they've been (six straight, 1 run or less). But he doesn't throw 97 mph with control. And, yes, Pineda absolutely was a homer pick! (But he's the real deal.)
Harper is obviously a huge talent, but let's wait until he gets to the major leagues before he starts acting like Mr. Big Time. I, for one, can't wait until he tries that on a real major leaguer. I wonder how the Nationals will feel when their star prospect is sidelined for two weeks because he can't see out of his black eye.
That's always the risk. On the other hand, does major league pitchers REALLY do that? That might throw up and in, but they don't really throw AT a guy trying to inflict injury. Rickey Henderson was about a big of a horse's *** as we had and he was hit only five times per 162 games in his career. I'm not really defending Harper's action, just saying as a fan it makes things more interesting. Anyway, I'm sure the Nats are having a little talk with him today.
Who do you see on the Twins have that have actual trade value and will/could be traded this summer? - Span, Young, Kubel? There are others that could if the Twins eat their salaries.
Cuddyer and Kubel are the names I've heard mention. Young doesn't have much value right now -- terrible left fielder having an abysmal season at the plate (.525 OPS). Man, how many fantasy teams has he cratered this year?
As a Phils fan, I am kind of frightened of the Nats, that team runs their drafts the right way. BPA at each pick, their rotation in a couple of seasons could be Strasburg,Purke, A.J Cole, Meyer, and Solis. Plus a Harper, Zimmerman, Werth, Rendon middle of the order.
They could be very, very interesting in 2013 or so. I can't believe Rendon fell that far. Hitters drafted in the top 10 pan out at about a 2-to-1 rate compared to pitchers. Don't be surprised if he ends up the top player from this draft. Plus he should move quickly through the minors. If Strasburg returns close to what he was next year, I'm with you, Phils fans should be worried.
Beltran, Pelfrey, Byrdak to the NYY for Gardner and Nova... who would and wouldn't do that trade? Seems like NYY get the switch-hitting bat they need, a ground ball pitcher, and lefty relief to make a playoff run. While Mets get out of Beltran and Pelfrey, with somethings REAL to show for it.
I don't see the Yankees making that move or even considering it. Pelfrey is pretty much junk right now -- 5.56 ERA, terrible strikeout rate, gives up too many homers. Nothing to like about the way he's pitching. Whatever minimal gain you get from upgrading Gardner to Beltran is lost if you actually pitch Pelfrey. Gardner is a good player -- gets on base, terrific defender. You can win with him.
could anyone of the following be a relevant reliever for his entire rest of his career? as well as prolong their career? bedard, peavy, carpenter, zambrano. Zambrano being the fringe guy because hes quite durable.
The obvious answer is every starting pitcher would be better as a reliever. (Most relievers are failed starting pitchers.) But considering the arm injuries Bedard, Peavy and Carpenter have had, I'm not sure how they would hold up pitching every other day.
Jordan Zimmerman can pitch a good game too..
Indeed. He's looked good this year.
The Tribe are looking more and more desperate for another bat, with Choo and Santana still in a funk....besides getting Hafner back in 3 weeks or so....how can they get this turned around? Do they need to make a deal for another hitter if they want to make a real playoff run?
I was saying all year that it was their pitching I doubted, but the lineup has really gone in a funk. I'm going to stick to my guns and says Choo and Santana WILL start to hit better, and that I'd be looking to upgrade the rotation. Carrasco and Carmona have ERAs over 5.00. Trouble is, they're not going to bump either of those guys from the rotation, so it's a little bit of what you have is what you're going to see.
I know any time the Red Sox and Yankees play it has to be the series of the week, but I would say that Brewers/Cardinals this weekend could be considered 1B in the rankings. How much stock do you take in early series? Is there such thing as a "big" series in June?
Absolutely. Game 61 counts just the same as Game 162. Should be a fun high-intensity series, one of those played with a playoff atmosphere, where the hitters take a little longer to dig in the pitchers a second or two longer to make their pitches.
Is there a center fielder more coveted than McCutchen? Why is he getting so few All Star votes? To me, Granderson and McCutchen would be the appropriate representatives from their respectives.
Have you noticed he plays for the Pirates? Just kidding. But I do wonder: Who was the last Pirate to start an All-Star Game? I'll guess Brian Giles. Anyway, I'd give a slight to Matt Kemp right now over McCutchen but that could change in a month. McCutchen, Rasmus, Stubbs ... NL center field looks pretty solid for the next five years.
Red Sox & Yankees= The most overrated and boring rivalry in sports. Giants Dodgers is way better and I am not refering to the nonsense violence in the parking lots.
If the Cards/Brewers are 1B, than the Tigers/Rangers are 1C.
The Sox overrated? They play in the toughest division in baseball, have terrible back end starters, questionable bullpen, Pedroia and Crawford have played below their potential and yet they're only a game out of first and lead the wild card.
That's my take ... other than Beckett and maybe Ortiz, there isn't really one Sox (Sock?) who is playing better than you could expect. But several who you would predict to improve.
Do you think Carlos Gomez will ever be able to hit? I'm not talking about .330, but is somewhere in the range of .275 possible?
Oops, wrong post if you saw that. Gomez ... love watching him track down flyballs, but I just don't see him developing. I've seen too many of his ilk to believe otherwise. He's 25 now, still has that poor SO/BB ratio (on pace for 130 K's), so unless he suddenly learns to put the ball in play more, he's going to be stuck as a .230-.240 hitter.
What are the odds that former first rounder Andrew Miller gets called up to help until Bucholz gets back?
Jason Bay started when Pittsburgh hosted the all-star game.
re Miller: Hard to know what to make of him right now. 54 IP, 32 H in Triple-A ... but 34 BBs, 48 SO. He's all over the place. Seems like he needs to throw a few more strikes before getting called up.
Jason Bay! Was he voted in as a starter or injury replacement? I can't remember.
Not saying that is the wrong take for the Sox. But isnt the same true for the Yankees? Other than granderson and colon they are all playing below potential, right?
My personal take on that is other than Swisher, not really. Will Cano hit better? His power's been, his average is down ... but his average his historically over the place. A-Rod, Tex and Jeter are doing pretty much what you would project given their ages.
It's not just CF. NL OF is going to be superstar-laden in the coming years with McCutcheon, Rasmus, Stubbs, Bruce, Stanton, Kemp, Ethier , Heyward and coming soon, Harper.
Maybe that just means that the AL East isn't the toughest division in baseball this year.
Schoen, it was me!!!
Controversy!! Was it Bay or Kendall?!?!
Will Jason Heyward's tendency to groundout in over half of his at-bats (55% this year, 56% last year) prevent him from becoming the superstar that everyone thought he would be?
Great question. You often hear about young guys, "The power will come." And often it does. But maybe Heyward won't have enough loft in his swing to be the 40-homer guy his raw power suggests. I'm guessing most home run hitters have a lower groundball percentage than you cite.
Rendon, Espinosa and Desmond... Who is the odd man out, or doesn't pan out or traded by 2013?
Buster Olney tweeted last night that Desmond is the odd guy out or becomes a super utility guy, which makes sense since I don't think he has the glove/hands to be a full-time SS.
A panic deal would be about the worst thing the Indians could do right now. They are playing with house money, no need to risk the future for the gratification of their fan base right now.
Good point on that. I agree.
you are so wrong about Cabrerra vs. Gonzalez. Gonzo has I higher average. The same number of home runs, 6 more RBIs and is a much better defensive first baseman.
OBP is the most important offensive stat and Miggy's is 55 points higher. That's HUGE in determining value. How many more outs has A-Gone created? You have to keep that in mind. The defense makes it close, but slight edge to Miggy. FanGraphs' WAR, for what it's worth, has Miggy at 2.5, A-Gone at 2.4. So basically a dead heat in value.
Uh, can I make it on that OF list?
The Phillies have the best record in baseball and everyone acts as if they're underachieving. Is it because winning games 4-2 and 3-1 isn't as impressive as winning 8-5?
I'm not sure that characterization is completely true, but I think a lot of people expected them to roll to 105 or 110 wins. Personally, I think I had them projected to 90 or 91 and they're on pace for 97, so in my book they OVERachieveing, haha.
Bay was voted in and actually led all NL outfielders in votes. Go figure. http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/allstar06/news/story?id=2508142
Crazy! I always say -- the fans do a MUCH better job than the media gives them credit for. In fact, I'd suggest they probably do a better job than the media would do.
Tigers 20-10 in their last 30 games, why aren't you guys showing them any love? Enough with this jekyle and hyde talk!
You really shorted the Diamondbacks in your all-star voting. Ryan Roberts should be the 3B all-star (highest OPS among 3B by over 60 points at a "big bat" position) and JJ Putz hands-down over Ryan Madsen (lower ERA, more saves, much much lower WHIP). C'mon.
I almost put Roberts on there (his home/road splits are even), but he's the classic case of a guy who could be having two good months. But he's not so much better than Chipper as to knock him off. Putz was my No. 2 guy behind Madsen. I gave Madsen the edge because of his two-year track record, but don't disagree that Putz was equally deserving.
Who is the best NL shortstop in five years?
Are the White Sox in just about as bad a spot as the Cubs? No good young talent (Beckham, Floyd, Danks?) and no farm system, with alot of old, cumbersome money tying up the franchise?
They have more guys in their prime right now (don't forget Alexei Ramirez), but could be where the Cubs are in a couple of years.
How can you really pick Alexei over Asdrubal for starting SS for the AL? Asdrubal is by far the best shortstop in the league right now.
Toughest call in the AL. The defensive metrics rate Cabrera as being pretty bad and Alexei's as excellent, so I think Ramirez is overall having the better season.
Can someone please wake up Dan Uggla?
No love for Jhonny Peralta as a June 7 All-Star? For shame.
Maybe we can start him at 3B over A-Rod.
Miggy plays for the offensivly challenged Tigers, while Gonzo has more weapons in front and behind him. So his RBIs are going to be higher. Avg flunctates all the time so the difference is neglectable.
J. Bay wins the Pirate Question. from Wiki: Bay became the first member of the Pittsburgh Pirates voted into the All-Star game as a starter since Andy Van Slyke. In the game, Bay went 1 for 3, with a single.
You seem to love Carlos Santana. In less ABs I have better stats than him. Why do I continue to share time with I-Rod?
Ask Jim Riggleman!
you edited out my last comment. OPS is not the most important stat for a power hitter. Who wants the RBI producer walking? Gozo is superior . (this year anyway.)
You're wrong, but good try.
How come no love for the Reds? Will Votto make the ALL-star team this year? And what about the year Bruce is having?
We've given the Reds plenty of love! Votto and Bruce are great and Brandon Phillips is on Web Gems about three times per week. More on Bruce sometime soon!
Dee Gordon: discuss.
He's really fast but has no power. Needs to walk more to become useful.
Ummmm, the reason Ramos has better stats in fewer at bats is because Santana has 2.5 Times as many walks as Ramos. Nice try though.
I think its time you tell everyone that I pay you to tell everyone that I am so important, but really I am not
Alexei looks like he hasn't eaten in a year. Put on some muscle and he might be able to produce a little better offensively
.293, 22 XBH, even starting to walk a bit. He's producing just fine.
Who is more likely to be a New York Met next season, David Wright or Jose Reyes?
Who's the most annoying player on the Red Sox? Papelbon or Youkilis?
I like Youkilis, so ...
Who is the best comparison for Freddie Freeman?
kevin useless is the most annoying player ever.
I vote Pedroia for the most annoying Red Sox player. Cocky little thing.
What's the most reliable power metric?
Well, home runs still work pretty good, although he have to take home park into effect. There's a stat called Isolated Power, which basically strips out batting average (or singles). You can see the leaders here: http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/batting/_/sort/isolatedPower/type/sabermetric/order/true
Want to know who will stop Harper's antics? I will when I get tired of beign thrown at because of them...
Sigh, Dave your not even a Saber nut and these people just don't get how important getting on base is. Now getting on base infront of teh pitcher with two outs by walk isn't that important. But in general OBP is king.
Is JD Nancy Drew ineligible for most annoying Red Sox player because there's a minimum AB requirement?
Am I for real?
YES. In all caps.
Where is Jose Reyes going to finish the season this year?
I'm still going to predict the Giants. Although I'd love to see the Reds make a move for him.
Look at the Phils. No one has a good OBP. None of 'em walk. And look how they struggle to score runs. When you need 10 hits to score 4-5 runs, that's tough to maintain. OBP is HUGE.
Thanks, John. I'll have to write an OBP post. It's easy to assume that most fans know all this stuff when that's not really the case. OK, that's all for today. Thanks for the questions as always. Check out the SweetSpot's new Facebook page: We'll be having some fun discussion over there and take questions for a weekly mailbag as well. http://www.facebook.com/SweetSpotonESPN