Thursday, May 29, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - Whoa! Really?

In what was reported to be a simple callous on a finger of Adam Miller's throwing hand, has turned out to be a season ending injury. As I wrote earlier this week, I was skeptical about whether or not the reports of the injury being simply a callous were correct.

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer,

Lonnie Soloff, Indians head athletic trainer, said Miller will be out for eight weeks. He can then resume a throwing program, which essentially will take him to the end of the minor league season at Class AAA Buffalo.

Miller, who missed all of spring training with the big-league club because of a callous on the same finger, originally injured the tendon last year. He injured it once during the season and once again in the Arizona Fall League.

This year Miller was pitching well for Buffalo, but the unattached tendon in the finger caused a fistula to develop on the second crease of the underside of the finger between two callouses. Soloff said Dr. Graham determined that the fistula, a hole in the skin, which could lead to infection, would not close if the tendon wasn't re-attached to the bone.

While there is still hope that Miller will be able to pitch at some point this season, the Indians management are going to have to look long and hard at the long term value of Miller. While many asserted that he was destined to the bullpen because of his continual injury issues, there was hope that he would be able to get past the issues which have plagued his professional career.

Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com had the following report,

"It's a challenging injury," Soloff said. "It was a very challenging procedure to perform."

Miller actually suffered the injury a year ago and missed six weeks of action with the Bisons while resting the strain. The Indians felt Miller could get by without surgery.

But as a result of the strain, Miller's tendon would bowstring, and his skin sagged when his finger bent. That caused the skin to rub up against the baseball, creating two hardened calluses. Between those calluses, a hole developed in the skin.

Graham found that Miller's tendons were starting to fray and his finger's pulley system -- in layman's terms, the system that allows his finger to bend -- was not working properly.

"Closing [the hole in] the skin would not be enough [for Miller] to pitch at a high level," Soloff said.

While the Indians medical staff annually ranks among the elite in the business, there is little doubt that they have misdiagnosed Miller to this point. That is not to say that they have at all harmed Miller, rather, it is to say that the direction the club took with Miller was misguided. There is little doubt in my mind at this point, that Miller will not be given any more shots at proving he is capable of being a major league starter, his role will now be to work out of the bullpen.

This news is especially damaging to the Indians organization at it appeared they were prepared to go in one of two directions. The first, was to bring Miller up and give him a shot at long relief, expanding his bullpen role as he proved to be capable of doing so. The second, was to look into bringing in a quality major league bat. Jason Bay's name had been linked with the Indians in the off season, but the Pirates decided to hold out building Bay's value. With the way Bay is currently playing and the amount remaining on his contract, a Bay for Miller swap did not seem out of the question. That speculation however, can all but be disregarded.


I will continue to follow Adam Miller in hopes of uncovering any reason behind the continual problems he is having despite no obvious mechanical issues. I hope to also dig up some information on how Miller himself feels about the circumstances of this major injury.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Generals Speculator Part Eight - Two's Got Two...

In this week's edition of The Fantasy Baseball Generals Speculator the discussion revolves around Yankees captain Derek Jeter.

Prior to posting my comments, the editor-Mr DiCaprio (the better looking of the infamous DiCaprio's)-reminded the readers of my outstanding pick that is the Cardinals winning the NL Central. Here is what I had to say...
I think it depends what you ‘need’ Jeter for and how your team is constructed. Obviously Jeter is underperforming based on what his ADP and current ranking are, however Jeter is always over valued at drafts to begin with. In addition, those who drafted Jeter had to expect somewhat of a fall off considering his age, and the recent late-career resurgence he has discovered.

All that being said, one can still expect Jeter to finish with 100 Runs, 70 RBIs, 10 HRs, 10 SBs and a .300 batting average. If you expected more, then yes ’sell Jeter’. If you expected less, then ‘buy Jeter’.

However, it also goes down to what your team ‘needs’. If you are a team that is set for power and steals, Jeter is ideal. If you own an Adam Dunn or other batting average leach, Jeter is again ideal. Personally, I prefer speed from my middle infield slots, I feel power is over valued in those areas. With that in mind, Jeter is an ideal player to buy low, as it is nearly certain that he will bounce back to more ‘typical’ Jeter numbers.

Check out what the other Generals had to say about number 2.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - He's On the DL!

The Cleveland Indians top prospect, Adam Miller, and the focus of many posts here at The Outsiders Look, is heading to the disabled list, according to Bisons.com. The website is not reporting a retroactive date, which leads me to believe he may be out for some time (although I have emailed some sources and hope to have an update on the extent of Miller's injury specifically).

The Buffalo News is reporting that Miller has been placed on the DL due to "a broken callous on his pitching hand." Further information was released a day later suggesting that the injury is specifically related to a finger. Indians.com is reporting that the callous is on the same finger as the blister which caused Miller to delay the start of his season. With how Miller came back so strong, it is startling that the blister went away and then essential reappeared.

I have also received word that the callous is, in most cases, is similar to a blister, which again, makes me wonder how Miller went from a blister in Spring to having a clean hand, to again developing an issue with this finger. The injury is especially worrisome in it's severity as according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Terry Pluto, Miller was on the verge of a call-up to help strengthen the bullpen.

I will be adding more information as it arrives.

BallHype: hype it up!

Update - 05/27/2008 - 12:22 PM EST
Josh Weir of the Canton Rep. is reporting that the callous is on the same finger that Miller strained a ligament on last year and consequently landed him on the disabled list. This injury issue is interesting as by most accounts, Miller has an easy and smooth delivery. Few, if anyone report any major mechanical flaws. This reminds me of Josh Beckett's battle with blisters. I will do some digging and see what was Beckett did to get past those issues.

Article of the Week for the Week of May 18 - 24

Colleague John Brattain regularly writes some of my favorite baseball articles. In a recent article at the Hardball Times, Brattain furthers the discussion regarding regarding possible collusion between baseball and Barry Bonds. This has been a running theme for Brattain as he has written about this topic at length on several occasions which I will link later on in this article.

What I want to point out is how great the logic Brattain uses and the discussion he is proposing within the baseball community. This discussion is similar to the one that occurs within academia where authors and researchers dig and gouge at one another's work. In doing so, Brattain is attempting to push the conversation within the baseball community. Brattain is attempting to open up a dialogue where answers can be found and individuals can draw direct and logical answers.

Furthermore, this dialogue, in essence, is attempting to better the baseball community. Why should those who spend so much time analyzing the sport, not have an open ended discussion? I attempted to add something to the discussion in response to an earlier Brattain column which first brought light to a possible collusion case. Brattain furthered this with an outstanding entry at Baseball Digest Daily where he officially went out and called the Bonds situation a case of collusion.


But back to the article...

Brattain discusses how the media has had an influence on other occasions of collusion, asserting that there is little difference between what is going on with baseball, the media and Bonds at this moment. Bonds, as everyone knows, has never been on the best terms with the baseball media. Several documents discuss how irritated Bonds was over the home run chase between McGwire and Sosa in 1998. To be fair, Bonds was justified in this, as at this time, he was far and away the best baseball player in the game, one who was not all about home runs.

However, the media fell in love with McGwire and Sosa and the ever cold Bonds grew colder. Brattain responds to an article where the author tried to claim that the theory of collusion against Bonds was ridiculous, citing that teams did not want old players with a history of being a clubhouse cancer and injury issues. I thought that the Frank Thomas signing would have been the perfect case for collusion against Bonds, however it went largely ignored that a superior hitter was available.

Brattain reminds readers that much of the negativity towards Bonds has been media fueled. For example, Brattain debates whether Bonds has truly been pampered compared to other major league veterans? He also questions why, if it is such an issue, a team does not simply say no to Bonds? Teams give out no-trade clauses to players, I would think they could also create a no-clubhouse privileges as well.

I love this part...
Baggage? You mean how the media defines it? I get the feeling baggage is a generic term for “he’s nasty to us.” After all, spousal abuse, drunk driving, assault and performance-enhancing/recreational drug use doesn’t give a player baggage (lots of those in the game but they lack the “baggage" of Bonds) but Bonds has enough of this commodity to suck the life out of any clubhouse. I am just curious who are these hangers-on causing radiation poisoning? Bonds’ entourage of who the club can bar from the premises as a condition of employment or is it a reference to segments of the press with axes to grind? It’s a pity the evil Roger Maris has shuffled off his mortal coil—he could inform us about the fair and balanced reporting we can expect from those covering the game.

Oddly enough both surpassed the home run feats of a beloved icon and both records are/were slagged by writers like the author of the column in question—one because of a longer schedule, the other due to PED use.
I have always loved how journalists will get on an athlete for being cold or withdrawn. I recall when Randy Johnson stiff armed a camera man his first day in New York and the media went crazy. Today, that is all but forgotten.

Brattain concludes by questioning the authors assertion that Bonds has a negative impact on the clubhouse, asserting,
Not as excited as they were in 1997, 2000 and 2002-03 I'll wager. Of course when you win fewer than four times over every 10 games, a win may be cause for celebration. It should be noted that the Giants had such a stacked team from 1997 to 2004 that they could still reach the postseason four times, averaging 92 wins per year while Bonds was “sucking the life force and youthful exuberance from their clubhouse.”

Using this writer’s logic, Bonds’ presence on the team cost the team eight straight World Series championships and an equal amount of 120-win seasons due to being such an anchor in the clubhouse. I'm surprised that he didn't claim that Bonds sucked so much life out of the atmosphere at Fulton County Stadium that it slowed the ball just enough that it couldn't reach home plate fast enough to nail Sid Bream.

Once Bonds left Pittsburgh, the new refreshing atmosphere in the Pirates clubhouse catapulted the Bucs from a club that three-peated in the NL East from 1990-92 to a juggernaut working on its 16th-straight losing season that just celebrated its 1058th Bonds-free victory. (We'll just ignore those meaningless 1,319 losses since they were all moral victories.)

Using the slobbermetric formula of wins + moral victories (losses that are achieved absent Barry Bonds) x life-force/attendance + media members rolled in the Colonel's secret blend of herbs and spices divided by investigative reporting grade of the baseball press between 1998-2003 adjusted for home park, hyperbole, exuberance while subtracting placement in divisional standings and games played after October 3, we see that after jettisoning Bonds the Pirates have an Inconsequentialian win-loss record of 2,377-0 and are undefeated in postseason play!

There really isn't much to add to the discussion, however I wish that baseball would go in that direction. The issue is that there are too many people who take the issues personally and do not evaluate them with an open mind. I am not a 'Barry Bonds' fan, I am a baseball fan. Sure I have certain situations where I assert favoritism, but nothing to the extent where I will ignore logic (at least I hope).

I recognize that certain authors have to appease a certain audience. A writer cannot find a job writing for a newspaper in Dallas and incessantly cheer for the Astros in his columns. However, if the Rangers are brutal and the management is running the organization to the ground, why beat around the bush?

Brattain is an author who does not beat around the bush. He is an author who admittedly 'goes the opposite way of popular opinion'. This is presumably how he got into baseball being from Ontario, a hockey crazed region. Most importantly, Brattain is attempting to open a dialogue among baseball writers, which seems perfectly rationale to me.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Take a Chance on Me - Week 7 Edition

Take a Chance on Me returns (finally) after getting owned in week 6. Check out my article at The Fantasy Baseball Generals for a candidate to buy low, sell high and pick off free agency.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Clayton Kershaw - Blogging it Out

DirecTV is stepping it up with their latest ad campaign, so I figured it was only right that I did as well, so here I am, Blogging it Out.

Clayton Kershaw, the 'most hyped' Dodgers prospect in recent memory takes the mound for his major league debut this afternoon, taking the place of DFA'ed Esteban Loaiza. By now, I'm certain everyone had heard about that, so really nothing to report on that front.

We are one out into the second inning and Kershaw looks good, but not great, although what do you expect from a kid who two years ago was trying to figure out whether or not he would be stood up for prom. After 32 first inning pitches, Kershaw allowed an RBI double to Albert Pujols on one of Kershaw's patent big hooks. Relying on only his curve and fastball, hitters seemed to have a beat on the kid in the first inning. He has since turned things around and has induced two groundball outs to go along with four strikeouts.

His 'stuff' has always ranked as that of an ace and that has turned up throughout the minors. The Hardball Times published an article about Kershaw this week titled, 'Is Clayton Kershaw Worth the Hype?' Here are some highlights from that article:
Fastball - Kershaw's fastball sits anywhere from 93-96 with a good amount of late movement.

However, he still needs to command the pitch better, even though he generally has good control of it. I also think he may have some extra velocity in the tank if he needs it.

Grade: 60 now, 70 future

Curveball—Kershaw's curveball (as seen at the start of this article) is an 11-to-6 knee buckler with substantial bite. The pitch is usually in the mid-70s. Like the fastball, he can do a better job commanding the pitch.

Also worth pointing out is Kershaw's ability to get hitters gearing up for something hard when he throws his curveball because the intent he throws with and the mechanics he displays are the same whether throwing a fastball at 95 mph or a curveball at 75 mph.

Grade: 65 now, 70 future

Change-up—This is a pitch Kershaw is still honing. The pitch shows a solid fading action and he shows good feel for throwing the pitch, but he has to work on keeping the same arm speed he uses to throw his fastball; he has to do a better job of selling the pitch. By most accounts, he has made tremendous strides in improving his change-up since being drafted in 2006.

Grade: 45-50 now, 55 future
Overall, Kershaw has the potential to have two of the most dominant pitches in the majors. The author asserts that there aren't any serious red flags among Clayton's stuff. From what I have seen to this point, the stuff looks 'explosive' more then 'electric'. That is to say, he has the control and the velocity that is ideal, but the movement, from what I have seen, is less then stellar.

Let's see what MLB Gameday has to say about that. Kershaw's curveball shows outstanding movement, as is expected from a pitcher with such a devastating hook. However, his fastball is straight and does not have an overwhelming amount of sink. These are things that can help a pitcher in the minor leagues, but I wonder what Kershaw will do if his curve is not working one day. Furthermore, I am curious how he will get through a batting order the third time through in the second or third time facing the same club.

That is, as of today, team's are at the plate guessing what pitch is coming next. A hitter is not aware of the patterns Kershaw displays nor can they be expected to know what is coming in most counts.

Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus had the following to write about Kershaw, while naming him the #1 prospect in the Dodgers organization and #5 in all of baseball (I tabbed Kershaw as the #1 prospect in all of baseball):
The Good: Once scout classified Kershaw as the best left-hander he's ever seen in the Midwest League. His fastball sits at 93-95 mph, can touch 98, and comes in on right-handed hitters with hard, boring action. He backs up the pitch with a plus-plus slow, looping curveball that freezes batters the second it comes out of his hand. His changeup has advanced to an average pitch, and he has the perfect pitcher's build, a smooth, easy delivery, and maturity beyond his years.
The Bad: Kershaw struggles at times with his command, and he doesn't compensate for it well, often grooving hittable fastball when he falls behind in the count. He needs to find more confidence in his changeup and mix it into his arsenal more often.
Fun Fact: Highland Park High School has a wide-ranging list of alumni, including Padres righty Chris Young, 1950s bombshell Jayne Mansfield, and almost-presidential assassin John Hinckley, Jr.
Perfect World Projection: Kershaw has all of the raw tools to be a major league ace of the highest level.
And let's check out what John Sickels at Minor League Ball has to say about Kershaw:
Physicality, Health, and Tools
Kershaw is 6-3, 210 pounds, a lefthanded hitter and thrower, born March 19, 1988. He is athletic and usually repeats his delivery well, although occasionally his release point will slip which hurts his command. His fastball is consistently in the low 90s and can hit 95-96 MPH at times. His curveball is excellent, and he's made major strides improving his changeup. Kershaw should have three above-average to excellent major league pitches, and as he refines his command he should have a dominating combination of plus stuff and sharp control. So far he has had no major health concerns.
As you can see, Kershaw received rave reviews from 'experts'. In this afternoon's game Kershaw has gotten his fastball up to 97mph and his curveball has been dropping down to 72mph. While both are explosive pitches, they undeniably have a different release point and delivery. I believe once hitters begin to recognize this, they will start hitting Kershaw hard. Vin Scully commented that Kershaw throws his fastball at 'maximum effort'.

What I have loved about Kershaw is his ability to run fastballs inside on right handed hitters. Either a letter high or belt high fastball has been swung on and missed multiple times in this outing and in essentially every pitch, Kershaw would have posted a called strike.

To this point, it appears as though Kershaw has thrown one change up, which surprised Pujols. I was shocked to see that FSN West Plus had it clocked at 84mph as it looked to be much slower.


This is definitely an exciting debut for the 20 year old however I'm not sure the Dodgers should keep him up with the big league club all season until he is at the very least comfortable in throwing his change up if (when) needed.

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rekindle the Instant Replay Controversy

While watching last nights Cleveland - Texas barn burner, the umpires stirred the instant replay controversy once again. In this video clip of Ben Francisco's RBI Double you can see what appears to be the ball going over the yellow line in left field. While watching on STO the commentators certainly did not make it easy to come to ones own decision, but it does appear as though the ball, at the very least, landed on the top of the yellow line.

From MLB.com:

According to the ground rules, the padding atop the outfield rail at Progressive Field is home run territory, but after conferring near third base, the umpires decided the ball didn't hit the top of the yellow padding.

Slow-motion replay, however, showed otherwise.

Thus, the argument for instant replay can again be made. Comically, MLB.com's Gameday shows that the ball (image right) went over the wall in left field. It does not show the ball touching the wall - as is the case with the two blue dots to the right. So if it is so obvious that the call was missed and this has been the case on numerous occasions to this point in the season, what is the hold up?

I am, as previously mentioned, against instant reply. My thinking, is that for every call that it fixes and consequently alter the results of the final score, it will wastefully slow down hundreds of ballgames where the difference between an RBI double and a bases clearing home run will have no factor at the end of the day. Furthermore, consider how many times a ball is put into play in a game? Maybe between 50 and 60 a game? Of that, how many are home runs? On average 1 or 2? The majority of which are no-doubters. But how many close plays at first are there? How many near catches in the outfield that are called as a catch when they are 'snow-coned'?

Lets take this a step further. How often has a 'K Zone' or some other strike zone toll popped up, only to show you that a called strike was way out of the zone? Or how about the other way around? Of 300 or so pitches thrown in a game even at the suggested 94% accuracy the umps are sitting at would leave some 18 pitches called incorrectly. Is it not a fact that pitches, hitters and defenses change their approach for every instant in a count? A 2-1 'called strike' that is actually outside the strike zone has the count sitting at 2-2 instead of 3-1. Now try and tell me that the 6% of time that a missed ball or strike does not have a greater influence on every game then does a blown home run call?

There in lies my problem. Proponents for instant replay scoff at the idea that this would slow play down, asserting that conferences are already slow enough. But if, as Ken Rosenthal suggests, there is the technology for instant replay, how could one justify implementing instant replay for a scenario which rarely occurs and not utilizing it for a scenario which frequently occurs? That said, this now occasional instant replay would evolve into a tool used for 6% of pitches. And then how many close plays at the plate? At first? A catch in the outfield? A pitcher balking? Stealing signs? Where would it stop and how could one justify using this technology for an occasional instance when there is a multitude of other mistakes made throughout a game?

Let's put this another way. Think of how angering it is during football season when an obvious blown call is ruled 'unchallengable' by league rules. Either a 'down by contact' or other. Would this same frustration not exist in baseball games where a ball that would have led to a walk is called a strike and the count is set at 3-2?

I know Chicks dig the Longball but creating a rule which only affects home runs is kind of ridiculous, isn't it?

BallHype: hype it up!

Update - 05/24/2008 - 10:30 AM EST
Via Baseball Digest Daily:
Rob Dibble and Kevin Kennedy had MLB Executive VP Jimmie Lee Solomon on their XM show, and stated that it could impact the pace of the game and might be used during the Arizona Fall League.


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Friday, May 23, 2008

Blogger Poll - American League Awards for Week 7

Before I get into the Blogger Poll Awards I want to take this moment to let everyone know that H2O's 'seven years in the making' album Nothing to Prove will be released on May 27th. AOL.com however, is allowing free streaming of the album, go check it out!

Over at Baseball Digest Daily I reflect upon my voting and the voting of my colleagues for this week's Blogger Poll for the American League. Baseball Happenings hosts the votes and has a collection of charts and graphs for your viewing pleasure.

My first place votes when to Kevin Youkilis, Cliff Lee and Jacoby Ellsbury. Of which, only Youkilis was not the consensus winner among voters. Keep in mind that these votes are given as if the season were to end on that day.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Kind of Moneyball Perspective

After reading John Beamer's article over at The Hardball Times I felt compelled to write a piece on MLB salaries and team spending. Beamer comes to the following conclusion:
So, if we were to throw revenue sharing and CBA out of the window what would happen to baseball? Wouldn’t it become a predictable snooze fest?
It might do. For a start we’d see fewer teams having a shot of World Series glory and although that may be a bad thing for some franchises it may not be to the detriment of the game as the postseason is more likely to contain the best teams in the parts of the country with the most money. However, the bald facts are that would leave 20 or so teams with nothing to play for and unlike, say European soccer, or golf (where Tiger Woods doesn’t win every week), there are few other mechanisms to retain excitement.

The magic formula is to make the playing field level enough to ensure that fan interest is retained, brilliance can be pursued and the best, richest and most storied franchises have the best odds of success. I believe that it is in the interests of the sport for a healthy number of super-franchises to slug it out in the postseason.
Baseball mostly has it spot on. Teams, these days are making reasonable money. The power resides with the larger ballclubs, as it should, and these teams have greater odds of success. Also it is possible for smaller market teams to diligently build competitive ballclubs that can challenge the bloated mega-clubs. Moneyball has made it apparent that small teams can innovate to win and teams such as the Twins and Athletics do just that.
Invariably in life we are going to have the haves and the have nots, this may be unfair to those of us who are fans of small market clubs whom have to rely on a form of intelligent design, however no one team is doomed to failure.

The Cleveland Indians, for example, were recently called, "the poster child for building from within" by MinorLeagueBaseball.com.

Although, the news isn't always positive. Al Doyle at TheBaseballAnalysts.com questions whether teams that are rebuilding should spend extra to go from being average to slightly above average.

I have to agree, but at the Bleacher Report an author suggests that not only should a limit be set at how much a club can spend, but also at how little a club can spend. He then goes on to state that the poor teams, if they do not reach the minimums should be docked money from their revenue sharing income. But why? Do we really want a league of average teams? If I am a fan of a team that is not going to win in 2008, what is the difference if they are 4 games out or 14? Or even 24 for that matter? So let the owners pocket the cash, it is, after all, their investment. Maybe the owner is saving it for when they.

However, if the owner is doing as Jeffrey Loria is being accused of doing by John Brattain at The Hardball Times, then I do see an issue. But for a second, as a fan, think about which club you would have preferred to follow the past decade, the Florida Marlins and their 2 championships or the Atlanta Braves and their annual playoff failures? While following a team that wins is always exciting, following your team to the championship game, when everyone is watching is that much more exciting.


This is something that Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane seems to have taken note of. The club he put on the field in 2007 finished 3rd in the division. Not much was going to improve within the organization and there was little hope of bringing in an impact free agent. The minor league system had been run dry and the once highly touted top prospects they did have, were not panning out at the major league level.

What to do? Beane could have easily held onto Haren and Swisher, he could have still pieced together veterans such as Brown, Sweeney and Foulke possibly catching lightning in a bottle in all three players. Maybe the team squeaks into the playoffs with a great deal of luck. No way the team has enough luck to go to the World Series and win it all, and chances are the team doesn't make the playoffs at all.

So what Beane did was the most intelligent thing possible. He moved highly valued commodities like Haren and Swisher, players whom are still young and have excellent contracts for younger players with better contracts and whom he can control for longer. For 2008, 2009 and even 2010 the A's will probably regret the trades they made, but much like the Mulder and Hudson deals, the value received will begin to outweigh the value given up.

Billy Beane, again took advantage of market inefficiencies. This time adding extremely high ceiling players while taking a poor farm system and making it one of the best.

Again, I pose the question, what team would you prefer to follow for the time period of 2008 to 2012? A team like the Oakland Athletics, who may struggle this season but should still be entertaining and will allow one to watch the development of minor league players. OR a team like the Seattle Mariners, whom should be strong in 2008, maybe even 2009, but who have little to nothing in the system and will struggle to compete beyond 2010?

I'm a big picture guy...

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - May 15, 2008 in Review

Check out MiLB.com's Gameday for Adam Miller's showing against the PawSox on May 15, 2008.

In another quality start, Miller held the PawSox to two runs over six innings while just missing out on the complete game. This has got to go down as Adam's most efficient start of the season and one in which he would look to build on going forward. The one thing that is worrisome about this start is the lack of strikes which Adam threw, something Lovullo touched on in the post game press conference (below). This same lack of control is something that would cause Miller a lot more trouble in the majors and may be something that keeps him in Triple A all season.

This, however, would hurt Miller's shot at making a bid for the bullpen down the stretch, a position Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believed was to be Miller's ticket to the bigs for 2008. That is, if a pitcher cannot throw strikes in the first inning when they have some leeway in terms of allowing base runners and consequently runs, how will he make an impact with the bullpen.

What is most alarming in my estimation is the amount of hitters Miller is starting off with a ball. Against the PawSox on the 15th Miller started three of the first six hitters off with a ball. One of the three that had a strike swung at a pitch that looked to be well out of the zone. Interestingly, two of the three that started the at bat out with a ball ended up on base.

The second and third innings saw Miller be around the plate where he racked up his first strikeout. Still, even in Miller's best inning he started a third of the hitters off with a ball.

In the forth inning, Miller's inability to finish off a hitter could have easily been exposed. What is interesting about this inning is the ability of the hitters to not chance pitches out of the strike zone. That is, a pitcher with the kind of stuff that Miller possesses should be able to trick hitters more frequently. What this tells me is that Miller is not being very deceptive and is being too predictable. Throwing a slider in certain counts and staying away form it in others. This could be a lack of confidence in the pitch, or a worry that his injury may sneak back up.

The fifth inning MiLB Gameday data shows that Miller was extremely close to the zone with all of his pitches. Despite starting two of three hitters out with balls Miller was just missing. Again, the concern about being unable to fool hitters arises, as Miller is not going to continue to have such fortune with balls in play in every start. That is, however, unless Miller is doing such a good job at tricking hitters that they are unable to put good wood on the balls.

Much the same in the sixth inning, with two of the three batters Miller faced taking the first pitch for a ball. The hitters appeared to be seeing the ball quite well at this point, as they were taking a lot of early swings and connecting. Fortunately for Miller, the balls were hit directly to his fielders.

While the control for Miller still is not there and the strikeout rate does leave a little to be desired Miller is inducing a good number of ground balls. The line drive rate is not out of this world and he is obviously doing something right to own a 0.0 home run per fly ball rate.

Check out Torey Lovullo's post game press conference, here where he comments on Miller's start and briefly touches on the struggles Miller has endured to this point.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Instant Replay Debate

I offer up a respone to Bill Chuck's recent assertion that it is time for MLB to implement instant replay. Check it out over at Baseball Digest Daily. Feel free to leave comments or questions here or on the BDD board.

Noteworthy Events

Jason Werth, who? Right. Werth almost hit the 'home run cycle' where he would have hit a home run of the solo, two run, three run and grand slam kind in the same game. He fell one dinger short in what would have been a miraculous performance.

However, how much more miraculous would this have been then 3 grand slams? Or had he hit more then 10 RBI's in the same amount of at bats?

This occurrence-the 'cycle'-and its value is similar to the triple double in basketball. Or the 1000 yard rusher in football. Or even the 100 RBI or .300 hitter in baseball. How much less valuable is it for a hitter to have 4 doubles in a game? Or what about 2 triples, a single and a home run? Or 2 home runs and 2 singles? The value, is relative to what occurs beyond that happening.

Jon Lester, a recent survivor of cancer, threw a no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals this evening. He walked two and struck out nine in what will be one of the most memorable no-hitters in major league history. From Aaron Gleeman at Rotoworld, "Between beating cancer, winning the World Series-clinching Game 4 against the Rockies last October, and no-hitting the Royals, it's been quite a run for Lester."

Last year Lester qualified for a feel good story of the year but this year he is simply looking to stay in the Red Sox rotation. Within the same organization, Bartolo Colon is fighting to get back into the majors after suffering through injuries and being tabbed as overweight. His current minor league numbers have proven to be a success, with reports that he is pumping his fastball into the mid/high 90's. Colon may get himself into the running for this years award.

Televised baseball typically produces worse commentators. I'm not sure why that is, but for some reason the best play by play announcers seem to do radio broadcasts. This past Sunday night, towards the end of a Mets-Yankees blowout, the commentator (whom I am unsure if he was doing play by play for the Yankees, Mets or ESPN) brought something to my attention that I had never known.

The New York Metropolitans, or the Amazin's, arrived as an expansion team in 1962, 5 years after the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York (baseball) Giants had left the big apple for the west coast. When the Mets arrived, they borrowed their name from an 1880's ballclub, however, that is not all they borrowed.

Upon closer inspection of the Mets logo and color, something obviously sticks out. Maybe this owns up to some ignorance, but the colors the Mets utilized were symbolic of the two teams who left the city to head west. Utilizing Dodger Blue and Giant Orange, the Mets had chosen their color scheme.

I'm certain any Mets baseball fan could tell me that, or maybe anyone who was around when the Dodgers and Giants resided in NYC, but for me, this was news. And interesting news at that.

Oh, and Ryan Ludwick, what is going on with you??? The ex-Bison is off to an incredible start this season for the St. Louis Cardinals. Having posted a minor league career high of a .642 OPS, the 30 year old is raking for the Cards this year. While the numbers are incredibly unsustainable, seeing Ludwick on pace to shatter even his minor league career high in total number of home runs is sort of nice. Another interesting factoid, Ludwick strikes out like crazy! Ludwick owns a minor league strikeout rate of 26.7%. His major league rate is also alarmingly high at 27.1%. Placing that figure into context, Adam Dunn has a major league rate of 33.3% and Placido Polanco sits at 7.0%

Friday, May 16, 2008

Blogger Poll - National League Awards for Week 6

Over at Baseball Digest Daily I reflect upon my first vote at Baseball Happenings. Last week's vote was a poll for the National League up to May 10th, 2008. Check out my reflection at BDD and then flip on over to Baseball Happenings to see how my votes compared to those in the baseball community.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - May 9, 2008 in Review

The Adam Miller watch returns in what may be a rain out here in Buffalo. It is the middle of May and Miller is yet to pitch in a game where the weather cooperated for him. However, maybe that has come as a good thing as Miller has not allowed an earned run in 3 of his 4 starts to date. It also should be noted that Miller had his best start of the season following his worst.

On May 9th, Miller pitched five very strong innings, allowing only 3 hits and surrendering 2 walks while accumulating 4 strikeouts. Each of the hits Miller surrendered were for singles with one of the hitters making it to second on a steal. I am curious as to whether or not Miller's tall stature has an effect on how effective he can be controlling the running game.

It is interesting to note that Miller threw only 54 of 85 pitches for strikes. To date, his control still is not entirely there. He does have the stuff to succeed while being wild in the minors, but major league hitters would eat him up.

In viewing last week's MiLB Gameday, we can see that Miller started off this start with two strikeouts, both on swinging strikes on pitches in the zone. I have noticed that a lot of Miller's pitches are being fouled off and am curious what relationship this has with how Miller is currently pitching.

In the second inning, Miller was battling with every hitter he faced, allowing the first two to reach on singles after multiple balls were fouled off. As you can see with the at bat against Buscher (image right), we can see that Miller appeared to be unable to truly trick the journeyman. For a pitcher of Miller's stuff, he should not have this type of difficulty in getting a hitter to hit his pitch. Another thing to take note of, Miller was fortunate that two of five hitters he faced put the ball in play on the first pitch of the at bat. Even still, Miller allowed three base runners on 25 pitches. Fortunate for Adam was a nicely turned double play.

The third inning was a different story for Adam as he was able to set the side down in order along with a dominating strikeout against hot hitting Denard Span.

Entering the bottom of the forth, Miller had thrown 43 pitches and was looking as if he could eat up some serious innings and possibly earn a victory. He kept this up by throwing 7 pitches on his way to setting down the side.

Up by two runs, Miller had just posted two of his most efficient back to back innings of the season. After this point, Adam was poised to go 7, if not 8 innings for the longest start of his young season. That, however came to a quick close as he again struggled to put a hitter away. Garrett Jones, whom you might otherwise know for his outstanding minor league on base percentage (.325) took Miller to the ropes lining out to center on 8 pitches. Another 6 pitches to Morales and Miller has sat down to hitters on a total of 14 pitches. However, things began to again unfurl as hitters continued to foul pitches off and Miller could not fool anyone with a pitch outside of the strike zone. An 8 pitch at bat and Basak reaches on a soft fly ball to left, Casilla walks on 5 pitches (4 straight balls) and finally Miller finishes off the inning. Although not before throwing 8 pitches to Span. In total, the fifth inning took Miller 35 pitches, jumping him up to 85 and consequently ending his evening.

A (different) source close to the team reported that Miller is still working in the low 90s and is improving with each start. Additionally, the news is good from the perspective of the Cleveland Indians as Miller has been holding up fine to date.

BallHype: hype it up!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fantasy Generals Speculator Part Seven - The Under and Overrate Over Achievers

Check out this weeks Fantasy Generals Speculator where I wrote:

Chien Ming Wang - Wang has always been somewhat of an anomaly, providing a ridiculously low strikeout rate, with outstanding success. Apparently Wang has worked hard on his change up and his slider-fastball combination was already one of the best in the game. Currently Wang is being fortunate from his home run per fly ball rate, but his percent is normally low in that category, so it is nothing that truly sticks out.

Jair Jurrjens - Before draft day, I thought highly of Jurrjens. Upon further inspection, I worried about his walk rate. Apparently I forgot that he moved to the NEW Junior Circuit. I worry about Jurrjens HR/FB rate, but being a pitcher who owns similar stuff to Wang, it is entirely possible he falls below league average in this category. The innings spike is also of worry going forward.

John Danks - What happens when a pitcher comes to Chicago and masters a cut fastball? Ask Esteban Loaiza. Danks has, in similar fashion, added a cut fastball to his repertoire and has taken an incredible leap as a pitcher. Always one to own a nice strikeout rate, Danks now has a pitch that hitters can hit, but can hardly handle. While it is early, noting the major decrease in fly balls and thus HR/FB gives me reason to believe Danks should continue close to the success he is currently having.



Interestingly my colleagues picked pitchers whom are obvious sell high candidates right now. Zach Grienke and Cliff Lee stick out. Additionally, an Edinson Volquez, Ervin Santana, Dana Eveland and Scott Olsen are all pitchers who are vastly outperforming their statistics. That is, the batted ball data they are receiving currently are at rates that are unsustainable for prolonged success.

Now, one does need to consider that each of the aforementioned pitchers are youthful and do bring some sort of quality to the table. Whether it is the incredible stuff of Volquez, Santana, or Grienke or being a lefty like Lee. That said, one needs to do some digging before they do their trading.

In a league I am currently in, I have been trying to deal Lee and a borderline starting first basemen for a struggling starter and first basemen. The individuals are not biting; claiming that I am ‘selling high’, and indeed that could be the case. However, that is only partially true. Consider that Lee currently owns the following numbers. If I was selling high I would be trying to pedal him as the pitcher he is currently performing as. Rather, I am offering Lee as the pitcher he was prior to 2007. For a player picked up off free agents, I personally do not consider that as selling high.


Then there are the incredible stuff trio of Volquez, Santana, and Grienke. Each one, at some point was tabbed as a top notch prospect. However, they all possess obvious flaws. First and foremost, each are performing, as mentioned, well above their batted ball data would suggest. In addition to that, this performance is nowhere near where they have performed at the major league level. Keep in mind, that is not a nail in the coffin, open and shut case that each one will be a dud from here on out, but it is something to remember while negotiating.

Then, consider their flaws:

Volquez has incredible stuff that he wasn’t able to control against minor league hitters. I think he is currently experiencing the first time around syndrome, remember Dontrelle Willis?

Santana, again, sound stuff, but he has been very hittable over his career. I would be willing to bet that his strikeout rate will decline and balls will begin cruising out of the park again. It is a nice start and something to remember in the future, but until I hear anything about an added or improved pitch (like a John Danks), it’s tough to believe Santana finally found the potion to missing bats.

Grienke is in essentially the same spot as Santana. However I like his stuff a little bit more. The big difference, Grienke pitches to contact and still is not missing many bats. Playing for a team with simply adequate defensive play, its tough to imagine Grienke does not allow more base runners and consequently more runs.


There are two other issues to consider:

  1. ‘From here on out’. This is my slogan for fantasy baseball where I ask myself, how is player xyz going to perform ‘from here on out’? Obviously each of these players are going to regress, but to what extent?
  2. Which leads me to my second point regarding value. If you decide that Grienke is going to be a 3.90 pitcher from here on out and you can manage to deal him as a 3.20 pitcher, you have indeed received good value. If you are unable to get anything more then how you value Grienke, chances are you are better served sticking it out in hopes of getting lucky.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - May 9, 2008

The return of the Adam Miller Watch comes at you after the worst statistical start of Miller's season. Miller's last start on May 4th, was a relatively shaky one, in which he was more the victim of bad luck then terrible pitching. This was noted in last week's Miller Watch when I discussed the play by play action of the game as I saw it unfold live. I do however want to make note that I am worried with how Miller was working behind in many of the counts.

On May 4th, Miller started the game off strong, striking out two in the first inning and beginning four of the five hitters he faced with a first pitch strike.

When Miller allowed two hits in the second inning, you could see his location was beginning to fade and he was not able to fool many of the hitters he faced. During this inning, three of five hitters started their at bats out with a ball.

This trend continued as Miller missed the strike zone to all but three of the first eight hitters he faced. Keep in mind, one of those three was a first pitch single that plated two of the three runs Miller allowed in that inning.

During the forth inning, Miller looked to be reestablishing himself early on against hitters, forcing them to go after his stuff. After two quick outs he again struggled to find the strike zone early and fell behind the next two hitters he would face. At this point, it was obvious Miller was laboring as he was clearing his season high for pitches thrown and had done so with a great amount of stress considering the amount of base runners he had allowed to this point.

As mentioned, luck played a role in the lack of success Miller had on that Sunday afternoon. The weather was not the best for a ballgame, especially for a kid from Texas. However, the biggest issue Miller ran into, was not being able to control hitters. He was constantly putting himself into situations where he was behind in the count and thus was forced to throw strikes. While Adam has the stuff to get by in instances where he is struggling to locate, occasionally the balls will simply fall into play, even greater are the chances of this happening when you are playing in front of Minor League defense.

A couple positives to take from this start. The first, despite Miller's lack of control, he managed to only allow one walk. Possibly Miller could have been a little more careful in hitters counts to not entirely give in. Second, Miller induced the most strike outs per inning of his short season. Although the negative of this is that it took more plate appearances then Adam's previous time out, the stat of K/9 increased, if ever so slightly.


A source close to the team is reporting that Miller's fastball has been working in the 90 to 93mph range. This is about where Torey Lovullo suggested it would be for much of the season as Adam focuses more on how to pitch.

My source also tells me that Miller has stated he is feeling fine, however he is frustrated with his location. Obviously with how Adam's track record, we can see that his walks are an anomaly and are presumably more due to rust then his actual ability. However, it isn't as if Miller's walk rate is terrible. So this could in fact be Miller's frustration with being unable to get ahead of hitters early.

Overall, my source tells me Miller hasn't felt as crisp as he would like. This, as I am told, is part of the reason why Miller has not been working very far into games. Keep in mind however, that Miller is essentially in Mid-April form instead of approaching Mid-May form. Even a minor set back, like the blisters Adam started the season with can have a major effect on a pitchers performance well into the season.

In addition to this, I am curious if Miller is holding something back. My source tells me Miller has hit 95mph at least once on the ballpark radar gun. For a pitcher who typically works in the mid 90s this could either be Miller trying a new approach (as asserted by Lovullo) or this could be Miller cautioning against injury.


I will be in Detroit for the Tigers-Yankees game and to set a long time friend off (aka Bachelor Party) so I won't be able to do my usual pitch-by-pitch analysis on the game. I will return for Miller's following start having hopefully attended the game in Buffalo that evening-weather permitting.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Link of the Day (For the Week of May 4 - May 10)

"I mean, I know it's just joke after joke, but I like that. At least it doesn't get all preachy and up its own ass with messages, you know?" - Trucker (South Park, 2006)

I would like to take this moment to introduce a blog that is vastly more popular then mine, The Drunk Jays Fans: We Are Smarter Than You, And More Drunk. Go Jays! I think the biggest thing they have on me, is that they are 'Good for the dick jokes'. Check out their blog.

Recently, The Score Hardcore Sports Network added DJF to their Podcast lineup. On the negative side, The Score is an embarrassment of sports coverage which tries to promote a Howard Stern type sports coverage. Keep in mind, I have no major issue with mindless vocabulary, but much of the coverage on Hardcore Radio appears to aim for the shock jock mentality.

That aside, I congratulate the guys at DJF for this gig, this is huge for their publicity and I see a bright future for them within sports media. This week I am introducing you their first Podcast over at The Score.

Topics covered on the Podcast include:
  • The typical bloggers rant against latest mainstream media v. the Blogosphere. I'm not sure why bloggers take such offense to this, nor do I care. Anyone who is writing a blog and can honestly say that they would turn down press credentials and a regular paying salary to join mainstream media is a joke.
  • A great conversation with the FAN 590's Mike Wilner. Wilner knows a lot about the Jays and baseball history, and a little bit about the rest of baseball. He is entertaining to listen to after Jays games as he shoots down fans who know a little bit about the Jays and nothing about the rest of baseball.
  • The segment What's Getting at Your Craw? Is interesting and discusses the on-goings of the world of baseball.
  • A segment which about the best Jays blog article of the week, this week is The Tao of Stieb co-author of The Tao of Steib another Jays blog. Question, with all of these Blue Jays blogs and presumably needed audience, how do the Jays have such poor attendance?
  • Interestingly there is a reader/listener mail segment where they attack Nick Swisher. I have no issue with attacking the way a player looks...Especially one that is struggling to this great of a degree.
I definitely suggest listening to the Podcast, but I caution doing so for anything outside of comic relief. Keep in mind, I am not asserting that you click over to me and then make your way to DJF, in fact, if you want real news of the Blue Jays, check out MLB-Rumors.

Check out the Podcast for yourself for a nice laugh. I'm typically not a big Podcast person, but I gave this one a shot and was not disappointed-that is, for what I was expecting.

Monday, May 5, 2008

In Keeping Busy...Blogging Baseball Digest Daily Recap

Over at Baseball Digest Daily I report two happenings from the baseball world (well, not really 'world', more Northern baseball in America. Even that is a stretch, maybe Northern, but east of the Mississippi baseball in America).

In the first report, I discuss the Yankees decision to move Ian Kennedy down to Triple A. In my opinion, this is the beginning of the end of Kennedy's big league Yankee career. I simply do not see how a pitcher with his stuff can get by in the Majors, especially in New York.

The second report is in regards to 'drastic' change #1 by the Detroit Tigers in designating Jacque Jones for assignment. Obviously this is a relatively minor move, but it is the first of what I envision as some big changes occurring in Detroit. That is, I can't see the Tigers not making more moves after Leyland called for 'drastic' changes.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Adam Miller Watch - May 4, 2008

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Miller's fastball was being clocked at 93 MPH in Spring Training, which is excellent for a pitcher who missed a great deal of the 2007 season. In a recent Hey Hoynsie, Hoynes responds to a question about Adam Miller,
Miller recently rejoined Class AAA Buffalo after spending much of April in extended spring training in Winter Haven, Fla. He still hasn't recovered all his arm strength from last year, when he tore a ligament in his right middle finger and injured his right elbow. A blister on the same finger caused him to miss a great deal of spring training this year.

At full strength, Miller throws between 94 mph and 100 mph. He could help the Tribe in the pen or rotation if he can stay healthy.

While it is possible that Miller returns to the mid/high 90s form of his pre-injury days, Torey Lovullo however, asserted that it is probably unreasonable to think that Miller will be the pitcher of old. Hoynes does, however, bring up an interesting comment regarding Miller to the bullpen or rotation if healthy.

From what I have seen and recorded to date, Miller looks as though his confidence is rising, however his stamina and stuff is still slightly lacking. He has made hitters look foolish on occasion, but he is still lack that killer instinct that a pitcher with his ability needs. Think Jake Peavy over Daniel (or closer to home, Fernando) Cabrera. That, I'm going to throw strikes and you can't hit 'em mentality.


With Miller's start having been rained out yesterday, he will take the bump in the first of a double header. With Miller's arm strength building, and the game being shortened due to IL rules that limit doubleheader games to 7 innings, Miller is looking for his first victory of 2008, that will hopefully not be spoiled by the bullpen.

One thing that I would really like to see in Miller's start this afternoon, is more control of the plate. Having walked 10% of the batters he has faced, Miller has not done himself any favors, although this is not a terrible figure, consider that in 2007 Fausto Carmona sat just inside the top 30 with a 6.9%.

I will be keeping my eye on the game and giving some more feedback as Miller pitches. It is currently cool sitting in the low 50s. The sun is shining and the forecast is calling for a bright afternoon with some winds blowing from the west. Right handed hitters may see some of the balls off their bats fly a little bit longer because of that and we'll keep it in mind for when Miller is on the mound.

BallHype: hype it up!

Update - 05/04/08 - 1:10 PM EST
Jerry Owens took the first ball for a called ball, took the next pitch for a strike, fouled the next pitch off and then nubbed a tough pitch to second.
Jason Bourgeois rolled an easy roller to Josh Barfield who didn't take his time and produced an error. This is how a pitch count gets high.
Larry Wise worked his way into a hitters count and lined one the opposite way to left fielder Ben Francisco.
Miller is looking strong against Brad Eldred. He made him look foolish on the first pitch of the at bat. Miller finished him off with a nice inside fastball.
Jeff Liefer is at the plate and starts off behind fouling off the first pitch. The second pitch Miller pounded low and inside. With pitch three Miller gets Liefer to swing at a pitch out of the zone.

After 1 Inning, Miller has 2 strikeouts, 1 hit and has thrown 21 pitches, 15 for strikes. He looks sharp out there and is rolling.

Update - 05/04/08 - 1:40PM EST
Miller will take the hill in the 2nd inning with a 4-0 lead. The Bisons put together a nice inning, but did benefit from some luck. The wind, as previously mentioned, does appear to be adding some issues to the balls. Bisons announcers Ben Wagner also mentioned that the pitches were worried about balking. Lets hope that doesn't play a role this inning.

Chris Getz comes to the plate to start the inning and grounds out to first on a 1 and 1 pitch.
Ex-Bison Mike Rouse comes to the plate and whiffs on a slider, then grounds out to second base. Miller looks sharp. He is staying in the zone and attacking the hitters.
Ball one, high and ins
ide to Paul Phillips followed by a fastball strike. Working ahead, Miller tried to get Phillips to chase a ball low and away. Phillips was fortunate to push one the opposite way on a nice low and away pitch by Miller. That should have been an out.
Fernando Cortez takes ball one in a pitch Miller forget to follow through on. Miller seems to be trying to get a little too cute, not trusting his stuff. Cortez singles up the middle on a hitters count.
Jerry Owens returns to the plate and takes the first pitch outside for a ball. In a 2-1 count, Owens grounded out to first. This was essentially the same ball that Phillips hit for a single. I love Minor League Ball!

Miller didn't have the same control in this inning allowing 2 hits without recording a strikeout. Miller threw 11 of 19 pitches for strikes.

Ben Wagner mentions that Miller is again on a pitch count, suggesting he will be held to under 100 pitches again.

Update - 05/04/08 - 1:58 PM EST
Still leading 4-0, Miller looks for a quick inning to put him on pace to claim a victory.

Bourgeois is one of only 3 right handed hitters Miller will face today and allows a 1-1 single on a tough pitch low and outside (being called a 'slider without bite'). It helped that Bisons third basemen Arron Herr was cheating in for a bunt.
Larry Wise flared one to left field that was boosted by the wind keeping it out of reach from Ben Francisco.
With nobody out, Eldred is up and singles to right. A pair is knocked in on a first pitch that was low and away. A great throw and an even better hit. Miller allows his first two runs of the season.
Jeff Liefer (image left) is at the plate and Miller is struggling to hit the strike zone. Liefer pulls one between the first and second in a play that would have been made had there not been a runner on first.
Getz takes the first pitch for a ball and then whiffs on an inside fastball. Getting the count back in Miller's favor, he throws another one low and inside. The lefties seem to be having a tough time with that pitch. Miller flares one to Barfield for a force out at second.
With runner's on first and third, Mike Rouse comes to the plate. First pitch comes in for a called strike. As does the second. Miller throws the 4th fastball of the at bat high and outside. Srikeout #3.
Catcher Paul Phillips takes a called strike on the outside edge. He lays off the second pitch in the same place for a ball. He then weakly pulls the third pitch to shallow left field.
Fernando Cortez takes the first pitch for a ball. Miller has definitely taken a step back in this inning and cannot catch a break (or a corner). Going back inside (where he seems more comfortable), Miller gets Cortez to foul one off. He follows that with a sharp slider for a called strike. A soft roller to first ends the inning for Miller, but his final line is not pretty.

It took Miller 28 pitches to get through this inning, 19 went for strikes. Keep in mind however, that a ball hit in play counts as a strike. Miller was much shakier then the 68% of strikes represents. 5 hits and 3 runs allowed, as well as racking up a strikeout.

The good news, only one hit went for an extra base.

Update - 05/04/08 - 2:19 PM EST
The Bisons go down in order for the first time this game. Charlotte Knights pitcher Jack Egbert seems to be getting stronger while Miller has been showing signs of rust.

Speaking with Bisons Manager Torey Lovullo reports that Miller will be throwing some other pitches, not relying so heavily on the fastball. What fastballs he will throw, Lovullo says will be low.

Jerry Owens is at the plate first and takes two or three pitches for strikes, all three have been low. The forth pitch was a called strike cutter. Owens didn't lift the bat off his shoulder.
Bourgeois flares a broken bat ball into foul ground on the first base side. That should have been an out. Second pitch went for a called strike which looked like a slider. Bourgeois pulls a hard one foul and then fists one to short.
Wise (image right) is two for two and is fortunate I'm not at the game. The second pitch was a beautiful inside fastball. In a hitters count, Wise pulled an inside fastball for a double.
Eldred takes the first two pitches inside for balls. He has a 3-0 count and is not the type who would hesitate to swing at a 'get em over' fastball. But Miller has battled back and gotten the count full. Finishing off Eldred would be great for Miller here. Another foul and I am assuming Miller will not come out for the 5th inning. Miller walks Eldred on a very close pitch inside.
Liefer should not be on a minor league team. He fouled off the first two pitches (action in the bullpen) both of which seemed out of the zone. Another three fouls and the count is still at 1-2. Liefer lines one DIRECTLY at Sandoval that bounces into left field for a single scoring the forth run of the game for the Knights.

Miller reaches 96 pitches and leaves the game. He threw 62 pitches for strikes and finishes with a line of:
3.2 IP, 10 H, 4 ER, 1 BB and 4 K.

The biggest positives that can be taken from this are that Miller looked outstanding in the first inning. Second to that, is the fact that Miller allowed only two extra base hits.

Not getting in front of hitters hurt Miller. Being unable to finish off hitters also hurt the youngster. I can't imagine Miller will be too happy about this game.

Take a Chance on Me - Week 6 Edition

The return of Take a Chance on Me focuses on a reliever with closer written all over him, and my favorite player on the verge of breaking out. Don't miss the train on these two highly undervalued players in fantasy leagues and check out TACOM: Week 6.

This week, I will also look at how my TACOM picks have performed and whether they were bargains or busts. I see a lot of fantasy columns which will reflect upon this type of stuff a week after the fact and I find that ridiculous. However, I will come forward and assert that some of my picks have been temporary suggestions. Players who are playing too bad to not turn things around.

Here's the review:
Week One
Manny Parra - REACHED ON ERROR! I'm not willing to pack it in with Parra, despite dropping him in every league. The kid has simply been unlucky, boasting a .385 BABIP despite having a skill set that would suggest an ability to beat league average BABIP. Consider a 100 point drop in that category inevitable. The walk rate is concerning but nothing Parra couldn't deal with. Simply keep an eye on Parra.
Ty Wigginton - WALK! At this point, Wigginton hasn't done anything to make me look smart, an injury will do that. But in the games he has played, he has done close to what I anticipated. If you need a middle infielder with some pop, Wigginton is still highly suggested by this guy.

Week Two
Pedro Feliz - BALL! I cannot suggest cutting ties with Feliz who necessarily played well but has also been terribly unlucky. His BABIP is over 60 points lower then his career average and Feliz has played worse then expected on the road. Assuming that turns around, Feliz would be sitting at .270+ and 5 or 6 home runs. The walks and lack of strikeouts (small sample size, obviously) are nice to see. If you are in a league with CI/MI and 5 OFer, check the waiver wire, Feliz will be a bargain still.
Elijah Dukes - Entering the season, I had visions of a big season for Dukes. At this time, he was the uncontested LFer in Washington. Apparently he is taking the Dmitri Young mentoring to a whole new level and has joined Meat Hook on the DL. I suppose this is the equivalent of a 9th inning rally being stopped by a CAUGHT STEALING!

Week Three
Jake Westbrook - WALK! Admittedly, I jinxed Westbrook's season. After I touted him, he went off to have two more quality starts and began to show signs of the K rate he displayed in Spring. As is, the numbers point to Westbrook being rather fortunate, but as a pitcher who was available in the amount of leagues he was, it wasn't a bad suggestion.
Luke Scott - GIDP! Looks like I missed on Scott. If you took my advice and have not cut ties on Scott yet, I suggest you jump ship already. I wasn't foolish enough to believe that Scott's batting average would hover near .400, but I figured the drop in BA would result in an increase in ISO. Zero home runs later, and apparently I was wrong. Scott is hardly worth watching at this point.

Week Four
Felipe Lopez - HIT! This pickup went part and parcel with a league I am in where I had Jason Bartlett underachieving by a great deal. I stuck it out with Bartlett, only to see Lopez get scooped up a day or two later in my league. In hindsight, I probably should have jumped ship with Bartlett and took anchor with Lopez.
Daric Barton - BALL! Barton is still struggling to find his power stroke and I cannot confirm what the issue is. Barton is putting the ball into play the same way he did in 2007 when he sat with a .292 ISO. The problem, Barton has gone from a slightly above league average HR/FB rate to a pathetically low figure. Stash him on your bench until the weather warms up.

Week Five
It is too soon to tell what the future holds for these two players, but I was incredibly high on Navarro (HIT!) entering the season and that remains true today. I am a little disappointed in his lack of power, but yesterday he was moved to the 6 spot in the batting order, which should mean big things for his RBI opportunities.
Jonathan Sanchez (HIT!) was also a player I was high on entering the season and he has not disappointed. If he is available in your leagues, there are fewer then 40 pitchers I would consider keeping over Sanchez right now.

Glossary
HIT! - Stick with the guy, pick him up or consider trading for him.
WALK! - Keep an eye on him or in pick him up in deep leagues.
BALL! - Needs to be watched, can help in areas and can be played in certain match ups.
ROE! - Worth grabbing in deep leagues.
GIDP! - Cut your losses and forget this happened.
CS! - Not worth the time and energy.

Rating
Obviously I am slightly generous, but considering the players I suggest and their availability, my early season TACOM players can be deemed a success. For the most part, the players did more good then harm.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

A Can of Prosthetic Worms

At Baseball Digest Daily, I write and reflect upon an article at ESPN the Mag regarding athletes with prosthetic body parts.

Check it out and feel free to leave a comment at BDD. This is now the third entry I have done on performance enhancing issues. The first was based on a scientific procedure which cleaned the blood in ones body where I questioned whether the issue with steroids was that they provided an unfair advantage over historical achievements, or if it is a social matter. The next entry discussed PED's in academia where I questioned why we as a society would not want our scientists, doctors and/or researchers to utilize these brain drugs in order to possibly create an otherwise unthinkable cure.
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