Blogging About Baseball

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Archive for May 2009

Grab yourself a 6-pack of Coors, Hurdle. You’re fired.

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Clint Hurdle’s going to be fired within the week.

Before the Rockies just lost three-in-a-row against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Hurdle was already on the hotseat. The latest sweep leaves the club at a dismal 18-28 and has players privately speculating he won’t make it through the weekend. If the move happens, I would expect it to happen before the end of today or on Monday when the team heads to Houston.

There is a rumor that Hurdle will have the chance to lead the club through the team’s next series against the San Diego Padres. Apparently, management wants to make sure that Hurdle can manage against a usually-miserable opponent and therefore maintain the team’s recent status-quo, another lackluster season.

Bye, Clint!

I feel a little bad for Hurdle; it’s really hard to forget the team’s wondrous and inspiring run in 2007. A part of me believes that the team’s failure isn’t so much a product of bad managing as it is of a team that simply hasn’t living up to its billing.

The team’s ace, lefty Jeff Francis, went down for the season with a shoulder injury before even throwing a pitch in 2009. Taylor Buccholz, the bullpen’s saving grace last season, missed the first part of the season and will be out for a bit longer following elbow surgery.

The rest of the roster has also disappeared though. Third baseman Garrett Atkins and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki have been completely miserable as middle-of-the-order bats. Atkins, the team’s “power,” is hovering near the Mendoza line and has a measly three dingers while Tulowitzki is batting .079 with runners in scoring position (3-38). Huston Street has done an able job as closer, but Manny Corpas and the rest of the bullpen has been wretched.

Hurdle’s failure to utilize players like utilityman Ian Stewart and outfielder Ryan Spillborghs could ultimately spell his undoing. There’s also mutterings that players are simply no longer responding to his style of managing.

It’s only a matter of time before the clamoring rings true…

It’s a good day for firing.

UPDATE: Sure enough, Hurdle was fired at 3:30 p.m. eastern time today!

Oriole’s Matt Wieters to make MLB debut tonight, history resets.

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It’s been a while since Oriole’s fans have experienced a little thing called hope.

They’ll feel it tonight when their #1 prospect, switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters, debuts against the Detroit Tigers.

Wieters has been hyped as the savior of the Oriole’s franchise since he was drafted as the fifth overall pick in 2007. He has done nothing but deliver on that promise, winning Baseball America‘s Minor League Player of the Year award in his lone professional season. Wieters shows above-average plate discipline (.355 average in 130 games in 2008) and above-average power (27 homers, 91 RBI in 2008). He calls a good game behind the plate and threw out 46 percent of baserunners last season. If you’ve ever been to a minor league game, you’ll know that’s an absolutely ridiculous success rate for a rookie catcher. This year, Wieters spent time with the AAA Norfolk Tides, where he batted .305 with five homers and 30 RBI.

Those are the well-known Wieters’ facts. Here are some lesser-known, though important, facts to know before he makes his season debut:

  • Matt Wieters is only a switch-hitter because the league will not allow him to hit backwards with his hands tied behind his back.
  • Brian Roberts will ride Matt Wieters to victory in next year’s Preakness.
  • Matt Wieters doesn’t take pitches, he shows them mercy.
  • When Matt Wieters is hungry, he snacks on batting donuts.

This is outta hand.

For up-to-the-minute updates on God’s return to Earth, check out Frost King’s Oriole’s blog.

Clay Zavada has nice ‘stache and MLB.com steals my thunder.

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I pride myself on not recycling MLB.com news or news that can be found in any old media outlet. Blogging About Baseball finds the little tidbits, the things that you wouldn’t usually notice, dissects them, and hopefully opens your eyes to a new facet of the game, however simple it may be.

I’ve had a “Seasonal ‘Staches” section at Blogging About Baseball since its inception. Rick Ankiel’s soup strainer brought the section about, and it was such a hit that I decided to keep adding to it. You can see all the updates on the sidebar over there →.

This morning, I was pretty hurt when I found out MLB.com had a feature on someone’s mustache I’d been keeping tabs on, but hadn’t been able to find pictures of yet (he made his season debut on May 21). Due to my inability to get to Arizona for a picture of a stupid mustache, I lost out on a breaking story.

MLB.com, you can have your Giambis, your Boggs, and your Fingers, but please, please, leave me the Clay Zavadas!

Without further ado and little fanfare, I present to you the best mustache in baseball, Clay Zavada of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

It's so small, but at the same time so beautiful.

Steals of home are not-so-subtle play of one-upmanship.

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There’s been a lot of steals of home recently.

First, Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury did it on my sister’s birthday, April 26. Then Philadelphia’s Jayson Werth proved he had the guts to do it by stealing second, third, and home on May 12. Last night, San Francisco’s Aaron Rowand added his own as part of a double steal against the Braves.

You'll be out next time.

Managers around the league have players running roughshod on the bases this year. Stealing home has never been as popular in recent memory and, in my opinion, it’s a manager’s way of proving, “Hey, we can do that, too.”

Why else would managers around the league be sending their runners into almost-certain outs? While San Francisco needs to manufacture runs, Boston and Philly certainly don’t.

It’ll backfire soon. Just wait.

Adrian Gonzalez, Raul Ibanez on record home run pace.

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How happy is Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez to be out of Seattle? He’s 17 home runs happy, that’s how much.

How much does San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez care that he’s playing in the most cavernous ballpark in all of baseball? He cares 18 home runs worth, that’s how much.

So that makes no sense at all, but you get the point.

According to Baseball Musings and Home Run Pace, Ibanez is on pace for 61 home runs this year. Adrian Gonzalez is very, very quietly on pace for 62.

If there was ever a time to root for “clean” players, this has got to be it. Gonzalez, the most underrated player in baseball, has been knocking dingers out of the park in San Diego for the past four years and I still don’t think anyone even knows who he is. Raul Ibanez has been underappreciated for the last eight seasons while mired in crumby Seattle and Kansas City. Neither has been implicated in the current steroid discussions.

On pace for 62 jacks.On pace for 61.

Roger Maris’ single-season home run record was never broken. There is something more mythical and more legendary about his 1961 season than Bonds’ 2001, McGwire’s 1998 and 1999, and Sosa’s 1998, 1999, and 2001.

The more I think about it, the more angry I get. How is a 47-year-old record broken six times in a five year period?

Bud Selig really needs to be ousted as commissioner and replaced with someone who respects the history and significance of baseball. Then we can dole out the asterisks like greenies.

The Tiger’s Rick Porcello is dominating. We need a nickname.

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I don’t want to toot my own horn, but…I TOLD YOU SO!

Over a month ago, I wrote an article claiming Rick Porcello would make strides towards becoming the Tiger’s staff ace by the end of 2009. At the time, he was an average 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA and not particularly impressive peripheral stats. Still, I was so awed by his veteran poise, devastating sinkerball, and ability to get out of jams, that I didn’t hesitate to say he’d get better, much better.

Well the 6’5″, 200 pound, youngster has improved markedly. After a couple of rough starts in April, he’s won five in a row, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by a 20-year-old since the New York Met’s Doc Gooden did it in 1984 and 1985. Porcello’s next start will likely come on June 2 against the Boston Red Sox.

If he wins, we’re going to need a nickname.

How about “Porcellomania?”

No, something about it just doesn’t have that zazz, that ring, that Fernandomania feel.

“Rick-Rolling?”

That’s already taken, but it could work.

A catchy movement to summarize Porcello’s domination should probably come from his last name. All the good ones do.

Detroit Tiger’s fans, it’s time to bust out your cellos, bring them to Comerica or wherever he’s pitching, and play slow, mournful music as the opposition falls one-by-one. Hey, it’s something.

Porcello has 1/3 as many wins as his age.What am I doing?

For a scouting report on Porcello and what he pitches, click here.

Countdown to 300.

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May 28, 2009: W (299), 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO.

May 27, 2009: W (299), 6 IP, 3 H, ER, 0 BB, 5 SO.