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Archive for August 2009

Magic Wand(y) Rodriguez transforms self into ace.

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Move over, Roy Oswalt.

Wandy Rodriguez is finally here.

The cheapest ace.The Houston Astros’ diminutive lefty has become the unlikely rock of the team’s pitching staff, providing much-needed consistency in what has been one of the league’s shakiest starting rotations.

For those following Rodriguez’s career, the breakout doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Wandy has been ridiculously good at home for the past four seasons, posting a career 3.63 ERA at Minute Maid Park and a 4.69 ERA while away. In 2008, he evened those statistics out a bit, allowing less than three runs per game at home while holding a respectable 4.34 ERA outside of Houston. The improved consistency was a glimpse at Rodriguez’s ceiling, causing drool inducing visions in team owner’s heads. They signed him to a $2.6 million salary to avoid arbitration.

And they’ve been rewarded. This year, Rodriguez’s home/road splits have evened out even further:

  • 7 wins, 2 losses at home. 5 wins, 5 losses on the road.
  • 72 SO in 83 innings at home. 70 SO in 70 innings on the road.
  • 1.73 ERA, 1.00 WHIP at home. 4.21 ERA, 1.53 WHIP on the road.

Rodriguez ranks fifth in the National League in wins, seventh in earned run average, and 11th in win percentage.

Considering that Roy Oswalt is making over $14 million this year and has won just seven decisions, Rodriguez should be in line for a nice salary boost following the 2009 season.

Red Sox barely hanging onto postseason.

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Fishermen in New Bedford, Massachusetts have discovered a new fish. It fights hard and breaks some lines, but more often than not, it’s easy to get into the boat. Once it’s caught, all the fish does is flop.

I don't like Josh Beckett.The new species is called “Josh Beckett.”

As you can tell, I’m not a Josh Beckett fan. I never have been and I never will be.

He’s never been reliable. I have just as much confidence sending Beckett to the mound during the regular season as I do Tim Wakefield. And that’s because Beckett, outside of his incredible 2005 and 2007 seasons, has never been a consistent pitcher. On a daily basis, he’s yet to prove he’s anything other than your garden variety, hard-throwing Texan, straight out of the mold created by Nolan Ryan. You simply never know if you’re going to get Beckett the Cy Young candidate or Beckett the prototypical flamethrower.

And that’s because he pitches with too much emotion. Pitching with emotion is sometimes a good thing (think Jonathan Papelbon), but when you throw a fastball down the pipe just to prove that you can blow it by a batter, that’s just plain stupid. Beckett has had control problems this year and during counts where a pure waste pitch is the most desirable, he’s done the exact opposite and challenged hitters.

As a result, he gives up way too many home runs. Terry Francona has worked with Beckett on his pigheaded, hit-it-if-you-can pitching since his disastrous 2006 and thus far the results have been impressive. This year, however, Beckett’s on pace to give up just as many home runs as the 36 he allowed in a little over 200 innings in 2006.

In the last 20.1 innings alone, Beckett’s given up 10 jacks and 17 earned runs (including 5 home runs in a game versus the Yankees last night). This latest run of ineffective pitching is eerily similar to runs during Beckett’s 2006 season when he was especially prone to the longball.

Granted all of his struggles can certainly be disregarded if the Red Sox make the playoffs and he continues his postseason dominance.

Written by dylansharek

August 24, 2009 at 11:57 am

Bill Veeck’s prosthetic leg now used in fantasy league.

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This, folks, is not a joke.

Among the comments centering around the possibility of an Oil Can Boyd return to the big leagues, one poster at Baseball Think Factory casually mentioned this amazing piece of trivia:

Bill Veeck's leg.The former-White Sox, Browns, and Indian’s owner, Veeck lost much of his leg during World War II when a piece of artillery shrapnel crushed his foot. Complications led to amputation of most of the leg and the limb eventually required a prosthetic.

That seems simple enough.

But this is Bill Veeck we’re talking about: the guy who sent Eddie Gaedel, a midget, to the plate during a regular season game; the guy who inked Satchel Paige to a one-year deal when he was somewhere in his mid-40’s; the guy who was unapologetically loyal to the “Clown Prince of Baseball,” Max Patkin.

So when it came time for Veeck to design a prosthetic, he did it his way. A to-the-death smoker, Veeck carved holes into his wooden prosthetic so he could ash out his cigarette butts. The leg became the penultimate symbol of Veeck’s non-traditional thinking, the epitome of his grand ideas.

Veeck died at age 71 after he had a cancerous lung removed.

That, too, seems simple enough.

Creepy.But his smoky, smelly prosthetic wasn’t much of keepsake for family members.

So naturally, it went up for auction.

Bob Colleary, a television writer, beat out the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not crew for its possession in 1999. He paid $8,500.

And since then, the leg has been the centerpiece of a fantasy baseball league aptly called, “Bill Veeck’s Leg.”

The league mates lug the leg to their chosen draft location and base their draft order on the order they draw paper slips out of Veeck’s leg. The league’s champion earns the “honor” of bringing the leg home, which has got to be the world’s most ridiculous championship trophy.

It’s an appropriate tribute to Veeck, to say the least.

Mike Veeck, Bill’s son, is a Mount Pleasant, SC resident and owner of the Charleston Riverdogs, the Yankee’s Single-A affiliate. My efforts to reach him have not been successful, but I’m still trying and will have an interview with him in the coming months.

A haiku for the just-released Jason Giambi.

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Goodbye, Jason.Tattoos, ‘roids, and booze.

You were once the best slugger.

Should go back on juice.

The Oakland A’s released veteran slugger Jason Giambi today. Billy Beane’s expensive offseason acquisition certainly didn’t have a resurgence in his return to Oakland, batting just .193 with 11 homers and 40 RBI in 83 games. Giambi recently hit the disabled list with a quadriceps injury.

With the release of Giambi and the impending release of Eric Chavez, Oakland fans must be wallowing in the memories of the glorious Moneyball days of the early 2000’s. The past few seasons have lacked magic or, more specifically (hmm, how do I say this politely?), any semblance to competitive baseball.

Perhaps Oakland should fire Billy Beane and consider bringing in someone else? The plan is not working…

Written by dylansharek

August 7, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Know Your Prospects: Joe Martinez, RHP, Giants

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Following your heart is often followed by getting fired. In the life of a professional baseball scout, that’s the harsh reality of the business. In these days of million dollar contracts for high school and college draftees, there’s no room for error. You better pick a guy based on research and on statistics, but certainly not because of how you feel.

Well, this is a story all about feelings: feelings about a prospect, more concisely, feelings about a prospect’s future based mostly on intangibles.

I’ll never make it as a baseball scout. And I’m fine with that.

Joe Martinez gets hit in the head.The San Francisco Giant’s Joe Martinez is a fringe prospect at best. According to Baseball America, he was the team’s 30th best prospect heading into the 2009 season. Despite pitching well in Low, High, and Double-A ball, Martinez is best known for getting drilled in the head by a Mike Cameron line drive earlier this season. If it weren’t for that moment, Martinez wouldn’t even be a blip on the prospect radar.

But I get a good feeling about Martinez.

I saw him pitch in his first game. And while the results weren’t particularly impressive (2.0 innings pitched, 2 earned runs), I got a glimpse of something I liked.

Martinez’s pitch selection is perfect for the hitter-friendly confines of San Francisco’s AT&T Park. He throws a nasty 86-88 mile-per-hour sinking fastball that induces a lot of grounders and double plays. And while the sample size is simply too small to show how the pitch will translate during extended major league experience, he allowed just six home runs in 148 innings pitched last year at Double-A Connecticut. In 163 innings pitched the year before, he gave up just 11. And with AT&T’s infamous Triple’s Alley, the less fly balls, the better.

Martinez also features a league average curveball and a changeup that also profiles as a plus pitch. And while it’s totally unfair to compare anything to Tim Lincecum’s change, Martinez’s offering has the same diving, dipping movement, making it appear almost like a slider. Martinez is stingy with walks, too, allowing just one through 7.2 innings this season.

Martinez pitches.His motion is easily repeatable and he’s proven to be extremely durable, pitching 547 innings through four minor league seasons.

But what impressed me most about Martinez is his mound presence. He exudes a quiet confidence, confidence in his stuff and confidence in the defense behind him. Martinez doesn’t nibble and relies extensively on his stuff to get him out of jams.

On August 5, Martinez earned his second career win in his first MLB career start. The line wasn’t exactly shimmering (5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 4 SO, 0 BB), but considering it was Martinez’s first appearance since fracturing three bones in his face and suffering a severe concussion, it was an amazing feat. He pitched without fear, as if what happened on April 7 didn’t even happen.

Martinez’s stuff profiles him as nothing more than an able fifth starter.┬áStill, a fifth starter with confidence and good stuff can do amazing things.

Is it so wrong for me to believe Joe Martinez can do more?

O’s Matusz, Ranger’s Feliz getting called up.

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The Orioles will call up left-handed pitcher Brian Matusz to pitch on Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers.

The Rangers will call up right-handed flame thrower Neftali Feliz to bolster their bullpen, possibly as early as tonight.

‘Nuff said.

Sidney Ponson is released by the Royals.

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Over the last decade, Ponson has:

  • been arrested for assaulting a judge in his native Aruba (2004).
  • been slapped with at least two D.U.I. charges (both in 2005).
  • been released and had a contract voided for being a legal and physical mess (Baltimore, 2005).
  • been designated for assignment because “We don’t feel Sidney deserves to be here or wants to be here. We’re not going to get into details other than to say we’re clearly trying to put together a team here, in a true sense of the word. Based on some recent comments and other such things, it was pretty clear that he did not want to be part of that, and it’s something we’re not going to tolerate” (Texas, 2008).
  • tested positive for a stimulant (World Baseball Classic, 2009).
  • played for seven different clubs (1998-2009).

Would a real Knight do this?It’s absolutely shameful that someone with the moral ineptitude of Sidney Ponson keeps getting contracts.

Every season he somehow lands a one-year deal worth about a million dollars before he’s inevitably released for being an ineffective whale.

Because of his infraction during the WBC testing, Ponson is banned from international competition for the next couple years. We can only hope that no team signs him and his time in Major League Baseball is over.

Who’s with me?

Let’s get this piece out of baseball!