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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 702

post #21031 of 73460
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Nats dead *** are owned by the Braves mean.gif

Pull it together, Washington.
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post #21032 of 73460
I think the Nats could use a night out at one of Atlanta's fine establishments. Clear their minds, ya know?
Edited by J RAIN - 4/12/14 at 7:42pm
post #21033 of 73460

Pool Rules at Chase Field laugh.giflaugh.gif
post #21034 of 73460
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Pool Rules at Chase Field laugh.giflaugh.gif

That ether.
post #21035 of 73460
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Nats dead *** are owned by the Braves mean.gif
**** the Braves laugh.gif

Zimmerman out 4-6 weeks with a broken thumb...if it's not one thing it's another with this guy mean.gif
post #21036 of 73460
Heard we called up a pretty good prospect from our Syracuse affiliate

Bases taking good players out mean.gif
post #21037 of 73460
Jeff Francoeur getting pranked into believing a teammate was deaf for over a month

Twitter - @EssentialShow
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Twitter - @EssentialShow
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post #21038 of 73460
MLB saying the "conclusive angle" was not available in the Yanks Sox game on that challenged play at 2nd base. oh really? because the fox feed have 5 conclusive angles. if it's not going to be done right, get rid of replay. clearly, that was just a BS excuse from MLB to cover for the umps. just glad it wasn't a pivotal play in the game.
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post #21039 of 73460
They're not going to overturn the umps too much, it'll probably upset the umpires union.
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post #21040 of 73460
I can't stand this new catch & transfer rule.
post #21041 of 73460
Oh look, the braves are winning 🚶
post #21042 of 73460
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Oh look, the braves are winning 🚶

Emoji cracking me up laugh.gif
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post #21043 of 73460
Originally Posted by Mr Marcus View Post

Heard we called up a pretty good prospect from our Syracuse affiliate

Bases taking good players out mean.gif
Zach Walters, kid has shown he can swing it in the minors and Spring Training, hopefully it translates to the MLB level.

Last year we entered a series with the Braves with a 7-2 record and left with a 7-5 record. Doing the same thing again...mean.gif
post #21044 of 73460
Originally Posted by Essential1 View Post

Jeff Francoeur getting pranked into believing a teammate was deaf for over a month




this a MUST WATCH!!

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Team Cleveland OG member #5
post #21045 of 73460
i wish they filmed some of the interaction between franc and reyes laugh.gif
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post #21046 of 73460
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by DeadsetAce View Post

MLB saying the "conclusive angle" was not available in the Yanks Sox game on that challenged play at 2nd base. oh really? because the fox feed have 5 conclusive angles. if it's not going to be done right, get rid of replay. clearly, that was just a BS excuse from MLB to cover for the umps. just glad it wasn't a pivotal play in the game.

These calls are just getting outta control lately laugh.gif
post #21047 of 73460
Originally Posted by Franco23x View Post

Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Pool Rules at Chase Field laugh.giflaugh.gif

That ether.

Their souls. Burning slow. pimp.gif
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post #21048 of 73460
post #21049 of 73460
Brandon Crawford walk off Splash Hit pimp.gifeek.gif
post #21050 of 73460
Another series win pimp.gif

Gonna go for it again in Anaheim and come home to play the Astros smokin.gifsmokin.gif
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post #21051 of 73460
Originally Posted by DeadsetAce View Post

MLB saying the "conclusive angle" was not available in the Yanks Sox game on that challenged play at 2nd base. oh really? because the fox feed have 5 conclusive angles. if it's not going to be done right, get rid of replay. clearly, that was just a BS excuse from MLB to cover for the umps. just glad it wasn't a pivotal play in the game.

it's all fixed

just waiting for disclosure

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
induct pete
Ken Patera For WWE Hall OF Fame
Ken Patera For WWE Hall OF Fame
post #21052 of 73460
I've always hated on Dee Gordon not being able to hit, but he's tearing it up right now.
post #21053 of 73460

he didn't have to dive, drama queen :{


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Hilary Duff




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Hilary Duff



post #21054 of 73460
Thread Starter 
Brewers’ early success no fluke.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Last September, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin stood and watched the remnants of the 2013 Brewers take batting practice on a Saturday. No Ryan Braun. No Aramis Ramirez. No Jean Segura. But what Melvin conveyed, amid the tatters of a lost season, was hope.

He liked the projected lineup for 2014, he said, with Khris Davis probably moving into a starting role. He thought Yovani Gallardo -- who seemingly never really recovered from the WBC in 2013 -- would bounce back. Melvin seemed intrigued by what the Brewers could be, and so far, that vision has been borne out.

Milwaukee may not have the Cardinals’ young pitching, or the Pirates’ bullpen, or the high ceiling of the Reds’ rotation. Their farm system is not teeming with position prospects, like that of the Cubs. But the Brewers have an offense so different that it seems to unnerve opponents, and a reliable and improved pitching staff, and a seven-game winning streak that included a perfect 6-0 run through Boston and Philadelphia.

“We played well,” Melvin said Friday. “Going in [to the road trip], it looked like the schedule would be tough, with the World Series ring presentation in Boston. We did a lot of things right.”

Yes. On the perfect road trip, the Brewers outscored opponents 19-0 from the seventh inning on, and then, in the first game of a homestand, they beat the Pirates on Friday night. Milwaukee has the majors’ best run differential, at plus-24.

Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Gomez
Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports
Aramis Ramirez, right, is batting .395 with 10 RBIs this season in Milwaukee.
The Brewers are distinguished, mostly, by the aggressive nature of their hitters. Carlos Gomez -- who finished in the top 10 in the NL MVP voting last season -- doesn’t fit the 2014 prototype for a leadoff man because he doesn’t take a lot of pitches and he attacks at the plate; so far, Gomez has almost twice as many extra-base hits (seven) as walks, and has an OPS of 1.142. Jonathan Lucroy doesn’t take a lot of walks, but he’s hitting .342. Aramis Ramirez doesn’t have a walk yet, and is batting .395 with 10 RBIs in the first 10 games. Davis hasn’t drawn a walk this season and is hitting .308.

In an era when a lot of teams build their offenses around walks and home runs, the Brewers have a different kind of attack. Milwaukee ranks 28th in base on balls; they’re averaging just two walks per game. But while Gomez, Davis and first baseman Mark Reynolds will get their share of strikeouts, it’s not a team that strikes out a lot. The Brewers swing away and bang away, with great effectiveness, so far: They rank eighth in runs scored. Only one team has more doubles than Milwaukee, and only two teams have posted a higher slugging percentage.

Melvin believes that a patient style works better in the American League, because you can have nine hitters contribute. Melvin was the GM of the Texas Rangers in 1996 and he saw Kevin Elster drive in 99 runs in the No. 9 spot. Circular lineups are possible in the AL.

But in the NL, Melvin notes, the No. 7 and 8 hitters can be diminished by the presence of the pitcher in the No. 9 spot, as opposing pitchers and catchers make their choices of who to pitch to. Melvin believes that you need the middle of your order to produce runs -- to get hits, and not merely accept walks that are often swallowed up by the bottom of the lineup. You hear about turning over a lineup, said Melvin, but in the National League, that could mean putting run-scoring situations on the shoulders of the No. 7 and No. 8 hitters.

“Walks are important,” said Melvin, “but you also want guys who can hit.”

For years, part of the rationale for teams to construct lineups filled with patient hitters was to wear down the opposing starting pitchers and get into the bullpens. But these days, Melvin noted, even the best starters are being relieved after six or seven innings.

The Brewers’ starting pitchers have a 2.31 ERA, third-best in the majors, and pitching coach Rick Kranitz said Friday that Kyle Lohse has affected a change in culture, pushing for the starters to work together the way that the St. Louis pitchers do. This season, the Milwaukee starters all gather in the bullpen to watch each other for all of their bullpen session, and discuss all the elements of pitching, from mechanics to game situations to scouting. “It’s a comforting thing,” said Kranitz.

Gallardo hasn’t allowed a run in his first 12 innings, a good start after his 2013 struggles, which grew so acute that some teams that had tracked him before the trade deadline backed away. Garza has had two good starts, as well, and Kranitz mused that perhaps -- through the bullpen conferences -- that the various members of his rotation complement each other, with the energetic Garza providing something for the low-key Gallardo, and vice versa.

• On Friday, it was Wily Peralta who thrived, shutting down the Pirates, with the bullpen kicking in the last two innings. Andrew McCutchen left Friday’s game with ankle discomfort.

• Carlos Gomez is a go-getter in the leadoff spot.

Around the league

• After Felix Hernandez opened the season with his win over the Oakland Athletics, some of their hitters felt this was the best they had seen Hernandez throw. He’s 3-0 so far this season, after excelling again on Friday. The Mariners hung on, writes Bob Dutton.

• Had a lot of interesting thoughts from Justin Havens, Karl Ravech and Keith Law on Friday’s podcast -- about Freddie Freeman’s remarkable efficiency as a hitter, about the perception of Jose Abreu’s kryptonite, about the development and possible promotion dates of baseball’s best prospects: Joc Pederson, Noah Syndergaard, Alex Meyer, Archie Bradley, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant. Keith and I agree on the most likely trade destination for David Price after this season.

• The Players Association asked for MLB to investigate comments made in Wednesday’s column, about the market value of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales.

If this is appropriate, it would also be appropriate if the union investigates some of the anonymous comments fueled on the agents’ side that seemingly exaggerate offers in an effort to artificially pump the perception of a player’s market value -- perhaps in quid pro quo arrangements with particular reporters.

The point of getting a cross-section of unfiltered, honest opinion from evaluators is to get at essential truth, and not to depress or enhance the market value of Drew or Morales. If that’s inconvenient -- as opposed to strategic deception laundered through planted published reports -- well, that’s the way it goes.

Jayson Stark writes more about the qualifying offers here.

• The White Sox racked up nine more runs on Friday, in a win over the Indians. Chicago is averaging more than six runs per game so far, with a team OPS of .828.

• Speaking of Alex Meyer: The Twins’ prospect has started the year in Triple-A, and Rob Antony, Minnesota’s assistant GM, said Friday he hopes to see Meyer use his changeup more. “If he can mix in that pitch a little bit more,” Antony said, “he’s probably not that far off.”

• The Twins got a needed outing from Kyle Gibson. Rick Anderson gave a pep talk to the struggling starting pitchers.

• Curtis Granderson, one of baseball’s best people, chewed out a fan.

• Andrew Cashner dominated Detroit, with location, as Dennis Lin writes. From the Elias Sports Bureau: Andrew Cashner joins Andy Benes (1994) and Kevin Brown (1998) as the only players in Padres history with at least 10 strikeouts in a 1-hit shutout.

Old friend Chris Jenkins wrote this great piece on Cashner a couple of weeks ago.

• Arizona’s bullpen has already logged a staggering 43 innings in the first 12 games. This is similar to a marathoner going out full speed in the first mile of 26: The pace cannot be sustained, and will impact the ability to compete inevitably.

• Bronson Arroyo believes he’ll get his 200 innings. The Arizona relievers will probably be cheering him on.

David Price
Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay starter David Price had 10 strikeouts against the Reds in a 2-1 win.
• David Price dominated the Reds with off-speed stuff. From ESPN Stats and Info, how Price won:

A) He threw a career-high 33 changeups; the Reds were 1-for-13, with seven strikeouts in at-bats ending in a changeup from Price; seven strikeouts with changeup is a career-high.

B) The Reds were 0-for-7 with four strikeouts with men on base vs. Price.

C) The Reds were 0-for-8 with three strikeouts with two outs vs. Price

D) Price went to his changeup far more often than he usually does to put batters away on Friday. In his previous 11 starts going back to last season, Price had used his changeup about 11 percent of the time in 2-strike counts ... he used it 40 percent of the time on Friday.

• Carl Pavano is going into TV.

• Grady Sizemore got a huge hit for the Red Sox, in CC Sabathia’s one bad inning.

• Koji Uehara has shoulder stiffness.

• Jon Lester was The Man for Boston.

• Brian Roberts was pulled for a pinch-hitter.

We’ve got the Red Sox and Yankees on "Sunday Night Baseball."

Friday’s games

1. Jose Fernandez had arguably the worst start of his career.

From ESPN Stats and Info: Jose Fernandez has had a lot of success getting batters to swing at his breaking ball out of the strike zone this season -- until Friday. The Phillies laid off consistently -- Fernandez threw 16 breaking balls out of the zone and got only five swings. And in the 3rd inning, he walked three batters on his breaking ball and threw 11 of his 15 breaking balls that inning for balls.

2. Jorge De La Rosa gave up a big hit.

3. Errors undermined Chris Tillman.

4. Yu Darvish had an outstanding outing, as Richard Durrett writes.

5. The Mets lost on a hit batter.

6. Adrian Gonzalez had a huge night.

7. The Oakland defense let it down.

Dings and dents

1. Troy Tulowitzki is still dealing with a leg injury.

2. The Reds’ Matt Latos had a setback.

3. Shane Victorino hopes to begin minor league rehab games next week.

4. J.J. Hardy is feeling better.

5. Manny Machado will hit against Johan Santana today.

6. The Mets’ Chris Young could be back next week.

7. A.J. Burnett is optimistic about his injury.

8. Mike Adams is ready to come back.

9. Within this Jenn Menendez notebook, there is word about Jeff Locke’s progress.

10. A couple of Indians rehabbed in Double-A.

11. A couple of Oakland outfielders are close to coming back.

12. Matt Moore is going to test his elbow before moving forward with a decision. Nobody is saying exactly what the condition of Moore’s elbow is, but this is probably a baseball version of a Hail Mary: They’ll take a shot, and if it doesn’t work, they’ll take a different course of treatment.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. Jose Veras is still the Cubs’ closer, writes Jesse Rogers.

2. Drew Smyly is going to get his first start Wednesday.

3. Matt Kemp was the odd man out.

4. The Cardinals are trying to get Allen Craig going.

NL West

• A Rockies reliever has a great slider.

• Martin Prado wants to better protect Paul Goldschmidt, writes Nick Piecoro.

• Madison Bumgarner won with his swing.

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Dating back to September 1977, teams are now 25-1 in the last 26 games when their pitcher hits a grand slam.

• Don Mattingly wonders about Kenley Jansen’s confidence.

NL Central

• Billy Hamilton is energizing the Reds in the dugout.

NL East

• Terry Collins is not the same guy he was in 1999, writes Matt Ehalt.

• Justin Upton was 6-for-30 (.200 BA) with no home runs and no RBIs in his first eight games this season. But he’s 6-for-7 with three homers and five RBIs in his last two games, including a walk-off hit against the Nationals on Friday.

• Before the game, David O’Brien explained how dysfunctional the Braves’ offense had been.

• Jerry Blevins knows his role.

AL West

• Tyler Skaggs was in command, again, as Jeff Fletcher writes.

• The Astros were among those who scouted a great high school pitcher.

AL Central

• Omar Infante was back in the lineup.

• The Indians are seeing a whole lot of lefties.

• Jose Abreu dismisses comparisons to Frank Thomas.

AL East

• David Ross thought Brian McCann would wind up with the Red Sox.

• Dustin McGowan had a big night.


• Ron Gardenhire has left the Twins for a couple of days.

From La Velle Neal’s story:
Mike Hirschbeck, the son of major league umpire John Hirschbeck, was at Cleveland’s Progressive Field on April 4 to greet the Twins as they took on the Indians. Those who saw him said he was in good spirits and cracking jokes.

But four days later, Mike died at age 27 after a long battle with a brain disease.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire left the team to travel to the Akron, Ohio, area to attend the funeral. Terry Steinbach managed Friday and will do so again Saturday in Gardenhire’s absence.

Mike Hirschbeck’s association with the Twins goes back more than 20 years. Diagnosed with a rare brain disease — adrenoleukodystrophy, or ALD — he underwent a bone-marrow transplant at University of Minnesota Hospital in 1992. Then-manager Tom Kelly visited him in the hospital at the time. Mike also got to know Gardenhire and the rest of the coaching staff.

His father is one of the more well-liked umpires in the majors. Based in Sarasota, Fla., during spring training, Mike Hirschbeck would come over to Ed Smith Stadium and serve as Twins batboy when they came to town to play the Reds and later the Orioles. Mike last was a batboy during a spring game in 2013.

“[Gardenhire] was trying to figure out what to do [Thursday], obviously because of his relationship with the Hirschbecks,” Steinbach said.

“You all saw Michael on our bench a lot. So there’s a place in Gardy’s heart for him. We knew he would try everything he could do to get there.”

John Hirschbeck also had another son, John Drew, die from ALD in 1993 at age 8.

• And today will be better than yesterday.

Managers frustrated with replay system.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
As managers discussed instant replay prior to the season, they were generally circumspect, understated in their public comments. You got some eye rolls, and privately, some expressed concern, particularly with the challenge system.

But less than two weeks into the start of the regular season, frustration with the system is beginning to boil over, as it did with Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams on Saturday.

Williams challenged an out call of Nate McLouth on a throw to first base, and the replay on the Nats’ broadcast appeared to indicate that the ball wasn’t quite in Freddie Freeman's glove when McLouth’s foot hit the base; in other words, McLouth appeared to be safe. You can see it here, over and over, because the challenge decision lasted four minutes. And McLouth was called out.

Williams was befuddled, as James Wagner of the Washington Post reported. From his story:

“I’m extremely frustrated by the process at this point,” Williams said. “Because if they’re seeing the same feed that we’re seeing, I don’t know how he’s out. I don’t know how Nate is out if they have the same feed that we have, so that’s frustrating because I thought he was safe. We’ve looked at it 100 times since then, and we believe he was safe. And if that is a safe call, then we maintain our challenge. … Again, I’m frustrated by the first one, though, because I see him as safe. And we have the same technology and the same video. I don’t know about that one. That frustrates me.”

Earlier in the day, in New York, the Red Sox challenged a call on Dean Anna, and while Boston appeared to be right, the Sox's challenge was rejected. MLB acknowledged later that the call was wrong.

Boston manager John Farrell was perplexed. “We had probably five angles that confirmed his foot was off the base, and when the safe call came back, it certainly raises questions on if they're getting the same feeds we are, the consistency of the system," Farrell said. "Yeah, it makes you scratch your head a little bit on why he was called safe."

What the managers want, above all else, is reliability, some degree of predictability. They don’t want to feel as though there is a roll of the dice when they’re issuing a challenge, and that they have no idea what the replay officials are looking at. They want to know that each challenge will be treated in the same way, with an expected outcome. So it’ll be interesting to see what sort of response Williams and other managers get when they express their doubts.

One thing you can expect: Less yelling, Rob Biertempfel writes.

Ring habits vary among the Red Sox

Jonny Gomes was among a small handful of Red Sox players who decided to wear their championship rings on the Boston road trip that started Friday. Gomes loves his new piece of jewelry, and is extremely proud of it. But walking around with it, he found, can be a little awkward.

“I was wearing it the other day on the streets, and I found myself protecting it,” he said, indicating how he was covering it up. “It’s that happy medium of being proud and showing it off, and on the other hand, I don’t want anyone to try me for this thing.

“I don’t think I’ll wear it every day, but I don’t think there will ever be a time in my life where I won’t know where it is. You’ll hear guys say, ‘I don’t even know where it is,’ or ‘I’ve got it tucked away in a safe.’ I’m going to know where it is, a lot -- or, always, actually.

“I’ve spent a lot of time looking at it. I’ve got it on the sink, right next to my wedding ring. You’ll wake up and you’re a little groggy, and you look at it, and it turns your day around.”

Jake Peavy pitched on the day that the Red Sox received their rings, nine days ago, and the Red Sox lost, so Peavy found that day to be a difficult time to appreciate the ring. But the next day, he found himself sitting in his place staring at the ring, examining the different elements of it, the significant parts of it, including his own name: The fact his name was on the ring was incredible to him, and he loved the date engraved on the ring: 10-30-13. That’s the day the Red Sox won the World Series, and seeing that date takes Peavy back instantly into that moment, to that time and place when a group of players who had bonded celebrated together.

“I don’t think I’ll wear it a lot,” Peavy said. “When we came on this trip, I wanted to wear it so bad. But at the end of the day, there was no chance I would walk out of the house with it for no other reason than complacency. Not knocking any of the guys who wore it on this trip, I didn’t want anyone to get the idea that we’ve accomplished what we want to accomplish. Last year’s dead and gone. When I retire, I think I’ll wear it more. If you wear it in a social setting, other people will want to see it, and they’ll appreciate it.”

David Ortiz says he doesn’t wear any of his championship rings.

[+] EnlargeDavid Ortiz's World Series champ rings
Courtesy of David Ortiz
Each of David Ortiz's World Series championship rings has a different meaning to him, owing to the different circumstances of each season.
“All of them have such different meanings to me,” he said, detailing the various aspects of each season. In 2004, the Red Sox ended a streak of more than eight decades without a title. In 2007, Ortiz recalled, the Red Sox were recast.

“I remember sitting down with [then-GM] Theo [Epstein] and we talked about the things I think we needed to win it,” he said, “and he did everything I told him -- and then we won in 2007.”

And 2013 was different, too. “Last year, we had gone through all we did in 2012, and then we had the bombing. We went from worst to first, and that was special.”

David Ross: “I’ll wear it when we dress up. I didn’t wear it on this trip. I’ll probably wear it a little bit more, especially this first year. I saw it on [Jon] Lester, he had it on the bus, and it kept catching my eye. I was like, ‘Wow, that’s pretty cool.’”

• The other day, the Yankees placed a defensive shift against the left-handed hitting Jackie Bradley Jr., and afterward, Ortiz encouraged Bradley to take the hit -- the bunt -- if the Yankees give it to him. “It’s different,” Bradley said. “I’ve never seen it before. Just trying to get inside my head.”

The Red Sox will play the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball at 8 ET on ESPN and WatchESPN.

• Xander Bogaerts is noted for his calm at the plate, for his plate discipline. Playing shortstop, on the other hand, is something that seems to require more emotional energy. He has done well so far, but he wants to do even better, and so there is more anxiety in his defensive play.

“He is a pleaser on defense,” said infield coach Brian Butterfield, who has seen progress in Bogaerts, and believes that he is benefiting from working alongside Dustin Pedroia.

The Boston second baseman is blunt, and loud, but Butterfield says that Pedroia is exceptional at working with young players, mixing his instruction with encouragement and humor.

• Alfonso Soriano says that if he struggles this season, he will retire at year’s end, probably to go home to spend more time with his six children, who range from ages 12 to 5. But Soriano says that if he feels good, he’d like to play two more seasons, preferably with the Yankees.

Around the league

• The best moment of Saturday’s games: Justin Verlander getting the first two hits of his career, finally, with his teammates giving him a hearty response. This was Verlander’s first win of the season, writes John Lowe. From his story:

[Miguel] Cabrera said he felt better at the plate. He smiled when someone said, "You have 2,000 hits, and Verlander has two."

Verlander was smiling, too. He tried not to when he got to first base after the first hit, in the second inning. “I looked over there and saw all of my teammates cheering, and I couldn’t help it,” he said.

• The worst moment from Saturday: Ryan Zimmerman broke his right thumb while getting picked off. He’ll be out more than a month, probably.

• That’s eight straight wins for the Brewers, who played some serious defense in the eighth inning.

• John Mozeliak got a two-year extension, through 2018. He has been masterful in his handling of a disparate cast of personalities in his time as the Cardinals’ GM.

• The Red Sox are going to take every precaution with Koji Uehara. Boston doesn’t look so good, writes Dan Shaughnessy.

• A sizable gap exists in the Lester talks, Gordon Edes writes, although there is said to be more nuance in the fine print of these discussions that hasn’t been reported yet.

Wrote here recently that the middle ground in these talks are somewhere in the range of $110 million over five years, which means that the Red Sox would probably have to extend out of their comfort zone, and Lester would probably have to take less than he would get in the open market. The Red Sox really like Lester, value him as a person, and want to retain him; but over the past couple of years, they have been disciplined in not extending themselves too far beyond their terms.

• The Diamondbacks lost again, and are 4-10. They are viewed by a lot of rival executives as candidates for early change in one way or another, given the level of expectation and investment they had in 2013.

• Clayton Kershaw threw lightly off a mound.

• The Red Sox and the Yankees are among the teams that will watch Joel Hanrahan in a workout this week, as he works his way back from surgery. The Royals, who are having some bullpen issues, will also monitor him.

• Joe Girardi was blunt when asked about Derek Jeter being out of the lineup, at a time when a lot of fans want to see him play: “I wasn’t hired to put on a farewell tour.”

Girardi is a manager of principal, writes Mike Lupica. He is sticking to his plan, writes Bob Klapisch.

Dings and dents

1. Brett Anderson hurt his finger.

2. The Rangers are leaning toward placing Adrian Beltre on the disabled list. The Rangers are feeling his absence, Gil LeBreton writes.

3. Mat Latos is dealing with a forearm injury.

Saturday’s games

1. Sonny Gray just keeps rolling along, writes Susan Slusser.

2. Adrian Gonzalez's power continues to come back.

3. Alex Rios made some mistakes.

4. The Astros took one back from Texas.

5. Alex Cobb was superb against the Reds. From ESPN Stats & Information, here's how Cobb won:

• Did not allow a hard-hit ball in play for the second time in his career (the other outing was Sept. 21, 2013)

• 44 of 87 pitches (50.6 percent) were located in the lower third of the zone or below; the Reds were 0-for-11, with five strikeouts, in at-bats ending in a pitch to that location

• Fastball averaged 92.5 mph, the second-highest average velocity in a game in his career; his maximum velocity of 94.1 matched his highest ever (Oct. 2, 2013); he threw 44 fastballs and allowed only one baserunner off of his fastball (single)

6. Jimmy Rollins sent the Phillies into a frolic.

7. The new guys stepped up for the Yankees.

8. A Met got a huge hit in extra innings.

9. That’s two good starts in a row for the Twins.

10. Alex Wood looked good again.

11. The O’s bounced back from a blown save, writes Dan Connolly.

Moves, deals and decisions

1. The Mariners swapped Hector Noesi to the Rangers.

2. Taijuan Walker was sent to Triple-A.

3. Oakland made a roster move.

4. The Royals called up Danny Duffy.

5. Jose Veras is out as the Cubs’ closer.

NL West

• Mark Trumbo has had his share of defensive problems, writes Zach Buchanan.

• Wilin Rosario blocked some pitches in the dirt, writes Troy Renck.

• Matt Cain made only a couple of mistakes Saturday, Steve Kroner writes.

• Michael Morse is becoming a fan favorite in San Francisco, writes Ann Killion.

• Pablo Sandoval says he isn’t pressing at the plate.

• The Rene Rivera-Andrew Cashner battery is working for the Padres.

NL Central

• Joey Votto was moved to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, but the Reds continue to struggle: They have 28 runs in 11 games.

• The Pirates played a wild game.

• Francisco Rodriguez has stepped right in at closer.

• Patience with the Cardinals’ offense is paramount, writes Bernie Miklasz.

• The Cubs have to strike deep in the draft, writes Gordon Wittenmyer.

NL East

• Giancarlo Stanton's power didn’t make a difference.

• It’ll be torture until Jose Fernandez gets back on the mound.

• Rollins is getting comfortable batting second.

• A Phillies prospect is lighting up the radar gun.

AL West

• Raul Ibanez collected career hit No. 2,000.

• Jerry Brewer wonders if the Mariners can thaw out their fans.

AL Central

• Jason Kubel seems to have rediscovered his power stroke, writes Patrick Reusse.

• There is an art to framing pitches, writes Mike Berardino.

• James Shields struggled against the Twins.

• Justin Masterson had a tough outing, but the Indians pounded out a lot of hits.

• Trevor Bauer gave the Indians a chance to exhale.

• Jose Abreu is living up to the hype.

AL East

• Reaching the big leagues was a family affair<,/a> for Yangervis Solarte. By the way: He and Felix Doubront, who pitches for Boston on Sunday night, played on the same team when both were 11 years old.

• Soriano continues to heat up.

• Dustin McGowan amazed a teammate.

Other stuff

• The DL numbers have erupted and PED testing could be one reason, Joel Sherman writes.

• Teams are finding value in potent hitters batting second, writes John Shea.

• Scott Feldman was placed on the bereavement list.

• Don Zimmer is a treasure trove of stories, writes Roger Mooney.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Infield shifts help Yanks beat Red Sox.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Sunday Night Baseball felt like a screenplay that would've been rejected because of implausibility, with all its elements and characters and plot twists crammed into one evening, in one of the most interesting regular-season games you will ever see.

Before the first pitch, a future Hall of Famer was held out of the lineup for the second straight day, and then word broke that Dustin Pedroia, who played almost the entire 2013 with a torn thumb ligament, has a bad left wrist that will be tested in Boston today.

After the first pitch, there was all of the incredible defensive play by superlative outfielders, with Jackie Bradley, Jr. throwing out Jacoby Ellsbury to Brett Gardner throwing out Bradley to Daniel Nava's catch to Ichiro's Spider-Man impersonation.

Because Francisco Cervelli got hurt, Carlos Beltran had to play first base for the first time in his career, and because Pedroia is hurt, Mike Carp had his first-ever game action at third. John Farrell became the first-ever manager ejected challenging replay, after a call was overturned (more below). There were big pitches in big spots, from David Phelps and Shawn Kelley; over the course of the four-game series, the Yankees bullpen dominated Boston, striking out 15 in 9 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, two walks and no runs.

But among the trees lost through the forest of this game was the Yankees' aggressive use of defensive shifts, a dramatic transformation for a team that had been to follow this statistically driven trend before this season.

Going into play Sunday, the Yankees ranked second in the use of shifts -- by far.

Leaders in defensive shifts
Astros: 127
Yankees: 79
Brewers: 48
White Sox: 47
Orioles: 44

In order for this to happen, there needs to be a complete buy-in, from the front office to the last relievers in the bullpen, and as Yankees manager Joe Girardi explained it, the numbers were presented to the field staff during the winter -- and the field staff embraced the idea. Then, early in spring training, the Yankees talked about the changes to come in a team meeting, and some of the most important voices in that first conversation were players who had been on teams that had used defensive shifts -- Kelly Johnson, who had played with Toronto and Tampa Bay, and Brian Roberts, who played with the Orioles.

The Yankees practiced the shifts they would use in their daily workouts during spring training, and in the second half of the exhibition season, they began employing them in games. Yangervis Solarte has been the moving part in a lot of cases, shifting from third base to the right side of the infield against a lot of left-handed hitters, and the Yankees have shifted a lot against right-handed hitters, as well.

The moment that may have demonstrated the Yankees' complete devotion to defensive shifts happened early in the series against Boston, when Mick Kelleher -- who oversees the coordination of the Yankees' infield defense -- employed a redesigned alignment against the speedy Bradley, who doesn't have a lot of track record in the big leagues. Farrell said before Sunday's game that it's not often you check the spray charts of your own hitters, but the Yankees' decision to shift against Bradley made him wonder what data they had seen, and he had gone back and checked the direction of where Bradley had hit the ball in the past.

On this crazy night, with so much stuff happening, it was remarkable how many times a ball was hit hard in the infield -- right at shortstop Dean Anna, or Solarte, or Johnson. It was just a snapshot, but the Yankees seemed to be helped by a philosophical shift. In 2014, better late than never.

The Yankees have had an unreal burst of injuries, to Jeter, Brian Roberts and Cervelli and Brian McCann, as Ken Davidoff writes. The time has come for the Yankees to call Stephen Drew, writes John Harper.

• I'm not a professional lip reader, but I'm pretty sure that as John Farrell was ejected Sunday evening, he spoke to the placement of the replay system. Someplace warm, I believe.

The replay system is tough to process, writes Dan Shaughnessy. From Dan's piece:
So now it's Game On for Replay Rage. Farrell becomes the Neil Armstrong of MLB review: he's the first manager ejected for arguing a reversal. And the first to challenge the system.

"It's extremely difficult to have any faith in the system being used," said the Sox manager.

Uncle Bud Selig is not going to like that one. Managers have been fined for saying less. Coming from the universally respected manager of the defending world champs, it's Throwdown Time for the replay debate.

Big picture: MLB is moving in the right direction by the adoption of replay. There are missed calls that have been corrected -- correctly, for the most part. But the weekend's events -- in Atlanta, and at Yankee Stadium -- defined some of the need for greater precision.

• Jon Lester's contract talks are drawing the attention of the other Red Sox players, and in their conversations, the seven-year, $215 million deal signed by Clayton Kershaw was noted. Kershaw is 26 years old and Lester is 30 and so any comparison is somewhat apples to oranges, but the players noted that if Lester pitched in the NL West, rather than in the AL East, he would cut up the lineups and his statistics would be more gaudy -- and put him in line for a lot more money. Not surprisingly, a lot of Lester's teammates see him as being worthy of an investment worthy of what his market value may be.

I don't think a team should ever base its negotiations with an individual player based solely on clubhouse sentiment, because the mistakes made would be extraordinary and legendary. But there's also no doubt that the perception of the organization within the clubhouse will be swayed by how the Lester contract talks play out.

• Kyle Lohse outpitched Charlie Morton, and the Brewers have now won nine in a row. It's time to start believing in the Brewers, writes Michael Hunt.

From ESPN Stats and Info, how Lohse won:
A) The Pirates were 0-for-8 with three strikeouts in at-bats ending in slider.
B) He generated 10 swings and misses with slider, tied for second-most in any start since 2009
C) He threw 23 first-pitch strikes, tied for second most in any start since 2009.
D) Pirates were 3-for-20 (with seven strikeouts) after being down 0-1.

• The Braves swept the Nationals, and Justin Upton is on one of his streaks. From ESPN Stats and Info: He has recorded multiple hits and runs in 4 straight games, tied for the longest streak by a Braves player since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966.

• The Angels went back-to-back-to-back. From ESPN Stats and Info, this is first time Angels have hit back-to-back-to-back home runs since July 27, 2009 vs Cleveland in 2nd inning (Juan Rivera, Kendrys Morales, Mike Napoli).

From Elias: Sunday marked the second time in major-league history that three consecutive batters homered, with one being in his 20s, one being in his 30s, and one being in his 40s (doing so in any order)-- the 3 on Sunday were Mike Trout (age 22), Albert Pujols (age 34) and Raul Ibanez (age 41). The other instance was August 3, 2004, when J.T. Snow (age 36), Barry Bonds (age 40) and Pedro Feliz (age 29) hit three straight homers against the Reds.

Ibanez now has 42 home runs after turning 40, which is the eighth-most all time.

Dings and dents

1. Koji Uehara is headed to Boston to be examined, along with Pedroia.

2. Ryan Zimmerman was officially placed on the disabled list.

3. Alex Cobb is going to be out for a long time.

4. Brett Anderson will miss four to six weeks.

5. Scott Kazmir pitched six innings and then was pulled out for the sake of protecting him.

6. Mat Latos is going to be out awhile longer.

7. Javier Baez is out with an ankle injury.

AL West

• Robinson Cano has a fresh start, writes Doug Glanville.

• Breakthrough surgery has given Colby Lewis another chance.

• Vladimir Guerrero's nephew is heating up.

AL Central

• The Royals are sticking with Billy Butler. From Andy McCullough's story:
Butler can be stubborn in defending his mechanics, but he was open to the suggestion by [hitting coach Pedro] Grifol.

"I have to be able to hit the inside pitch, too," Butler said. "And whenever I stand too close to the plate, I can't. It locks me up."

Butler blames himself for inching too close to the plate during spring training. He considered it an unconscious consequence of his desire to hit balls to the opposite field. Grifol was merely moving him back to his natural position at the plate.

Butler has only six hits in 39 at-bats this season. He has yet to produce an extra-base hit. Heading into Sunday's game, he was hitting the ball on the ground 70 percent of the time when he put the ball in play. He grounded out in his first two at-bats on Sunday, then struck out in his latter two.

The Royals still believe Butler will flourish as a hitter this season. But manager Ned Yost did not sugarcoat his struggles thus far. When asked whether he saw positive signs with Butler, Yost laughed. "Not really," he said.

Still, Yost does not intend to shuffle his lineup. Butler will remain his No. 4 hitter, sandwiched between Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon, with catcher Salvador Perez still batting sixth.

"Of course I've considered it," Yost said. "But it's too early to do it. Way too early."

• The Twins had a tremendous weekend against the Royals.

• The Tigers like the baseball savvy of one of their top prospects.

AL East

• The Orioles' struggles aren't because of Manny Machado's absence.

• The biggest question about Ubaldo Jimenez moving to the AL East was how he would fare against a division filled with patient lineups, and so far, he's averaging about 19 pitches per inning.

• From Elias: Mark Buehrle has an 0.86 ERA, the lowest through his first three appearances in any season in his career. His previous low was 0.95 in 2002.

NL West

• The Diamondbacks can't beat the Dodgers, so far.

• Tyson Ross made adjustments.

• The Giants are responding well to challenges, writes Scott Ostler.

• Dee Gordon ran wild.

NL Central

• The Pirates had a tough weekend in Milwaukee.

• Justin Grimm has an eye on the Cubs' closer job.

• Miller Park had some leaks.

• The Reds got a badly needed breakout.

• Michael Wacha delivered, as Derrick Goold writes.

• A slow start is nothing new for Jhonny Peralta.

NL East

• Giancarlo Stanton is off to a great start.

• Chase Utley is killing it.

And today will be better than yesterday.

Three quick-to-MLB pitching prospects.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It may be hard to believe now, but there was a time when relief pitchers coming out of college were considered something of a commodity in the MLB Draft. The prevailing wisdom was that relievers wouldn't need much time in the minors before being able to give clubs a return on their investments.

These days, we typically don't see relief pitchers go early in round one -- the highest a pitcher who had no chance to start was drafted in 2013 was Corey Knebel by the Detroit Tigers with the 39th pick -- but there are a few guys that have a chance to be day one selections in 2014, and could be among the quickest players to reach the big leagues if things break their way.

• Louisville right-hander Nick Burdi came into the year as the highest-rated relief prospect for 2014, and he's done nothing to diminish that stock so far. Burdi has an electric fastball that will sit 95-97 mph and it will routinely touch higher than that, occasionally triple digits. He also features a quality slider that borders on plus-plus with good tilt and depth.

2014 Draft Order
First round
1. Houston Astros
2. Miami Marlins
3. Chicago White Sox
4. Chicago Cubs
5. Minnesota Twins
6. Seattle Mariners
7. Philadelphia Phillies
8. Colorado Rockies
9. Toronto Blue Jays
10. New York Mets
11. Toronto Blue Jays*
12. Milwaukee Brewers
13. San Diego Padres
14. San Francisco Giants
15. Los Angeles Angels
16. Arizona Diamondbacks
17. Kansas City Royals
18. Washington Nationals
19. Cincinnati Reds
20. Tampa Bay Rays
21. Cleveland Indians
22. Los Angeles Dodgers
23. Detroit Tigers
24. Pittsburgh Pirates
25. Oakland Athletics
26. Boston Red Sox
27. St. Louis Cardinals
*Comp pick for failing to sign 2013 first-rounder Phil Bickford.
For the year, the Cardinals closer has yet to give up a run in his 12 appearances this season, striking out 28 hitters and walking just five in the process.

"For me, Burdi is a first-round talent," an NL West scout said. "Someone might be tempted to make him a starter, but I just don't think he has the command and the delivery requires too much effort. Still, he's going to miss bats like crazy, and I think he can get left and right-handed batters out with no problem, which makes him a future closer.

Sources tell me that Burdi is a lock for day one, and teams with multiple selections before round two like the Miami Marlins, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers could add the right-hander in hopes that he can help their bullpen as soon as 2015.

• Michael Cederoth was not considered a lock to end up a reliever when the 2014 season started, but a mediocre -- to put it nicely -- first start of the season for San Diego State saw Cederoth moved to the bullpen. The results haven't been nearly as good as Burdi's, but the right-hander has shown flashes of brilliance this spring as well.

"There might not be a player in the class with more arm strength than [Cederoth]," an AL area scout said. "And that's high-school or pro. I've routinely seen him touch 100 mph with his fastball, and the slider can be an out pitch, too. There are some mechanical tweaks that need to be made, but it's mostly about getting him to slow down and keeping the delivery simple. If he can do that, there's a pretty good chance that he ends up a closer or late-inning guy."

Cederoth will have to show much better control over the final month of his season, but with a plus-plus fastball, someone should swoop him up at some point in round two.

• Central Michigan hasn't had a player picked in the first two rounds since Kevin Tapani was taken with the 40th pick in 1986, but right-handed hurler Jordan Foley could break that streak. Foley hasn't been dominant for the Chippewas; striking out 51 in 52 innings and posting a 3.44 era, but several scouts I've talked to believe his already impressive stuff will play much better in the bullpen.

"I think Foley is one of the more underrated arms in the class," an AL East scout said. "He's able to touch 95 mph consistently with the heater, and he's got a split that I believe can be a real devastating pitch if he puts in some work. He's purely a reliever, both in terms of command and delivery, but I think he's going to be a pretty good one."

Verdugo a true two-way prospect

Coming into the year, there were a few members of the draft class who were considered "two-way" prospects -- guys who had a chance to contribute professionally in the field or on the mound. Most of these debates appear to have been answered, but in the case of Sahauro (Ariz.) High School's Alex Verdugo, there's still disagreement among scouts.

Verdugo has been impressive with both the bat and the arm this year; hitting .625 with 13 extra base hits and 11 stolen bases through Sunday, and has pitched 25 scoreless innings with 41 strikeouts compared to 12 walks on the mound. After the summer, most scouts thought that the Arizona State commit's future was definitely in the outfield, but as a left-hander who sits 89-91 mph and with some projection left, it's far from a foregone conclusion.

"[Verdugo] is sort of the mini-Trey Ball," an AL crosschecker said in reference to Boston's 2013 first-round pick. "He doesn't have Ball's raw talent and he's not 6-foot-6, but I think he could have a professional future as either an outfielder or the bump. I really like his athleticism and I think he's got a pretty good feel for hitting, so I'd start him out on the offensive side; but I can't blame a club one bit if they decide that a left-handed pitcher with two above-average pitches at his age is better off pitching. It's a tough situation."

Verdugo came in at No. 31 on Keith Law's initial top 50 draft prospects, and could be a late first-round target for teams like the Oakland Athletics and St. Louis Cardinals.

Coaches erred in Rodon decision.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Those of you who follow me on Twitter saw me voice my displeasure over NC State's usage of left-hander Carlos Rodon, the best college player in this year's draft class, on Friday night. Rodon, who has pitched with a 50- or 55-rated fastball all year, was going on short rest on Friday, but showed up (paradoxically) with more velocity, sitting at 92-94 mph and touching 96.

NC State then decided to push Rodon to 134 pitches, sending him back out to start his final inning after he'd already thrown 118 pitches, an acceptable, if upper-bound, number for a 21-year-old pitcher. This was a clear example of a coaching staff putting their own interests over those of a pitcher, a perfect example of moral hazard at work in amateur baseball, one that calls for regulation by the NCAA.

The Wolfpack, despite having two of the best college players in the country this year, are 5-11 in the ACC so far (19-14 overall) and in danger of missing the NCAA tournament, a result that would be devastating given their talent level. The potential cost of missing the tournament is so high that the coaching staff has the incentive to try to win at all costs, including asking players to do things that may not be in their own best interests, such as throwing 134 pitches in one outing. Only one MLB pitcher did that in all of 2013: Tim Lincecum, in his July 13 no-hitter. (In fact, since the start of the 2010 season, only four MLB pitchers have thrown 134 or more pitches. Three were no-hitters, one was Brandon Morrow's 17-strikeout one-hitter in 2010, and all four spread those pitches over nine innings rather than Rodon's 7 2/3 innings.)

Rodon has a potential $6-7 million payday in front of him, and putting him at any risk like this, real or perceived, is wrong. The reaction within the industry, among sources with whom I've spoken, was unanimously negative. Rodon shouldn't have been sent back out for the eighth inning, period.

I hope there are no ill effects from this kind of outing, but it is inevitable that we will eventually see a pitcher used too heavily in his draft year and then blow out shortly thereafter, costing him a large payday. Causality is irrelevant at that point; the mere perception of misuse will lead to serious consequences -- from recruiting to a potential lawsuit -- for the coaching staff in question. That may be what it takes to get the NCAA involved to put a stop to this kind of nonsense.

Scouting notes on Weaver, Chavis, others

• My run through Georgia centered on the Friday night game at Georgia Tech, where Florida State's Luke Weaver, a potential mid-to-late first-rounder, threw against the Yellow Jackets, giving up five runs in the first inning before settling down and competing well to battle through seven innings.

Weaver received no help from his defense in the first inning, as his infield gave away three extra outs, but his inability to finish off hitters also hurt him, as he doesn't have a bona fide out pitch right now. His best offering is a plus changeup, 82-84 mph, which improved as the game went on, with good fading action and better command than he showed on his fastball. The four-seamer was mostly 90-93, and Weaver left a lot of them up, something he will not be able to get away with in pro ball. His slider is below average, at 81-84, backing up on him frequently; even when he throws it well, it's short and has no bite or dive to it.

His delivery is a mixed bag, more positive than negative. He's lean, but extremely flexible, like Lincecum was when he was younger, and so he gets well out over his front side at release, which is good for long-term health and also can help his average fastball play up. He's on line to the plate, and he gets on top of the ball most of the time from a three-quarters slot, so he should be better than what I saw in terms of working down in the zone. Weaver pronates his forearm late, though, after his front foot has already landed.

Weaver has such a quick arm it beggars belief that he can't throw at least an average slider; I would imagine any team that drafts Weaver would make developing that pitch their first priority with him, and while I hate projecting a pitcher, especially a college guy, to develop a pitch he currently doesn't have, Weaver at least has the proper elements to be an exception. I might have ranked him five spots too high in late March, but I think he's a good pick late in the first round for a team that wants a quicker-moving college starter in a year where the greatest depth is in high school pitchers.

• And since I know some of you will ask, Jameis Winston didn't pitch; he played a little in left field, had one at-bat, and popped up.

• Sprayberry High School shortstop Michael Chavis has had some first-round buzz after a very strong spring season at the plate, showing strong hit and power tools after a modest showing last summer. Chavis is maxed out physically, 5-foot-10 or 5-11 and already very strong, so there's less projection than there is on your typical high school prospect. He has a quiet approach with strong hands and wrists, so the contact he makes tends to be hard, with plenty of loft in his finish. He showed better running speed than I expected, above average to plus down the line, although I think he'll settle in as a 55-rated runner in a year or two.

He has the arm to play anywhere on the field, but his footwork isn't right for shortstop; he could move to third, or even right field, but he has a catcher's build and the intensity for that position, assuming he has the interest. I know a few teams have discussed having him catch at their pre-draft workouts; his bat might be too advanced to take that risk, but you've got a potential superstar if he takes to the position quickly.

• Kennesaw State catcher Max Pentecost didn't catch on Saturday, although given his strong catch-and-throw skills seeing him defend was a little less important than seeing him hit. (He should still be catching every Friday and Saturday, at least, if only to create more chances for scouts to evaluate him fully.) Pentecost will show power in batting practice, but it's rarely shown up in games; he's more of a contact hitter with surprising athleticism and running speed, getting down the line in 4.08 seconds on one ground ball.

Pentecost has good bat speed, but is late to get his bat loaded, holding the handle so that the barrel is still pointing slightly behind him before he shifts his weight forward; you don't see many big leaguers hit like that because it's hard to get the bat head through the zone in time to drive the ball. He has a solid approach, and once he gets the barrel turned around the path is fine for line-drive contact. He did throw in infield/outfield practice on Saturday, and showed a clean, short arm stroke so his releases are quick. As a no-doubt catcher with at least some history of offensive production, including a great summer on Cape Cod in 2013, he'll go in the top 20 picks; I'm just concerned about the swing translating to pro ball without significant changes.

• Pace Academy outfielder Raphael Ramirez is, according to scouts I've talked to in the area, a likely “tweener” -- a good prospect, not a great one right now, who might prefer going to college than taking the kind of bonus he might get in the third or fourth rounds. He has some bat speed, and is a plus runner, but bars his lead arm, and has an exaggerated leg kick that interferes with his timing.

I caught four at-bats before I drove over to Georgia Tech to see Weaver -- with dinner in between, which I'm sure surprises exactly none of you -- and Ramirez squared three balls up, one of which was well out of the zone. He wasn't challenged in center field, but I would guess just based on his build that he'll face questions about staying there for a few years in college or pro ball. With a quieter setup and an emphasis on contact without power, he could be very interesting -- first/second round interesting, that is -- in three years.
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Prospect Watch: Montero, Dahl, and Kelly.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Rafael Montero, RHP, New York Mets (Profile)
Level: Triple-A Age: 23 Top-15: 5th Top-100: 94th
Line: 11.0 IP, 11.45 K/9, 0.82 BB/9, 0.0 HR/9, 0.93 FIP

The Mets’ diminutive right-hander has torched the Pacific Coast League (PCL) thus far, but the organization may need to get creative if its to best utilize his services.

Cashman Field, the home of the Las Vegas 51s and Rafael Montero, is one of the most difficult parks to pitch in throughout the minor leagues. According to, 15% more runs are scored at Cashman than the average PCL park. The PCL is difficult enough on pitchers to begin with. Through 150 games, PCL games have averaged 10.2 runs per game compared to the MLB average of 8.4 runs. When Toronto and Buffalo’s agreement forced the Mets to Las Vegas, many wondered if the move would have a negative effect on the team’s prospects.

Rafael Montero didn’t get the memo. After 88.2 innings of sub-3 FIP ball in 2013, he’s been dominant through his first three starts of 2014. Montero, demonstrative out of the windup, gets ahead of hitters with a fastball he throws from a three quarter arm slot. While he isn’t overpowering, his superb command of his fastball and slider has allowed him to dissect Triple-A batters.

Montero is joined in the Las Vegas rotation by Noah Syndergaard and and Jacob deGrom. If Syndergaard performance mirrors his elite pedigree and deGrom continues to impress — he joined Montero on Baseball America’s Hot Sheet on Friday — the Mets’ front office will be forced to devise a development plan for a trio at the next level. At the moment, the Mets’ rotation is full, so the Mets will need to be creative if they want the trio to face MLB hitters and build upon last season’s workloads. Some on the internet, though I cannot recall where, have suggested the Mets implement a piggyback rotation like the ones the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Astros implement in the minor leagues. It’s a radical thought, but if the Mets are to protect Syndergaard, Montero, deGrom and current starter Jenrry Mejia, a piggyback rotation will allow the quartet to continue to develop against baseball’s best hitters.

David Dahl, OF, Colorado Rockies (Profile)
Level: High-A Age: 20 Top-15: 3rd Top-100: 38th
Line: 43 PA, 7.0% BB, 16.3% K, .300/.349/.675 (.276 BABIP)

After a lost season, David Dahl is back in Asheville showing off his power.

Last season, during Spring Training, I wondered what kind of player Dahl would become before labeling him a table setter. In batting practice and intracomplex game against Arizona, Dahl showcased his versatility — plus bat control, a sound approach and batting eye, the ability to go the other way and some some pop. As the 2013 begun, he was an elite prospect slated to begin the year with the Single-A Asheville Tourists. Then, after a brief suspension, Dahl tore his hamstring and missed the remainder of the year. He has returned to Asheville and if his early performance is any indicator, he won’t be there long. Through his first 10 games, Dahl has hit 4 home runs, 3 of which came this weekend at Hickory. Hickory and Asheville are hitting paradises, but Dahl’s raw power is real. If it has become part of his game, he could be a Top 10 prospect by the end of the year.

Carson Kelly, C, St. Louis Cardinals (Profile)
Level: Single-A Age: 19 Top-15: 8th Top-100: N/A
Line: 31 PA, 9.7% BB, 12.9% K, .296/.387/.519 (.318 BABIP)

While not the most obvious candidate for such a shift, Kelly has moved to catcher from third base for the 2014 season. It’s a difficult decision with which to argue, given the Cardinals’ reputation for development.

Often, position changes are a last ditch effort to turn non-prospects into valuable commodities. Carson Kelly may be an exception. This off-season the Cardinals decided to try the former third baseman behind the dish. Prior to the move, Marc Hulet ranked him the organization’s #8 prospect. It’s amazing to me that Kelly was considered a candidate for such a demanding move. Catcher requires immense flexibility and strength in addition to steep learning curve. Still, the Cardinals have proven themselves to be among the best developers of talent in their belief that Kelly could handle the leftward shift on the defensive spectrum speaks to Kelly’s work ethic. The decision is somewhat unbelievable, as Kelly was considered to be an average defender at third and Yadier Molina will probably be a part of the Cardinals’ battery for the next century. To date, Kelly has started 5 of 7 games at catcher for the Single-A Peoria Chiefs and has a 31% caught stealing percentage (4/13) and has allowed 2 passed balls. His development will be an intriguing 2014 story line for prospect watchers, because teams rarely risk the future of a player with his ability.

Baseball’s New Strategy: Drop the Ball on Purpose.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
This year, in an attempt to clarify the difference between a catch and a transfer on plays around the base base bag, MLB informed teams that a clean transfer from glove to hand was now going to be a required element in making a legal catch. No longer could a player argue that the ball was dropped on the exchange between glove and hand in order to retire the lead runner in a double play attempt. To be credited with the first out, the player has to move the ball from his glove to his hand without losing possession of the ball. As an example, this play occurred last week.
Last year and for pretty much every year before it, that play is ruled an out at second base, as Zobrist received the ball into his glove before the runner got to the bag, and only dropped it when attempting to throw to first base for the second out. This year, that is not an out, and even after the Rays challenged the decision on the field, they were denied on appeal. The next day, MLB issued an official statement in the wake of the play:

“Umpires and/or replay officials must consider whether the fielder had secured possession of the ball but dropped it during the act of the catch. An example of a catch that would not count is if a fielder loses possession of the ball during the transfer before the ball was secured by his throwing hand.”

I think there’s a reasonable case to be made that, at second base, this interpretation of the rule makes decent sense. There is very little difference in time between when a second baseman or shortstop receives the ball and when they are taking it out of their glove to try and turn a double play; the best middle infielders make this move as close to one action as possible. It is very difficult for an umpire to determine in real time whether a ball was dropped on the catch or on the transfer, and we don’t to have every dropped ball at second base reviewed, so drawing a clear line on what is and what is not a catch should help umpires and reduce the need for future replays on dropped transfers at second base.

However, this rule isn’t just being applied to second base; it’s being applied everywhere, including the outfield. And the unintended consequences of defining an outfield catch as including the transfer of the ball from glove to hand have been on full display over the first few weeks of the season.

First, there was Josh Hamilton.
He clearly catches the ball in his glove before dropping it as he moves it from his glove to his hand. It is ruled a catch on the field, and the runner at second base returns to the bag in order to avoid a double play. Lloyd McClendon challenges the ruling, and during the video, the announcers spend most of the delay explaining to the viewers why this was a catch and will not be overturned; he had possession of the ball in his glove, and the drop didn’t occur until he tried to move it to his hand. However, the umpires did overturn the call, because under the 2014 definition, Hamilton’s transfer was considered part of the catch itself, and he did not retain possession of the ball through the transfer.

Then, there was Elliot Johnson.
This one is even more fun, because Johnson takes multiple steps after the ball enters his glove, crashed into the wall, and still maintains possession. He then spins to make a through back into the infield but drops the ball while trying to retrieve it from his glove; the ruling is no catch, and on appeal, the ruling is confirmed. The fact that Johnson traveled with the ball in his glove is not enough to make it a catch; the play is ruled a hit because Johnson didn’t make the transfer cleanly, even though the transfer occurred after making several steps with the ball in his glove.

Finally, there was Dustin Ackley. Twice. In the same game.
On the first play, Ackley makes a sliding catch, then drops the ball as he stands up to make a throw. Seeing the apparent catch, Josh Donaldson turned and ran back to first base. Brandon Moss, the hitter, passed Donaldson on the bases, as he was able to watch Ackley drop the ball and continued running; once the ruling was made that it was not a catch, Moss was called out anyway for passing the lead runner.

On the second play, Yoenis Cespedes jogged off the field before reaching first base after he saw the ball land in Ackley’s glove. The Mariners picked up the ball, threw it in to first base, and Cespedes was officially retired 7-6-3.

At this point, it shouldn’t be too hard to spot the problem with using the same definition of a catch in the outfield as it is at second base; the drop at second base has no real impact on the runner’s decision making. The batter is sprinting down the first base line to try and beat out the double play, and probably will rarely even know the ball is dropped on the double play attempt. The runner going into second base is almost always sliding into the bag, and the dropped transfer does not result in the ball rolling far enough away for an advancement to third base. Until the play is over and the runners find out who is safe and who is out, they don’t really care too much about what the fielders are doing.

That is absolutely not true with runners and outfielders, however; the decision of whether to advance or return to base is entirely dependent on whether the outfielder is ruled to have safely caught the ball. Runners are taught to get enough of a lead off the base to maximize their potential advancement in case the ball is not caught while still retaining their ability to return to their previous base if it is. When the ball enters the glove, the runner returns to their prior base in order to avoid a potential double play. Only now, the ball entering the glove is no longer the determining factor of whether or not the catch was made; that is now the ball moving from the glove to the hand.

As we see in the Elliot Johnson play, a player can catch the ball in his glove, run in a direction for several steps, and still be ruled to have not caught the ball if he drops the ball on the transfer to his hand. This definition of an outfield catch opens up a huge can of worms, because this definition has now created the exact play that the infield fly rule was designed to eliminate.

Runners at 1st and 2nd, less than 2 outs, fly ball or line drive hit to left field. This is a pretty common occurrence in MLB; using Baseball Savant’s PITCHF/x search tool, I pulled up a list of 58 such plays from 2013. Using the even cooler only-plays-with-video tag, I found a fantastic example of a play where the left fielder now holds all power over the baserunners.
Mark Trumbo makes a nice little diving catch — okay, likely diving only because he’s Mark Trumbo, but still — on a line drive to left, and then, he gets up and throws the ball back in to the infield. The runner on second who had gone halfway has already beaten the throw back in, however, and is safely standing on second base. We can’t see it in the video, but we can safely assume the runner on first base had also turned his back to Trumbo and ran back to first base after he saw Trumbo come up with the ball in his glove.

Under 2014 rules, when given a chance to do that again, Mark Trumbo should immediately stand up and take a step or two towards the infield with the ball in his glove. The only reasonable decision the runners can make at that point is to return to their prior base, because any further hesitation will result in a sure double play. Once Trumbo sees the runners retreating, he should immediately drop the ball on the transfer, pick the ball up, and throw it in to a shortstop positioned close enough to the second base bag to tag the runner on second once he realizes he now has to try and advance, and then easily flip the ball to the second baseman covering the bag to force out the runner from first trying to move up for a second time in the same play.

It’s not a guaranteed double play, but with both runners needing to turn their backs to the left fielder once they’ve committed to the ball being ruled a catch, it is quite likely that a team can regularly turn a one out play into a two out play. And there’s basically nothing the offense can do about it. The runners cannot hold on the basepaths to make sure the ball is transferred cleanly; if they do, they’re going to be so far off from their original base that the resulting in throw in will beat them easily. They can shorten the length they advance on a ball that may or may not be caught — turning the game into more of a station to station contest in the process — but even still, it’s basically impossible for a runner to return to first base while still maintaining a visual on the left fielder at the same time. Once the left fielder has convinced the runner on first base to return to the bag, he can confidently drop the ball knowing that he essentially has a guaranteed out at second, and if they trick the guy on second into getting caught off base too, hey, free out.

In the Brandon Moss video, you see Donaldson get back to first base, realize something is going on, and yell “what happened?” He doesn’t know — can’t know — what transpired after he turned and headed back to first base. The outfielders can see everything, the runners can see very little, and the information asymmetry gives the outfielders a ton of power in the process.

So far, we’ve seen the umpires confirm that Elliot Johnson taking two or three steps was not enough to confirm a catch, but we don’t actually know how many steps an umpire would require before it was reasonable to rule it a catch regardless of what happened afterwards. If some enterprising team wants to test the rule, they should actually tell their left fielder that, on any play with runners at first and second and less than two outs, he should run the ball all the way back in to the infield, and then drop the ball only once he’s a few feet from the second base bag. I cannot imagine a Major League umpiring crew going along with a clearly planned exploitation of an unintended consequence, but a manager could make a pretty great argument that the rule says absolutely nothing about how far a fielder can travel before the result of the transfer becomes irrelevant.

Perhaps Major League managers aren’t going to want to upset the apple cart, knowing that the league will see the problem with the outfield catch definition and make a better clarification for the 2015 season. This is most likely going to be a one season nuisance than a long term problem, as everyone watching these plays can see the problems with this definition of a catch, and I can’t see any way in which anyone would support this definition staying in place. There is likely too much red tape to change the definition in season, so we’re probably stuck with this all year, but I don’t know that any manager is going to want to be the guy to embarrass the league on a big stage by teaching his outfielders to exploit MLB’s bad rule.

But I kind of want to see it happen for the sheer theatre of it all. Besides, people always say they want shorter games; giving defenses the chance to snuff out rallies by running the ball in and dropping it at the runners feet would ensure that innings end faster and everyone goes home sooner. That’s probably not how the league envisioned shortening games, however.

Most likely, we’re in for a year of weird plays like the ones from last week, where runners don’t know whether to advance or not, and teams get free outs when their fielders screw up. It’s not a good system, but it’s the system we have in 2014. MLB, give us a better system next year. Or even next month, if you can cut through the red tape fast enough to admit that this unintended consequence is not what you had in mind.

Jose Abreu’s First and Worst.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
It’s been a hell of a stretch for Jose Dariel Abreu. Coming out of Cuba, he signed with the White Sox for life-changing money. He put together a decent spring training under completely unfamiliar circumstances, and then in his major-league debut, he went 2-for-4 with a double. He was intentionally walked twice in his second-ever game, and at this writing Abreu owns a .300 average, and eight extra-base hits and four home runs, those dingers all in the span of three games. Few players in baseball are flying higher than Abreu at the moment, so I don’t feel guilty about pointing something out.

Right now, Abreu has four home runs. A few days ago, Abreu had zero home runs, when he stepped in against Chad Bettis in Colorado. Abreu worked a 12-pitch at-bat, and on the final pitch — low and in — he unloaded. Abreu blew the game open, and for the first time, he’d gone deep in the bigs. It is, presumably, a memory he’ll keep and cherish forever.
It’s a strange video highlight, because it takes a few seconds for Hawk Harrelson to realize what happened. While the ball was in flight, Harrelson was urging it onward, but when the ball came back down, Harrelson didn’t know whether or not it’d been caught. He ended up having to rush to and through his signature call, and Harrelson wasn’t alone in being a little confused and surprised. Marcus Semien hesitated on the basepaths:

Unknown, for a few moments: whether the ball had been caught. The ball had very, very nearly been caught.

Ultimately, as long as I’m playing with screenshots:

What’s immediately obvious is that Abreu barely hit the ball out, in Colorado, down the line. Suffice to say, Abreu’s first career homer wasn’t the most impressive career homer. But we can go even further than that, with the help of the ESPN Home Run Tracker. See, at least according to the Tracker, there’s more to the story.

Abreu’s homer is given a true distance of 353 feet. However, the ball was hit at altitude, which is calculated to have contributed 37 feet. Conditions were kind of cold, which is calculated to have cost the ball three feet. But — and here’s the kicker — it was also apparently windy. Abreu hit the ball at a very high elevation angle and it sailed in the breeze, and according to the Tracker, the wind gave the ball an extra 40 feet. Those numbers by themselves don’t all add up perfectly, but right there on Abreu’s page you can see Standard Distance: 286. The estimate is that, under standard environmental conditions, Abreu’s fly ball would’ve gone 286 feet from home plate.

Which, of course, is not a home run, under standard environmental conditions anywhere. Based on previous communication with the site, I know that the wind estimates have the greatest error bars. We know only so much about wind and wind interactions, so some of the numbers on the site aren’t perfectly accurate. But if we use what’s provided, we can see that Abreu’s homer is one of the very worst (out-of-park) home runs for as long as home runs have been tracked.

Incidentally, the Tracker says the ball left Abreu’s bat at a 45-degree elevation angle. That’s an extremely high angle. I hand-calculated an angle of more like 42-43 degrees.

The optimal angle is around 25-27 degrees. Abreu got under the ball, and that’s what allowed the ball to sail as far as it did.

Data stretches back to 2006, and since 2006, here are all the out-of-park home runs with standard distances below 300 feet:

Hitter Distance Date Ballpark
Jason Bay 277 9/13/2009 Fenway Park
Garrett Jones 279 4/5/2010 PNC Park
David Wright 283 4/24/2011 Citi Field
Chris Iannetta 284 5/30/2008 Wrigley Field
Kevin Youkilis 284 6/22/2008 Fenway Park
Jose Abreu 286 4/8/2014 Coors Field
Brandon Inge 287 7/24/2006 Jacobs Field
Nolan Reimold 288 5/5/2010 Yankee Stadium
Luis Gonzalez 290 7/25/2006 Citizens Bank Park
Rafael Furcal 292 8/29/2009 Great American Ball Park
Ryan Raburn 295 8/1/2013 Progressive Field
Jason Lane 295 4/17/2006 Minute Maid Park
Jeff Keppinger 296 9/9/2006 Fenway Park
Jed Lowrie 298 5/5/2012 Minute Maid Park
Michael Cuddyer 298 4/15/2010 Target Field
Paul Konerko 299 9/24/2006 U.S. Cellular Field
Abreu’s home run shows up as the worst since April 2011. It’s all very close, and because these home runs all had big wind influences, we don’t know the true numbers or order. But this does give you a pretty good sense, and it’s clear that Abreu’s homer was a legitimate homer only in that it counted as a homer. Kudos to him for doing what he had to do at the right time, but unless Abreu was acutely aware of the wind conditions and responded accordingly, he essentially flew out, except his fly out counted as four bases and no outs.

For your entertainment, here are video highlights of the five worst home runs from the table:
Bay’s left the bat at 87.1 miles per hour. Jones’s left the bat at 85.0 miles per hour. The average home run leaves the bat at around 103-104 miles per hour. To succeed, you can either hit the ball hard, or aim. Aim when it’s windy. Aim when it’s windy and blowing out.

Anyway, Abreu’s first career home run was one of the worst home runs we’ve seen in the majors in years. Because his home ballpark is something of a bandbox, Abreu ought to hit plenty of home runs that might not be homers in other parks. But for as long as he’s around — and it looks like he could be around for a long, long time — Abreu might not ever hit a home run as cheap as his first. When is 286 feet long enough to count as a big-league home run? On one of the most magical nights of Jose Abreu’s life.

Explaining Danny Salazar.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Maybe the most fun you can have with the Danny Salazar start is by just going over the fun facts. Salazar faced the White Sox Thursday, and he’d go up against 18 batters. Six of them hit the ball fair, and six of them ended up with hits. Two batters walked, meaning ten batters struck out, in just 3.2 innings. The following facts are also true: Salazar recorded zero non-strikeout outs, and the White Sox hit to a 1.000 BABIP. So how do you explain the one extra out? Adam Eaton was gunned down at second trying to turn a single into a double. In that way, Eaton was the spoiler.

It was a conspicuously ridiculous start. You don’t need anybody to tell you nothing like that had ever happened before — you can tell that immediately by looking at the numbers. Salazar finished with a 12.27 ERA and a 0.51 xFIP. In fairness, a year ago, Joe Blanton had a start with a 13.50 ERA and a 1.51 xFIP. Roy Halladay had a start with a 13.50 ERA and a 1.58 xFIP. Over the long run, you care more about the xFIP. In the shorter run, though, how does something like this happen? How did Danny Salazar steal from what I can only assume was the Rich Harden personal notebook?

The strikeouts — those are easy to explain. Salazar’s stuff is absurd. His repertoire’s one of the best, on raw velocity, diversity, and movement. Over 12 big-league starts, Salazar has struck out 31% of hitters, with Yu Darvish‘s contact rate. The White Sox feature a lineup with a bunch of aggressive hitters or otherwise strikeout-prone hitters. Obviously, you never expect ten of 18 hitters to whiff, but the less-weird part here is the strikeout part. Salazar’s going to get strikeouts. Here’s one of them:
When it’s located well, that changeup looks like a strike until it isn’t one, and there’s little a hitter can do, even if armed with a pretty good eye. There might be no more effective pitch in baseball than a well-located low change. It’s almost impossible to lay off, and then it’s also almost impossible to hit, and even if it is hit, it’s almost impossible to hit well. What Salazar has, here, is the component of a Cy Young arsenal.

But then there’s the matter of the six hits on six balls hit fair. There’s the matter of two of those hits leaving the yard. It can be difficult to reconcile unhittability with hittability, but Tim Lincecum has shown that such a bipolar identity can be sustained. And in the little picture, almost anything can happen. What on earth was Salazar doing? Let’s re-visit the six hits, in order. Starting with a Jose Abreu dinger:

Note the count: 2-and-2. The idea was to put Abreu away with a slider. The idea was not to put Abreu away with a slider literally right down the middle. I’m not sure this pitch could’ve been worse. Even had Salazar just turned around and thrown the ball over the outfield fence himself, that wouldn’t have counted as a home run. That would’ve counted as a really annoying and obnoxious delay of the game and Salazar would’ve been yelled at.

Now an Alexei Ramirez dinger:

The count: 2-and-2, again. An intended low changeup wound up being a changeup over the middle of the plate at the knees, and it just so happens that’s precisely where Ramirez’s power zone is located. When Ramirez goes yard, it’s by pulling pitches much like this one into left and left-center. Not many worse pitches Salazar could’ve thrown to Ramirez in that situation.

An Adrian Nieto single:

You know what’s almost always a good pitch? A splitter or a changeup, down. You know what’s very seldom a good pitch? A splitter or a changeup, up. Salazar elevated a change and it also caught too much of the outer third. Even Nieto couldn’t screw that one up.

Moving to an Adam Eaton single:

Once more, a 2-and-2 count. Salazar did basically the same thing with Eaton he’d just done with Ramirez. A good pitch would’ve been a change about nine inches closer to the ground. Instead this was a two-strike change over the middle at the knees, and Eaton drove home a run.

A Dayan Viciedo single:

Here’s the one hit that wasn’t on an obvious mistake. Salazar tried to get Viciedo to go away, and Viciedo did go away, punching a slider into right. The pitch was a little off the plate, but based on the catcher’s response, it was supposed to be further off the plate, because Viciedo will swing at almost anything, especially when behind in the count. This pitch could’ve been better, although it was overall okay.

Finally, an Alexei Ramirez double:

First-pitch fastball over the middle at the belt. It wasn’t even one of Salazar’s real good fastballs, leaving the hand around 93 miles per hour. As mentioned earlier, Ramirez’s real power zone is lower, where he’s able to get ahead and yank the ball down the line. But any big-league hitter is also capable of punishing a fastball that’s grooved and up, and Ramirez split the outfielders in right-center. Salazar’s attempt to get ahead instead effectively knocked him out of the game.

It was, for Danny Salazar, a start of extremes, as you’d rightfully infer from the box score. He threw stuff good enough to strike out more White Sox hitters than he didn’t strike out. He threw stuff bad enough to still allow an .813 slugging percentage. It was also a night of inefficiency, as Salazar’s ten strikeouts required 59 pitches. Only two of them lasted fewer than six pitches, and that’s something Salazar’s going to have to work on if he wants to be seen as more durable.

Most generally, here’s how a start like this happens: a pitcher throws mostly good pitches or bad pitches, with very little in between. Let’s go simplistic and figure there are three types of pitches:

You can imagine pitching as a dartboard, with good pitches in the middle, then okay pitches around it, then bad pitches on the other side of the okay moat. What Salazar did was throw a lot of bulls-eyes while also on many occasions missing the board completely. It’s something that can happen over a sample of a game or two, but over time you’d expect a more even and gradual distribution. That’s the regression that Danny Salazar is going to see. He isn’t going to generate more reasonable results throwing the pitches he threw Thursday. He’s going to generate more reasonable results because he’ll throw fewer pitches at either extreme, throwing more in the okay range. So, the strikeouts will go down, but so will the slugging percentage, and Salazar should be less frustrating as a result.

Quite literally, on Thursday night Danny Salazar’s pitches were hit or miss. It was a game that, on the face of it, didn’t make sense. Upon closer inspection, one can see how it happened, and one can see how it could happen again, but it’s the okay pitches where baseball is normal, and it’s the okay pitches that ought to show up a hell of a lot more often.
post #21056 of 73460
Originally Posted by JumpmanFromDaBay View Post

Pool Rules at Chase Field laugh.giflaugh.gif

Awww they're hurt
post #21057 of 73460
Gyorko signs a 5 year deal with a club option for the 6th year. Guaranteed $35MM, and the club option is valued at $13MM.
post #21058 of 73460


post #21059 of 73460
Thread Starter 
IDK how Atlanta continues to stick with Gattis laugh.gif
post #21060 of 73460
Obviously still early, but what were the odds of Boras-client Wieters having a career season the year before free agency? Evens? Better? mean.gif
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