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2016 MLB thread. Baseball is upon us! Royals are the champs - Page 257

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nationals > reds

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It still is amazing how MLB teams haven't figured out the best process to treat their arms....everything is still guesswork and gambles (and DL stints and shut downs).

I have no strong opinion one where or another on Strasburg but you can best believe the Nationals consulted with the right people and did their homework if they are going the route of shutting him down.

If and when they do shut him down however for the Nat's sake I hope they end up winning the WS because if not the media armchair quarterbacks are going to have their field day with this eyes.gif
post #7683 of 73389
Originally Posted by abovelegit1 View Post

Teams should do right by their players, but I guess I naturally look at it from a player's perspective as opposed to a fan's.

No competitor I know would elect to sit for the postseason and potentially a chance at winning a Championship. Anyway, here's a Yahoo article I found interesting about Chipper's take on the matter.

..Even rival Chipper Jones mystified as to why Nats would sit Stephen Strasburg with title on the line

........WASHINGTON – What if this is the best chance? What if Washington’s greatest baseball season in decades is in fact THE season? What if this was to be the World Series year and the Nationals now squander it by sitting their best pitcher – maybe the best pitcher in baseball – for the postseason?

The thought settled over Braves third baseman Chipper Jones like a sigh on Wednesday afternoon, mainly because he spent a career chasing a mountain of World Series titles that never came.

“You can’t take anything for granted,” he said, sitting in the visitor’s clubhouse at Nationals Park. “I made it for 12 years and won one championship.”

He stopped and the words stood still in the air.

Twelve postseasons. One championship. In Jones’ case he won a title his first full season and then never again. You don’t know when the magic is right.

This is important because on a night when the Braves kept the Nationals from running away with the National League East, Jones could look into the future and know Washington is making a serious mistake in holding Strasburg back from the playoffs.

Yes, the Nationals are worried about pushing Strasburg past an arbitrary number of innings they have determined to be proper in his first full season after Tommy John surgery. It’s a number that floats somewhere between 160 and 180, though it is fluid. What seems certain is Strasburg will miss the postseason. And that Jones can’t fathom.

“If I was him, I’d be throwing a fit,” Jones said of Strasburg.

It has not escaped Jones or the rest of the Braves that sitting Strasburg might be a gift to them.

"They're the best team top to bottom that I've seen this year, Yankees, Dodgers, everyone," Jones says.

Given that the Braves currently lead the wild-card race, there is a good chance they will face the Nationals again in the first round of playoffs. And what are the Nationals without Strasburg? Is a postseason rotation led by Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann enough?

Jones himself will walk away from baseball after this season, meaning the looming playoffs are his last chance at that elusive second title. Still, there is a part of him that loves and cherishes the game so much he can’t grasp the decision to pull a healthy superstar in the middle of the franchise’s greatest season.

But Jones was asked what if the Nationals decided to let Strasburg pitch in October only to have him blow out his arm in the first playoff game?

He smiled.

“I don’t think anybody would be angry about it,” he said. “How do you think the fans would feel? Do you think they would weigh a World Series championship against a Strasburg injury?”

Meaning the risk is worth it.

In the summer of a new quarterback in Washington where much of the sports talk for months has been about Robert Griffin III, the Nationals have pounded a hole into the Redskins wall. But it has taken the unsettling debate of whether the Nats should pull their top pitcher from the postseason to do it. Suddenly everyone has an opinion: from participants on political talk shows to pickup basketball players at the gym to strangers in line at the post office.

What to do with Strasburg?

Even Washington manager Davey Johnson’s shoulders seemed to droop as he sat down for his daily press conference on Wednesday and said: “Anybody have any ideas for getting Strasburg pitching in October?”

Apparently he has been deluged with helpful suggestions that pile in daily both through texts on his cell phone and letters in his clubhouse mailbox.

The latest Strasburg news Johnson delivered is that he and general manager Mike Rizzo, who has declared the pitcher will be shut down, have looked at the schedule and decided the close-off date will probably come about two starts before the end of the regular season. That puts it sometime around the next-to-last week of the year. Johnson also said Strasburg will know the start is his final one before he takes the mound. The team won’t leave him wondering when his season will be stopped.

But in the visiting clubhouse, down a corridor at Nationals Park, the details didn’t seem to matter to Jones. He gets what Rizzo is doing. But sometimes protecting the player is the wrong thing to do. Sometimes winning is bigger than everything.

“I know some of those guys over there,” he said, nodding his head toward the Washington clubhouse. “They are trying to toe the party line. I know they aren’t happy their No. 1 pitcher isn’t going to be out there.”

Then he shook his head.

“Next year what if Zimmermann gets hurt again?” Jones said. “What if Gio Gonzalez goes down? There is a certain set of circumstances. Sometimes things aren’t the same. As those [pitchers] get older they will lose a little bit of speed on their fastballs. They will be a little more hittable. You have to strike while the iron’s hot.”

With that, the player who expected a mountain of championships that never came, stood up. Soon he would head to the field to begin yet another workout routine in a brilliant career that came a few World Series short of unforgettable. He grunted.

How could the Nationals willingly let this one great chance get away?

He shook his head again.

The whole thing just seems so wrong.
post #7684 of 73389
Any chance of A Gon being traded?
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post #7686 of 73389
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by mr jordan04 View Post

Any chance of A Gon being traded?

I doubt it, everyone clears waivers nowadays especially dudes with big contracts on bad teams.
post #7687 of 73389
If some of you are interested here is the super cool new documentary trailer for Knuckleball! featuring R.A. Dickey and Tim Wakefield -
post #7688 of 73389
Typical AL ballgame in Boston.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7689 of 73389

post #7690 of 73389
Originally Posted by 651akathePaul View Post

No competitor I know would elect to sit for the postseason and potentially a chance at winning a Championship. Anyway, here's a Yahoo article I found interesting about Chipper's take on the matter.

No competitor you know would be risking a hall of fame career and hundreds of millions in earnings. I'm sure he wants to play, but I'm also certain he is content in the knowledge that the Nationals are looking out for his and their own long term best interests. How do you suppose he would feel if they sent him out there and he blew out his arm, while knowing full well that the expert advice suggested it was best to shut him down? Besides, players usually don't know what's best, as we've seen an untold number of athletes rush back from injury only to aggravate it or get re-injured.

Chipper is obviously entitled to his (seemingly ignorant) opinion, but it's a completely different situation for a pitcher. Blowing out your arm once is one thing, but blowing it out twice is like a death knell for a power arm.
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Thread Starter 
Giolito got shut down already? Jesus mean.gif
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Thread Starter 
Justin Verlander Below the Surface.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In a start earlier Thursday, Justin Verlander just abused the Blue Jays for nine innings. In fairness to the Blue Jays, theirs was a lineup missing Jose Bautista, J.P. Arencibia, and Brett Lawrie, and it was a lineup with Omar Vizquel batting sixth and Jeff Mathis batting seventh, but outside of one pitch Verlander cruised, as he’s so often cruised. He threw another nine frames, with another dozen strikeouts and another paltry two runs allowed. Verlander is a leading Cy Young candidate, and every time he takes the mound, you expect him to do something not unlike this.

What Verlander has done is build a reputation of being perhaps the most consistent starter in baseball. He’s not just excellent; he’s routinely excellent, and a Google search for “Justin Verlander” + “consistent” yields nearly a million results. Of course, a Google search for “A.J. Burnett” + “consistent” yields more than 700,000 results so maybe this isn’t good science. Look at the performance record. I can’t pinpoint the precise moment that Justin Verlander became Justin Verlander, but it’s easy to put it somewhere between 2008 and 2009. Since 2009, Verlander hasn’t posted a FIP below 2.80 or above 2.99. He hasn’t posted an xFIP below 3.12 or above 3.52. He keeps starting and he keeps thriving. He keeps on being Justin Verlander.

Statistically, one can’t deny that Verlander has been consistent, nor should one want to. Perhaps consistency isn’t predictive, but we can identify it in retrospect. On the surface, Justin Verlander has hardly changed at all. Yet it’s interesting to see what turns up when you dig.

Thursday afternoon, Verlander threw 115 pitches against the Blue Jays. Of those pitches, 21 were sliders, and 17 of those sliders were strikes. Ten of those sliders generated swinging strikes. Verlander threw well more sliders than he did curveballs, and when you think Justin Verlander, you think triple-digit heat and knee-buckling curve.

On May 8, 2009, Verlander shut out the Indians over nine innings, striking out 11. He threw 118 pitches, 115 of which were recorded by PITCHf/x. Six of those pitches were sliders, and nearly four times that were curves.

During the game Thursday, the Tigers broadcast dedicated some time early on to talk about the continuing development of Justin Verlander’s slider. It’s a pitch he seems to have picked up early in 2009, and the progress is evident, even from just looking at Verlander’s player page. He went from using it never to using it about two percent of the time, to using it about seven percent of the time, to using it about eight percent of the time, to using it about 11 percent of the time.

But that’s not even the right way to look at this, because Verlander hardly ever uses his slider against lefties, and he faces a lot of lefties. Here’s Verlander’s slider usage against righties, by year:

2009: 5%
2010: 15%
2011: 20%
2012: 25%

It’s convenient that they’re all divisible by five, and what that trend tells you is that Verlander has become a hell of a lot more confident in what was and might still be his number-four pitch. You can see signs of tinkering: the slider velocity is down from the high-80s to the mid-80s, and now the slider has more sink than ever before.

Yep, looks like a pretty good pitch. It’s something Verlander can throw in between his high-70s curve and his mid-90s heat. Because if there’s one thing Verlander has always needed, it’s another devastating weapon in his arsenal. His stuff wasn’t good enough before on its own.

But we can take this beyond simply noting that Verlander is throwing more and more sliders. We can investigate matters by looking at different situations, and in 2009, when Verlander was behind in the count against righties, he threw 87-percent fastballs, and nine-percent curves. When he was ahead in the count against righties, he threw 54-percent fastballs, and 32-percent curves. So far in 2012, when behind in the count against righties, Verlander has thrown 69-percent fastballs, and 27-percent sliders. When ahead in the count against righties, he’s thrown 39-percent fastballs, 25-percent sliders, and 27-percent curves.

You have to have a lot of confidence in a pitch to throw it on a frequent basis when you’re behind in the count, so Verlander has clearly fallen head over heels for his slider. It’s gradually replaced his curve and some of his fastballs in hitter-friendly counts, and as it happens, lately he’s been extra successful after getting into hitter-friendly counts. Meanwhile, now when Verlander is ahead, the hitter just has no idea. If there’s any element of predictability at all in there, I can’t see it. When ahead, Verlander will throw any of his four pitches, and all of his pitches are good. He’s Justin Verlander; of course all of his pitches are good.

Now here’s where this all becomes more or less interesting, depending on your perspective. Justin Verlander has changed over the last four years, in that he’s introduced a slider and gone to it more and more often in different situations. In terms of strikeouts, walks, and homers, Verlander hasn’t really changed one bit. His performance has remained pretty stable, unless you buy into his ability to reduce hits on balls in play. If you do, then Verlander has achieved a new level. Maybe in part because of his slider. If you don’t, then Verlander’s simply wrapping up the fourth year of a crazy peak.

All this talk about Verlander’s slider, and we can’t even be certain that it’s making a meaningful difference. The key is in identifying the difference between current Justin Verlander and what current Justin Verlander would be without the slider, and of course that is impossible. But you know what they say: baseball is a game of adjustments, and everybody must always be adjusting. Maintaining a peak like Verlander’s presumably isn’t something that can be done on raw talent alone. Sometimes it isn’t about becoming even more awesome. Sometimes it’s about remaining exactly as awesome as you already were. That takes a lot of constant work, and Verlander has most certainly put it in.

Andruw Jones: All-Star to Replacement-Level Player.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Andruw Jones was having a brilliant career, that is, until he turned 31 years old. Since that point, he’s barely been a league-average player. He went from an all-time great player, to an iffy hall-of-fame candidate.

Jones started his career off early and stook off. From age 19 to 30, he accumulated 69 WAR. His total is the 24th highest value. Here are the 10 players who had the closest WAR values to Jones before turning 31.

Name WAR
Barry Bonds 74
Rickey Henderson 72
Cal Ripken 71
Johnny Bench 70
Carl Yastrzemski 70
Andruw Jones 69
Al Kaline 68
Joe Jackson 67
Ron Santo 67
Arky Vaughan 66
Sherry Magee 65

The list is full of players who had hall-of-fame careers. The problem with Jones is that his push for the Hall seems to have stagnated. Here’s a WAR comparison curve for Jones and for several other outfielders with similar cumulative WAR values at age 30 (big image).

Jones’s career has stagnated, compared to other players with similar careers. Since turning 31 years old, Jones has only produced 3.6 WAR combined in those five seasons. He produced more than that in every season from 1997 to 2007. Of all the hitters who have accumulated 60 or more WAR before their 31st birthday, he has the fewest WAR, with Ken Griffey Jr. the next closest.

Name WAR
Andruw Jones 4
Ken Griffey Jr. 5
Lou Boudreau 7
Albert Pujols 8
Arky Vaughan 8
Sherry Magee 9
Duke Snider 10
Johnny Bench 11
Ron Santo 13
Jimmie Foxx 21

One possible cause for the sudden drop is that most of Jones’s production comes from playing great defense in center field. Thirty-eight percent of his value is tied up in his position and in defense. This percentage is the highest among all outfielders who have accumulated more than 20 WAR before reaching 31 years old. Quite a few players are ahead of him in percentage, but they are either catchers or middle infielders.

A few other outfielders are somewhat comparable with their center-field defense. Among them are Devon White, Kenny Lofton, Coco Crisp and Mike Cameron. Here is how each one has aged, according to their WAR (big image).

There’s not much of a comparison here. None of them plateau. They continued to be productive players well into their 30′s.

The main cause for Jones’s decline was that he’s been injured often. He experienced some nagging injuries in 2002 and 2003. And in 2007, he missed time because of an injured back, an elbow, a knee and general sickness. The injuries continued into 2008, and he went on the disabled list twice for knee injuries. Those injuries took away his most valuable asset: the ability to play great center-field defense.

I am not sure if Andruw Jones is a hall-of-famer. Some writers will determine that more than five years from now. But Jones’s production stagnation that started at age 31 is unprecedented for someone of his caliber.

A Thing Zack Greinke Might Be Missing.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
In advance of the trade deadline, the Angels seemed poised to make a run, and that was before they traded for Zack Greinke. The Angels traded for Zack Greinke and at least on paper, that made their starting rotation laughably awesome. Even though the trade might’ve had more to do with the playoffs and signing Greinke long-term, the Angels still had to finish well in the regular season, and there was little reason to believe Greinke wouldn’t help them do that.

Greinke hasn’t helped them do that, at least not yet. He very easily still could — there’s a lot of season left — but so far the Angels are 1-4 in Greinke starts, and he’s averaged about a walk or a hit batter every other inning. He’s allowed 22 runs in 32 innings, and all in all he just hasn’t looked like the same Zack Greinke capable of posting comical strikeouts and walks. Greinke’s another player for whom the Angels are crossing their fingers, where the idea was that Greinke would be a player they could take for granted.

What follows isn’t intended to explain everything that has gone wrong. I think the best explanation for what’s happened with Greinke might be Baseball!, just as that’s the best explanation for how Chris Davis earned a win over Darnell McDonald. What follows might not actually explain anything, but Greinke’s struggles provided a convenient opportunity to bring this up and I’m nothing if not opportunistic. Actually that isn’t true, one could never be nothing. By definition, one is always something. I am something, and possibly opportunistic. All right, moving on.

This is a post about Greinke’s adjustment from pitching for the Brewers to pitching for the Angels, and it draws upon something I’ve written about before. I’ll explain the concept again for people who don’t like having to click on links to get their explanations.

We know, exactly, how many pitches a pitcher has thrown, and how many of those pitches went for strikes. By using data that’s available right here on FanGraphs, we can also calculate what you might call Expected Strikes. We have information on pitch total, we have information on zone rate, and we have information on out-of-zone swing rate. Using the PITCHf/x plate-discipline data, very simple math can lead us to an expected strikes total, which we can then compare to the actual strikes total. We can do this for players and we can do this for entire teams, and the results are revealing. Toward either extreme, one finds enormous differences.

Zack Greinke’s numbers as a Brewer, obviously, were outstanding. He was one of the most effective pitchers in the National League, and there’s a reason why the Angels saw him as a splash. But Zack Greinke also seems to have benefited from an extraordinary number of what we’ll call “extra” strikes. Compared to the league average, in 2011, Greinke got 28 extra strikes per 1000 pitches, which is a lot of strikes. Compared to the league average, in 2012 before getting traded, Greinke got 35 extra strikes per 1000 pitches. Greinke found himself near the top of the leaderboard in this particular statistic, and it follows that this was among the reasons for Greinke’s tremendous success.

What might explain all the extra strikes? The first thing that came to mind for me was pitch framing, as Greinke has thrown a lot of pitches to Jonathan Lucroy, and Mike Fast identified Lucroy as an excellent pitch framer. Lucroy got hurt this year, and Greinke pitched to Martin Maldonado as well, but this could be a strength of Maldonado’s too. It might not all be about pitch framing, and it might not at all be about pitch framing. But whatever the answer, Greinke seems to have been getting a boost during his time with Milwaukee.

And now? Please bear with me, because Greinke has started just five times with the Angels, throwing 551 pitches. This is not a real meaningful sample, but as long as we’re here, the same calculations as above put Angels Greinke at five extra strikes per 1000 pitches, compared to the league average. Still fine — still technically better than fine — but down quite a bit, on the order of multiple pitches per start. A strike or a ball here and there seems almost inconsequential, but it’s not really like that. Each extra strike or ball makes a run-value difference.

And if we’re going to stay with the pitch framing idea, Fast’s calculations weren’t real high on Chris Iannetta. They were actually the opposite of that, and while it’s too soon to say that that’s a major factor, it does make sense that Greinke would have less success throwing to a less-effective defensive catcher. And this doesn’t even touch on pitch calling, which might or might not be an additional factor.

Greinke’s extra strikes might return, as they might have more to do with Zack Greinke than with Zack Greinke’s catcher. A few extra strikes or balls wouldn’t explain the whole difference between Brewers Greinke and Angels Greinke. And Greinke’s been successful without a ton of extra strikes before. Relative to the average, with the Royals in 2008, Greinke came in at -5 extra strikes per 1000 pitches. In 2009, +11, and in 2010, +5. You might remember that Zack Greinke won the Cy Young in 2009. Dude was fantastic.

But then, Zack Greinke’s Royals days are behind him, so, who knows? There’s very compelling reason to believe that pitching is about both pitching and catching, and there’s very compelling reason to believe that Greinke’s catching is worse now than it was in Milwaukee. It should make some sort of difference, and so it should be some sort of consideration.

Should Anyone Trade For Josh Beckett?
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Pretty much every player in the Majors goes on waivers at some point in August, so the fact that Josh Beckett was placed on waivers isn’t really news. However, unlike most players in baseball, Beckett will almost certainly clear waivers, since he’s due approximately $4 million over the remainder of the 2012 season and $15.75 million in each of the next two seasons. Any team claiming Beckett would be on the hook for $36 million, and he’s clearly not worth that kind of investment at this point, so he’ll sail through waivers without any blinking.

Once he clears, the Red Sox will be able to trade him to any team that’s interested, and they can create additional interest by picking up a significant chunk of his salary in order to move him. At that point, the question becomes how much cash Boston should be willing to eat to move on from their struggling former ace.

To determine that, we essentially have to figure out what Beckett’s open market value would be. If he were to hit the market this winter, what kind of contract would he get? To start off, here’s what some free agents who had underachieved based on their peripherals got in recent years:

Chris Capuano (2012): 2 years, $10 million
Jorge de la Rosa (2011): 2 years, $21 million
Javier Vazquez (2011): 1 year, $7 million
Rich Harden (2010): 1 year, $8 million

Capuano, de la Rosa, and Harden were all worth between +1.5 and +2.0 WAR based on their FIP in the season preceding their free agency, so by just BB/K/HR, they were pretty close to Beckett’s +1.8 WAR right now. Vazquez was significantly worse, but also was just one year removed from excellence, but like Beckett had experienced significant velocity loss. None of these guys are perfect comparisons for Beckett, but it gives us an idea of how the market values guys with good stuff (or formerly good stuff) whose peripherals suggest that they may be in line for some positive regression.

I think Beckett’s history would be viewed more positively than Capuano’s or Harden’s due to health, and probably better than Vazquez due to his previous success in the AL East. My guess is that Beckett now would be viewed in a somewhat more positive light than those three were at the time, but probably not as positively as de la Rosa, who was coming off a pretty solid season at the end of 2010. So, let’s just split the difference between Capuano and de la Rosa and estimate 2/15 as Beckett’s market value.

Essentially, then, we’d be suggesting that the Red Sox would need to pick up half of the remaining money left on his deal in 2013 and 2014 in order to give him away, and that doesn’t account for the $4 million he’s still owed in 2012, or the fact that most teams would rather pick up a little extra money in order to get a more interesting prospect in return. So, perhaps we have to bump up the total cost for the Red Sox to move Beckett to over $20 million, which would cover half of his future guarantees and essentially all of his remaining 2012 money.

If Boston was willing to do that, should any playoff contenders be interested in taking on 2/15 in future commitments to get a nearly-free-but-struggling pitcher for the stretch run?

Certainly, he’s not trending the right way. His August performance has been hideous, as opposing batters have hit .300/.372/.681 against him this month, and his July performance was his worst of the season before August rolled around. It’s not just a high BABIP either – he’s running an 8.91 FIP and 6.04 xFIP this month, as his walks and homers are way up and his strikeouts are way down. His velocity is still well below what it has been in prior seasons, and his stuff simply isn’t what it used to be.

However, it’s the same stuff he was throwing in the first half of the season, when he was productive for decent stretches of time. In the first three months of the season, opposing batters hit .236 with a .282 on base percentage against Beckett, and his .291 wOBA against from March-June is slightly better than Josh Johnson‘s .299 wOBA against this year. He was a benefactor of a low-ish BABIP for those three months, but they at least show that this version of Beckett can be somewhat effective, even with lower velocity.

By month, Beckett has had xFIPs of 4.40, 3.78, 3.80, 4.53, and now 6.04. In other words, he’s looked decent for about 40% of the year, looked mediocre for 40% of the year, and looked horrendous for 20% of the season. We can’t ignore the fact that horrendous is the most recent performance, but we shouldn’t also assume that Beckett is incapable of providing some value in his current form.

So, what team could use a wild card in their rotation for the next month, potentially giving them another bullet to fire in October, and would be willing to take on $15 million in salary over the next two years to take Beckett off the Red Sox hands?

How about the Washington Nationals? Since they’re intent on shutting down Stephen Strasburg, they’re going to need a starter to cover his last “two or three” starts, according to Davey Johnson. While Ross Detwiler has filled in admirably as the fifth starter, he’s got a pretty large platoon split (.227 wOBA vs LHBs, .311 vs RHBs) and was extremely effective in his stint out of the bullpen. If moving Beckett to the NL gets him going again, Beckett would be a better option as a #4 starter in the playoffs, and allow the team to use Detwiler out of the bullpen in October as well.

Having Beckett in the fold for 2013 and 2014 would allow them to reallocate the money they might otherwise have to use to re-sign Edwin Jackson on bringing in another hitter as well, or a temporary move back to the NL East could help Beckett re-establish some value and they could flip him this winter if they preferred the option of bringing Jackson back.

The Beckett-Red Sox marriage seems like it needs to end for the sanity of everyone involved. Moving him now, when a team like Washington could potentially get some value out of him in October, is probably going to be easier than moving him in the off-season, when teams can bargain hunt among the available free agents. If his current funk hasn’t scared everyone off, perhaps the Nationals and Red Sox can make a deal that helps both sides.

Brett Anderson Looks Like Brett Anderson at Just the Right Time.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way now: there’s no such thing as a good time to lose a starting pitcher like Bartolo Colon. Over 24 starts with the A’s, Colon posted a 3.43 ERA and peripherals that make him look only a little less good, and Colon has been a big part of Oakland’s attempted playoff push. Now he’s done, having been found out for cheating, and at this writing Oakland is five games out of the division and just a half-game out of the wild card. If the A’s were terrible, this would be too bad, but it wouldn’t be potentially devastating. The A’s aren’t terrible. The starting rotation has lost value right when the season leverage is getting its greatest.

But while there’s never a good time to lose a Bartolo Colon, there are worse times and there are better times. In one regard, this was a profoundly bad time for the A’s given their position in the playoff race, but on the other hand, Colon was suspended a day after Brett Anderson made his 2012 season debut. Anderson was excellent against the Twins Tuesday night, and Anderson figures to be a major stretch-run contributor right when it turns out the A’s could really use one of those.

For those who have forgotten, or for those who never knew, Anderson’s back from Tommy John surgery, having last pitched in the majors in June 2011. He had a good deal of success earlier in his career for A’s teams that were neither remarkably good nor remarkably bad, and now he has a chance to make a real difference with people paying attention. And where you’d think Anderson might be treated with kid gloves, since he’s a 24-year-old coming off major elbow surgery, it doesn’t look like there are any restrictions. In fact:

The A’s say there will be no extra limitations on Anderson when he returns. Melvin noted that like the other pitchers in the rotation, he will be held to around 100 pitches. Anderson says the team hasn’t told him he is only allowed to throw a certain number of breaking balls. The leash is completely off.

Brett Anderson will be allowed to pitch as much like Brett Anderson as he possibly can. And based on his 2012 debut performance, there’s not a whole lot of difference between Brett Anderson now and Brett Anderson before. Hands-down the biggest change is that Anderson has shed considerable weight from his previously more abundant physique. If you just want to talk about pitching, then Brett Anderson didn’t pitch like a different pitcher.

It needs to be stated that we’re working off of one start. Tuesday night, one start, 86 pitches, facing the Twins. I suppose we can’t say much of anything about 2012 Brett Anderson conclusively. But we can work with the evidence. What’s the first thing you look at when a pitcher’s back from injury? Fastball velocity? Anderson sat 90-93 miles per hour, which is about where he used to be. His final two fastballs, in the top of the seventh inning, clocked in at 92. Nothing in there suggests any reduced arm strength.

How about pitch mix? Last year, before succumbing to injury, less than half of Anderson’s pitches were fastballs. He’s been about a 50-percent fastball guy since breaking into the league. Tuesday, 42 of Anderson’s 86 pitches were fastballs. He barely threw his changeup. Anderson hasn’t come back from surgery hesitant to use his breaking balls; he’s embracing them as much as he ever has. The breaking ball is and has always been Anderson’s bread and butter.

The next thing, obviously, is pitch movement, and there’s nothing of note in Anderson’s pitch movement if you’ve got your eyes peeled for changes. All of Brett Anderson’s pitches were still Brett Anderson’s pitches. If you’re concerned about his sink, since Anderson was an established groundballer, the Twins put 16 balls in play, and 13 of them chewed dirt. Granted, nobody has hit grounders quite like the Twins have hit grounders this season, but Anderson generated his grounders and then some.

If you can believe it, that’s a slider. Brett Anderson’s still got his slider. That’s the pitch that most allowed Anderson to finish Tuesday with six strikeouts, in addition to all the grounders. Generally a slider is a relatively ineffective pitch against opposite-handed hitters, but Anderson’s slider — and his slower, similar curve — has a lot of up-down drop to it, so he can feature those pitches against righties without getting burned.

Possibly of note is that Anderson threw a ton of strikes, and a ton of pitches in the strike zone. When Stephen Strasburg first came back from Tommy John surgery, he peppered the zone in the name of fewer deep counts and greater efficiency. In theory, it would help to preserve his arm, although Strasburg’s abandoned that approach in 2012. We’ll see if Anderson goes to the zone more often down the stretch, or if he’ll just pitch like he always used to pitch.

Based on what we could learn from one start, Brett Anderson’s fine. Maybe his stamina isn’t what it could be, but his ability remains intact. Anderson owns a career 3.57 FIP and 3.56 xFIP. Funny thing about guys who get grounders and strikeouts while limiting their walks: they’re good pitchers. Anderson’s a good pitcher, back in the Oakland rotation right when the same rotation has lost an important regular. There could’ve been worse times for Colon to get suspended.

Of course, this isn’t about Brett Anderson vs. Bartolo Colon. Had Colon not been suspended, they both would’ve been in the rotation. Colon’s suspension presumably means more innings for Dan Straily and, immediately, Tyson Ross. That’s where you run your WAR calculations to try to measure the impact. But overall, the A’s received good news and bad news on consecutive days, and they kind of offset. Maybe they more than offset. With the Colon suspension, the A’s are probably worse than they were this morning. With Anderson’s return, the A’s might still be better than they were a few mornings ago.

Jake Westbrook Extended.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
The St. Louis Cardinals and Jake Westbrook have agreed to an extension. The new contract is reportedly a one-year, $8.75 million contract for 2013 with a superfluous mutual option worth $9.5 million for 2014 with a $1 million buyout. While the mutual option seems increasingly prevalent, given that it is usually irrelevant in practice, it might be more straightforward to think of this deal as a guaranteed deal for one year and just under $10 million dollars.

Back in 2010, Westbrook was having a mediocre season (4.66 ERA, 4.25 FIP) for Cleveland after almost completely missing the prior two seasons due to injury. Traded to the Cardinals for the stretch run, he pitched quite well for 12 starts for St. Louis (3.48 ERA, 3.52 FIP). Whether it was Dave Duncan‘s “magic” or not, the Cardinals liked what they saw, and gave him a two-year contract for 2011 and 2012 and, you guessed it, a mutual option for 2013 (which the new contract replaces).

In 2011, Westbrook’s past, aging, and regression all seemed to break whatever spell Duncan had cast. Although Westbrook kept the ground balls coming, his strikeout rate dropped back to about that of his 2010 pre-St. Louis rate, while his walk rate was his worst in years. With a 4.66 ERA, Westbrook did not even initially make the Cardinal’s playoff roster, although he was added and pitched out of the bullpen in World Series.

Given his age (34) and recent performance, it is a bit surprising that Westbrook is pitching pretty much as well in 2012 (3.50 ERA, 3.60 FIP) as he did after initially being traded to the Cardinals in 2010. His strikeout rate is still poor (and at his age, it probably is not coming back), but his control seems to be as good as it ever been over a full season. Which Westbrook is the “real” one, the #2 starter of the last part of 2010 and 2012 thus far, or the back-of-the-rotation “innings eater” of 2011? Obviously, this matters a great deal to the Cardinals.

The most simple, boring answer, at least from the numbers, is that he is likely somewhere in between. On one hand, nothing obvious in Westbrook’s numbers this year seem to scream “luck.” His BABIP is not abnormally low (.298), and it is right in line with his career numbers. His ERA and FIP are pretty close to each other, too, as they have been over the course of his career (career: 4.26 ERA, 4.12 FIP). One area that might be subject to some regression is his lower home run/fly ball rate in 2012 (and the small sample of his first partial season in St. Louis). There is some evidence that ground ball pitchers like Westbrook tend to give up home runs on balls that do go in the air. On the other hand, the Cardinals’ home park suppresses home runs. Still, if Westbrook continues to keep the ball on the ground, a bit of random variation and regression on his air balls should not make that much of a difference.

On the other hand, while Westbrook has had more than 150 innings of being very good this year, he had 180 of being pretty bad last year. While Dave Duncan does seem to be able to help many pitchers (and it is worth noting that Duncan has been on a leave of absence all year), that does not make Westbrook’s prior history go away — emphasizing his 2010 Cardinals stint can tend to gloss over the fact that Westbrook was medicore overall in 2010. Put more simply: 2012 is really Westbrook’s first full season of being good since about 2006. It is unlikely that he is establishing a new level of performance at 35.

Westbrooks’ primary pitch is still his sinker, which he mixes with a cutter and slider (the proportion of the two varies depending on whose classification one prefers). Against left-handed bats, Westbrook mixes in a good number of change-ups. That has been his pattern for a while. I will leave a more detailed analysis to the Pitchf/x gurus, which I am decidedly not. Simply looking at the raw numbers, the main difference between the Good Westbrook (2012) and Mediocre Westbrook (2010 and 2011) is that Good Westbrook does not walk left-handed batters as much. I cannot find any obvious big differences in, say, his change-up usage that might explain what is different this year against lefties.

That does not mean that nothing is different, just that nothing stands out. Nor is it to dismiss the results. the point is just that there is no obvious reason to unduly emphasize Westbrooks 2012 or pre-2011 performance beyond what we would do in projecting a player. In 2013, Westbrook’s true talent ERA/FIP is probably in the low 4s. Over a full season, that probably makes him about a two-win player. For $10 million, that is probably fair for a player like Westbrook.

This is not to say that the Cardinals are getting a steal — after all, Westbrook has had serious injury issues in the past, has only pitched 200 or more innings once since 2006, and is in his mid-30s. However, given the Cardinals roster of talented but less-than-spry players, shoring up the middle and back of their starting rotation is a good idea. Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, and Jaime Garcia cannot exactly be penciled in for 220 innings each next season and Kyle Lohse (~!) is having a good season and will probably command some money in free agency. So even with Lance Lynn looking good and perhaps Shelby Miller really being ready (I’ll leave that one to others), there likely will be plenty of innings for a guy like Westbrook. Jake Westbrook is probably not the #2 pitcher he has looked like this season. However, he is likely to be better than most other #4 starters in the league, and with Cardinals looking at another shot at contention in 2013, signing Westbrook makes a lot of sense.

Bartolo Colon Reportedly Fails a Drug Test.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Well, Melky Cabrera might now have some company. Jon Heyman is reporting that Bartolo Colon has failed a drug test and is subject to a 50 game suspension by MLB, which would end his season and make him ineligible for most of the playoffs.

Colon has been fantastic for the A’s this season at age 39, but his career revival was subject to some skepticism surrounding the injections of platelet rich plasma that he received in 2011, which raised questions about what kinds of treatments are performance enhancing in a viable way and which ones should be illegal. Colon was the poster child for the positive effects of PRP, and it seems unlikely that promoters of the treatment will continue to lean on him as evidence of its success.

For the A’s, this is certainly a blow, but the arrival of Brett Anderson from the disabled list now looks like incredibly valuable. Anderson might not be able to pitch at the same level that Colon did, but he should be able to replace most of that production, and help keep Oakland in the pennant race.

For Colon, my guess is that this will be the end of the line. He had trouble finding work last winter, and now heading into his age 40 season and coming off a PED suspension, I don’t imagine too many teams will be lining up to give him another shot.

post #7693 of 73389
Dodgers are rewarded the claim on Adrian Gonzalez. I think if they really wanted to trade him, they would do it in the off-season, to have more teams involved for leverage.

Now we wait.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7694 of 73389
Wow, read a scenario where Crawford mightve gone to LA, too.
Cliff Lee, AGon and Crawford had those crazy "biggest free agents ever!!!" hype going. What happened?
post #7695 of 73389
Thread Starter 
Those two teams realized they weren't too good and need to rebuild.

Besides, everyone clears waivers but I'm really shocked LA claimed him. Boston is not going to want to pay any of that in a deal, I agree with Raw I think they'd get that done in the offseason.

The interesting part is if Boston just decides to completely cut bait and let LA take his entire contract without getting any players back in return. It'll cause an uproar in Boston but may make sense. Let's them be able to eat more money in Beckett/Crawford deals and Jacoby is a FA after next season so it frees up some money for that.
post #7696 of 73389
The Dodgers would be taking on 253 Mill sick.gif
post #7697 of 73389
Imagine Victorino , Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier and Hanley Ramirez
post #7698 of 73389
I co-sign the overly cautious approach Washington is utilizing to shut down Stras. Their FO must believe they have enough young, reliable arms to win in the playoffs. However, this whole situation could have been avoided by delaying the start to Stras' season and regular pitching, or skipping starts. Also, Davey could have used a six-man rotation earlier in the season.

Agree with Pro's sentiment on Beltre. Very underrated. Excellent with the bat and glove, gotta love that if you're a baseball manager.

wildKYcat: Miley taking it from Frazier. In fairness, Frazier has been raking lately.

Stringer: That Sale start against the Yanks was pretty boss. What was it, like 13 Ks? Not a bad day's work.

Bartolo Colon used to be my dude on the Indians. High heat, all day.

Dodgers are serious about locking up the division, preventing any SF magic. Their FO has pretty much been interested in every big name placed on waivers, even after the Han Ram trade. Cliff, Adrian, etc.

To think Philly and Boston were my WS picks for last season. How far we've come, or low if you're a Phillies or Red Sox fan.
post #7699 of 73389
Thread Starter 
I'm still not sold on that staff after Kershaw TBH. Even if Lilly comes back.
post #7700 of 73389
Originally Posted by RaWEx5 View Post

Dodgers are rewarded the claim on Adrian Gonzalez. I think if they really wanted to trade him, they would do it in the off-season, to have more teams involved for leverage.
Now we wait.

There's not a lot of leverage, since Boston will have to eat a lot of that contract. Only five teams out there willing to absorb contracts right now and always in the mix to get players.All the big money teams willing to spend already have capable first baseman: ANA (Pujols), NYY (Teixeira), TEX (Moreland), PHI (Howard).

I still don't see a trade going down. Dodgers don't want to trade the little talent they have in their farm system, in turn they are willing to take on Crawford's atrocious deal or Beckett's awful but still somewhat reasonable deal.

Still don't see Boston making a deal, no matter how much sense it makes, got to cater to the common fan. Just like the Phillies had a chance to dump Cliff Lee and they didn't.

Wouldn't mind Gonzales at first, his time in Beantown has been awful on the PR side, shouldn't have signed that extension.
I'm still not sold on that staff after Kershaw TBH. Even if Lilly comes back.

Bills has been solid since he came back from the DL, Capuano is having a decent injury free year, Harang is garbage, Blanton is what he is, Lilly is coming back so don't know what's there.
Instagram: backyardlobo
Instagram: backyardlobo
post #7701 of 73389
Thread Starter 
A little more consistentcy from Bills and I'll be more confident if you know what I mean IM. I know it was a long time ago but I still remember 08 laugh.gif

Supposedly, a deal is getting closer. We'll see by tonight or tomorrow AM.
post #7702 of 73389
That's what I'm fearing about the Dodgers. Hypothetically, LA could have used Cliff a lot more than Adrian or Crawford. Reason being they simply can't match SF, Washington, or Cincy's premier pitching staffs in the NL. Forget about Texas and Tampa in the AL if the Dodgers are able to reach the WS.
post #7703 of 73389
Besides Cueto. I don't see how any team in the NL would be worried about facing any Reds' starting pitcher in the playoffs. Bullpen is solid, though.
Edited by RaWEx5 - 8/24/12 at 1:45pm
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7704 of 73389
Sean McAdam ‏@Sean_McAdam

Confirmed: It is indeed the Dodgers who have also claimed Beckett. #RedSoxTalk

Ruh, oh.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
post #7705 of 73389

Blockbuster: red Sox, Dodgers working on deal that would send AGon, Crawford, Beckett and Punto to LA. Hurdles remain, but closing in
post #7706 of 73389

Beckett has 10/5 rights, but he'd probably sign off.
post #7707 of 73389
Sox would HAVE to eat some salary right?
post #7708 of 73389
eek.gif dodgers got that long money. They don't eem care laugh.gif
post #7709 of 73389

Wow! Blockbuster Indeed

Instagram: @beardekevin    old NT username VIL8R (since 09)    Lakers   Dodgers   Arsenal   LA Kings   UCLA


Instagram: @beardekevin    old NT username VIL8R (since 09)    Lakers   Dodgers   Arsenal   LA Kings   UCLA

post #7710 of 73389
Originally Posted by mr jordan04 View Post

Sox would HAVE to eat some salary right?

If not. That's $270 million remaining on their contracts.
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
What's 1.21 gigawatts to a McFly like me. Can you please remind me?
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