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2016 MLB thread. THE CUBS HAVE BROKEN THE CURSE! Chicago Cubs are your 2016 World Series champions. - Page 54

post #1591 of 77526
Phils need to fire Manuel.... my goodness how many times can he out manage himself?...

hitting guru my #!$.
post #1592 of 77526
Phils need to fire Manuel.... my goodness how many times can he out manage himself?...

hitting guru my #!$.
post #1593 of 77526

Sources: MLB, players talk realignmentEmail Print Comments1910 By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Archive
A simple form of realignment being seriously considered has been raised in the labor talks between Major League Baseball and the players' association, according to four sources: two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.

According to a highly ranked executive, one consideration that has been raised in ownership committee meetings is eliminating the divisions altogether, so that 15 AL and 15 NL teams would vie for five playoff spots within each league. Currently, Major League Baseball has six divisions.

A source who has been briefed on the specifics of the labor discussions says that the players' union has indicated that it is open to the idea of two 15-team leagues, but that the whole plan still hasn't been talked through or presented to the owners.

"I'd still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50," one source said.


A sticking point involves interleague play. Because of the odd number of teams in each league, it is possible that a team in contention late in the season will have to be playing its final games in interleague play.


One of the biggest issues that would have to be resolved in any realignment resulting in two 15-team leagues is which of the National League teams would switch to the American League.

Two highly ranked executives believe the Houston Astros would be a possibility, because a switch to the AL for Houston would foster a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.

"There are still a lot of details that would have to be discussed," one source said.


TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
Reply
TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
Reply
post #1594 of 77526

Sources: MLB, players talk realignmentEmail Print Comments1910 By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Archive
A simple form of realignment being seriously considered has been raised in the labor talks between Major League Baseball and the players' association, according to four sources: two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.

According to a highly ranked executive, one consideration that has been raised in ownership committee meetings is eliminating the divisions altogether, so that 15 AL and 15 NL teams would vie for five playoff spots within each league. Currently, Major League Baseball has six divisions.

A source who has been briefed on the specifics of the labor discussions says that the players' union has indicated that it is open to the idea of two 15-team leagues, but that the whole plan still hasn't been talked through or presented to the owners.

"I'd still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50," one source said.


A sticking point involves interleague play. Because of the odd number of teams in each league, it is possible that a team in contention late in the season will have to be playing its final games in interleague play.


One of the biggest issues that would have to be resolved in any realignment resulting in two 15-team leagues is which of the National League teams would switch to the American League.

Two highly ranked executives believe the Houston Astros would be a possibility, because a switch to the AL for Houston would foster a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.

"There are still a lot of details that would have to be discussed," one source said.


TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
Reply
TEAM CHEESEHEADS ..... HoustonRockets
Jordy Nelson: Best WR in the game .................................. The Roc Boys in the building tonight
Reply
post #1595 of 77526
Bring the Brewers back in the AL. nerd.gif
post #1596 of 77526
Bring the Brewers back in the AL. nerd.gif
post #1597 of 77526
Why does Brad Mills continue to run this clown out there? 30t6p3b.gif
post #1598 of 77526
Why does Brad Mills continue to run this clown out there? 30t6p3b.gif
post #1599 of 77526
Prince Fielder is gonna look good in an Orioles uni next year. That's all.
post #1600 of 77526
Prince Fielder is gonna look good in an Orioles uni next year. That's all.
post #1601 of 77526
Rizzo and Moustakas homering on the same day smiley: pimp
post #1602 of 77526
Rizzo and Moustakas homering on the same day smiley: pimp
post #1603 of 77526
This dude is gonna do it again nerd.gif

Well maybe not laugh.gif
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
post #1604 of 77526
This dude is gonna do it again nerd.gif

Well maybe not laugh.gif
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
You whole crew's ravishing, team's untouchable
In the jungle banging Nas, Mobb Deep and Wu
"My Ohhh My"
Reply
post #1605 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroBaller


Sources: MLB, players talk realignmentEmail Print Comments1910 By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Archive
A simple form of realignment being seriously considered has been raised in the labor talks between Major League Baseball and the players' association, according to four sources: two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.

According to a highly ranked executive, one consideration that has been raised in ownership committee meetings is eliminating the divisions altogether, so that 15 AL and 15 NL teams would vie for five playoff spots within each league. Currently, Major League Baseball has six divisions.

A source who has been briefed on the specifics of the labor discussions says that the players' union has indicated that it is open to the idea of two 15-team leagues, but that the whole plan still hasn't been talked through or presented to the owners.

"I'd still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50," one source said.


A sticking point involves interleague play. Because of the odd number of teams in each league, it is possible that a team in contention late in the season will have to be playing its final games in interleague play.


One of the biggest issues that would have to be resolved in any realignment resulting in two 15-team leagues is which of the National League teams would switch to the American League.

Two highly ranked executives believe the Houston Astros would be a possibility, because a switch to the AL for Houston would foster a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.

"There are still a lot of details that would have to be discussed," one source said.




I'd say do it.. even out the league

-More Inter-League play 
-No more division winner 
-#1 Team gets Home Field advantage
-And maybe a "Salary Cap"

Personally, I'm getting bored of "todays" baseball.. Too much games within the division, I mean teams are playing each other every week

post #1606 of 77526
Quote:
Originally Posted by RetroBaller


Sources: MLB, players talk realignmentEmail Print Comments1910 By Buster Olney
ESPN The Magazine
Archive
A simple form of realignment being seriously considered has been raised in the labor talks between Major League Baseball and the players' association, according to four sources: two leagues of 15 teams, rather than the current structure of 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League.

According to a highly ranked executive, one consideration that has been raised in ownership committee meetings is eliminating the divisions altogether, so that 15 AL and 15 NL teams would vie for five playoff spots within each league. Currently, Major League Baseball has six divisions.

A source who has been briefed on the specifics of the labor discussions says that the players' union has indicated that it is open to the idea of two 15-team leagues, but that the whole plan still hasn't been talked through or presented to the owners.

"I'd still say the odds of it happening are less than 50-50," one source said.


A sticking point involves interleague play. Because of the odd number of teams in each league, it is possible that a team in contention late in the season will have to be playing its final games in interleague play.


One of the biggest issues that would have to be resolved in any realignment resulting in two 15-team leagues is which of the National League teams would switch to the American League.

Two highly ranked executives believe the Houston Astros would be a possibility, because a switch to the AL for Houston would foster a rivalry between the Astros and the Texas Rangers.

"There are still a lot of details that would have to be discussed," one source said.




I'd say do it.. even out the league

-More Inter-League play 
-No more division winner 
-#1 Team gets Home Field advantage
-And maybe a "Salary Cap"

Personally, I'm getting bored of "todays" baseball.. Too much games within the division, I mean teams are playing each other every week

post #1607 of 77526
Your bullet points are silly. If you are bored, dont watch. Simple.
post #1608 of 77526
Your bullet points are silly. If you are bored, dont watch. Simple.
post #1609 of 77526
Thread Starter 
The Blue Jays draft strategy.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Now that most of the dust from the 2011 draft has begun to settle, one of the more interesting story lines to follow this summer will be how many early picks the Blue Jays will be able to sign. As has been well documented, the Blue Jays came into the 2011 draft with 8 of the first 60 picks, giving them a total of 20 selections in the first 15 rounds. But what is particularly interesting is that of those 20 picks, the Blue Jays used 17 on high school players. That’s a lot of high school players. In fact, since 2000, teams have, on average, selected fewer than 6 high school players in the first fifteen rounds.

Here’s a look at the number of high school players each team drafted in the first fifteen rounds this year.
2011-HS-Draftees-By-Team.png
* I looked at only the first fifteen rounds to limit the sample to draftees teams were likely intent on signing.

As the above graph shows, it’s the Blue Jays, Rays, and then the field. But the graphic above doesn’t do justice to just how rare it is for a team to use such a high portion of their early picks on high school players. Since 2000, only two teams have drafted more than 13 high school players in the first 15 rounds. The Braves drafted 17 in 2000 (also with 20 picks) and the Blue Jays drafted 15 last year (with 21 picks). Now obviously, to draft a lot of high school players, it helps to have a lot of extra picks. But taking a deeper look, it’s not like there have been a lot of teams taking a similar percentage of high school players that have been prevented from reaching the mid-teens by the number of picks they had. Aside from the 2003 Dodgers and the 2011 Rays (who had 25 picks in the first 15 rounds) no team since 2000 has drafted more than 11 high school players in the first 15 rounds.

Here’s a look at the amount of high school players taken in the first 15 rounds by every team over the past two seasons.

The fact that in back-to-back years the Blue Jays have gone all in on high school talent suggests two things. First, the Jays are going to be big spenders on amateur talent. Outside of the first rounds, it takes more money to sign high school players due to the leverage they have from the option of playing college baseball (Joe Musgrove’s under-slot signing not withstanding). Not only that, but the Blue Jays didn’t shy away from tough signs, selecting two of the drafts toughest signs in high school arms Tyler Beede and Daniel Norris. For any team, especially a team playing in the American League East, signing and developing amateur talent is a prerequisite for success. From this standpoint, Jays fans have to be very excited that the team appears to be putting such an emphasis on young talent.

But you can make a commitment to acquiring young talent without leaning so heavily on high school players. There are plenty of junior college and 4-year college players who slip in the draft due to signability. The fact that the Jays have selected so many high school players suggests that the they have made a philosophical commitment to the notion that high school players are a better investment than college or junior college players.

The Blue Jays have proven to be pretty sharp in their baseball operations over the past couple of seasons, so if they begin to deviate from the industry norm, it’s worth at least a cursory explanation of what their thought process may be.

I think there are two main advantages from going heavy, and while neither is exactly rocket science, I think they are worth stating. First, although a higher percentage of your picks may never reach the big leagues, after the first couple of rounds, you likely increase your chances of developing above-average major-league players by going the high school route. As players get older, the gap between what they are and what they may become gradually grows smaller. But with 18 year olds there is still enough of a gap that a lot of players who will grow into very good prospects slip through the cracks. Just look at some of this year’s early college picks. Danny Hultzen went in the tenth round out of high school. The Braves took Anthony Rendon in the 27th round out of high school, and George Springer fell all the way to the 48th round. Certainly questions about each of these players’ signabilities contributed to where they went in the draft, but if teams had a better idea of what they would become in three years, it’s unlikely these players would have made it to college. If you draft and sign bunch of high school players in the 5-15 round range, you increase your chances of developing above-average big leaguers, and it’s the ability to develop these types of players that fuels success at the major-league level.

Second, by drafting so many high school players you may give yourself a little extra leverage in negotiations. You can go to each agent and say I’ve got $500,000 available for your client, but I’ve got the same offer out to two other players and whoever takes the offer first gets the money. Having other options probably won’t radically alter the course of the negotiations, but the effect is probably not be negligible, either.

While I don’t think the Jays have reinvented the way teams will draft in the future. I do think the strategy the Jays seem to be employing is certainly worth monitoring.



The Most Underrated Player in Baseball?

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Answer: Denard Span.

By one definition, at least.

If FanGraphs has one overriding purpose, it’s not, as some readers might think, to render everyone dateless. Rather, it’s to constantly ask — and attempt to answer — questions about baseball. And one of the most basic questions we ask is, “How much is [insert player's name] worth?

post #1610 of 77526
Thread Starter 
The Blue Jays draft strategy.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Now that most of the dust from the 2011 draft has begun to settle, one of the more interesting story lines to follow this summer will be how many early picks the Blue Jays will be able to sign. As has been well documented, the Blue Jays came into the 2011 draft with 8 of the first 60 picks, giving them a total of 20 selections in the first 15 rounds. But what is particularly interesting is that of those 20 picks, the Blue Jays used 17 on high school players. That’s a lot of high school players. In fact, since 2000, teams have, on average, selected fewer than 6 high school players in the first fifteen rounds.

Here’s a look at the number of high school players each team drafted in the first fifteen rounds this year.
2011-HS-Draftees-By-Team.png
* I looked at only the first fifteen rounds to limit the sample to draftees teams were likely intent on signing.

As the above graph shows, it’s the Blue Jays, Rays, and then the field. But the graphic above doesn’t do justice to just how rare it is for a team to use such a high portion of their early picks on high school players. Since 2000, only two teams have drafted more than 13 high school players in the first 15 rounds. The Braves drafted 17 in 2000 (also with 20 picks) and the Blue Jays drafted 15 last year (with 21 picks). Now obviously, to draft a lot of high school players, it helps to have a lot of extra picks. But taking a deeper look, it’s not like there have been a lot of teams taking a similar percentage of high school players that have been prevented from reaching the mid-teens by the number of picks they had. Aside from the 2003 Dodgers and the 2011 Rays (who had 25 picks in the first 15 rounds) no team since 2000 has drafted more than 11 high school players in the first 15 rounds.

Here’s a look at the amount of high school players taken in the first 15 rounds by every team over the past two seasons.

The fact that in back-to-back years the Blue Jays have gone all in on high school talent suggests two things. First, the Jays are going to be big spenders on amateur talent. Outside of the first rounds, it takes more money to sign high school players due to the leverage they have from the option of playing college baseball (Joe Musgrove’s under-slot signing not withstanding). Not only that, but the Blue Jays didn’t shy away from tough signs, selecting two of the drafts toughest signs in high school arms Tyler Beede and Daniel Norris. For any team, especially a team playing in the American League East, signing and developing amateur talent is a prerequisite for success. From this standpoint, Jays fans have to be very excited that the team appears to be putting such an emphasis on young talent.

But you can make a commitment to acquiring young talent without leaning so heavily on high school players. There are plenty of junior college and 4-year college players who slip in the draft due to signability. The fact that the Jays have selected so many high school players suggests that the they have made a philosophical commitment to the notion that high school players are a better investment than college or junior college players.

The Blue Jays have proven to be pretty sharp in their baseball operations over the past couple of seasons, so if they begin to deviate from the industry norm, it’s worth at least a cursory explanation of what their thought process may be.

I think there are two main advantages from going heavy, and while neither is exactly rocket science, I think they are worth stating. First, although a higher percentage of your picks may never reach the big leagues, after the first couple of rounds, you likely increase your chances of developing above-average major-league players by going the high school route. As players get older, the gap between what they are and what they may become gradually grows smaller. But with 18 year olds there is still enough of a gap that a lot of players who will grow into very good prospects slip through the cracks. Just look at some of this year’s early college picks. Danny Hultzen went in the tenth round out of high school. The Braves took Anthony Rendon in the 27th round out of high school, and George Springer fell all the way to the 48th round. Certainly questions about each of these players’ signabilities contributed to where they went in the draft, but if teams had a better idea of what they would become in three years, it’s unlikely these players would have made it to college. If you draft and sign bunch of high school players in the 5-15 round range, you increase your chances of developing above-average big leaguers, and it’s the ability to develop these types of players that fuels success at the major-league level.

Second, by drafting so many high school players you may give yourself a little extra leverage in negotiations. You can go to each agent and say I’ve got $500,000 available for your client, but I’ve got the same offer out to two other players and whoever takes the offer first gets the money. Having other options probably won’t radically alter the course of the negotiations, but the effect is probably not be negligible, either.

While I don’t think the Jays have reinvented the way teams will draft in the future. I do think the strategy the Jays seem to be employing is certainly worth monitoring.



The Most Underrated Player in Baseball?

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Answer: Denard Span.

By one definition, at least.

If FanGraphs has one overriding purpose, it’s not, as some readers might think, to render everyone dateless. Rather, it’s to constantly ask — and attempt to answer — questions about baseball. And one of the most basic questions we ask is, “How much is [insert player's name] worth?

post #1611 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Super Two players.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

It's "Super Two" time around baseball, and that means it's also time to debate the merits of the current service time system. Teams manage the Super Two rules in different ways, with each having its merits.

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year, but they also barely slid into the playoffs during the last weekend of the season. Catcher Buster Posey was ready for the big leagues on Opening Day, but the desire to save a few million down the road nearly cost the team a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Braves threw caution to the wind with Jason Heyward, and he played a key role in several April victories, leading one to the conclusion that if the Braves had waited, they would have been sitting at home in October. Still, Heyward is going to get expensive one year earlier, so was it worth it?

Players and teams alike aren't especially fond of the system. It keeps players in the minors when they should be in the big leagues, and it forces teams to make financial decisions to the detriment of the win-loss record. The problem is finding a solution.

"Absolutely, the Super Two should go because it hurts both the clubs and the players," said one National League executive. "Beyond the Buster Posey example, another predicament is that speculation and distrust spreads between clubs and players. Teams are accused of holding players down, and it isn't good for the game or its fans when the future is being held back by the perceived savings of a few million dollars three years down the line."

The problem is, nobody really has a good solution for the problem. "I think it's unlikely that we'll have a solution in the next collective bargaining agreement," another NL front office employee said. "For every player that a team supposedly holds back, there are 15 or more that jump into a new service class because they do get Super Two status. It's a matter of millions of dollars for those players and I can't see the union wanting to do something about that."

"The problem with getting rid of the Super Twos is that you aren't changing anything, you are just moving the deadline," added another NL exec. "Instead of waiting until early or mid-June, teams will be making the same decisions in April to keep guys from getting three years of service time. It will always be a problem."

One way or another, there will be a service-time factor to arbitration and free agency in the next agreement between the union and the players. Assuming that the same rules are in place, here are five prospects who could see their debuts delayed to avoid Super Two status.


ari.gif

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Few players have done more for their stock this year than Goldschmidt, who has spent the first half of 2011 proving that last year's California League MVP campaign was more than just a function of the high-octane offensive environment. With a greatly increased walk rate and greatly decreased strikeout rate, Goldschmidt has a line of .343 AVG/.465 OBP/.687 SLG for Double-A Mobile while leading the minor leagues with 21 home runs, and he's lining himself up for a very long look next spring. Juan Miranda has been a surprising contributor in the big leagues this year, but Goldschmidt is looking more and more like the long-term answer for Arizona.


stl.gif

Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

There was some thought to starting Miller at Double-A in April, but the Cardinals stayed the course with the 2009 first-round pick and merely moved him up one level to the Florida State League to begin the year. Nine starts and 81 strikeouts in 53 innings later, he was moved to Double-A, and he won't turn 21 years old until after the season. A pure power pitcher with an outstanding fastball/curve combination, Miller has continued to miss bats in his first two starts for Springfield (14 K's in 12 innings) and could be ready by next spring. But his age will make it easier for the Cardinals to manage his development.


tam.gif

Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Moore has led the minor leagues in strikeouts in each of the past two years, but he is merely fifth this year with 92 strikeouts in 68.2 innings, with his remarkable rate of 12.1 per nine actually representing a career low. One of the better scouting finds in recent memory, Moore, was an eighth-round pick out of a small high school in New Mexico, and he's dominated at every level since thanks to 93-95 mph heat and one of the better curveballs in the minor leagues. Double-A has not been much of a challenge this year, and scouts think he could be nearly big league ready if he can make some small improvements to his command and control. The depth of the Rays' system gives Tampa time.


laa.gif

Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

Angels fans want him up now, but it's easy to forget that one of the best prospects in baseball (if not the best) doesn't turn 20 until August. Still, even as a teenager, the upper levels of the minors have failed to slow him down, as he's hitting .323/.427/.547 in his first 55 games for Double-A Arkansas with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases while playing a top-notch center field. He could arguably provide the Angels a boost this year, but 2012 is a far more realistic expectation.


det.gif

Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are well-known for pushing their prospects, and they took care of two levels with their 2009 first-round pick when he split his full-season debut between Low-A and High-A. Now in the Double-A Eastern League at 20, he has a 3.05 ERA after 11 starts with an impressive 61-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 73.2 innings. Beyond his size (6-foot-5, 210) and velocity, Turner's command is highly advanced for his age, and he already has a plus curve and rapidly developing changeup. Very young pitchers like Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello have broken camp with the Tigers in past years, so Super Two status may or may not be in play here next spring.



No more divisions.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Without divisions, this is what the National League standings would have looked like on the last Sunday of the regular season in 2008:

1. Cubs 97-64
2. Phillies 92-70
3. Brewers 90-72
4. Mets 89-73
5. Astros 86-75
6. Cardinals 86-76
7. Marlins 84-77
8. Dodgers 84-78
9. Diamondbacks 82-80

What's wrong with this picture? Well, the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage, the Dodgers, made the playoffs ahead of four teams that had better records. That's because the Dodgers had the good fortune of being part of the weakest division that year, the NL West.

The players prepare for three months for spring training and then go through seven weeks of camp before playing day after day for six months. And through a twist of fate -- being assigned to a team in a more difficult division -- a player can miss out on the playoffs. That's not something the league should foster. Quite simply, the players on the best teams should make the playoffs.

One argument against eliminating divisions is that a struggling team would appear to be buried mathematically in a 15-team race -- and it's a silly argument, because a league-wide race is what we already have in place, anyway, as teams fight to be at least a wild-card team. It really doesn't make a bit of difference whether you're fifth in the AL Central or 15th in the league-wide race; you'd still be fighting for the No. 5 spot in the five-team playoff field, regardless of whether you dress it up with a three-division format.

Inequities could only result from the division format; this is the only way you could have a team with an 84-78 record making the playoffs ahead of a team with 89 victories.

The bottom line is this: You want the five teams with the most wins getting the five playoff spots. With a three-division format, you run the risk that this wouldn't happen.

In the aftermath of the realignment news Saturday, Houston owner Drayton McLane tells Richard Justice he doesn't want the Astros to move to the American League. The Diamondbacks are candidates, writes Bob Nightengale; CEO Derrick Hall doesn't think they'll be asked. Realignment could benefit the rich teams, writes John Erardi.

Notables


• The signing of Manny Ramirez to a two-year, $45 million deal looked like a poor decision when it happened, given the landscape of the free-agent market at the time, and now that deal could really come back to bite Frank McCourt. As Molly Knight reports, McCourt owes Ramirez a whopping $8.33 million payment at the end of this month, making it very, very difficult for him to reach payroll. Frank McCourt needs an infusion of cash, as Bill Shaikin writes.

• The Twins have made up about seven games in the standings over the past two weeks, so it's way too early for them to become sellers. But in preparation for the possible trade market, some rival evaluators are circling them, waiting to see if some of their veterans become available, such as Michael Cuddyer or Francisco Liriano. If Liriano were to be made available, he would immediately become the best starting pitcher on the market; Rick Anderson is impressed with Liriano's progress, as Sid Hartman writes.

• Rival evaluators say the Phillies are quietly making inquiries about right-handed hitting outfielders; Josh Willingham of Oakland, making $6 million this season, would be a possible fit.

• The Royals' Wilson Betemit is drawing a lot of interest from rival evaluators, because of his positional flexibility, because of his production and because he's damn cheap -- his salary this season is $1 million.

Bill Hall will get a chance to start some games this week, but that doesn't mean the Giants will stop looking for possible infield replacements; rather, they'll continue to look at possible options, in case an alternative to Hall is needed. Mark Ellis of the Athletics could be a fit, given that Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore are settling in at second base and third base, respectively, for Oakland, and Ellis won't have much playing time available after he comes off the disabled list. Hall was one of the kingpins of the Brewers' bowling stunt, writes Henry Schulman.

• The Marlins are hopeful that Josh Johnson will return to their rotation sometime in the first week of July, but nonetheless, they will continue to scan the market for possible starting pitching targets, given the struggles of Javier Vazquez.

• Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits could be delayed, writes Ben Shpigel, after Jeter suffered a Grade 1 strain of his right calf. This time, Jeter is not all right, writes Joel Sherman.

Moves, deals and decisions


1. Mark Kiszla thinks the Rockies should turn the page on Dexter Fowler. Charlie Blackmon has effectively replaced Fowler in the lineup.

2. Jack Zduriencik's big trade keeps paying dividends, writes Larry Stone.

3. Wade LeBlanc will get the ball on Tuesday.

4. Time is running out for Magglio Ordonez with the Tigers, writes Michael Rosenberg.

5. Keeping Cole Hamels will be costly for the Phillies.

6. Clint Hurdle knows the Pirates' new catcher from their days with the Rockies.

7. J.J. Hardy and the Orioles might work out an extension, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

Dings and dents


1. Ryan Zimmerman, like Pablo Sandoval, will be back in the lineup today.

2. Jason Heyward could be back in a few days.

3. Brett Anderson won't be having Tommy John surgery, after meeting with Dr. James Andrews. He will be undergoing some plasma therapy.

4. Within this Bud Withers notebook, there is word that David Aardsma was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

5. Barry Zito will pitch in Triple-A this week.

6. Vicente Padilla could be out for the season.

7. The Cardinals are looking to get healthy, writes Rick Hummel.

8. Travis Hafner is making his way back.

9. Scott Rolen was out, after fouling a ball off his instep, as Tom Groeschen writes.

10. Takashi Saito's condition is improving, as Tom Haudricourt writes.

11. Johan Santana is dealing with some soreness, as Andy Martino writes.

Monday's games


1. Anthony Bass' debut went really well, as Chris Jenkins writes.

2. Paul Maholm was solid again for the Pirates. Signing him should be a priority for the Pirates, writes Ron Cook.

3. You can't stop the Diamondbacks, you can only hope to contain them: Miguel Montero drove Arizona to a win, as Nick Piecoro writes.

4. The Rockies' offense abandoned them again, as Troy Renck writes.

5. Jason Vargas had a bad day.

6. Dee Gordon made a pivotal mistake, as Jim Peltz writes.

7. Vernon Wells clubbed a couple of homers, as Mike DiGiovanna writes.

8. The Indians salvaged the final game of their series against the Yankees; Grady Sizemore was back in the leadoff spot, as Paul Hoynes writes. From ESPN Stats & Information, how Carlos Carrasco shut down the Yankees:

• Carrasco settled down after a rough start. Five Yankees reached base the first time through the order, but only three of the final 19 hitters he faced would reach base. Yankee hitters missed on only eight percent of their swings the first time through the order, but that number tripled to 24 percent the rest of the game.

• Carrasco induced weak contact. None of the 18 balls put in play were well-hit, according to Inside Edge. It was the first start of Carrasco's career in which he didn't allow a well-hit ball.

• Yankees hitters were 0-for-7 against Carrasco with runners in scoring position. Six of the seven outs he got came on his changeup and curveball.

9. The Tigers got to frolic. Phil Coke was sharp.

10. The Reds showed off some power.

11. The Brewers were shut down.

12. Ryan Dempster was The Man for the Cubs.

13. Once again, the Mets couldn't get to .500.

14. The Braves started their road trip with a thud, writes David O'Brien.

15. Wandy Rodriguez had a strong outing in his first start after being activated. From ESPN Stats & Information: With a home run in the third inning off Derek Lowe, Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to 23 games Monday. It's the second time in his streak that Pence extended it with a home run. His streak is the fourth-longest by an Astros player in the past 11 years, and the second-longest by a player this season (Andre Ethier reached 30 games). The longest by an Astros player in the past 11 years is Willy Taveras with a 30-game streak in 2006.



Problem with Yankee pitchers.

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When Freddy Garcia took the hill for the New York Yankees last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, it was pretty clear he wasn't fooling anybody. The 35-year-old right-hander didn't make it out the second inning, while allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. The most glaring statistic of all? Of the 46 pitches he threw on the night, Garcia induced just one swinging strike.

It would be easy to chalk that up to a bad night and say, "he just didn't have his best stuff." The problem is that Garcia hasn't been missing many bats this season, nor have any of the other Yankees' pitchers not named CC Sabathia. Exhibit B: The next night, in the second game of a three-game sweep at the hands of their bitter rivals, A.J. Burnett induced a whopping four swinging strikes in an 11-6 loss. As a pitching staff, Yankees hurlers have gotten foes to swing and miss just 7.6 percent of the time, which is 26th in baseball. (The San Francisco Giants, at 9.6 percent, are first.)

The question is: What does this mean for the Yankees -- as well as any other pitch-to-contact team -- going forward?

To get to the bottom of this, I looked at the swinging strike rate of every playoff team going back to 2002, which is as far back as the data goes. Here are three key takeaways:

1) Since 2002, the average playoff team has had a swinging strike rate of 9.1.

2) The highest swinging strike rate for any playoff teams during that time was the 2003 Chicago Cubs at 11.8 percent. (Man, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were nasty.) The highest swinging strike rate for a World Series champ was the 2003 Marlins (10.glasses.gif. It's interesting to note that swinging strike rates were higher at the beginning of the decade, but strikeout rates were lower. I guess we can conclude that hitters have just gotten more passive. (Or just better at making contact; probably a little of both.)

3) The lowest swinging strike rate for a playoff team also happens to be the lowest swinging strike rate for a World Series champ at 7.6 percent. Need a hint? It's arguably the worst World Series champion in history, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, who won just 83 games. Chris Carpenter led that team with 184 strikeouts, and Jeff Suppan was second the squad with just 104 whiffs. The next lowest for a World Series champ was the 2008 Phillies (8.6 percent).

As it turns out, that St. Louis team is the only playoff team since 2002 to have a swing-and-miss rate of less than 8.0 percent. The Yankees' inability to miss bats is by no means a death sentence for their chances, but it's certainly a problem. There is actually one other contender that has a lower swinging strike percentage and that's the Texas Rangers (7.4). The Rangers, however, are able to make up for it a bit with excellent defense: They rank second in the baseball in defensive efficiency. The Yankees rank 12th, which isn't bad, but not great when you consider all the extra balls in play their pitchers allow. And that's what strikes at the heart of this matter, if you can't make batters miss, you're going to strike out fewer of them, which means you will be far more reliant on your defense. Also, good-hitting teams like the Red Sox, or any other club they'd see in October, will be able to wear out their starters by fouling off pitch after pitch.

This lack of swing-and-miss pitchers is nothing new for the Bronx Bombers. From 2002 through 2010, they only had one pitcher strike out more than 200 men in a season, and that was Randy Johnson back in 2005. Since 2002, the only year the Yankees missed the playoffs was 2008, when they had a swinging strike rate of 7.8, which is the lowest (other than this year) during that time frame. The Yankees would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but their inability to induce swinging strikes is something to keep in mind as the season progresses. Their current rate is well below the typical playoff team of the last decade.

Overall, the Yankees' pitching has been much better than expected, with the currently injured Bartolo Colon being the most pleasant surprise of all. However, even he has a swinging strike rate of only 6.2 percent. Assuming the Yankees make it back to the playoffs, their pitchers' inability to miss bats could very well end up being their downfall.



Roundtable on Pitchers in the 1980's.

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Was it different pitching in the 1980s than it is today? If so, just how different and in which ways? In a two-part roundtable, six prominent pitchers from that decade — three right-handers and three left-handers who won a combined 1,044 big-league games — address topics that will help answer those questions.

——

1980s PITCHING ROUNDTABLE [Part One]: BUD BLACK, DANNY DARWIN, MIKE FLANAGAN, GREG MADDUX, JON MATLACK AND BOB WALK.

ON PITCHER USAGE, INNINGS, AND PITCH COUNTS:

Bud Black: I don’t recall pitch counts being as prevalent as they are now. In my starts, in the 1980s, I was never told how many pitches I threw. I didn’t know and it wasn’t important to me. I’m sure that the pitching coaches knew, but it wasn’t common knowledge in the press box and in the newspapers like it is now. I think that starting pitchers felt as though they wanted to throw nine innings; the goal was to throw a complete game. Back then, I used to say that the biggest satisfaction I had was to complete a game that we won, and that was the mindset of guys who were embedded in a starting rotation. You were expected to take the game into the seventh, eighth or ninth innings, and if by performance or tiredness — if you were running out of gas — in came the closer. In our case, in Kansas City, it was Dan Quisenberry, who would go one-plus inning, two-plus innings, or just the ninth. It was the same around the league with guys like Gossage, Righetti, and the other closers in the age who were multiple-innings guys.

Danny Darwin: We had pitch counts in the ‘80s, but it wasn’t like nowadays where it’s maybe 90 pitches. I think that pitchers today are babied a little more. They’re given pitch counts, they’re given only so many innings, and they’re getting sent home with tired arms, they get put down. Back then, you went out and pitched. I remember an instance in the ‘80s where I pitched five out of six days and one of them was five innings. I don’t know if I was blessed with that type of arm, or what, but today’s players – and it comes down to the money – it’s what you have an investment in, and you’re trying to get production out of that investment.

Mike Flanagan: Certainly, the manager I had, Earl Weaver, was very much statistically oriented. He was one of the originators of match-ups and pitch counts, but with the pitch counts it was more of an upper limit. And if our starter was pitching well, and (Weaver) liked the way he was throwing, he might not even count a few of those. But if he was pitching poorly, and Earl wanted him out of the game, he might add a few. (Pitcher usage) changed dramatically by the end of my career. It seems like the end of the 1970s was kind of the end of the era of pitchers throwing 300 innings. I’m not sure who the last one was to throw 300; I think it was Steve Carlton in 1980. Some of the league leaders going back into the 1970s were in the 340s and 350s, and Mickey Lolich was in the 370s one year. Pitching 340 innings is obviously something that is unheard of now. Pitch counts came into vogue, along with specialization in the bullpen, and since then there have been more and more pitchers on the staff. In that respect there have certainly been major changes to the game.

Greg Maddux: There were no pitch counts then. You either pitched until you got knocked out or until the game was over, whichever came first. Very rarely did they take you out because you were tired. They actually taught you how to pitch when you got tired. Now, pitchers aren’t really allowed to pitch tired; they come out before they get tired.

Jon Matlack: The game was starting to move towards specialization. There were still some, but definitely fewer complete games than before. There were fewer starting pitchers who were looked at as guys who would carry you into the seventh and eighth innings; it was more that they would carry you into the sixth or seventh and then specialty guys would take you the rest of the way. It wasn’t uniform yet, but it was headed in that direction. I never had any pitch counts put on me. I never really ran into them until I started coaching. The advent of the higher signing bonus and bigger contracts, and more and more agents with assistants and specialty people in their offices, has pretty much driven us to the pitch count. It’s all “err on the side of caution

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Super Two players.

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It's "Super Two" time around baseball, and that means it's also time to debate the merits of the current service time system. Teams manage the Super Two rules in different ways, with each having its merits.

The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year, but they also barely slid into the playoffs during the last weekend of the season. Catcher Buster Posey was ready for the big leagues on Opening Day, but the desire to save a few million down the road nearly cost the team a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Braves threw caution to the wind with Jason Heyward, and he played a key role in several April victories, leading one to the conclusion that if the Braves had waited, they would have been sitting at home in October. Still, Heyward is going to get expensive one year earlier, so was it worth it?

Players and teams alike aren't especially fond of the system. It keeps players in the minors when they should be in the big leagues, and it forces teams to make financial decisions to the detriment of the win-loss record. The problem is finding a solution.

"Absolutely, the Super Two should go because it hurts both the clubs and the players," said one National League executive. "Beyond the Buster Posey example, another predicament is that speculation and distrust spreads between clubs and players. Teams are accused of holding players down, and it isn't good for the game or its fans when the future is being held back by the perceived savings of a few million dollars three years down the line."

The problem is, nobody really has a good solution for the problem. "I think it's unlikely that we'll have a solution in the next collective bargaining agreement," another NL front office employee said. "For every player that a team supposedly holds back, there are 15 or more that jump into a new service class because they do get Super Two status. It's a matter of millions of dollars for those players and I can't see the union wanting to do something about that."

"The problem with getting rid of the Super Twos is that you aren't changing anything, you are just moving the deadline," added another NL exec. "Instead of waiting until early or mid-June, teams will be making the same decisions in April to keep guys from getting three years of service time. It will always be a problem."

One way or another, there will be a service-time factor to arbitration and free agency in the next agreement between the union and the players. Assuming that the same rules are in place, here are five prospects who could see their debuts delayed to avoid Super Two status.


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Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

Few players have done more for their stock this year than Goldschmidt, who has spent the first half of 2011 proving that last year's California League MVP campaign was more than just a function of the high-octane offensive environment. With a greatly increased walk rate and greatly decreased strikeout rate, Goldschmidt has a line of .343 AVG/.465 OBP/.687 SLG for Double-A Mobile while leading the minor leagues with 21 home runs, and he's lining himself up for a very long look next spring. Juan Miranda has been a surprising contributor in the big leagues this year, but Goldschmidt is looking more and more like the long-term answer for Arizona.


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Shelby Miller, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

There was some thought to starting Miller at Double-A in April, but the Cardinals stayed the course with the 2009 first-round pick and merely moved him up one level to the Florida State League to begin the year. Nine starts and 81 strikeouts in 53 innings later, he was moved to Double-A, and he won't turn 21 years old until after the season. A pure power pitcher with an outstanding fastball/curve combination, Miller has continued to miss bats in his first two starts for Springfield (14 K's in 12 innings) and could be ready by next spring. But his age will make it easier for the Cardinals to manage his development.


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Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Bay Rays

Moore has led the minor leagues in strikeouts in each of the past two years, but he is merely fifth this year with 92 strikeouts in 68.2 innings, with his remarkable rate of 12.1 per nine actually representing a career low. One of the better scouting finds in recent memory, Moore, was an eighth-round pick out of a small high school in New Mexico, and he's dominated at every level since thanks to 93-95 mph heat and one of the better curveballs in the minor leagues. Double-A has not been much of a challenge this year, and scouts think he could be nearly big league ready if he can make some small improvements to his command and control. The depth of the Rays' system gives Tampa time.


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Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

Angels fans want him up now, but it's easy to forget that one of the best prospects in baseball (if not the best) doesn't turn 20 until August. Still, even as a teenager, the upper levels of the minors have failed to slow him down, as he's hitting .323/.427/.547 in his first 55 games for Double-A Arkansas with seven home runs and 21 stolen bases while playing a top-notch center field. He could arguably provide the Angels a boost this year, but 2012 is a far more realistic expectation.


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Jacob Turner, RHP, Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are well-known for pushing their prospects, and they took care of two levels with their 2009 first-round pick when he split his full-season debut between Low-A and High-A. Now in the Double-A Eastern League at 20, he has a 3.05 ERA after 11 starts with an impressive 61-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 73.2 innings. Beyond his size (6-foot-5, 210) and velocity, Turner's command is highly advanced for his age, and he already has a plus curve and rapidly developing changeup. Very young pitchers like Jeremy Bonderman and Rick Porcello have broken camp with the Tigers in past years, so Super Two status may or may not be in play here next spring.



No more divisions.

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Without divisions, this is what the National League standings would have looked like on the last Sunday of the regular season in 2008:

1. Cubs 97-64
2. Phillies 92-70
3. Brewers 90-72
4. Mets 89-73
5. Astros 86-75
6. Cardinals 86-76
7. Marlins 84-77
8. Dodgers 84-78
9. Diamondbacks 82-80

What's wrong with this picture? Well, the team with the eighth-highest winning percentage, the Dodgers, made the playoffs ahead of four teams that had better records. That's because the Dodgers had the good fortune of being part of the weakest division that year, the NL West.

The players prepare for three months for spring training and then go through seven weeks of camp before playing day after day for six months. And through a twist of fate -- being assigned to a team in a more difficult division -- a player can miss out on the playoffs. That's not something the league should foster. Quite simply, the players on the best teams should make the playoffs.

One argument against eliminating divisions is that a struggling team would appear to be buried mathematically in a 15-team race -- and it's a silly argument, because a league-wide race is what we already have in place, anyway, as teams fight to be at least a wild-card team. It really doesn't make a bit of difference whether you're fifth in the AL Central or 15th in the league-wide race; you'd still be fighting for the No. 5 spot in the five-team playoff field, regardless of whether you dress it up with a three-division format.

Inequities could only result from the division format; this is the only way you could have a team with an 84-78 record making the playoffs ahead of a team with 89 victories.

The bottom line is this: You want the five teams with the most wins getting the five playoff spots. With a three-division format, you run the risk that this wouldn't happen.

In the aftermath of the realignment news Saturday, Houston owner Drayton McLane tells Richard Justice he doesn't want the Astros to move to the American League. The Diamondbacks are candidates, writes Bob Nightengale; CEO Derrick Hall doesn't think they'll be asked. Realignment could benefit the rich teams, writes John Erardi.

Notables


• The signing of Manny Ramirez to a two-year, $45 million deal looked like a poor decision when it happened, given the landscape of the free-agent market at the time, and now that deal could really come back to bite Frank McCourt. As Molly Knight reports, McCourt owes Ramirez a whopping $8.33 million payment at the end of this month, making it very, very difficult for him to reach payroll. Frank McCourt needs an infusion of cash, as Bill Shaikin writes.

• The Twins have made up about seven games in the standings over the past two weeks, so it's way too early for them to become sellers. But in preparation for the possible trade market, some rival evaluators are circling them, waiting to see if some of their veterans become available, such as Michael Cuddyer or Francisco Liriano. If Liriano were to be made available, he would immediately become the best starting pitcher on the market; Rick Anderson is impressed with Liriano's progress, as Sid Hartman writes.

• Rival evaluators say the Phillies are quietly making inquiries about right-handed hitting outfielders; Josh Willingham of Oakland, making $6 million this season, would be a possible fit.

• The Royals' Wilson Betemit is drawing a lot of interest from rival evaluators, because of his positional flexibility, because of his production and because he's damn cheap -- his salary this season is $1 million.

Bill Hall will get a chance to start some games this week, but that doesn't mean the Giants will stop looking for possible infield replacements; rather, they'll continue to look at possible options, in case an alternative to Hall is needed. Mark Ellis of the Athletics could be a fit, given that Jemile Weeks and Scott Sizemore are settling in at second base and third base, respectively, for Oakland, and Ellis won't have much playing time available after he comes off the disabled list. Hall was one of the kingpins of the Brewers' bowling stunt, writes Henry Schulman.

• The Marlins are hopeful that Josh Johnson will return to their rotation sometime in the first week of July, but nonetheless, they will continue to scan the market for possible starting pitching targets, given the struggles of Javier Vazquez.

• Derek Jeter's pursuit of 3,000 hits could be delayed, writes Ben Shpigel, after Jeter suffered a Grade 1 strain of his right calf. This time, Jeter is not all right, writes Joel Sherman.

Moves, deals and decisions


1. Mark Kiszla thinks the Rockies should turn the page on Dexter Fowler. Charlie Blackmon has effectively replaced Fowler in the lineup.

2. Jack Zduriencik's big trade keeps paying dividends, writes Larry Stone.

3. Wade LeBlanc will get the ball on Tuesday.

4. Time is running out for Magglio Ordonez with the Tigers, writes Michael Rosenberg.

5. Keeping Cole Hamels will be costly for the Phillies.

6. Clint Hurdle knows the Pirates' new catcher from their days with the Rockies.

7. J.J. Hardy and the Orioles might work out an extension, writes Jeff Zrebiec.

Dings and dents


1. Ryan Zimmerman, like Pablo Sandoval, will be back in the lineup today.

2. Jason Heyward could be back in a few days.

3. Brett Anderson won't be having Tommy John surgery, after meeting with Dr. James Andrews. He will be undergoing some plasma therapy.

4. Within this Bud Withers notebook, there is word that David Aardsma was transferred to the 60-day disabled list.

5. Barry Zito will pitch in Triple-A this week.

6. Vicente Padilla could be out for the season.

7. The Cardinals are looking to get healthy, writes Rick Hummel.

8. Travis Hafner is making his way back.

9. Scott Rolen was out, after fouling a ball off his instep, as Tom Groeschen writes.

10. Takashi Saito's condition is improving, as Tom Haudricourt writes.

11. Johan Santana is dealing with some soreness, as Andy Martino writes.

Monday's games


1. Anthony Bass' debut went really well, as Chris Jenkins writes.

2. Paul Maholm was solid again for the Pirates. Signing him should be a priority for the Pirates, writes Ron Cook.

3. You can't stop the Diamondbacks, you can only hope to contain them: Miguel Montero drove Arizona to a win, as Nick Piecoro writes.

4. The Rockies' offense abandoned them again, as Troy Renck writes.

5. Jason Vargas had a bad day.

6. Dee Gordon made a pivotal mistake, as Jim Peltz writes.

7. Vernon Wells clubbed a couple of homers, as Mike DiGiovanna writes.

8. The Indians salvaged the final game of their series against the Yankees; Grady Sizemore was back in the leadoff spot, as Paul Hoynes writes. From ESPN Stats & Information, how Carlos Carrasco shut down the Yankees:

• Carrasco settled down after a rough start. Five Yankees reached base the first time through the order, but only three of the final 19 hitters he faced would reach base. Yankee hitters missed on only eight percent of their swings the first time through the order, but that number tripled to 24 percent the rest of the game.

• Carrasco induced weak contact. None of the 18 balls put in play were well-hit, according to Inside Edge. It was the first start of Carrasco's career in which he didn't allow a well-hit ball.

• Yankees hitters were 0-for-7 against Carrasco with runners in scoring position. Six of the seven outs he got came on his changeup and curveball.

9. The Tigers got to frolic. Phil Coke was sharp.

10. The Reds showed off some power.

11. The Brewers were shut down.

12. Ryan Dempster was The Man for the Cubs.

13. Once again, the Mets couldn't get to .500.

14. The Braves started their road trip with a thud, writes David O'Brien.

15. Wandy Rodriguez had a strong outing in his first start after being activated. From ESPN Stats & Information: With a home run in the third inning off Derek Lowe, Hunter Pence extended his hitting streak to 23 games Monday. It's the second time in his streak that Pence extended it with a home run. His streak is the fourth-longest by an Astros player in the past 11 years, and the second-longest by a player this season (Andre Ethier reached 30 games). The longest by an Astros player in the past 11 years is Willy Taveras with a 30-game streak in 2006.



Problem with Yankee pitchers.

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When Freddy Garcia took the hill for the New York Yankees last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, it was pretty clear he wasn't fooling anybody. The 35-year-old right-hander didn't make it out the second inning, while allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. The most glaring statistic of all? Of the 46 pitches he threw on the night, Garcia induced just one swinging strike.

It would be easy to chalk that up to a bad night and say, "he just didn't have his best stuff." The problem is that Garcia hasn't been missing many bats this season, nor have any of the other Yankees' pitchers not named CC Sabathia. Exhibit B: The next night, in the second game of a three-game sweep at the hands of their bitter rivals, A.J. Burnett induced a whopping four swinging strikes in an 11-6 loss. As a pitching staff, Yankees hurlers have gotten foes to swing and miss just 7.6 percent of the time, which is 26th in baseball. (The San Francisco Giants, at 9.6 percent, are first.)

The question is: What does this mean for the Yankees -- as well as any other pitch-to-contact team -- going forward?

To get to the bottom of this, I looked at the swinging strike rate of every playoff team going back to 2002, which is as far back as the data goes. Here are three key takeaways:

1) Since 2002, the average playoff team has had a swinging strike rate of 9.1.

2) The highest swinging strike rate for any playoff teams during that time was the 2003 Chicago Cubs at 11.8 percent. (Man, Kerry Wood and Mark Prior were nasty.) The highest swinging strike rate for a World Series champ was the 2003 Marlins (10.glasses.gif. It's interesting to note that swinging strike rates were higher at the beginning of the decade, but strikeout rates were lower. I guess we can conclude that hitters have just gotten more passive. (Or just better at making contact; probably a little of both.)

3) The lowest swinging strike rate for a playoff team also happens to be the lowest swinging strike rate for a World Series champ at 7.6 percent. Need a hint? It's arguably the worst World Series champion in history, the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, who won just 83 games. Chris Carpenter led that team with 184 strikeouts, and Jeff Suppan was second the squad with just 104 whiffs. The next lowest for a World Series champ was the 2008 Phillies (8.6 percent).

As it turns out, that St. Louis team is the only playoff team since 2002 to have a swing-and-miss rate of less than 8.0 percent. The Yankees' inability to miss bats is by no means a death sentence for their chances, but it's certainly a problem. There is actually one other contender that has a lower swinging strike percentage and that's the Texas Rangers (7.4). The Rangers, however, are able to make up for it a bit with excellent defense: They rank second in the baseball in defensive efficiency. The Yankees rank 12th, which isn't bad, but not great when you consider all the extra balls in play their pitchers allow. And that's what strikes at the heart of this matter, if you can't make batters miss, you're going to strike out fewer of them, which means you will be far more reliant on your defense. Also, good-hitting teams like the Red Sox, or any other club they'd see in October, will be able to wear out their starters by fouling off pitch after pitch.

This lack of swing-and-miss pitchers is nothing new for the Bronx Bombers. From 2002 through 2010, they only had one pitcher strike out more than 200 men in a season, and that was Randy Johnson back in 2005. Since 2002, the only year the Yankees missed the playoffs was 2008, when they had a swinging strike rate of 7.8, which is the lowest (other than this year) during that time frame. The Yankees would be in the playoffs if the season ended today, but their inability to induce swinging strikes is something to keep in mind as the season progresses. Their current rate is well below the typical playoff team of the last decade.

Overall, the Yankees' pitching has been much better than expected, with the currently injured Bartolo Colon being the most pleasant surprise of all. However, even he has a swinging strike rate of only 6.2 percent. Assuming the Yankees make it back to the playoffs, their pitchers' inability to miss bats could very well end up being their downfall.



Roundtable on Pitchers in the 1980's.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Was it different pitching in the 1980s than it is today? If so, just how different and in which ways? In a two-part roundtable, six prominent pitchers from that decade — three right-handers and three left-handers who won a combined 1,044 big-league games — address topics that will help answer those questions.

——

1980s PITCHING ROUNDTABLE [Part One]: BUD BLACK, DANNY DARWIN, MIKE FLANAGAN, GREG MADDUX, JON MATLACK AND BOB WALK.

ON PITCHER USAGE, INNINGS, AND PITCH COUNTS:

Bud Black: I don’t recall pitch counts being as prevalent as they are now. In my starts, in the 1980s, I was never told how many pitches I threw. I didn’t know and it wasn’t important to me. I’m sure that the pitching coaches knew, but it wasn’t common knowledge in the press box and in the newspapers like it is now. I think that starting pitchers felt as though they wanted to throw nine innings; the goal was to throw a complete game. Back then, I used to say that the biggest satisfaction I had was to complete a game that we won, and that was the mindset of guys who were embedded in a starting rotation. You were expected to take the game into the seventh, eighth or ninth innings, and if by performance or tiredness — if you were running out of gas — in came the closer. In our case, in Kansas City, it was Dan Quisenberry, who would go one-plus inning, two-plus innings, or just the ninth. It was the same around the league with guys like Gossage, Righetti, and the other closers in the age who were multiple-innings guys.

Danny Darwin: We had pitch counts in the ‘80s, but it wasn’t like nowadays where it’s maybe 90 pitches. I think that pitchers today are babied a little more. They’re given pitch counts, they’re given only so many innings, and they’re getting sent home with tired arms, they get put down. Back then, you went out and pitched. I remember an instance in the ‘80s where I pitched five out of six days and one of them was five innings. I don’t know if I was blessed with that type of arm, or what, but today’s players – and it comes down to the money – it’s what you have an investment in, and you’re trying to get production out of that investment.

Mike Flanagan: Certainly, the manager I had, Earl Weaver, was very much statistically oriented. He was one of the originators of match-ups and pitch counts, but with the pitch counts it was more of an upper limit. And if our starter was pitching well, and (Weaver) liked the way he was throwing, he might not even count a few of those. But if he was pitching poorly, and Earl wanted him out of the game, he might add a few. (Pitcher usage) changed dramatically by the end of my career. It seems like the end of the 1970s was kind of the end of the era of pitchers throwing 300 innings. I’m not sure who the last one was to throw 300; I think it was Steve Carlton in 1980. Some of the league leaders going back into the 1970s were in the 340s and 350s, and Mickey Lolich was in the 370s one year. Pitching 340 innings is obviously something that is unheard of now. Pitch counts came into vogue, along with specialization in the bullpen, and since then there have been more and more pitchers on the staff. In that respect there have certainly been major changes to the game.

Greg Maddux: There were no pitch counts then. You either pitched until you got knocked out or until the game was over, whichever came first. Very rarely did they take you out because you were tired. They actually taught you how to pitch when you got tired. Now, pitchers aren’t really allowed to pitch tired; they come out before they get tired.

Jon Matlack: The game was starting to move towards specialization. There were still some, but definitely fewer complete games than before. There were fewer starting pitchers who were looked at as guys who would carry you into the seventh and eighth innings; it was more that they would carry you into the sixth or seventh and then specialty guys would take you the rest of the way. It wasn’t uniform yet, but it was headed in that direction. I never had any pitch counts put on me. I never really ran into them until I started coaching. The advent of the higher signing bonus and bigger contracts, and more and more agents with assistants and specialty people in their offices, has pretty much driven us to the pitch count. It’s all “err on the side of caution

post #1613 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Deserving AL All Stars.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Just like the NL crop this afternoon, let’s take a look at where the AL voting would leave us as of today, and then I’ll give my picks below.

Catcher: Russell Martin
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
Left Field: Josh Hamilton
Center Field: Curtis Granderson
Right Field: Jose Bautista
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

The moral of this story? There are too many Yankees fans currently occupying the planet. Also, they have a lot of money and some pretty good players. That said, if I were picking the team, the line-up would be significantly less Yankee-centric, and I think most of us could agree that that would be a great thing.

My team? Glad you asked. Same as before – starters listed first, every team gets a rep.

Catcher: Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Kurt Suzuki

Avila has been the league’s best catcher this year, Wieters is quietly having a good season, and Suzuki gets the A’s nod here because I couldn’t figure out how to get Trevor Cahill on the pitching staff – the rest of that roster is blech.

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko

No real news here – these guys are pretty awesome.

Second Base: Howie Kendrick, Ben Zobrist, Robinson Cano

Kendrick gets the start so that Zobrist can fill the utility role, and Cano gets the nod over Pedroia because he’s healthy.

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta

Ramirez’s massive imporvement deserves to be recognized, and his superior defense gives him the nod over Cabrera. Peralta is probably one of the surprising first half stories, but he’s legitimately been excellent for the Tigers.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youkilis,

Longoria lost his spot when it was pointed out that I forgot to include David Ortiz at DH, and someone had to go. Lots of good candidates here, though.

Outfield: Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Denard Span, Matt Joyce, Alex Gordon

We make room for the extra infielders by only carrying five outfielders – Zobrist can move to the OF at the end of the game. The first two are easy calls, and Joyce has been good enough to earn this. Span is having a terrific year and Minnesota needs a rep, while Gordon is having a slightly less great year but is the best of the KC bunch.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

.437 wOBA. That is all.

Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Alexi Ogando

I don’t know that there’s a credible case to exclude any of the first seven, who are all among the game’s premier starting pitchers, but there are a lot of guys who could make a strong case for that final spot. I went with Ogando over other deserving picks including James Shields, Michael Pineda, and Justin Masterson. Sorry guys – only so many spots, and way too many good arms in the AL this year.

Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera, Jordan Walden, Rafael Perez, David Pauley

Rivera has earned a lifetime achievement spot, but he’s still dominating, so he gets his usual closer role. Walden brings his ridiculous fastball to the bullpen, and Rafael Perez gives us a high quality lefty. Pauley is the controversial pick of the day, but it’s hard to argue against the guy who is #1 among AL relievers in both innings pitched and ERA. He’s obviously not as good as his numbers suggest, but for two months, he’s been lights out. There are a bunch of guys who could reasonably fill that last bullpen spot, of course, and I won’t argue if you want Kyle Farnsworth (this deserves a post in itself), David Robertson, or Daniel Bard instead.

post #1614 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Deserving AL All Stars.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler [+]

Just like the NL crop this afternoon, let’s take a look at where the AL voting would leave us as of today, and then I’ll give my picks below.

Catcher: Russell Martin
First Base: Adrian Gonzalez
Second Base: Robinson Cano
Shortstop: Derek Jeter
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
Left Field: Josh Hamilton
Center Field: Curtis Granderson
Right Field: Jose Bautista
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

The moral of this story? There are too many Yankees fans currently occupying the planet. Also, they have a lot of money and some pretty good players. That said, if I were picking the team, the line-up would be significantly less Yankee-centric, and I think most of us could agree that that would be a great thing.

My team? Glad you asked. Same as before – starters listed first, every team gets a rep.

Catcher: Alex Avila, Matt Wieters, Kurt Suzuki

Avila has been the league’s best catcher this year, Wieters is quietly having a good season, and Suzuki gets the A’s nod here because I couldn’t figure out how to get Trevor Cahill on the pitching staff – the rest of that roster is blech.

First Base: Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Paul Konerko

No real news here – these guys are pretty awesome.

Second Base: Howie Kendrick, Ben Zobrist, Robinson Cano

Kendrick gets the start so that Zobrist can fill the utility role, and Cano gets the nod over Pedroia because he’s healthy.

Shortstop: Alexei Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta

Ramirez’s massive imporvement deserves to be recognized, and his superior defense gives him the nod over Cabrera. Peralta is probably one of the surprising first half stories, but he’s legitimately been excellent for the Tigers.

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre, Kevin Youkilis,

Longoria lost his spot when it was pointed out that I forgot to include David Ortiz at DH, and someone had to go. Lots of good candidates here, though.

Outfield: Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Denard Span, Matt Joyce, Alex Gordon

We make room for the extra infielders by only carrying five outfielders – Zobrist can move to the OF at the end of the game. The first two are easy calls, and Joyce has been good enough to earn this. Span is having a terrific year and Minnesota needs a rep, while Gordon is having a slightly less great year but is the best of the KC bunch.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz

.437 wOBA. That is all.

Starting Pitcher: Dan Haren, Jered Weaver, Felix Hernandez, CC Sabathia, David Price, Justin Verlander, Josh Beckett, Alexi Ogando

I don’t know that there’s a credible case to exclude any of the first seven, who are all among the game’s premier starting pitchers, but there are a lot of guys who could make a strong case for that final spot. I went with Ogando over other deserving picks including James Shields, Michael Pineda, and Justin Masterson. Sorry guys – only so many spots, and way too many good arms in the AL this year.

Relief Pitcher: Mariano Rivera, Jordan Walden, Rafael Perez, David Pauley

Rivera has earned a lifetime achievement spot, but he’s still dominating, so he gets his usual closer role. Walden brings his ridiculous fastball to the bullpen, and Rafael Perez gives us a high quality lefty. Pauley is the controversial pick of the day, but it’s hard to argue against the guy who is #1 among AL relievers in both innings pitched and ERA. He’s obviously not as good as his numbers suggest, but for two months, he’s been lights out. There are a bunch of guys who could reasonably fill that last bullpen spot, of course, and I won’t argue if you want Kyle Farnsworth (this deserves a post in itself), David Robertson, or Daniel Bard instead.

post #1615 of 77526
Deserving AL All Stars.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

smiley: indifferentx Infinity 
post #1616 of 77526
Deserving AL All Stars.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

smiley: indifferentx Infinity 
post #1617 of 77526
Doc, Polanco, Lee, Hamels...looks good but i think Bastardo could make a case....dude has been filthy this yearsmiley: sicksmiley: pimp
post #1618 of 77526
Doc, Polanco, Lee, Hamels...looks good but i think Bastardo could make a case....dude has been filthy this yearsmiley: sicksmiley: pimp
post #1619 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJA89

Deserving AL All Stars.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

smiley: indifferentx Infinity 



R

I

F

That list is the list of leading vote getters so far.

post #1620 of 77526
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JJA89

Deserving AL All Stars.

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

smiley: indifferentx Infinity 



R

I

F

That list is the list of leading vote getters so far.

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