This week’s Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday are brought to you by me and my undying need for attention. There’s only a couple more hours left in the day, so buckle down (knuckle down?), read these thoughts and spend the rest of your afternoon thinking about baseball.
Don’t forget that Jonah Keri will be joining us for the third chapter of Getting Booked: The Getting Blanked Baseball Book Club on Monday evening at 7:00 PM at Opera Bob’s in Toronto to discuss his new book The Extra 2%. I know that it’s been difficult to find a copy at local bookstores, but I’ve been told that there are a bunch of copies now available at the Indigo at John and Richmond.
If anyone has any contacts in the world of independent bookstores, I’d love to work something out so that this doesn’t happen again and the book club can have the opportunity to support a local business.
There was an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal from FanGraphs guru Dave Cameron suggesting that based on wins above replacement Chase Utley is baseball’s most irreplaceable player. That may be true, but who could possibly fill in for Ryan Zimmerman in Washington? And if Brad Emaus is the best second baseman on the New York Mets, who would replace David Wright if he ever went down to injury?
While Utley may be the most individually irreplaceable, as old as the Phillies lineup is, they can probably handle the reduced production for a few months. I’m not so sure about the Nationals or Mets.
From Now On
After giving a third hand account of a story that paints Stan Musial as a racist, this will be the last time that this blog ever refers to blogger Murray Chass, even derogatorily.
Jayson Werth Was A Catcher
I was trying to find a link to Keith Law’s chat on ESPN yesterday (which was actually postponed until today), and I came across one from a couple of years ago where the first question had to do with Jayson Werth. I had totally forgotten that Werth was in the Jays system as a catcher. Law tells the story of how J.P. Ricciardi heeded his advice on the long term health of tall guys behind the plate, and moved Werth, who was already having knee troubles, to the outfield.
I wonder how many players don’t get a break like this and are placed in a position that isn’t suitable to their actual development. I always think back to Matt Stairs who came up as a second baseman. I suppose if you’re a good enough hitter you’ll get the call no matter what, but as a catcher in an outfielder’s body, the physical damage would certainly take its toll.
Bryce Harper immediately comes to mind as a potential catcher who the Nationals made a conscious decision to turn into an outfielder. I’m looking forward to comparing his and Buster Posey’s career later on down the road.
Let me know which will takes you longer, filling out this Sporacle quiz or figuring out which team has never had a forty home run season from one of its players.
Starter Vs. Reliever
It strikes me as kind of funny that everyone who was pushing for Neftali Feliz to stay in the starting rotation of the Texas Rangers is now justifying why the Yankees should send Bartolo Colon to the bullpen in favour of Freddy Garcia becoming New York’s fifth starter. For what it’s worth, Colon has clearly been better this Spring than Garcia, but many believe that his ability to throw heat makes him a superior bullpen option. To me, it all seems pretty simple, you should always want the better pitcher throwing more innings.
I remember a similar situation though in Toronto in 2007. Casey Janssen and Shaun Marcum both started the season in the bullpen. Janssen clearly had more success than Marcum through the first part of the season, but when the opportunity arose, Marcum was put into the rotation. Marcum went on to give the Jays Brett Lawrie in return while Janssen is currently fighting for a bullpen role on the team. Of course, both those guys were a lot younger than Colon and Garcia, but neither was thought of more highly than the other, or considered either a definite starter or definite reliever. Janssen’s success in the bullpen kept him there while Marcum’s failures led to a better opportunity.
Angels pitcher Scott Kazmir took some guff from Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times for saying that he felt good about his performance on Thursday despite giving up eight runs. I’m not going to pretend that Kazmir is a quarter of the pitcher that he used to be or that the Angels didn’t get absolutely fleeced when they acquired his contract from the Rays, but the thing about Spring Training is that guys are going to be working on different stuff.
As much as we’d like to see players at their best this late in camp, it’s far better to see guys ironing out the kinks in their pitches. There might not be an iron big enough in the world to fix the kink in Kazmir’s reduced velocity, but surely he deserves a little bit of slack on March 24th.
Side note: looking back on the analysis of the Kazmir trade is absolutely hilarious reading all of the pundits using the deal as an example of the Rays franchise falling apart.
Shameless Self Promotion
As always, you can get the latest Getting Blanked stories to pop up in your Facebook news feed by clicking here, and “liking” our Facebook page. We’ll even start putting more original content on there as we get closer to the season kicking off. And staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter here, and follow the other Getting Blanked contributors here and here and here and here.
About a month ago, I wrote this:
I’m going with the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and the Oakland A’s surprising the Texas Rangers. In the National League, I like Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Colorado. As far as wild card teams go, I’d think that the Rangers, Rays, Twins and Yankees are the front runners in the AL, while the Braves, Giants and Reds stand the best chance in the NL.
Today, I’m leaning more toward the Braves to win the NL East, but other than that my predictions are remaining the same. It seems silly to suggest that the Twins could compete with an AL East team for the American League Wild Card, but considering all of the games that the White Sox and Twins are going to play against the Royals and Indians, those two teams are going to have the opportunity to win a lot of games.
Off The Page And Onto A Screen
I mentioned it last week, but now it’s official: we’ve got dates and times set up for a series of baseball movies that will be playing on off days during the baseball season at The Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Avenue. And we’ve even got a nifty little poster: