Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

Once a week, there comes a time when one must make the hour pass by more quickly. For most, this hour occurs on Friday afternoon as the freedom of the weekend beckons your office shackled soul with the enticement of liberation and the ability to be ungoverned by anyone’s else’s schedule but your own.

Too Few Bench Spots?

I looked at the active rosters of every team in baseball and here’s what I found: twenty-six teams have 12 man pitching staffs. The four holdouts are the Blue Jays, Orioles, Brewers and Phillies. Toronto, Baltimore and Milwaukee have 13 pitchers on their roster, Philadelphia has 11. I’m thinking it’s not coincidental that two of the lesser American League East teams have an extra pitcher, considering the toll that the Yankees and Red Sox can take on a bullpen.

USA! USA! USA!

I’d really like to have more developed thinking around the celebrations that occurred last Sunday night in Philadelphia when fans watching the Mets / Phillies game first learned of Osama Bin Laden’s death. It struck me, but unlike any other time I’ve been “struck” by something, it was neither negative nor positive. It’s probably not how I would’ve chose to have a cathartic moment, but when thousands of your countrymen die in the fashion they did on 9/11, the boundaries of understanding should be extended for anything that might bring the mourning closer to closure.

Shocking

Lance Berkman has 10 home runs and a .775 slugging percentage right now. And he’s doing it by swinging at more pitches than he ever has before. He’s swung at 7.1% more pitches than he did last year, including 4.5% more outside and 4.9% more inside the strike zone.

More Surprises

Here are the five things I’m most surprised about in the standings:

  1. The Cleveland Indians are tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for the most wins in baseball.
  2. The Chicago White Sox, who I picked to win the AL Central, have the worst record in baseball.
  3. The Milwaukee Brewers have been awful on the road, and are currently second last in the NL Central.
  4. The Florida Marlins are in second place in the NL East (ahead of the Atlanta Braves), and would win the Wild Card if the season ended today.
  5. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are in first place in the AL West.

Honourable mention: The Boston Red Sox are below .500 a month into the season.

Smart People Are Still People

Did anyone happen to catch Bill James on The Colbert Report last night? AWKWARD!

A recent, somewhat anti-Jamesian article in Baseball Prospectus reminded me of one of my favourite bits of his writing:

Responding to a comment by some humanist type who was yammering on about how there are all sorts of truths that aren’t in the numbers, James pointed out that the alternative to good statistics is not “no statistics,” it’s bad statistics. People who argue against statistical reasoning often end up backing up their arguments with whatever numbers they have at their command, over- or under-adjusting in their eagerness to avoid anything systematic.

The Austin Jackson Thing

The Detroit Tigers are coming to Toronto tonight, and instead of mourning the death of this old rivalry, which I’ve soaked several metaphorical handkerchiefs over, I thought I’d bring up something interesting about the Curtis Granderson trade before the 2010 season that was pointed out to me by former Blue Jays executive Will “The Thrill” Hill (name drop).

Austin Jackson, who’s off to a terrible start this season, was a key part of the deal that sent Granderson to the Yankees, even though four and a half years before the trade, Jackson wasn’t drafted until the eighth round of the 2005 amateur draft. The reason he went so late was his demand for an $800,000 signing bonus. To some extent, the Yankees drafted Curtis Granderson that day.

Some people would use this to express how awful the financial disparity is in Major League Baseball, but I think you can also look at it as a matter of strategy. Young players are relatively cheap, and while it may be more of an all or nothing case than signing a reliable free agent, I can’t see how investing more money in prospects and less in aging veterans is ever not worth it.

Of course, it’s best to be the Yankees who can afford to do both.

Shameless Self Promotion

Check out our facebook page by clicking here, and “liking” us.  We’ve started to make it more than just a dumping ground for links, including exclusive videos and other tumblr style posts. And staying on the social media train, you can also follow me on Twitter here so that we can make snarky comments together during baseball games.

Contributors

I’m not sure how closely you’ve been keeping tabs, but Getting Blanked is continuing to put together a roster of writers that I’m really proud of. I highly recommend following them on Twitter and checking out their other work.

To keep our approach balanced, our newest contributor is former Minor League Baseball player and coach Hunter Roscoe.

Judging The Streak

Andre Ethier will try for 30 straight games with a hit tonight against the New York Mets. He missed the Dodgers last game against the Cubs because of an inflamed elbow. Now, I’m of the opinion that you can’t consider the streak to be any lesser if a player misses time due to injury, but Ethier’s off day does bring up some interesting issues. For instance, what if a manager were to sit a player on a streak because his team was facing a tough left handed pitcher? Where does the line get drawn?

Two of the top ten streaks occurred over two seasons. What if the player was on different teams over two years? Does any of this matter to you? What makes a hitting streak legitimate, and what would cause you to question its validity?

Open Dome

I’ve kind of come to terms with the SkyDome being the last of the futuristic, super designed baseball stadiums. The timing of it kind of sucks, like growing a mullet in 1994, but the team has made an effort to do what they can by adding space to the concourse level and putting up blue facing to cover the concrete. Yes, it’s still a concrete cavern with the roof closed, but when it’s open and the sun is shining or the late evening breeze off the lake brings more relief than the Jays bullpen, it gets a whole lot better.

I was hoping that tonight’s game would be the first opened dome game of the year, but the weather hasn’t cooperated much today. Still, there’s hope for this weekend, as both Saturday and Sunday have expected highs of 16 degrees Celsius with variable cloudiness.

People talk about sure signs of summer, but there is nothing in this area like an open dome baseball game in Toronto.

Of course, I’ll still be there tonight. Go Jays!

Comments (8)

  1. Time to pull out your investigatory journalism skills- find out for us, as in advance as possible, when the Dome will first be open this year. If your contacts at Rogers include the likes of Will Hill you should be able to provide this at least several hours beforehand.

  2. Well, it ain’t open tonight.

  3. Obviously not. But if you have a contact in marketing (e.g. whoever you coordinated your on field Q&As with) you might be able to provide some advance information to your readers. You could tell your contact it would result in more walk ups than they would otherwise get.

  4. I’ve never been to Chase Field but it at least on t.v., it looks like a futuristic super designed baseball stadium that just happens to have natural grass instead of turf.

  5. I’m pretty sure the official Blue Jays Twitter feed announces the roof status as soon as it’s decided anyways.

  6. I just wanna say, vis a vis the anti-statistics thing, that SOME of us are not arguing against better statistics in favor of no or bad statistics. SOME of us just feel some of these stats are not perfect and yet are being constantly shoved in our faces to prove stats geeks know best and those of us who prefer to judge intuitively don’t know shit. It’s obnoxious and boring as all get out and it RUINS trying to talk about the game sometimes.

    I see that some people judge TOO much by their emotional reaction and stats people feel they need to correct it, but both trends go too far, IMHO. When I hear that sabermetrics says Jeter is an awful fielder, how am I supposed to reconcile that with the incredible play he made going into the hole last night to save a hit, let alone the legendary “flip” play? Answer: take it with a grain of salt.

    • how am I supposed to reconcile that with the incredible play he made going into the hole last night to save a hit, let alone the legendary “flip” play?

      That is exactly the point – your eyes remember the spectacular (including one play from a decade ago) but forgets all the Pasta Diving Jeter base hits.

      Take your example but tweak it slightly “How can I say John MacDonald is a bad hitter? He hit that home run for his dad and that walkoff earlier this year? I’ll take his batting average, OPS, and career numbers at the plate with a grain of salt.”

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