Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

I know where you’re at. You’re looking at that clock and thinking about sneaking out 20 minutes early. You’re thinking that it’s Friday and that by now your boss pretty much expects you to leave early. Well, you’re wrong. I’ve heard from a fairly reliable source that your boss is judging your entire annual performance based solely on what time you leave the office today, so do yourself a favour and read this week’s edition of Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday, breathe them in and let them ruminate in your mind. By the time you’re finished, you can leave the office and still return on Monday with a job. You’re welcome.

Attention Seeking

I think it was on the podcast or on the live stream this week that we were talking about those ridiculous guys who dress up like umpires and sit behind home plate, mimicking the real umpire’s calls. I’m all for having fun at a ball game and if those guys make your experience better, well, congratulations. But to me, seeking attention in that fashion always rubs me the wrong way.

I feel the same way about that dude who catches all those foul balls and wrote a book so awful that I couldn’t even read more than five pages of it without feeling as though I was getting stupider just reading it. Anyway, that guy caught three foul balls in Baltimore last night and was parading around like a peacock with a prince’s crown on each of his feathers. I used to get really excited about foul balls too, but then I turned eleven.

Dehydrated

Normally, when I call in sick to work, it’s a lot like a ballplayer missing a game due to dehydration. It means that I’m hungover and I’d rather work from home than brave the subway and street cars that normally get me to the office. This week though, I got hit harder by a cold than I’ve ever been hit before. I’m still in recovery with stuffed up sinuses and about as much strength as Elvis Andrus. I will never question another injury report suggesting dehydration or flu like symptoms again. I would honestly rather have a broken bone than feel like this.

John McDonald

I wrote about John McDonald earlier this week after his 2 for 4 performance against John Lackey. Afterwards, I got to thinking whether or not there’s another player who has ever stolen a starter’s job from three different players in three different seasons. If you’ll remember for three straight years, he outperformed Russ Adams, David Eckstein and Royce Clayton, starting the year as the backup and finishing as the starter at shortstop.

The Likable Reds

If you’re in need of a National League team to cheer for I highly recommend the Cincinnati Reds. For our Canadian followers the appeal should be obvious. Their best player is from Etobicoke. But for those in need of more than an attachment to the Great White North, allow me to introduce you to Brandon Phillips. In addition to being an All-Star second baseman who can hit for power, Phillips is the kind of guy who would randomly show up at a Little League game yesterday afternoon because a kid on Twitter invited him. And if you still need that Canadian connection, he actually came up through the Expos system before being traded to the Indians in the crazy Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Lee Stevens for Bartolo Colón and Tim Drew deal.

The Great Expos Cap

Speaking of Les Expos, anyone who would dare to give the great and mighty cap of the Montreal Expos anything less than a home run should feel free to post your address in the comments section because I’ll be coming over for a visit, and I won’t just be whistlin’ Dixie ( or humming Bonhomme, Bonhomme), if you know what I’m saying.

Shameless Self Promotion

Check out our facebook page by clicking here, and if you’re into it, try “liking” us to get updates in your facebook news feed. 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. No, seriously, I pride myself on my snark.

Jose Bautista Is Good

Jose Bautista has accumulated 3.2 wins above replacement so far this year, giving him a higher WAR total than eleven teams. Eleven!

MLBTR takes a look at Bautista’s history as an organizational hot potato before coming to Toronto.

The Key To Kansas City’s Success

Coming off their first series win in New York since 1999, the Kansas City Royals can point to several different players as having a key role in their success so far this season: Jeff Francoeur, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and now Eric Hosmer. However, one guy who’s off to an incredible start and still getting overlooked is their third baseman Wilson Betemit. Last season, the switch hitter put up better numbers against left handed pitching for the first time in his career, and this year that trend has continued enough to make him a regular in the lineup, and he’s responded incredibly well to the consistent playing time.

In 117 plate appearances this season, Betemit has a .317 AVG, .385 OBP, .465 SLG, and a .368 wOBA. As a team, the Royals have produced the third most runs in the league and are holders of the fourth highest weighted on base average in the league, and Betemit is a big and somewhat silent part of that.

Bullpens Affected By Rotations

Before the season began, everyone in baseball was talking about the Philadelphia Phillies starting rotation and what it would mean for their success this season. However, one area I hadn’t really considered it affecting was their bullpen. On top of the greatness of their starters allowing the team to carry only six relievers in the bullpen, it’s also meant that their relievers have pitched the fewest amount of innings in the National League. Having a rested bullpen has in turn meant that the team has the fewest bullpen meltdowns in the league and the best ratio of shutdowns to meltdowns across baseball.

Queen Was A King Among Men

Sad news on two fronts today. Baseball fans received word that Harmon Killebrew’s battle with cancer is nearing an unhappy end. As well, former Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Mel Queen passed away today at the age of 69. Queen famously had a huge hand in making Roy Halladay the pitcher that he is today. So, as the final thing posted before the weekend, I’ll quote a section of Geoff Baker’s story on Queen and Roy Halladay.

They decided to “sick” Mel Queen on Halladay. The former big league pitching coach was a roving minor league advisor at the time and he joined Halladay in Class AA. Halladay thought, foolishly, that he’d been promoted. Instead, Queen tore into him. Verbally berated Halladay and told him that if he didn’t make something happen with him right then and there, his career was over.

Yes, at age 23. After only two seasons, neither of which was as a full-time starter. As a No. 1 draft pick and the highest rated prospect in Toronto’s organization when first called up the final few weeks of 1998.

Back in 2003, when I wrote a lengthy feature story on Halladay’s ordeal for the Toronto Star, Queen told me: “As far as baseball-wise, I told him he was pretty naive and stupid. And that’s got to change.”

And Halladay, to his credit, did change. But only after constant berating by Queen. In a last-ditch move by the organization to salvage something from their investment. If this plan had failed, Halladay was done in Toronto. After only two seasons.

Yes, the plan worked. But the point is, it would not have worked for everybody. Queen was fortunate that Halladay had very little ego and was able to take his daily abuse and do something constructive with it.

“I verbally abused him pretty hard that first week,” Queen said. “A lot of guys wouldn’t have taken it. A lot of guys would have walked away. A lot of guys would have punched me.”