Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday

bautistawristFor many, Friday represents the end of a long work week that’s filled with heavy doses of drudging, sludging and other words that don’t actually exist but rhyme with “udging” and connote menial and tedious tasks that are ultimately distasteful. It’s my hope that at the end of such misery, at that moment in time that only occurs on a Friday afternoon when it’s too far away from closing time to leave work early, but too late in the day to start anything new, you’ll join us here to read some random observations about baseball and contribute your own thoughts on the subjects that are broached.

So, without further ado, I present this week’s Ten Stray Thoughts On A Friday:

Betting On Bautista

In what Andrew Stoeten referred to as The State Of The Bautista at DJF,  Gregor Chisholm has a full transcript of Jose Bautista’s recent, lengthy chat with the media.

Maybe it’s the Negative Nancy in me, but I’m a little bit terrified of the effect Bautista’s flexor tendon or tendon sheath injury will have on the team’s 2013 campaign. I realize that no two players are alike, and that even within the time span of five years, rehabilitation can be drastically enhanced.

However, in 2008, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz avoided surgery that might have been necessary to repair his tendon sheath, but he  struggled through that year and next, leaving doubt about his future before turning things around in 2010. Bautista is already in the decline phase of his career, never likely to reach the heights he achieved in 2011. A wrist injury of this magnitude isn’t something that’s easily dismissed.

It will be interesting to see how Bautista’s season compares to Ortiz playing through his injury. Perhaps it will be better. Perhaps it won’t. But I think it’s a factor that’s been largely dismissed by the rose-colored glasses of Blue Jays fans who’ve fallen in love all over again after the 2012/2013 off-season.

Embracing Heymanism

On Thursday, Richard Whittall wrote an excellent piece for Fanatico describing how mainstream media can be a source of ire for sports nerds, but also remain popular among those with a more casual interest. CBS Sports’s Jon Heyman has long been a source of frustration for the analytics freaks, while remaining extremely popular among the less discerning. It’s a role he seems to enjoy.

Angrily pursuing all of the inaccuracies presented by writers and broadcasters is a tiring chase. It’s so much more relaxing to simply accept them for what they are, and the audience to whom they present their information and narratives. I think this is the tweet that allowed me my moment of Zen with Jon Heyman:

He’s simply wonderful at being a shit in your cut. Heyman is like the wrestling heel that’s so efficient at getting under the skin of audiences that you find yourself having more appreciation for him than the guys for whom you’re supposed to cheer.

The Clichés Of Spring

Spring Training is kind of a funny thing. It’s really not all that exciting. In fact, it’s pretty boring. If baseball fans hadn’t endured four months without their beloved sport, it’s doubtful it would be of any interest at all. The best players on a team barely play, rarely travel, and aren’t too concerned with putting forth their best effort. Writers, scrambling to justify their travel expenses, attempt to churn out interesting narratives where few exist. And when there are actual things of interest to share with readers, every single beat writer ends up producing the exact same article.

This has led to a plethora of wondrous clichés. We’ve all read about players being in the “best shape of their life” and the aged veteran who comes to camp on a Minor League contract hoping to find a place on the active roster.

Here, for your enjoyment, and watchful eye, are a list of the clichés to look out for this coming Spring:

  • Ready to make the leap, aiming for a big year;
  • A decision that’s best for the team;
  • Spring Training records don’t matter;
  • Spring Training records matter;
  • Rededicated himself to the game, looking for a fresh start;
  • Imaginary position battles;
  • Small sample size;
  • Recovering ahead of schedule, finally healthy;
  • Working on a new pitch; using a new approach, evolving from a thrower into a pitcher;
  • A lot of water weight, gained a lot of muscle;
  • Just happy to be here;
  • Not talking contract, that’s up to my agent;
  • Really seeing the ball well this year;
  • Rookie A was this age when Veteran B was breaking into the league;
  • Believing that your team is going to compete deep into the season; and
  • Yet another Dustin McGowan set up.

Big thanks to those who helped me out through the Twitter crowdsourcing.

Neau Mor Mor Neau To Toronto

Please. Who in the name of the good lord baby Jesus wants this to happen? Does Justin Morneau care about playing in Toronto? Sure. Why not. He probably cares about playing for the Blue Jays just about as much as the 40% of players who were born in California hope to play for the Angels, Athletics, Dodgers, Giants or Padres. Or the 30% of players from Florida hope to play for the … uh, never mind. All baseball players grew up in a region that likely cheered for a particular team, an enormous percentage of these players don’t play on the team that they cheered for growing up. I’m certain they’d love to play for that team one day, but that muted desire has no impact whatsoever on any decision ever being reached to do so. There are probably seven hundred thousand larger priorities at play than a free agent’s favorite team as a child.

Also, where’s Morneau going to play? The Blue Jays already have enough Adam Linds on this team.

Halladay’s Endorsement

Earlier this week, Roy Halladay endorsed Cole Hamels as the Opening Day starter for the Philadelphia Phillies.

He deserves that and I think that’s the way it should be. It’s his time. It should have been his spot a long time ago. It’s time for him to establish himself as the head of the staff.

I have two questions about such an overeager pronouncement: 1) Cliff? 2) Lee?

Over the last five years, Cliff Lee’s worst FIP was 3.13. Over the last five years, Hamels’s best FIP was 3.05, his best by 25 points over his next closer season. Lee has more wins above replacement than any other pitcher in baseball over the last five years.

If whatever you believe to be god was picking a team, he’d pick Cliff Lee to be his Opening Day starter, so we can deduce that Roy Halladay is no longer god.

Halladay Vs. Lee

Look at that list I just referenced. As much as we might dump on Ruben Amaro for his strange sense of roster construction, if we revisit the list of best baseball players over the last five seasons, there’s one ridiculously underpaid player: Halladay.

How did he ever sign that contract extension after being traded by the Blue Jays, and how did Toronto ever agree to pay an additional $6 million toward that deal? It’s phenomenally strange.

For all the talk of Cliff Lee leaving money on the table from the Yankees and Rangers  to sign with the Phillies – he didn’t – Halladay agreed to a deal for the sake of city security. It’s a strange concept.

Predictions Vs. Projections

I think it’s important to differentiate between predictions and projections at this time of year. There’s a method to a projection, typically based on statistical analysis. There’s no such thing for a prediction. It’s barely above going on a gut feeling, because occasionally a prediction is made by someone with some sense of reason. Predictions are generally worthless. Projections are generally worth thinking about and comparing.

The San Francisco Giants Starting Rotation

Bruce Bochy announced a tentative rotation for the San Francisco Giants.

It goes something like this:

  1. Matt Cain
  2. Madison Bumgarner
  3. Tim Lincecum
  4. Barry Zito
  5. Ryan Vogelsong

Newsflash: It seems as though it would be easier to justify skipping a start or two from the fifth starter as opposed to the fourth. That’s important because Barry Zito has a vesting option for 2014, which would cost the Giants $18 million if he reaches 200 innings pitched in 2013. If he doesn’t, the team can make one final payment of $7 million to be done with his $126 million contract.

Obviously this will change throughout the year depending on injury and matchups, but their willingness to start the season with this rotation suggests that the team won’t try any funny business as it relates to limiting Zito’s innings ahead of his vesting option.

This isn’t the course that I would take, but the union would probably raise complaints if I consistently told Zito the wrong start times for games. “It’s a crazy late night start tonight. See you at AT&T at midnight.”

Posnanski Being Posnanski

Joe Posnanski wrote about Alex Rodriguez today. It was his first piece after leaving Sports On Earth for NBC Sports, after leaving Sports Illustrated for Sports On Earth less than a year ago. A lot of people have been turned off of Posnanski after his acting out as an apologist for Joe Paterno following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

I think I bolted off the Posnanski bandwagon about three paragraphs into his Jose Bautista feature for the magazine when I realized that I could predict everything that was going to be written about the Blue Jays slugger three sentences in advance.

Posnanski is Posnanski. There’s a style and a format to his writing that’s really, really predictable. For some, that ‘s an appealing characteristic. For others, it’s a bit tiring.

tl;dr

Mike Schmidt Today And Forever Ago

This is Mike Schmidt in 1972:

MLB Photos Archive

This is Mike Schmidt three days ago:

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Let this be a lesson to you: It’s got to end sometime. Your run as best looking stallion with a red mane is limited. Eventually, time and wind will blow away your majestic moustache made of brillo pad as though it’s nothing more than ash. Live your life in the now. Stop reading this. Go out. Tell the person you love that you love them. Sky dive. Mountain climb. Snow board. Do it all. Your time is limited.