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.

 

Comments (42)

  1. I find that to counter the “Maple boner” fans, a lot of bloggers go a bit to extreme.

    There’s a lot of reasons to think that Justin Morneau would be a good replacement for Adam Lind next year, and very few of them have anything to do with his passport.

    • Bahahahahahahaha. Check the price tag before you covet the merchandise. Also, you’re comparing him to … Adam Lind.

      • Morneau would be a bad investment in my opinion. They are both righty platoon options at this point and Morneau is obviously a better option for that spot.

        Comparing the last two years would be silly as Morneau was messed up due to the concussion.

      • Morneau’s 2011 was clearly destroyed by injuries, and he showed some improvement as he got healthy over 2012. For what it’s worth, a .339 wOBA in the second half of 2012. And his track record of performance before the concussion is not even on the same page as Lind’s. And he had substantially better performance in 2012 away from the pitcher’s park of Target Field: .283/.338/.482 on the road.

        I don’t quite see how my comment is laughable, either, Dustin. In all likelihood, Morneau’s going to be competing on a free agent market with guys like Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse next year. At this point, you’re mean projection for any of them would probably be pretty similar. They’d all be an upgrade over Adam Lind, and really can’t be expected to fetch much more than $10M/year for a couple of years, barring a big performance boost in 2013.

      • Killing the Maple Boner dream. I hope you’re happy.

      • Holy crap. The Jays have Justin Morneau on the team RIGHT NOW.

        • Which do you believe to be more apt? Recent or past? Pre-concussion Morneau or Post-concussion Morneau?

        • Looking at Morneau in the same spotlight as any other player, there’s no denying that he would likely present an upgrade to the Jays if acquired. What most of us will agree on is that he’s not worth much. You’re assuming that the Jays would overpay for him (and if they give him significant money, yeah, they are). However, it’s a big assumption to say that he’s going to make $$$.

          You’re not the only one to notice that he’s just not that good anymore. The Jays and Twin and Morneau all know that (or at least I hope Morneau does).

    • joey bats hits 50 and gets suspended in september for performance inhacing drugs

  2. When does harping on cliches become a cliche itself?…Dustin, I think you got there. Congrats!

  3. as the father of a 3 year old girl, I thought this other piece from Pos today was a much better read:

    http://nbcsports.msnbc.com/id/50904989/ns/sports-motor_sports/

    I think he erred with Paterno, but he is still a fantastic writer

  4. IF there is a Morneau trade and thats a big if, I could only see it happen well into the season. If Lind continues to suck and the Jays want a jolt for the playoff race then it could happen. He’s a free agent after the season and I’m sure the twins want more prospects so in this way it does make some sense.

  5. Can you really compare David Ortiz’s performance with a non-surigally-repaired wrist injury to Jose’s potential performance with a surigically-repaired wrist? I agree that fans shouldnt assume full health, but its hardly apples-to-apples.

    Also, Jose looks better in a uniform.

  6. Wait a second. If R.A. Dickey who threw a lot of pitches before turning knuckleball pitcher and now can pitch until 45 because 4 out of 100 other Knuckleball pitchers did. Then why is Bautista, who couldn’t land a full time roll until the Jays at 29. Be on the downward end of his prime. Should he have more left in the tank then most players his age?

  7. Didn’t Edwin also have a wrist injury that slowed his development back a couple of years? Did a wrist injury also sap Rolen of all his power too?

  8. Something tells me Roy Halladay doesn’t have fangraphs in his browser’s favourites. Cole Hamels had 17 wins last year, Cliff Lee had 6. You and I may know that wins are absolutely meaningless as measures of a pitcher’s performance, but most baseball players don’t believe that.

  9. My girlfriend doesn’t get the Schmidt comment. She said he needs a shave. Otherwise, dude’s an AARP lady killer.

  10. Valid comment on bautista’s injury

    • all about the homeruns and i think batista hit 50 and gets suspeneded for using performance inhancing drugs in september

  11. “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.”

    I am not the most religious guy reading this blog I am sure, but it pains me to see God written with a lower case g.

    Even if you are an atheist and choose not to believe, try to show some more respect for Him, please.

    I too, am concerned with God’s injury, errr…I mean Jose Bautista’s injury.

    • That’s only if you assign God as a proper noun., which implies that you believe there is only one God, presumably the Christian one.

      If you want to assign god as a concept, one that encompasses all religions which believe in a higher power, you do not capitalize it. This is a far more respectful way of referencing religious concepts, because it does not make any inferences as to which religion is “right”.

      Don’t forget that there are other religions in the world beyond your own.

  12. I think Mike Schmidt aged pretty gurdam well over the last 40 years. Is there a punch line here that I am missing? Or just that he wasn’t expected to have aged at all? Or that he doesn’t dye his hair?

    • Comparing Bautista to Ortiz is a bad comp IMHO. A better comp would be Bautista to R Weeks, in the year immediately following their surgeries. They both profile as power hitters and they both had the very same surgeon apparently employing the same novel surgical approach to the problem.

      In 2009, the year Weeks suffered the injury, he hit 9 hrs in 147 at bats. After surgery, in. 2010, he rebounded to career highs in abs, 651, and hrs 29. While certainly not definitive for Bautista as i am not suggesting he will emerge with carreer highs (though that certainly is not beyond the realm), Weeks’ post procedure performance is a far more applicable comp for Bautista than the tired Otiz comparison.

      http://m.bbref.com/m?p=XXplayersXXwXXweeksri01-bat.shtml&t=all_standard_batting

      • I am not a doctor, but I pretend to know alot about medicine cause I write stuff on a baseball blog.

  13. Isn’t worrying about Bautista’s wrist based on the wrist of David Ortiz’s wrist a bit … speculative? It’s – how you say – a small sample size. I seem to remember people moaning about commentators appointing themselves as MDs some time back.

    I think a lot of Jays fans are realistic about the possibility that it might all go tits up at an alarming rate. If everything goes wrong that could go wrong, they’ll end up 4th or worse again. But this year there’s at least the possibility that a) everything goes right that could go right and b) if some things go right and some things go wrong, we still get to watch a more than ok season.

    Getting all anticipatory on one’s ass is natural and to be encouraged, and is not the same as expecting a coronation on Blue Jays Way. More than anything, it’s hard not to get a excited about a team that should have real talent now, rather than praying for a miracle year and sneaking into a wildcard.

  14. Forgive me if I don’t take your statement that he is in a decline phase entirely seriously. In the month before he was hurt, Bautista hit 14 HR with a .474 wOBA (after a month in which he hit 9 HR with a .380 wOBA). That doesn’t exactly scream decline.

    And yes, I know that you’re trolling Jays fans here but you can at least do it by pointing out the injury concerns with Bautista, rather than making baseless statements like that one.

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