a rod is for the children

A slightly abridged version of the Monday Morning Memo as it is a holiday here in the Great White North. Good old Simcoe Day, a time for family and learning and being out in the community, teaching the next generation through experience and knowledge gained through a lifetime of trial and error.

You know, the kind of stuff you see on a postcard or in a Norman Rockwell painting. Timeless.

Braves New World

Last week, the Monday Morning Memo covered the Atlanta Braves, stating that despite the obvious shortcomings in their game, they are still a very good team.

Since then, the Atlanta Braves have not lost a single game. Not one. Winners of ten games in a row, the Braves are a half game behind the Pirates for best record in the National League – with a run differential nearly double the Buccos.

The Braves are still good, just as they were last week. They have an incredibly balanced lineup. No single player on the roster projects to finish the season with 5 WAR. The Blue Jays might have four players put up 5 WAR seasons. It speaks to an enviable amount of organizational depth that can absorb injuries and underperformance and keep on rolling. The Braves are good, just like we all knew they’d be.

Daniel Hudsonsays a lot in three characters

I think I speak for us all when I say “you lol, Daniel. You lol all you damn well please. You’ve earned it.”

Jose Fernandez!

What else is there to say? He’s 20-years old and he is pretty much ridiculous. This highlight pack only shows the whiffs so it is easy to miss out on how overpowering he was with all his pitches on Friday night.

He’s pitching like a top-ten pitcher in the big leagues right now. Would anyone argue he isn’t among the ten best starters in baseball today? His curveball command is so, so impressive. He’s a treat to watch. Enjoy, Marlins fans. After #2015 he will belong to the world (and possibly the Yankees.)

There is No Such Thing as Momentum in Baseball

The Los Angeles Angels limped into their weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays, losers of three straight games in the dramatic fashion. The Angels, who might have restored some hope for 2013 with a good series in Texas, instead lost three consecutive games on walkoff home runs to their division rivals.

The Toronto Blue Jays entered the series with a better record than their Anaheim-based opponents, winners of three of their last four games. The Jays cruised down the California coast feeling pretty good after a strong showing in Oakland. The Jays had some momentum while the Angels had none, so held conventional wisdom. Well, some conventional wisdom.

There is another piece of conventional wisdom, an old saw that goes something to the effect of “momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher.”

Enter Josh Johnson. Enter Todd Redmond. Enter Esmil Rogers. Enter the Blue Jays defense. Enter three straight loses at the hands of the Angels, whose starters averaged a shade under 7 innings a start those first three games. Exit momentum. Enter reality.

The Jays avoided the sweep on Sunday when, would you believe it, their starter lasted through the sixth inning (with a nice assist from the still-sad Angels bullpen.)


J.B. Shuck knows all about momentum, AMIRITE?

Game Chart of the Weekend

The Angels bullpen makes anything possible!

Source: FanGraphs

There is No “Off” Switch on the MVP Machine

For the first time in his young career, Buster Posey will finish the regular season without a trip to the playoffs awaiting his Giants. Buster Posey is still the best player on the team and one of the very best players in baseball, so it is no fault of his the Giants will not defend their post-season crown.

In addition to doing MVPish things like hitting .310/.379/.508 as a catcher in a pitcher’s ballpark or serving as a one-man recruiting tool to keep Tim Lincecum in San Francisco, Buster Posey does stuff like you see below: tracking down an errant throw on the infield, then throwing a strike to second base to nail the runner.

[Full play here]

That’s a play all catchers are “supposed” to make but that doesn’t make it any less impressive when you actually see it pulled off.

Brandon McCarthy must be getting pretty sick of this shit

Brandon McCarthy returned from his latest trip to the disabled list on Sunday, starting for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. It didn’t go so well, as he only lasted four and one third innings, surrendering just two runs but using 91 pitches to get those 13 outs.

More to the point, he nearly had a terrible case of deja vu in the fifth inning.

Courtesy of Over the Monster

Tellingly, Brandon McCarthy only faced two more batters after this brush with a Shane Victorino line drive. The next batter doubled after a long battle and then McCarthy was left in to intentionally walk David Ortiz. Let’s hope Kirk Gibson removed his starter from the game for baseball reasons, not because he feared McCarthy’s psyche in that moment.

As he is wont to do, McCarthy later took to twitter (much like his wife) to discuss some of the new pitches he worked on during this outing with pitch fx guru Harry Pavlidis.

Pretty awesome that he’s just out there, discussing changes to his attack with analysts on the internet (click here to read their entire exchange). Also important to remember that just about every pitcher is a work in progress. They are constantly tweaking and adjusting and looking to improve. No matter how easy guys like Jose Fernandez makes it look, getting big league hitters out is anything but easy.

Quote of the Weekend

Easy now, Terry. Don’t go stealing Yogi Berra’s whole shtick at once.