Drew Fairservice: June 2009 Archives

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Despite claims that Scott Boras is all that is wrong (or right) with baseball, Boras certainly knows his way around a press release. Fighting for the rights of his clients is one thing, taking that fight to the airways is another. Boras responded to the recent benching (or running out of ideas according to Leyland) of Magglio Ordonez with a healthy does of skepticism.

"Take a look at what [Red Sox manager] Terry Francona is doing with David Ortiz," Boras told The Detroit News. "And this man has nowhere near the numbers of Magglio Ordonez in recent seasons. And Ortiz is coming off a bad year from the year before [2008].

"[Alex Rodriguez] in the month of June hit .137 in 2006. [Derek] Jeter, I believe, for two months hit under .200. They didn't bench him.

"Give me the compelling reasons for benching Magglio. You bench Magglio and you're going to have a problem -- a real problem -- justifying that to me."

Translated from snake oil to English: Boras claims the Tigers are benching Ordonez to avoid activating some automatic vesting options built into his contract not for poor play as Jim Leyland states. First, let's look at Magg's play: does he deserve a benching?

In a word: sure. His raw numbers for the year aren't terrible (.273/.376/.494) with only 2 home runs. Beyond that, his BB/K is about normal though his line drives are down and his ground balls are way, way up. Fewer fly balls and even fewer home runs on those fly balls mean he's basically a singles hitter stuck in the center of the lineup.

Over the last two weeks though, Magglio's become even worse. A .554 OPS with but one extra base hit. His contact numbers are cryptic and I'm not smart enough to make much sense of them. One thing stands out: Magglio's having a hard time with the fastball. The linear weights support it (whatever Poindexter!) but his spray chart does too! Almost everything is the other way! Magglio can't get around on anything, and his offense is suffering badly.

So he's not playing well. He's hardly the first 35 year old to slump. But does Boras have a point? Let's consider this from a business perspective. Thanks to Cot's Contracts, we take a closer look at Magglio's deal:

  • 2010 option guaranteed at $18M if Ordonez has: 135 starts or 540 PAs in 2009, or 270 starts or 1,080 PAs in 08-09
  • 2011 option guaranteed at $15M if Ordonez has: 135 starts or 540 PAs in 2010, or 270 starts or 1,080 PAs in 09-10

Magglio counted 623 PAs in 2008 to go with 242 in '09. He only needs 200 more PAs to vest 2010 or 125 more starts. Would the Tigers want to pay $18 million dollars for a man giving them replacement level performance this year? Absolutely not. Is this the first time a team would place such restrictions on playing time to save themselves a few bucks? Of course not.

The Tigers are currently in first place in the AL Central. If Magglio's play doesn't improve, they could plug nearly anyone into right field and get the production. The Tigers see potential playoff earnings compounding the $18 million dollar savings next year; their decision is simple.

As for Boras, he's really only doing his job. The past offseason showed a player like Ordonez would be in for a serious pay cut were he unleashed on the open market. In typical Boras style, he opted for a one-way line of communication laden with rhetoric and relativism. Jim Leyland is protecting his player but also trying to maintain his perception as baseball man rather than company stooge.

Magglio is a much better hitter than he's shown the last month, making it foolish to right him off so quickly. The Tigers need to do more than sit him down for a weekend here and there if they hope to save themselves $18 million bucks in 2010, the most Scott Boras or any of us should expect is a little respect for a franchise cornerstone.

Double Whiskey, Coke, No Ice to Matt_T for the heads up on the money quotes.

Roberto Clemente died for your sinsWhat happened last night in the baseball world while you were making Therese.

Cubs 8, Tribe 7 (10): Zantastic! The burning brides of the Cleveland bullpen strike again! 4 runs in the 8th innining, a game-tying Derrick Lee home run in the bottom of the nine, and finally an Alfonso Soriano-created run in the 10th sunk the Tribe. Derreck Lee hit 2 tats with other tots coming from Reed Johnson's pointy toes on the Cub side and Victor Martinez & Luis Valbuena on the racist nickname side. Cliff Lee's good start was squandered yet again by the Cleveland fire brigade. Khalil Greene knocked a feel-good tater tot in his first start since returning from the Anguished List. Trey Hillman opted to load the bases by pitching around Albert Pujols in the third inning, a move Chris Duncan took as a declaration of war. One tater tot later and this one was over before it began. The Cards hit three homers in the third inning alone to gain a game on Brewers.

Tigers 10, Brewers 4 (7): The Tigers and Brewers combined to hit 5 home runs in only 7 innings. Marcus Thames hit 2, Miguel Cabrera hit one and Magglio Ordonez sat on the bench looking glum. The Twins pecked away at Roy Oswalt, who picked a complete game despite giving up 5 runs and 10 hits. Delmon Young supplied two RBIs, nearly doubling his output for the season.

Braves 7, Red Sox 2: Nate McLouth greeted the struggling Dice-K with a home run to start the game and it only got worse from there for the struggling Matsuzaka. No matter how good an escape artist you think you are, throwing 39 strikes out of 67 pitches isn't a good idea. Garrett Anderson went 3-3 with 4 ribbies from his rightful home at designated hitter. Kenshin Kawakami was excellent, only surrendering two hits (both to Jason Bay, one of which went over the rinky-dink wall in left field. The Phillies lost their fourth straight while the Nats won their third in a row. THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS SHIFTED IN THE NL EAST.

Everybody Else: The streaking Angels won a tight game in front of a packed house of Angelinos. Jason Marquis won AGAIN to keep the Rockies hot. Oakland bright spot Josh Outman left the game in the second inning with arm owiness, the A's held on to beat the Padres. Interleague's goofy y'all.

newstretcher.JPGI know I'm only the weekend guy around here, but I'll be damned if I'd let real life come between our beloved readers and their Creampuffery. It's a Friday tradition, like coming to work two hours late and drunk. Or stealing office supplies from the local office supply store.

  • Every Blue Jays pitcher, Blue Jays: With Roy Halladay heading to the DL with a groin ouchy, that makes 4 of 2008's 5 starters on the Blue Jays shelf. Add current closer Scott Downs and former long-term Creampuff Casey Janssen and you've got yourself a Canadian catastrophe. On the plus side, the Jays physical trainer was added to the all-star team staff! No, really. He was.

  • Mike Hampton, Astros/Erik Bedard, Mariners: Two sides of the same brittle coin. Hampton's out with advanced muscle atrophy, Bedard's felled by diphtheria of the shoulder. That otta kill his trade value! The first signs of summer have arrived!

  • Dontrelle Willis, Tigers: Deep sigh.

  • Coco Crisp, Kyle Farnsworth, Royals: Crisp is out with a strained right rotator cuff, suffered in a brazen attempt to heave a baseball back toward the infield. No word on his return, the team expects him to trickle back towards the team not unlike a Coco Crisp relay attempt. Farnsworth suffered hand lacerations trying to separate his fighting dogs. Fighting dogs? Kyle Farnsworth will soon be appearing on our next listicle: What's Up Prisonpuff? Dudes That Got Traded for a Carton of Kools.

  • Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Mild strain of his righteous indignation. Raped by a wallaby's Wordpress account.

  • Jason Isringhausen, Rays: Torn elbow ligament. Out for the year and possibly forever. A trip to Birmingham at 37 isn't something to look forward to. Hmmm, 18 months of torturous rehab or quality trophy wife time? Here's hoping Izzie opts for leisureman over mopupman.

Tonight's Questions

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That'll do it for today, friends. Check back tomorrow; we hope to have video of Pat Burrell performing magic tricks with a series of gloves and groupies. Same Adult WoW channel.

Image courtesy of the SI Vault

Tonight's Questions

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That'll about do it for today, kids. Let's all wish Kris a speedy return and excitedly wait for Interleague to be over for another year. Same WoW channel.

Photo of Iranian National Baseball team courtesy of the SF Gate

duelingdudes.jpgRather than simply quickly blurb a bunch of today's games, I'll instead create a fine listicle ranking the top three pitching match ups according to my own fickle and arbitrary criteria. Sounds like fun! Here we go.

  1. Boston @ Philadelphia: Dice K v. The Bastardo. ZOMG! Dice K is done! Ship him out, when does Smoltz get here? The temptation to believe Matsuzaka's days of high pitch counts and myriad walks have finally caught up with him is strong. While Dice-K hasn't pitched nearly as well as expected (it's hard to make up excuses for a 2.11 WHIP) most of his peripheral stats are right in line with his career numbers. In fact; his walks are actually down from his 2008 rate and his FIP is up less than a full run over last season (compared to his ERA which is 5 runs higher than 2008.) His current BABIP is an alarming .453 - a figure guaranteed to come down.

    Bastardo's been a revelation for the Phillies this season, winning his first two starts and fans of good pitching and better surnames. Bastardo features essentially a two-pitch arsenal with a change up sprinkled in for fun and flavor. He was hit a little harder last time out against the Dodgers, it remains to be seen if he can survive the Red Sox Gauntlet of Patience.

    The Sox and Phillies are two of the most popular teams in baseball with an active blogosphere and passionate fans. Dice K brings the star power while the Phils bring the WFCness. Good enough for third place Duel for today.

  2. Mariners @ Rockies: Brandon Morrow v. Jason Marquis. Ahh, the study in contrasts. The kid with the golden arm making the least of his talents versus a career junkballer making a late-career financially-fueled resurgence. Brandon Morrow is a big, strong, kid that touches triple digits with his fastball who spent most of last season as the Mariners closer. The team smartly recognized he was much more valuable in the rotation and began the process last season. Fast forward to the spring when Morrow decided he was more comfortable in the pen. Argh go the Marinerds. Suddenly, two weeks ago, Morrow decided he wanted to be a starter after all! A shocking injury to Erik Bedard presses Morrow into duty before he's fully stretched, putting him on a strict pitch count. Morrow hasn't pitched well this season at all, getting good innings out of the diabetic youngster is crucial to the M's rebuilding process.

    Jason Marquis: what can I say about him that hasn't been said about three cheese ranch. Right place, right time, surprising results. I teased Marquis in regards to his poor career numbers, but he's really pitched well this season. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs broke down his recent success, pointing to an increase in ground balls and missed bats as driving forces in his contract year success.

    This might not be as sexy a match up as established East Coast teams, but don't sell these two pitchers short. Good for second place on the list as a showcase for diversity as well as the red-hot Rockies.

  3. A's @ Giants: Outman v. Many Strikeouts Man Two of the hottest teams in baseball. An actual, legitimate rivalry between two light hitting teams sure to enhance the pitching bottom line. Walkoff Walk Object of Scorn Randy Johnson looks for his 301st career win against Josh Outman, he of 14 career starts. One lithe lefty versus a cagey old buzzard lefty.

    Outman comes in with a 4-0 mark on the season. His 4.17 FIP is very good with only a few red flags to speak of. A low BABIP may cause some of his numbers to creep up, but a manageable home run, walk, and line drive numbers should find Outman and his effective slider continuing to help the A's in their quest for futility in the AL West.

    Randy Johnson is old an broke Rob's heart. He's quite famous thanks to his pitching prowess and bird-like features. He still notches strikeouts with regularity but home runs, walks, and the damned kids on his lawn have reduced Johnson from top of the rotation stud to lingering old guy. He moves the needle in this Bay Area battle and that's good enough for my Duel of the Day! Go out and score a dozen on my credibility!

sadmets.jpgSure there were plenty of other games last night, many of which added to the thrilling and compelling tapestry of the game. But holyfuckingshitguys, Luis Castillo dropped a 140 foot pop up to cost his team the game! Check out Matt_T's tumblr for the screen cap.

Ordinarily the Mets bullpen doesn't need any help to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. That said; imported closer and demonstrative Jesusfreak Frankie Rodriquez has been nearly untouchable during his first season in the National League. It took a brief mental lapse from a remorseful Luis Castillo to derail K-Rod's outing, handing him his first blown save of the year. Take it away, emotional second baseguy:

A few minutes later, Castillo sat alone in the visitor's clubhouse, leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, his head resting on his hands. His eyes were reddening.

A three-time Gold Glove winner, Castillo called it a "routine fly ball."

"I feel bad. I feel so bad," he said following his fifth error of the season. "The ball was moving a little bit."

The Mets lot in life has taken such a negative turn they're now forced to look towards Gary Sheffield as the voice of reason and stability:

Sheffield was brought here to give the Mets an edge. Now he must help find a way to keep them off the ledge. It doesn't get any worse than this, but Sheffield said the Mets already have begun the healing process.

"The thing is you just have to keep fighting," Sheffield said of a team that hasn't had enough fight to close out the season the last two years.

"As a team, we have to lift Luis up in that situation because it can happen to anybody," he said.

In keeping with the bizarro world theme, let us all be reminded that the game winning run was scored by 6 foot, 3 inch, 220 pound Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira &mdash due to earn $20 million dollars this season &mdash scored from first base on the play! While teammate Alex Rodriquez slammed his bat in disgust, Mark Teixeira raced around the bases, covering more distance than Rodriquez's batted ball. High school coaches everywhere passed out in unison over their excitement while my eyes are already rolling back in my head awaiting Joe Buck's thorough Teixeira ball-washing this afternoon.

This truly was just one game in June of a long season. The Mets have far greater problems than the imagined mental burden of 2 unearned runs.

Holy Crap Update Courtesy of Matt's Twitter!!!

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Ignore any reports you read that include the words: "Canadian", "copycat", and "Carradine".

Image courtesy of Daylife

whalebaby.jpgEgads! They just keep playing baseball, don't they? Last night's games were a fine looking batch; I believe we'd look good side by side.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 2: Any chance these two teams could just keep playing? Andre Ethier sure does. Dude hit two homers including the game winner in the bottom of the 12th. Making Vin Scully work that much overtime just isn't fair. The Phils are still comfortably in first place thanks to the dominant pitching of John Lannan. A complete game with only an Elijah Dukes error-aided run. Adam Dunn homered to keep the dinger/win count in order. The Braves lost but Tommy Hanson's on the way!

Tigers 2, Angels 1: Raise your hand if you thought Edwin Jackson would ever amount to anything. Not so fast everyone who watches baseball. Jackson, once again, was superb in going the distance and walking only one batter. Jackon's more than doubled his career K/BB rate from 1.50 to an astounding 3.26 in 2009. He's a sensitive soul that just needed someone to believe in him. Lost in Jackson's brilliance was the return of Kelvim Escobar. Escobar pitching 5 innings, walking 4 but only surrendering two runs. Not bad for his first start since Sept 2007. The White Sox won behind Gavin Floyd's fourth consecutive decent outing. That should distract from his profound awfulness in the previous 4.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: Bonus baseball in the Queen City. Not THAT Queen City, the one by the river. The Reds put runners on the corners with only one out With thoughts of shrimp dancing through their heads, the Reds instead opted for the nearly-as-anticlimactic "walkoff fielder's choice." Youngish Matt Maloney made his big league debut in his home state and pitched pretty well against the big bad Cubbies. The Brewers have petitioned the National League for a move into the NL East. The Crew shut the Braves out for the second straight day, this time allowing 7 total hits. Two big veggie-eating home runs from the Prince were all it took. The Pirates bested the Astros in a game I watched two innings of. My observations: Nyjer Morgan's stirrups are a beautiful thing

Uh. And Another One. The Rays and Yankees played a pretty typical Yankee Stadium game of Base Warz with Mo Rivera taking the loss. The Oakland A's took exception to my Giants praise from yesterday so the Elephants wrestled the "Hottest Team in Baseball" title away with another drubbing of the OriLOLes. The Mariners kept Joe Mauer hitless in beating the Twins. I bet there's a relationship there...

And Today! Too much good pitching for me not to mention today's matchups as I head out to view the house I apparently bought. Matt_Tommy Hanson's big league debut comes against WoW favorite Manny Parra and the Brewers. Kid Presentable Rick Porcello takes on Joe Saunders in my Secret Duel of the Day. Roy Halladay pitches against cell-based lifeforms in the mismatch of the day. Timmy Timmy Timmy versus Ricky Ricky Ricky has a nice ring to it by the Bay. Joba looks to build on his strong outing during the week when he faces the Gecko and the Rays in New YoMOVE JOBA BACK TO DA PEN!! ESPN picked a good series to feature tonight, with Randy Wolf taking on Antonio "Bastardo of Metallica lyrics stuck in my head." Thanks kids. Have a good Sunday!

treebaby.pngWhat happened last night in baseball while you attempted to justify what you live for.

Dodgers 4, Phillies 3: Just when you think Brad Lidge is back on track after a shaky start to the season, he goes and blows one against the Dodgers. Not that he didn't have some help, mind you. Lidge got the first two outs in short order before a single and a walk made things interesting. Pedro Feliz booted a game-ending ground ball to load the bases for Andre Eithier, who doubled home the winning, unearned runs. Lost in all this booting was a solid effort by baseball's other septuagenarian Jamie Moyer. Is Moyer a Hall of Famer? If they build a Hall of Sticktoitiveness and Saggy Old Man Ass; he's a lock. The Mets won too! David Wright went 4 for 5 though the Mets should be punished for only scoring 1 run in regulation against Nationals pitching. Welcome to Atlanta Nate McLouth! Your new team sucks too. Two hits is all the Bravos could muster off secret ace Yovanni Gallardo. Nate went oh fer at the plate though he's still batting 1.000 in his former teammates' hearts.

Rangers 5, Red Sox 1: With trade winds and buyer beware warnings swirling around Sox starter Brad Penny, he went out and showed any potential trading partner exactly what they're getting. A greasy fifth starter that pounds the fastball and hopes for the best. That won't exactly cut it against the big dicked Rangers. Ian Kinsler delivered the decisive blow early on with a three run tot. Kevin Millwood pitched well at Fenway once again, he's 5-1 there for his career. A sad day for bloggers everywhere as Ichiro's hitting steak stalled at 27. The Twins outlasted the M's in an extra innings pitcher's duel eventually undone by errors and calamity. Mike Sweeney homered and I giggled like a little girl. More pitching in Detroit with the Angels coming out on top. Justin Verlander and Ervin Santana matched fastballs for 8 innings before the Angels broke though against Tigers' closer Fernando Rodney. Lots of 2-1 games last night.

Astros 9, PIrates 1: No fair! Picking on the grieving widows of the NL Central like that! The Astros used a 7 run sixth inning to blast the Pirates to pieces. Carlos Lee's tetra tot did most of the heavy lifting. Mike Hampton is very quietly 4-4, which is to say Mike Hampton has very quietly made at least 8 starts. He pitched 7 strong last night and chipped in a ribbie. Usually, you can assume a 2-1 game was a well-pitched affair. You obviously don't know much about the National League Central! The Big Crazy Z pitched 6.2 long innings, striking out 7 but walking 5. His opposite number Micah Owings pitched 6 full while walking only three. He didn't hit a home run so nobody cares. The Cubs move into a tie with the Reds for third place in the division. Scary.

Everywhere else: The slumping Blue Jays beat on Zack "The Zombie" Greinke unlike any team in 2009, tagging him for 7 runs including TWO dingers. The red hot Adam Lind took him deep the opposite way, helping raise Greinke's ERA to a pedestrian 1.55. Carl Pavano pitching a complete game shut out over the flailing White Sox. I'm officially afraid. Remember Matt Weiters? Me either. The poor young man's hitting .167 and is without an extra base hit since last weekend. Your fantasy team officially hates you. The hottest team in baseball? You San Francisco Giants. They've won 8 of their last 10 including three in a row. The Giants joined the Dodgers in the exclusive "NL West teams with winning records club." Members get to rub the Swinging Friars head for luck or throw poisonous snakes into the opposing dugout. Their choice.

ichiro.jpgYou may find it hard to believe, but it's true: Ichiro is awesome. The uniquely beloved Mariner is currently tearing up the league amidst a 24 game hitting streak, in which he's hit 3 home runs and posted an OPS just under 1.000. During his hitting streak, Ichiro's added 60 points to his on base percentage and 160 points to that OPS. This all comes on the heels of leading Mariners blog USS Mariner wondering aloud if trading Ichiro may be in the franchise's best interests. The "trade Ichiro" whispers are growing slightly louder, causing the Quote Machine himself to cryptically (typically?) sound off:

"I haven't heard that, but what I think about it is that when things are not going well, many people have different ideas, and that's only natural," he says. "If a crow has thought it, it would surprise me. But since it's human beings, it does not surprise me."

For reasons unknown, casual Mariners fans love to lob criticisms towards the Face of the Franchise. The Mariners lowly 9-15 record during his streak isn't lost on the peanut gallery. Some of the lunatic fringe likely believe there to be a connection between the two. From complaints that he doesn't dive in the outfield to belief that he doesn't steal bases with enough frequency, it's obvious that all the rain in the Pacific Northwest finally turned local residents loopy.

That a leadoff hitter with 78 career home runs has been intentionally walked 6 times already this year (third-most in baseball) should be solid indication that Ichiro criticism is way off. He's already built a nearly 2 WAR season and provided endless entertainment to his adoring throngs. Rare is the slap hitting singles machine who's at bats keep you glued to the TV, just as it's rare to see a big league player deviate from the usual 5 tool mold.

Ichiro's complete unique approach makes him nearly impossible to pitch. While he often seems to willfully flip balls into shallow left field, attempts to bury fastballs inside can just as easily end up in the right field seats. One of baseball's best fielders and baserunners. Losing him would be akin to losing an awesome, witty, prodigious child to Mariners fans. A process they're all too familiar with in Seattle.