Drew Fairservice: November 2009 Archives

stretchersmile.JPGJust about every Friday during the baseball season, we poke all manner of fun at the softies in Major League Baseball who miss time with phantom ailments and broken testicles. With another day at the office a major holiday looming; I thought we'd give back to the stout men of baseball who chose to play through their nagging wounds and ouchies.

You may notice a lack of free agents on this list. BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL A PICTURE OF HEALTH, PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS. Holding off until season's end is the real definition of taking one for the team, no matter how crappy you play while injured. Taking big chunks of the year off to ensure you hit the open market fresh as a daisy isn't selfish, it's the American way!

  • Torii Hunter, Angels: Hunter went under the knife to repair a sports hernia that napped the "Gold Glover" since mid-May! Well, technically, the knife went under Hunter. UNDER HIS BALLS! Hunter seems pumped at the prospect of heading into 2010 healthy and ready to go. Hunter hopes to bounce back after this procedure as he did after his last offseason operation.

  • Vernon Wells, Blue Jays: Wells took a deep inhalation of anesthesia for the second straight winter, this time blaming a bum wrist for his craptastic season. Wells massive contract and every other year performance (Saberhaganitis, for which there is no cure) make him public enemy number one in Toronto. A tidy operation and hope springs eternal for the Blue Jays faithful!

  • J.D. Drew, Red Sox: JD Drew, Ironpuff? Could it be the creampuff poster boy gutted it out with a bum shoulder? It could! Well, gutted it out is a relative term. The much-maligned glove-and-walkman had minor work done on his bum left shoulder. The joint was inflamed for most of the second half, though Drew managed a tidy .999 OPS during the second stanza. Dude's a stud. And a creampuff. Today though, we salute his Ironpuffery.
  • Ted Lilly, Cubs: The mercurial Cubs lefty let the doctors wriggle around inside his shoulder with sticks early in November, hoping they could clean up his fraying labrum. The oddballin', flyballin', strikeout-chucker pitched through pain in September even though the Chubbies were headed straight for nowheresville. Lilly might miss the first few weeks of Spring Training, much to the chagrin of not Ted Lilly.

  • Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays: If you knew Edwin Encarnacion played for the Blue Jays, consider yourself a liar. The erratic third baseman had a similar surgery to his teammate Wells, much to the surprise of Wells. Vernon wasn't surprised that EE was hurt as much as he had no idea they were teammates. Third base is a long way from centerfield, he just thought Scott Rolen lost a bunch of weight. Encarnacion expects to be ready for Spring Training, unless he is non-tendered by his new team. His wife will then walk around on tender hooks lest she upset her spouse's tender feelings. He may lash out and aggravate his tender wrist. I recommend some Otis Redding to calm him down.

  • Brandon Inge, Tigers: The Binge admirably played most of the second half on busted wheels, dragging his carcass and its .314 OBP out there everyday until the end of the year. Mocking Inge is easy but foolish, as the catcher turned centerfielder turned third baseman turned catcher again is a fan favorite and respected member of El Tigres. The chronic tendinitis in both of Inge's knees should clear up by Spring Training, shockingly.

  • Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Albert Pujols. Had junk. Cleaned out of his elbow. In October. Meaning he wasn't 100% at any point this year. He won the MVP. Unanimously. Yikes. He should be ready to win the Triple Crown by the time Spring Training rolls around. Bow down.

Before every twitterfeed burns up with righteous anger over today's National League MVP announcement (you mean X voted for Scumbag Y?? Outrage!), lets take time to reflect on what a colossal mess the Mets continue to be. Not only did they just watch a World Series featuring their two biggest rivals, they are also a team without a direction or an identity. To which I say: awesome!

To be fair to the poor, injury-ravaged Mets, they have a high number of excellent players in their employ. All of whom who may well be on death's door. Or Puerto Rico for the off-season, one can't be too sure. A nucleus of Johan Santana, Carlos Beltran, David Wright, and Jose Reyes indeed a fine starting point for any franchise. Yet for the Mets, it feels as though they are in limbo.

History shows the Mets to spend money like a hausfrau on Black Friday: indiscriminately on crap with little or no purpose. While signing stars like Reyes and Wright to team-friendly contracts before they reached free agency years ago may seem like good ideas, leaving Mets GM Omar Minaya with more cash all that equity burning a hole in his pocket is not. He's only going to heave it at Oliver Perez, Francisco Rodriguez or another pitcher who offers little or no return. The Mets have a few glaring holes but the front office and fanbase are far, far apart on where to fill them.

The Mets deep pockets ensure the can negotiate dollar-for-dollar with any team in baseball for a high-end free agent, but the Mets are also (hilariously) able to overpay to ensure lower profile guys have the chance to disappoint Queens residents for weeks at a time.

Just about every free agent (or defacto free agent) is connected to the Mets by one rumor or another. They're going to be bidding against the Yankees for John Lackey, they're inquiring about Sassy Senior Jorge Cantu's to play first base. They're going to create a package (with what prospects?) to make a run at Roy Halladay, they're considering reclamation project Ben Sheets. Matt Holliday? How about Mark DeRosa instead. Aroldis Chapman? Meet Staten Island jamook Jason Marquis. The lack of a viable catching option is leading to fully functioning, working adults pining for Bengie Molina to step into the void.

The Mets burning need to win now strip-mined their system while serving the big club well, despite the collapses. The Mets now face an aging roster with holes at key spots, with only shudder-worthy internal options all around the diamond. This is a team at a crossroads, with very large new building to fill and sky-high expectations to contend with.

workersunite.jpgGiven all the talk about baseball economics and unfair advantages afforded to deep-pocketed clubs, and Chief Wahoo's passionate screed and the equally dismissive passionate commentary that followed, I thought I'd take a couple ideas I've had kicking around my head and see if we can't think of a way to make the draft process work for everyone. This is especially important these days when the economic disparity is so great (between teams that own their own TV networks and those that must pay to get their games on local TV.)

It is a most delicate process, as the interests of keeping the field level for small market teams must be tempered by the union and its fight to ensure the players are "fairly compensated." As an unapologetic Canadian pinko, there is no way in hell I'm interested in imposing a hard slotting system on player bonuses as in the NBA, because Andrea Bargnani ain't no Lebron James just as Bryan Bullington ain't no Stephen Strasburg.

Without overhauling the entire basis of baseball business, how can even the playing field for teams handcuffed by penny-pinching owners? One simple way: allow trading draft picks.

One of the main complaints about the existing slotting system (merely a guideline and often dismissed out of hand) is it prevents struggling clubs from drafting the best players available to them as they are unable to meet their bonus/salary demands. If we allow draft picks to be traded, teams can either select the best player(s) or entertain offers from teams more in the stud's price range. As I see it, allow trading draft picks until 2 weeks after the signing deadline, currently August 15th. If a potential trading partner is willing to work with the agent's number, the drafting team can sweeten the pot. If the unsigned player isn't traded, he goes back into the draft with the original drafting team receiving the current level of compensation.

This is seemingly minor change that could benefit all teams. The big spenders can still flex their might but the little guys have more leverage. The draftees don't have to sacrifice much aside from the increased chance of playing in Pittsburgh. Giving quoteunderfundedunquote teams the opportunity to draft the best available players is really all anyone can expect of any amateur draft.

The international draft scene is rife with landmines (seriously, the Cambodian baseball association is an international force!) and attempting to impose North American labor law didn't work where my shoes, jeans, computer, car, hat, phone, or food were made, why would it work in baseball?

Full draft rules and regulations available here (Wikipedia. Shhh).

golden-toilet.jpgIt was just over one year ago that frustration out of the annual Gold Glove shitshow prompted the Walkoff Walk Gilded Leather Awards. We handed out awards to the fielders we felt were best at each of their positions and leagues.

Bill James and his cadre of rosin-stained wretches awarded their Fielding Bible Awards Silk Gloves already this offseason. The traditional Gold Glove winners are set to drop at noon today and, to be frank, I don't have high hopes. Defensive stats are gaining more and more acceptance in the mainstream media, but that won't stop our favorite coaches and managers from pretty much ignoring their existence and voting based on who made the most recent diving catch. Not that Derek Sanderson Jeter isn't due a good feting after his long climb up the long mountain named "mediocrity", but I'd like to think the Gilded Leather awards are about more than lifetime achievement.

I've looked at stats and I've looked at "tape." As stated before, I don't want this to be a purely mechanical pursuit. If the numbers check out and my gut agrees; congrats. You're the proud owner of Gilded Leather. To the listicle!

National League
  • Yadier Molina - C
  • Albert Pujols - 1B
  • Chase Utley - 2B
  • Rafael Furcal - SS
  • Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
  • Colby Rasmus - OF
  • Matt Kemp - OF
  • Nyjer Morgan - OF
American League
  • Kurt Suzuki - C
  • Kevin Youkilis - 1B
  • Aaron Hill - 2B
  • Elvis Andrus - SS
  • Evan Longoria - 3B
  • Carl Crawford - OF
  • Franklin Gutierrez - OF
  • Franklin Gutierrez - OF

Quite a few hold-overs from last year. Yadier Molina at the top is tough to argue, he throws out a high percentage though so few souls are brave enough to run on him. I was tempted to replace Albert Pujols with one of Adrian Gonzalez or Derrek Lee, but Pujols showed so much range and ability to reach balls that most first baseman don't I couldn't bring myself to do it. Chutley wins again because Chutley should always be winning something. There is a tremendous amount of joy to be gained watching Rafael Furcal fire rockets across the infield. Ryan Zimmerman is a lonely, lonely man who needs our love and affection. The outfield choices were tough, but Colby Rasmus is an exciting player to watch, as is the studly Matt Kemp. Nyjer Morgan gets the nod for his overwhelming numbers and I feel that if he isn't showered with praise for his glovework, the ghost of Jim Bowden might hire a power hitting fire hydrant to play centerfield for the Nats.

Believe you-me, nothing pains me more than giving Kevin Youkilis credit for anything. That said, he's a damn fine first baseman, a decent third baseman, and a trooper for playing left field in a pinch. Aaron Hill gets the nod at second base because I'm allowed at least one homer pick, might as well use it on a guy that deserves it. Honorably mentions to all the guys with higher UZR's that can go pound salt. Elvis Andrus gets the Nyjer Morgan Award for Defensive Guy that Needs Recognition for his Defense Lest his Entire Existence be Invalidated. Also, his name is Elvis! Evan Longoria wins the award for third because soon every baseball award, event, and statistic will be named after him. The Evan Longoria Honorary Arbitration Selloff Contract. The Evan Longoria Reliever of the Week. The Evan Longoria Drug Test. The Evan Longoria Scorers Decision Error, brought to you by Evan Longoria.

You may notice a typo in the outfield. "Drew, you unoriginal boob, you listed Franklin Gutierrez twice." That is right, I did. Franklin Gutierrez is a smell test for the Gold Gloves and life in general. If he is not recognized for his insane play in the field, his ability to run down balls with ease that ALL others would be plucking out of the grass; then the whole system is invalid. I want to make sure we all appreciate Death to Flying Things and how much fun it is to watch him chase balls around vast green expanses.

No awards for pitchers this year because honestly, what's the point? Actually, scratch that. Because he played in both leagues and because he did this, Cliff Lee wins the Gilded Pitching Leather. It isn't really broken in and you can't expose your forefinger as God intended, but he still puts it to good use.

So there you have it. I expect all our beloved commenters and readers to chime in with their write-in votes which I will summarily dismiss. If you think giving one player two awards isn't fair, who would you tip for the final AL outfield slot? Is the Gold Gloves list going to look anything like this?

Carefully calculated amounts of Coca Cola to the glorious Hardball Times, the essential Fangraphs, and Bill James Online for the free sortable stats.

nerdshirt.jpgWelcome to this week's edition of Kicking and Screaming, a Walkoff Walk introduction to Pitch F/x. Today we learn the importance of a favorable umpire.

Much is being made of the Yankees decision to pitch A.J. Burnett on three days rest. The somewhat-erratic starter was electric in Game 2 but putrid in Game 5. While starting Chad Gaudin might sound like a good idea (when you ignore his struggles to retire left-handed batters), many are suggesting that Burnett was either awful or squeezed by home plate umpire Dana DeMuth. Which was it?

Before I get to the nitty gritty, understand I one thing: I started writing this post with hopes of absolving Burnett. I'm hardly an apologist for the Girardenius, I thought starting Burnett was the right move. The Yankees, currently in the driver's seat to becoming World Series champions, don't have a fourth or a fifth starter. Burnett pitched well in lower-leveraged situations on similar rest. There was no noticeable difference in his velocity (average fastball was 94.17 on Sunday night, 93.14 in Game 2.) What happened? Let's look at his stuff first.

Click to enlarge

So we see A.J.'s movement in both games on one graph. Nothing really stands out. His curveball (in the bottom right) moved just as much as did his fastball (upper left. Four seamer above and two-seamer below). A few flatter curves last night but neither did any damage. One thing we can certainly see is far, far more curveballs during his 7 successful innings in game 2. How come? Find out after the jump!