Drew Fairservice: August 2010 Archives

Fat-Sox.JPGOnce you get past the initial weirdness and divisive nature of the White Sox acquiring Manny Ramirez; it's hard to think the offensive upgrade should bolster their somewhat slim playoff hopes. Harriet Williams may just have waited too long to pull the trigger as their once-vaunted bullpen is suddenly a huge question mark.

When last we checked in with the Sox 'pen, they were striking out batters en masse and holding together the surprise of the season's first half. Fast-forward to today and they're leaking oil and coughing up leads left and right. The formidable setup tandem of J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton both landed on the disabled list last week. Briefly excellent fill-in Erick Threets seemed to finally be healthy and pitching well, which of course means he needs Tommy John surgery and misses the next full year of baseball.

Obese walking punchline Bobby Jenks avoided the disabled list after a slight injury, opting to struggle worse than the waistband of his XXXXL underoos, even blowing a three run lead last night! Jenks, who spent much of the season trying to give his job away, is safe for another two weeks thanks to the dearth of viable options remaining with all their body parts in tact. Nearly all the remaining bullpen arms are rookies, including young lefty Chris Sale - picked by the Sox mere weeks ago in the June amateur entry draft!

While the injuries and subsequent bullpen chaining calamity hugely affects their performance, I think the dearth of fat guys is what's really getting the White Sox down. Thanks to the power of the internet (namely the great Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs) and the ingenuity of nerds the world over, we now see just how fast baseball's relievers really are.

This incredible document lists nearly all eligible relievers by their Body Mass Index; in addition to showing the bullpen's BMI z-score, or standard deviations above the median weight. Turns out the fattest bullpen in baseball is also one of the best, with the bulbous Dodgers pen weighing (massing?) at more than two full deviations above the norm fatness.

The notoriously chunky White Sox check in second with the best bullpen in baseball (The Fathers) sliding in 11th. Can we conclude that fat pitchers are better pitchers? Of course we can(n't)! There must be a connection between bullpen quality of obesity, beyond the constant sitting and snacking. Please to enjoy the list of fat guys, with full credit going out to Twittermeister Mark Hedjuk. Reveal in the knowledge that dangerously unhealthy weight problems haven't stopped these guys become top-flight athletes and millionaires. Living the dream!

The Tao of Sabean

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brian_sabean.jpgDespite my desperate pleas and their own best efforts, the San Francisco Giants are still in the race for the National League Wild Card. Sitting just twos game behind the Phillies and nominally tied with the Cardinals, the Giants have a legit shot1 at sneaking into the playoffs.

That would be the thought process of a rational man, anyway. The Go Go Padres are light years away in the division, sitting six games up without showing any hints at falter. The Giants, like most teams, will pay lip service to the division title being the "real goal" but scooping the Bud Bowl must be their true focus.

Turns out San Francisco has an odd definition of lip service. Instead of worrying less about the Padres, the Giants decided to worry MORE about the Padres. So much worry, in fact, that they entered a waiver claim on Marlins outfielder Cody Ross to keep the Fathers from claiming him to replace injured starter Thin Tony Gwynn.

Whoops, turns out the Marlins are more than happy to let Ross walk, considering he enters his final year of arbitration in 2011. That pay day should top the $6 million dollar mark, a number the Giants get to chew on while deciding what to do with the small army of popless outfielders currently on their 25 man roster.

Perhaps the Giants are preparing for a post-Huff reality and loading themselves up with options. Or, more likely, Brian Sabean gropes around in desperation while his team seemingly excels in spite of his interference. The wacky machinations of the Giants front office continues to confound their fans and Giants watchers alike. With Aaron Rowand's unwieldy contract on the books for two more years, the Giants better get creative in a hurry. I hear a good, old-fashioned San Francisco Lip Service really gets the juices flowing.

1 - I don't really think they have a legitimate shot. The returns of Utley and Howard might be enough to secure the division, let alone the Wild Card.

Sabean image courtesy of Silicon Angle dot com.

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The astute hirsute Mariners blogosphere had a lot of fun with Mike "Hugs" Sweeney's role as the Mariners designated white-guy hugger over the past few years. Sure, he was hurt often and produced marginally at best; but once that big bear got his claws on ya, it was all over but the crying.

Fast-forward to this stretch drive, the Phillies found themselves down one large first baseman. Ruben Amaro sought out the best replacement for Ryan Howard he could: Mike Sweeney, Designated Hugger.

You could point to his tidy .624 OPS as a Phillie and say "Mike Sweeney has done close to nothing of substance since moving east." To you I say: bull roar.

Look at the smile on that man's face. Look at the joy as he lives out Meech's dream by embracing Dom Brown after Brown's moonshot dislodged a piece of the International Space Station. You can talk all you want, you can't put a price on joy.

Thanks to Gameday for being so lovable and screenshotable.

phanatic.statue.jpgThe San Francisco Giants roll into Philadelphia for the exact kind of series1 Bud Selig imagined when he dreamed up the Wild Card. What would ordinarily be a snoozy trip east for the Giants is instead a Very Meaning Series! The Phils and Giants will battle for the chance to make an early playoff exit at either the hands of the unstoppable Padres killing machine or Dusty's Old-Timey Street-Fighting Funky Bunch.

The Phillies come in as one of the hottest teams in the National League, winners of 15 of their last 20. Things can only improve with best player and all-world cyborg Chase Utley returning to the lineup this week after an extended stay on the deel. Though Ryan Howard is still a ways from returning, the reintroduction of Utley can only help a surging team.

The Giants made their own lineup addition this week, picking up misanthropic outfielder Jose Guillen and quickly installing him as the everyday right fielder. Somehow I don't think they'll have the same impact. The Giants built on last season's surprise success with a strange cast of misfits and scrap heap finds; each one more bizarre than the last.

Which is why the Phillies must send a clear message to the Giants during this pivotal series: this doesn't work. Build your core, don't attempt to mirror the outcast archetype of the city you play in. Defense matters, not playing two of Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff, and Jose Guillen in the same outfield at the same time while Past a Diving Sandoval mans the hot corner. (To his credit, Huff provides decent defense in left and at first base.)

Convivial bath-bros as they might be, the Giants fear of youth is troubling. Even their young guys are old! Upstart career minor leaguer Andres Torres is leading the Giants charge with a career season at the ripe old age of 32, with nearly 75% of his career at bats coming in the last two years.

The Giants need to do better by their strong pitching staff by building a sustainable future around them. The Phillies must slap the retread-loving wrist of Brian Sabean lest his team of weirdos lurch into the playoffs. The non-stop parade of faded stars by the bay will never end! The Kung Fu Panda will be unceremoniously shipped out of town in exchange for the corpse of Edwin Encarnacion. The Giants will sign Edgar Renteria, Mark DeRosa, and Aaron Rowand to long-term contractUh, whoops. Nevermind.

1 - This is not in any way what Bud had in mind. They don't charge double for the teevee rights in August, do they?

horsesass.jpgHaving fun at the expense of Chicago Sun-Times White Sox clown Joe Cowley isn't just fun; it's by design. Cowley is setup as the "brash, no holds barred" columnist who creates strawmen and controversy for the sake of doing so. It's a tired trope but hey, look how jaunty a hat he gets to wear!

Cowley often wears respectable journalist pants while covering the Sox, but his Inside the White Sox blog is a window into madness. Unencumbered by the need to make sense or the guidance of the editing process, Cowley goes nuts with no regard for layouts or life.

Yesterday's entry — ever so provocatively titled "Is Mark Kotsay's Time as the DH Winding Down?" — looks like Joe Cowley is cross-posting from his kid sister's Myspace. Love the gigantic, dated picture of Mark Kotsay in a Red Sox hat, love the layout which allows for two words per sentence to the right of the cherry picked photo. Who doesn't love a 400 work diatribe featuring a sum total of zero paragraph breaks?

The content of the piece centers around the White Sox insane ability to lead their division while running out Mark Kotsay and Juan Pierre as their designated hitters more often than not. Will the Sox call on prospective manager and all-around gentleman Carlos Delgado? Hard to tell from within the haze of Ozzisms and Cowley's filter-free style.

Reading through the archives of Cowley's madness, it apparent that "readability" isn't high among his list of priorities. Too busy being brash, shaking up the establishment, I can only imagine. He's a newshound with priorities, man. He's got stories to break and uncredited images to steal. Keep fighting the good fight Cowley.

As you have no doubt heard (and quickly dismissed), WoW favorite1 Rocco Baldelli began the long, slow road back to major league health benefits in late July. Rocco re-signed with original club in Tampa after serving as a minor league hitting instructor and all around swell guy.

In addition to scaring many of the Rays bonus babies into investing in long-term T-Bills, Rocco took swings in the cage and readied himself for an unlikely comeback. With the Rays offense struggling and Creampuffs falling left and right, the stage was set for Rocco to make his triumphant return to the low minors.

Recall the halcyon days of 2008, the original Raysopaclypse. Our hero Rocco, returning from mysterious illness later diagnosed as "cells no worky too good" cloaked in a beard of some acclaim. 2010 Rehab Rocco comes complete with a new gimmick in the facial hair arena, as seen below:

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In keeping with the proud tradition of wholesome fun and desperate marketing, Rocco's current employers the Charlotte Sea Crabs are running Rocco Baldelli Mustache Night on August 4th. Never let the lure of a supernova big leaguer running through town go uncapitalized! The Sea Crabs plan to award a free hat & ticket to Saturday's game to all fans with a "naturally-grown moustache." The team is staging moustache contests across three categories, celebrating the filmography of Tom Selleck and featuring the music of Frank Zappa (!) as between inning entertainment.

I applaud the good people with the Stone Crabs for their Minor Enterprise and, of course, Rocco Baldelli for sticking with the game he loves. Giving up on the only thing you're even known can't be easy, here's hoping we see Rocco in the playoffs once again.

1 - Views may not reflect those of Walkoff Walk

Image courtesy of Minor League Baseball Dot Com