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Team-by-Team News and Notes
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Arizona Diamondbacks | Archive

Who is that guy?
April 16, 2010 – Chris Young, Is That You? - In 2007, Chris Young nearly went 30/30 (32/27) and scored 85 runs in 148 while playing stellar centerfield defense as a rookie, so it was easy to overlook his .237/.295/.467/.763 RSL. In 2008, he played 160 games, hit 42 doubles, and raised his RSL to .248/.315/.443/.758, so he looked to be a work in progress. The 2009 season gave us all reason to worry – 134 games, .212/.311/.400/.711 RSL, and only 15 homeruns and 11 stolen bases to go with 54 runs scored; the Chris Young experiment appeared to be over.

Well, the early returns for the 2010 season are in, and through nine games Young is looking fabulous – three homeruns, 14 RBI, and an OPS over 1.000. As difficult as it is to draw conclusions from such a small data-set, one factor seems to have played an important role in his early season success – for a fast guy, Chris Young is a much better five/six hitter than he is a one/two hitter, and Young has spent the 2010 season in the six and seven spots in the lineup thus far after a career spent as a square-peg batter trying to fit into the round-hole role of leadoff man.

Atlanta Braves | Archive

2/11/10: Glavine and Thomas Make It Official - After not having played at all in the 2009 season and receiving no interest as free agents this winter, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas have both officially retired from baseball.

Both players finished with some elite statistics. Glavine is one of 24 pitchers to win 300 games in his career while Thomas is one of 20 players with over 1,000 games played who is in the 3-4-5 club. Barring a revelation connecting them to performance-enhancing drugs, both will eventually become Hall of Famers, even though Thomas spent 1,311 of his 2,322 career games as a designated hitter. --KG

Baltimore Orioles | Archive

3/24/2010 - What Flavor Pie Is It Today? – Early in Felix Pie's professional career, many scouts compared him to Vladamir Guerrero. This act probably did more to discredit old school scouting than did Michael Lewis' Moneyball. After Pie stole 32 bases in 110 games in 2004, however, it seemed as though Pie could at least become an effective leadoff hitter type. Then, after managing only a .284 on-base percentage with the Cubs between 2007 and 2008, Pie's future seemed to be a fifth outfielder who came in to pinch run a lot.

Pie then went to Baltimore, which is ultimately where all Cub prospect busts wind up. Surprisingly, he became a league-average offensive player, as evidenced by his .763 OPS and 99 OPS+. Amazingly, however, in 101 games, Pie only managed to steal one base while being caught three times.

Will Pie change his offensive identity yet again in 2010? Stay tuned. --KG

Boston Red Sox | Archive

11/04/10: Cookie Monster Madness - The Boston Red Sox have made undoubtedly the most surprising pre-free agency move in the league today: They exercised their $12.5 million option on David Ortiz, an option which contained no buyout clause. Ortiz turns 35 this month, and have an RSL of .257/.356/.498 over the past three seasons, averaging 28 homers and 97 RBI per year. The move was likely made based on Papi's popularity and the fact that he went .286/.385/.558 this season after April ended.

In a free agent class that will include Lance Berkman, Adam Dunn, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Troy Glaus, Vladamir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, Pat Burrell, Marcus Thames, Aubrey Huff, Russell Branyan, Adam LaRoche, Lyle Overbay, Carlos Pena, Manny Ramirez, and Jim Thome among first base/designated hitter types, it is very odd that the Red Sox would pay such a premium to keep a player who is barely in the upper echelon of that group. There will be some fantastic designated hitter bargains come January, and while the Sox certainly aren't penny-pinchers, they do need to spend money to fill other voids on their team.

Chicago Cubs | Archive

7/20/10: Lou Makes It Official - Cubs manager Lou Piniella has made it official that his 23rd managerial season will be his last. Piniella will finish the 2010 season as skipper of the Cubs and intends to continue to work as a consultant for a major league team, but currently at 1,826 career wins, Lou's bid for the 2,000 win milestone is guaranteed to fall short. He is nevertheless an obvious Hall of Fame manager, with being the first Cubs manager since Leo Durocher (1970-72) to lead the franchise to three straight winning seasons and and the first since Frank Chance (1907-08) to lead the Cubs to consecutive playoff appearances as the latest in a long line of accolades.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has confirmed that Jim Hendry will be the Cubs' general manager heading into the 2011 season and that Hendry will be leading the search for Lou's replacement. Hendry would only reveal that Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who has been managing in the minor leagues for the past four seasons, was a candidate, and that the Cubs would explore both internal and external options for the position, plus that previous MLB managerial experience was not a prerequisite. The speculation at Baseball Evolution, however, is that Ryno is the obvious frontrunner for this vacancy.

Chicago White Sox | Archive

04/15/13: Winning When You Should - The 2012 Chicago White Sox were often thought of as a team that played to its level of competition, largely due to its 6-12 record against the lowly Kansas City Royals and 5-2 record against the vaunted New York Yankees. But when you examine all of the data, you realize that those were the exceptions. Their 52 wins against sub-.500 teams was the best mark in the majors, buoyed by a 14-4 record against the Twins, 11-7 record against the Indians, and 8-1 mark against the Mariners.

Two weeks into the 2013 season, we see the Sox with a 5-4 record against the Indians, Mariners, and Royals, but 0-3 against a powerful Washington Nationals ballclub.

Cincinnati Reds | Archive

January 9, 2012: Larkin Heads to Cooperstown: Today, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin joined Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo as players inducted to the 2012 class of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Both Larkin (2010) and Santo (2006) gained entry into the Baseball Evolution Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

Jeff Bagwell increased his voting percentage from 41% in 2011 to 56% in 2012, his awesome lifetime numbers offsetting the controversy of his era. Jack Morris, who received two-thirds of the vote up from 53.5% last year, has two more seasons of Hall of Fame eligibility. His lackluster career numbers are being offset by feel-good intangibles.

Cleveland Indians | Archive

04/08/10: Fausto or Famine - Last night, Fausto Carmona pitched six innings, giving up one hit and getting the win. That one hit, however, was a homerun, and he also gave up three earned runs by walking six batters and striking out only one.

True or False: If Fausto Carmona continues to walk a batter per inning and give up a homerun every six innings, he will continue to win games. --ABC

Colorado Rockies | Archive

7/19/2010: Ubaldo Redman? - After Jonathan Herrera's first major league home run capped a four-run comeback in the 8th for Colorado Monday night, Donnie Murphy's pinch-hit 2-run shot won it for the Marlins in the bottom of the ninth. Florida topped the Rockies 9-8 as Ubaldo Jimenez allowed six runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings to see his season ERA rise to 2.38. While that mark would lead the American League, it is only good for fourth-best in the senior circuit. Ubaldo's ERA over his last seven starts is 5.20, and he suddenly seems as good of a candidate for the Mark Redman Award as he does the Cy Young. The Colorado comeback did preserve his 15-1 record, however.

Detroit Tigers | Archive

4/1/10: Give Magglio His Due - I don't know about you, but I have always viewed Magglio Ordonez' time in Detroit as a huge disappointment other than his absurdly good 2007 season. Yet in some respects, he is one of the game's most consistent performers. In the 11 seasons since his rookie year, Magglio has only hit below .300 twice (once in just 52 games in 2004) and never below .292. His .312 career batting average ranks 8th among active players. Ordonez may not swing with as much power as he once did and he certainly will not justify the $18 million he is making this year, but he did hit .375 in 60 post-All-Star games last season and should be a big part of the Tigers' 2010 offense.   --KG

Florida Marlins | Archive

06/03/09: Hayden, We Have a Problem - For most of this season, has maintained a “Hayden Penn Watch,” tracking his innings pitched, hits, and earned runs. What he did tonight won’t be adequately reflected by the Hayden Penn Watch, but it was still fantastic. And by that we mean, of course, fantastically bad. In the fifth, Marlins starter Sean West retired the first batter before Ryan Braun reached on an error and Prince Fielder singled. Already down 3-1, the Marlins brought in Hayden Penn to spell West. Penn promptly walked the bases loaded, induced a fielder's choice, walked in a run, and walked the pitcher to bring another run before being replaced three pitches into the following at-bat. Brian Sanches induced a ground ball which nevertheless turned into an error, gave up a double, and then struck out Braun to end the inning.

Penn’s line for the game:– 0.1 IP, 0 H, 4 BB, 5 R, 2 ER, 0 K.
Penn’s career line: 80.0 IP, 114 H, 54 BB, 53 K, 91 R, 80 ER.

This means that as of June 3, 2009, Hayden Penn now has exactly as many earned runs allowed as innings pitched and more walks than strikeouts. It will likely remain that way for a while, as Penn was finally designated for assignment the following day. --ABC

Houston Astros | Archive

3/20/10: Houston Philly Vultures - The Houston Astros may want to change their name to the Houston Philly Vultures.   Over the past few seasons, they have netted Michael Bourn, Geoff Geary, Chris Coste, Pedro Feliz, and Brett Myers directly from the Philadelphia Phillies.   Jason Michaels, who appeared in 102 games with the Astros last season, was originally drafted by the Phillies and played for them from 2001-2005.   --KG

Kansas City Royals | Archive

The Greinke-Olivo Saga Continues - When a pitcher has a bad outing, you shrug it off. Get lit up by the Colorado Rockies, and you definitely let it go. Even for a Cy Young Award winner, a bad outing is part of the game.

But when a dominant pitcher gets tagged for eight runs in less than four innings against the team his old catcher plays for, you know what’s going on.

Updating a story we've been following all year, Colorado Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo had the day off on Sunday as the Rockies faced the Kansas City Royals, his old team, and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. But Olivo probably didn’t sit this game out; Olivo almost certainly played the role of "special assistant to the Manager" for this one, sitting right next to Rockies manager Jim Tracy and giving him everything he knows about his former teammate.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Archive

2/13/11 - So Scioscia Is For Real - Every year, Bill James and Baseball Info Solutions calculates a team's Efficiency Wins, or the number of wins a team should tally based on their runs scored, runs allowed, and the components of runs scored and allowed. For each of the past three seasons, the Angels have outperformed their Efficiency Win total by more than any other American League team. A +9 mark last season followed a +7 mark in 2009 and a +14 mark in 2008. It has gotten to the point where you can't just dismiss the Angels as a team blessed with good fortune. Mike Scioscia is doing something to get the most out of his team and proving it as a repeatable skill to the tune of ten wins per season.

Los Angeles Dodgers | Archive

6/27/10: Broxton Brings Dodger Blues - Jonathan Broxton entered the ninth inning of Sunday night's game against the New York Yankees with a four-run lead and a 0.87 season ERA (three earned runs in 32.2 innings). He left with the game tied and a 1.87 ERA in a contest that the Yankees would win 8-6 in ten innings.

Besides allowing more earned runs in one game than he had in his previous 33 combined and more than doubling his season ERA, Broxton got off the hook rather easily. Because he entered with a four-run lead, he did not get saddled with a blown save, and because the Yankees only tied the game against him, Broxton did not take the loss. Whenever you hear someone say that a closer's ERA is irrelevant, this outing should be on the back of your mind and the tip of your tongue.

Milwaukee Brewers | Archive

9/7/10: First to 600 - Trevor Hoffman became the first player in Major League Baseball history to reach 600 career saves by notching the final three outs in the Brewers 4-2 win over St. Louis. Hoffman, who turns 43 next month, gave up a leadoff single to Colby Rasmus but got Randy Winn to hit into a double play and then retired Aaron Miles on a grounder to short to secure the milestone achievement. It was only his ninth save of the season, as the future Hall of Famer began the year with an 11.65 ERA through his first 18 appearances and lost his closer's job to rookie John Axford in early May.

"I was a player who was questioning if I had enough to get things done," Hoffman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

He has rebounded in a big way, however. Since the first of June, Hoffman has a 2.63 ERA in 27.1 innings, including four saves in four chances. Opponents have slugged .287 against Hoffman in that span.

Mariano Rivera (555) and Billy Wagner (417) are the only active relievers with as many as half the career saves that Hoffman boasts. Rivera turns 41 in November and Wagner has indicated that he will retire after this season, but both closers are enjoying seasons that rank among their best ever.

Minnesota Twins | Archive

We Don’t Need Joe Nathan. In Detroit, Francisco Liriano continued his impressive comeback against the Tigers, running his scoreless streak to 23 innings while striking out 10 and walking one in eight innings of work. The ninth inning was pitched by Jon Rauch, the Twins replacement for the injured Joe Nathan, and all Rauch did was nail down his seventh save in eight chances, striking out two batters and running his ERA down to 1.80. Rauch has never been as dominating as his six-foot-eleven frame would imply, but the closer’s role certain seems to suit him for now.

New York Mets | Archive

The Mets are back. For now. The New York Mets swept a double-header against the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday to run their winning streak to six games. The Mets also took over first place in the NL East for the first time since May 29th of last season. The Mets were a team for whom so much went wrong in 2009, but thus far everything seems to be going right in 2010. The hitters are hitting, rookie call-up Ike Davis looks like everything the Mets were hoping for, Mike Pelfrey has remembered how to pitch, and the bullpen has been nigh unhittable. Even Oliver Perez is giving up less than a hit per inning.

New York Yankees | Archive

February 10, 2011 – Andy Pettitte and the Hall of Fame . Does Andy Pettitte belong in the Hall of Fame? His 50.2 WAR ranks 77th all-time among pitchers, just ahead of Rube Waddell, but also just behind Kevin Appier and David Wells. He did lead the league in wins once, but never in any other major pitching category. He's only ranked among the top 10 in his league in ERA three times and has never won a Cy Young Award. Known as a big game pitcher, Pettitte has a postseason winning percentage of .655 and a postseason ERA of 3.83, both of which are right in line with his career averages.

Basically, Pettitte was a good pitcher for a long time who benefited from only playing on good teams and performance-enhancing drugs. If he were elected to the Hall of Fame, it would not only open the floodgates for a dozen superior "Steroid Era" players, but also for other fringe-worthy pitchers such as Appier, Wells, Jimmy Key, David Cone, and Brett Saberhagen.

Oakland Athletics | Archive

3/18/11: Hardly Surprising News for Rich Harden - The A’s brought Rich Harden back to Oakland in December, two-and-a-half years after dealing him to the Cubs, with the idea of giving him a shot at the fifth starter’s role, but the oft-injured pitcher was eliminated from the competition without having thrown a single pitch. Harden suffered a lat strain in his back in mid-February and has yet to pitch in a spring game.

Philadelphia Phillies | Archive

6/27/10: A New Home Run King - No, Barry Bonds' record of 762 home runs has not fallen. Instead, Jaime Moyer gave up the 506th homer of his career on Sunday, breaking the record previously held by ex-Phillie Robin Roberts for over 50 years.

Moyer's home run - surrendered to the resurgent Vernon Wells - was his one mistake in an 11-2 victory that marked Moyer's ninth win of the season. Moyer appears to be a lock to break Phil Niekro's record 11 victories in a season by a 47-year-old pitcher set back in 1986.

Pittsburgh Pirates |

April 8, 2010 – The Return of Hayden Penn - In 2009 Hayden Penn was one of the most mercilously ridiculed players on the site, and with good reason. The former superstud prospect for the Baltimore Orioles has spent his incredibly brief career giving up earned runs as a potentially historic pace. At one point, we even had a Hayden Penn Tracker on the side of the front page of the site, to track Penn’s daily performance; we got rid of that feature when, after 22.0 innings, the Marlins sent Penn to Triple-A New Orleans. We certainly thought we’d never hear from him again, but low and behold, Penn made a relief appearance for the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon, giving up four earned runs in one inning pitched. This brings Penn’s career tally to 81.0 innings pitched, 83 earned runs. Oh baby! -ABC

San Diego Padres | Archive

3/23/10: Why Not Enjoy It While You Can? - Cactus League pitchers spend all spring complaining about the difficult pitching conditions in Arizona and Padres hitters spend all summer complaining about the difficult hitting conditions at Petco Park. So while Padres hitters play in Arizona, you would expect them to take advantage of the unusually favorable conditions. Not so far. Through March 23rd, the Padres have hit only nine spring home runs, which is last among all 30 teams, not just those playing in Arizona. Will Venable is the only Padre with as many as two.   --KG

San Francisco Giants | Archive

3/31/11 - Rotation Singing a New Song? - Giants starting pitcher Barry Zito was injured in a two-car accident on the eve of the defending champ’s season opener against Los Angeles and his status for Sunday’s series finale is yet to be determined. Zito was not at fault when the car he was in was hit broadside near his home in West Hollywood, nor was he seriously injured in the wreck, but he is suffering back and neck soreness and could yet be a candidate for the disabled list. Ryan Vogelsong, traded by the Giants to Pittsburgh in the 2001 deal that brought Jason Schmidt to San Francisco, and signed this off-season to a minor league contract, is the likely candidate to get the call should Zito not be able to go. Vogelsong had a 3.22 ERA in 22 innings this spring.

Seattle Mariners | Archive

5/6/10: Things Are Going Bradley for the Mariners - The Seattle Mariners placed outfielder Milton Bradley on the restricted list today. The news comes as a complete shock, as Bradley has never been suspended by a team or league official before. It comes on the heels of a shouting match with Mariners manager Don Wakumatsu, which was notable, as Bradley had never had an altercation with a coach or manager prior to that incident.

Similarly, the five games Bradley missed in April - which conveniently allowed him to miss a three-game series in Chicago - created quite a stir, as Bradley had never missed a game due to injury in his big league career and had been gearing up to make a run at Cal Ripken's consecutive games played streak.

Prior to his deactivation, Bradley had gone 1-for-20 as the Mariners' cleanup hitter. That Bradley would be the Mariners' primary power acquisition of the offseason made a lot of sense, as the 32-year-old Bradley has twice clubbed over 14 home runs in a season and twice eclipsed the 56-RBI mark.

The Mariners are on a six-game losing streak and have scored the fewest runs in the American League.

St. Louis Cardinals | Archive

1/11/10 - McGwire Admits to Steroid Use - Mark McGwire has confirmed what most of the baseball world has suspected for a decade or so by admitting to steroid use throughout his baseball career. He remains one of a select group of players from the past two decades not to have lied about being clean and becomes one of an elite few who admitted to his misdeeds without someone holding hard evidence against him.

While McGwire's character remains commendable, several points about his confession leave a bad taste in the mouth. McGwire said that steroids were "readily available" as early as 1989, which may open the eyes of some people who believe that the Steroid Era did not begin until the mid-to-late 90s.

More importantly, knowing now for sure that McGwire used steroids for most of his career, we will never know what kind of a career he would have had without them. McGwire's best-ever home run rate of once every 10.6 at-bats will be forever questioned, and whether McGwire would have been forced to retire at the age of 37 just 17 homers shy of 600 if he hadn't been using steroids should be forever questioned. --KG

Tampa Bay Rays | Archive

07/26/2010: First No-Hitter in Rays History - After being no-hit three times in 12 months, the Tampa Bay Rays were in danger of being held hitless yet again Monday night as the resurgent Max Scherzer took a no-hitter into the sixth against them. Matt Joyce broke up that no-no with a grand slam after Scherzer had walked the bases loaded, and the no-hit bid that Rays starter Matt Garza had going lasted all nine innings.

This was the fifth no-hitter of 2010 (or sixth if you count the Armando Galarraga game) and the second time this year that a franchise authored its first ever no-hitter. The record for most no-hitters in a season came in 1991, when seven were tossed, but only six went for the full nine innings.

Texas Rangers | Archive

1/5/10: Contract Year Wonder - The Texas Rangers have won the gullibility sweepstakes, signing third baseman Adrian Beltre to a six-year, $96 million contract. Beltre, who turns 32 in April, has had two spectacular seasons: 2004 and 2010, both contract years. In his 11 big league seasons outside of 2004 and 2010, Beltre has an RSL of .264/.318/.435.

There is some hope for Rangers fans. Beltre represents a huge upgrade defensively at the hot corner over Michael Young, who shifts to designated hitter. In fact, over the past three seasons, no third baseman has saved more runs defensively than Beltre (55) and none has cost his team more runs than Young (-31). Additionally, Beltre's 2010 season was not a product of Fenway Park, as he went .327/.370/.583 on the road. He has gone .306/.336/.521 for his career in Arlington.

Still, third basemen in their mid-30s tend to age quickly and Beltre has been a bust whenever not directly motivated by money. Expect a terrific year for him in 2016, however, since he is incredible every six years and will be once again playing for a contract.

Toronto Blue Jays | Archive

9/30/10: Solo Molina - Something unprecedented is happening with a home run hitter in Toronto. Sure, Jose Bautista is the first player ever to increase his home run total from the previous season by more than 40, having gone from 13 last season to 54 this year. But something equally odd is going on with backup catcher Jose Molina.

After hitting a solo home run on Friday, Molina has six homers for the year in 179 plate appearance. That may seem pretty reasonable, but get this: he's only driven in a dozen runs. To drive in 12 runs in 179 plate appearances is pretty terrible, but to do so despite hitting six homers is nearly unprecedented. Only eight players in the history of Major League Baseball have hit six homers while driving in fewer than 12 runs, and one was Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano in 2006. Of the ten players to have driven in exactly 12 runs while hitting six homers, only two have done so in more than 179 plate appearances. If Molina logs two more plate appearances this season without driving in a run, only one player would be "ahead" of him. 14 more PA, and he would have the most plate appearances ever for a player to hit as many as six homers but drive in as few as 12 runs in a season (passing Jerry Kindall of the 1957 Cubs). Five players have hit seven homers and driven in 12 runs (including Pittsburgh's Matt Clement this year), but each had fewer than 179 plate appearances.

It gets even weirder. Molina began the season with four RBI before hitting his first home run. So in his last 130 plate appearances, Jose Molina has hit six homers and driven in just eight runs. Luis Medina had six homers and eight RBI for the Indians in 1988, but that was in just 16 games. Molina has appeared in 56 games this year.

In case you were wondering, only five of Molina's homers this year were solo shots; he did hit a two-run homer. The crazy thing is that this ratio is not far outside of his career norm. 18 of his 26 career home runs have come with no one on base, a whopping 69%. That, my friends, is what you call not terribly clutch. --KG

Washington Nationals | Washington Archive

8/27/10: Strasburg Has Significant Tear in Elbow Ligament - The Washington Nationals announced today that Stephen Strasburg has a significant tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, which will almost certainly require Tommy John surgery. The normal recovery time for the procedure is about 12 months, so the National phenom will likely miss all of the 2011 season.

Strasburg made 12 starts this year and never threw as many as 100 pitches in any of them. He went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and a remarkable 92/17 K/BB ratio in 68 innings.

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