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June, 2009

Earlier this season, when Ichiro Suzuki extended his latest hitting streak to twenty straight games, Richard commented on it here, noting how he had now done so six times in his career, leaving him one behind Pete Rose for the all-time mark. That streak ended after reaching 27 consecutive games on June 5th.

Yet reported at the time that Ichiro had recorded his seventh career streak of 20+ consecutive games with a hit, one more than Richard had bargained for. What's the deal with that phantom hit streak? Richard unravels the discrepancy and reveals much more about hitting streak history upon further review.

06/28/09: Top Four Thoughts When K-Rod Walked the 39-year old Mariano Rivera with the Bases Loaded in Mo's third career plate appearance -

4. Players like Miguel Olivo who cannot/will not draw walks are pathetic
3. What is more embarrassing, allowing Mo a bloop single there or walking him?
2. What is more memorable for Rivera, RBI #1 or Save #500?
1. What are you, an idiot, K-Rod?

Top Three Thoughts When A-Rod Charged A Sac Bunt and Threw to Second To Get the Lead Runner on Sunday Night Baseball with Derek Jeter Picking the Low Throw Out of the Dirt -

3. Risky play, A-Rod!
2. Wasn't Rodriguez supposed to be the worst third baseman at fielding bunts all-time according to The Fielding Bible II?
1. Derek Jeter would make a great first baseman

06/28/09 - Is the Schumaker Experiment Over? - The 29-year old Skip Schumaker hadn't played a professional game at second base until this year. Not surprisingly, he has been awful at his new position (making only six outs out of his zone and starting only eight double plays in 452 defensive innings, according to THT).

Enter Mark DeRosa, acquired today from Cleveland. Surely, DeRosa' versatility spells the end for Schumaker's stint at second, right? Well, apparently not. Schumaker started at second in DeRosa's first game with the club, with DeRosa instead manning left field and natural shortstop Khalil Greene playing at third. Greene and Schumaker combined to make three errors which led to two unearned runs in a 6-2 loss against the Twins. Manager Tony LaRussa's stubborn adherence to playing his guys out of position could easily cost the Cardinals a playoff spot in a tight NL Central race. --KG

06/25/09 - Haul P. Suling Every now and then we get emails regarding a piece Asher wrote a while back entitled "the Bagwell Conspiracy," in which he mockingly accused Jeff Bagwell of having introduced the baseball world to steroids. Usually these emails fall into two categories - baseball fans who see this as evidence of what they have long suspected, or Astros fans who demand evidence. Needless to say, neither side tends to get the joke and the emails are usually pretty boring. But every now and then, we get a doozy.

The following is a real email exchange that took place earlier this month between the staff and a Houston Astros fan who shall remain anonymous, but whose name rhymes with "Haul P. Suling." And whose initials are the same as "Haul P. Suling" only in a different order. And whose Facebook page can be found here.

Asher's Running Steroid Meter - We know who has been busted and who has admitted to using PEDs. What about all the guys who haven’t been busted? I am going to start to compile a list of players and my own personal views on whether they used performance enhancing drugs and/or steroids. Feel free to comment, and we’ll keep the list as a running, on-going project.

Feel free to disagree with me. I'd love to discuss this at length..

06/18/09: New Nicknames - You know the old saying "misery loves company?" Well, throughout the 2009 season we have tracked the performance of one Chris Davis, who is on pace to obliterate the major league single season homerun record set last year by Mark Reynolds. But in heaping attention upon Davis, we have given short shrift to Reynolds. Indeed, as of Wednesday night's games, Reynolds now has only two fewer strikeouts on the season (95 vs. 93) and is now also on pace to destroy his record from a year ago. What's more, Reynolds has been more productive overall in 2009 than Davis, so the odds of him finishing the season as a major league starter are significantly better.

So, in honor of our failure initially recognize Mark Reynolds, we have expanded our Chris Davis Watch to an all new Strikeout Watch, which now includes Mark Reynolds. Further, we have added two nicknames to our nicknames list: Chris "Misery" Davis and Mark "Company" Reynolds.  --ABC

Five years after rocking the baseball world with The Bagwell Conspiracy, a new bomb in the steroid scandal has been dropped. Only this time, I can’t take the credit. The credit belongs to baseball fan, aspiring screen writer, and stand-up comedian Brandin Augustine (his friends call him Jason). I can tell you, I’ve never been hit by a ton a bricks before, but now I know what it feels like. After lots of talking, exploring, discussing, and a stream of consciousness matched only by the mighty Mississippi itself, we discovered the key to baseball's steroid controversy. Right there, on the 1983 New York Mets, staring us straight in the face, was the actual source of all steroids in baseball.

You want the truth about steroids in baseball? You can't handle the truth..

06/12/09 - Is Raul Ibanez Juicing? A minor controversy has been brewing in Philadelphia over the last few days over speculation – unfounded to this point – that Raul Ibanez may have used performance enhancing drugs in order to accomplish what he has accomplished so far this season. I think it is a rude and unkind thing to say about a guy who thus far has been a feel good story for the city of Philadelphia.

Of course, I am a Phillies fan, so that is what I am supposed to think. Maybe we should take a closer look.

Earlier this week, Asher joined The Lady At The Bat for an insightful discussion of the Tampa Bay Rays. Topics include the reasons for team's slow start to the 2009 season following their World Series appearance, their level of fan support, and of course, Asher's fun facts about the franchise. Visit the Baseball Evolution Audio Vault to hear the analysis (Asher calls in at 5:19).

As unusual as it sounds, the best time Gregory has ever had at a baseball stadium was in Washington D.C. at a Nationals game. That is because the most unlikely 300-game winner ever hit the magical plataeu that day. Randy Johnson, who had just 48 career victories on his 28th birthday, now has 300.

06/08/09 - Pitchers I've Fallen Asleep On At the last minute, in making my pre-season predictions, I picked Zack Greinke to win the AL Cy Young Award on a whim (as evidenced by the fact that I spent no time at all extolling Greinke’s virtues in my Royals Spring Preview). Basically, I’ve spent the season thus far freaking out about Greinke’s performance so far. So much so, in fact, I have almost completely missed several impressive statistics from the season so far. So, here’s a top ten.

McLouth Traded to Atlanta

6/6/09: Unpopular, But Smart? - You get the impression that Neal Huntington was one giant nerd in high school, because during his tenure as Pittsburgh Pirates general manager, he has made extremely unpopular yet prudent moves, trading stars Jason Bay and Xavier Nady for promising prospects last summer and failing to sign a big ticket free agent for two straight seasons. This flies in the face of previous regime policy, which consisted of locking up aging-yet-popular homegrown players (think Jason Kendall, Kevin Young) to ridiculous contracts and signing marginal free agents (Sean Casey, Derek Bell, perk up your ears) to top-tier free agent money in order to generate fan interest.

In dealing Nate McLouth for Braves prospects Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton, and Jeff Locke, Huntington is as unpopular as ever, however this time he may have out-smarted himself. The idea of selling high on McLouth makes sense, because he is already 27-year old and has a Gold Glove Award that boasts just how overrated he is defensively. That said, McLouth is signed at bargain salaries through 2011 with a decent team option for 2012. The Pirates sold him while his value was high, but neglected to get high value in return. Hernandez and Locke are good-yet-not-elite prospects and Morton has all the makings of a Quadruple-A pitcher. Huntington should have kept hunting for a better deal, particularly since it's early June and he had all of the negotiating power. --KG

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, and then walked in three runs, the last of which came against the pitcher. He was replaced three pitches into the following at-bat. Brian Sanches induced a ground ball which nevertheless turned into an error, gave up a two-run 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

Is Jim Edmonds a Hall of Famer? - I read a piece on Dugout Central about Jim Edmonds and his chances for the Hall of Fame. The author of the piece premised his opinion (that yes, Edmonds belongs in the Hall) principally on three factors: 1) Edmonds has the same number of career homeruns as Jim Rice, and Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame; 2) Ozzie Smith and Brooks Robinson are in the Hall of Fame purely based on their defense, which necessarily means Edmonds has to be in, because in addition to matching Rice’s offense, 3) “Jim Edmonds is arguably the single greatest defensive player at any position in MLB history.”

As much fun as it would be to bash this guy in the head repeatedly, I think the topic the guy raises is more important that the facile way in which he went about exploring the point. So, Is Jim Edmonds a Hall of Famer?

6/1/09: Contract Extensions Revisited - Derrek Lee and David Ortiz each signed contract extensions worth $13 M per season on the same Monday in April over three years ago. Here's what we wrote about it at the time:

"It looks pretty even right now. Ask us in four years which team got the best deal here."

Well, it's been just under four years and it still looks pretty even, although it hasn't turned out as well for either the Cubs or the Red Sox as we would have figured. In Chicago, Lee only had one good season since the extension, and currently blocks the path of superior hitters Jake Fox and Micah Hoffpauir with his no-trade clause through 2010. Ortiz had two monster seasons since his extension, but he is currently even more of a burden than Lee, batting .185 with just one homer in 178 at-bats. Ortiz does not have the no-trade clause that Lee's contract contains, but on whom could Boston possibly dump his massive contract?

We'll give the edge to Papi and the Red Sox, since they wouldn't have even advanced to the World Series in 2007 without the aid of the Cookie Monster. But it might be difficult to convince frustrated Red Sox fans of that conclusion right now.   --KG

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