Posts tagged ‘MLB’

Tuesday: 04.30.2013

A New Pitching Podcast – Pilot Episode

From the gentlemen who brought you the 2013 Starting Pitching Guide comes a brand new podcast dedicated to… wait for it … pitching!!! We started discussing the notion of this podcast all the way back in the winter when we first linked up to discuss the guide. Then after the success of the SP Guide and just how well we got along, it was a no-brainer to follow through with that original idea and thus a pilot episode is born. For those of you who like long-form podcasts, you’re going to be drooling over this one.

That said I think I’ve come up with a way for it to appeal to even those who don’t like long-form. If you want to stretch the podcast out throughout your work week, I have labeled all of our segments by timestamp so you can pick & choose what you want to listen to as it fits your available time. We don’t yet have a name for the show, but I think we’ve decided one and once it’s set in stone, we’ll be in iTunes. We will also be setting up the obligatory email, Facebook page, and Twitter accounts, too. Until then, we would love your emails at thespguide@gmail.com for questions you would like answered on the show.

This is entirely a starting pitcher episode, but it’s a pitching podcast at large so if you have questions about relievers, that works. We do inject a little fantasy baseball talk into the show, but we’re not fielding any “should I trade for pitcher x or cut pitcher z?” questions. My other show, The Towers of Power Fantasy Hours, is fantasy-related and that would be the avenue for those types of questions. We also encourage you to watch our Game of the Week discussed starting at the 2:55:05 mark so you can follow along as we discuss it on next week’s episode.

Without further ado, our pilot episode:


Download the file here. (right click, save as)

  • 0:00 – 19:30 Intro
  • 19:31 – 31:57 Jarrod Parker
  • 31:58 – 38:11 Brett Anderson
  • 38:12 – 47:18 Jeremy Hellickson
  • 47:19 – 54:42 Matt Harvey
  • 54:43 – 1:08:07 Yu Darvish
  • 1:08:08 – 1:16:32 Clay Buchholz
  • 1:16:33 – 1:26:15 Jon Lester
  • 1:26:16 – 1:37:44 Alex Cobb
  • 1:37:45 – 1:49:03 Declining Velo in April (Verlander, Sabathia, Price)
  • 1:49:02 – 1:59:11 Strasburg & the Nats
  • 1:59:12 – 2:17:20 Samardzija v. Latos
  • 2:17:21 – 2:55:04 Our Game of the Week: Lincecum v. Cashner
  • 2:55:05 – 3:07:36 Picking Next Week’s GotW
  • 3:07:37 – 3:14:42 Close

Show Notes:

Sunday: 04.28.2013

Henry Rodriguez’s Automatic Ball Return

Nat’s reliever Henry Rodriguez wants to save Kurt Suzuki’s arm a bit instead having the ball come back on its own.

 

hrodballreturn

Monday: 04.22.2013

Matchups of the Week (Apr 22-28)

Trying out this new idea where each week I’ll take you through the most intriguing pitching matchups for the upcoming seven days. I’ll pick the ultimate matchup (think Strasburg v. Harvey of last Friday) as well as an undercard matchup pitting two pitchers you might not otherwise instantly be drawn to if you were perusing the slate. If you can’t watch every night, these would be the two I’d go for above all. I haven’t decided exactly how I’ll review the picks each week, but I have seven days to figure that out.

(Obviously any and all of these are subject to change so bear with me if they don’t pan out as I’m using probable starters.)

MONDAY

  • CC Sabathia (NYY) v. Matt Moore (TB) – A battle of southpaw pitting the veteran star against the up and coming young gun. This is far and away the best of Monday especially since Dan Haren’s early season struggles have rendered his outing against Shelby Miller a bit more one-sided in the youngster Miller’s favor. That said, I’ll still be checking it out.

TUESDAY

  • Wade Davis (KC) v. Max Scherzer (DET) – Scherzer has picked up right where 2012 left off with a silly 40 percent strikeout rate while Davis has transitioned back into the rotation quite nicely so far possibly making some re-think their position on the Wil Myers trade. It’s still way early, but the Royals have to be happy with the returns so far.
  • Adam Wainwright (StL) v. Ross Detwiler (WAS) – Wainwright hasn’t walked a single batter in his 29 innings of work while also fanning a career-best 25 percent of the batters he is facing. Detwiler succeeds on a pitch-to-contact/groundball approach. He took some major steps forward last year and the improvement is sticking so far in 2013.

WEDNESDAY

  • Jeff Samardzija (CHC) v. Mat Latos (CIN) – A couple of young guns tangle in a day game at the Great American Ballpark and hopefully they can shut down the opposing lineups in a park known for offense. Latos is looking to keep his hot start going despite a career riddled with April struggles.
  • Ian Kennedy (ARI) v. Madison Bumgarner (SF) – Kennedy has been up and down so far this year, but he escaped with a baseline quality start in Coors Field which hopefully gets him back on track. Bumgarner, meanwhile, is one the most exciting young arms in baseball.
  • Andy Pettitte (NYY) v. Alex Cobb (TB) – The finale of this series gives us another matchup of old v. new with both pitchers toting sparkling ERAs south of 2.60 including Pettitte at just 2.01 through 22.3 innings.

THURSDAY

  • James Shields (KC) v. Anibal Sanchez (DET) – Sanchez is a bit overlooked in that deep Detroit rotation, but he has arguably been the team’s best pitcher since late last August. That’s not an easy feat when you’re teammates with Justin Verlander and Scherzer. Early on, Shields hasn’t missed the friendly home ballpark or sparkling team defense he left behind in Tampa Bay as he aptly fulfills the ace role KC sorely needed.
  • Jeremy Hellickson (TB) v. Jake Peavy (CWS) – The list is Tampa-heavy, but of course pitching is their strength and they are facing several strong starters this week, too.

FRIDAY

  • Homer Bailey (CIN) v. Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) – Two of my favorites going toe-to-toe in DC as NL superpowers play what should be an exciting early season series. Both pitchers look great early on, too.

SATURDAY

  • Kris Medlen (ATL) v. Doug Fister (DET) – If the defenses are on point, this groundball fest could be a breezy two and a half hour matchup, hopefully with my beloved Tigers faring better than they did when they were on FOX this past Saturday.

SUNDAY

  • Mike Minor (ATL) v. Max Scherzer (DET) – I didn’t just pick a bunch of Tigers games because they are my favorite team. I actually believe these should be some great matchups. Oddly enough, Verlander wasn’t included in any of them. This is the Sunday night game on ESPN.
  • Kyle Lohse (MIL) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD) – There is a major disparity in how these two succeed, but Lohse has maintained success even after skipping all of Spring Training as a free agent. Kershaw, of course, is simply awesome.

ULTIMATE MATCHUP – Sabathia/Moore

UNDERCARD – Medlen/Fister

Wednesday: 04.3.2013

Alex Gordon Nearly Robs Dayan Viciedo

gordonneargrab

 

So close!

Saturday: 02.23.2013

Spring Training GIFs!!

Bryce Harper starting off his Spring Training with some nice concentration.

harperstcatch1

 

And Prince Fielder wastes no time displaying his massive power with his first swing of the 2013 season.

fielderstbomb1

Monday: 02.18.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 4 Days – Minor League Guy

Only 4 days until live game action…

Minor League Guy

In the age of the internet where seemingly any information can be found, the Cardinals broadcast scrambled to identify a farmhand during a Grapefruit League game against the Mets. Instead of scrapping the opportunity for a graphic, the team in the truck went with their gut and the result was awkwardly hilarious:

mlg

Of course, many of us baseball diehards knew ol’ Minor League Guy to be Oscar Taveras, the team’s second-best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus. Flash forward about a year and the broadcast team shouldn’t have any trouble identifying Taveras in a Grapefruit League game. First of all, he should be in the game well before the ninth inning, but more importantly he is now baseball’s second-best prospect or at least no worse than third-best.

He was even labeled properly in this picture with teammate Jon Jay in an article discussing his excellence.

Like last year, there is a triumvirate of guys – once again two hitters and a pitcher – and the order will vary from outlet to outlet and person to person. Last year it was Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore; this year it’s Taveras, Jurickson Profar, and Dylan Bundy.

mlbpros

MLB.com

lawpros

ESPN’s Keith Law

sickpros

John Sickels (split lists hitters; pitchers)

 

And that is just from the early lists. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America will have their top 100s out soon and I’d be surprised if they disagreed on the trio.

Though it was probably a bummer to get labeled as simply “Minor League Guy” on television, it looks like Taveras will have the last laugh as he now stands atop, or at least nears the top of baseball’s prospect heap. Imagine if he pans out on the Vladimir Guerrero comp that some have thrown on him, maybe he’ll end up being labeled as “Hall of Fame Guy” on a broadcast 20 years down the line.

Sunday: 02.17.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 5 Days – Chapman Not Starting?

Only 5 days until live game action…

Aroldis Not Guaranteed Spot

Dusty Baker did his best Lee Corso imitation on Saturday when it came to the topic of Aroldis Chapman and the rotation for 2013. Baker was careful to note that we entered 2012 under similar assumptions before Chapman headed back to the pen and eventually took the closer’s job in late May. The money quote from Hal McCoy’s article:

Manager Dusty Baker emphasized that point Saturday morning when somebody said, “Your rotation was good last year, but you’re still making the move with Chapman. . .”

At that point, Baker interrupted and said, “Maybe. That’s a maybe. It’s the same situation as last year. We started with Chapman as a starter. Then Ryan Madson (closer) went down. We had no clue Chapman would be as good as he is as a closer. I don’t think anybody did.

We didn’t know if he was going to throw enough strikes,” Baker added. “We put him in a set-up role, going two innings, because he was groomed in spring training to be a starter and that helped him to get his control. So, right now, we’re in the same boat — trying to get him multiple innings in case he doesn’t start he can still be sharp.”

While this does make him more difficult to rank and project for 2013, it doesn’t really hurt his fantasy value. If anything, it’s a boon to it because unless he pulls a Chris Sale in the rotation, he is far more valuable to fantasy managers as a closer, especially at his current cost. In current NFBC mock draft data, Chapman is going 83rd overall whereas the unanimous #1 closer Craig Kimbrel is going 49th. It is only unanimous because we’ve been led to believe that Chapman is set to be Cincy’s 4th or 5th starter. If he ends closing again, he’s right there with Kimbrel and all of sudden becomes a huge value for those who are getting him at 84 or later.

Meanwhile, if they get a full-time starter who isn’t Sale 2.0 or better, then they vastly overpaid. Stay tuned as I’m sure we will learn much more in the coming month.

Saturday: 02.16.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 6 Days – Soccer & Baseball

Only 6 days until live game action…

What happened to a player essay for the Countdown?

MLB SOCCER

I’ve discussed these on the podcast more than once, but I have to mention them again. An M.Willis has developed a series of soccer style jerseys for every MLB team and he is unleashing them by division over at his site. They’re positively brilliant. It would be a stretch for me to consider anything close to a soccer diehard. I started paying attention to the English Premier League a couple years back and I enjoy it, but I’m still very new to the game. The bulk of my interaction with soccer is tied to FIFA for Xbox 360. Even still, I can appreciate this amazingly creative series from Willis.

The detail and effort put into the jerseys is so incredible and the writing is an added bonus. He lets team history and tradition influence his decisions as he tries to make the best guess for corporate sponsor – a big part of soccer kits – and manufacturer of each set. I recommended reading the accompanying pieces not only because they’re good, but they will also clue you in on some details within each kit that you may’ve missed at first glance.

The recent release of the AL Central was obviously especially interesting to me as it contained his take on my Tigers. I ended up really liking it. It’s very clean and he blended the sponsor perfectly. His desire to mix in some orange and his execution on it was excellent, as well. Here is a look at the Cabrera jersey.

tigers-865

Choosing a favorite is nearly impossible because I love so many of them. As much as I loved the Tigers one, my absolute favorites would probably be the Royals and Astros iterations. If he could make them available for purchase, I think I’d have exactly zero dollars to my name after buying one of each team. This was such a wonderful idea and even more fantastically executed. I can’t wait for the NL East conclusion. I wonder if he will choose Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper for the Nationals sample.

The A.L. East
The N.L. Central
The A.L. West
The N.L. West
The A.L. Central

Friday: 02.15.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 7 Days – Angels Lineup

Only 7 days until live game action…

ANGELS LINEUP

My first piece over at GuySpeed.com went up today and it’s on the Angel lineup outside of the Big 3. I’ll be having a good bit of baseball content up there in the near future as well so stay tuned!

Thursday: 02.14.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 8 Days – SP Contracts

Only 8 days until live game action…

Just a quickie here. To make any sort of sweeping judgment one way or another about what to do in leagues is always dangerous, it’s never black and white and circumstances change. That’s why you often the first part of any answer in a chat of fantasy baseball questions be: “it depends”. One such area is extending pitchers. It, too, lives in the gray, but I’d say it is closer to the definitive are than other rules. Extending pitcher contracts is rarely a great idea, though it can still be a good one, just one rife with risk. Now before you email me citing your offensive player extension that went awry because of injury, let me be clear that I’m aware of the fact that every player carries risk of getting hurt. That’s just the nature of sports.

However, you cannot deny that there is heightened risk with starting pitchers and knowingly assuming that risk isn’t always a good idea. Even the most rock solid guys can turn at the drop of a hat. Consider these three recent cases. Let’s start at the low-end where the breakdown wasn’t an overwhelming shock if only because of his age. Roy Halladay was coming off six straight amazingly strong seasons during which he went at least 220 innings and averaged 236. There was no way he was on anyone’s roster at a cheap price this time last year, but he might’ve been at a fair price once you factor inflation leading some to hang onto him thinking it was as safe as can be for a pitcher. He was kept in one of my NL-Only leagues for a mid-$30s cost when he’d have easily gone north of $40. We know how it turned out. He looked human for the first time since 2004 pitching just 156.3 innings and posting a 4.49 ERA. Now at 36, he’s going at a discounted rate as if 2012 is the new norm and his previously insane track record of awesomeness is but a memory.

Next up is Dan Haren heading into the 10th year of his career, he too wasn’t on anyone’s roster for $15 dollars or anything, but coming off of his 2010 where he had a 3.91 ERA, he came at a discount in 2011 drafts making him someone who was likely below market in many leagues and could be another guy who you keep just to avoid any inflation in the auction. He’d made 33 starts a year or more for seven straight seasons including 34 four times and even 35 once. He averaged 226 innings during the stretch with an excellent set of base skills. His workhorse reputation led me to say this in 2012′s pitching guide:

He remains one of the most rock solid pitchers in all of baseball with no fewer than 216 innings since 2005 and increasing workloads yearly since 2008 topping out at last year’s 238.

Whoops. A balky back proved too difficult to pitch through and he went just 176.7 innings with stretches of ugliness that led to a 4.33 ERA. We saw runs of the brilliant Haren, too, but not enough to cancel the bad. No one is immune.

And the most disastrous of them all whose retirement actually prompted the idea to discuss this a while back: Brandon Webb. If there was one thing you could rely on Webb for it was innings and good ones at that. He struggled with walks in his second season leading to an ugly 1.51 WHIP, but his 3.59 ERA was still pretty solid and proved to be the worst of his career (not counting the 13.50 in his 4-inning swan song “season” of 2009). Starting in 2004 he went 208, 229, 235, 236.3, and 226.7. All before 30 years old.

Then poof!

Done.

He tried to work his way back, but it wasn’t to be and at 33, he is done.

Just keep these three cases (and many, many more) in mind this winter when you are deciding on your keeper lists. The more pitchers you have, the more risk you’re assuming. Again, this doesn’t mean that you should cut your $3 R.A. Dickey loose or not give Chris Sale a contract for 2013. But start thinking long and hard about extensions to pitchers. How many years do you want to commit to Sale beyond this one? Say you had him at $1 because he used to be a reliever, but now he’s due up for a contract at $5 per year.

Sure, $16 sounds plenty reasonable because he’d sure as hell go for more than that this year in the auction, but now you’re betting on 2013, 2014, and 2015. Just go $6 and enjoy the crazy value this year (assuming he’s stay upright of course) and work on finding the next Sale. How many of your are in the midst of Brandon Beachy or Cory Luebke contracts? This goes double for leagues where they let you out of contracts if they go sour, but charge penalties to do so. Those of you enjoying a David Price contract should be very thankful. It has worked out brilliantly. It’s the exception.

Go back and look through top prospects lists and see how many guys didn’t work out as panned and try to recall some of the trades you made to earn their rights. Again, there is risk throughout our game, but the point is to minimize how much you can incur. Extending a pitching beyond the upcoming year is the easiest way to get a double serving of risk you thought you were ordering.

OK, that wasn’t as quick as I thought. I tend to get going sometimes and end up much longer winded than anticipated.

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