Archive for June, 2006

Tuesday: 06.13.2006

The Pace Game II.

The team has now gone plowed through 40% of the season and they are still atop the baseball world with a 41-23 record holding a narrow 1.5 game margin over the Chicago White Sox. At the 20% mark, I took a look at the kind of pace the team was on. Given the small sample, a lot of things were skewed both postively and negatively. Sample size caveats aren’t completely erased at this mark, but players are definitely settling in heading into mid-June. Here is the second look at the hitters:

NAME G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Curtis
Granderson
159 595 96 170 35 5 23 78 99 180 10 10 0.285 0.385 0.477 0.862
Magglio
Ordonez
152 592 89 180 30 0 33 109 46 91 3 3 0.303 0.353 0.521 0.874
Ivan
Rodriguez
142 587 76 182 28 8 13 76 25 78 8 3 0.310 0.342 0.448 0.790
Placido
Polanco
134 572 48 162 20 0 8 58 10 38 0 5 0.283 0.303 0.358 0.662
Chris
Shelton
159 557 76 157 25 8 30 76 48 172 0 3 0.282 0.346 0.518 0.864
Carlos
Guillen
154 549 73 159 41 3 18 89 66 101 20 13 0.290 0.368 0.470 0.838
Craig
Monroe
149 534 86 124 20 0 25 71 28 137 3 5 0.232 0.272 0.412 0.685
Brandon
Inge
154 519 89 111 20 3 33 91 48 124 5 5 0.215 0.281 0.454 0.734
Marcus
Thames
99 319 73 99 30 0 30 53 35 78 0 0 0.310 0.389 0.690 1.079
Omar
Infante
66 228 30 63 10 3 5 25 10 51 3 3 0.278 0.323 0.411 0.734
Dmitri
Young
38 149 13 25 8 0 0 10 10 46 3 0 0.169 0.222 0.220 0.443
Vance
Wilson
46 134 13 35 8 0 3 15 0 38 0 3 0.264 0.291 0.377 0.668
Ramon
Santiago
58 134 20 25 0 3 0 3 3 25 3 0 0.189 0.204 0.226 0.430
Alexis
Gomez
51 124 20 28 5 3 0 5 8 23 5 0 0.224 0.269 0.306 0.575
Total 162 5594 802 1521 281 33 220 759 435 1182 61 51 0.271 0.327 0.450 0.777



Most disconcerting right away is, though he has been very good otherwise, Curtis Granderson is striking out WAY too much! You can be an effective leadoff with gobs of strikeouts (see also: Sizemore, Grady), but even Sizemore “only” had 132 last year. I suspect Granderson will end the season somewhere near that figure as opposed to 180, but at least he’s on pace for almost 100 walks as well. Strikeouts are often judged more severely because they are “unproductive” outs, but if he is striking out to lead off a game, it’s the same as if he lines out to second. (Yes, that is called spin!) Chris Shelton‘s paced out numbers predictably came way down, but he is also on pace for over 170 strikeouts. If he works hard at getting back to where he was last year as opposed to swinging out of his shoes in every at-bat, I think he will strikeout less than 150 times. Magglio Ordonez has settled into a comfortable .300-30-100 pace that he is unlikely to deviate too far from. I still don’t buy Brandon Inge as a 30-home run hitter, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be entirely pleased with 33-91. Marcus Thames‘ HR:RBI ratio will balance out as he continues to play everyday. He is more likely to play all of the remaining 99 games than he is to end with just 99 played in all.

Now for the pitching:

NAME G GS W L Sv IP H ER R HR BB SO WHIP ERA
Jamie Walker 53 0 0 0 0 48 35 5 5 5 5 43 0.83 0.93
Joel Zumaya 63 0 8 0 3 81 46 20 20 8 41 96 1.06 2.25
Fernando Rodney 71 0 10 5 18 79 38 23 25 10 46 73 1.05 2.59
Chris Spurling 23 0 0 0 0 28 33 10 10 5 10 10 1.50 3.18
Justin Verlander 33 33 18 10 0 213 190 78 84 28 63 124 1.19 3.32
Kenny Rogers 33 33 20 8 0 210 200 81 86 25 51 116 1.19 3.46
Nate Robertson 33 33 15 8 0 200 192 78 91 25 78 144 1.34 3.50
Mike Maroth 23 23 13 5 0 122 142 48 51 20 38 56 1.48 3.56
Jordan Tata 18 0 0 0 0 35 23 15 18 3 18 15 1.14 3.86
Jeremy Bonderman 33 33 15 10 0 213 195 101 101 13 61 177 1.20 4.29
Jason Grilli 43 0 0 0 0 51 53 25 25 3 33 18 1.67 4.43
Zach Miner 5 5 3 3 0 25 28 13 13 8 10 18 1.50 4.50
Todd Jones 61 0 3 10 43 61 84 43 43 5 13 18 1.58 6.38
Bobby Seay 35 0 0 0 0 38 35 28 28 3 23 30 1.50 6.46
Roman Colon 18 3 0 0 0 41 51 30 30 13 15 30 1.56 6.48
Total 162 162 104 58 63 1451 1344 600 630 172 504 969 1.27 3.72



Pacing out pitching is much more volatile than hitting for obvious reasons. Roles change much more within bullpens and rotations than they do a team’s lineup. Most obvious is the fact that Mike Maroth‘s innings will be going (for now) to Zach Miner making both of their projections pretty much worthless for this exercise. In terms of my own projection of Miner going forward, I will need at least three more starts before I’m comfortable enough to guess. Bullpen decisions are also skewed this early. If Todd Jones continues to pitch the way he has recently, not only will he not be around for 40+ saves, but certainly won’t be given a chance to lose 10 games. The path the starting rotation is following remains remarkably pleasing. I don’t think they’ll boast four 15-game winners by year’s end, but Joel Zumaya might be in a position to register double-digit wins given his use in high leverage situations. No one is on pace for 200 strikeouts with Jeremy Bonderman coming closest, but the team as a whole is striking out almost twice as many batters as they walk (1.92 K:BB).

There you have it, folks. Just some early numbers to chew on. There is still a ton of baseball to play during which some of these paces will be obliterated, for better or worse. Tonight the Tigers face struggling pitcher Seth McClung (2-8, 6.25 ERA, 0.76 K:BB). Thank God for MLB.tv Mosaic so that I can watch it along with Johan Santana v. Curt Schilling in Minnesota.

Monday: 06.12.2006

The Aftermath.

Notice the bridge and notice the lack of me standing on the ledge. Don’t worry, I’m just swimming on the other side and I’ll dive headfirst into that rock on the right if we drop 3 of 4 to Tampa Bay. Seriously though, I am at least still a little frustrated with some of the losses the team suffered in games they could’ve easily locked down in the win column. I don’t have quite the rosy outlook of some of the spin doctors, but I’m far less angry than I was at the time of the collapses. It is tough to be too critical given the fact that the team has emerged from the hellish stretch with their league-best record intact. In fact, they are the league’s first team to 40 wins and are in a tie with the New York Mets for the fewest losses at 23. Next up is Tampa Bay for four including a game tonight against one of the best young pitcher’s in baseball in Scott Kazmir.

The problems during past 13 games are directly related to the hitting, or lack thereof. That isn’t to say the pitching (namely the bullpen) is faultless, but I’ll get to them in a moment. Looking at the June numbers, which cuts off the first two games of the New York series that closed out the month of May, the team is hitting a dreadful .256/.312/.413. Sadly, it isn’t much worse than their May totals of .264/.319/.436. A team that relies on the home run isn’t hitting them anymore. Though yesterday’s 10-5 victory over Toronto featured just one home run, the team’s reliance is still evident as Brandon Inge and Marcus Thames home runs on Saturday accounted for all five runs in a 5-3 win. I’m not overly concerned with the home run mentality as I am the awful team on-base percentage. If you want to go for the 3-run homer Earl Weaver style, you still have to get two guys on base.

Don’t Blame Granderson
Leadoff hitter Curtis Granderson did the best he could to set things up for the lineup in the last two weeks. During the 13-game stretch, Granderson went .275/.420/.429 with three doubles, a home run, 10 walks and 16 strikeouts. The .420 on-base is especially encouraging. Unfortunately, he was cashed in just eight of 21 times he reached base. BBP hero, Marcus Thames, also stepped up in his expanded role as he has clubbed four home runs with a team-best 1.165 OPS in June. Both Magglio Ordonez and Ivan Rodriguez have also continued to swing the bat very well. After those four, the dropoff in June production is huge. The highest OPS outside of those four belongs to Placido Polanco at .797 and that is only because four of his eight hits have gone for extra bases. He is part of a large group playing below expectations lately. Chris Shelton remains mired in a colossal slump and seems eager to draw even with Dan Johnson in terms of production despite Johnson’s painfully slow start. Carlos Guillen wasn’t as bad as some of the others, but his OPS is low because just one of his nine hits during the stretch wasn’t a single. Several of his eight runs batted in proved key to the team. Alexis Gomez, Inge, Omar Infante, Craig Monroe, Ramon Santiago, and Vance Wilson have combined to hit .204 in June and have more or less been an smorgasbord of crap.

Starting Off Well
Of the starters, only Justin Verlander has struggled of late allowing 10 runs in his last two starts for an 8.18 earned run average. He earns at least a partial pass if not a full freebie given that he’s been tremendous in his rookie season and was due for a rough patch. Jeremy Bonderman, Zach Miner, Nate Robertson and Kenny Rogers put together six quality starts over their last eight absolving them from any significant blame in the 5-8 stretch. The bulk of the blame, as we all know, falls on the shoulders of the bullpen. Both closing candidates, Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney, did more harm than good allowing 12 runs in a 8 1/3 innings of work. Jason Grilli and Bobby Seay also struggled to get batters out adding to the pen problems. Only Jamie Walker and Joel Zumaya were consistently effective out of Chuck Hernandez‘s bullpen. Zumaya’s excellence may have earned him a shot at the closer’s job, but frankly I prefer him in the 7th and 8th inning high leverage situations.

So what now? After Tampa Bay, the team starts a big interleague stretch against the NL Central in which they should find themselves in position to win plenty of games (as with the 13-game stretch), but if the bullpen doesn’t straighten itself out and more than half of the lineup doesn’t start hitting or at least getting on base, then they will have their share of problems. Nothing in the 13 games screamed that this team is dead. There were times they lost their poise and subsequently the game, but I don’t think they were exposed as early season frauds. I will say this, if we as fans expect them want to contend through the Summer and into the Fall, a few moves are in order, especially at the plate. No part of me wants to see the Barry Bonds whispers come to fruition. I’d much rather acquire just about anyone else. Not only are his personality and attitude questionable at best, but his levels of production aren’t what they used to be as pitchers are learning that he is no longer the “must-walk” batter he used to be. Other quality candidates available via trade will emerge as the season pushes closer to the July 31st deadline and before even knowing who they may be, I already know I’m more comfortable with the team pursuing them over Bonds.

Tomorrow, we’ll play the second installment of the Pace Game.

Sunday: 06.11.2006

Jays Clipped.

The team took 2 of 3 from the Toronto Blue Jays with a convincing 10-5 victory. This is especially good news for readers because I will stop whining, at least for a few days. I’ll write about the entire series later. In the meantime, I’m headed to dinner before the season three premier of Entourage. I’ll end with some quotes from the show:

Ari Gold: We are gonna get drunk with Russell Crowe and we’re gonna head-butt some goddamn kangaroos.

Bob Saget leaves
Vincent Chase: Who the f**k was that guy?

Drama: The ultimate guy cry movie
Turtle: He cries in front of her, shows her he’s sensitive, bang! he moves right in.
Drama: His tears will basically act as a lubricant.

Ernesto: [intercom] Sorry, Lloyd. It’s a company car. Mr. McQuewick said I can’t give it to him.
Ari Gold: Can’t give it to me? Ernesto, how many f**king pesos did I give you for Christmas? Huh, Ernesto? Every Christmas for the past decade? Half of Mexico is eating on my tips that I have given you. Now bring my motherf**king car now, por favor!
Ernesto: [intercom] Sorry, Mr. Gold, I can’t do it. Oh, and Mr. Gold. I’m from Guatemala, and our currency is the Quetzal.

Ari Gold: That was a good speech, Lloyd. If only I were 25 and liked c**k, we could be something.

Ari Gold: Lloyd, pack up all my files. pile everything you see into a box. Everything. If you see a used condom and an executioner’s mask and a G*d-damned spiked paddle, don’t think — just pack that b**ch. Chop suey!

Ari Gold: Lloyd, get in here, I wanna make out with you!!!
Lloyd: Coming!

Friday: 06.9.2006

My Fault.

I clearly overrated this team. Yes, skids happen. Yes, you can’t win them all. But this is as unacceptable as it is pathetic. This team has definitely come a long way, but they aren’t nearly as good as I thought. My fault. When do we get Tampa Bay again?

Great pic from Kurt over at Mack Avenue Tigers that I’m going to steal, but give full credit for:

Friday: 06.9.2006

Another Salvaged Series.

At least the team took one. Off to Toronto to try and win a freakin’ series. Some still haven’t seen the grave importance of this stretch or maybe I’m overrating it. Time will tell, but it has been a disappointing run. Could be a homerfest this weekend at Rogers Center with some homer-happy offenses. I previewed Toronto before the Chicago series and it can be found here. I will likely drop a more substantial post before the weekend hits, but I finally got a job today so I might start celebrating early. Go Tigers!!!!!

Wednesday: 06.7.2006

I Are Scientists

I’m super-pissed about yet another close loss for my Detroit Tigers, but after seeing my favorite band, We Are Scientists in concert tonight at Stubbs, I’m in no mood (or condition) to go off on the ballclub. I’m not sure if any of my readers are W.A.S fans, but they were absolutely amazing!! I cannot believe they didn’t play “What’s the Word” though. I’m simply dumbfounded by that. They played 11 of the 12 songs on their debut album, With Love and Squalor, with the lone omission being arguably (likely) their best song. At any rate, I still loved the show. It was the second time I’ve seen them, but the first time being fully aware of the album. The last (first) time I saw them was at the end of SXSW with She Wants Revenge and I didn’t know any of their songs. From there, they become my favorite band and I’ve been jamming the hell out of them ever since.

Take a listen/look:

If, for some reason, you deem my music opinions worthy based solely on your enjoyment of the baseball portion of this blog and want to try out the CD, have at it… you’ll also be supporting BBP:

Wednesday: 06.7.2006

Alfonso Soriano: NL MVP?

With the injury to Albert Pujols, the National League Most Valuable Player is at least temporarily back up for grabs. Pujols can probably miss 3-4 weeks comfortably without losing the inside track to the award, but let’s examine another candidate if only to highlight the kind of season he is having. Washington Nationals leftfielder Alfonso Soriano has transitioned remarkably well into both a National Leaguer and an outfielder. Two and a half months ago, Soriano was refusing to play his new position in a preseason game for the Nats. Many predicted a turmoil-ridden stint in Washington that would likely end before the season ran out. Instead, Soriano is having a career year and actually receiving some accolades for his improved play in left. Neither Soriano nor the Nationals have discussed an extension, but you can bet that the team is far more interested in one than they were in the preseason.

With his 22nd home run last night, Soriano raised his pace for 2006 to 60, which would set a new career-best by 21 (2002). During the 2002 season, he was just one home run from becoming the 4th member of the 40 HR-40 SB club. If he maintained his current paces, he would be the lone member of the 60-30 club. In fact, he is on pace to set watermarks in home runs, runs batted in, walks, batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage:

Year Team AB R H HR RBI BB SB BA OBP SLG
2006 WAS 239 44 74 22 45 19 13 0.310 0.363 0.628
On Pace WAS 656 120 203 60 123 52 35 0.310 0.362 0.625
2005 TEX 637 102 171 36 104 33 30 0.268 0.309 0.512
2004 TEX 608 77 170 28 91 33 18 0.280 0.324 0.484
2003 NYY 682 114 198 38 91 38 35 0.290 0.338 0.525
2002 NYY 696 128 209 39 102 23 41 0.300 0.332 0.547
2001 NYY 574 77 154 18 73 29 43 0.268 0.304 0.432
2000 NYY 50 5 9 2 3 1 2 0.180 0.196 0.360
1999 NYY 8 2 1 1 1 0 0 0.125 0.125 0.500



But is it good enough for MVP consideration? First off, his Nationals are 26-33 and very unlikely to finish to the season above .500. Fair or not, that alone eliminates him from several ballots. Winning the MVP as part of a sub-.500 team just doesn’t happen. There are exceptions, most recently Alex Rodriguez nabbing the hardware as part of a 71-91 Texas Rangers team, but there have been too many cases where a superior player on an inferior team gives way to the leader of a winning team. Rodriguez once again comes to mind as he clearly outclassed Miguel Tejada in 2002, but Tejada’s A’s had 31 more wins and a playoff berth. So from the outset, Soriano is unlikely to get the proper consideration that his numbers warrant (should he hold/improve the pace of his numbers). Thus, we’re already engaging in a hypothetical situation.

Looking at it hypothetically allows us to examine the statistics that are typically overlooked in the voting process. First, let’s look at Win Shares. Hardball Times gives us a look at the leaders thus far:

(*note-I’ve eliminated Pujols, who is obviously first and also the pitchers assuming, maybe incorrectly, that the MVP will go to a hitter)

Through 5/26/06

Year  Last  First  Tm  Lg  Pos  Batting  Fielding  ExpWS  WSP  WSAB  TOT WS
2006 Berkman L HOU NL 1B 10 0.8 5 1.009 7 11
2006 Abreu B PHI NL OF 9.6 0.9 5 0.986 7 10
2006 Utley C PHI NL 2B 8.9 1.3 5 0.937 6 10
2006 Beltran C NYN NL OF 6.5 2.4 4 1.007 6 9
2006 Giles B SD NL OF 7.9 1.2 5 0.777 5 9
2006 Ensberg M HOU NL 3B 8.9 0.6 5 0.828 5 9
2006 Estrada J ARI NL C 5.1 2.7 3 1.019 5 8
2006 Winn R SF NL OF 5.7 2 5 0.667 4 8
2006 Lee C MIL NL OF 7.9 0.4 5 0.739 4 8
2006 Delgado C NYN NL 1B 7.2 0.8 5 0.721 4 8
2006 Cabrera M FLA NL 3B 7.1 0.6 5 0.725 4 8
2006 Lopez F CIN NL SS 6.7 1 5 0.652 4 8
2006 Jones A ATL NL OF 6.8 1.5 5 0.756 4 8
2006 Soriano A WAS NL OF 7.4 0.9 5 0.738 4 8
2006 Walker T CHN NL 1B 5.7 1.1 4 0.731 4 7
2006 Bonds B SF NL OF 6.7 0.5 4 0.883 4 7
2006 Wright D NYN NL 3B 6.6 1 5 0.666 4 7
2006 Johnson N WAS NL 1B 7.1 0.3 5 0.665 4 7
2006 Fielder P MIL NL 1B 6.6 0.6 5 0.685 4 7
2006 Roberts D SD NL OF 6 1.2 4 0.73 4 7
2006 McCann B ATL NL C 5 1.9 3 0.901 4 7
2006 Dunn A CIN NL OF 6.4 0.7 5 0.642 3 7
2006 Greene K SD NL SS 4.7 2 5 0.618 3 7
2006 Kent J LAN NL 2B 4.9 2.1 5 0.683 3 7
2006 Vidro J WAS NL 2B 5.8 0.9 5 0.639 3 7
2006 Hawpe B COL NL OF 5.7 1.4 5 0.678 3 7
2006 Reyes J NYN NL SS 6.2 1.3 6 0.623 3 7
2006 Kearns A CIN NL OF 5.9 1 5 0.617 3 7



Soriano finds himself in a tie for fourth with some elite company ahead of him; winning elite company. I wouldn’t be surprised if an updated version has Soriano closer to the top as he has hit .347 (16-for-46) with six home runs and 13 runs batted in since May 26th. While the numbers may change, the players involved will likely just be jockeying for position most of the season barring injury. Only a few standouts appear to be out of their league including Johnny Estrada, Todd Walker, Dave Roberts, and the now-injured Brian McCann.

The next non-standard statistic I like to look at when assessing the best of the best, is Baseball Prospectus’ VORP (Value Over Replacement Player). Defined by the site as: “The number of runs contributed beyond what a replacement-level player at the same position would contribute if given the same percentage of team plate appearances. VORP scores do not consider the quality of a player’s defense.” I have once again removed Pujols (#1 here as well) and give the next 10 through yesterday:

# NAME TEAM POS LG YEAR PA PA% AVG OBP SLG SB CS MLV PMLV VORP
2 Miguel Cabrera FLO 3b NL 2006 245 11.40% 0.349 0.437 0.593 6 1 28.5 23.8 32.5
3 Jason Bay PIT lf NL 2006 260 11.50% 0.305 0.427 0.614 5 1 27.0 21.1 30.0
4 Chase Utley PHI 2b NL 2006 259 11.50% 0.323 0.398 0.541 6 3 18.1 20.2 27.5
5 Alfonso Soriano WAS lf NL 2006 259 11.40% 0.310 0.363 0.628 13 7 24.0 18.2 25.8
6 David Wright NYN 3b NL 2006 255 11.10% 0.327 0.400 0.559 8 1 21.0 16.3 25.5
7 Nomar Garciaparra LAN 1b NL 2006 175 7.50% 0.363 0.423 0.624 2 0 21.5 17.0 24.3
8 Nick Johnson WAS 1b NL 2006 249 11.00% 0.296 0.415 0.539 5 2 19.4 13.0 23.0
9 Carlos Beltran NYN cf NL 2006 211 9.20% 0.266 0.389 0.572 8 2 14.2 14.5 21.4
10 Andruw Jones ATL cf NL 2006 248 10.80% 0.289 0.355 0.546 3 0 13.1 13.4 21.3
11 Edgar Renteria ATL ss NL 2006 230 10.00% 0.320 0.401 0.465 6 2 11.6 13.7 20.7



This is why Soriano refused to play left field. His value (over replacement) as a second baseman figures to be much higher than at a deeper, more offense-oriented position like left field. Given his production to this point, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that Soriano would be second to Pujols in VORP if he were still at 2nd base. He nearly edges Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley as a left fielder. Cabrera and Bay have the same team liability as Soriano playing on two of the worst teams in all of baseball.

Aside from the collection of traditional stats, Win Shares & VORP are, in my opinion, two of the best measures for judging for a Most Valuable Player. Last year, Pujols and Rodriguez both justified their wins by finishing atop their respective leagues in Win Shares. Pujols was 2nd to Derrek Lee is VORP. In 2004, three Yankees topped Vladimir Guerrero in WS, but only Gary Sheffield garnered significant consideration finishing second. Based on the early WS & VORP returns, I don’t think that Soriano is going to have a particularly strong case for the MVP in 2006… at least not the “real” baseball MVP.

His power-speed combination coupled with his eligibility at 2nd base make Soriano a fantasy baseball owner’s dream. As expected, he has provided the most valuable non-Albert fantasy season to date. My primary reason for doing this exercise was to see if I was blurring the lines between fantasy & real with my Soriano assessment. I was.

Tuesday: 06.6.2006

Are You Kidding Me???

This crucial stretch of games against top notch opponents goes from bad to worse with Alex Cintron‘s 3-run home run in the 8th inning giving the White Sox the first game of the series. I am very disappointed after tonight as this stretch really isn’t panning out at all how I had hoped. Must be that damned Sports Illustrated curse:

All along I have felt this period against New York, Boston, Chicago & Toronto was very important for the Tigers going forward. Unfortunately, they have fallen flat in their efforts to prove that they belong. What started as a great problem to have with two closers, morphed into a closer controversy when Todd Jones stopped being effective, but after tonight may have opened the door for someone entirely new to get a shot in the 8th-9th inning high leverage situations. Possibly Joel Zumaya. I know this team can play better in these tight situations, I just want them to show it.

Tuesday: 06.6.2006

UGH!

I have the incredible misfortune of being stuck with the Chicago White Sox announcers on mlb.tv for the Tigers-Sox game. Widely regarded as the worst in baseball, these two clowns are impossible to listen to during a game. Putting aside the blatant homerism, which is petty at best and painfully pathetic at worst, Hawk Harrelson and Darrin Jackson bring absolutely nothing to the table. If I had a team, I’d hire Bobcat Goldthwait and Fran Dresher before I’d let these two anywhere near a mic. Please tell me I won’t be stuck with them for all three games.

Tuesday: 06.6.2006

Pudge Leaves Early.

Catcher Ivan Rodriguez left the game against the Chicago White Sox after a strikeout in the 2nd inning. He apparently experienced some back spasms and is regarded as day-to-day. Like Billfer at DTW.com, I’ll push for BbP Superhero, Marcus Thames to bat third in Pudge’s absence. In the meantime, here’s hoping for a speedy recovery from Pudge!