Friday, June 28, 2013

Pitching in Question

Pitching for some reason eludes me sometimes. What should be a superstar pitcher sometimes fail while pitchers that should be left at AAA perform like a superstar. Uncanny as it may seem, Jesus Molina has been brought to our attention. Truth be told as Brian stated, is right on the mark. Like Jose, I would expect maybe a little more though.

I looked the coaches over during his life in the majors and didn't draw that much of a conclusion. The only fact I could really come up with there is he pitched differently in season 20 with a bullpen coach with better Discipline and Strategy. But the only thing he did better was allow fewer home runs then. So we can actually rule out coaches as a cause.

What did strike me was the configuration of the pitching staff this year. Four starters and 8 short relievers. I have seen this work but normally the starters can go at least 6 innings a start and with this staff that isn't a given. The high number of appearances, innings and pitches could be a little much for what his ratings suggest in a season.

What I did consider more importantly took a while to digest from his game logs. 7 blown saves and 0 saves seems a little hard to believe. It is actually tough to pick up a save when pitching in the 7th or 8th inning all the time. Also the fact that the rest of the pen staff other than the closer only have 7 between them. Another interesting concept is that he has one loss credited to him from his blown saves, his most recent outing. Above anything else, the 7 losses this season hurts more than the blown saves in this case.

As for his career, I see nothing out of the ordinary with 12 Saves in 52 chances. We would like to see it better or course but Saves don't exactly grow on trees for non-closers but blown saves do. Now, if he was a closer..... I would be very afraid.

What troubles me the most about Molina is his higher than expected OAV and WHIP. I would expect it to be in the .245/1.30 range with his ratings. Ok, so he has a history of being well over those marks. Still not sure you can pin that on the coaches either so I had to dig a little deeper. Catcher ERA is under 4.00 so that leaves them off the hook this season at least.

The left side of the infield defense is actually pretty porous if you ask me and that can be a bane to right handed pitchers. The LF isn't all that great either but their stats aren't showing the full defensive picture.  I had the same problem with my pitching staff at the beginning of the season. It got fixed  because of necessity more than anything else. Hey, if you look at my pitching staff right now, they are ranked 4th overall in the AL, not bad for this sorry lot and a last place team. I fixed the problem when Perez got tired of playing 1B and sent him down to AAA to recuperate. Basically I put a 3B in RF and a SS in LF, viola team started winning, of course it helps to have a GG CF also.

So there you have it in a nutshell, there is nothing wrong with Molina.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Filthy Forty

Yup, that is right, only 40 more games to go for some of us.  So who has the inside scoop on the playoffs.

AL East

The division crown is up in the air a bit. The Bees are on a 5 game tear and have distanced themselves from the pack a little. The Pheasants are hanging tough and are within striking distance, a far cry from previous seasons though. Fargo is on a L7 disappointment starting in El Paso and haven't recovered putting a huge damper on their chances.

AL North

Rochester looked as though they were going to run away but suddenly can't seem to get things in gear. New Britain has closed the gap and 3 games look doable but then again their schedule doesn't like them. Pawtucket is in the mix but can't seem to sustain momentum.

AL South

Richmond got off to a great start but since All-Star break just hasn't been the same. Even with Richmond playing dig days, Montgomery hasn't effectively taken advantage but has gained serious ground. Jacksonville knows they probably can't catch the other two but have their eyes focused on that last wild card spot. El Paso has won 17 of their last 23 and believe it or not have not gained much at all on anybody except the division leader. 

AL West

Salem can sleepwalk the rest of the season, 10 wins should seal the division crown and #1 seed already. Omaha and Boise are trying to keep pace with the wild cards. Ok City and
mcandrews deserves a little pat on the back, rookie season and more than likely will not lose 100 games.

NL North

Looks like the dream season for Toledo is falling apart as Buffalo and Scranton have caught up and are ready for a three way to the very end.  bigparb13 came in and saved the Ions bacon and could very easily still win 55 games, Congrats!

NL East

The Louisville Bats might be putting cork into the sticks as they breeze their way to the division crown. They are fighting for the #1 seed.  The rest of the division have their tail between their legs and licking their wounds.

NL South

Jackson hasn't seen a title in so long they don't know how to behave being in first but they better.  New Orleans is marching to their favorite Saint song as they near closer to Jackson. 

NL West

Vancouver is just a mere shell of previous seasons as they are struggling to keep a hold on first place and fight for the #1 seed. Las Vegas under new ownership has wormed their way into the playoff hunt as well as fighting for the division crown.  Seattle seems to be loving veggie lasagne on the menu.

NL may not be a happy place as the end draws nigh, 8 teams and only 6 spots. Someone is going home empty handed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

International Update

Joaquin Reyes was pinched by the Toledo Mud Hens for $5.3M. Listed as a CF but could be a better 2B which is what Toledo thinks also. Has good usable speed along with a good eye, contact and decent splits. The hitting abilities are marred by the lack of durability which could relegate him to the bottom of the order to maximize innings. A good buy.

 Vic Portillo was signed by the El Paso Diablos for $5.2M. Listed as RF but more inclined to think of him as a LF. Has a very good eye and power but lacks making contact with maybe above average splits. Most probably bought to strengthen hitting in the minors as he may or may not make the majors.

All eyes were being adjusted to the singing of Larry Nolan by the New Britain Rock Cats for $13M. His defensive catching skills aren't great but PC is good enough to overlook those inadequacies. Very good eye, power with decent splits and contact will make many pitchers to out think themselves. Now whether to use him as a catcher or DH may depend on personnel but will play in the majors for a very long time. Great acquisition.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Ball Parks

Light up the grill, toss the dogs on and cook them to a light blackened texture. That is the way I like my ball parks cooked, then splat on the mustard, ketchup and chopped up onions. Hmm I'm hungry now. Ooops wrong ball parks.

Basically there are three types of ball parks, hitters, pitchers and neutral. It takes time to actually understand the ramifications of the home ball park numbers. 81 games are played in the home park, winning 40 plus is a must to be successful. Ok City is an example of an extreme pitchers park, Rochester is a neutral park but really leans toward pitching a bit, while Durham has an extreme hitters park. Understanding the parks helps you to acquire the right type of players to be used when needed. 

OK City is the easiest to start with. Hitters need to have a good eye and contact, splits should lean in the high range also. Remember, home runs are not all that likely and doubles take a back seat also, therefore a walk is as good as a hit.  Singles and speed is the way to go. This is a place where those low durability power hitting monsters can come into play as they are only needed on the road. ("Only" may sound more absolute than necessary) Defense needs to stop the small ball, so a strong defense is always a good thing. Pitching can be a good mix of FB and GB with either strike out or finesse mixture. A starter with low control and high split and pitch combo can be rather successful in this park. Remember there are 81 games played at other parks that aren't as extreme and you must conquer them also.

Neutral parks would seem simple but they are not. Some of them lean toward the pitcher while some lean toward the hitters a little. Whether pitchers used are GB or FB is somewhat geared toward defense and owner preference usually. Most owners tend to find the big brutes to line the 3 thru 6 slots with OBP speed in the first two. 

Extreme hitters parks like Durham would seem tough but not really. I would think FB strikeout pitchers would be used on the road as it would be easy for them to serve up gopher balls. My thinking would look like this as to defense at a minimum. 4 overly skilled 2B's, one very good 1B and 2 good SS's with a heavy PC catcher. Might be a rather expensive line up to say the least but the defense must be good. Pitchers would need to be good and lean heavily toward GB but I have seen FB pitchers do well with a great defense. Power hitting is the object as you more than likely need to hit more home runs than the other team.

Transaction Deadline

The transaction deadline has passed. Basically all that means is a player must clear waivers if he is on the 40-man roster before he can be traded. These waivers are revokable, so don't forget to click the box. Be careful though when trying to claim a player off waivers, there are a shrewd lot out there that would love to dump a big useless salaried player.

The question for many teams is whether to go shopping or not. Play devils advocate so to speak, claim a player so he can only be traded to you thus blocking any future endeavor. I used to do that quite a bit when rebuilding a team but have since stopped, the reason I did is because bad teams get first choice. Playoff teams love to block also even though they aren't going to think about a trade most generally. The catch behind that is if you have the rights to the player in question all well and good, but trading for him is usually a losing proposition. So what if he is an All-Star caliber player, is he worth two or three future prospects to get him? Chances are he is either in the last year of his contract or will be arb eligible next year for big bucks.  Arb eligible isn't so bad I guess, at least you can sign him next season to a long term contract. On the other hand you might have given up a prospect or two that would be cheaper in the long run. Okay so you trade for that vet in the final year of his contract. Plans are to finish the year hoping he doesn't get hurt and either resign him to a long term extension, resign him next year to a long term contract or let him go to Free Agency. Doesn't matter if he was type A or B, what you gave up was probably better than the late round future picks you get in compensation. The answer I am trying to get across is be careful and make sure of those future plans as getting these players aren't going to be cheap.

The reason I say I am undecided at the shopping aspect is because I have looked at the standings. I might be last in the division and 25 games back  with 53 games to go there is absolutely no way to make that up. However, I actually have a decent team and believe it or not we are only 12 games behind the leading candidate for the last wild card spot. What I must decide is if we can win 35-40 games to secure that spot. That is asking a lot. Trading for two or three players would be even tougher on the future. One thing for sure, I have to decide quickly because I must get better at tanking to get a top 5 pick next year.

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Pitchers are the hardest lot to figure out sometimes.  They exist with a variety of options believe it or not.  Molding a staff is not as easy as it looks with starters, middle relievers, short setup and closers.

Normally there are two types of pitchers, off speed and strike out. Each is defined by their velocity where off-speed is below 50 and strike out is above 50. I actually break it down further and make strike out into two categories, hard and flame throwers.

The pitcher is further defined by their Stamina. High Stamina, 65+ is normally linked to a starter, middle reliever 40 to 65 while short setup and closer have a Stamina below 40. Durability further define their capabilities as this shows how quickly they can recover from an outing. Starters and middle relievers usually have a durability between 25 and 30 while setup and closers normally range anywhere from 40 to 100. There are some oddballs that show up from time to time with a real low durability or stamina. I like to acquire a sub 20 durability where the rest of his abilities have starter written all over them, they make a great setup B pitcher. While sub 20 stamina turn into specialists, I steer clear of those.

Next we will talk about anther type of configuration with fly ball (FB) or ground ball (GB). This is denoted by their GB/FB rating. Mostly ground ball is 50 and above while fly ball is below 50. Most GM's are not real picky on this matter, however there is something to note. If you have a bevy of FB pitchers, the outfield needs to be very rangy and have good gloves. Ground ball pitchers will need a strong defensive infield.

Most pitchers that reach the ML ranks normally have a very good control, some will only use 80 + is this rating. For me it depends on the rest of his ratings but normally I go with 80+ for starters at least if I can.  Below 50 they have a tendency to be wild and walk a lot of batters but can keep them off balance at the same time but are rarely consistent.

Next are the pitchers splits, well that is what we call them anyway. To me it is how lucky they are against left or right handed batters. These you want as high as possible of course, especially the right one. Lefties get a bad rap as they are normally in the 50's, good in the 60's, great in the 70's and super in the 80's. Don't know why but I have always had bad luck with lefties in the 60's.

Pitches are the last topic. The first two pitches are the most important and should be at least 80, 70. Short setup and closers normally only have two pitches where starters and middle relievers can have up to five.  It is always nice that starters have at least three good pitches in order high to low, the third pitch should be above 50 and nice to be in the 60's. It is not uncommon for a fourth pitch be low in 40's or 30's as we call that a throw away pitch. A five pitch guy might have that as his fifth pitch while the fourth is in the 40's or 50's. One thing you might (or will) have problems with is those that have pitches that are not in sequence from high to low, kinda jumbled up. They have a tendency to throw that throw away pitch for a strike and that strike has a tendency end up in the bleachers.

A couple things to remember is that high splits and pitches will cover a low control rating.  Very high control and pitches will cover somewhat low splits, under 50 may be too low though. High pitches can cover medium splits and control.  Home run hitters like strike out pitchers. Spray hitters love off-speed. A PC catcher (80+) is loved by all pitchers because it makes their pitches better.

Effect of coaches on pitchers is relatively easy. High pitching rating of course. A high discipline rating will cause a pitcher to throw more strikes, a good thing really but a little caution here, too high and he throws the junk for strikes also. A good strategy is also wanted. Goes for the bull pen coach also.

Just because a pitcher has a high ERA doesn't mean he is a bad pitcher. You need to look at other stats also like WHIP. The one I go by the most is OAV. That stat tells you how other teams are batting against him. If it is above .275, I constitute that as a problem. I battle that problem by putting him in the pen for awhile if he is a starter. If he is in the pen, try a different category, like setup B.  Could the catcher be causing the problem, wrong defense, I have seen a myriad of problems that boil down to just bad luck.

Interntionl News

Ivan Carrasco went to the bank with $15.7M of Redhawk money yesterday. That is a lot of dough for a kid that looks like an every day catcher. He really looks comfortable behind the plate though he has trouble concentrating on the ball at times, he might be thinking about the Playboy in his locker. At the plate he is a good hitter but not dramatic.

Those GM's that didn't have their eyes ogling Carrasco missed out on the opportunity to snag Omar Ordaz who went for the paltry sum of $17.3M. The Ions were worried? I imagine several teams did the same thing I did and put all their money in one bid and pray. Thinking it over, I may have been lucky not to get him. Yeah the scouts love him, but he is 20 and for some reason Internationals just don't develop well if they are not 18 here, not sure why. If he does develop however, he will definitely become a #1 starter even with his less than powerful velo. Is he Cy Young capable remains to be seen but it could happen.

Diablo Rebuild

I knew when I took over this team last year that it might be lengthy rebuild. The minors were pretty bare and in all reality still are. Other than rookies, all the talent is at AAA trying to lean how to play baseball. They might be in first place but they are still a motley crew at best. I figured by now I would have at least four players to build around, not sure I have even have two so far, so the rebuild is going to take longer than the three years I originally allotted. I do have a couple decent young players but I am waiting for some big contracts to expire on some sickly players. Speaking of which, have had to purchase some FA vets to supplement my minors recently as a rash of injuries had them riddles. The injuries might have been minor scrapes and bruises but it is tough playing short-handed. Haven't had to that in like forever with any team I've had.

 I picked up Michael Tamura off the waiver wire recently to maybe the disgruntled chagrin of Syracuse. He may not be much to take a chance on but has to be better than Carlos Sojo who was summarily escorted out of El Paso. Tamara didn't like hitting the waiver wire and from the looks of things was not impressed being picked up by this lowly franchise either.

Omar Mercedes is completing his second trip to the DL already this season. He may stay there until someone else happens to make a visit which has happened quite often this season already. Truth be told he pitches well if you can keep him in the game.

As usual for one of my teams, defense comes first.  The reason is simple, when you are rebuilding there is no use to lose games 20-0. We may be 10-18 in 1-run games but at least it shows they are trying. I was actually hoping to have 40 wins at All-Star break. As you can tell we didn't accomplish that goal, 36 is in the neighborhood. I am not sure whose neighborhood.

The last 20 games has me scratching my head again. We just came out of the NL rivalry contests where we lost some heart breakers and had to go to Salt Lake. I looked at the schedule and just shook my head and figured if we can win one here and there it wouldn't be so bad.  We pulled the stingers out of the Bees taking three of four, surprise. Home for some Pheasant hunting looked promising but dropping the first two was not entertaining, besides we usually beat up those turkeys late in the season. Figured a relaxing trip to Durham would get us rolling again. Remind me next time to take the ML club instead of the rookie squad, still suffering from PTSD over that series. Then it was off to Boise before having guests arrive in the form of Pawtucket and OK City. Taking seven of 10 from them was invigorating once again. 

Last year we played just over .500 ball to finish the year. Will the same thing happen again this year? Guess we will just have to wait and see.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Defensive Woes

A basic primer or refresher on defense is always a good subject.

A plus play occurs when a player makes an exceptional play where a normal contemporary at the position can not make. A minus play of course is just the opposite. In all reality for the purposes here, a plus play takes away a hit while a minus play gives up a hit. An error occurs when a player bobbles, fumbles, boots, drops, makes a bad throw..etc.

Now for the fun part is the ratings. The position assignment chart shows the big league averages for each player position.  They say average, I say bull, more like minimums. Range is normally the determining factor for making plus plays. Glove determines the catching part while the arm takes care of the throwing of course.

A rule here most accept is range over glove. The reason is if a player has a high range, the glove can be a little on the weak side as things will even out between plus plays and errors.

Arm needs to be minimums in both categories or preferably better for SS and 3B. Outfield arms can be on the weak side a little as missing the cutoff man is not an error. However, if they must make a play at the plate they tend to be offline quite a bit.

Catchers get their own little paragraph. A high glove stops the passed ball and limits errors.  Range is helpful in the wild pitch area with bad control pitchers and getting to bunts. A good arm slows down the stolen base attempts. Pitch calling helps the pitchers pitches.

Another factor we figured out in defense is the Fielding Instructor. He needs to have a strategy and discipline rating over 50 (truthfully over 60 in both) to be helpful to players along with the high glove rating. I always like a high patience rating also to teach the minor league position players.

One thing to remember is that all players will make an error, the object is to limit the amount of mistakes the best you can. Discovering a defensive problem is not always a cut and dry proposition either. Looking over the Team and Player Statistics carefully will generally reveal the problem, fixing it could be tough however.