Diamondbacks Fans: Give Thanks for Hazen

New Arizona VP and GM, Mike Hazen Courtesy: Fox Sports
New Arizona VP and GM, Mike Hazen
Courtesy: Fox Sports

Over the last several years, the Arizona Diamondbacks have had several people involved in running the organization into the ground. They’ve been through managers, having seen Kirk Gibson fired in 2014, Alan Trammell as interim, Chip Hale hired and fired, and, now, having first-year manager Torey Lovullo starting the 2017 season. The instability for this organization doesn’t just start and finish on the field, though. Since 2010, we’ve seen Josh Byrnes, Jerry DiPoto (interim), Kevin Towers, Dave Stewart, and newly-hired Mike Hazen, formerly with the Boston Red Sox, in the general manager role. After winning the 2011 NL West, the Diamondbacks have failed to finish over .500, though they have finished right at .500 twice during that span.

Still, all of the changes at the top have played a major role in the struggles of the organization. No one seemed to know which direction the club was actually heading. About three years ago, I wrote about Towers and his strange deals. When he dealt Justin Upton, Trevor Bauer (along with Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers), and Tyler Skaggs for Mark Trumbo, Didi Gregorius, Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, and a slew of fringy minor leaguers, the team never really cashed-in on anything, and most of those players are now long-gone from the organization or aren’t a large part of their future – a strange concept for a team that is still rebuilding

Last night, Hazen put his stamp on where this club is heading with a “blockbuster” (if you’d call it that), by dealing Jean Segura (the 22nd most valuable position player in baseball, based on WAR), Zac Curtis, and Mitch Haniger  to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte.

Segura is on to his 4th organization Courtesy: azsnakepit.com
Segura is on to his 4th organization
Courtesy: azsnakepit.com

Segura, 27 on Opening Day, will be replaced at shortstop by Marte, who was rushed to the majors by Seattle at the age of 21 in 2015 out of desperation to fill their shortstop hole with just 377 at bats above AA. He’ll play the 2017 season at the age of 23 and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until after the 2018 season. Segura had much more pop in his bat than Marte ever will, but Marte puts the ball in play and has solid speed, which is basically what Segura was in 2014 and 2015 before he had his second breakout season – if that is a thing – in 2016.

Hazen saved some money at shortstop, while acquiring Walker, a potential ace, for his pitching staff. Walker, long labeled full of potential, could make this deal look silly for Seattle if he actually reaches or fulfills that potential; however, we’ve been waiting on that for a few years now, even though Walker will be just 24 on Opening Day. If he can overcome injuries and become more consistent, a familiar statement for young pitchers, this is an easy win for the Diamondbacks, and Mike Hazen has already proven himself worthy of the job. If it crashes and burns, who cares? The Diamondbacks went 69-93 while Segura was a star in 2016, so it was worth the gamble.

Can Walker reach his potential in Arizona? Courtesy: Seattle Times
Can Walker reach his potential in Arizona?
Courtesy: Seattle Times

Mike Hazen had a lot more money to work with in his time with the Boston Red Sox. He may need to be a little more creative in landing talent in the desert, but the 40-year-old has a lot of respect in the game and will continue to put the Diamondbacks in a position to be successful, as long as ownership gives him the time necessary to turn it all around.

Be thankful, Diamondback fans. Mike Hazen finally has a plan for your team.

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Brandon Phillips: Staying Put…For Now

Well, Cincinnati did trade Todd Frazier, but they can’t seem to get anything done involving Aroldis Chapman and, now, Brandon Phillips.

So, at least for the time being, Cincinnati is “stuck” with their second baseman. While it doesn’t necessarily help the Reds to keep him, this isn’t time to tweet out stupidity, like:

That comes from the NATIONAL site of SBNation. Then, you have the everyday Joe dropping gems like:

and

or

Oh…the agony!

It is just as easy for people to say positive things, like:

Now, there may be someone worth going to see at Great American Ballpark.

It seems like people will only remember Brandon Phillips in Cincinnati for his tirade on C. Trent Rosecrans. I wasn’t a fan of that outburst, myself, but Phillips is more than the guy who made a mistake, and he shouldn’t be considered the guy who had a bad moment when you consider how much he does for the Cincinnati community. And, for that, you, or those of you, who want to rip him apart for not picking up his life and leaving, should reconsider.

Don't be an ass. Phillips has rights.
Don’t be an ass. Phillips has rights.

If Phillips didn’t want to be in Cincinnati, he didn’t need to sign a deal that kept him in Cincinnati through 2017. However, he wanted to be here and Cincinnati wanted him for the duration of the deal, otherwise, it is the Cincinnati ownership that you should be blaming. If they weren’t planning on building a contender, then they are the ones who should be considered selfish and don’t care about building a winner for the fans. It actually has very little to do with Brandon Phillips and his choices. If the Reds were fielding a great product from year-to-year, a player using a clause in his contract, as Phillips did with his no-trade option through his 10 and 5 rights, wouldn’t become such a monetary disaster for the franchise.

This is only compounded by the hellacious length and commitment owed to Joey Votto, who can veto any trade by Opening Day of 2018 with his own 10 and 5 rights.

Brandon Phillips turns 35 in June. He has been with the Reds since April 7, 2006, just before he turned 25. He has grown up and matured in Cincinnati. His game matured in Cincinnati. He had his success in Cincinnati. If he wants to end his career in Cincinnati, let him. He chose to be in Cincinnati just as much as the Reds wanted him here. If he was one of those players trying to leave for more money, he would be hated for that.

For once, a player commits to his love of his city over the money. We hate on him for it. If it was for the money over the city, we would have hated on him for that. Brandon Phillips isn’t selfish. Brandon Phillips is human. He has made his home in Cincinnati and he has the right to stay – thanks to the Players Association and not just his brain.

2014 MLB Free Agency: Hitting: What’s Out There For Your Team

Another season has finished and with only ten teams having successful, playoff-bound seasons, it is time for the other 20 teams to look forward to the 2014 season. After 162 games, you probably have a pretty good idea of what your team needs. Below, you’ll find a list of upcoming free agents. Who would you like your team to sign? Comment away!!!

CanoTop Tier Talents

Robinson Cano, 2B, 31: Although ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that Cano wants a ten-year, $305 million deal, it would seem nearly impossible for the middle infielder to get anything close to that, even when considering all of the television money coming in for clubs. How far are the Dodgers willing to go over the luxury tax threshold? Are the Angels willing to shell out more money to 30-plus year olds after watching Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols not live up to expectations? Everyone knows that the Yankees are trying to slim down their payroll…it just doesn’t seem likely. After watching Cano hit like a corner outfielder while playing second base over the last nine years, he is clearly the top talent available in the entire free agency market.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF, 31: Choo showed his worth by getting on base exactly 300 times in the 2013 season (162 hits,  112 walks, and 26 HBP) while reaching the 20 home run/20 stolen base level for the third time in his career, helping solidify a Cincinnati lineup that had been seeking a strong leadoff hitter for what seems like decades. He proved that he was at least capable of handling center field in Cincinnati, but his defensive metrics have been pretty miserable over his entire career wherever he plays, although, Choo can make up for it at times with his strong arm. Shin-Soo Choo will be highly coveted by outfield-needy clubs this offseason and those clubs will likely get several solid seasons out of the South Korean-born, on-base machine.

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, 30: Ellsbury had a fine season, leading MLB in stolen bases (52) while being a tremendous defensive center fielder. He will likely get paid huge dollars for his 2011 season (32 HR, 105 RBI, .928 OPS), even though his next best season was the 2013 season, when he hit nine home runs, drove in 53 runs, and posted a .781 OPS. More Michael Bourn than Matt Kemp, Ellsbury will be an asset due to his speed and defense as a strong outfield option, and while he doesn’t have the on-base skills that Choo possesses, he is a fine leadoff hitter.

Brian McCann, C, 30: McCann is going to be a rich, rich man. With the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Texas Rangers seeking help at catcher, he’ll have plenty of suitors. After reaching 20 home runs for the seventh time in eight full seasons despite playing in just 102 games, McCann has proven that his shoulder woes are behind him and that he can continue to be an offensive asset to a club going forward. Still pretty weak behind the dish (24-percent caught stealing this season and the same for his career), McCann’s bat will carry him and utilizing him in the American League at DH will do wonders for his career and whoever signs him.

McCannBest Available Catchers

McCann; John Buck, 33; Dioner Navarro, 30; A.J. Pierzynski, 37; Carlos Ruiz, 35; Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 29; Geovany Soto, 31;

There are some solid options available at catcher, here. McCann is obviously the top option with Saltalamacchia as the next best option. Navarro seems to have been around forever and the Cubs got a lot out of him this season while using him sparingly, posting an .856 OPS and 13 home runs over just 266 plate appearances, making him a somewhat attractive, cheaper option. The rest offer solid veteran depth, which has tremendous value with so many good young catchers in the league.

AbreuBest Available Corner Infielders

Jose Dariel Abreu, 27; Corey Hart, 32; Mike Napoli, 32; James Loney, 30; Kendrys Morales, 30; Justin Morneau, 33; Mike Morse, 32; Eric Chavez, 36; Mark Reynolds, 30; Michael Young, 37;

Abreu is the highly-coveted Cuban defector, full of power and mystique, who will likely get a Yasiel Puig-like contract, maybe better. Several solid veterans are available who can handle first base, many of them (Hart, Napoli, and Morneau, in particular) having some injury concerns. With the right type of deal, any of these players could provide tremendous value to a club seeking leadership, while having enough talent remaining to be productive as platoon options, starters, or multi-position use (1B/DH primarily).

Best Available Middle Infielders

Cano; Stephen Drew, 31; Rafael Furcal, 36; Omar Infante, 32; Kelly Johnson, 32; Jhonny Peralta, 32; Brian Roberts, 36; Brendan Ryan, 32;

Cano is the true treat here, but former All-Star talents exist, although several of them have been and will continue to be risky due to injury histories. Like many of the corner infielders that are available this winter, there are several players who could provide solid production, but it could come with a limited role as a platoon player while providing the old phantom value that comes with being a strong veteran with clubhouse presence.

Choo3Best Available Outfielders

Carlos Beltran, 37; Marlon Byrd, 36; Choo; Nelson Cruz, 33; Rajai Davis, 33; Ellsbury; Jeff Francoeur, 30; Curtis Granderson, 33; Corey Hart, 32; Raul Ibanez, 42; Mike Morse, 32; Juan Pierre, 36; Grady Sizemore, 31; Delmon Young, 28;

There could be tremendous value in the outfield this winter, as teams will be able to get aging veterans like Ibanez (if he comes back), Beltran, or Byrd, all having excellent 2013 seasons, at an affordable, short-term deal. At the same time, Cruz, Granderson, Hart, and Young could post numbers that would make them equals to the top players available (Choo and Ellsbury) if everything breaks right.

My Reaction: James Paxton Debut

James Paxton, the Seattle Mariners 4th round pick in the 2010 MLB Draft (after being taken in the 1st round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2009 and not signing), made his debut against the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

First Inning

  • The Rays broadcast was saying his fastball fluctuates 7 mph throughout the game, but it was sitting 94-95 mph in the first inning, touching 97, which would make him a pretty dynamic starter, even if it is as a No.3 or No.4 starter, as it appears that he would be in Seattle behind Felix Hernandez and Taijuan Walker down the road.
  • Paxton’s breaking ball was bouncing a lot in the first, but his release point looked consistent from the couch.
  • 14-pitch first, which isn’t bad in a debut. Two ground-ball outs.

Second Inning

  • Mid-90’s in the second still, hitting 96 on Wil Myers.
  • He got behind Myers 3-1 with several very close fastballs (nothing but fastballs in the six-pitch at-bat), but came back and got the ground out to third.
  • Relying heavily on the fastball in the second after bouncing nearly every off-speed pitch that he threw in the first.
  • Hit 98 on a fastball against James Loney, who then lined the next pitch to left on a 3-1 count.
  • Finally threw a big, looping curve for a strike in the second to Sean Rodriguez, following that with a high and tight 97 mph fastball.
  • Really off with the off-speed stuff, which is why he’s relying so much on the fastball.
  • Walked Rodriguez. Inconsistent with release, almost aiming.
  • Three ground-ball outs in the second. Even with the inconsistency in his secondary stuff to this point, Paxton has good downward plane on the fastball, which is making the Rays hitters pound the ball into the ground.
  • 24-pitch second inning for Paxton but even with the hit and the walk, it was good to see him overcome that and continue attacking the zone.

Third Inning

  • Two-pitch at-bat for Yunel Escobar, who, shockingly, grounded out.
  • Very nice breaking ball (85 mph) to Desmond Jennings in the dirt, who will go down as Paxton’s first career strikeout…on three pitches.
  • One-two-three inning as Ben Zobrist hits the ball hard to Michael Saunders for the final out.
  • All of seven pitches to get through the third inning as Paxton continues to show solid velocity and seems to be getting more comfortable with the breaking ball release; although, he is still using it very sparingly.
  • Six of nine outs via the ground-ball variety.

Fourth Inning

  • Evan Longoria jumped on a first-pitch fastball – ground-out to Kyle Seager at third.
  • Looks like an 88-90 mph changeup that Paxton has, rather than the seven mph difference mentioned earlier, but it isn’t very sharp and it looks like it is aimed.
  • High flyball to Raul Ibanez by Delmon Young for the second out.
  • Paxton still is pounding the fastball down against right-handed hitters. With the velocity, the Rays seem overwhelmed.
  • A fastball up to Myers driven to left for a base hit.
  • Good, 79 mph breaking ball to Loney to start off the at-bat. followed by a good 96 mph fastball down in the zone.
  • Ground-ball to Nick Franklin for out number three.
  • 12-pitch fourth for Paxton.

Fifth Inning

  • Paxton started the fifth by working around Sean Rodriguez again, nibbling the outside corner with several fastballs before striking him out with a 97 mph heater.
  • Curveball is looking much more impressive – Jose Lobaton‘s swing at the offering was not very impressive. A couple of pitches after flailing at the curve, Lobaton grounded out to Franklin at second.
  • I saw three breaking balls in the inning and they were all strikes. He got Escobar to ground out to third.
  • 15-pitch inning. 2 K’s, 1 BB, 2 H, 10 ground-ball outs through five solid innings.
  • Still sitting 94-97 with the fastball at 72 pitches (46 strikes).

    Six Inning  

 

  • Paxton seems more confident in his stuff without trying to overpower hitters, as he is sitting on the outside corner at 94 pretty consistently…then comes inside and gets Jennings to groundout to short.
  • Zobrist pounds it into the ground to Seager at third, but a throwing error allows him to reach first.
  • After falling behind 2-0 to Longoria, Paxton gets a visit from Mike Zunino, goes fastball inside (94), and 95 in Longoria’s wheelhouse for a long home run.
  • Paxton regains his composure and strikes out Delmon Young on a good breaking ball in the dirt.
  • Pitch number 89 was 96 mph to Wil Myers. Still bringing good velocity.
  • Myers blooped it to right and it hits off of Justin Smoak‘s glove while Smoak’s right knee clipped Nick Franklin’s head…scary injury.
  • Loney follows Myers hit with a long fly-ball to Saunders for the final out.

 

    After six innings and 95 pitches, it is safe to say that Paxton’s debut was very solid. His final line:  

PaxtonSolid fastball and occasionally solid curveball out of Paxton during his debut. It seems as though he’ll get a much longer look in the rotation over the rest of the 2013 than Taijuan Walker, who will likely be shutdown after his start next week.

Paxton has the stuff to be a solid, innings-eater in the middle of a rotation, but if he were to find more consistency with his stuff, he could be a No.2 starter. A 94 to 97 mph fastball is very good for any pitcher, but that type of velocity out of a left-handed pitcher is downright sexy. He had 11 ground-ball outs tonight, pounding his fastball down in the zone. His curveball wasn’t consistent enough to warrant a lot of praise, but if he finds more consistency out of both the curve and the changeup (which wasn’t very useful or present tonight at 88 to 90 mph), he could be very useful to the rebuilding Mariners.

After tossing 145.2 innings in Triple-A, Paxton should be a fixture in the Seattle rotation in 2014. While he is still a work in progress, The stuff is there to be effective in the majors. Tonight was a very good debut for the 24-year-old left-hander, but there is still some work needed for the powerful southpaw.

In Case You Haven’t Noticed…

It’s late in the baseball season and there are a lot of things that could be distracting you, such as following up on Johnny Manziel’s battle with the NCAA, completing your 21 fantasy football drafts, and wondering who will be Ace or Gary when you attend a Halloween party as the Incredibly Gay Duo. While all of those things are important, I present to you the world of baseball that you may have missed due to your fascination of Miley twerking.

  • SorianoYankees’ left fielder Alfonso Soriano leads MLB with 42 RBI and is tied with Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for the lead in home runs (13) since the All-Star break. The Yankees are 21-16 since Soriano returned to New York and the Yanks are 2.5 games behind Tampa for the second Wild Card spot with 23 games remaining, including seven games against Boston (a four-game series begins today in New York) and three against the Rays.
  • New Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd is leading the majors in total bases since the All-Star break with 101 (he is tied with teammate Andrew McCutchen and San Diego outfielder Will Venable), and he is tied with Minnesota Twins shortstop Brian Dozier for extra-base hits since the break with 26. Byrd will look to continue his torrid pace in helping lead the Pirates to the NL Central title after the Buccos have already guaranteed their fans with the club’s first winning season since 1992.
  • Washington Nationals’ outfielder Jayson Werth looked like a total waste of a seven-year, $126 million deal after his horrendous first season, 2011, in the nation’s capital, but he has hit .311/.392/.487 over the last two seasons while battling various injuries. If Werth continues his production next season and the Nats get a full, healthy season out of Bryce Harper and their very good pitching staff, the letdown from 2013 will be all forgiven in 2014 with an improved season. Werth, by the way, is 8th in MLB in OPS (.920).
  • Toronto outfielder Rajai Davis doesn’t receive a lot of praise or playing time, but he has 40 stolen bases in just 93 games. With his .313 OBP, Davis has made an appearance on the bases just 93 times in 301 plate appearances. When you take away the two triples and four home runs (since he hasn’t stolen home and he can’t steal a base after a home run), it means that Davis has successfully stolen a base in 46 percent of his appearances on base. With his speed, who needed to wait for Billy Hamilton for an impact base runner?
  • Davis2There are only six players with 30 or more home runs (Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Pedro Alvarez, Paul Goldschmidt, and Adam Dunn) after 22 players reached the tier in 2012 and 24 players reached in 2011. With 17 players within six homers or reaching 30, and several within that group unlikely to do so (I’m looking at you J.J. Hardy and the injured Domonic Brown), the top-tier of sluggers appears to be a very rare breed with pitching being so dominant.

Speaking of pitching…

  • Max Scherzer is sitting at 19-2, but the names of other starting pitchers ranked near the top in wins is quite surprising: Jorge De La Rosa (16), Francisco Liriano (15), Chris Tillman (15), and Bartolo Colon (14) rank in the top eight in the strange statistic. While some writers will look at the win as valuable in determining who should win the Cy Young, it clearly has little use in determining who has been the best pitcher.
  • It’s somewhat disappointing to see numbers fall with the drop in velocity, but that is exactly what has happened to former Cy Young favorites like Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.59 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) and C.C. Sabathia (13-11, 4.86 ERA, 1.35 WHIP). With the fall from grace, though, has come exciting young arms like Jose Fernandez, Shelby Miller, Julio Teheran, and Matt Harvey (R.I.P.). Unfortunately for the aging arms, it doesn’t appear to be getting better, as Sabathia has a 6.88 ERA in the second half, while Verlander has a more respectable 3.77 ERA since the break.
  • FernandezSpeaking of those young arms and specifically Jose Fernandez, the young, Cuban-born right-hander has been filthy in the second half. His 0.83 WHIP is tops among all starting pitchers and the 70:13 K:BB in 54 innings is downright nasty. With the Marlins possibly looking to deal their only source of offense, Giancarlo Stanton, this winter, Fernandez will likely continue to post ridiculous numbers without wins going forward, although he has won five games since the break.
  • For all of those still sitting back and waiting for Chris Sale‘s arm to explode, it hasn’t happened. The White Sox ace has been even better in 2013 than he was last season, posting a 2.97 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP while improving his strikeout rate AND his walk rate on a per nine inning basis. After being locked up for five-years, $32.5 million (with team options totalling $26 million over 2018 and 2019), the Pale Hose look very wise in their string-bean investment.
  • R.A. Dickey‘s knuckleball didn’t carry over to the AL East. The veteran right-hander has a 4.30 ERA and 1.27 WHIP after posting a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from 2010 through 2012 with the New York Mets. The small parks, the strong teams, and the patient hitters are all a factor in the decline, but when you don’t really know which way the ball is going when using a trick pitch, that kind of makes things difficult, too.
  • DarvishYu Darvish is having an absolutely stupid season. He leads MLB with his 12.0 K/9 and he has struck out 240 of the 722 batters that he has faced (33.2 percent). While some Cy Young voters will look at Scherzer’s 19 wins and look stupid years from now, it is the unhittable Darvish, who has allowed 124 hits in 179.2 innings and a .192 BAA, who deserves the award.

Give Me More Mike Marshall

Rivera1The Major League Baseball bullpen is a place that is littered with flamed out former starting pitchers, pitchers who have a niche for getting a certain type of player out when matched up properly, and guys that get paid millions of dollars to close out games, utilizing the false value of the save statistic to present himself as valuable within the game.

Certainly, the top closers in baseball history have had value to their teams, but how much? Consider the top 10 relief pitchers in the save category in baseball history:

Name Saves Games Innings Pitched IP/G
Mariano Rivera 645 1092 1217.2 1.11
Trevor Hoffman 601 1034 1089.1 1.05
Lee Smith 478 1015 1252.1 1.23
John Franco 424 1119 1245.2 1.11
Billy Wagner 422 853 903 1.06
Dennis Eckersley 390 710 807.1 1.14
Jeff Reardon 367 880 1132.1 1.29
Troy Percival 358 702 707.2 1.01
Randy Myers 347 716 814.1 1.14
Rollie Fingers 339 899 1553.1 1.73
Courtesy: kffl.com
Courtesy: kffl.com

Rollie Fingers pitched in a different era, but you could say the same for Lee Smith and Jeff Reardon. Relief pitchers used to pitch more innings and they were more valuable to their clubs because of their extended  appearances. When Fingers led the league in saves in 1977 with 35, he made 78 appearances and pitched 132.1 innings (1.7 IP/G) while facing 543 batters. Last season, Craig Kimbrel led the NL in saves, 42, while making 63 appearances and pitching 62.2 innings (0.99 IP/G) while facing 231 batters. How much more valuable could he have been for Atlanta last season by pitching 1.11 IP/G?

He would have reached just 70 innings but Kimbrel was striking out 16.7 K/9, so he could have struck out an additional 13-14 batters, which could have killed another rally or won the Braves another couple of games. If Kimbrel was worth 3.3 WAR last year and he had taken innings away from Jonny Venters, who had a 0.4 WAR, his WAR could have increased to 3.6, which may or may not have counted in the wins column, but why wouldn’t you want your best reliever in a game in the most valuable moments?

Marshall1Which leads us to former journeyman relief pitcher Mike Marshall. Marshall won the Cy Young award in 1974 when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He made 106 appearances, led the NL with 21 saves, and pitched a whopping 208.1 innings out of the bullpen! Sure, the league leader in innings pitched in 1974 was Nolan Ryan, who made 41 starts and accumulated 332.2 innings with his 26 complete games, but the next closest pitcher in appearances was Burt Hooten, who had 48.

Marshall pitched in exactly 700 games out of the bullpen (he made 24 career starts) and he pitched 1259.1 innings, good for 1.8 IP/G. For all of those failed starting pitchers who sit in bullpens around the league, why aren’t more teams utilizing them differently? What if pitchers who dominate in earlier innings but struggle later in the game were able to pitch two to three times each week out of the bullpen with a four-man rotation?

For example:

Jose Quintana, the Chicago White Sox left-hander, has a 2.73 ERA over his first 75 pitches in a game. After that point, Quintanta has a 6.26 ERA.

A.J. Griffin, the Oakland Athletics right-hander, has a 3.08 ERA over his first 75 pitches in a game with a 5.74 ERA from pitch 76 on.

Tyler Chatwood, the Colorado Rockies right-hander, has a 2.94 ERA over his first 75 pitches, followed up by a 4.11 ERA from pitch 76 on.

Even more prolific starters fall into this type of split:

Madison Bumgarner – first 75 pitches 1.99 ERA, 76+ pitches 5.24 ERA

Mat Latos – first 75 pitches 2.37 ERA, 76+ pitches 4.53 ERA

Obviously, as a starting pitcher goes deeper into the game, they are likely to get tired, but the multiple times that the hitters see the pitchers will impact the success of the opposition, as well. However, why aren’t there more teams utilizing their 25-man roster differently?

The Minnesota Twins utilize Anthony Swarzak in a Marshall-like role, as he has pitched 73 innings over 37 appearances (1.97 IP/G) and the Arizona Diamondbacks do the same with Josh Collmenter, who has pitched 78.1 innings over 37 appearances (2.18 IP/G), but with so many extra inning games and the need to roster flexibility, why aren’t more teams going to a five or six man bullpen featuring rubber arms that can be used for several innings per appearance?

Chapman2Sure, teams need to be careful with their investments and the days of your starters tossing 300 innings and 25 or more complete games in a season are long gone, but why waste a roster spot on a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) when you can utilize your other arms in a different way? With all of these young starters, like Stephen Strasburg last year and Matt Harvey this year, reaching innings limits, wouldn’t the Marshall-like relief pitcher help a team keep that solid, young arm effective into the playoffs by keeping outings short?

The one inning closer may not ever go away again, Lord knows that agents and the Players Union wouldn’t be too keen on the idea of eliminating the role, but maybe paying big-time money to a pitcher that doesn’t impact a significant part of the game wouldn’t be such a bad idea for clubs. Do you think Aroldis Chapman tossing two to three innings per outing would be good or bad for the Reds, especially during a Latos start based on the statistics above?

Braun’s Statement and a Blogger’s Reaction

Braun1On Thursday night, Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun broke his month-long silence after being suspended for the remainder of the season on July 22 for violating MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program when he released this statement:

Now that the initial MLB investigation is over, I want to apologize for my actions and provide a more specific account of what I did and why I deserved to be suspended. I have no one to blame but myself. I know that over the last year and a half I made some serious mistakes, both in the information I failed to share during my arbitration hearing and the comments I made to the press afterwards.

I have disappointed the people closest to me — the ones who fought for me because they truly believed me all along. I kept the truth from everyone. For a long time, I was in denial and convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong.

It is important that people understand that I did not share details of what happened with anyone until recently. My family, my teammates, the Brewers organization, my friends, agents and advisors had no knowledge of these facts, and no one should be blamed but me. Those who put their necks out for me have been embarrassed by my behavior. I don’t have the words to express how sorry I am for that.

Here is what happened. During the latter part of the 2011 season, I was dealing with a nagging injury and I turned to products for a short period of time that I shouldn’t have used. The products were a cream and a lozenge which I was told could help expedite my rehabilitation. It was a huge mistake for which I am deeply ashamed and I compounded the situation by not admitting my mistakes immediately.

I deeply regret many of the things I said at the press conference after the arbitrator’s decision in February 2012. At that time, I still didn’t want to believe that I had used a banned substance. I think a combination of feeling self righteous and having a lot of unjustified anger led me to react the way I did. I felt wronged and attacked, but looking back now, I was the one who was wrong. I am beyond embarrassed that I said what I thought I needed to say to defend my clouded vision of reality. I am just starting the process of trying to understand why I responded the way I did, which I continue to regret. There is no excuse for any of this.

For too long during this process, I convinced myself that I had not done anything wrong. After my interview with MLB in late June of this year, I came to the realization that it was time to come to grips with the truth. I was never presented with baseball’s evidence against me, but I didn’t need to be, because I knew what I had done. I realized the magnitude of my poor decisions and finally focused on dealing with the realities of-and the punishment for-my actions.

I requested a second meeting with (MLB) to acknowledge my violation of the drug policy and to engage in discussions about appropriate punishment for my actions. By coming forward when I did and waiving my right to appeal any sanctions that were going to be imposed, I knew I was making the correct decision and taking the first step in the right direction. It was important to me to begin my suspension immediately to minimize the burden on everyone I had so negatively affected — my teammates, the entire Brewers organization, the fans and all of MLB. There has been plenty of rumor and speculation about my situation, and I am aware that my admission may result in additional attacks and accusations from others.

I love the great game of baseball and I am very sorry for any damage done to the game. I have privately expressed my apologies to Commissioner Selig and Rob Manfred of MLB and to Michael Weiner and his staff at the Players’ Association. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from them. I sincerely apologize to everybody involved in the arbitration process, including the collector, Dino Laurenzi, Jr. I feel terrible that I put my teammates in a position where they were asked some very difficult and uncomfortable questions. One of my primary goals is to make amends with them.

I understand it’s a blessing and a tremendous honor to play this game at the major league level. I also understand the intensity of the disappointment from teammates, fans, and other players. When it comes to both my actions and my words, I made some very serious mistakes and I can only ask for the forgiveness of everyone I let down. I will never make the same errors again and I intend to share the lessons I learned with others so they don’t repeat my mistakes. Moving forward, I want to be part of the solution and no longer part of the problem.

I support baseball’s Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Program and the importance of cleaning up the game. What I did goes against everything I have always valued — achieving through hard work and dedication, and being honest both on and off the field. I also understand that I will now have to work very, very hard to begin to earn back people’s trust and support. I am dedicated to making amends and to earning back the trust of my teammates, the fans, the entire Brewers’ organization, my sponsors, advisors and from MLB. I am hopeful that I can earn back the trust from those who I have disappointed and those who are willing to give me the opportunity. I am deeply sorry for my actions, and I apologize to everyone who has been adversely affected by them.

Braun2Holy cow! Could he have said more to say the few words that he needed to say: “I made a mistake. I regret the decisions that I have made, the people who were affected by my actions, and I am deeply sorry for all of the lies that impacted the lives of fans, teammates, my family, friends, the organization, and the league.” Even taking the machismo way out and, as my friend Sid said, state: “I’m sorry. I lied. None of my handlers knew I lied. I did it again. Forgive me. Pete Rose Gambled. Dock Ellis pitched on acid. Ty Cobb was a racist. And Mickey Mantle was a drunk. All I wanted to do is play.”

Here’s the thing…missing a month of anything that you love can make you reflective, but has it changed Ryan Braun? Is he going to be more humble, more honest, and a harder worker, or is he the monster that attacked the integrity and livelihood of Dino Laurenzi, Jr., a lowly urine collector? Can Ryan Braun repair the damage that he has done to the Brewers organization, who have another $133 million (including the $20 million option in 2021) remaining in their investment?

The continuation of Braun’s unwillingness to accept his guilt until the realization of his pending suspension speaks volumes to the self-righteousness, which he refers to, within sports. In baseball, we see players assume that they are above the law while using steroids. In other sports, we see players conducting murders, drug deals, beating their wives and girlfriends, and raping women, which makes the problems that continue within baseball seem minuscule, but all of these things are still bad for the individuals sports, but, in particular, society.

Athletes are given money  and fame that they just can’t seem to handle. Look at what Johnny Manziel is going through from his monster freshman season in college football last year, capped by winning the Heisman Trophy – Manziel signing autographs and partying is now followed by ESPN and TMZ like the paparazzi follows Miley Cyrus and Kim Kardashian. The spotlight is overwhelming and the desire to fulfill expectations as a leader and elite member of society is more valuable than leading a normal, happy life. Why settle for being a solid major league regular when you can have a cream or a lozenge to get you an MVP award and a nine-figure extension?

Braun fell into the trap, where the long-term goal of banking was more important than doing the right thing. The money involved in sports is asinine. No human being is worth $20 million per season, especially to play a game, and while there are revenue streams and billionaires who are capable of paying their players these types of exorbitant contracts, does that make it right?

HernandezI feel like sports are full of people like Braun, who will do whatever they need to do to get to the top, at any cost (including their own body), to reach their full earning potential during their brief careers. This redundant rhetoric seems all too common in our current elitism society. This apology will satisfy some, but to me, it is just more B.S. from another scumbag who was willing to throw anyone under the bus but himself for his actions.

While I am not against voting in players from the steroid era into the Hall of Fame, I also feel like that era is over with, as it wasn’t being policed during Barry Bonds‘ hey-day. Braun, to me, cheated when he knew that testing was on-going, and, while I feel that MLB is to blame for the rampant use in the 1990’s and early-2000’s in an effort to draw more fans after the 1994 strike, the blame now lies on the players for making the choice to cheat.