Thursday, June 3, 2010

Setting the Record Straight

By now, anyone that follows baseball knows that Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was robbed of a perfect game last night on a bad call by umpire Jim Joyce. If you are not aware of what happened, you can read game reports at Yahoo Sports and The short version is Armando Galarraga was one out away from pitching a perfect game when umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called the Cleveland hitter safe at first. What should have been the last out of a perfect game masterpiece instead will forever be remembered for the horrible call that denied a young pitcher of a place in baseball immortality. This call was the topic of discussion on ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike radio show this morning but the discussion wasn't only about the missed call in last night's Tigers - Indians game. Jim Joyce's mistake opened the door to revisit Don Denkinger's missed call in the 1985 World Series. The radio hosts and guests erroneously pointed out that Denkinger's call cost the St. Louis Cardinals the 1985 World Series. Today's entry is an effort to once again set the record straight on Denkinger's call.

When Jim Joyce called Jason Donald safe last night the perfect game was lost. No matter what Armando Galarraga did from that point forward he had no chance to restore the perfect game. The umpire's blown call irrevocably cost Galarraga a place in baseball history. What many fans and people in the media fail to realize is this is not what happened the to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Two years ago, I wrote an entry on Game 6 of the 1985 World Series telling Cardinals fans to stop whining about Don Denkinger call costing them the World Series. If you are one that believes the mythology that Don Denkinger's missed call is the reason the Royals won the 1985 World Series, check out "Stop Crying Cardinals Fans." Unlike Galarraga last night, the umpire's missed call in the 85 Series did not irrevocably rob the Cardinals of a championship. Denkinger's call had nothing to do with the routine foul ball that Jack Clark and Darrell Porter didn't catch, the wild pitch that Todd Worrell uncorked, or the Cardinals unprofessional performance in game 7.

Jim Joyce's call was a permanent denial of Armando Gallaraga's effort to pitch a perfect game. Sadly for Gallaraga, he didn't have a chance to redeem himself after the call. The Cardinals had many chances after Denkinger's call and blew each one of them. Gallaraga can place the blame on Joyce. The Cardinals had no one to blame but themselves.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brian Bannister

In a recent interview Brian Bannister did with Baseball Prospectus Radio he discussed how he uses statistical analysis to evaluate his pitching, photography, Billy Butler, and warns everyone to NEVER tough Kyle Farnsworth's glove. All baseball fans will enjoy listening to this 13 minute interview.

Baseball Prospectus Radio.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Playing the Game the Right Way???

Yesterday afternoon I watched the Royals play the Rangers and was disappointed to see the type of baseball the Royals are still playing. Behind Luke Hochevar's outstanding performance the Royals did win the game, but the Royals approach showed me they are mired in a philosophy that will not consistently produce runs or victories.

In the third inning with the score tied 1-1, Mike Aviles lead off with a double and the 3-4-5 hitters were coming up. The Royals were in position to have a big inning but they chose to implement a strategy that prevented them from scoring multiple runs, all in the name of "playing the game the right way."

Billy Butler followed Aviles. Butler has mashed the ball all season, posting a .358/.395/.511 line. But Butler did not try to drive the ball or hit it hard. His goal was not to get a base hit. Instead, Butler shortened his swing in an effort to push the ball to the right side of the infield. The result was a weak ground out to first base which advanced Aviles to third. The moment the ball left Butler's bat, Royals television announcers Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White began to praise Butler for "getting the job done." They talked about Butler "giving himself up" and doing a good job of "rolling over and hitting the ball to the right side." Lefebvre and White's babble was enough to make any intelligent baseball fan ill. The reality is the Royals had one of their top hitters make a weak out for the sake of advancing a runner that was already in scoring position.

Jose Guillen followed Butler and hit a routine fly ball to left field scoring Mike Aviles. As Aviles was crossing the plate Lefebvre exclaimes "that was GREAT situational baseball by the Royals." Alberto Callaspo grounded out to end the inning and the Royals scored one run.

I'm sure Dayton Moore and Ned Yost viewed that inning as Ryan Lefebvre and Frank White, as a huge success. The truth is the Royals are continuing to ignore valid statistical research in a attempt to play their misguided version of fundamental baseball. I'm sure Texas manager Ron Washington was grateful that Butler didn't try to drive the ball and was willing to weakly ground out. I'm sure Texas pitcher Scott Fieldman, looking at facing Butler, Guillen, and Callaspo with a runner in scoring position and no outs, was thankful to get out of the inning allowing only one run.

There is a time to play for one run. If a near automatic out like Chris Getz or Willie Bloomquist is coming to bat or late in a ball game when one run decides the outcome. But the third inning of a 1-1 game with the heart of the order coming up is not the time. Sadly, the inning I described is Kansas City Royals baseball and an indication the Royals are basing their philosophy on old-school mythology.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Does Anyone Still Believe in Dayton Moore?

Royals GM Dayton Moore fired manager Trey Hillman yesterday. This entry is not to criticize Moore for firing Hillman. It has been well chronicled in the mainstream media and in the blogs that Hillman was in over his head as Royals manager. But to place more than a fraction of the blame for the Royals struggles on Trey Hillman is wrong because Dayton Moore is the one responsible for the continued downward spiral of the Royals. As long has Moore has control over the operation of the Royals, Kansas City will not have a contending team.

It would not matter if Mike Scioscia, Sparky Anderson, or Earl Weaver were managing the Royals, the result would be the same because the Kansas City Royals are a lousy team. Trey Hillman was forced to manage the club assembled by Dayton Moore. Trey Hillman was not a good manager, but the blame for the continued failure of the Royals does not rest with him. The blame and responsibility for what the Kansas City Royals are today belongs squarely on the shoulders of the inept, yet arrogant Dayton Moore.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Is There Hope for Luke Hochevar?

As long as Dayton Moore is the GM, I am not optimistic about the Royals chances of being a contending team. Time and time again, Moore has proven he has no idea how to go about building a competitive team. But I am not so cynical about the Royals that I don't see the few bright spots, even when they are not obvious. One of these bright spots is former #1 draft choice Luke Hochevar. Many Royals fans will look at Hochevar's 2010 5.65 ERA and write him off as another failed Royals draft pick. But if Hochevar can begin to limit the number of walks he is allowing he could establish himself as a reliable Major League pitcher because he is displaying some solid skills.

Hochevar's current 4.91 BB/9 is alarming but I'm going to assume this is an anomaly and that his true ability is closer to the 2.90 BB/9 he produced in 143 IP in 2009. If Hochevar can begin to find the plate, a lot of his woes will vanish.

A look at some of Hochevar's 2010 numbers shows, in many ways, he is not pitching poorly but has fallen victim to bad luck and poor defense.


If you are not familar with the BABIP statistic, I would suggest you read my previous entry on Angels' pitcher Joe Saunders or the BABIP overview presented on the Sabermetrics Library website. Hochevar's BABIP of .347 shows that he has pitched in very tough luck in 2010. The 49.2% ground ball rate shows that he is doing an excellent job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone and many of those ground balls are getting through the infield. Not much any pitcher can do about that. Unless bad luck follows Hochevar the entire season, things should begin to even out and the ground balls that have been hits will start to become outs.

Hopefully Dayton Moore and Trey Hillman will looked beyond a meaningless statistic like ERA and allow Hochever the opportunity to work out his control issues. If Hochevar can begin to throw strikes and continue to make hitters to hit the ball on the ground, he will a valuable pitcher for the Royals.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good luck to Brad Coon

To make room for the recently demoted Terry Evans, the Salt Lake Bees released outfielder Brad Coon. With Reggie Willits, Terry Evans, and Peter Bourjos in the system, I'm sure the Angels didn't feel there was place for Coon in their organization. But Brad Coon is talented baseball player that plays the game with great intensity and I will miss seeing him play for the Salt Lake Bees.

During his two full seasons with the Bees, Coon was a valuable player. He was solid in the lead off spot, posting a .384 on base percentage. He stole 42 bases and scored 152 runs for the Bees. He did a good job of patrolling the spacious outfield at Salt Lake's Spring Mobile Ballpark and he displayed a strong throwing arm. It is unfortunate that Coon has never had a chance to play in the Major Leagues. I wish Brad Coon the best of luck and I hope he signs with an organization that will give him an opportunity to make it to the Major Leagues.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What was Charlie Manual Thinking!?!?

I just finished watching the Phillies v Nationals game and I have no clue what Charlie Manual was thinking in the top of the 9th inning. Entering the final frame, the Nationals were ahead 5-4 and the Phillies had their top bullpen arm Ryan Madson pitching. The Nationals Ian Desmond lead off with a base hit and promptly stole second base. After Cristian Guzman struck out, Desmond advanced to third on Adam Dunn's ground out. There were two outs, Desmond on third, and Josh Willingham at the plate. If Madson gets Willingham the Phillies have a chance to battle back in the bottom of the inning. Unfortunately for the Phillies, Madson walked Willingham and the Nationals were in position to do some damage.

Willy Tavares was sent into the game to pinch run for Willingham. With Ivan Rodriguez at the plate, Tavares stole second base. With runners on 2nd and 3rd, a proven Major League hitter at the plate, and Nationals closer Matt Capps in the on deck circle, the obvious move for Manual is to walk Rodriguez and pitch to Capps. Capps would have been an easy out and the Phillies would have come to bat in the bottom of the 9th needing only one run to tie. But Manual allowed Madson to pitch to Rodriguez and I-Rod hit a solid single into left field driving in Desmond and Tavares. The score was then 7-4 and the Nationals had a comfortable lead. Madson struck out Capps to end the inning but the damage was done.

Why didn't Manual walk Ivan Rodriguez? The only hitter the Nationals had left on their bench was Adam Kennedy and there is no reason to believe that Nats manager Jim Riggleman would have taken his closer out of the game. Charlie Manual has been a successful manager the past two seasons but he didn't handle the 8th inning well in the game today. He didn't make an obvious move and it cost the Phillies a chance to win the game.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jason Giambi's Defense

The season is only three games old and the Colorado Rockies are 1-2. In the two games the Rockies have lost they have jumped out to early leads only to have the Brewers battle back and win the games. Three games does not make a season and the Rockies are still the best team in the National League West, but I did see one red flag in the Milwaukee series. Jason Giambi's defense at first base.

It is painfully obvious that Giambi is a below average first baseman. In the 6th inning of Wednesday's game, Jody Gerut hit a double down the first base line that broke a 4-4 tie and plated the winning run for the Brewers. Giambi did not react quickly when the ball was hit and when he finally moved toward the line it was too late to make the play. I realize it is only one play in the third game of the season, but I don't think I am going too far out on a limb when I say Giambi is going to be a defensive liability for the Rockies. Hopefully the Rockies will be able to over come Giambi's weak glove in the games he starts.

Video of Gerut's double

Jason Giambi's defensive statistics

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rounding Third and Heading Home is Back!

With the 2010 season now in full swing, it is time to begin posting entries to Rounding Third and Heading Home. I hope you enjoy reading my views of Major League Baseball and my favorite teams. The topic for today is the Kansas City Royals.

Even though the season is only two games old, it is clear the Kansas City Royals are still an organization going in the wrong direction. The Royals opening day lineup featured Zach Greinke, Billy Butler, David DeJesus, Jason Kendall, Scott Podsednik, Rick Ankiel, Willie Bloomquist, Chris Getz, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Jose Guillen. Billy Butler has the potential to be a very good Major League hitter, Zach Greinke is a Cy Young award winner, and David DeJesus is solid, but the rest of the lineup is nothing more than average to below average players that offer no hope for the future and have very little trade value. Royals GM Dayton Moore has assemble a team that is the worst of both worlds; a team that is guaranteed to lose 90+ games while at the same offering no hope the team will be a contender in the future.