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Five Minute Frags
Five Minute Frags - Enabling Inadequacies
Posted by fragnoli on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 6:00:00 AM

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  • French Proverb

 

When Major League Baseball first made the decision to institute limited instant replay in August 2008, the move was met with a feeling of inevitability. It was an inevitability that a game that always fought progress, would finally succumb to it.

Well, it was also inevitable that the same backward thinking that took it so long for the league to implement the measure would then also impede it from being used properly.

As a game, baseball has long been built around the judgment of the individual, a belief that one person’s naked eye should be the end-all, be-all judge of all. By instituting limited instant replay on home run balls (fair/foul, out of the park or not), the league as a whole caved to the realization that the naked eye is not always to be believed. Bud Selig even admitted as much during his initial press conference on August 26, 2008.

"I believe this is right," Selig. "I think the umpires believe it. I think the players believe it. The evidence [for using it] became overwhelming the more I looked at ballparks. You've got an umpire running out and he's 300-400 feet away, and it became impossible [for him to make the right call]. I'm delighted we're able to make this adjustment.

Yes, here we stand, nearly five seasons after the system has been introduced, and we still rely on the judgment of one person to dictate the outcome of a ballgame?

On Wednesday night, the Oakland Athletics were handed a loss by the Cleveland Indians after they failed to push a tying run over the plate during the 9th inning. However, that should not have been the case, as Adam Rosales hit what appeared to be a game-tying home run with two-outs in the inning. However, the umpire crew called the ball in play rather than a home run and Rosales ended up at second base.

This is the type of situation replay was instituted to resolve. The Athletics protested and the umpires decided to go to the replay, which clearly showed the ball hitting a railing above the yellow line at Progressive Field and bouncing back into play, which would mean the ball was indeed a home run. However, despite both home and away feeds showing that fact and the umpire crew having access to said feeds, crew chief Angel Hernandez ruled the play would stand as ruled on the field.

Obviously, Bob Melvin was incensed and was ejected for continuing to argue the call on the field. The Athletics would load the bases, but would ultimately fail to push that tying run across.

But that fact is not the real kick in the teeth. That came from MLB’s executive vice-president for baseball operations Joe Torre.

In a ruling on Thursday, Torre admitted that “an improper call was made”. However, Torre left the call as is, saying “By rule, the decision to reverse a call by use of instant replay is at the sole discretion of the crew chief. In the opinion of Angel Hernandez, who was last night's crew chief, there was not clear and convincing evidence to overturn the decision on the field. It was a judgment call, and as such, it stands as final.”

Torre is referring to rule 9.02a which states, “Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out, is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.

However, it begs to ask that if we are making progress toward the correct judgment, should we not also be progressing toward a way to correct improper judgment?

In this case, the Athletics are allowed an appeal to Torre’s office, but based on the way the rule is written – or interpreted, I’m unsure which – that appeal is for naught, as the umpire’s judgment is deemed the final word. They in essence become the judge, jury, and executioner so to speak.

This is not the first example of this, let alone the first time this season. The Tampa Bay Rays were robbed twice by bad calls, once on April 9th when Marty Foster handed Joe Nathan his 300th save on poor strike call and another time on April 4th, when Evan Longoria was ruled to have overrun Ben Zobrist on an RBI single. Unfortunately, you cannot argue balls and strikes, and the umpire refused to ask for help on the April 4th play.

However, the issue at hand is that the appeals system is nearly non-existent. What good does it do to file said appeal if in essence all you are getting to really say is, “I’m really unhappy Joe.” 

It is an absolute disgrace to the game that there is no willingness on the part of Major League Baseball to correct a wrong. Instead, they simply say “sorry” and expect that it is fair to both parties to leave things as ruled on the field.  With the insertion of replay, we should be making progress against bad judgment calls rather than enabling them to continue unhindered.

Is the long-term legitimacy of the game really worth bolstering up the ego of an individual?

Comments?(14)

Five Minute Frags - Calling Doctor Perry
Posted by fragnoli on Friday, May 03, 2013 at 9:50:12 AM

 

Besides having one of the most unfortunate names in the history of baseball, Gaylord Perry was a tremendously accomplished pitcher. A veteran of 22 seasons with 8 different teams, Perry won 314 games against 265 losses, posted a career ERA of 3.11, and struck out 3534 batters during his career. In the process, Perry was the 1978 Cy Young award winner and was selected to five All-Star teams.  In 1991, Perry was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Gaylord Perry was also a cheater.

Over the course of his 22-year career, Perry was known for his use of the spitball, the “puffball”, and also scuffing and cutting baseballs. His former manager, Gene Mauch, was even vocal to the point where he thought Perry’s plaque in the Hall of Fame should have a tube of KY Jelly adhered to it.

So why is Perry relevant today?

Well, the color-commentary announcers for the Toronto Blue Jays, Jack Morris and Dirk Hayhurst, have accused Boston Red Sox pitchers Clay Buchholz and Junichi Tazawa of “loading up” the baseball in a similar fashion. In their accusations, they have noted that Boston pitchers are reaching their forearms and rubbing what appears to be a foreign substance from their arms on the baseball. The accusations arose after Buchholz moved to 6-0, shutting down the Blue Jays offense on Wednesday night.

Here is the accusation from Hayhurst on Twitter:

 

 

Is it a real issue? That’s hard to pick out, as only Buchholz, Tazawa, and any umpire that checks them going forward will know.

However, the practice of rubbing rosen and sweat from the forearm is hardly proprietary to the Red Sox alone, as pitchers all around the game do it in order to improve their grip on the baseball. In fact, Red Sox catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia was quick to note that Toronto pitcher J.A. Happ was going to his right forearm throughout the game as well.

"I saw [J.A.] Happ all night going to his forearm. Is he doing something?" Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said about Toronto's starter. "For them to point out one guy or two guys, I don't think that's right."

What it actually stinks of is the desperation of one team trying to drum up something that will fire a fan base back up.

Aside from the obvious success that the Red Sox have enjoyed in 2013, there is also the John Farrell component. The Toronto media, front office, and fan base are all still equally bitter about the way Farrell left his role as Toronto’s manager in order to take on the same role in Boston.  Add in the fact that he has been able to turn them back into a winner, something he was unable to do in Toronto, and all of a sudden everyone is Sherlock Holmes and there is a mystery afoot.

In the end, what this does is create an unfair stigma around Buchholz and the rest of the Red Sox pitching staff and is going to prompt other managers to stall the game during strong outings and ask for an inspection on suspicion alone.

The fact that is comes from a radio play-by-play guy on a hunch after watching tape is simply ridiculous. Jack, you’re better than this.

Oh, and as a closing note, Sportsnet.ca and Fan 590 are owned and operated by Rogers Communications. Anyone want to take a guess who owns the Toronto Blue Jays?

Comments?(4)

Five Minute Frags - Price Is Right For Moore
Posted by fragnoli on Friday, April 26, 2013 at 1:00:00 AM

 

 

 

There is very little of more value in the baseball world than a 27-year-old former Cy Young winner that is still under team control for two-plus seasons. Every team wants to land a stud pitcher, in his prime, that they still have some negotiating room with.

 

Enter stage left, David Price.

 

The Rays lefty is coming off of another solid season, one in which he won the American League Cy Young award while pitching in baseball's toughest division. He's thrown 200+ innings each of his three full season at the Major League level. Oh, and he's good for 200 K's per season.

 

So why would the Tampa Bay Rays entertain the thought  of trading such a prized commodity?

 

Well, first off, if the Rays move Price at the appropriate time, the return could be astonomical. If James Shields could pry the Minor League Player of the Year away from the Royals, then surely Price could net a larger bounty. We're not just talking about quantity here, but we're also talking about quality, like Jurickson ProfarOscar Taveras type quality. And that's only part of any return package for Price.

 

Secondly, the modest-spending Rays like to float a relatively small team payroll, with Tampa having the third lowest in baseball at $57.895 million in 2013. Price, with two years of arbitration left, is the team's highest paid player at $10.113 million, which represents a nearly $7 million increase from 2012. That's already 17.5% of the team's payroll. Imagine what that climbs up to as Price keeps playing the arbitration game. Tampa would more likely move him before his salary impedes them from playing their small market shuffle.

 

Needless to say, it's safe to assume that the Rays will make a deal that will send Price from Tampa to the highest bidder. That just makes the continued development of Matt Moore all the more important.

 

Moore was everyone's favorite for the 2012 Rookie of the Year coming into last season. In fact, the Rays thought so much of his cup-of-coffee in 2011, that they inked the rookie to a 5-year, $14 million extension after just 3 appearances at the Major League level. While he didn't exactly live up to those expectations, the hard-throwing Moore still enjoyed a solid season. When all was said and done in 2012, Moore finished 12-12 with a 3.81 ERA, an 8.9 K/9 ratio, and a 1.4 bWAR.

 

However, the 23-year-old Moore is looking a bit more comfortable in his second go-around.

 

In 2013, Moore has won all four of his starts with a minuscule 1.04 ERA, having surrendered just 3 earned runs over 26 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are reaching Moore for just a .116 batting average against and he's returning the favor by striking out 10 for every 9 innings pitched. And he's seemingly getting stronger as the early season progresses, holding the Yankees to a single earned run over 8 innings while striking out 9 on Monday night.

 

Moore stands to be the one with the most to gain if Price departs, and would be the likely heir to the thrown of ace. The best part for the Rays is, because of Andrew Friedman's foresight, he doesn't even begin to make a blip on the payroll scale until 2018 at best, and that is only at $9 million.

 

The shrewd Rays keep finding a way to restock and reload without breaking the bank, and Price is just another means to that end. David Price had his run, and next it will be Matt Moore's turn.

 

And, as long as they keep developing the talent they turn these players into, the Rays will keep peskily hanging around. Now all they have to do is get their Profar, Taveras, or whatever high-end prospect they can for Price.

Comments?(7)

MLB Round-Up 4-19-13
Posted by fragnoli on Friday, April 19, 2013 at 6:00:00 AM

 

Before I get started this week, and as become customary of the other fantastic bloggers at YouGabSports, I want to extend my prayers to those who have suffered through the tragedy in Boston earlier this week. I also want to extend my appreciation that my friends and extended "Gab Family" members are all safe and accounted for.

As some of you folks know through Facebook, my family and I were in Boston on Saturday afternoon for the Red Sox/Rays match-up. It was a great game, one that turned out to be a 2-1 Red Sox win and featured a stellar pitching match-up between David Price and Jon Lester. Our seats were great, Loge Box 155, right off the third base bag, the first time I haven't sat in the bleachers at Fenway.

But that wasn't the memory I took away from the game.

No, my memories are of a hopping Boylston Street, a community that was out and about enjoying a moderately warm spring day. It was a true sign of the glory of spring in New England, where people are itching so badly to get outdoors that they flock together the first chance they get.

And it was that memory that made Monday's events so surreal. Seeing the photos after the fact, where Boylston Street was a virtual ghost town really sank in the impact of the bombing. The serenity of the spring blown away by a single act of unexplained violence.

That said, my thoughts and prayers go not just to those that were lost or hurt in the attack, but also for the hope that the serenity of spring can return quickly to the area, not only for the sake of peace, but also for the comfort of being able to move forward.

 

Speaking of moving forward, now on to baseball:

 

- One interesting note from the game I attended on Saturday. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Jacoby Ellsbury rapped a single with one out in the innng. Then, while stealing second, the throw went into center field and Ellsbury proceeded on to third. 

This is where it got interesting.

Joe Maddon, who is known for his odd infield alignments opted to bring left fielder Matt Joyce into the infield as a fifth infielder. I have never seen this done before. My only assumption was that Maddon wanted to cut off the runner if he was going on contact. But what struck me more was that the situation called for Maddon to walk Victorino and open up the double play option to end the inning.

In the end, Victorino hit it up the middle, just deep enough to bring Ellsbury in with the winning run, but I was left thinking that the great baseball thinker overthrought the situation.

- What more can be said about the Atlanta Braves, who are sitting pretty with a 12-2 record at this stage in the season. We all knew that they were going to be much better offensively this season, but the pitching has been just as lethal. Coming into Thursday's action, the Braves lead all of baseball with a 1.77 team ERA through 14 games and have surrendered the fewest home runs in the game. That's good for a team that has the Major League's leading home run hitter in Justin Upton.

- Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter suffered a setback in his rehab from a broken ankle when a CT scan revealed a small fracture in the ankle. Jeter is now expected to be out until after the All-Star break, another piece of bad luck with injuries for the Yankees, who are barely recognizable this season. Jeter is under contract through the end of this season, but has a $8 million player option for 2014.

- The Colorado Rockies were thought to be dead in the water this season, but somehow they've managed to post a solid 11-4 record. However, that could be an anomaly as the team currently has a 4.30 ERA from its starting five, and that's with both Jon Garland and Jhoulys Chacin over performing. The Coors Effect just won't let this team succeed despite a mediocre pitching staff for long.

- The Detroit Tigers have to be plenty pleased with their decision to bring aboard Torii Hunter this winter. The 17-year veteran is off to an amazing start, posting a .413 batting average and a 1.027 OPS in 63 at bats. With the Angels reeling and Josh Hamilton struggling in Los Angeles, Hunter is sitting in his locker in Detroit and laughing it up for a contender, suddenly feeling a lot better about the Angels letting him go.

- New York starter Matt Harvey is one of the few bright spots for the lowly Mets this season. The 24-year-old burst onto the scene in 2012, with a solid 2.73 ERA and 70 strike-outs in 59.1 innings last season, but he's been even better in 2013. The right-hander has a 0.82 ERA and 25 strike-outs in 22 innings this season. That performance helped reward Harvey with the National League Player of the Week last week.

Comments?(17)

Five Minute Frags - The Art of the Trade
Posted by fragnoli on Friday, April 12, 2013 at 6:00:00 AM

 

 

 

As fantasy baseball players, we can all understand the difficulty involved with making trades. After all those years of swapping baseball cards with your friends, it knocks you off guard to find out that there is a lot more involved when swapping players for a fake baseball team.

 

First, you have to find the perfect partner, someone with whom you can not only match up in terms of needs, but also in supplying what they require. That requires examining the surplus of talent you have as well as combing through each opponent to understand how to make them want what you have.

 

Second, you have to then determine a worthwhile offer with which to entice them into dealing with you. Be prepared, because this first offer is often rejected and countered. If its not, then you over-packed the offer from the get-go.

 

Then you have the back and forth negotiating, attempting to work out a deal that is inevitably fair for everyone (and one that will be approved by other owners as well). This could be the most difficult task, as each and every owner (you included) wants to come out the winner in any trade. It's the nature of competition and the trade market is no different.

 

Doesn't sound so bad, does it?

 

Well, imagine for a minute that this is a six-year keeper league, meaning that each player on the roster is with you as long as you don't release or trade them for a minimum of six season, as long as you don't release or trade any of them. To make things difficult, we'll give you are given a salary cap with which to work with. Just for kicks, let's throw in the fact that we can swap minor-leaguers as well, a minor-leaguer with a service clock that starts when they reach the Major Leagues.

 

Does it still sound easy? It shouldn't, because that is what Major League general managers have to deal with.

 

On Thursday, we learned (from Andy Martino of the NY Daily News) that the New York Mets were keeping an eye on outfielders Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins and Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies. While both targets are extremely attractive candidates for any general manager to chase after and the Mets would be a good trade partner for both the Rockies and Marlins, Sandy Alderson, Larry Beinfest, and Dan O'Dowd have a lot to consider in any deal.

 

- It isn't often that a big trade involving a player under team control goes down mid-season. Stanton is under team control through 2016 and would be eligible for arbitration for the first time this coming winter, making him extremely affordable, even for the Marlins.

 

Gonzalez is under team control through the 2017 season, but it less affordable than Stanton, being locked into a multi-year contract that will pay him $63.5 million over the next four seasons.

 

- In order for the Marlins to part with Stanton, the Mets would need to send quite the package to Miami. That would likely have to be headlined with the pair of Zack Wheeler and Travis d'Arnaud. Wheeler, was acquired in the Carlos Beltran deal two years ago and is currently ranked as the 8th best prospect in the game. d'Arnaud came to New York in the R.A. Dickey trade with the Blue Jays and is rated the sixth best prospect in baseball.

 

- Gonzalez, with his heavier price tag, and his being four years older than Stanton, would likely require a smaller package. d'Arnaud or Wheeler would have to be the center piece, but the deal likely wouldn't require both.

 

- That all said, the Mets (Alderson) then needs to decide if four years of either Stanton or Gonzalez are worth more than six seasons of low-priced team control over the top catching prospect and one of the best pitching prospect.

 

- On the flip side, while a deal would make real sense to the Marlins, they run the risk of further alienating their fan base by moving Stanton, their last remaining star player. However, one would find it hard to fault them for chasing a four-player package with Wheeler and d'Arnaud headlining the deal.

 

For the Rockies, that deal is much easier to do, as they need to drastically improve their pitching staff and getting Gonzalez's salary off the books would help them improve the team long-term. Wheeler would make more sense here, as the Rockies already have a solid young catcher in Wilin Rosario.

 

- Both teams also need to realize the longer they wait, the less control they surrender of these players and the small the return package becomes.

 

- Equally so, the Mets could make a huge splash by bringing in Stanton or Gonzalez, especially given the contract they gave David Wright signaling that they are not rebuilding the team.

 

Needless to say, there are a lot of moving pieces in any deal of this scope, and I can't say that I would envy either GM of their ordeal. If you thought making a trade for a fake baseball team was difficult, just imagine what it means when you are deciding the next 4-6 years of your organization.

 

That's what these three teams are trying to weigh, and there is no guarantee regardless of which path they take.

 

Easy, I don't think so.

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