The countdown to spring starts today:
- To most of us, baseball isn't just a sport, but a very important part of our lives. Fans, players, peanut vendors, and front office personnel are just as much (if not more) a part of our family as those distant cousins we haven't seen in years. So when something like this happens, all of us should feel the loss, and everyone should mourn. Pat Neshek’s baby boy dies 23 hours after birth - Yahoo! Sports. "In a series of tweets that are simply devastating, Neshek and his wife communicated how they anticipated and celebrated the birth of their first child. They also reflected on the rebirth of Neshek's career and the A's incredible season. And they plainly described the stunning horror of losing a newborn son." Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to the Neshek family.
- I'm on the fence with this one. I've called in sick to work because I've have the "f#ck-its", but I'm not a professional baseball player: Los Angeles Angels at Seattle Mariners - October 3, 2012 - MLB.com. ""I wanted to win a World Series," Weaver said after a 12-0 Mariners rout that instead ended the Angels' season with a third straight playoff absence. "Once we found out we were out of it, I was kind of out of it, too." I suppose they had to come up with some sort of excuse: Weaver exits game early with 'general fatigue' - angels.com. "Angels ace Jered Weaver left Wednesday's regular-season finale at Safeco Field after just one inning because of what the team called "general fatigue." I guess that's better than having Major Pain, or burning in your Private Parts. Get well soon!
- It was just an all-around crappy day: Mariners 12, Angels 0 - FOX Sports. "It was a rough final day for Trout. He was plunked in the back by Seattle starter Blake Beavan (11-11) leading off the game, then thrown out by Jesus Montero trying for his 50th steal of the season. It was just the ninth runner all season thrown out by the Mariners rookie catcher."
- Yesterday I wrote about not taking pleasure in another person's misery...I take it back, this was AWESOME: Josh Hamilton’s error looms large as Rangers watch A’s celebrate division title - Yahoo! Sports. "With Texas poised to finally escape a bottom of the fourth inning that saw Oakland score four runs to tie the score at five, Hamilton approached a high pop fly from A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Though the play was as routine as they come, Rangers fans watched in horror as what should've been the third out of the inning bounced off Hamilton's glove and into the outfield behind him." Here's the GIF:
- Not only are the folks over at Lone Star Ball freaking the F out, the local writers are throwing gas on the fire: Rangers' choke job looks very familiar - Dallas-Fort Worth Sports News. "No matter how thoroughly gutless it was Wednesday afternoon on the West Coast, say this on behalf of the Texas Rangers: They will never, no matter what, be able to out-gag the franchise's most historic gag job. Game 6. One Strike Away. Twice. Speaking of twice, it is beyond disturbing, of course, that for the second time within a year, the Rangers have somehow managed to claim their own little cul-de-sac in baseball hell. It's a dead-end called Choker Street." Dude, that's harsh.
- I'm not a big fan of Mark Whicker, but he actually produced a post that I appreciate: Angels pen-alized by its relief corps - The Orange County Register. "Angels relievers pitched the fewest innings in the AL and yet gave up 52 homers, the fifth-most. Their batting average-against of .244 was third-worst. The Angels also let a third of their inherited runners score, tied with Kansas City for the AL's worst. Anyone in Scioscia's path in the past two weeks has heard him mutter "22 blown saves," again most in the league." Not only is he capable of spouting stats (for a change), but he opines in on the Angels' manager: "Scioscia was culpable, too. He wasted Peter Bourjos' season, finding room for only 168 at-bats and probably draining his trade market value." I'm not too worried about Bourjos' trade value, but I am slightly concerned about the effect this season had on his confidence and overall skills. He basically was given an entire year off to sit on the Halo bench and watch Vernon Wells take his playing time. Did Scioscia's insistence on playing Wells cost Bourjos to take a step back in his development?
- As Whicker points out above, a good-to-great bullpen is needed to win, which is the route the Oakland A's took to winning the AL West: Athletics blow out Rangers, win American League West - Baseball Nation. "What was familiar, though? Sterling bullpen work, for one thing. Evan Scribner took over for Griffin, and tossed three scoreless innings. After Jerry Blevins struck out Josh Hamilton to end the sixth and gave up a hit to open the seventh, rookie Ryan Cook came in to pitch in his fifth straight game, and tossed a scoreless inning. Rookie Sean Doolittle pitched a scoreless eighth. And finally, closer Grant Balfour pitched in his fifth straight game and finished off the Rangers." It doesn't take $12M/year closers, or veteran set-up men in your pen to lead your team to the post season holy land, just smart baseball sense and the ability to evaluate and use talent.
- I watched the yesterday's game using the Oakland feed. Their announcers mentioned at least 6 times how important Johnny Gomes was to the Oakland team. Johnny freakin' Gomes. Holy Shit, The Athletics Just Won The AL West - Deadspin. "Oakland triumphed with a roster of riffraff. Today's batting order included one player drafted by the A's and another signed as a Cuban free agent. The rest of the A's batters were mostly failed Red Sox, like Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp, and George Kottaras, with other castoffs peppered in. Reddick somehow hit 32 homers. Moss—who was dumped by the Pittsburgh Pirates—hit .291/.358/.596 in half a season."
- Here's a good Verducci piece: A's historic title reminds us why we love baseball - Tom Verducci - SI.com. "You may not know it, but you are an Oakland Athletics fan. You are an Athletics fan because you are a baseball fan, and being a baseball fan means you believe desire is worth more than payroll."
- 2012 MLB playoff schedule: Postseason set - Yahoo! Sports. Here's the full playoff schedule for the wild card and LDS rounds
- Within this post are some words about Torii Hunter: Angels' Jered Weaver gives it a go but lasts only one inning - latimes.com. "Reality is setting in — I'm a free agent. I thought I'd retire here, but I know the business side of it, and if it doesn't work out, I had a lot of fun here. I appreciate the fans, the organization. "Hopefully, we can get something done, but if not, I understand. They've got a lot of things they've got to clean up before they even think about offering me a deal. If I have to, I'll go elsewhere." Although I'd love to see an outfield of Trout, Bourjos, and Trumbo in 2013, I think having Hunter around for another year would be a good thing.
- Today is a very weird day...here's a Jeff Miller post that I agree with: Dipoto gets pass this time around - The Orange County Register. "Finally, Scioscia needs to develop a new preseason pep talk. Now, let's get out there and slowly ease our way into this thing!!! just isn't working. The Angels were doomed in 2012 after they started 7-15. Over the past four years, entering May, they are 44-51. Three of those years — the past three in a row — resulted in the playoffs being missed. And yet, Scioscia and all his coaches will return next spring. Not many professional franchises operate this way. In most places, in most sports, three consecutive non-postseason years would result in a coaching overhaul, at least." Besides the manager, hitting coach, and pitching coach, I'm not too sure the other guys on the staff have much of an impact on team performance. Obviously the Angels front office feels this way to a point, evidenced by their firing of hitting coach Mickey Hatcher this season. But what about the pitching? If Mike Butcher is doing his job, why didn't he see this: Hey Bill - Bill James Online. Question: How does Fernando Rodney go from 14 saves in '10, to 3 saves in '11, when he stunk up the joint with the Angels, to 47 saves, with one to go for the Rays.
Answer: You miss the point, focusing on Saves; Saves result from save opportunities, and huge swings in save totals are not really remarkable. Lots of pitchers have those. What's remarkable is going from a 4.50 ERA to 0.61, and from a strikeout/walk ratio below water (26-28) to 5 to 1 (76-15). But they (the Tampa Bay Rays) do this with two or three relievers every year, so I suppose we should be used to it. One thing. . .Rodney in LA was throwing 10% sliders. They ditched the slider, which was a mediocre pitch, and had him go back to throwing fastballs and changeups." Why didn't Butcher notice that in the two years Rodney was an Angel? Why did it take Rodney leaving the organization to resurrect his career?
- Things could be worse, we could be Royals' fans: 2013 Is Our Time. Or Else. - Rany on the Royals. "Of course, in the same interview, Moore was asked whether he thought Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout was the deserving MVP. As Buster Olney wrote (and Bob Dutton confirmed), with one exception, EVERY front office person he’s interviewed has said that they'd (correctly, in my not-so-humble opinion) vote for Trout, who is nearly Cabrera’s equal with the bat and is vastly superior with his legs and glove. Moore, naturally, picked Cabrera, because he won the Triple Crown, and by the statistical standards we used in 1975, that makes him the best player." Sounds like Dayton Moore and Tony Reagins went to the same "You Can Be A Major League GM" seminar.
- There's no denying Miguel Cabrera had a great year: Cabrera dusts off old-school achievement for new-media era to appreciate - CBSSports.com. "Closing out a season for the ages, Cabrera finished with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI. He ranks alone atop the leaderboard in each of those categories, earning only the 11th Triple Crown in modern AL history, and the first in 45 years." But is he the real MVP? Miguel Cabrera May Win The Triple Crown. But Is Mike Trout The AL MVP? - TIME.com. "These newfangled stats are not religion. Most sabermetrics types don’t declare that they are. "They aren’t the end-all, be-all," says Jim Furtado, owner of baseballthinkfactory.com. Furtado recognizes the limitations of WAR. "But that doesn’t mean you should just dismiss them," he says. Advanced stats don’t, as Madden writes, turn "baseball into an inhuman board game." They just offer a different way of looking at the sport. In fact, sabermetrics makes watching, and thinking about, baseball more enriching and fun."
- Do you need to update your wardrobe? Albert Pujols, Zack Greinke T-shirts available for discount at Missouri thrift shop (Photos) - Yahoo! Sports. "The players are gone now, both playing elsewhere because of free agency or the threat of it. But they're remembered in Kansas City by baseball fans and thrifty shoppers alike, because their T-shirts are available for resale at low, low prices." Or you can travel to Africa and get yourself one of those "Texas Rangers 2012 AL West Champions" t-shirts. Remember these?
- Welcome to the AL West: Carlos Corporán’s face-plant slide signals end of worst Astros season ever (Video) - Yahoo! Sports