Thursday, May 14, 2009

Jon Heyman is apparently not a Clemens fan

Did anyone else read Heyman's most recent take on the Clemens situation? Bizarre, right? It can't just be me, can it? (Sidenote: Why do I continue to read

My favorite part of the Roger Clemens interview on the Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show Tuesday came when he said steroids could be bad for him because of his family history, and then cited his stepfather's heart attack as evidence.

[Actually, I'm with Heyman on this one-- citing a STEPfather to support a "family history" claim = High Comedy.]

Clemens also repeated the claim that McNamee never gave him steroids or HGH, calling the hosts "Greeny" and "Goli" (Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic).

[What nerve, right?! I mean, so informal! As noted by The Guy Who Knows Things in an email to me, "I wonder if when Heyman talks to two people on the phone both named Mike, if he insists on only calling them by their same first name instead of commonly used last names, since Clemens is a jerk for that too."

Exactly. Heyman would never call Mike Greenberg "Greeny." Totally unprofessional.]

It seems he is intent on repeating these claims until no one believes him (even Greeny said he thought Clemens was guilty).

[(heavy sigh)]

I texted McNamee as to whether he'd like to respond to Clemens' latest claims....

[Spoiler alert: Heyman knows McNamee.]

The response from McNamee: "Noooo! Sorry." Which makes sense. It's best to quit while you're ahead. And while we're still in the fifth inning of this drama, it's about 20-zip for McNamee.

[Heyman sent a smiley-face text back to McNamee, for those keeping score at home. Did I mention that they are buddies?]

I will never understand Clemens' "strategy" of denial on 60 Minutes (which I watched with McNamee)....

[Starting to get a little weird.]

While the feds haven't made their move on him yet, I firmly believe -- and many baseball people believe -- he has more chance to wind up in jail than Barry Bonds.

[Heyman knows that Kangaroo Court <> Criminal Justice Department, right?

-- If it pleases the court, I would like to offer Exhibit A into evidence. Let the record show that Exhibit A is a signed statement made by a self-proclaimed "baseball person" that Roger Clemens is more likely to go to prison than Barry Bonds. Also, I would like to offer into evidence Exhibit B- a photograph of me and Brian McNamee riding the Superman Roller coaster at Six Flags. The prosecution rests.]

Taking steroids may be a silly reason to go to jail, but I don't feel sorry for Clemens, whose ego is as big as all of Texas. As hard as it is to fathom, I am starting to feel sorry for Bonds.

[Exactly- Bonds would *never* hang his trainer out to dr-- oh, wait. Nevermind.]

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ibañez contract: A great deal for *everyone*

What is Raul Ibañez doing with his three-year, $31.5 million contract he received from the Phillies? Joe Lemire of has the scoop, and thoughts on why this contract was awesome.

"We have really great, funny conversations during pitching changes," Ibañez said. "A lot of random things get brought up -- it's almost like an episode of Seinfeld."

[This has been happening for years in major league baseball, though. Everyone remembers when David Cone re-enacted "The Contest" episode in the bullpen years ago....]

For starters, Ibañez and Werth are avid watchers of infomercials. Though they declined to reveal what absurdities they've recently purchased for fear of giving an undue endorsement, it's not hard to imagine their homes are strewn with Snuggies, ShamWows and Swiffer SweeperVacs.

[Big blow to the ShamWow Guy-- heard he was really holding out for a Raul Ibañnez endorsement.]

"We both agree that it's tough to watch an infomercial and not want to at least try it," Werth said with a laugh. "Maybe we're both suckers."

[Is this really what ball-players do on the road at night? Watch infomercials? I miss the '86 Mets....]

The man Ibañez replaced, Pat Burrell, as well as another ex-Phillie, Bobby Abreu, both had comparable slugging numbers over the last five years, and they settled for contracts of two years, $16 million, and one year, $5 million, respectively.

[So this was... bad value, right?]

But Ibañez's hot start has helped dispel the notion that he was an unnecessary purchase.

[Oh, right-- forget about the part where we analyze multi-year contracts based upon the first 6% of the contract duration. Good point.]

Should opponents start summoning more lefty relievers to face him in the late innings, Ibañez ought to be equipped for the challenge. He's a .267 career hitter against southpaws, and this year is batting .250 with one homer.

[Was that second sentence ironic?]

One of the knocks on Ibañez was his defense, but he has had a renaissance on Philadelphia's south side.... Ibañez's cerebral approach to fielding includes noting the cut of the grass to predict which way a ball is likely to skip.

[This is great stuff.]

"Raul's a winner," Werth said of Ibañez, whose Mariner teams averaged only 72 wins per game. "That's really tough to say about somebody who's played for teams that haven't won."

[Bordering on amazing stuff.]

Friday, May 8, 2009

My favorite take on the Manny situation

I got a text message last night my resident medical expert that read:

"Has anyone entertained the idea that maybe Manny wanted to have a baby?"

Pretty high comedy-- was actually kicking myself that I hadn't thought of that seemingly-obvious punch-line.

Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer uses a similar headline in his piece today, but then he kind of resorts to the usual fist-shaking.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Unwritten Rules: Unwritten for a reason.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle takes issue with Carl Crawford swiping a bag up 7-0 in the 5th inning.

Glancing at Crawford's 19 steals (in 19 attempts), we noticed one in Oakland on April 24. It stands out. Fifth inning. Rays leading 7-0.

[8-0 > 7-0.]

We looked everywhere for that unwritten rule stating baserunners ought not rub it in by stealing in a lopsided game. Couldn't find it. Then we remembered: It's not written anywhere.

[Because it's stupid?]

So we sought the opinion of a couple of A's. Kurt Suzuki, the catcher that night, said he didn't recall the situation and added it "never crossed my mind (that Crawford would disregard etiquette). He plays the game hard. He plays the game right."

[If he didn't recall the situation, did he really need to add that it never crossed his mind?]

Oakland's best base-stealing threat, Rajai Davis, said, "Yeah, I remember it," adding he was taught not to run at such a time. Davis wasn't knocking Crawford, who's respected around the game, as much as suggesting it might have been appropriate to shut down the running game.

[Of all of the things that Davis said, why only put "Yeah, I remember it" in quotes? The rest of the alleged statements were kind of the important part, no?]

Two different interpretations of the rule. What did you expect? It's unwritten.

[Thereby by precluding it from...... being a rule, right?

Not a believer here-- this isn't a YMCA league. These guys are paid professionals. Do other professional industries ease on the breaks if they are crushing their competitors? Suck it up, folks.]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lessons in scouting

From Peter King today in his column....

If you're a football scout or GM, how could you watch the Texas-Texas Tech game last fall and not think Harrell belongs in the NFL? He doesn't have the arm of Matthew Stafford, obviously, but neither did Joe Montana, and neither does Drew Brees.

[I sense something amazing forthcoming...]

My humble advice (and I mean that; I don't study college tape at all) to those who make their living grading college football players: Watch the games.


I am going to try to unscramble this:

- King blasts scouts for missing the boat on a player that he thinks is good.

- King admits that he does not "study college tape at all."

- King suggests that scouts should watch COLLEGE GAMES to determine which players are good.


Friday, May 1, 2009

They wear gloves for a reason's Tim Marchman discovers that good defense --> run prevention --> good times.

A near iron law of baseball holds that if you can't quite tell why a team is good, it's probably good at defense.

[Just an atrocious sentence.]

On Tuesday, I had a chance to test this theory against 17 innings of observation when the first-place Seattle Mariners played a straight doubleheader over a cold afternoon and evening in Chicago.

[Iron Law = A Theory?]

It isn't just skill at work here. Like other teams, the Mariners put real thought into positioning.

[Not *every* team though. (See, Mets-- cross-ref Murphy, Daniel)]

"There's obviously three ways of looking at defending a batter," explains manager Don Wakamatsu. "Number one is you look at their sprays versus a left-hander or a right-hander pitching. Number two is you look at what hitters do off your pitcher individually. Number three is the individual matchups.

[Am I just not reading that last part correctly? #2 = #3, right?]

If the Mariners know that no one ever pulls Erik Bedard's curveball, for instance, they can pull the left fielder all the way toward center field at certain times.

[Wouldn't that tip-off the batter as to what pitch is coming?]

Last year, going by Ultimate Zone Rating, a sophisticated defensive statistic based on play-by-play data, the pennant winners were streets ahead of any other team in the field, saving more than 30 runs on defense above what the third-best team did.

[Cool-- I didn't want to know how UZR was calculated anyway. Knowing that it is "sophisticated" is good enough for me.]

"The bottom line is efficiency," he says, "This game is about pitch economy. The team that throws less pitches generally wins." It's an obvious point, but one apparently overlooked by teams such as New York's two clubs, who have struggled in part because of lousy pitching that hasn't been helped by lousy defense.

[2005 Mets: 83-79; 2006 Mets: 97-65; 2007 Mets: 88-74; 2008 Mets: 89-73.

2005 Yankees: 95-67; 2006 Yankees: 97-65; 2007 Yankees: 94-68; 2008 Yankees: 89-73.

2005 Mariners: 69-93; 2006 Mariners: 78-84; 2007 Mariners: 88-74; 2008 Mariners: 61-101.

Yup. This article is going great so far.]

Either way, the wins count the same. The Mariners are on pace to improve on last year's UZR total by about 80 runs....

[OK, got it. Good UZR numbers = Good Defense.]

Granting that it's early and that UZR, like any statistic, has its quirks -- right now it rates spectacularly inept Mets left fielder Daniel Murphy among the better defenders in the game...


...this would seem to suggest the Seattle Mariners is for real.

[This article are FAIL.]

Thursday, April 30, 2009

The NBA Playoffs: Dreadful, but humorously so

With the exception of the Bulls-Celtics series, the rest of the '09 NBA Playoffs have been completely unwatchable (and even the Bulls-Celtics is a tough sell with the TV networks highlighting every Garnett F-bomb). The Hornets lost to Denver 121-63 a few days ago. Brutal. Just go ahead and call me when LeBron and Kobe meet in the finals. Until then, here is an amusing Playoff entry from SI's Scott Howard-Cooper.

It's foolish to put too much stock in one quote after one game, especially a game with the emotions of a season-ending defeat, but just try disregarding the Jerry Sloan assessment of Utah reserve point guard Ronnie Price in the televised news conference Monday.

[But that would be foolish!]

"I've never seen a guy play that hard in my life in that situation," the Jazz coach said.


It's Sloan, the most anti-hyperbole guy in the NBA and possibly the world, so: Wow.

[The most anti-hyperbole guy in THE WORLD.


The World.

Wow is right.]