Monday, April 28, 2008

And That Happened

We're about a month in, and finally some of the freak, early-season stats are starting to succumb to more significant sample sizes. The wheat is starting to separate itself from the chaff. Order is starting to be restored. The Rays and Orioles are battling for first place in the AL East. You know, the usual stuff.

Yankees 1, Indians 0: The good news? Sabathia makes a second straight dominant start (8 IP, 4H, 1ER, 8K). The bad news: he wasn't even the best starter in the game, as Wang posts 7IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K and wins what was, to date, the pitchers' duel of the year. Wang is off to his best start as a Major Leaguer. As Jason at IIATMS notes, however, he's doing it very differently than he has before.

Rays 3, Red Sox 0: James Shields dominates the Sawx. Two hits, one walk, and to the showers in less than 2:30. Definitely not Red Sox baseball. Then again, neither is getting swept by the Rays.

Mets 6, Braves 3: Mets fans may cheer Carlos Delgado's two dinger effort, but their joy should be tempered somewhat by the fact that he hit them off a guy who may soon be missing a lot of time due to a bum shoulder. Braves fans, on the other hand, should simply panic.

Nationals 2, Cubs 0: The Nats' John Lannan -- a guy I had never heard of before he blanked my team last Tuesday -- is sitting on a 19 inning scoreless streak.

Pirates 5, Phillies 1: What on Earth is wrong with Ryan Howard (.174/.300/.359)?

Marlins 3, Brewers 2: Really only one team ever thought highly enough of Wes Helms to make him a starter for any extended period of time, and that's Milwaukee. Helms, ever the ingrate, decides to bury his old team with two RBI, including the game winning homer in extra innings. In other news, pretty soon we're going to start getting a lot of those articles we see around this time each year. You know the ones -- about how the Marlins are winning despite zero payroll, and aren't they good and refreshing and wonderful, etc. etc. I, for one, will be happy when they get printed, because that means the inevitable swoon will start soon after.

Cardinals 5, Astros 1: Kyle Lohse goes six strong and is now 3-0 with a 2.36 ERA. When your team is struggling sometime this summer because they can't seem to get any starting pitching, remember that Lohse was (a) available until mid-March; and (b) signed a deal for just north of $4M.

Diamondbacks 2, Padres 1: Webb, by the way, is now 6-0 and is pitching for a team that is much better on offense this year than it was last year. I'm not one for wild speculation, especially this early in the year, but if you wanted to put money on someone winning 30 games, Webb would be your man.

Reds 10, Giants 1: Zito, by the way, is now 0-6 and is pitching for a team that is much worse on offense this year than it was last year. I'm not one for wild speculation, especially this early in the year, but if you wanted to put money on someone losing 30 games, Zito would be your man.

Rangers 10, Twins 0: When the worst pitching staff in the AL meets the second worst offense in the league, something's got to give! Well, it was the offense that gave, as the Rangers shut out the Twins. Josh Hamilton (.333/.385/.581) continues to make me wonder how much money he'd be making right now if he hadn't snorted, smoked, and shot-up his way out of his expected development curve.

A's 4, Mariners 2: Ichiro is a historically-bad April hitter, with his career April average (.294) standing a full thirty points below his next lowest month. His April 2008, however, is way worse than that (.257/.319/.376).

Angels 6, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander was looking sharp until around the time Mrs. Shyster commandeered the TV to watch Desperate Housewives. You can therefore imagine my surprise when I checked back later to see that he had laid another stink bomb (5.2, 7 H, 6 ER, 4 BB). Sure, it wasn't as surprising as finding out that it was Lynette's kids who burnt down Rick's restaurant (I totally thought Tom had done it) and that Bree actually kicked Orson out of the house when she discovered that it was him who ran down Mike with his car two seasons ago, but surprising all the same.

Wait. Did I say that in my out-loud voice?


Chris H. said...

AUGH! Please tell me you did NOT just spoil Desperate Housewives! Some of us TiVo'd it, ya know.

Think the Giants will take a hint from the Pirates and release Zito?

Craig Calcaterra said...

See, the only thing more shameful than admitting you watched Desperate Housewives is admitting you TiVo'd it.

Um, sorry though.

tadthebad said...

Craig, Desperate Housewives? Lost a lot of respect for you this morning...

God I Love Baseball when my team's DH can't hit the ocean and compounds those woes with a stupid slide into first base, thereby aggravating a surgically repaired knee. Good times!

Craig Calcaterra said...

tad -- you don't want to know half of the things I've done over the years that would cause you to lose respect for me. Being married is a tough business.

tadthebad said...

Craig, I know first-hand that being married is tough business...with kids infinitely more difficult than marriage alone. So your preaching to the choir, my brother (can I get an AMEN!?!). And I freely admit to participating in countless events in the name of wedded bliss that I otherwise wouldn't consider.

But DHW's? That kind of information should take a few libations to extract from your vault. Then again, maybe you're on vacation and started early?

Craig Calcaterra said...

Not my finest hour, that's for sure. It rivals my 90210 thing from the early 90s.

The common thread is that I started watching each of those shows to mock them and to get a clear, critical view of just what was wrong with Western Civilization. To properly mock you have to know what you're mocking, however, and the little soapy hooks of those shows dragged me in a bit more than I had intended them to.

If it makes you feel any better, 90210 always preceeded Thursday night bar crawling during my freshman year in college, so I was almost always toasty when I watched it. Likewise, Deperate Housewives follows two solid days of chasing after my kids (ages 4 and 2), so I am almost always toasty when I watch that as well.

With that out of the way, I will take my mockery like a man.

sean said...

Oddly, Ichiro's April is only the third worst in his career (so far), with 2003 and 2004 being a little worse. Of course, in 2004, he also set the all-time record for hits in a season and posted an OPS+ of 130 and had his best all-around season. Perhaps all those small sample size issues haven't QUITE sorted themselves out yet. Especially for a guy who basically has a full season worth of ABs for a regular player (with his relative lack of walks and leadoff status) left...

Actually, 2004 Ichiro really should be looked at in depth at some point. He had a terrible April and an only slightly better June. In those months he went a combined 57/ all other months, he never had fewer than 50 hits. Crazy

tadthebad said...

Well, Craig, you are a good man, and probably more responsible than I. You see, I never felt even a twinge of responsibility to actually watch the zip code, or any other show for that matter, before mocking both the shows and their viewers.

Osmodious said...

You notice how Wang is NEVER in the conversation when it comes to 'Aces' fact, Baseball Tonight specifically stated that he is NOT an 'Ace' on their show last week. They said he was definitely a Number 1 starter, but not an Ace.

What does a guy have to do? Be flashy? You take your flashy guys, I want the one who has tied Cy Young winners in the past two seasons and is tied for ALL of MLB for wins so far this year. How is being one of the 2 or 3 most dominant pitchers in your league for THREE STRAIGHT YEARS not being an 'Ace'???

I've never understood why Yankee players always get short shrift when it comes to awards and things like that...penalize them because they play for the Yankees? Wha..? I'm starting to agree with Baby Boss (scary thought) when he says that ESPN is full of Boston fans...

tadthebad said...

Osmodius: whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Boo-hoo. My players never get recognized (even though my third basemen has received 50% of the last four MVPs).

C'mon, man. Who cares what the BBTN crowd thinks? Wang is real good, so enjoy it. Then let me know how he fares in October.

Jason said...

Wang was never in the "ace" category because he didn't dominate. meaning: high K's. But now he is. He came into the Spring with the intention of developing a third and fourth pitch, and he's done that. He'll probably take some lumps along the way, but he's 51-18 in his young career so far and 5-0 on the season.

Sounds ace-like to me (which is why I penned the entry about him in the first place!)...


Craig Calcaterra said...

Yeah, I think Jason's right. Regardless of whatever the BBTN people say, pitchers tend not to be thought of as "aces" if they're not the intimidating shutdown type. Until now, there was a sense out there that Wang was doing it with smoke and mirrors bcause of his low K rates. Obviously that was underselling how well he pitched -- I think a lot of sinkerballers are similarly underrated, which makes me think that statheads are missing something really important when it comes to sinkerballers -- but it does explain the whole "ace" thing.

Doesn't help that, until this year, there was always another pitcher around who, at one time at least, was a prototypical "ace" (i.e. Clemens, RJ, Kevin Brown, the late Mike Mussina).

Osmodious said...

Jason, Craig...good points, thanks.
One thing I have thought with Wang, over the past 2 seasons, is that he IS 'Ace-like', if only because his sinker is so...well...different. Most sinkers are fairly slow, his is almost as fast as his fast-ball. I mean, an 88mph sinker is one thing...a 92-93mph one is from another planet (and will look an awful lot like a 94mph fastball, until the bottom falls out of it).

If you've got a pitch that nobody else has, THAT makes you an Ace, right? I mean, that's a big part of it, anyway. Santana has that change-up, Clemens had 'Mr Splitty' (along with that fastball), Matsuzaka supposedly has the 'gyro-ball' and Wang has that sinker (and, apparently, an excellent slider).

Anonymous said...


Shyster-I'm surprised you didn't have a comment on John McLaren leaving King Felix in too long vs. Oakland yesterday. He dominated for 7, then got tired and started hanging his breaking stuff. McLaren then waited too long to warm anybody up and Oakland took a 4-2 lead, from being down 2-0. Oakland is a seriously deficient team offensively, but they do play the game very well. Like Tampa, they are fun to watch and even though you know they won't be there at the end, they will at least make the winners come by it honestly.

Jason said...

Osmodius, I agree. That's precisely why Wang and fellow-sinkerballer Webb have been so successful. The pitch comes in thigh-high, in the low 90's, looking like a fastball... then it falls to their shins as the bat waves over it.

Quite devastating. It's one thing to have a dynamite sinker, but once Wang (and Webb) began to complement it with a third and fourth pitch, well, you get what you are seeing with the two of them: 11-0 combined this season.

Pretty nifty stuff.

Pete Toms said...

Very astute Shyster, Lohse for $4 million is a steal. How much did Silva get a handful of months earlier? Without looking up stats I concede that Silva is / was the more valuable pitcher but the discrepancy in compensation between the 2 in comparison to their abilities is way out of whack. And don't Barry Bonds & Kenny Lofton still want to play?

I'll ask you the same question I last posed on this blog;

Have I gone too Oliver Stone? Should I retire my bong for a bit?

Osmodious said...

Jason, one other thing you get with a sinker is a lot of ground balls (as you describe on your blog)...and I have to be honest here, one of the reasons I've enjoyed Wang's outings is because of the increased defensive action. I love the whole game, but I'd rather see Torii Hunter rob a homerun than hit one any day (to borrow his line from his "I live for this" commercial).

I guess that kind of seals it right there. An 'Ace' is a guy who does it all on his own. Wang, Webb and others like them (Pettitte, etc.), rely on their defense to collect the hit balls. Granted, because of the ridiculous spin, coupled with the downward trajectory, the hit balls don't have a lot on them when they are hit, they are still put into play...where anything can happen. The 'Ace' strikes the batter out all on his own.

Thanks! I have learned something new today.
(Does this mean I can go home early?)