Friday the 13th
April 13, 2007
Get Ramon Ortiz if you haven't already. Before the season I said
I thought he would do pretty well this season because a) Rick Anderson
is a very good pitching coach, and b) because he has a very good
defense behind him, singling out Torii Hunter because of Ortiz' flyball
tendency. He has been quoted as feeling great confidence in the
Twins defense and that confidence has had a residual effect: extra
movement on his fastball. I've never seen his delivery so
loose-limbed. Instead of aiming the ball because he's worried
about making perfect pitches all the time as he did in Washington and
Cincinnati, he's just letting it fly.
The result is that his arm action is much smoother and his
pitches, particularly his fastball have so much more life on them.
The fastball has been
consistently 92-93 mph with tailing action in on right-handers which
mean a few more grounders to boot. He is this year's edition of
2003 Esteban Loaiza.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Sure enough, as soon as I labeled the Devil Rays' bullpen as
"lights on" they throw three good innings and actually save two games.
Reyes has been effective so far. I'm not going to go
so far as to say he'll be Bob Wickman/Doug Jones effective as the
closer, but the Ranger
line-up really helped him out on Wednesday. Both Sammy Sosa (who
has looked pretty awful at the plate) and Hank Blalock helped him out
immeasurably by trying to hit the ball all the way Houston.
guys like Reyes thrive when batters overswing. Brian Stokes
pretty good as well, so Joe Maddon has at least one and a half decent
Josh Hamilton looks like a more lithe version of Geoff Jenkins when he
swings. I was impressed with how in control of the at bat he was
against Micah Owings whose funky slinging delivery can't be the easiest
to pick up. In
fact, everything about his game has impressed me. If Hamilton
450 at bats - and I think he will - it wouldn't be surprising if he
up with 25 homers and 20 steals.
Matt Belisle is another guy to get - a groundball pitcher with Alex
Gonzalez and Brandon Phillips behind him grabbing groundballs.... mmm,
that's all good. Belisle throws a heavy 92 mph sinker and a nice
tight slider... He won't be vintage Kevin Brown good with tons of
strikeouts, but he'll be at least as good as Jake Westbrook and finish
with more Ks
I was never a big Bob Brenley fan when he was a player. Wasn't
much of a fan when he was a manager, either. And I'm even less
much of a fan I am after listening to one of his stories about his
days during Friday's broadcast. When he wasn't starting a game,
would sit out in the bullpen waiting to warm up relievers. Once
manager called down to warm somebody up, Brenley would still pay
to what was happening on the field. If he thought that the
on the mound needed to either slow down or take a breath, he would
to see if the umpires were watching him. If they weren't, he
fire a ball into the field of play to stop the game. The umpires
just think the ball got away from the reliever warming up and would
the game for 15-30 seconds to allow for it's retrieval.
but clever. That certainly won't show up in the stats but I bet
helped his team win occasionally.
Another tidbit of trivia from today's game: Joe Montegna, who sang
today's 7th inning stretch, was also the guest conductor for the
seventh inning stretch when Kerry Wood struck out 20 batters.
Hopefully, one day soon Wood will get another chance to amaze us
again. Right now it doesn't look so good for either him or Mark
Prior. What might have been.
I don't know what it is about the Pirates. Jim Colborn is a
pretty good pitching coach so I don't have any problem with the job
he's doing with a fairly young staff. But the rest of those
coaches are apparently mailing it in because between the poor defensive
decisions I've seen and what
the hitters did Friday night, it's pretty clear the Pirates need to
somebody who actually teaches how to play baseball. The Giants
were out to an 8-2
lead after the top of the fourth inning with Russ Ortiz on the mound.
last detail is important because beginning with Chris Duffy with two
in the bottom of the fourth and going through the fifth and sixth
the Pirates line-up saw exactly 13 pitches. Two and a third
with Russ Ortiz on the mound. The very same Ortiz who has topped
walks in a season four times and more than 90 six times. The same Ortiz
has averaged more than a walk every other inning for his career.
same Ortiz who came into this game with nearly as many walks as innings
this year. Seven outs, thirteen pitches. Say what you will
how undisciplined the Pirates hitters are but if I was the hitting
I would have fined every hitter $100 if he didn't see at least three
against Ortiz and $1000 if he swung at the first pitch. Down by
runs to one of the most walk-prone pitchers in major league history -
ranked 12th all-time for worst walk rate for pitchers who have thrown
least 200 innings - the hitters have
to be thinking about getting on base so they don't have to try to hit
6-run homers with nobody on. Getting baserunners is the key to
overcoming big deficits. There is simply no excuse for a systemic
the one the Pirates' hitters experienced. This is a team in dire
of a crash course in fundamental baseball.
Also, unless Nate McLouth is simply dreadful in centerfield, the
may want to consider playing him more and Chris Duffy less. Yes,
knocked his first homer of the season but it was on a grapefruit that
tossed up there after 120 pitches. In his other four at bats, he
pretty feeble. He saw 15 pitches in five at bats while McLouth
10 in two at bats and McLouth got hits in both. In addition to
getting on base and getting into
scoring position, a lead-off man should make the opposing pitcher throw
many pitches as he can, if only to get him to show his entire
to his team mates. In his defense, Duffy has drawn 4 walks in 39
at bats which isn't
terrible - roughly a 60-walk pace for the season - which is about the
same pace that McLouth has shown during his career. McLouth has
Duffy in the one base and slugging departments for most of his career
as well and is a year younger so he probably has more upside.
Duffy is still the incumbent but will have to have a better
understanding of what he needs to do at the plate if he hopes to keep
it that way.
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