Daily Archives: October 29, 2012

Winter Ball Review

Arizona Fall League:
The AFL has been rolling for a couple of weeks now with seven of the requisite Yankees taking part. The AzFL rising stars showcase will feature two of the baby bombers in Mike Adams and hurler Mark Montgomery. The showcase game isn’t so much about the hot hands as it is big names, and the omittion of Slade Heathcott could likely be due to a flush outfield situation.

Dellin Betances, who had fallen from grace earlier this year with a demotion to AA due to a horror show of command may be finding himself pitching into a new role. Dellin was one of those guys who possessed an enormous ceiling, but a low chance of achieving his potential. A move to the pen would put him right where he was pegged to wind up; a lesson for those who set their expectations at the height of possibility and hang from the rafters screaming when it doesn’t happen. Dellin opened the AFL with shades of his MiL performance allowing two runs in 1.2 IP with 2 BB’s and a K, but bounced back in his next two games to pitch 3.2 scoreless innings with 6 K’s while walking only one. If Dellin could find success pitching out of the pen he may just have a future in the BX after all. Fellow right hander Mark Montgomery has continued his dominating of hitters; after allowing a run in his first game Mark has gone on to throw zeroes, totaling 13 K’s in 7.1IP and walking 4. Mark will supposedly get a long look during ST next year and is a strong candidate to join the team at some point in 2013. Zach Nuding and Dan Burawa, who suffered from back issues all year have not fared so well. Zach has allowed 9 runs over 10.2IP, while Burawa has struggled to the tune of a 14+ ERA, allowing 10 runs over 6.1IP. Burawa has some major cobwebs to clear out so maybe this is just a result of not pitching this year.

This brings us to the position players. Both Slade Heathcott and David Adams have gotten off to a rather slow start. Slade is putting up a .200/.364/.200/.564 slash while David a .220/.333/.317/.650 line. The bright points are their defense thus far and the propensity to take their walks; Slade leads the team with 9 free passes (11 K’s) while Adams has taken 7 (4 K’s) so far. Austin Romine has had a nice start to the short season. After missing nearly all of the year for SWB, Romine leads the Scorpions in both OBP and BA (minimum 20 PA) while commiting zero errors along with a 6/7 K/BB rate. We’re talking 41 or fewer AB’s for these guys so the small sample size warning is in full effect.

Quick rundowns of the other action:

Domican Winter League:

Relievers Juan Cedeno and Kelvin Perez have gotten off to a good start in the DR; Cedeno throwing 4.1IP and allowing zero runs on four hits with a pair of K’s and a BB. Perez has gone 2.1IP while giving up zero runs on 2 hits. He also has a pair of K’s and a BB. Jose Ramirez has only gotten into one game pitching 2 scoreless innings giving up two hits with a BB and a K. Lefty Francisco Rondon has recorded two outs thus far yielding a hit with no ER’s, BB’s or K’s. Zoilo Almonte has seen next to no playing time appearing in one game recording a strikeout in one AB. I haven’t seen anything about an injury but I update if anything comes up. Melky Mesa is our other position player in the Dominican, going 6-23 with 5 runs scored, a double, two HR’s, 3 BB’s and 9 K’s. Still hacking away but at least he’s producing.

Mexican League:
This has been, and still is Ramiro Pena’s world for the last few years. The kid always seem to mash down here. Granted it’s generally considered a hitters league, but it’s still a kick to see Pena put up video game numbers. So far he’s 13-36 on the year with 5 doubles, 2 HR, 5 RBI’s with 7 BB’s and a SB, and this is a down year for him. Mustelier joined Ramiro in the Mexi League and has gone 13-50 hitting 3 doubles, a pair of homers and drove in 7. He’s also K’d ten times while walking only twice. Not the average you’d expect but it’s still a small sample we’re looking at here. Walt Ibarra rounds out the bats and has been a bit chilly thus far. He’s 6-28 with a home run and a RBI.

On the pitching side, Gio Gallegos got a scoreless inning in, allowing one hit, striking out one and walking nobody. Felipe Gonzalez has pitched and ugly 3.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits with 4 BB’s and 2 K’s.  Luis Niebla has gotten the most work; 9 innings of two run ball over 4 games. He’s struck out 4 and walked 3. Cesar Vargas rounds out the arms pitching 3.2 innings allowing zero runs on three hits. He’s racked up 7 K’s while walking only one.

 Venezuelan Winter League:
Utility man Jose Pirela leads the hitters in the VWL, so far he’s at 17-54 scoring 9 runs with 4 doubles and a HR. He’s drawn 9 BB’s and K’d 9 times. He also has a pair of stolen bags and two HBP. Gus Molina has gone 8-37 with 6 runs scored along with a double and five! HR’s, driving in eight. Lot’s of taters. Fellow catcher Jose Gil has played in 6 games hitting a stone cold 3-17 with a run, an RBI and 4K’s. Ramon Flores has also seen a bit of action, playing in 6 games so far going 2-9 with 2 runs scores, a BB, a K and a HBP. Francisco Arcia and Ali Castillo have seen very limited action with a lone hit between them.

Left hander Vidal Nuno has made it to the hill in 5 games, pitching 8.2 innings of 0ER ball on 2 hits with zero walks and nine K’s. Jon Meloan has seen 5.2 innings of work, allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, walking a pair and striking out six. Pedro Guerra has 6IP under his belt thus far and allowed 5 runs on 9 hits, walking 6 and striking out only 3, as well as giving up a pair of HR’s. Not exactly characteristic of Guerra.

The Puerto Rican League will be under way in just over a week; it sounds like both Angelo Gumbs, who missed significant time with an elbow injury earlier this year will be joined by Adonis Garcia. We should have some further roster updates by next weeks reviews of the Winter Leagues.

Travel Day

The 2012 MLB season has come to an end.  Sadly, 153 days will pass before the first pitch of the 2013 season will be thrown.  Some random thoughts today about the 2012 season.

Ignorant Cliché   #1: Pitching Is Everything

Over the last few years “pitching is everything” has been written or spoken too many times by clueless souls who don’t understand baseball of the effect that PED’s had on the game.

While we will never fully understand the depth of the use or just how many players were using PED’s before MLB cracked down on their use, my guess is that we all underestimated and continue to underestimate how many players were utilizing them.

While I have NEVER bought into “pitching is everything”, I will concede that during the PED era that having good pitching was at an all-time premium.   Now that a sense of normalcy has been returned to baseball? Hitting has never been more important.

The winning World Series rotation of the Giants, Cain, Vogelsong, Zito, and Bumgarner appeared overmatched by the Tigers rotation of Verlander, Scherzer, Sanchez and Fister.  The Tigers didn’t hit, the Giants did, end of story.

Ignorant Cliché   #2: Playoff Baseball Is Random

I have to laugh at those who use the “random” explanation for everything that happens after every postseason ends.

This explanation seems to have really caught fire due to its popularity among jaded and bitter Yankee and Phillies fans from 2010-2012. I have witnessed the explosion of the use of this explanation for everything postseason after the 2010 season, when the dream rotation of the Phillies wasn’t good enough to beat the eventual World Series champion Giants while the Yankees lost the ALCS to the Rangers. By the time the Phillies and Yankees were both chased in the first round of the 2011 postseason, despite having the best records in their respective leagues, the use of “random” to explain playoff results had hit new heights.

I notice that Yankee fans never refer to their incredible dynasty that ended in 2000 as a lucky era which was completely random. Make no mistake about it, playoff baseball is NOT random.

While incredible flaws exist in the format of postseason baseball, there is nothing random about it. Managers like Tony LaRussa, Bruce Bochy, and Terry Francona have each won two World Series in the last decade despite not possessing what may have been the “best team” in the regular season. Girardi and Manuel have been blown out early with “the best team” twice while winning only one World Series apiece.

The same hitters seem to hit each year in the postseason, while a different group of hitters seem to vanish when the calendar turns to October. Teams who have at least one hot hitter, play good defense, pitch adequately and are managed well keep winning the World Series.  Teams who don’t do those things get eliminated.  It’s that simple.

Good GM’s Make Good Trades

While the development of good players through the farm system and good free agent signings have the largest impact on the success or lack of success by teams, good trades are still what define good GM’s.

A look at the rosters of the Tigers and Giants displayed players like Cabrera, Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Omar Infante, Anibal Sanchez, Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, etc. who were all acquired via trade. Good GM’s make good trades. Bad GM’s make bad trades.

The development of a farm system has very little to do with a GM.  The signing of free agents is largely the result of an ownership willing to spend what it takes to acquire a big name or the money that ownership makes available for a GM to spend on free agents. The most valuable skill that a GM can have is the ability to identify and execute a good trade.



Twelve Yankees file for free agency

Now that the offseason has officially begun, the Players Association released the 137 players (12 Yankees) that are filing for free agency. They are able to negotiate at 12:01 am on Saturday but until then, the Yankees can negotiate exclusively with the following players before Saturday:

Eric Chavez
Pedro Feliciano
Freddy Garcia
Raul Ibanez
Andruw Jones
Hiroki Kuroda
Derek Lowe
Russell Martin
Andy Pettitte
Mariano Rivera
Ichiro Suzuki
Nick Swisher

There are 3 players that have options but they haven’t picked up as of yet: Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and David Aardsma. Those 3 are unlikely to become free agents. Rafael Soriano however can opt out of his contract and can most likely become a free agent.

Morning Bits: Righetti, A-Rod & more…

Good morning everyone.  We now have a world series winner as the Giants swept the Tigers last night.   Soon we will be counting down the days till pitchers and catchers report.

If you are on the east coast please be careful today and tomorrow.

Now for some links…

The Daily News has a nice article about former Yankees player and now Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti.

Chad Jennings of Lohud has a nice week in review of Yankee related news.

Joel Sherman writes that Lincecum’s role reversal should be a lesson for A-Rod.