The 2014 MLB Schedule

By Blaidd Drwg

In the ass-backwards world of the void that is the MLB schedule, you the Red Sox vs Braves games played on Monday and Tuesday at Turner Field in Atlanta. Then, for no explainable reason, the Braves and Red Sox play again Wednesday and Thursday at Fenway Park in Boston.

The schedule maker should be taken out back and shot along with Bud Seilg for that scheduling stupidity.

“I picked the wrong week…”

By Blaidd Drwg

I moved to Seattle from Boston 10 years ago today. With my beloved Red Sox playing well and looking like the front runners for winning the World Series, I came to the realization that if they pull it off again this year, it will be 3 World Series Championships in my lifetime, all of which occurred AFTER I left Boston.  It isn’t like the Sox weren’t good when I was living there, it is just that they were getting caught behind the Yankee dynasty and couldn’t overcome it. I will count 2003 as a year in Boston, since I was there for most of the time, but here is how the team fared in my time back east vs. my time in the land of salmon and rain:

 

Years W-L PCT World Series Playoffs Winning Seasons
1991-2003 1081-959 .530 0 4 9
2004-Current 898-702 .561 2 6 9

 

Not really a point to this, just marking the 10th anniversary of my move to Seattle with something vaguely sports related.

Oh, and this:


 

Disappointment at the Trade Deadline

By Iron Chef Leftovers

The trade deadline is always interesting in baseball, but this year just seemed plain boring. Sure there were a couple of bigger trades and I am happy with the move the Red Sox made in getting Jake Peavy for Jose Iglesias, but beyond that, it was the moves that didn’t get made (and one that did but I can’t figure out why) that were odd.

The Diamondbacks, just 2 ½ games out of first place, traded Ian Kennedy to San Diego. Granted, Kennedy’s 5+ ERA has not looked great this year, but there are things to consider – his stats suggest that his ERA should be about a run lower than it is and he is probably better than whoever the D’Backs are going to plug into their rotation to replace him. It is possible that the D’backs see something in Kennedy that scared them into making a deal with one of their division rivals, but they effectively dealt a decent starting pitcher for a LOOGY (Joe Thatcher), a mid-level prospect and a 2nd round draft pick. Not a great haul. What am I missing here?

The Mariners decided to stand pat despite having a few moderately tradable commodities. It seems that management is trying to keep fans by winning a few more games than they would if they dumped Morales/Ibanez/Perez. Well, I am not sure that winning 80 games will keep the fan exodus from happening any more than winning 70 games will. I suspect the reason is that they are trying to win at least 76 games – so they can make the bullshit argument that they improved over last season and that the 3…er 5…er 7 year plan is still working. The M’s are effectively out of it – 12.5 games back of the A’s for the division lead and 9.5 back of Cleveland for the 2nd wild card spot. Even if they get close to .500, they are still going to be playing to a mostly empty stadium come September, so why not deal Ibanez and Morales (they are both free agents at the end of the season) for something more than a bucket of balls and just play the kids and see what happens.

March Showers Bring April Flowers*…

By Blaidd Drwg

Or do they?

Remember back a few weeks ago when I posted about the Mariners spring training stats and why you should not get excited about them. Well, 3 weeks into the season, the Mariners are 14th in the AL in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging. Remember when Brandon Maurer made the team with a nifty 1.50 ERA in the desert? He is currently sporting a 9.94 ERA in the bigs. Exactly why you don’t get excited about spring stats.

Rob Neyer wrote an interesting article about this very subject concerning Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. It is a good read, but he has a great piece of wisdom about baseball’s March numbers:

Spring-training statistics are a lot of fun, but they’re merely a snapshot in time, and they describe the random nature of raw performance statistics as much as they describe fundamental abilities.

Basically making an assumption about how a player will perform over a season is about as useful as pulling a random block of 60 at-bats to do the same.

 

* I know that is not the saying, but it makes my point so I am going with it

What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

By Blaidd Drwg

I am not sure that any player has had a stranger off-season than Sandy Rosario. Rosario is a 27 year old right hander who pitched for the Marlins last season. In his MLB career, he sports a spectacular 15.26 ERA in 7.2 innings, giving up 13 runs on 22 hits (in his defense, his minor league numbers are much better looking). Nothing spectacular and he is probably a back of the bullpen guy if he ever pulls it together.

Since no one actually cares what Sandy Rosario looks like, I give you an image of a sleeping puppy.
Since no one actually cares what Sandy Rosario looks like, I give you an image of a sleeping puppy.

His odd off-season began in October when he was released by the Marlins. Here is how the rest of it goes:

October 17th – Signed by the Red Sox
November 28th – Traded from the Red Sox to the A’s for a PTBNL
December 10th – Released by the A’s and signed by the Red Sox
December 12th – Released by the Red Sox and signed by the Cubs
December 21st – Released by the Cubs and signed by the Giants

Ok, the guy has managed to be on the roster for 5 different teams (and the Red Sox twice) since the season ended. What the heck is wrong with this guy if teams keep picking him up and then dropping him a couple days later? It also appears that he and Eli Whiteside are having a competition to see who can get released more times this off-season.

And Down the Stretch They Come…

By Blaidd Drwg

The NL has 4 of its 5 playoff spots finalized, with only the 2nd wild card still remaining. Even then, the Cardinals have a 3 game lead over the Dodgers with 6 games remaining, making it unlikely that the Dodgers will catch the Redbirds.

The AL is a different story – no one has actually clinched a playoff spot and it could be an interesting last week of the season. Going into Friday’s games, the Yankees lead the east by 1, the Tigers lead the central by 2 and the Rangers lead the west by 4. The wild card also has races, with the Orioles 1 game ahead of the A’s for the first spot and the A’s 2 games ahead of the Angels and Rays for the 2nd spot.

Here is how this is going to play out:
East:
Yankees have 6 games left – 3 at Toronto and 3 vs. Boston. They are in the best position to win the division since they play the two worst teams in the division and neither Boston nor Toronto is playing particularly well right now. As much as I know the Red Sox would like to spoil the Yankees playoff chances, I don’t think it will happen. I see the Yankees taking 5 of the 6 to win the division.

Orioles have 6 games left – 3 vs. Boston and 3 at Tampa.
Rays have 6 games left – 3 at Chicago and 3 vs. Baltimore.
The final TB-Baltimore series could really put a monkey wrench in the playoff chances for one of the two teams. Both the O’s and the Rays are hot and they both need to sweep their weekend series. It is entirely possible that both of these teams could make it to the playoffs, and I wouldn’t be shocked if they do.

Central:
Last week, the White Sox had a 3 game lead in the division. This week, they are trailing the Tigers by 2.
The White Sox need to take at least 2 out of three from the Rays (they really need a sweep) and then sweep the Indians in their last series. Why? Well the Tigers benefit from the most favorable remaining schedule of all the contenders – the have 3 at KC and finish with 3 vs. Minnesota. That is going to make it very tough on the Sox.

West:
The Rangers are in the driver’s seat, but by no means have it locked. They play 3 vs. the Angels and 3 at Oakland. Basically if they take 2 out of 3 from the Halos, the Rangers win the division and the Angels go home for the season.

The A’s are playing the Mariners for 3 and then finish with the Rangers. They really need to sweep the M’s and hope that either the Rangers fell apart against the Angels or have won the division and decided to monkey with their rotation to get it set for the playoffs. The A’s are a longshot to win the division but are in a pretty good spot for a wild card, even with their all-rookie rotation.

The Angels just basically need to win out against the Rangers and the Mariners. It could mean that there is meaningful baseball played in Safeco field in October, just not for the Mariners.

My Prediction:
East Winner: Yankees
Central Winner: Tigers
West Winner: Rangers
Wild Card 1: Orioles
Wild Card 2: A’s

Depending on everyone’s final record and how the wild card standings finish, you could actually end up with this nightmare scenario:

Oakland wins the 2nd wild card and flies to Baltimore, arriving sometime in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday

Oakland at Baltimore for the wild card game on Friday if Baltimore ends up with the best wild card record.

New York at Baltimore for the ALDS on Sunday if NY ends up with the best record.

MLB has decided in its infinite wisdom that the team with the best record gets to play the wild card winner (great), but the series format is 2 games at the WC winner and 3 at the Division Winner. So, the Yankees might not know that the need to get on a flight to Oakland until late Friday night. As much as I hate the Yankees, I don’t understand how that makes any sense. It probably negates any advantage they gain from playing the wild card winner. Of course, this gets much more interesting if there is a tie anywhere and we need a playoff to determine the winner.

The Curious Case of Aaron Cook

By Bliadd Drwg

Earlier in September, the Red Sox came limping into Seattle, for a pillow fight series against the Mariners. Things have been so bad for the Red Sox this season; they actually had a worse record than the Mariners on September 3rd, the first game of the season. Normally the Red Sox are a big draw – historically pulling 30,000+ for a weekday series. This year, not so much. The beautiful Labor Day afternoon game drew a whopping 21,000 and the Tuesday and Wednesday games drew 12,700 and 13,000 respectively (although it seemed like there were less people at the Wednesday game).

That Wednesday game, the Red Sox brought out starter Aaron Cook, sporting a stellar 5.35 ERA before that start. What made it more interesting for me were his strikeout and walk stats – entering the game, Cook had struck out 11, walked 12 and given up 10 home runs…in 70.2 innings. That translates into less than 2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched. That, my friends, is a truly pathetic total. Cook has always been an extreme ground ball pitcher, which probably explains his success when he pitched for Colorado, despite striking out only 3.7 batters per nine. To put that into perspective, my favorite soft tosser, Jamie Moyer averaged 5.4 strikeouts per nine innings over his career.  It is hard to survive as a MLB pitcher with a number as low as Cook has posted, but he has somehow managed to do it.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First, I wondered if there had been any pitcher who made it through 100 innings and gave up more home runs than strikeouts. I haven’t bothered to look that up yet, so that is for another post. Second, those extremely low numbers set up one of the more bizarre pitching outings I have seen from a truly statistical standpoint.

Coming into the Mariners game, Cook had made 13 starts. Here is the aggregate on the number of strikeouts and walks he has registered per game:

 

# of Strikeouts Times # of Walks Times
0 7 0 5
1 3 1 6
2 2 3 2
4 1

 

So Cook managed to strike out 2 or less in 12 out of his first 13 starts. Enter the Seattle game. He gets on a roll early, striking out Trayvon Robinson in the first, meaning his K total exceeds half his previous starts, one inning into the game. In the second, he gets Eric Thames looking, and I am waiting for the plague of locusts to descend on the stadium; two strike outs in two innings? Someone obviously took Aaron Cook’s place on the mound.

The third inning is where it gets really strange. Dustin Ackley leads off and strikes out swinging. At this point I am ready to head for cover as it was due to start raining blood any minute. Trayvon Robinson again strikes out and I am fully expecting the second coming at this point. What are the chances that Aaron Cook, who has struck out 11 batters all season, will actually strike out the side? Pretty good actually. After a couple of walks (more on those in a minute), Jesus Montero struck out swinging to end the inning. The 5K’s in the first 3 innings would be all Cook would get – he would pitch 3 more innings without recording another strikeout.

What’s so interesting about the walks? Well, it means that a guy who has batters put the ball in play 91% of the time, managed to face 5 batters, record 3 outs and not a single one of them managed to put a ball in play.

You never know what you are going to have happen when you come to the ballpark on any given day.