Cubs May Be The Favorites To Land Japanese Ace

Masahiro-Tanaka

Once it became apparent that Masahiro Tanaka was going to be posted it seemed that merely by default everyone on Earth assumed that the deep-pocketed teams like the New York Yankees & Los Angeles Dodgers would far and away be the most likely landing spots for the Japanese hurler.

But over the last few days it has become more & more clear that the Chicago Cubs were going to be serious players in this thing.

First we had Ken Rosenthal telling us that the Cubbies were “pushing hard” for his services:

I know, I know. It’s just one guys “vibe”.

But it is Ken Rosenthal, one of the game’s more respected (and often correct) prognosticators so you have to, at the very least, give it due consideration.

Then came news from Jayson Stark at ESPN that not only was this Rosenthal’s vibe, but that many a GM had told him they felt the same way too:

Obviously, the question then becomes “what the heck is a ‘monster deal?'”

Is it $100M? How about $150M?

I personally think that this kid will be a very solid pitcher in MLB, perhaps even a top-of-the-rotation guy.

Fangraphs, in my opinion, hit the nail on the head with its assessment of the guy late last year with this scouting report:

Some people, surely, are being racist when they draw comparisons between Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda. Some other people, surely, are being not racist, but lazy, failing to look much beyond country of origin. But it is neither automatically racist nor automatically lazy to compare the two starters, because it turns out the comparison is a pretty good one. Masahiro Tanaka has a lot in common with Hiroki Kuroda, and Kuroda has been quite good from the get-go…

The comparison between Tanaka and Kuroda goes beyond just the Japanese thing. Both are right-handed starters. Both have fastballs around the low 90s. Both throw a lot of sliders, both are known for their command, and most importantly, both feature a frequent splitter. There just haven’t been that many splitters among big-league starting pitchers lately, which is one reason why the Kuroda comparison isn’t as lazy as it can seem.

Since 2002, just seven starters have thrown at least 20% splitters. Just 11 more have thrown at least 10% splitters. Included are names like Kuroda,Hideo NomoKenshin Kawakami, and Hisashi Iwakuma. The splitter is a popular pitch in Japan, so Japanese pitchers frequently make for easy comparisons for Japanese pitchers.

Ben Badler has referred to Tanaka’s splitter as being one of the best splitters in all of baseball, everywhere, and there are indications that even by just throwing a splitter pretty frequently, Tanaka could have an advantage in the majors.

I couldn’t agree more with that (or the entire piece for that matter), but in the end, you just don’t know.

Yeah he’s 25, so if he ends up being a beast you have him locked up for his prime years, but he also could end up being the next Dice-K and $125-150M is a ton of money to have tied up in a guy who ends up falling somewhere between being “wildly inconsistant” and “a flat out bust”.

Specifically thinking about the team from the Northside of Chicago the move makes total sense from an “on the field” perspective.

The organization is flush with high-end prospects who are, if all goes as planned, likely to start coming up to the big league club over the next two years or so. Most of these guys are position prospects like Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Alberto Almora, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara, but they are very, very thin on standout arms.

They could take a “build from within” approach on the offensive side of things and bring in arms to support Jeff Samardzija via trade or free agency.

So the big question becomes this: Do they think they are on the cusp of being able to compete on a daily basis in a division that is already loaded with quality teams like the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates?

Well, it appears that the team asked itself that very question last night and came up with its answer, because today started off with this bit of news from Twitter:

If the Cubs fearless leader, former wunderkind Theo Epstein is wrong, this will obviously be a huge setback to his rebuilding plans as he is set to tie up that many resources in this guy.

But if he’s right, he could bring a long-sought-after World Series title to yet another  cursed fan base and punch his ticket for Cooperstown in the process.

A-rod: Sleazy Is As Sleazy Does

A-FraudAs a baseball addict I often frequent the website Hardball Talk (if you haven’t checked it out you really should), especially liking the writings and ramblings of Craig Calcaterra.

I don’t always agree with Craig, but I always understand where he is coming from.

Today he postulates that Major League Baseball‘s claim in a recent 60 Minutes piece that a payment of around $50,000 from Rodriguez to Anthony Bosch was less of an attempted bribe and more of clerical error.

In his piece he goes as far as to say that not only wasn’t it a mistake, but it’s one that MLB was fully aware of and looked the other way on to suit their purposes:

“Rather, it was a misdirected payment intended for A-Rod’s lawyers. Indeed, A-Rod had just been billed that exact amount by his legal team. It was misdirected to Bosch’s attorney — with whom A-Rod had been dealing with previously — and when the mistake was discovered it was promptly returned. Despite this, MLB stands by its contention that it was a bribe.”

My problem with his rationale is that he doesn’t offer up any evidence that MLB was aware of the clerical error, nor that they subsequently ignored that tidbit of information as they took action against A-fraud A-rod.

He just takes the word of a known sleazeball player and said sleazeball’s known sleazeball lawyer (give this piece a read for a look at that assclown) and assumes that everything is on the up & up, as if it is completely out of the question to think that it all could have been a pencil-whipped ruse to cover their collective asses after an attempted bribe didn’t shake out the way they thought it would.

To me that is just as valid a theory as the evidence free one he put forth above.

He could be right. I could be right. Who knows, based on what we have to go on. The only thing we do know is that this is all just one big old hot mess of ugly.

In the end I don’t think Bosch is a stand-up guy with a whole lot of credibility.

But A-rod’s problem is I think he’s got even less.

Little League Coach Is Suing, Well, Just About Everyone…

baseballgunweb14s-2-webIn what likely has to be the first move by someone to toss their hat into the ring for 2014’s “Douchenozzle of the Year Award” comes this little bit of news from KCRA News in Sacramento, CA:

Joe Paris held his son’s baseball helmet in his hands and expressed frustration that the teen is now named in a civil summons filed in Placer County Superior Court by the boy’s own coach in connection with a game-winning celebration.

“At first I thought it was joke,” Paris said Tuesday. “Now, I think it’s absurd.”

Paris said his son was racing toward home plate to score the winning run during a Lakeside Little League game last spring when the boy threw off his helmet in celebration.

“He was so excited,” Paris said.

In legal papers filed in court, the teen’s former coach, Alan Beck, contends the boy “carelessly threw a helmet, striking Plaintiff’s Achilles tendon and tearing it.”

The legal filings show Beck is seeking $500,000 for pain and suffering, and more than $100,000 for lost wages and medical bills.

How a rounded, likely dull-ish batting helmet edge managed to slice/tear/seriously damage an Achilles Tendon is completely beyond my comprehension.

I am not saying that it is impossible, but I find it hard to believe that played out that way.

A dime to a dollar says the assclown was already feeling some pain in that area and turned a minor bit of bad luck on the child’s part into a sizable amount of good fortune for him.

Even When They Get Instant Replay Right They Manage To Get It Wrong

7757322

Just what we needed, more proof positive on what a joke Bud “The Dud” Selig is.

From Bill Baer over at Hardball Talk:

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports is reportingthat the latest development in replay talks is that the “neighborhood play” — where the second baseman catches the ball off the bag and throws to first base in an attempt to both avoid an incoming runner and complete a double-play, and is given credit for the force out — will not be reviewable.Morosi adds that a manager may challenge that the second baseman did not make a catch but cannot challenge that the second baseman was on the bag when he received the ball.”

I fully understand that the risk of injuries might increase by requiring the pivot man to stand their ground on the bag, the prime motivation for this exemption according to Morosi, but the “neighborhood play” is a freaking joke because the morons umpiring allow it to become “in the same zip code…sort of” plays.

So now, one of the most common (and easiest to spot) missed calls is now exempt from replay.

And that’s before we get to that whole issue of the damn rule states that the fielder’s foot must be on the bag for the out to be recorded part of the equation, as clearly stated in MLB rule 7.08:

“Any runner is out when … (e) He fails to reach the next base before a fielder tags him or the base…”

It doesn’t say “before a fielder tags him or the base or just kind of leisurely comes close to one or the other“. It clearly states that one or the other must be tagged.

What’s the next logical step in this? Because guys get hurt crashing into walls chasing flyballs down we just credit them with the putout if they get close? Or how about all those strained hamstrings teams suffer through? Do we just flip a coin to determine if the baserunner is safe or out on every batted ball put into play?

Of course not, that would be ridiculous.

Kind of like this exemption.

But hey, this kind of haphazard, get as much stuff wrong as we get right mentality has been pretty much par for the course with Selig as Comissioner of the game so why should I have expected anything less this time around, huh?

WTF Sabean? $90M for Hunter Pence?

giants

The San Francisco Giants are just about to get out from under that horrific Barry Zito contract (7 YR/126M) AND a pathetic Aaron Rowand deal (5 YR/60M) so how does their GM celebrate?

He runs out and gives a guy who ranks 28th amongst active Outfielders in OPS (handy evaluation tool) a 5 YR/90M deal lol.

How they won two World Series with this guy at helm is amazing.

Hunter Pence is a solid player and I really like they guy, mostly because he is a big nerd at heart. And yes, durability is undervalued by the average fan.

But supply and demand still rule and this market has a plethora of guys who are better available.

Then factor in a recent history of GMs running out and making a similar mistake by looking at how long Michael Bourn had to wait and how far his price plummeted last year.

The Braves paid way too much, way too early for B.J. Upton and got .184 & 9 HRs from him for the bargain of an extra $25M in contract commitments (and spare me the “they made he playoffs, derp” because Upton had little to do with that and Bourn had a better year).

You can also look at the contract the Philadelphia Phillies handed Jonathan Papelbumbon as another shining example of a team rushing to beat the market and paying way too much for a player. There were about a dozen closer-types on the market and they ended up paying as much for him as some teams did for an entire bullpen.

This contract is a HUGE overpay and might just be the first sign in another long list of questionable deals handed out by Sabean.

I Kind Of Saw This One Coming…

Derek-Jeter-Wallpaper

Mo isn’t out the door yet and now the Derek Jeter haters are trying to push him out while insulting him along the way. I love it when they use phrases like “vastly overrated” to describe him.

Overrated? Probably. He essentially is worshipped in New York and nobody is worthy of tha, even if he is a “biracial angel” lol.

“Vastly” overrated? Lol, not even close.

I am sure that now those haters are going to tell us with an absolute level of certainty that he would barely have 2000 hits if he played in KC his entire career, rather than 3300+.

All of the Jeter haters just need to remove their heads from their collective asses.

Defensively he IS overrated as hell and his Gold Gloves are a farce. But the Gold Gloves in general are a farce so nobody gives three shits. Anybody besides me remember the year the Orioles Rafael Palmeiro won one for 1B despite the small fact he played DH in all but like 3 games?

He wasn’t carried by great teams, he was one of many who helped make teams great.

The biggest knock on him was always that “he wasn’t even the best SS of his era, derp”.

Then alll of the clowns that were named as being superior (Afraud, Tejada, Nomahhh) either came up hot for PEDs, were named by Canseco for using PEDs or just flat out fizzled out while Jete kept on chugging.

Here is “Mr. Overrated’s” resume:

— 9th on all-time hits list, will be 7th if he can just come back and collect 2 hits next season, as high as 5th if he can get 100+ hits next year. But yeah, that means a whole EIGHT guys were better so he HAS to be vastly overrated!!

— RoY 1996 (he comes out swinging, over .300 and nearly 200 hits. But of course he only hit .360 w/ an OBP well over .400 in the playoffs that led to their winning the WS so he was definitely “carried”)

— 13 All-Star appearances (first of which came in 1998 where he hit .324, amassed 200 hits for the first of 8 times in his career while helping the Yankees go an amazing 125-50 when counting their post-season run to yet another WS title in a series win over SD where he hit .353 with an OBP near .500).

— In 2000 he became the only human being ever to win World Series MVP and All-Star MVP in the same calnder year.

— Career batting average well over .300? Check.

— Career OBP near .400? Check.

— Career post-season batting average handly over .300, all done in a sample size that is over 700 ABs…or in other words, an ENTIRE SEASON’S WORTH OF AT-BATS versus ONLY the best competition? Check.

— Career filled with moments where when the lights shined brightest he stepped up and provided the “Mr. November”, “The Flip” kind of moment? Check, check and more checks.

To claim he is vastly overrated throws up the “I’m a fucking douche bag” signal faster than Ed Hardy shirts, “blowouts” & fist pumping in the club.

Why This Article About Brett Gardner Couldn’t Be More Wrong

Gardner 1

One of my favorite websites is Yanks Go Yard. I love baseball & I love my Yankees.

Get over it.

Today I stumbled across a piece titled “Why Brett Gardner Is Not Leading Off” and decided to check it out.

Well, there’s a few minutes of my life I won’t ever get back -_-.

I don’t want to be too picky and I don’t want to straight bash the author but it’s a hot mess of “man you couldn’t be more wrong”.

Of Brett Gardner the author laments:

Unfortunately, his promise hasn’t come to fruition. Putting injuries aside, what has held him back? What improvements does he need to make to get him back to the top of the lineup?

The primary area is on- base- percentage. His OBP this year is only .331 for the season and .353 for his MLB career. How could the Yankees offense thrive with such a low percentage? To put it into perspective, Robinson Cano’s batting average this season is .324. So Cano’s likelihood to reach base is almost as high as Gardener’s without even including Cano’s walks and times hit by a pitch.

It has been one month. In a season with no Derek Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira & Arod in the lineup. Can we say small sample size?

Let’s put this further in perspective.

Johnny Damon has long been considered one of the premier lead-off hitters in the last couple of decades.

His career OBP? .352. Or in other words, lower than Gardners.

Another vital stat for your lead-off batter is Pitches-Per-Plate-Appearance (PPPA).

greedy pinstripes

@GreedyStripes says it best lol

Damon’s best season was that magical 2004 campaign for the Boston Red Sox where he posted a 4.12. Gardner’s best season was 2011 where he saw 4.40 PPPA. His career average is 4.28, considerably better than Damon’s.

Later in the article he says:

When Gardener does get on base he has not been particularly effective, either. Opposing catchers have gunned him down twice in six stealing attempts this season. His career numbers are not much better. He has gone down thirty- two times out of one hundred and seventy-three stealing attempts.

That is not going to catch the attention of Rickey Henderson or Mickey Rivers, two former Yankee lead off hitters.

Dude, www.baseball-reference.com is your friend. Really.

First things first, in 2011 he started off the season 5 for 11 in SB attempts. Then rattled off over 30 straight steals without being caught, ending the season at 49 SB vs 13 CS. It’s a small sample and not indicative of what he can do (has done).

Secondly, the fact that Girardi is an idiot isn’t helping him.

In the skipper’s infinite wisdom (even saying that sarcastically made me throw up in my mouth) he is batting Robinson Cano 2d most nights.

In other words, he puts a swing early, swing often, notoriously impatient, has one of the lowest PPPA’s in MLB behind the speed guy. There’s no sizing a pitcher up, no getting a read on his delivery…none of that.

If you’re stealing you best go on the first pitch. Not ideal for base-stealers. I mean, why don’t we just tie his shoelaces together and REALLY make sure he won’t get as many steals as he normally would?

This foolish move by the manager has effectively taken the man’s best asset completely out of the equation.

Thirdly, and perhaps most laughable is….he has a BETTER stolen base percentage than Henderson (80.4%), Rivers (72%), Lou Brock (75%), Vince Coleman (79%) and is barely behind Tim Raines (82%)..a.k.a. the Gold Standard for stolen base efficiency.

I have always said people are entitled to their opinions they just aren’t entitled to their own set of facts to back them up.

That realllllly seems to apply to this piece.