Brooks Robinson 2012 Topps Archives Gold Stamped Reprint If I could wallpaper a room out of cards from the 2012 Topps Archives set, I would consider it. My wife would have me committed, but I just love these cards that … Continue reading →
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Troy Renck writes that the Rockies front office shift will only make sense if the team's pitching improves. In similar veins, filling out job applications only makes sense if you get a job. Or going to school only makes sense if you get educated. So beyond the obvious "that's the point," nitpick with the headline, the root problem remains that the Rockies have yet to find an effective pitcher development strategy for Coors Field. Renck and I agree that the Rockies amateur drafting has been perhaps the single major issue in this. There's been an almost incomprehensible run of bad luck and bad drafting by this organization when it comes to starting pitching from the team's inception, with only a handful of minor successes to show for almost twenty years of drafts.
In the meantime, while the Rockies view a third starter as a major success on the draft front, all the other teams in the division have seen aces like Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy and Brandon Webb come and go through their drafting efforts. Comparing the results of current young division pitchers like Kershaw, Wade Miley and Madison Bumgarner to those of Rockies draftee Christian Friedrich shows that this trend continues to this day. It doesn't take much more than a look at the standings to see how this consistent talent deficit eventually adds up to a major disparity.
Because of the structure of baseball's minor league system, fixing the input problem usually requires years before the results are seen in the output, and for a team like the Rockies that already has a front office staff that's struggling in the mire, there won't be the time given to see if this switch at the top is actually meaningful. I don't think after years of fairly consistent subpar performance that this front office deserves what we'd usually allow a new management group to fix those input issues. This seems to leave Bill Geivett in a particularly difficult spot of having to figure out a way of improving the Rockies immediate pitching performance without sacrificing the real long term cure that's needed for this franchise on the farm.
That leaves me with the feeling that while the cure for the disease, the draft, can't be ignored, the real key for the Rockies front office to survive will be to see some clear signs of development from young trade acquired pitchers like Alex White, Drew Pomeranz and today's starter Tyler Chatwood, and then to be able to supplement the best of those with an infusion of a high quality pitcher that can adjust quickly to pitching at altitude. So Geivett needs to identify what makes a pitcher like Jason Marquis figure out the mysteries of Coors Field so quickly compared to other pitchers that don't, and get more of that kind of arm. In the meantime, he has to be pouring everything into getting the young pitchers the Rockies already have on their MLB or AAA teams to the next level.
Sunday, Aug 5, 2012, 1:35 PM EDT
Partly cloudy,rain. Winds blowing out to center field at 10-20 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 90.
The Miami Marlins are coming off one of their worst losses of the 2012 season, and the team has to turn around and face Stephen Strasburg in the afternoon game. That does not sound like a fair proposition, and the Marlins should file an official protest.
But seriously, after last night's loss, the last thing the Marlins want to see is Strasburg versus RIcky Nolasco on the mound. Still, the Fish will attempt to salvage a second straight series split.Pitching Matchup
This cannot be good.
Bold Prediction: Nationals def. Marlins 6-1
Many media outlets come out with weekly Power Rankings. Generally I do not find them all that useful or interesting. They are usually sort of based on overall record, sort of based on teams’ talent levels, sort of based on…[...]
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Another week, another Weekly Ichthyomancy Championship and weekly update to be declared. How did our Fish Stripers do this week on Ichthy, especially with a Double Ichthy Points set of games in the doubleheader? Let's first look at the overall standings.
This week, we see Jigokusabre pulling ahead after a cold week by all three of the leaders of the overall season ichthyomancy. Jigo pulled ahead with a strong performance in Josh Johnson's start in Ichthyomancy, as he nailed both the Hero of the Game and AAB picks for a six-point pickup that made up for an otherwise point-less week. The two other leaders, SuperRadz and Jeremy Hulme, had a rough week in the sense that they could not gain any ground. Jeremy stayed out of the Double Ichthy Points fray to avoid penalties, while SuperRadz fell a few strikeouts short of making a quantum leap up the leaderboard.
Speaking of quantum leaps, don't look now, but whambam has forced his way into the discussion for the fourth/fifth place spots on the leaderboard, as he has now 47 points to close in on oladipo_for_mayor for the fifth place spot. He is also within shouting distance of dgriot, who until this week has had a rough second half.Weekly Top Ten Leaderboard
The weekly championship was won again on the back of whambam with a nice pick on a Jose Reyes game that gave him two points and a slim victory over dgriot (whose points I had to recalculate after making an error) and Jigokusabre. Both players ended up with six points, one shy of whambam's seven.
Congratulations whambam, you are this week's Weekly Ichthyomancy Champion! He is the first two-time winner of this event and he'll look to defend the crown again.
Second Half Leaderboard
Jigokusabre and whambam are currently sharing the points lead for the season, with Jeremy Hulme five behind the leaders. SuperRadz, the first half leader, has fallen into a conspicuous cold streak, and we will have to see if he can recover to join the leaderboard at the top of the second half and hold onto the race for the overall lead.
When the Boston Braves packed up and moved to Milwaukee before the 1953 season, they brought with them the most exciting young star in the National League, Eddie Mathews, and the best lefty in the game, Warren Spahn. Mathews may have been the rising star, but Spahn had already established himself as one of the greats. Spahn dreaded the move to Milwaukee at first, but the enthusiasm and excitement of the crowds would inspired him and he turned in one of the best seasons of his career.
How good was Warren Spahn in 1953? His win/loss record was an excellent 23–7, and those 23 wins led the National League. His league leading 2.10 ERA was spectacular, and gave him an ERA+ of 188. Dig down further, and you realize the stats were no fluke. He only gave up 7 hits every nine innings and his WHIP of 1.058 not only led the league, but was also his career best. If you wanted to look for any holes in his performance, he fell to fifth in the league for strikeouts after leading the league the last four seasons the Braves were in Boston. I doubt the Braves minded the drop in strikeouts. After all, 8.5 WAR seasons don’t come around that often, even for a pitcher the caliber of Warren Spahn.
I suppose it’s a shame that his 1953 Bowman Color baseball card features him in a Boston Braves cap, but there’s nothing that can diminish the impact of this spectacular card. At the time, most baseball cards were black and white photographs that were then painted with color. Our images of many of the great players from the period have been tainted by the painted look of most of the cards. A set from this period with pure, beautiful color photography is invaluable if for no other reason than it gives us a look at what these players really looked like.
With Spahn, we can see that he looks younger than his 32 years. One look at his eyes, and you can see his infamous mischievousness lying just below the surface. The beautiful reds and blues stand out and look great. I’d like to see manufacturers of today go back to this type of posed shot as well. For all these reasons, this card has been long considered one of the great cards of a Braves player. It is also, quite simply, one of the great cards of the period.
Phil Niekro gave up more hits than any other pitcher in the National League during the 1978 season. Hitters would reach base 295 times that season with a hit off him. If I were to tell you that Knucksie was the most valuable pitcher in the game that year, you might wonder how that was possible. Not only did he lead the league in hits given up, he was also second in the league giving up 102 walks. Despite all those walks and all those hits, Niekro had a WHIP of only 1.187. Phil Niekro pitched 59 innings more than any other pitcher in the league. Yes, in 1978, the man who gave up the most hits in the league, the man who gave up the second most walks, the man who had the most losses, the man who gave up the most earned runs amassed an astonishing 9.6 WAR.
For all that, Phil Niekro found himself finishing sixth in the Cy Young balloting. If he had played on an even slightly better baseball team, Phil Niekro would have won 25 games. If he had been pitching for the Dodgers or the Phillies, he might have won 30. As it was, with the 93 loss 1978 Atlanta Braves, he would take the loss in nine games in which he pitched a complete game. Niekro provided his value by going out and pitching and pitching and then, pitching some more. He is one of the most valuable pitchers to have ever played the game and it’s unfortunate that he doesn’t seem to get his due from fans outside of Atlanta.
It’s hard to imagine Topps putting out a more boring card than Niekro’s 1978 Topps card. There’s just something wrong about seeing Knucksie wearing his warm up jacket with artificial turf behind him. Ugh. To tell the truth, the card doesn’t really stand out as particularly boring for that year. In 1978, Topps specialized in boring. Everything about the set was dull. There’s no reason that Niekro’s card should be any different. Still, it was an amazing season for the game’s greatest knuckleballer. There’s nothing boring about that.
Tom Glavine (1991 Topps #82)
It’s hard to exaggerate the impact that Tom Glavine’s magnificent 1991 season had on the Atlanta Braves franchise. I would argue that it was his Cy Young winning performance that year that carried the team that year. If not for his performance, in 1991 and the following season in 1992, the Braves aren’t a World Series team. If the Braves aren’t in the 1991 and 1992 World Series, they don’t sign Greg Maddux before the 1993 season and trade for Fred McGriff during the 1993 season. No player is more responsible for the start of the Braves amazing streak of division championships.
In 1991, the only major traditional stats that Glavine led the league in was wins and complete games, and even then, he tied for the lead in both. His strength was his lack of weakness. He battled and was good to great every time out. He was the most valuable pitcher in the league posting an amazing 8.2 WAR, which was almost three wins better than the next closest pitcher.
At the time, I wasn’t much of a fan of the 1991 Topps set. I have no problem with minimal designs, but the 1991 design seems to lack any spark at all. Fortunately, Topps got a great photo of Glavine to memorialize this important season. Any Braves fan who ever watched Glavine pitch knows that face. Glavine battled, start after start, and this card captures that.
Greg Maddux (1995 Upper Deck Electric Diamond #49)
To this day, I find it amazing that we got to watch Greg Maddux pitch every fifth game for 11 straight seasons. It isn’t often that you get to watch a guy and know that you are watching someone who will go down as not simply great, but as one of the best ever. The 1995 season was the year where the Atlanta Braves finally won it all, and the season Greg Maddux posted that year was stunning. He was 19–2 with a 1.63 ERA. His ERA+ was an insane 260. He led the league in complete games, and shutouts, and WHIP, and home runs per nine innings pitched. He was undeniably better than everyone else who did what he did that year.
Photographers for the major card manufacturers had a habit for capturing Greg Maddux with the funniest of faces. It has happened so often that it’s become something of a running joke among Maddux collectors. His 1995 Upper Deck card is no joke. In the middle of his full wind up, he’s looking in at the plate and is deadly serious. That’s the Mad Dog we all know.
John Smoltz (1996 Donruss #363)
As a Braves fan, there was only one thing you could say after Smoltz’s wonderful 1996 season. “It’s about time.” Year after year we waited for Smoltz to dominate from the first game of the season to the last. His struggles were well known. 1996 is the year where he finally put it all together. We had all watched him rise to the occasion time and time again in the big clutch moment. What we hadn’t seen from John were consistently great starts throughout an entire season. That’s what he delivered in 1996 and he was rewarded with the Cy Young award.
The 1996 Donruss set would be perfect if that foil box at the bottom center of each card were just a tad smaller. That said, this is one of the finest Smoltz cards you will see. Like the Glavine and Maddux cards pictured above, the wonderful photography shows Smoltz looking fierce as he proceeds to being his heater to the plate.
It was an interesting week, with the trade deadline passing, and the waiver period beginning. A[...]
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So?it looked like we were on our way to the second win in a row against one of the top three teams in baseball. We had ?em on the ropes, as a matter of fact. But then? Reliever Mike Dunn flat-out blundered. On a crappy, basic PFP-drill flip from Carlos Lee to the [...]
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The Astros won the game 6-3. Bud Norris was the winning pitcher with Jose Valrvede closing our the game for the Astros 54th victory. At 54-55 the Astros were third in the division tied with non other than the Brewers.
The Astros used a total of five pitchers in the game and I've got a question for those of you that actually read these Astros History posts. Would you take Chris Sampson, Tim Byrdak, Jeff Fulchino and Jose Valverde over the current bullpen?
Offensively, Sean's favorite player Jason "The Wrestler" Michaels and Miguel "Not My Right Age" Tejada each hit homeruns. Both Geoff Blum and Carlos Lee had two hits each and Darin Erstad had a hit and one of the two walks.
Ivan Rodriguez was, at least to me, surprisingly still on the team. I don't really remember him playing for the team too much, but he did have 344 plate appearances with the Astros and was moved during the August waiver trade period. In return the Astros received Matt Nevarez and Jose Vallejo.