WASHINGTON (AP) The general manager of the New York Yankees says Roger Clemens asked for Brian McNamee to be hired after a poor playoff performance in 1999.
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With the Twins having a severe need for pitching in the organization as well as six picks among the top 100, it is certain that more than one of those picks (and probably the second overall pick) will be used to draft a pitcher. To this respect, I[...]
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Trevor Wolff:When we last spoke, you said that Mariana Bichette?sexperiences on draft day hit close to home for you. Could you please tell us what you & yourfamily were feeling throughout this process? Also, what was the family?s (especiallyTyler?s) reaction upon finding out he was selected by the Yankees?
Kim Austin:The emotions Mariana expressed in her interview about the anticipation, anxiety and apprehension that she hoped her sons heart wasn't broken were all the same emotions we experienced. We knew that Tyler was not going the first round, so we were able to sit back that evening and see who went where in the first round. Day two, different story. We were told to expect anywhere from 2nd through 10th round. Like Mariana, I too kept a detailed calender of visits, letters, emails, workouts and tests, however, there were a few other teams who conducted more detailed evals (evaluations), so we had some idea of where the interest was from.
Rounds 2 through 10 came and went, my heart sank, and I was filled with such anxiety, I was physically sick. Tyler eventually left the house. It was just too much to see your child disappointed. Finally during the 13th round the calls began from the teams we knew were deeply vested. ?If we draft you next round are you going to sign?? Of course the answer was yes. Finally, last pick of the 13th round we heard the Yankees announce his name! I called him and told him he was a Yankee. We laughed, screamed and finally came the tears. Tears of relief, tears of joy.
Trevor Wolff: Tyler went in the 13th round, why did he fall sofar in the draft? He has been dominantfrom the very beginning. Did teams feelthat they couldn?t sign him?
Kim Austin:A lot of people don't know that Tyler battled cancer during the draft process. We placed our son in the hands of God, and he persevered. He had been given a second chance, and he was signable. There was not even the chance of draft and follow for him. He was ready to chase his dream.
The teams who were interested knew this and it gave them room to draft others who may not have been signable otherwise. But what it boils down to is you may have some ideas of teams and rounds, but nothing is etched in stone. Each organization has decision makers and you just never know until the names are called.
Trevor Wolff:The state of Georgia always seems to produce a stronghigh school draft class every year. Tyler was the 13th Georgian high school player selected. He has significantly outperformed everysingle player before him, including 8th overall pick DelinoDeshields Jr out of Woodward Academy. Would you say he plays with a chip on his shoulder, as if thinking ?Ideserved to be picked higher so I will prove it??
Kim Austin:Tyler doesn't play that way. He plays for the love of the game. He just goes out there and does what he does best every single night. He has always played with his heart as well as ability, he just plays 110% just like he has since he was 4. Unfortunately draft day can be a crap shoot, nothing is official until your name is called, doesn't matter what round you go in as long as you get there. And what a blessing and honor it is.
Did Tyler plan on beginning his baseball career or was hegoing to school if the right situation didn?t present itself? By that I meanthe right team, the right money, etc?
Kim Austin:After his battle with cancer we totally encouraged him to sign after the draft. Chris and I knew as well as Tyler knew he had been given a second chance. Do it. Chase the dream. With the MLB scholarship program, it was just the right move for him, life can be too short. He can always go back to college later on.
Lastly, what kind of advice would you give to thefamilies that are preparing for next month?s draft?
Kim Austin:As far as advice is concerned, all I can say is HOLD ON! Draft day is a roller-coaster ride. It is a very emotional several days. Remember that nothing is written in stone, anything can happen. Weigh your options, do your homework, make your decision as a family. Be honest and up front about your decisions. Most of all, ENJOY it, its an awesome ride. Best of luck to the young men and their families eligible for the 2012 MLB draft.
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Last night, the Miami Marlins won another extra innings affair by finally breaking through after a number of rough PA with runners in scoring position. In the 12th inning, the Marlins were able to put runners on first and second with two before pushing through the important runs. Omar Infante delivered the eventual game-winning runs with an up-the-middle single with the bases loaded.
But how did the Marlins get the bases loaded in that situation? Following an Emilio Bonifacio strikeout on four pitches, John Buck stepped up to the plate with the opportunity to drive the run in, and while he was not able to deliver that run, he staved off the end of the inning by drawing a clutch walk to load the bases. Let's take a look at that walk.
Of course, the situation made it more exciting than it actually was, as this seemed like any other PA. But the truth is that Buck did a very good job of laying off a number of enticing pitches on his way to a walk, his 14th of the season.
In a way, this is a prototypical walk for Buck, as he has been doing this all season long to the surprise of almost everyone. Since signing a three-year deal worth $18 million total, Buck has gotten a lot of slack for being an undisciplined hitter with a penchant for strikeouts. Certainly Buck does strike out often (22.7 percent strikeout rate in 2012 and 23.5 percent career), but in the last two seasons, he has upped his walk rate to 10.2 percent in 2011 and a very high 15.9 percent this season. How is he doing it? His approach at the plate has drastically changed.Waiting For His Pitch
John Buck has suddenly increased his walk rate in part by continuing a trend he began last year of simply swinging at fewer pitches.
Buck has drastically reduced his swing rate dramatically this season. The drop in swings is somewhat equivalent in both in and out of zone pitches, so this change has helped Buck to stay away from pitches that he used to hack at to little avail. Whereas before Buck would swing away at more than 50 percent of the pitches he saw, with an above average rate of swinging at out of zone pitches, Buck has decreased that problem over the last two years and has suddenly become a very patient hitter. Combined with an increased contact rate in 2011 that has carried on into 2012, Buck has drawn a very large number of walks and dropped his strikeout rate into the low 20 percent range.
Take a look at the distribution of swings by Buck this season.
Compare that to this jumbled graph (sorry gang, still haven't figured out how to do heat maps off of Pitch F/X data!) of Buck's swings and takes from last season.
Even with the messy graphics, you can tell that Buck has been laying off more pitches this season than last. In particular, he looks like he has laid off of more pitches inside than he has in other locations. Buck still is swinging at low balls, so pitchers have been able to fool him there, but it does not seem as bad on pitches in on the hands.
An interesting point to be made here is that this does seem to be something the Marlins are doing as a team. The Marlins are 12th in the majors in walks drawn, but their plate discipline numbers are actually fairly high up there in terms of low swing rates. The team has swung at 42 percent of pitches as a unit, fourth lowest in baseball. Only the Twins, Mets, and Indians have swung at fewer pitches than the Marlins this season. The numbers are similar in terms of in- and out-of-zone pitches as well, as the Fish have swung at the lowest number of in-zone pitches (57 percent, tied with the Twins) and the tenth-lowest number of out-of-zone pitches.
Perhaps the team has been taught to be more patient. For some hitters, it is certainly a benefit; we have seen with Buck and Emilio Bonifacio that taking a more patient approach can lead to better results due to either a lack of value on their balls in play (Bonifacio and his weak power) or a lack of contact ability (Buck). But for guys like Jose Reyes, perhaps a more aggressive approach reaching the midpoint between his career performance and his current passive approach would be a good thing, simply because his high contact rate ensures more generally positive results on in-zone pitches. For some of the Marlins, they need to better learn selectivity rather than just patience at the plate. But for the more hitting-challenged Marlins, taking more pitches is not a bad idea, if only to extend PA and wear out pitchers in addition to allowing them to make their own mistakes. If this is an approach they are looking to use team-wide, credit Eduardo Perez for making that move.
Another day, another Pick 6 set of games down, and the competition is just beginning to heat up here at Fish Stripes. It seems like you guys have taken to the game fairly well, so let us see how the site did on yesterday's games while the Miami Marlins were busy winning their eighth game out of nine on this road trip.
Yesterday's games clearly were not as lopsided as before, with a number of us bunched together. I even showed up on the top ten, so that's bonus points for me! The leader yesterday was marlinsfan315, who benefited from a strong performance by former Marlin Josh Willingham (19.5 points).Here's where the overall leaderboard stands.
Miami Marlins 2012 takes over the lead over cpmustang13 with a strong day yesteday, but the lead is still terribly slim. The hard luck loser from two days ago, bronzeagle, comes back into the top five with a fourth-place performance from yesterday, but mblally is right behind at 230.2 points, with SuperRadz also on his tail. There's a lot more season to go, so we'll keep track of this everyday as we go forward.
Drop your picks over here and let's discuss with two hours left until games start!
From Sweeny Murti:
Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner is likely to be activated from the disabled list on Thursday night, reports WFAN?s Sweeny Murti.The speedster was not with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees ? the Bombers? Triple-A affiliate ? for their day game on Thursday, so it?s likely that he?ll be in the Bronx this evening.Good news. His defense and speed will certainly help, plus, before he went down he was also hitting a very nice .321.
When Chipper Jones announced that 2012 would be his final season... and then announced the next day that he'd need minor knee surgery, I think we were all a bit afraid that Chipper's swan song would be a bit of a letdown. Happily, that has not been the case so far. In fact, Chipper has played some of his best baseball in years (when he's been in the lineup).
This got me to thinking: which players have had the best final seasons of all time, and does Chipper have a chance to finish among them? Below, I rank the best final seasons by position players using a few different criteria.
First up is Baseball-Reference's (new & improved) version of Wins Above Replacement (brWAR). Chipper already has accrued 1.0 brWAR in 2012, which, since the season is about 1/5 over, puts him on pace for around 5 brWAR. I don't think he'll get near that total, but he can fall well short and still rank among the best final seasons ever. Only 12 hitters since 1901 have topped 3 brWAR in their final seasons, and many of those seasons should have asterisks:
Three of these players, including the top 2, were banned as a result of the Black Sox scandal (Jackson, Felsch, and Weaver). Four more died before they had a chance to play another game: Clemente, who perished in a plane crash; Stahl, who died of carbolic acid poisoning in what was ruled a suicide; Chapman, who was killed by a Carl Mays beanball; and Doyle, who died of complications from appendicitis surgery.
That leaves just 5 players who have posted 3 brWAR or more in their final seasons while being able to play another year: Robinson, Cullenbine, Clark, Bonds, and Greenberg. That's some pretty good company for Chipper, if he can manage to join them.
After the jump, I rank the best final seasons by OPS+ and by home runs hit.
Chipper currently has a 136 OPS+. There have been just 10 final seasons with an OPS+ higher than that figure (since 1901, with a minimum of 300 plate appearances):
Again, Jackson, Felsch, and Clemente aren't good comparables for Chipper, since all of them would certainly have played longer had they been able.
There are some interesting stories among the new names. Dave Nilsson left MLB after his best season to fulfill his dream of playing in the Olympics for his home country of Australia; he never made it back. Buzz Arlett was known as the "Babe Ruth of the Minor Leagues." His final season was his only season; despite excellent numbers everywhere he played, including MLB, Arlett did not get another chance to prove himself.
I doubt that Chipper can crack this top 10 in a full season, but it's certainly not impossible, especially if his walk rate goes up (it's currently 7%, which is half of his career rate). It's not too big of a jump from last year's 122 OPS+ to this year's 136.
Finally, let's look at home runs. Chipper has already hit 5, which puts him on pace for 25; that's a lot by his recent standards, as he hasn't hit 25+ since 2007 and hasn't topped 18 since 2008. But again, 20 homers is hardly unreasonable, and that would put him in some pretty exclusive final-year company:
Notice how many of these players are from the homer-happy 1990s and 2000s. Comparatively, it is much harder to hit 20 homers today than it was in those years (as Chipper himself could tell you).
It's also worth noting that all of the players on this list except for Nilsson played at DH, 1st base, or in a corner outfield spot. No one has ever hit 20 HRs in his final season while playing 3rd base, as Chipper is attempting to do. The record is 18 by Doug Rader in 1977. (George Brett hit 19 in his last year, but he was a DH by then; the same goes for Nevin and his 22 final-year homers.)
Regardless of whether he ends up making any of these lists, Chipper's career won't be defined by his final season. He long since clinched his Hall of Fame status. This year is a sort of victory lap for him, but if he can continue his solid start, it could be much more.
On Tuesday, Josh Hamilton made American League history by accumulating 18 Total Bases in one game,[...]
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