I hope you all enjoyed your Father's Day weekend. A lot happened through the weekend with the minor leagues, so I'm here to catch you up.
Lancaster finished up the first half of the season with a three game streak and tied for first place. But, the team doesn't qualify for a playoff due to their head-to-head records. They officially finished the first half second in their division with a 37-33 record, which is an improvement over last season.
The Corpus Christi Hooks rotation is finally starting to set in. There were two good pitching performances from the weekend with Jose Cisnero and Brett Oberholtzer taking the mound. Cisnero's was the more impressive one as he posted a Game Score of 87, which is tops in the organization this season. You can read about his two-hit shutout here. The thing I took away was the pitching coach emphasized that Cisnero challenged hitters. That's the issue. When he challenges hitters and relies on his stuff, he's very effective.
Brett Oberholtzer didn't allow a baserunner until the 5th inning and was cruising early. He still finished with a great stat line. Oberholtzer has quietly turned his season around and has been improving a lot as of late. If the Astros decide to promote a pitcher from Corpus to OkC to stabilize the musical chairs of a pitching rotation, my money is on ObieHockey.
Last year's 2011 Draft Class mates of Jonas Dufek and Nick Tropeano had their own duo of shutting down hitters over the weekend as well for Lexington. Combined, they allowed just one run over fourteen innings and struck out fourteen.
Today marks the day of two more teams going into action. Vincent Velasquez gets the opening day nod for the Tri-City ValleyCats. He was a 3rd round pick in 2010 before having Tommy John surgery and is now pitching for the first time since 2010. Carlos Correa makes his Astros debut for the GCL Astros this morning. Greeneville gets going tomorrow night.
Game Scores Added 10:40 AM
Lou Brock And The ’3,000 Hits Club’ Date of entry into “Club 3,000″ – August 13, 1979 The Story – At home, and in front of 44,000+ fans, the Cardinals took on their divisional rivals – The Chicago Cubs. Ironically, … Continue reading →
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An experience every baseball game has had is sweating out close games in the 9th inning of a[...]
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After a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, the Marlins once again suffered a series loss and were left questioning where they will go from here. One thing that has plagued the Fish this month is their offense. The Marlins were shut out and had just two hits last night, and two evenings before they were shut out by the Rays as well with only one hit to their name. For the month, no team has hit worse than the Marlins' .204/.272/.336 (.267 wOBA), and this is not necessarily an isolated situation. Yes, the Fish were hot in the month of May, but they were still 14th in the league in wOBA that month after a month of April during which they also struggled at the plate.
But this was not supposed to be the case. Before the season, the Marlins were projected to be pretty good on offense. Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projected a .265 TAv that would have put them third in the National League. Even in May, the club was only tied for sixth in the National League in hitting after park adjustment. Overall, the Marlins are only better than the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs with the bats thus far. When combined with the team's poor defense overall, the Fish are currently second to last in the NL in FanGraphs Wins Above Replacement for their position players.
With the team's bats faltering now for one and a half of the two and a half months of the season, the question becomes whether we overestimated the Marlins before the season began.The Tally
Here are the eight position players whom the Marlins played in their Opening Day lineup and how they have fared so far this season versus their preseason ZiPS projections.
All the players in red are guys that underperformed their projection by more than 20 points of wOBA. The lone player in green, Emilio Bonifacio, is the only guy who outperformed his projection by that much. Omar Infante, who has regressed since his hot April, is the only other starter who has outperformed his projection.
It is very clear that almost all of the Marlins have struggled at the plate, but not all Marlins have been "deservedly" bad. That is, for many of these guys, we can expect regression, and we suspect their true talents have not changed by that much. Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez have each lost about 10 points from their preseason projection, and both players have had good stretches that show that they need only see it through to the end of the season to see regression work in their favor. John Buck, as we noted last week, has improved his approach and is getting some pretty bad luck. The same could be said for Logan Morrison, though his situation is more of a mixed bag at this stage. Of the players in the Marlins starting five, only Gaby Sanchez has seen a tremendous fall in performance with a plausible explanation that does not involve large amounts of bad luck.
It should not surprise anyone, then, to see Sanchez be the player with the biggest drop in projected wOBA now versus from the preseason.
I arbitrarily chose to highlight anyone who lost more than 10 points on their projection from the start of the season. Immediately you can see that Ramirez and Reyes should be fine, and that the three concerns should lie on Buck, Morrison, and Sanchez. Of those three, I would be more concerned about Sanchez and Morrison. Morrison has not put together a good extended stretch of baseball the entire season, and the results of his swings have vacillated from power-heavy and light on contact (June) and patient but weak and lacking in hits (May). Sanchez, on the other hand, has continued to pop the ball up, and his strikeouts are at an all-time high while his walks are down to a career low. His struggles at the plate look very real at the moment, and if anyone was in need of some coaching assistance, it would be him.
When three of your starters have real concerns at the plate, you may already be doing poorly. But the Marlins have compounded this by granting poor backups significant playing time and getting burned with their results. The Fish have given non-Opening Day starters 539 PA and received a .234/.299/.344 (.279 wOBA) out of those guys. Yes, some of them have stepped up, particularly Austin Kearns (.317/.379/.533), Justin Ruggiano (.310/.394/.690), and Donovan Solano (.367/.429/.433), but eventually those players too are sure to regress and bring that bench wOBA down.
However, compared to the other benches in the NL East, for example, we have done at least an adequate job.
The Phillies and Mets have gotten strong bench production, while the Marlins have outperformed the Braves and Nationals (without Bryce Harper because, let's be honest, he could have started this season and done this well). The Marlins have been able to avoid injury and utilize their bench significantly less than the Mets and Nationals. So despite our frustrations with the Marlins' bench underperforming, the Marlins seem to have been in at least an average situation compared to their division.
Can It Be Fixed?
The team is obviously struggling as a whole, but as we pointed out, only a few players are of real concern. Overall, however, it is likely that we overestimated this team's offense, as evidenced by the dropping projections for each player. The two players to keep an eye on for the rest of the year are clearly Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez, both of whom have significantly underperformed their projections.
Still, it was impossible to predict that going into this season. Gaby Sanchez had been a metronome of consistency in terms of end-of-season production at the plate in his first two years. Morrison was a concern heading into this year, if only because we were not sure whether we would get power or batting average Morrison. This season, we have not gotten either.
But while the rest of the team has underperformed, they have not changed so significantly that we should be overly concerned. Going into the season, maybe this team's offense was not the third best in the National League, but it certainly is not the third worst. Everyone else should either stay the course or be on the way up going forward.
Randall Delgado shined on Sunday, allowing two runs and three hits while striking out six and walking just one. Unfortunately, Atlanta couldn't score any runs to help him out.
Baltimore shut the Braves out on Saturday and Sunday, the first time Atlanta has been shutout in back-to-back games since 2009.
Much of the Braves success offensively has started with Michael Bourn and Martin Prado. The Orioles managed to shut them down this weekend, as the duo went 4-22 at the dish with two walks and four strikeouts.
Jason Hammel was impressive on Saturday, firing a complete game shutout while holding Atlanta hitless for 6.2 innings. His turnaround since getting out of Coors Field has been fun to watch.
Jason Heyward was the only Brave to record a hit in each of the three games. He broke up Hammel's no-no with a single to left in the seventh inning of game two.
Dan Uggla and Chipper both managed to go hitless during the series, although Chipper only played in two games of it. Atlanta can't afford for that to happen.
Andrelton Simmons had a rare error on Friday that cost the Braves a couple of runs, but the rest of his weekend was fantastic. He recorded three hits, including a home run on Friday to lead Atlanta to a win. On Sunday, he made a fantastic diving stop and throw to first on an Adam Jones grounder.
The Braves went 1-10 with runners in scoring positon during the three-game series.
Lou Brock & His 938 Career Stolen Bases Lou Brock retired from major league baseball with 938 career stolen bases. He was the all-time leader of this offensive category at the time of his retirement. Brock had double-digit steals in … Continue reading →
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After scoring 26 runs while taking two of three in Minnesota, the Phillies come into their series with the BlueRead the Rest...
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I am going to extend the two contests another day for a chance to win a copy of the new book on Willie Aikens. I will announce the winner of the random selection tomorrow morning and have a poll set up to vote for the best photoshop image. Here are the links to the two contests:
Really no content here, other than a nice photo.
Also, Jeff Francoeur looking like... you tell me.
The Rockies traded away Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom for Guthrie this past offseason, it looked to be at best a lateral move. Hammel had seemingly lost his fastball, the Rockies had just acquired like 7 young pitchers who could pitch in the rotation or end up in the bullpen thereby making Lindstrom expensive and expendable, and Guthrie had 5 straight seasons of at least 175IP, the past 3 being over 200IP - something the Rockies were sorely lacking.
Fast-forward to today, and Guthrie is coming off a 3IP, 4ER performance, while Jason Hammel 1-hit the Braves in a complete-game shutout the night before. Matt Lindstrom has a 1.29 ERA with Baltimore in his 14 innings of work.
Buster Olney is reporting that the Rockies are looking to move Guthrie right now. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have reported that the Toronto Blue Jays have been willing to trade a AA 1B named Mike McDade for Guthrie while taking on the ~$5M remaining on Guthrie's contract.
Hindsight being 20/20, this trade was obviously a mistake. Leading into it, we thought the Rockies had acquired a class act (which he still is) rotation workhorse who might not put up ACE NUMBERS but would very likely give us 175-200 innings of "meh" baseball. Now, he's given us a couple of decent starts: Opening Day in Houston was pretty decent, as was April 22nd vs Milwaukee. That's really about all that I can say to Guthrie's defense. Well, that and he's still a class act, a nice guy, and owns up to how crappily he has pitched for Colorado.
No bones about it, it's been crappy. Thus far in 2012, Guthrie is posting the worst strikeouts-per-9-innings rate of his entire career, the worst walk rate in a 50+ IP season, by a LONG shot the worst HR rate, the worst BABIP (again, 50IP+), the worst HR/FB%, the worst FIP, xFIP, SIERA, tERA, ERA, everything.
Something still seems fishy about this to me. Not in the sense that someone pulled a bait-and-switch or anything of that nature, but we're not talking about trying to point at a bad BABIP to explain a slightly higher-than-normal ERA. We're looking at a complete collapse of a generally solid MLB pitcher. Guthrie claims to be healthy, which may or may not mean anything. We DO know that throwing strikes has been a problem this season. For his career, Guthrie throws about 1.7 strikes per ball. Not a GREAT ratio, but his ratio dropped by nearly .2 strikes per ball in 2012 as compared to his career mark (1.5 strikes per ball). To put it another way, for his career, 62.5% of Guthrie's pitches have been strikes, 37.5% balls. 2012: 60% strikes, 40% balls.
This might not seem like that drastic of a shift, but it's showing so far this season. For his career, Guthrie has averaged about 6 1/3 innings per start, averaging 101 pitches per start. 2012 starts are averaging 97 pitches per start (not that big of a dropoff) but his average Rockies start is 5 1/3 innings. The pitch counts haven't changed that much, but he's losing a full inning of work by wasting so many non-strike pitches.
So now that we've found a complete ton of numbers to illustrate Guthrie's problems, the question now is what do we do with him? Colorado mercifully has Monday off, and begin a stretch of 20 straight games leading up to the All Star Break. Removing Guthrie from the rotation means the Rockies HAVE to find a new pitcher to take that slot.
Drew Pomeranz is doing a lot of things right with the Sky Sox, boasting a 3.06 ERA over 7 starts, punching out 34 to only 13 walks and 2 HR. The downside is that Pomeranz has only managed 35 innings through those 7 starts - not the bullpen-saving length we'd need.
Tyler Chatwood has made 8 starts and only accumulated 32 innings, and also has a 6.34 ERA. Chatwood's doing a good job of keeping the ball in the park and has struck out 27 batters in those 32 innings, but those ERA and IP/GS numbers aren't going to get better in the majors.
Rob Scahill is posting some nice strikeout numbers (77K in 69 innings) but is averaging UNDER 5IP/GS.
Guillermo Moscoso pitched 2 solid innings in relief of Guthrie and has some filthy strikeout numbers of his own, but he's still incredibly hittable and walks far too many guys to really get length out of his starts.
If the Rockies got desperate enough, they might look down in AA Tulsa at Edwar Cabrera, Nick Schmidt, Dan Houston, or Parker Frazier. For what it's worth, the Drillers have a 5-game lead on their division, thanks in large part to the strength of their rotation.
If the Rockies wanted to get REALLY creative, they could look to the Free Agent market at guys like Jon Garland, Justin Duchscherer, Scott Kazmir, Noah Lowry, Scott Olsen, Joel Pineiro, JoJo Reyes, Ben Sheets, Carlos Silva, Jeff Suppan, Josh Towers (oh right we tried that), Javier Vazquez... you get the idea. If we can't call somebody up, why not get creative? (NOTE: I DO NOT ACTUALLY ENDORSE THE ACQUISITION OF ANY OF THESE PITCHERS.)
So, in conclusion, if that game was the last we see of Jeremy Guthrie in the Rockies' rotation, I think the team will be better for having done it. I wish the guy no ill will, as everything he said and did outside of actually pitching makes it harder to want him gone (I mean come on, he invited a cancer survivor to play catch with him at Coors, albeit by accident), but he's really hurting the team more than he is helping.
Sorry, dude. Good luck elsewhere.