Tag Archive | "Keeping Score"

Where Have You Gone Ricky Romero?

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Where Have You Gone Ricky Romero?

Posted on 27 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Where have you gone, Ricky Romero? The Toronto Blue Jays optioned left-hander Ricky Romero to Class A Dunedin yesterday evening. Class A, folks. That’s the Florida league for those of you keeping score.


Could anyone have predicted this two seasons ago?

One season ago?

Romero went from being the club’s Opening Day starter in 2012 to not making 25-man roster in 2013. The Blue Jays opened camp by saying Romero was essentially guaranteed a spot in the rotation. He no longer had the weight of being an ace on his shoulder. He was pressure-free and was set to thrive.

That message began to change…quickly.

“We saw a lot of good things and he was fine, but it’s not the Ricky we know he can be,” General Manager Alex Anthopoulos said to MLB.com. “We can try to just keep going, and when you’re at the big league level, it’s hard to continue working on things, or take a little more time, get him back to where he can be.” Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com and of the blog, “North of the Boarder”, reported that Romero was unavailable for comment. “It’s always a tough conversation, but he knows he’s not exactly as sharp as he needs to be, and he knows it’s going to take a little bit more time,” Anthopoulous continued.

How did Toronto’s most valuable pitchers since 2009 collapse so quickly? He had become the Blue Jays’ No. 1 starter. Following the departure of Shaun Marcum, Romero had a 15-11 record and a 2.92 ERA and he was an All-Star.

Yes, things started to unravel a bit in 2012. Romero began the year with an 8-1 record, but he had a 4.34 ERA and 46 walks in 95 1/3 innings. That wouldn’t instill confidence in the best of General Managers. Chisholm reports Romero battled control issues along with “a seeming lack of confidence on the mound.” He also was also dealing with documented tendinitis in both of his knees. Romero went 1-13 the rest of the way with a 7.35 ERA.

Nonetheless, it wasn’t until apparently this spring that the club finally noticed “a flaw” in Romero’s pitching. He was no longer maintaining a straight line to the plate, as reported by Chisholm. Romero had a 6.23 ERA this spring.

“You talk about direction and lines to the plate, it’s basically your balance going to home plate and where your front foot lands. It sounds easy, but it just takes time when you start repeating it,” said Anthopoulos to MLB.com “He has done this before, he just has a tendency to do it. It’s one thing if you’re just not getting results and you just have to continue to pitch and get out of it. We have a plan for him. We know what we need to address. It’s just not coming as fast as we wanted it to come,” Anthopoulos continued.

The Blue Jays knew what was going on last year. They just finally have the pitching staff to make up the difference by cutting Romero.

This is not a death sentence to Romero though. The club took the same approach with Roy Halladay back in 2001. Halladay went on to establish himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. Chisholm reports that Halladay had “a complete overhaul of his mechanics”, whereas Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays have continually described Romero’s changes as “minor.”

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Keeping Score at Home

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Keeping Score at Home

Posted on 29 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Image courtesy of Myexceltemplates.net

If you are not keeping score at home, then maybe you should be.  A true fan might conceive of a myriad of reasons for doing so, and it would be difficult to fault any or all of those reasons.

  1. If you have a child or children, there is no better time and place to teach him/her/them how to keep score.  You do not want to be the numbskull at the stadium who spends the first 3 innings fumbling around with scorecards, pencils, erasers, an iPad, an Android device, and a highly annoyed ex-MMA fighter sitting next to you.  Nope.  You do not want to try and teach your kid(s) how to keep score during an actual baseball game in a real stadium.  Tickets are expensive, and there is about a 10:1 chance that you end up with some kind of condiment stain on the scorecard.  Forget that.
  2. Spring training games do not count for anything, so there is no harm in discarding error-filled scorecards that are partially covered in doodles, whozits, and whatsits galore.  Also, thingamabobs.
  3. You need the practice.  Do not be the fan who shows up with scorecard in hand only to spend time doing a Google search on the latest news from Full Spectrum Baseball.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that search effort, but you can at least wait until you get home to read the site.  Keeping score takes a certain amount of focus which we find often lacking in the real world these days.  Given the plethora of multimedia stimulants, ADHD afflictions, and the need for more cowbell, many adults have seemingly lost the ability to stay on task.  Stay the course, people.  Stay focused on the scorecard and the game.
  4. No feeling compares to reaching the end of a game with a mistake free scorecard, except for maybe winning $10,000 on a scratch off ticket on your way home from the game.  If you can perfect the art of keeping score, then maybe you can pull off the daily double of a perfect scorecard AND a winning ticket.
  5. Perhaps the best reason for keeping score at home during games is that doing so provides your brain with an excellent diversion from the commercials that seek to extract points from your IQ and money from your wallet.  Do you really need to see another Charlie Sheen commercial?  Please do not answer that.

Finally, I would argue that the best reason for keeping score at home stems from a desire to stay connected to our baseball past and the heritage that accompanies that past.  Most baseball fans were born well before the proliferation of cable television and the advent of online streaming of real-time events.  Before a significant number of Americans had access to cable television, the only way to gain greater access to baseball games was to prop up a massive satellite dish in your yard and hope that the kids did not figure out how to break the security code for the “adult” channels.

To be truthful, most fans followed baseball through radio broadcasts.  For me, this was an intensely personal way to learn about the game, because I spent endless summer afternoons and evenings listening to Jack Buck while lounging on the sun porch at my grandparent’s house.  Even when a game would be available on tv, we would often opt to listen to the radio, because there was just something different about listening to a detailed description of events that you could picture in your mind.  Such times were a staple of my childhood as much as they were a tiny glimpse at the purist form of Americana.

If you could keep score while listening to the radio broadcast of a game, then you really were accomplishing something.  Looking back, I realize now that scorecards were responsible for magnificent improvements in my handwriting skills during each summer.  Maybe I cared little for keeping letters and numbers inside the lines on Big Chief notebook paper at school, but there was absolutely no way I would dare mar my scorecard with a single, superfluous mark.  Actually, malformed numbers were the enemy of the aesthetically ideal scorecard, so I spent commercial breaks and pitching changes tidying up that precious scorecard.

In retrospect, the time spent listening to games and keeping score at home set the ideal stage for a lasting bonding experience.  I absolutely cannot think of both my grandparents without making a connection to baseball sooner or later.  To this day, I still keep score at home whenever possible.  Doing so honors the memory of those wonderfully innocent summers lounging on that sun porch 30+ years ago, and I would not trade those memories for anything in the world.


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Buy and Sell: Contract Year Players

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Buy and Sell: Contract Year Players

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Dennis Lawson

(image courtesy of Topps)

Contract year.  Walk year.  Opt-out year.  Whatever the year, we have it covered for anybody having trouble keeping score at home.  Some really big name players may very well be playing their final seasons with their respective teams, and you just might find that information useful.  If you happen to play in a keeper league (or 6), then you may find that information especially useful when thinking long term.  Here is a list of 10 players who are potentially just months away from free agency.

  1. Cole Hamels – Hamels just turned 28, and he is coming off of arguably his best season ever (2.79 ERA and 0.986 WHIP).  While most sources in the rumor mill have Hamels staying put in Philadelphia, just the thought of him moving to a team that does not win 90+ games every season may be a concern for some fantasy players.  Then again, there are some who are already penalizing Hamels for the loss of Ryan Howard at 1B.  Seems like a terrible way to run a railroad, but it is not my railroad.
  2. Daisuke Matsuzaka – If Dice is completely healthy and has all of his pitches, then he could be both a comeback story and a late round pickup with a lot of upside.  The problem with this scenario could be that Dice has not a top shelf guy since 2008.  Maybe a contract year will motivate him enough to do all the little things that some people previously stated that he was disinterested in doing.  At 31, he could certainly have a few good years left.
  3. Jose Valverde – Imagine having a top 10 closer in the final year of a 3 year deal that pays him $9M for 2012.  Then imagine that your closer will turn 34 shortly before the season starts, and he could reasonable ask for a $10M/season deal after 2012.  If the Tigers fail to sign him, then you can bet that someone will.  Then again, Valverde seems like pretty much the same guy whether he cashes huge paychecks or relatively small ones.
  4. Yadier Molina – Molina has reportedly set the asking price at 5 years / $50M which seems expensive, unless he and one of his brothers are offering some 2-for-1 special on Molinas.  On the other hand, Molina did explode offensively last year (by Molina standards) for a 3.9 WAR year.  A couple more years like 2011 would certainly make him worth the asking price.  What are the odds that he has another 3.0+ WAR season?  Hard to say, but he has shown up at spring training dropping the “BSOML” line on everybody within shouting distance.  That “BSOML” stands for “best shape of my life”.
  5. Brandon Phillips – Phillips is just about to start the final year of a contract that pays him $38M over 5 years, and this final year is worth $12M.  Consider the extension that Rickie Weeks signed with the Brewers as a starting point for Phillips.  To earn that kind of deal, he may have to duplicate his 2011 numbers at the plate.  With something like $10M+ per season as potential motivation, I cannot imagine that Tony Plush won’t at least try to deliver an encore performance in 2012.
  6. Matt Cain – The Giants are built around great pitching and the hope that Barry Zito‘s contract expires eventually.  Cain is an integral part of that plan, but imagine his open market value in free agency.  At age 27, Cain has compiled a career ERA of 3.35 and a 1.196 WHIP while pitching 200 or more innings every season for the last 5 years.  For 2012, Cain is playing out the back end of a 3 yr / $27.25M contract that was back loaded with a $15M salary for 2012.  Unless Cain falters, that might be the starting point in discussions for a guy who may command a 6-7 year deal.
  7. Ubaldo Jimenez – Tricky situation.  If Ubaldo returns to his old form, his $5.275M option for 2013 is a no brainer.  If he doesn’t look good, then the $1M buyout would be money well spent.  Here is the catch, though.  Jimenez should be motivated both in 2012 and 2013 to see that option exercised and to possibly see his $8M option for 2014 picked up as well.  Will the additional motivation of job and contract security be enough to get him back to the dominant force he once was.  Maybe.  Keep in mind that he’s only a few years removed from being a  top 3 Cy Young candidate.
  8. Zach Greinke – Greinke posted a ridiculous 10.5 strikeouts per 9 innings rate in 2011.  If any of his other numbers improve to that level, he will be able to basically hold a press conference, show his stat line, and drop the mic as he walks off the stage.  The problem is that his ERA+ for the past 2 years is 102 and 100 respectively.  Greinke held his WHIP to 1.200 in 2011, but that is actually lower than his career WHIP.  The issue is not about how good Greinke can be.  The issue is whether or not he can catch lightning in a bottle again.
  9. Shaun Marcum – If somebody told you that Shaun Marcum had outpitched Greinke for the past 2 years, would you believe them.  Well, you are being told right now.  Marcum 2010 numbers (115 ERA+, 1.147 WHIP, 3.84 SO/BB) and 2011 numbers (110 ERA+, 1.156 WHIP, 2.77 SO/BB) compare favorably to Greinke’s numbers over the same time period.  Greinke’s 2010 numbers (100 ERA+, 1.245 WHIP, 3.29 SO/BB) and 2011 numbers (102 ERA+, 1.200 WHIP, 4.47 SO/BB) are obviously not quite as good.  While I may be guilt of cherry picking the stats here a bit, I am fairly confident that you will not find too many counting stats that make Greinke look like the winner of this match race.  If you are not convinced, then maybe the 6.9 WAR to 4.0 WAR advantage for 2010-11 held by Marcum will convince you.  Marcum really is good, and he deserves to be paid like the solid front line starter that he is.
  10. Josh Hamilton – Hamilton may not break the bank with his next deal due to concerns about his age and ability to stay on the field, but he is not likely to be an afterthought, either.  Hamilton once posted a 1.536 OPS against the Yankees (2010 ALCS).  That alone might be enough reason to keep him in Texas, although the 20.2 WAR in 5 seasons does not hurt, either.

Obviously, not every player on this list will have a “career year”, but at least most will be motivated to have a great season right out of the gate.  You could say that is the case for all players, but we already know that is not exactly true.

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