Tag Archive | "Position Players"

Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

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Murphy’s Law…No, Daniel Murphy is not going back to Law School

Posted on 19 July 2012 by Trish Vignola

New York Mets fans are quite familiar with “Murphy’s Law.” No, this has nothing to do with Daniel Murphy pursing a law degree. I’m talking about the notion that “anything that can go wrong… will go wrong,” especially when it comes to the New York Mets.

You can start your groaning …now.

On May 29, the Mets were six games over .500 and just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East. By June 30th, they were still tied with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second Wild Card slot. When sports commentators across the country started to foresee the wheels falling off on the season in Flushing, I stuck my fingers in my ears and ran around the room screaming, “I’m not listening. I’m not listening.”

What?

Mets fans have suffered through three straight brutal seasons where the team was well under the .500 mark after the All-Star Break. Who can blame a fan base for looking at the glass from a half empty perspective?

I’m not listening!

The Mets went 28-47 after the All-Star Break in 2009. They went 31-43 in the second half of 2010 and 31-40 to wrap up the 2011 season. Christ.

This year, the Mets are off to a dreadful 0-4 start to the second half. After last night’s game against the first-place Washington Nationals, it looks like it could get even worse in the days to come. If Murphy’s Law holds true to form, when the Mets stroll into town to face NL West-leading San Francisco Giants, Tim Lincecum is going to wake up and remember that he’s Tim freaking Lincecum.

Groan.

While the Mets’ illusion that they are a contender might be slipping away (again) just as it did in the summers of recent past, this is not the Mets team of three years ago. Johan Santana is the last remaining piece of the Mets’ starting rotation from 2009. Daniel Murphy and David Wright are the only two position players.

Unlike other hard luck teams (Ahem! The Chicago Cubs), the team can’t (as well as shouldn’t) blame curses or hexes. The 2009 Mets were plagued by numerous injuries. That was the main reason why they suffered in the second half. In 2010, they were playing for a lame duck manager. As for last year, the team simply stunk. Several of the team’s most talented pieces were traded for prospects or monetary savings. The Mets shipped Carlos Beltran to the San Francisco Giants and Francisco Rodriguez to the Milwaukee Brewers. Wrapping up the season with a mark of 31-40 shouldn’t really be considered a shock.

You still though have the right to groan.

2012 is a different beast though. The starting rotation has been superb for the most part, and the team shows heart by fighting back when they are behind. Josh Thole came through in the clutch not once but twice yesterday. Then…the bullpen came in and the chances to place blame became abundant.

Finally! I thought I would have no where to place my misplaced aggression.

How can the New York Mets avoid another second-half collapse? I propose some ideas. (Real ones. Not just smarmy commentary.) First, the Mets need to invest in a closer who doesn’t look terrified to be out there. Bobby Parnell throws 100 miles an hour. He’s got to throw inside at some point. If he can’t, he simply has to go.

Getting rid of him does not include making R.A. Dickey the Mets’ closer. That was a laughably true suggestion from a caller to WFAN 660 in New York today. I understand that the trading deadline is two weeks away, but at that point the season might be irrevocably lost. There is no time to lose.

I’m not saying to the Mets that they should trade away their future. I am saying that they should attempt to get a journeyman at least. Try!

If the Mets look like they are giving up on this season, they are going to find themselves in a bigger hole next Opening Day. It will be a marketing fallout far worse than any Bernie Madoff mayhem ever imagined this year.

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11 Man Rotation Signals End of Days

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11 Man Rotation Signals End of Days

Posted on 28 June 2012 by Dennis Lawson

11?

The Rockies have announced that contrary to previous indications, the team has opted for an 11 man starting rotation.  According to manager Jim Tracy, each starting pitcher will have a pitch limit of 75 pitches.  Honestly, this might be the funniest thing to happen in baseball this year other than the Dickey/Wang pitching matchup.  75 pitches.  11 potential starting pitchers.  That works out to approximately 1 start every 2 weeks.  Awesome.  Kudos to the Rockies for thinking outside the box.  Too bad they stopped short of getting truly creative.  Here are just a few more ideas the team should consider to make it through the remainder of the season.

  1. At least 2 hours prior to game time, Jim Tracy should throw the names of all the pitchers who have not pitched in the previous 4 days into a batting helmet and pick a name out to determine the starting pitcher.
  2. Maybe that batting helmet should also include a few position players who can round out the bullpen.
  3. Insist on calling out the pitch count to the mound after every at-bat.  Light a fire under the pitcher to finish off the inning by pitching to contact.  That cannot possibly go awry.
  4. Hold a press conference to admit that this 11 man rotation only exists to confuse the Padres in hopes that the Friars won’t pass the Rockies in the standings.
  5. During the same press conference, team management should announce that this is all part of a master plan to rebuild the team completely by 2020.
  6. Trade Carlos Gonzalez and be sure to get a knuckle ball pitcher in return.  Just trading Car-Go would be big news, but trading him for 4-5 really bad pitchers would be huge.
  7. Stock the roster full of guys who can pitch, and put pitchers at whatever defensive positions they choose.
  8. Sign/obtain Aaron Miles, Felipe Lopez, and Chris Davis.
  9. Start promoting double headers with the Lingerie Football League.  Naturally, the fans would be required to watch the Rockies play first in order to make sure people showed up.
  10. Crazy idea.  The Rockies could actually go ahead and spend money on good pitchers.  That means that hiring someone like Jamie Moyer would never, ever happen again.
  11. Hold live tryouts during the 7th inning stretch.
  12. Sell tickets for people to actually sit in the humidor during games.
  13. Make a team announcement that the Rockies intend to become a AAA affiliate of whatever team steps up with the best offer for Troy Tulowitzki‘s abomination of a contract.
  14. Add a large white flag of surrender just below the Colorado state flag to show that they mean no harm to visiting teams.
  15. Take the entire team on a pilgrimage to some Mayan ruins to search for the lost calendar piece that shows that the end of the world.  Note that the Mayans played a death game involving a stone loop fixed high up on a wall.  Encourage team to play.

I have nothing against the Rockies and certainly enjoy watching Tulo play.  The problem is that the rest of the team remains practically unwatchable after several years of building around Tulo.  The implication?  Maybe the Rockies excel at doing baseball wrong.  Then again, a team that struggles to 14 games back before July 4th probably is not doing much right.

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Allow MLB to Jump the Shark

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Allow MLB to Jump the Shark

Posted on 07 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

 

Chris Davis Bringing High Heat

Seriously, cast aside all pretenses and facades.  If the commissioner wants more interesting baseball near the end of the season, then he should be just as interested in compelling baseball at the beginning of the season.  Since Uncle Bud does not appear interested in returning my calls, I am left with no recourse but to write about my ideas in hopes that someone close to Selig will approach him on my behalf.

  1. Place a limit on the number of pitchers that a team can carry.  Make sure the number is low enough that fans are all but guaranteed at least 1 game per team per week in which a position player is called on to pitch.  The final numbers are not yet known, but you can pretty much bet that the 17 inning affair between the Red Sox and Orioles really picked up extra viewers who were interested in the baseball train wreck that is 2 position players battling on the mound for the win.  Heck, it was exciting just watching Orioles 1B/DH Chris Davis go 1 inning, and the 2nd inning was all gravy for many fans.  Why is there not more of this kind of entertainment?  Those about to play out of position, we salute you!
  2. Eliminate the “phantom tag” play at all bases, but especially at second base.  It simply is not good enough that a shortstop swipe his foot somewhere in the vicinity of the bag.  That does not constitute an out on a force play while he is in possession of the ball.  Rules are rules.  It is high time that MLB started using them – all of them.
  3. As a bit of an addendum to number 2 in this list, MLB should enforce the rule that already exists on the books regarding players sliding into a base in order to break up a potential double play.  This should not even be an issue.  Dangerous and/or poor slides into the base often force the defender to choose between attempting to complete the play and protecting themselves.  They should be able to do both, because runners by rule are required to make an attempt to slide into the base.  Not beyond it by 3 feet.  Not off to the side by 4 feet.  If the runner is not making a legitimate attempt to gain the bag safely, then he should be called out.  Protect the players and simultaneously make the game more enjoyable.  Maybe there will then be more double plays.  On the other hand, maybe teams will send runners more frequently in order to try and avoid the double play.  Either way, I believe that the fans and the players both come out ahead.
  4. Consider this one a pet peeve of mine that goes back to Barry Bonds and Craig Biggio.  Do away with allowing players to wear any kind of body armor or protective gear other than a helmet while at the plate.  Alternatively, do not award first base to any player who is actually struck in the body armor or protective gear they use.  The current rule regarding players hit by a pitch includes a clause that requires them to at least attempt to move out of the way.  Players very rarely make an earnest effort unless the pitch is thrown at the shoulders or above.  Just enforce the rule the way it was written and do away with the cheap HBP incidents that are so frustrating to watch.  Leaning into a pitch or taking a slider off of your body armor does not equate to earning your way on base.
  5. Start calling the the “fake to 3B and throw to 1B” exactly what it is – a balk.  It is obviously an attempt to deceive the runner at 1B, and it almost never, ever works.  As a matter of fact, there are not many plays in baseball guaranteed to elicit more groans from the crowd at any ballpark than that play.  Moreover, it does not seem to matter which team is attempting the play.  The fans simply do not approve.

Finally, I have a bonus idea for fantasy baseball leagues, and it could be implemented without much difficulty.  Start counting stats for all players in all situations.  That is to say that pitchers should be credited for things like AVG, OBP, OPS, R, and RBI.  Position players who pitch should have their ERAs, WHIPs, and everything else included as well.  Sure, it does not make a HUGE amount of difference over the season, but a pitcher who actually works hard at all aspects of his craft should be rewarded.  Maybe instead of counting RBI, pitchers could be credited with successful sacrifice attempts and have that number added to the RBI category for the entire team.  The change I propose probably would not affect things like draft rankings too much, but it would be fun to get a couple of RBI from your pitcher as a bonus every once in a while.

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Drafting for Need

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Drafting for Need

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

So close, but so far away...

Congratulations!  You have reached that point in your draft where you have a full set of position players, several starting pitchers, and a couple of relievers.  That is great for you.  However, as the picture above suggests, you have not yet finished what you started.  You need to create some depth on your team.  So does pretty much everybody else in your league, though.  The last 6 or 7 rounds of a draft may consist of 10 different people each grabbing the guy ranked the highest by the experts at Full Spectrum Baseball (that is a shameless self-promotion right there, yep).  Of course, it is quite possible that more than a few of those team owners are simply ready to get out of the basement and outside into the sunlight thing that so many people are raving about these days.

Do not be that owner.  Stop for a moment and think.  Are you drafting the best player available just because he may or may not be the best player available?  More importantly, should you be drafting to fill needs in your team?  Maybe the needs are not immediately apparent, but it is your job to anticipate some of those needs anyway.  Good luck.

If you play in a league that allows you to keep bench players, then you pretty much ALWAYS need a second catcher.  If you pay close attention to when your primary catcher will be sitting out, then you can hopefully substitute that backup catcher for a game or two.  It would be an absolute shame to reach the end of the season with only 120 games played by your catcher.  Give serious thought to who you want backing up the top guy.

  • Jonathan Lucroy, John Buck, and Geovany Soto should all make the short list of 2nd catchers available in a 10 team draft.  All 3 topped the 50 rbi mark and have the potential to hit 15 hr or more a season.

What about anticipating need at first base?  Sure, a lot of those guys are like Prince Fielder and rarely take a day off.  That does not mean you should ignore first base as a position of need.  Personally, I usually opt to stack my “utility” positions with at least 1 guy who qualifies at first base.  Even the 2nd and 3rd tier at 1B can provide you with .775+ OPS and some run production.

  • Do not sleep on guys like Carlos Lee, Nick Swisher, and Howie Kendrick.  After Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Prince Fielder, there is still a substantial list of hot names to select from, and they will go fast.  Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, Gaby Sanchez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Mark Teixeira will go quickly as well.  All is not necessarily lost, though.  Lee, Swisher, and Kendrick won’t necessarily last forever, but they aren’t the first names that come to mind, either.
  • If you have a really early pick in your draft, the “Miggy Switch Strategy” might be worth considering.  To employ the strategy, you draft Miguel Cabrera as a first basemen, knowing all along that he will be eligible at 3rd base very early on.  You then use a subsequent draft pick on a full time guy at first base.  Cabrera can cover when your guy at first is injured, or you may build some depth at the corner infield spots that allows you the luxury of making a big trade at some point during the season.

If your league makes use of a middle infield (MI) position, then there your draft could force you to look for guys outside the top 15 at both the SS and 2B positions.

A quick glance at the players available at third base should tell you that there is some reasonably good depth at the position.  Even so, team owners should keep in mind the reasons why so many players are ranked close together at the position.

  • Danny Valencia provides a bit of power, but he does so without providing much in the way of steals or OPS.
  • Chipper Jones was a top 15 guy at 3B last season, but his most recent injury puts him in the “do not draft this guy”  bucket.
  • Remember Chase Headley, because his numbers were a little low last year due to the fact he only played 113 games.  He still managed a respectable number of runs scored, rbi, steals, and OPS.  Headley can definitely fill the stat sheet, and he can play multiple positions.  If he qualifies at positions other than third base, then that is a potential bonus factor.

In need of a real bargain or steal for your 4th outfielder or “UTIL” position?  Cameron Maybin stole 40 bases last year.  Nick Markakis had a bit of an off year in which his production was well below his career average.  He managed only 73 rbi, but he has topped that mark 3 times in 5 years leading up to 2011.  Austin Jackson crossed the plate 90 times last season, even though he only hit .249 with a .317 OBP.  Both numbers are well below what he posted in his rookie season (2010), so he could also be a nice addition as a 4th outfielder.

While I will not argue the merits of having top tier players in as many positions as possible, I will also go on record stating that the extra production from unexpected sources is what makes fantasy baseball really interesting.  You do not earn credibility for drafting the obvious perennial Silver Slugger winner the same way you do by getting an extra 20 hr from a utility guy or 80 rbi from your backup middle infielder.

 

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