Game 144 – Battery Seedlings Taking Root
Shane Youman made his MLB debut today and pitched well on the line card allowing just 5 hits and 3 earned runs over 5 and one-third innings of work. Carlos Maldonado made his catching debut today as well and caught a nice game. Maldonado seems to have decent mechanics to grow on but he doesn’t seem to have an MLB catching arm and I think that will be his eventual downfall, even trying to make it as a backup catcher.
Youman showed me a work in progress slider, an average change up, and a fastball running in the 88 – 90 mph range, possibly topping higher. He does not have any plus pitches from what I saw today and looks more suited for a short relief role in someones pen than a starter. I have to believe his lazy delivery is what has helped him achieve success more than his pitches. I doubt seriously we will see much of him in 2007 as he is too hittable, but perhaps he can hone his pitches with Colborn and Cuellar. We’ll revisit this after a few more outings.
Sharpless and Bayliss both took the mound in relief and I think Bayliss has the stuff to eventually be a quality arm in the pen down the road. I’m not too excited about the mound presence of Shapeless or his pitches, but he could still have some jitters.
Maldonado batting was a putrid display but I have to believe that was because he is locked in on his receiving and not his batting, so we’ll see how that goes over a few more games.
Kudos to Tracy for evaluating his available talent pool. Lloyd McClendon would never have taken the time to do what Tracy is doing.. you have to give him credit for that. I haven’t checked the Rule 5 guys, but the reason Tracy could be looking hard at everyone is because Littlefield might be in a position to lose a lot of players under Rule 5. I’ll have to start digging and see.
Only one play stood out to me today enough to want to discuss it. Youman walked Aurilla to open the 6th and Encarnancion blooped a single into short CF to advance Aurilla to 2B. Dunn stroked a single to Nady who made a rough throw to the plate to try and get Aurilla, but Maldonado moved off the plate instead of blocking the plate and waiting for the ball to arrive, and Aurilla was safe. That was a typical mistake by a rookie catcher though.
What happened next really blew my mind. Ross came to the plate with Adam Dunn at 1B (BTW, Dunn’s nickname in the bigs is "Big Donkey" because he is so slow and uncoordinated running) and Ross hit a high FB to Bay at the warning track – around the 350′ mark. Bay grabbed it and Dunn tagged up and took 2B on Bay’s throw that bounced to Castillo. Here is the throw:
I’m not too worried about Castillo being out of position on the play because that really wouldn’t have made much of a difference. Perhaps Dunn would have been out, perhaps not.
Instead, my point is that this is exactly the type of play that every team in MLB is now doing on Bay – taking extra bases. Now even the slow poke Reds are getting into the act where before it was only the better scouting teams like the Cards and Astros.
This is really important to understand about Bay because the base run state with a man on 1B and "X" out(s) compared to the base run state with a man at 2B is nearly double. Here’s what I mean..
Chance of scoring, from each base/out state (thanks to Tangotiger):
|0 outs||1 out||2 outs|
In Dunn’s case today, the flyball to Bay by Ross created the first out and Dunn went 1st to 2B on the play. Thus, had Bay held him at 1B Dunn’s chance of scoring would have been just 25%. By taking 2B, the chance of him scoring jumped to 41%. And, in fact, he later scored. However, all things being equal, Dunn would have been stranded at 3B instead of scoring if Bay was able to hold him at 1B on the play.
The number of advancing runners on Bay has absolutely decimated us this year. As I continue to show you ball in play data from our pitchers, the more you will understand how a better defensive player in LF could possibly shave as many as 30 or more runs off our runs allowed column for the year – just holding advancing runners.
And don’t be confused when you hear how well Bay defends his position by folks who throw stats out there because the vast majority of them are using range based statistics, which are meaningless – no matter how they are compiled. Instead, understand that evaluating defensive skills by ball in play data is significantly more accurate than using range based comparisons for any position.
In the above example Bay did not position himself to get a running throw off despite having all the time in the world and his relay was weak and off the bag. Range stats won’t show you that material.
– Tidbits –
Don’t look now but we are hitting just .245 over the last 7 days and have an unbelievable team 28.7% K-rate. More than 1 in 4 batters are striking out. Wow.. talk about brutal. The really bad part about this is that Tracy has played pretty much the 2007 opening day lineup guys, albeit a little Cota here, a little Doumit there, etc. Here are some of the worst at bats last 7.. last 30 days:
Burnitz: .000/.000/.000 (5 AB)
Randa: .100/.100/.182 (10 AB)
Castillo: .130/.130/.217 (23 AB)
Bautista: .150/.227/.250 (20 AB)
Sanchez: .269/.296/.308 (26 AB)
Randa: .159 BA
Cota: .167 BA
Doumit .200 BA
Bautista .222 BA
Wilson: .232 BA
Burnitz: .235 BA
Castillo: .258 BA
The Devil Rays outwardly released 1B Travis Lee today setting up an interesting opportunity for Littlefield. I have to assume the Rays shopped him before releasing him and Littlefield showed no interest.. nor should he have. But now that he is released you have to wonder if Littlefield won’t take a chance on him for the last 16 – 18 games to see what he can do, especially since 12 of the games left are at home.
Lee has not been happy in Tampa since last year when the Rays official scorer broke his 170 game errorless streak when his catcher failed to get a tag down at the plate. When Lee asked the Rays to challenge the scorer’s decision, they refused him and he has been livid ever since. This year he openly challenged Rays manager Joe Maddon about not getting enough playing time.
Don’t forget, Lee had shoulder surgery in 2004 and he was pretty much out of it all of 2004 and part of 2005, but lost his playing time in 2005 and has yet to regain it.
Considering how badly we need a decent fielding 1B, as well as just a little more power, it will be hard to understand if Littlefield doesn’t make a quick move on Lee since he only has to pay him minimum wage the rest of the way out. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain if he can pass a physical.
The Curve lost their rubber match game today eliminating them from post-season competition.
Here is the final breakdown on the Pirates minor league affiliates winning percentages this year:
Only Altoona made it to the playoffs and they were eliminated in the division playoff game in the 5th game.
That is the first losing season (336-348) posted by Brian Graham since he took over as farm director. Of course, all of Mickey White’s draft picks are now playing in the upper levels of the organization or are with the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Creech’s picks are pretty much AA and below, with a few filtering into AAA and down.
Did I hear Ryan Vogelsong might head to Japan to play baseball next year? Poor Ry.. I bet if he just hangs on he’ll get a ride in the bigs.
Richie Hebner and Jerry Nyman both lost their jobs today with the Rays. I understand letting John Tamargo and Joe Coleman go but Hebner and Nyman are both considered pretty good guys. Maybe Littlefield can get Richie back in the org somewhere?
I was just told by Jay Horwitz, VP of Media Relations with the Mets, that Oliver Perez is not scheduled to start against the Pirates in the upcoming Mets series.
Are the Pirates using the BATS scouting system Dejan?