Thursday Links (8 Sep 11)

The mind will wander while driving along I-25, south from Albuquerque, through Socorro, to Truth or Consequences and points beyond. The Rio Grande traces the interstate, lining a verdant path through the dusty corridor of southern New Mexico.

A man walks along the side of the road, carrying a backpack and a sign that reads, “Jesus Loves You.” He stops at the back corner of a Wal-Mart parking lot, wearing dress slacks and a long sleeve shirt, and begins singing and playing a guitar for no one. It is nearly 100 degrees outside.

Silly fellow. He should have stayed home and read links instead…

  • Framing Ball Four to Cano (Baseball Prospectus). Mike Fast examines the impact of how a catcher receives the pitch on an umpire’s decision to call a strike or a ball. Fast also muses on the plate umpire’s positioning and checks in from the recently concluded PITCHf/x Summit 2011 (as does Eno Sarris).
  • More Chernoffs (Hardball Times). These are a guilty pleasure of mine, as are player anagrams.
  • 10 things I didn’t know about managerial match-ups (Hardball Times). Chris Jaffe delves into… well, what the title says. He learns, among other fascinating tidbits, that Chuck Tanner and former Padres skipper Dick Williams faced each other 218 times in their respective careers.
  • Who’s got the Golden Gun? (SweetSpot). In addition to enjoying a breakout offensive season, Nick Hundley has done a good job of controlling the running game this year.
  • Pete Rose and the San Diego Padres (Lob Shots). Rose is wearing a Padres cap. In fact, he almost played for the PCL Padres in 1962. The things you learn…
  • Tigers’ Jackson best on D in August (SweetSpot). Cameron Maybin excelled with the glove in August. So did Kyle Blanks. Wait, what? Yep, Blanks is a better defender than many people realize. I am continually impressed by his reads in left field.
  • Q&A: Mike Easler: The Hit Man Talks Hitters (FanGraphs). David Laurila’s chat with the former big leaguer is a compelling read for many reasons, not the least of which is that Easler, who did some damage with the bat in his day, refers to Dwight Evans (.272/.370/.470, 127 OPS+, 2446 H, 385 HR) as a “mistake hitter” and Tony Armas (.252/.287/.453, 103 OPS+, 1302 H, 251 HR) as a “great hitter.” Laurila also has a chat with Ken Singleton that is worth reading.
  • Adrian Beltré Sets Record Of Sorts; Is He Heading For Cooperstown? (Baseball Nation). Beltre has had a better career — and is younger — than you might think.
  • Moneyball: Q&A with Rob Neyer (Rogers Sportsnet). I don’t count myself among the legions who adore Moneyball; it was entertaining but didn’t influence my thinking in any meaningful way. The sabermetric stuff was a bit watered down for my taste, but I did enjoy some of the stories… particularly those about Chad Bradford and Scott Hatteberg. Still, there is no denying that the book has touched a great many people and gotten them more interested in baseball, which is a good thing.
  • Is WAR the new RBI? (It’s About the Money, Stupid). This looks like an interesting read, if a bit long (nearly 2,400 words). Rob Neyer offers his critique, while Sean Forman has questions of his own.
  • Zach Stewart’s game recalls Jimmy Jones (SweetSpot). There but for a Bob Knepper (!) triple went former Padres right-hander (and current San Antonio Missions pitching coach) Jimmy Jones’ shot at immortality… in Jones’ big-league debut no less.
  • Snapshot: 2012 Draft (Inside the Padres). Tom Krasovic identifies some potential targets for the Padres, including Arizona State shortstop Drew Marrero and Los Angeles area high school right-hander Lucas Giolito. Kras also discusses current Padres outfield prospect Rymer Liriano, whom one scout likens to former big leaguer Raul Mondesi.
  • Statistics and Stories (Joe Blogs). The obligatory Pos contains this gem:

    Most athletes are like this. They either cannot or will not let us inside… How much do you think Mariano Rivera can express what is going through his mind? I’m a writer and I don’t think I can express what was going through my mind when, say, I wrote the last paragraph.

    I was watching the U.S. Open the other night — Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova. The first two sets were scintillating, but the commentators — all former players — couldn’t stop talking nonsense about passion and will. Every once in a great while, they would touch on footwork (Kuznetsova was exhausted by third set and pretty much using only her upper body) or something of actual substance, but usually not.

  • Stephen Strasburg Shines In Comeback (Baseball Nation). Former SDSU right-hander Stephen Strasburg made his first big-league start of 2012 following last year’s elbow surgery and pitched well. My days of following Strasburg closely ended the night I watched him toss a no-hitter in his final game at Tony Gwynn Stadium, but it’s good to see him back in action. More coverage everywhere.
  • Fun with Adrian (Inside the Padres). I don’t buy the line that Adrian Gonzalez’s departure caused a domino effect. As I’ve noted on more than one occasion, the Padres lost 99 games with him here in 2008 and they won’t be that bad this year. I do agree, however, with this statement:

    Defensively, he emboldened other infielders. Third baseman Chase Headley, for one, looked rattled this year after Brad Hawpe failed to snag throws that Gonzalez likely would’ve caught.

    At one point I started to study this but never finished. I seem to recall that the Padres committed fewer throwing errors during Adrian’s stay in San Diego than they did before he arrived. Maybe one of these days, if I’m feeling more motivated than I feel right now, I’ll do some more digging.

  • The 2011 Scouting Report (The Book). Tom Tango is doing his thing again and needs your help. As in most things, the Padres are woefully underrepresented. Go fix that.
  • Coming soon to a theatre near you: the Steve Delabar story (Mariners Blog). Delabar, a former Padres draftee who was coaching high school baseball in April, has been recalled by the Mariners. [h/t BBTF]
  • Joe Louis Reliford (JockBio). This is a fantastic interview with a former batboy who, in 1952, appeared in a professional baseball game at age 12. [h/t SABR-L]
  • 9 Forgotten Players from Defunct Franchises (Baseball Prospectus). These group projects are always fun. My entry is on Clyde Milan, who played center field for the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1922. He roomed with Walter Johnson for 14 years and once held the single-season stolen base record later broken by Ty Cobb.

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17 Responses »

  1. It’s interesting to read about how Adrian emboldened (or is that embiggened?) the Padres defense because the team currently has a ticking timebomb manning first base. Maybe Headley, Bartlett, and Hudson should team up and spend the winter preparing Rizzo to win the first base job outright in ST.

  2. Adrian Beltre has had a better career and is younger than many people might think, but I don’t think he’s heading for the HOF (unless he is planning to buy a ticket to the museum and take the tour). YMMV.

  3. Aw, what the heck. I actually had a B-R PI search open when I posted about Beltre. Beltre is 20th among active players in WAR at 46.4. The only younger player in front of him is The Pujols, everyone else is at least 2 year older (in baseball age). Chase Utley is 5 WAR behind him at the same age and Joe Mauer is 6 WAR behind him and 4 years younger.

    So why don’t I think he’s heading for the HOF? He’s only had two great/hall-worthy offensive seasons. In only one other season did he have what might be considered a HOF level of performance.

    He’s been an above average to very good but not HOF-level player for a long time becasue the Dodgers gave him a full time job at 20. Now that’s worth something, but I beleive he’ll be looked at as a guy who didn’t make much of his opportunity. I beleive he is looked at as a guy who “played for a contract” coming into free agency and then went to Seattle and tanked (whether he did or not is open to interpretation, but I think this is the common perspective), then again “played for a contract” with Boston. What willl he do now with Texas? Will he live up to it? He did play well this year before getting hurt. Should be interesting to see what he does over the remaining 5 years of his contract.

    Also, much of his value has come defensively, but he hasn’t received the recognition for it which might lead toward the HOF. He hasn’t been talked about as the second coming of Brooks, or Schmidt, or even of Scott Rolen. Will he be given the credit for his defense come election time? If so, he may go in, but I’m not betting on it.

    Finally, he’s been an unpopular player, it seems to me. Maybe that’s only my perspective, but the vote is also a bit of a popularity context.

  4. I’m excited to see Moneyball … I loved the book …

  5. and, just like that, the hope to be .500 is gone for the Padres. Los Gigantes made sure of that. Padres just can’t win in the NL division, maybe, we should volunteer to go to AL in place of the Astros so we can have Guzman at DH.

    as of today, the Padres are 4-7 vs. ARI, 6-9 vs both COL & SF, and 4-11 vs. LAD. i would love to say that the record maybe skewed because of early season ineptude but recent games stated otherwise.

  6. If I had my way, one of two teams would move to the AL: Colorado or us.

    The DH in Coors would be ridiculous and so would the DH in PETCO, though for very different reasons.

  7. @Ray: LOL about DH at Petco. that would be the cruelest joke. then, again, Jim Thome would still hit long HRs there…maybe.

    I’m liking Luebke more and more, definitely way more than Richard.

  8. @Didi – what are you seeing in Luebke that you like?

  9. I was annoyed by Rob Neyer’s response to “Is WAR the new RBI?”.

  10. Man, last nite was a blueprint for the season. Good enough outing by Latos to win, no run support, Ks with runners on third and less than two out, 10-man bullpen and with lead run on third, in eighth inning and left handed hitter, Black leaves Qualls in. Bang, winning run, game over. Last year the Pads won games like that.

  11. @LM: even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he doesn’t give in. in the last game, he walked 4 and gave up 3 hits (2 solo HR) but also struck out 9. sure, he could be more efficient so he could pitch deeper into games. i believe he’ll improve his second and third pitch next season to help him do that. in other words, i have no solid reason to like him more now than i did last season.

  12. if this doesn’t signal the end of the season for Los Gigantes, i don’t know what is:

    http://yhoo.it/reYKPV

  13. @Ray

    Rizzo won’t win the outright 1st base job until Black is out as manager. Rizzo could hit .500 vs LH pitchers in ST and after his 1st 0-4 vs a LH during the season he’d be benched vs them. The only player Black seems to show unconditional respect for as a player is Qualls, and that’s the one that makes no sense.

    Don’t players usually have their best year when it’s time for free agency? Someone needs to tell Heath Bell that.

  14. @Ben: Bell doesn’t want to be a FA, he’s content to be offered arbitration by the Padres.