Archive for Baseball Talk
Last week I went through the potential center field candidates for the 2012 Miami Marlins and one player I failed to mention, and I received multiple questions on why I failed to mention him, was Bryan Petersen.
Petersen, who turns 26 a week after opening day, had fantastic numbers in his second stint in Triple-A posting a .351/.434/.569 line in 286 plate appearances in 2011 earning him a call-up to the parent club where he would go on to hit .265/.357/.387 in 241 plate appearances with a .334 wOBA.
Petersen has above-average speed and shows a patient eye at the plate but he has some contact issues, especially with breaking balls. He whiffed on 14.3% of sliders and 13.1% of curveballs thrown to him. He also swung and missed at 11.1% of change-ups.
He can absolutely handle a fastball middle-in and has enough pull-power to hit a few out of the park. But when he uses that same stroke on balls on the outer-half he has a tendency to get on top of the ball and roll it to the right side of the infield. He is at his best when he tones his swing down and goes with the pitch. Major League pitchers do their home work and you can see that they know to pitch Petersen away-away-away.
Thankfully, Jeremiah Johnson created one, a full guide to potentially maintain confidence in the Marlins most recent acquisition. From lack of self-awareness and instincts to hitting a long ball, the descriptive article enlightens us on just about everything we should keep in mind when watching Carlos Zambrano be, well, Carlos Zambrano.
Make sure to give it a read and bookmark it as all of us are sure to reference it at some point during the season. And lastly, remember, no refunds!
Let me start off my saying that my name is Ryan Gaydos and I am one of the newest bloggers here at Marlins Daily. I will do my best to bring you the best Miami Marlins coverage out there. I am very thankful to be given this new position at Marlins Daily.
Now with all the introductions out of the way, let’s get to some Marlins talk starting with the ace of the new-look rotation, Josh Johnson. Johnson has been known in recent years for holding the Marlins rotation together and yet also being the most injury prone of the rotation. We have all seen him at his best when he’s healthy.
When Johnson is unhealthy, it seems like the rest of the rotation rots and no one feels like stepping up until the end of the season. The Marlins saw that when Javier Vazquez who finished 13-11 and won his last six decisions consecutively.
I recently sat down with Marlins prized pitching prospect Austin Brice and conducted a quick interview with him. To give you a bit of an idea of who Brice is, he most likely ranks among the top 15 prospects and is said to have some of the highest upside of anybody in the organization. He’s a righty with pretty good stuff and lots of arm strength. Expect to hear Brice’s name considerably more as he progresses through the Marlins organization. But until then, the pitcher talks about that very subject and his expectations leading up to his potential Major League promotion.
1) Can you talk a little bit about who you are as a pitcher? What you throw, your approach on the mound, etc.
One word: “DOMINATION.” I’m coming at you with everything I have no matter who you are. I throw a fastball, curveball, and change-up. Last year, I really learned how to use my change-up, and use it well. But I’m mostly learning how to be more consistent. But hey, who isn’t?
2) What some of your biggest and best experiences of pitching in the Marlins organization?
Well, with this year being my first full season the stories will be few. However, I would have to say the biggest day of my career was when Brian Chattin called me mid-September after the GCL Playoffs and said, “hey Austin, it is my pleasure to be able to tell you that you have won Minor League Pitcher of the month for August. I was just shocked and didn’t know what to do with myself. All those years of hard work and sweat was what paid off in the end. Also, I threw with Josh Johnson one day when he was on a rehab assignment. In my list of stories that would probably rank as one of the cooler things that I have done.
3) What are some of the biggest things you’re working on to improve yourself going forward and especially this coming season?
Our good friends over at Fishstripes creatively set an overlay of the new ballpark’s dimensions over those of Petco Park’s. If these overlays are accurate, which we have every reason to believe, the ballpark looks to be as pitcher friendly as any big ballpark in baseball. It’s not clear what impact the weather will have on fly balls, but this image at least makes you wonder how extreme these dimensions really are.
It’s official, guys — it’s official.
The opening of a new stadium and a new city are certainly going to usher in a different era of baseball in Florida. However, before anyone can forget the 2011 Marlins, it’s worthwhile to award the team’s end-of-season trophies to the deserving players. Last week we examined the Marlins MVP for this past season. The winner, which should come as no surprise, was Mike Stanton. Now, it’s time to recognize the most valuable pitchers from the team in 2011 by handing out the ‘Cy Young’ award. Note: These awards are not part of the BBWAA, they are solely my opinion.
The Winner: Anibal Sanchez 3.67 ERA 3.35 FIP 3.8 fWAR
Sanchez, a 27-year old righty, has taken some big steps forward this year. Although his ERA and fWAR were slightly better last year, the 2011 version of Sanchez was very much improved. He struck out almost exactly two more batters per nine innings this year (9.26 vs. 7.25) , while also cutting down on how many walks he allowed (2.93 vs. 3.23).The reason his ERA or fWAR can be misleading is because these statistics don’t include his Homerun/Flyball rates in their calculations. In 2010, Sanchez benefited from the fact that an extremely low number of flyballs hit against him turned into home runs. While pitchers do have some control over whether flyballs hit against them become outs or home runs, there is a lot of luck and randomness involved. Not surprisingly, this year his HR/FB rate was back around league average at 10.4%.
Regardless of his HR/FB rate, Sanchez has been the Marlins best pitcher this season. He led the team in ERA, FIP, fWAR, as well as in xFIP among the team’s starters who threw at least 80 innings. His 8-9 Win/Loss record doesn’t do him justice, but I think Marlins fans could recognize his record was not an accurate reflection of his performance.
Without the team’s superstar, Josh Johnson, for most of the year, Sanchez was the Marlins most valuable pitcher. He put together a solid season, and if he can continue to improve like he did this year, he may present a threat to Johnson as the team’s “ace” next year, as well as further down the road.
The Runner-up: Javier Vazquez 3.69 ERA 3.57 FIP 3.2 fWAR
Strictly according to fWAR, Ricky Nolasco was actually ahead of Javier Vazquez by .3 of a “win.” However, that number is such a small difference that it is relatively insignificant. Instead, I went with Vazquez for a combination of a few different reasons. According to ERA and FIP, Vazquez fared slightly better, and he also struck out about one batter per nine innings more than Nolasco (7.57 vs. 6.47). Not to mention the impressive 25-inning scoreless streak Javier went on towards the end of the season, which helped me to make a decision between the two. Anyhow, between these pitchers, either one is a very legitimate choice. You could certainly make a case for Nolasco, on the basis of his very unlucky BABIP of .331, which, if regressed to league average would make his numbers look much better. To further that support that claim, Vazquez’s stats could also be regressed to a more luck-nuetral environment-he was quite lucky with only a .279 BABIP against him. However, while both were quality starters, Vazquez was a bit more impressive, which is why he is the Runner-up.
All data is from FanGraphs.
In an article titled Top 5 worst teams in history to win the World Series, Andrew Mindzak ranks the 2003 Marlins as the third worst team in the history of Major League Baseball to ever win a World Series. Or the second worst, depending on whether you’re reading from the top or the bottom. No worries. His reasoning gets no more intelligent, either way.
Not that it matters, or that I particularly care one way or the other, where some writer on the internet ranks a baseball team in a generic category made up entirely in his own mind, but if he’s going to do it, he should at least make an attempt to not sound stupid. Or, at the very least, try to sound like someone who knows what he’s talking about. Unfortunately:
2003 Florida Marlins: The Marlins finished the season 91-71 and then beat the San Francisco Giants in the NLDS before beating the Chicago Cubs in the infamous “Bartman NLCS” before taking home their second World Series title after beating the New York Yankees. Their offense was decent, but let me read off their starting pitchers: Carl Pavano, Brad Penny, Mark Redman, and Dontrelle Willis. Sure, Josh Beckett was a beast in that World Series, but Carl Pavano?
If you want to make fun of Mark Redman, I’m not about to stop you. He’s fair game. (Although, he was a monster whenever I used him in video games!) It’s the inclusion of Carl Pavano, Brad Penny and Dontrelle Willis that annoys me more than anything.
Look, I know it’s hard for the kiddies to remember Pavano and Penny for anything other than stealing a combined $80 bazillion from an assortment of teams over the last five or six years, but there’s a reason those other teams kept throwing boatloads of money at them. At one point, they were pretty good. And that point happened to be around the time the Marlins won the 2003 World Series.
As for Dontrelle Willis, well, I guess it’s hard to look back and remember that high leg kick going 46-27 in his first three years in the league, tricking the Marlins into holding onto him two years longer than they should have. You know, those first three years in the league, around the time he placed second in Cy Young voting. But, that was, like, almost six whole years ago. Who can remember that far back?
Sure, if you were to put those same names into a starting rotation today, you’d win six games over the course of a season. Maybe seven. But, I don’t imagine the 2003 Marlins trotted out 2007 Carl Pavano, 2008 Brad Penny and 2010 Dontrelle Willis. Over time, players change. Sometimes they become better and sometimes they become worse. But, confusing the past for the present and/or the present for the past is, at best, an idiotic way to put together an idiotic top-5 list.
It is, however, a great way to land a job with the New York Mets scouting department.
In a deal that was announced without much coverage Tuesday, the Marlins agreed to a two-year deal with second-baseman Omar Infante. While most of the baseball stratosphere was dedicated only to the developments of the Ozzie Guillen saga that took place the same day, it’s Infante that I am more excited to see don a Miami Marlins jersey next season.
As SCWS pointed out earlier this week, a manager’s value to a team and his impact on their performances on the field is most likely very little. As much as he dislikes it, Guillen is worth only one win over the course of a 162-game season, if not less. What Guillen will provide, granted, is many headline-ready quotes and the occasional rant. The latter I am already looking forward to. As you most likely already know, Ozzie agreed to a 4-year deal worth $10 million, signing the contract late Tuesday night. Also included is a minor league pitcher from the White Sox who has yet to be announced. To complete the trade, the Marlins are sending prospect Ozzie Martinez to Chicago.
With much less fanfare, Infante agreed to terms for $8 million over the next two seasons. After being traded over from the Braves before the season, Infante was assigned the difficult task of replacing fan favorite Dan Uggla. While he hasn’t made anyone forget Uggla’s exceptional 2010 season for the Marlins (4.9 fWAR), he was slightly more valuable compared to Uggla this season (2.6 vs. 2.5 fWAR).
Going forward, Marlins fans should expect very similar numbers offensively from Infante. He doesn’t hit for power or walk at a high rate, but he does hit for average, and he did so this year without the luck of an astronomical BABIP. This season, he also has decreased his K%, making him less reliant on a high BABIP. The 29-year Venezuelan old is still far-off from seeing a serious decline due to age, and I’m personally hoping he will be productive well into his mid-30′s.
The signing of Infante is key for the Marlins, and his value going forward should help keep the Marlins competitive in the powerful NL East, but if the team decides to rebuild, he could be a valuable trade chip at the deadline. Either way, Infante’s signing of the dotted line should be making the headlines in Miami, instead of this “Ozzie” guy.
Besides the fact that Ozzie Guillen can’t win games if Josh Johnson is hurt and Hanley Ramirez is slumping, he’s probably not going to come here for the kind of money the Marlins generally like to spend on a manager. We’re talking about an organization that decided it couldn’t afford players – PLAYERS!!! – as valuable as Miguel Cabrera orJosh Beckett. Those are guys who actually take the field and contribute to winning ballgames. We’re really supposed to expect them to overspend on a guy whose job basically boils down to sitting in the dugout, offering quality soundbites, and occasionally pulling a double switch?
I’m not buying. And there’s zero chance the Marlins are, either.
Man, I’d hate to be that guy right about now.
But, now that Ozzie is officially here and somehow successfully tiptoed his way through a minefield of tampering charges in his introductory press conference, let’s discuss what this means for the future of the team.
My initial reaction to the signing wasn’t to be overly excited or the least bit angry, which is strange, because I’m usually that guy when this kind of news hits. No, if I had to pinpoint my emotional reaction, I guess I’d describe it as 73% apathetic, 21% intrigued and 6% hungry. What? I hadn’t eaten all day. But, I suppose that makes sense, considering my belief that a manager’s influence on a baseball game is right up there with the hitting coach and the peanut vendor.
First things first, though; in no way does this move make the on-field product any better. Like, at all. We can debate this if you’d like, but I don’t care to this morning and you’d lose, anyway, so just trust me on this. Maybe it makes their sound bites more entertaining, but that’s about it. And, as we saw with Jack McKeon this year, that shtick tends to wear thin once your winning percentage dips below .500.
But, if I’m of the opinion that a manager makes little to no difference in the outcome of a baseball game, then clearly I’m upset that the Marlins would spend roughly $3 million per year at that position for the next four years, right? Surprisingly, no.
With a new stadium and a retractable roof just one year away, there were only two things the Marlins needed to do in order to begin their successful rebranding of the team: post a respectable record and not be completely inept. Whoops! After an abysmal season that saw key players get injured and/or forget how to swing a bat, the Marlins needed something – ANYTHING – buzz worthy if they planned on keeping the fans happy. People always say that winning is the ultimate aphrodisiac for a fanbase, but when those wins are few and far between, you need to do something else. Obviously, a 43-22 record will do a lot to move tickets, but failing that, so will Super Saturday and Bark at the Park. You need to generate interest somehow and that’s what the Marlins did by inking Ozzie to a four-year deal. He’s a fiery manager who’s about as Miami as you can get without hiring the old Spanish woman who sells shrimp on the side of the road in Miami Lakes. Die-hard fans might see through the move, but I don’t imagine it was made for them. They were coming, anyway. This move affects the fringe fan. The one who needs a reason to come to the park, other than the thrill of a baseball game.
Need more evidence of this? 30,000 people showed up to yesterday’s game because it was the final game played in a stadium nobody likes and there were some old players hanging around. The team isn’t being contracted. They aren’t moving to another state. They’re moving 36 minutes away. That was enough reason to fill the lower bowl and open sections that were previously closed. The moral of the story: people are stupid. And by bringing in a big name manager, the Marlins are sort of preying on that.
Personally, I view the Ozzie Guillen signing as a peace offering of sorts. A front office that fans don’t trust extending an olive branch to a fanbase that the front office doesn’t trust. “See? We spent money on one part of the team. Show us that you’ll come to the park and we’ll begin spending money elsewhere.” It’s sort of like a silly hostage negotiation. Will it work? Is that even the intention? I don’t know, but I have a hard time believing that a team notorious for underspending would waste $12 million on a manager and not even consider upgrading the talent on the field, considerably.
I guess that when it comes down to it, I don’t love the Ozzie Guillen move, but I don’t hate it either. I just understand it. Or I think I do, at least. Or maybe I’m just tired of thinking of this ownership group as slimy and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for once.
It really doesn’t matter. I’m saving the majority of my outrage for the unveiling of the new logo on November 11th, anyway.
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)