Results tagged ‘ spring training ’

Spring Training story time

It seems like there’s something of a split when it comes to the value of Spring Training. Do the stats matter? Do wins and losses matter? Well, take this Spring Training story into account when you think about it.

This weekend I talked to a well-placed source about minor-league Spring Training games. There was a minor-league game in Florida. Team A, the visitors, had a big lead the whole game, but their pitchers were using a lot of pitches and not lasting very long. Team B was coming back in the bottom of the ninth, two outs and bases loaded. Team A Manager calls time and tells the umpire his pitcher has reached his pitch limit and he’s the last guy who needed to get his work in that day. The umpire tells Team B Manager that the game is over because Team A is out of pitchers.

Then something happened that is completely unheard of in Spring Training baseball:

Team B Manager flips out. Completely loses it.

Says Team A is chicken, doesn’t want to lose the game. He’s furious and isn’t going anywhere.

Team A Manager calls his farm director. Tells him this other manager is a whack-job. This is a Spring Training game, right? Who cares?

So Team A Farm Director calls Team B Farm Director, who is at the complex where the game is being played. Would you please remind your manager that this isn’t the World Series?

Team B Farm Director walks over to the field, tells his manager to relax and that the game is, in fact, over.

The moral of the story is this: Stats mean virtually nothing. If you’re on the bubble of getting released or not making the big-league team, it’s more about how you look. How’s your bat speed? Do you have command of the strike zone? Are you throwing harder than 82 mph on your fastball?

And wins and losses mean nothing.

And so ends today’s Spring Training story time.

Random thoughts:

  • Just heard former TinCaps RHP Anthony Bass is starting today’s big league game.
  • TinCaps manager Shawn Wooten gets some pub in a New York Times blog about disciples of Mike Scioscia. Padres manager Bud Black, Rays manager Joe Maddon and Brewers manager Ron Roenicke were on Scioscia’s staff when the Angels won the World Series. And Wooten played on that team.
  • Usually needles are discouraged around baseball, but Stitch N’ Pitch is an exception.
  • LHP Clayton Richard struggled against the Angels yesterday. Fort Wayne alums OFs Will Venable, Blake Tekotte and Daniel Robertson and INFs Andy Parrino and James Darnell got playing time.
  • On Saturday, former TinCaps RHP Brad Brach was in the middle as the Padres and Dodgers “got spirited” with some beanballs. Mat Latos stopped in the middle of an autograph session and jogged to the field, just in case the jaw-jackers started to get a little more heated.
  • Latos was supposed to start that game, but he skipped it with shoulder soreness and now might be headed to the DL.
  • SS Everth Cabrera is going to make San Diego’s Opening Day roster. When the Padres released Kevin Frandsen on Friday, this looked likely. Also, OF Cameron Maybin is expected to return to the lineup today after a bout with quad stiffness.
  • Former TinCaps RHP Dexter Carter was released by the Padres. I’ve heard he’s already been picked up by the White Sox, the organization that drafted him.
  • The San Diego U-T‘s Padres preview asks if the Padres can catch lightning in a bottle again.
  • The U-T also has profiles of the 2011 Padres.
  • Tony Gwynn is cancer-free.
  • Here’s the 819th prospect ranking list of the year, this one by FanGraphs.
  • The Royals’ loaded farm system is like a really good garage band: They might hit it big as Royals, they might end up with other successful teams, they might flame out completely. You just never know. Just ask the Diamondbacks, circa 2005. They had OF Carlos Gonzalez, SS Stephen Drew, LHP Brett Anderson, OF Justin Upton, etc.
  • Mariners RHP Michael Pineda… He’s good.
  • Mariners LHP Erik Bedard is still alive, and he’s having a good spring.
  • Remember when the Cardinals were toast because they lost Adam Wainwright? Well, since then, Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum have had injuries for the Brewers, half the Reds rotation (Johnny Cueto, Bronson Arroyo, Homer Bailey) has health problems and Carlos Silva, who was kind of good for the Cubs last year, is gone. And that’s just the NL Central… The Phillies are just as depleted with Chase Utley out, Brad Lidge hurt and Jayson Werth gone to Washington.
  • The Red Sox got slammed by injuries last year, but they’re investing big in injury prevention.
  • Well what happened was, Buck Showalter was all like, “Derek Jeter’s a baby and Theo Epstein’s overrated,” and now Terry Francona’s getting all like, “Yo, why you hatin’?”
  • The Indians’ payroll is down for the third straight year.
  • The Cubs hired their new PA announcer after holding a giant PR campaign/dog-and-pony-show/employee search.
  • Did you know there have been 90 space shuttle missions since the Pirates’ last winning season? NINETY!
  • Reds LHP Aroldis Chapman’s translator was the trainer at Triple-A Louisville, but now the trainer got the call to the big leagues. Also in that notebook, Hal McCoy makes an exquisite point: When you’re flying, why is it that the people who play by the rules and check luggage at the airport counter are charged a decent chunk of money, but the people who act completely shocked when their their gigantic bags don’t fit into the overhead bins get to pay nothing? The luggage ends up in the same place, under the plane.
  • Apparently the Canseco brothers are kind of like those wrestlers who dressed exactly the same, right down to their masks, then when one of them got wailed on, they’d both go under the ring. When they came out, nobody knew who the legal man was, so the fresh guy would get back in the ring. You know what I’m talking about, right?
  • Buster Olney told the story of his dogs. When the TinCaps go to Lake County in mid-May, I’m going to hang out with my dogs so much they’re going to get sick of me.
  • America’s Next Great Restaurant” is a decent idea for a show, but it’s almost like they ran out of good contestants. I can’t believe some of the ideas ever made it to the show. A restaurant totally based on meatballs? A fast-casual grilled cheese sandwich restaurant? These must be the William Hungs of the restaurant reality show business.
  • I’m also proud to announce that I made my first omelet yesterday. And it was delicious. My breakfast arsenal is expanding pretty quickly.
  • I picked up a cold and my voice is almost completely gone. This is the radio guy’s equivalent to a pitcher having shoulder soreness two weeks before Opening Day: Better now than during the season.
  • Even though my post from Friday got deleted with the changes to MLBlogs, I do like the new format. It’s MUCH easier to use on my end and I don’t think you have to be registered to comment anymore. So comment away!

Musical guest… Milli Vanilli!

Take care!

DW

James Darnell – so hot right now

Former TinCaps 3B James Darnell was kind of the man yesterday. You may remember him from such classics as the first home run ever hit at Parkview Field (which I completely botched on the radio – it was our first game at the new park so it was a new angle, plus it was such a low liner that I thought it was going to end up taking the left fielder’s glove off… next thing I knew, it was flying onto the Home Run Porch. Literally thousands dozens of listeners around the world thought to themselves, “This new radio guy is garbage!” Lesson learned, I guess).

Anyway, James (who is a VERY nice guy) was featured in a Padres.com article yesterday afternoon. Key points: He struggled with a cyst-like growth on his hand last year (he eventually had it removed, then “rehabbed” with the TinCaps for a few games), and he will probably be the starting third baseman at Triple-A Tucson to open the year. You know, I think I read something about Tucson playing a series at Parkview Field this summer. Maybe you’ll want to come out and see good ol’ JD again. Right? Right.

Also yesterday, Darnell singled in his only at-bat in the Padres’ Spring Training game. He’s 4-for-8 for the spring.

So, you know… James Darnell: so hot right now. And chances are good that he’ll be back in Fort Wayne this summer for the Triple-A series. Maybe he’ll hit another laser-beam home run and maybe I won’t screw it up this time.

Random thoughts:

  • Another Fort Wayne alum, INF/OF Mike Baxter, is having a nice spring so far. He had a huge year last year with Triple-A Portland. Padre fans should be clamoring for his quick arrival in San Diego, if only for the Anchorman/Baxter/San Diego references.
  • MLB.com’s Jonathan (don’t call me Joe) Mayo has his Top 10 Padres prospects. Six Fort Wayne alums in the top ten. Possible future TinCaps OF Donovan Tate is No. 10. Lots of other TinCaps-related stuff in there, too.
  • If Padres LHP Randy Flores is healthy, he’d be a nice addition to the bullpen.
  • Do you realize Padres RHP Mike Adams has a career ERA of 2.31? And the peripheral stats show it’s not smoke and mirrors? And that despite being 32 years old he still has THREE arbitration years left including this one? AND that the Indians claimed him off waivers, sent him to Triple-A, then turned around and traded him to the Padres less than two months later for some guy named Brian Sikorski, who they released within a year? AND that the tone of my voice has gone up an octave, Tim Kurkjian-style, since I started this rant?
  • Legendary author Ben Hill asks the question, “What’s the deal with baseball in Tucson?
  • Former Padres GM Kevin Towers cleaned house in Arizona this winter after seeing the clubhouse atmosphere a little too loose.
  • Indians 3B prospect Lonnie Chisenhall is having a good spring.
  • At least one team has learned not to sign aging relievers to long-term contracts.
  • The Royals are getting sued because a guy got hit in the eye by a flying hot dog during one of their promotions. I should probably be more of an expert on this, but wouldn’t this be covered by the disclaimer about flying objects from the field on the back of every ticket?
  • Giants RHP Jeff Suppan used to work for a newspaper company. He lasted three days, but still.
  • Fort Wayne alum RHP Dirk Hayhurst writes books and blogs… Marlins RHP Burke Badenhop is writing a screenplay for a comedy.
  • Yes, I will be reading this book after reading the excerpt.
  • I can’t get enough of this video. Because I’m still bitter and because LeBron is an out-of-touch baby. I know it’s irrelevant as long as they make the playoffs, but did you know the Heat would have to win every game for the rest of the season just to equal the Cavaliers’ win total from last year?
  • Book update: Just finished Ghost Wars, which is about the CIA’s history in Afghanistan from the Cold War through 2001. It’s almost 600 pages long and has an enormous cast of characters, but I thought it was outstanding. Then I found out the author did over 200 interviews to track down info and was also serving as the managing editor of The Washington Post while writing the book. Incredible stuff. It’s not the type of book you sit down and read 100 pages of at a time, but if you want to learn about why things are the way they are in Afghanistan (and some other countries in the region, too), this is a good start.
  • In a scene sure to be included in “The Wedding Singer II: The Search for More Money,” Cyndi Lauper cheered up delayed travelers in Argentina by singing “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” over the airport sound system. Everything about this story sounds made up.
  • This weekend I’m finally going to a “Learn to Curl” session hosted by the Fort Wayne Curling Club. This is probably my last chance at Olympic glory, so I’m a little nervous.
  • Finally, while watching NFL Network last night, I noticed analyst Charlie Casserly looks suspiciously similar to The Muppet Newsman. Am I right or am I right?

casserl<br />
y-muppet.jpg” src=”http://mlblogstincaps.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/casserly-muppet-thumb-400×210-27258811.jpg” class=”mt-image-none” width=”400″ height=”210″ /></a></span><br /><i>(left-to-right: Newsman, Casserly)</i></p>
<p>Musical guest… The Beach Boys!</p>
<span class='embed-youtube' style='text-align:center; display: block;'><iframe class='youtube-player' type='text/html' width='555' height='343' src='http://www.youtube.com/embed/09dQmeB_NgU?version=3&rel=0&fs=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent' frameborder='0'></iframe></span>
<p>Take care!</p>
<p>DW</p>
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  • Posted on March 9, 2011 at 10:22 am
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  • Cut from the team, but not really

    One of the toughest things to understand about baseball is how roster maneuvering works, mostly because there’s no good place to find explanations of everything. The 40-man roster, the active 25-man roster, service time/arbitration concerns… the casual fan doesn’t have time to care about this stuff. Which is one of the benefits of reading this, I suppose.

    So yesterday, the Padres “reassigned” five players from big-league camp, four of them former TinCaps. Some outlets call it being “cut” from camp. In reality, these guys were never really ON the big-league roster, so it’s impossible to be cut.

    Here’s the explanation that doesn’t come out nearly enough to help newcomers learn the game: Big-league camp starts a few weeks before the minor-leaguers show up. If you’re an upper-level prospect who isn’t on the major-league team, you might get an invitation to big-league camp. When that happens, you get to get into camp early, get some work in and show the big-league coaches what you’re working with. It’s basically the equivalent of the better JV players getting to practice with the varsity team. After minor-league camp starts, you eventually get sent back to practice with the JV peons, pretty much regardless of how well you’re playing. And even after a player gets sent back to minor-league camp, he can still play in the big-league Spring Training games – in fact, former TinCaps RHPs Brad Brach and Alexi Lara are both pitching in the big-league game today despite getting reassigned to minor-league camp yesterday.

    Why invite the minor-leaguers to big-league camp? Well, there’s the tryout-type reasons I listed above, but also because SOMEBODY has to play in the latter innings of those early-spring games. The big-league position players start out playing 4-5 innings per day at the beginning of camp (pitchers going 1-2 innings) and often don’t travel to road games. They’re working their way into shape for the season. So somebody has to fill the spots in the lineup after the big-leaguers are finished getting their work in for the day. That’s when it turns into a showcase game for younger players trying to make an impression.

    Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments or drop an e-mail… dan.watson@tincaps.com.

    Random thoughts:

    • Brad Hawpe homered and Mike Adams had a rough inning for the Padres yesterday. Fort Wayne alums of note in box score: OF Will Venable caught stealing twice; OF Cedric Hunter went 1-for-2; LHP Rob Musgrave allowed an unearned run in one inning; C Jason Hagerty, INFs Chase Headley, Andy Parrino, Jeudy Valdez and OF Luis Durango all went hitless.
    • Veteran C Gregg Zaun retiring means former Fort Wayne C Nick Hundley has one less mentor.
    • Padres LHP Clayton Richard threw live batting practice yesterday as he recovers from shoulder soreness.
    • A potentially great moment for Greeks in baseball was thwarted last night when Padres RHP George Kontos didn’t face Royals 3B prospect Mike Moustakas. Mostly because it wasn’t Kontos’ day to throw. In reality, neither of them have ever lived in Greece, but they have Greek grandparents or something. So this is something of a non-story. But it could have really been something.
    • Apparently there are people who take satisfaction in heckling teenage multi-millionaires at afternoon exhibition baseball games. In other news, this guy is evidently based on a real person.
    • Get used to hearing this: Michael Pineda is good.
    • Ask BA ranks the last 12 prospects who were taken No. 1 overall in the MLB draft. Which isn’t completely the same as “Rank the hype around the top overall pick.” Also, they figured out that more 20 HR-20 SB seasons have come from high-school draftees than college products. Which, if you think teams should draft for high upside, means teams should probably draft high school guys more often. But rigidly sticking to any one draft philosophy (i.e. drafting all high-school guys, go for position scarcity) gets you in trouble.
    • Interesting stuff in Fangraphs’ report from the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which is the Mecca of stat geeks the world over: They’re getting close to being able to track how much a catcher moves his mitt, which theoretically should tell us how well a pitcher is hitting his spots (but what about when a pitcher is trying to bury a breaking ball in the dirt?); defensive metrics are advancing; balancing statistical analysis with traditional scouting; and projecting minor-league stats to big-league performance is still tricky.
    • MLB is (naturally) involved with the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
    • Some people call today Mardi Gras, which is French Freedom for Fat Tuesday. Others just call it Tuesday.
    • Dave Hutte Status Update: “Gotta figure out what to give up for Lent.” Let’s hope it’s not status updates. Also, I’ve decided I want to dress up like Dave Hutte for his costume party/wedding reception. After the obligatory creepy dyed-black goatee, I could go with any of several outfits: the 1997 crew-neck Packers sweatshirt/pajama pants/slippers combo, the generic basketball uniform (for pickup basketball games)/calf-length socks/white sneakers ensemble… and that’s just off the top of my head.

    Musical guest… Weezer!

    Take care!

    DW

    Heat wave

    Today I went outside and the temperature was above freezing. It may as well have been 70 degrees. Also, spring training officially opens today. Today is a good day.

    Random thoughts:

    • There’s a bonanza of Padres links today… First up, Kyle Blanks has learned to eat. Well, he already knew how to eat, but you know what I mean.
    • Brad Hawpe is using Todd Helton’s glove at first base. This kind of thing happens more often than you think.
    • Manager Bud Black says (rightly) that the Padres are more balanced than they were last year.
    • The obligatory “(Arbitrary number) questions as (team) opens Spring Training” story.
    • Heath Bell may want to pull the Elaine Benes and force everyone in Padres camp to wear name tags. There’s that many new guys.
    • Across the parking lot at Mariners’ camp, they’re figuring out who will be the closer while David Aardsma gets healthy. Which is important, as the Brewers proved last year when Trevor Hoffman struggled early.
    • The White Sox might only need four starting pitchers early in the season, thanks to the way their schedule sets up. Which could ease the pressure on Fort Wayne alum RHP Jake Peavy to hurry back from injury.
    • Former MWLer Mike Trout will start this year in Double-A, but he probably won’t get to the big leagues. That could change if he goes bananas, I bet.
    • The Rockies are enjoying their new spring training park.
    • What’s this? The Yankees focusing on drafting?
    • Homer Bailey, Mike Leake and Travis Wood are three guys competing for two spots in the Reds’ rotation.
    • Jim Edmonds is hobbling. Good thing the Cardinals only gave him a minor-league deal. Meanwhile, Albert doesn’t have a contract extension going into camp. So we can enjoy that story lingering all summer. Welcome to 2009-10 in Cleveland, Cardinals fans. In the Cardinals’ defense, I’d be pretty hesitant to give anybody a ten-year contract that runs through his age-41 season, too. But he’s one of the few guys who has “butts-in-seats” impact.
    • Yep, the numbers back up that last year was the Year of the Pitcher.
    • Josh Hamilton’s story has inspired a lot of people, including a Marlins prospect.
    • Fact: DVR is the only way to watch awards shows.
    • I don’t usually watch awards shows, but I couldn’t pass up the Mumford & Sons / Avett Brothers / Bob Dylan set on the Grammys. And I know I could be put to death for saying this, but if I had to rank the performances, it would go Avett Brothers, Mumford & Sons, Dylan. And whoever ran the audio board for Mumford & Sons needs to get with the program. The banjo playing is what makes “The Cave” jump out of the stereo and it was almost inaudible on the show.
    • Mick Jagger’s Blues Brothers set was good too.
    • The awards part of the Grammys is as bad as ever. Fact: Lady Antebellum isn’t that good. Fact: Muse winning anything other than a 40-yard dash over Jeff Beck, Tom Petty, Pearl Jam and Neil Young is so utterly ridiculous that I don’t even know where to start.
    • I’ll have to do the photo work tomorrow, but am I the only one who noticed that John Mayer, Johnny Depp and Jack White could be the same person?
    • The French Freedom toast experiment was a huge success. Cinnamon was good, but adding orange zest to the batter was like adding rocket fuel to a… rocket. I don’t know how I lived without it.

    Musical guest… The Avett Brothers!

    Take care!

    DW

    You don’t have to go home

    Lately, MLB Network has been running all kinds of countdown shows to pass the time before actual baseball starts (which is soon). Maybe my favorite of all was the “50 Greatest Ejections” show. Because I love a good public tantrum. And because some days, managers just want to shake things up.

    My five favorite baseball ejections of all time are:

    5. Lloyd McClendon steals a base… as a manager – Because when you physically take a base out of the ground and walk off with it, you’re asking for it.

    4. TinCaps hitting coach Tom Tornincasa publicly humiliates umpire – Because when you call timeout, draw lines about four inches to each side of home plate to show where you think the umpire’s strike zone is, then walk back to the first-base coaches’ box like nothing happened, you’re asking for it. Months later, we found out manager Doug Dascenzo went to the umpire to try and smooth things out and asked, “You threw him out? What did he do?”

    3. Padres manager ejected during pre-game exchange of lineup cards – Because when you deliver the videotape of a “missed” call from the day before to an umpire, you’re asking for it.

    2. Mississippi Braves manager goes all Rambo – Because when you throw the rosin bag like a grenade, you’re asking for it.

    1. Lou Piniella holds a one-man placekicking exhibition – Because when it’s your 14th birthday and Indians tickets are impossible to get, you’re happy to see any game. But when you get to see MLB Network’s 5th-best ejection in the video era in person, that’s the stuff legends are made of.

    Random thoughts:

    • Johnny’s Valentine’s Day deliveries have been popular. So popular that he’s now booked. You snooze, you lose, bubba.
    • Spring training in Florida is inferior to spring training in Florida, mostly because of travel time between complexes. This isn’t what we call “hard news,” but it’s worth pointing out.
    • Remember that story about Rafael Soriano saving the Yankees’ off-season? Well, Andy Pettitte’s retiring. So forget about all that.
    • The Giants will give prospect Brandon Belt a shot to make the big-league team. Prediction: If Buster Posey didn’t do it (for arbitration reasons mostly), Belt won’t.
    • Nothing like a good “I wish we would have drafted so-and-so” session. In this edition, the Brewers wish they had had the chance to draft Mike Trout. Them and about 28 other teams.
    • San Francisco is weird.
    • Somebody ranked the best and worst baserunners in MLB. I won’t pretend to know how they figure this out, but it’s fun to look at.

    Musical guest… Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears!

    Have a great weekend!

    DW

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