Tagged: Joe Maddon

Designated Pitcher

I’ll admit, I’m not much on reading magazines anymore. I let all of my mags just pile up. So I only just today read what was reported in Sports Illustrated last week, that a minor league player played all nine positions in a single game. He’s not the first to do this–it’s happened in the major leagues before–but it brings up this nagging question I’ve always had.
We all know what happens if you move your DH into the field. For the rest of the game, your pitchers have to bat. It makes it very risky to use a catcher as a DH unless you’ve got three on the roster due to the specialized nature of the position. But what about the converse? What if, with your DH still not in the field, you were to move a player already on the field to the pitcher’s mound? In this particular game, the super-utility player pitched the top of the ninth inning and recorded a save, so his team never came up to bat again after this defensive shift was made, but if the original “pitcher’s spot” came up, who would bat there, the DH or the backup catcher (since that was the position he was playing immediately before pitching)? What if they moved him back into the field; would the DH be able to just go on DHing? If an AL team had a kid in the minors who could field like crazy–I mean like Brooks Robinson/Ozzie Smith caliber fielding–but couldn’t get a call-up because of his abysmal hitting, and also had some ex-NL pitchers who were known to be proficient enough with the bat, like a Carlos Zambrano-type, in their rotation, would they be able to bring the kid up and make him the “starting pitcher” on days when the hitting pitchers’ turns came up, have him throw an intentional ball one (because you need to throw at least one pitch), and then just switch him with the actual starting pitcher, who would’ve “started” in the kid’s position? These are important things to consider.

I have to assume such a maneuver isn’t legal. If it was, Joe Maddon probably would’ve tried it by now.

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Passed Ball at the All-Star Game

Well, well, looks like I actually got a comment for once! Yeah, for the most part, this is just an extension of me having fun. Still, after utterly failing at last year’s All-Star Game–writing a potential entry on paper, but never typing it up–things are going to be different this year. We have a wireless network in the house now, so I can be typing it up as I watch. Here’s hoping it’s half as surreal as the last one.

As we continue our pregame coverage, I found out from Sirius/XM’s “The Show” that in last week’s appearance, Chone Figgins said that if he made the All-Star team, he’d do the Ozzie Smith somersault–apparently he was a big Ozzie fan. Now, thanks to the sudden scratch of Evan Longoria, Figgins is in–even though we still have two third basemen, even without Longoria, while we only have one second baseman thanks to Joe Maddon’s weird decision to replace Dustin Pedroia with a fourth first baseman. Good thing Inge, Figgins and Zobrist are all kind of utility guys…Inge has never played second, but that’s okay because we need to save him in case we need a third catcher. Oh, right, so anyway, be on the lookout for Chone Figgins to attempt to do a tribute to Ozzie Smith in tonight’s game!

Do I really want to know?

“I know they feel better about themselves right now, and confidence is
really a wondrous thing in regards to us humans,” said Tampa Bay
manager Joe Maddon. (about Carlos Peña and Evan Longoria, who combined for three hits in the first part of Game 5 after going hitless through the first four games)

Um…yeah. Er, who else would it be in regards to? Have you made contact with another planet, Joe? This is going to be a bizarre game regardless, with the “seventh-inning stretch” just six outs past the start of the game and relievers working, well, pretty much right from the start. (Of course, as certain extra-inning games have shown, it’s more like the “every seventh inning stretch”.) This is going to be really cool, no matter what happens, and if the Rays can take it back to Tampa, well, like I said, things could get epic. Now, for the obvious question: If the Rays do force Game 7, who gets the start for Philadelphia? Would they opt to bring Hamels back on short rest, or would they go with one of their other starters? And if it’s the latter, who do you choose, Moyer or Blanton? The way I see it, in Game 7 of the World Series, everyone is available to pitch. Since Hamels still wouldn’t have the full four days rest (although personally, I think this sucks anyway–call me a purist), I’d go with Blanton to start and bring Hamels and whoever else you need out of the bullpen. Of course, this is all just hypothetical–the Rays need to win Game 5 first, and then we can start thinking about Game 7 6. (No, I’m not even going to declare that one a foregone conclusion, even though they should have a marked advantage. There is only one time that I’ve called a postseason game that wasn’t guaranteed to occur to be a foregone conclusion if it did, and that was in 2004, right after Game 5 of the ALCS, when I facetiously referred to that night’s game as “Game 7”. That much I was certain of. With the Yankees ahead 3 games to 2, I was certain that there were only two possibilities: Yankees win it 4-2, or Red Sox win it 4-3. My reasoning for this was flawless in that just as I expected, the Red Sox absolutely hammered the Yankees’ poor excuse for a Game 7 starter.)

Also in the weird world of the 2008 World Series: the effects the rain
had on gambling. According to the Nevada Gaming Commission rules, the
final score of a baseball game is determined at the end of the last
completed inning, and so in Las Vegas, all bets on the Phillies in Game
5 have paid out, as they “won” 2-1 in five innings. There will be a
prop bet on the resumption of the game.

Chess Game

Well, so much for that. The Phillies won game 5 of the NLCS to advance to the World Series. Incidentally, I was wrong about no starter starting three games in a seven-game series during my lifetime. Curt Schilling started three games in the 2001 World Series, with one win and two no-decisions.

Joe Maddon is creating a big stir once again. He has switched around his rotation, bringing Scott Kazmir back on normal rest for Game 5 and holding James Shields out for a potential Game 6. Personally, I think this is a good move on the Rays’ part. Up 3-1, they only need one more win, and Shields, their best pitcher, hasn’t been great at Fenway this year, or any other time in his young career, for that matter. By sending Kazmir up against Daisuke Matsuzaka tonight, they may indeed be hurting their chances of winning Game 5, but they’d still have a 3-2 series lead and a very favorable Game 6 pitching matchup at home of Shields versus Josh Beckett. Incidentally, that extra off-day between Games 4 and 5 works both ways, and the Red Sox could conceivably bring Jon Lester back on normal rest for Game 6, allowing the ailing Beckett an extra day of rest before a potential Game 7 matchup with Matt Garza on the mound for the Rays. I think this is the Red Sox’ best chance of winning. I also don’t have enough faith in Terry Francona to believe that this is going to happen. Good luck against Philly, Rays.

Just can’t hate

Earlier this season, in preparation for a trip to Tampa, I wrote an entry called “Ten Things I Hate About the Tampa Bay Rays”. And yet, a week or so ago, I realized–I just can’t hate these guys. Maybe it’s because we were catching them, and they were in a down stretch, but I just couldn’t get up the venom for them. Still can’t, even though they did their typical late-inning comeback thing again. Well, “comeback” might not be a great word, since it was a 2-1 game and the tying run came just one inning after the Sox took the 1-0 lead. Still another walkoff win. If they keep this up, the term “Metrodome special” will be replaced with “(insert name of Rays’ new stadium) special” when the Metrodome closes down. If things go south with the Red Sox, I think I will be rooting for the Rays, after all. Besides, how can you hate a team whose manager gets a mohawk as a sign of unity with his players? Joe Maddon is an interesting character, to say the least, but we’ve known that since we saw the shift he employed against Big Papi. Papi memorably responded to the exaggerated shift with a bunt base hit down the third base line. The funny thing is, if Papi had any speed to speak of, he’d be able to get a double by bunting on that shift. That’s how ridiculous the shift is.

Team of destiny?

By now you’ve no doubt noticed that the Tampa Bay Rays have
already equaled last year’s win total and stand just four wins shy of their
franchise record with 41 games remaining. (And this after a loss, too.) XM’s
Baseball This Morning provided a nice list of parallels between the ’08 Rays
and the ’69 Miracle Mets. First off: The ’08 Rays have a 24-year-old ace in
Scott Kazmir. The ’69 Mets had a 24-year-old ace, Tom Seaver. The ’67 Mets were
61-101, ditto the ’06 Devil Rays. The Mets’ manager in 1969 was Gil Hodges, who
has three letters in his first name and six in his last name, just like current
Rays manager Joe Maddon. What does it all mean? Absolutely nothing, of course,
but the Rays are a very good team without a doubt. Remains to be seen if
they can get past the Angels in the playoffs, assuming that that’s who they
play. The Red Sox’ traditional postseason dominance of the Angels can only go
so far, and with Boston’s horrible road record, I’m not so confident in their
chances as a wild card team–especially not against a team with the road record
to nullify their home field advantage when they do have. Modified predictions
for ALDS: Angels sweep Red Sox, Rays beat White Sox in 4.

 

Raul Ibañez set a new Seattle record for RBIs in an inning
with 6 in the seventh inning against Minnesota, part of a ten-run offensive by
the Mariners that inning. Ibañez’s grand slam proved key to the Mariners’
comeback win. Also hitting a grand slam yesterday was Marlon Byrd of the Texas
Rangers, after the Yankees rallied to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the
ninth, providing a 9-5 walkoff win in the regulation nine. Oakland lost their
seventh game in a row and is just 2-14 since the All-Star Break. Furthermore,
they had been playing only .500 ball leading into the break and are 9-23 since
their high-water mark of nine games over .500 on June 28th. The
Angels won last night on a bases-loaded walk, the same method Tampa Bay used to
win the previous day by an equal 6-5 score.

 

Milwaukee continues to reel, falling for the seventh time in
their last nine games as they were shut down by a Cincinnati team that was
coming off of a sweep at the hands of the league-worst Washington Nationals.
The game was more notable for the fight that transpired in the dugout between
Prince Fielder and Manny Parra. The Cubs also lost, 2-0 in a rain-shortened
game against the scorching Houston Astros (7-1 over their last eight), so
Milwaukee remains five games back, now just half a game up on the idle Cards in
the wild card race.

 

Yeah, yeah, I did it again. Two days worth of writing for
this entry. Tampa Bay got that win, passing last year’s mark with 40 games to
go. Also, I feel a lot better about the Red Sox now. They continue to get
production up and down the lineup, as Youk had his fourth straight game with an
XBH, Pedroia’s now got the longest road hitting streak by a Red Sox since 1913,
Lowrie continued his hot streak with another triple and more RBIs, Bay went 4
for 5, and even Jacoby got into the act, with two hits and two stolen bases–the
first steals in over a month. I really love this team. Where else do you see
the number four starter win Pitcher of the Month? Oh, right, Cleveland
(actually, that was the number 5, at least when it happened, back in April. 15
wins and an All-Star start can change that designation quickly). With win 15 on
Monday night, Lee leads the AL and was briefly tied for the major league lead,
but NL leader Brandon Webb picked up his 16th last night to retake
sole possession of the overall lead. Many happy returns, with Mike Hampton
picking up his first win since 2005, Chris Carpenter making his first home
start since Opening Day 2007 in an eventual 11-inning Cardinal win, and Francisco
Fausto Carmona returning for the Indians, though I’ve already mentioned that
the Indians didn’t win last night, being the Rays’ opponents. (Another
reference to XM Radio on the morning commute there. Really blew that one.)
Interesting play in last night’s Red Sox-Royals game. One of Jason Bay’s four
hits had just barely enough distance and height to clear the wall if
uncontested, but of course, it was contested. Royals centerfielder Mitch
Maier managed to get a glove on it but couldn’t make the catch, instead weakly
knocking the ball away. The ball continued to roll on top of the outfield
wall
for 10-20 seconds before left fielder Ross Gload batted it down and
threw in, limiting Bay to a double. Nevertheless, it was a wholly inexplicable
turn of events. Chris Waters had a phenomenal debut, shutting out the Angels
for eight innings, and the Tigers continued to struggle as they continued to
have trouble closing out games, blowing a 6-1 lead at the halfway point with a
run allowed in the bottom of the fifth, two more in the sixth and one each in
the seventh and eighth and wasting a two-run top of the 14th by
allowing four runs in the bottom of the inning, the last three on a Nick
Swisher home run.

 

Put it off another day…I really, REALLY despise the Tampa
Bay Rays. I wasn’t really paying that much attention to yesterday’s afternoon
games while they were in progress, but I knew that there were some going on,
including Rays-Indians. No sooner do I find the game on my radio… “WAAAAAAAAY
BACK!!! THIS GAME IS TIED!!!” I’m not going to do the whole quote, but yeah. I
then found out that the first two batters of the inning doubled. Disgusting…and
it only got worse. The infield single was disappointing, the four-pitch walk
was horrifying, and the three-run homer was, by that point, almost
predictable–I say almost because I was actually expecting the following batter
to get a grand slam instead. I’m watching the very beginning of SportsCenter
right now, and baseball is nowhere in sight–Brett Favre got traded, and the
entire rundown of seven topics is Favre-related. (I think it froze up again, though,
because this isn’t the top one any more. It may not even be one of the seven,
which would be really disturbing.) More media circus here in Jersey, too–the
Jets ended up winning out over the Buccaneers. (That’s a bit of a shame,
really; not only do I hate both “New York” football teams, Brett Favre would
probably be an upgrade for the Bucs–who do they have, Jeff Garcia? Garcia was
good for us when McNabb went down in ’06, but I’d rather have Favre
there–remember, the Bucs are in the same division as the Carolina Panthers,
whose ’09 first-round draft pick the Eagles picked up in a draft-day trade. So
improving the Bucs helps my favorite team.) Oh, wait, I was wrong about it
freezing up; we’ve returned from the first break and four of the seven are still
on the rundown. The end of SportsCenter was also all Favre…which detracts from
a different kind of Buc. I swear, good accomplishments on bad teams get
no attention at all–the next five on the rundown are “Indians-Rays”, “Walk-off
HR”, “Yankees-Rangers”, “Joba Chamberlain”, and “Red Sox-Royals”. In a way, it
makes sense–the Rays are a division leader and had an incredible comeback win,
the Yankees are in the same division and have a major starter who will be
missing some time, and the Sox are also in that division and leading the wild
card. Unfortunately, after that, it’s even more football coverage–about to fill
up the rundown again. Okay, so what’s the rule–you have to carry the
no-hitter into the ninth to get mentioned by the halfway point? Remember last
week’s entry, when John Lackey’s 8⅓ no-hit innings against the Red Sox got the
top story on SC (and brought the rest of the AL East to the top), even with
plenty of Favre news to go around, and Doug Davis, his cancer-survivor status
and his 7⅔ perfect innings couldn’t get in until after the second
commercial break? Guess what–it happened again, except this time it doesn’t
seem like this one will beat the third break. Eight NFL pieces in this
block, followed by…the NL East: Padres-Mets, then Marlins-Phillies. Hello? 7⅔
perfect innings!!!
This time the Diamondbacks were on the other side of the
ball, unable to get a baserunner until there were two outs in the eighth. Two
more pieces appear on the rundown, and they’re Tigers-White Sox and
Twins-Mariners. We’ve hit the third commercial break, and they’ve told us to
stick around for highlights of the Cubs’ eight-run third against the
Astros–they often tell us to “stick around” for something that we’ll still be
“sticking around” for at the next commercial break, like yesterday with
the surreal play from the Red Sox-Royals game. We’re back, and the next one is,
rather cryptically, “Images”. I’m guessing it’s more Brett Favre. The clock by
the rundown says 11:37, and I might be wrong about the “Images” because the
next one is Dodgers-Cardinals. Will this be it? NO! The next one is
Astros-Cubs, so the following one should be Brewers-Reds…and it is…PGA
Championship. Man, and I was sure that they were going for the NL
Central thing. They go for the second-in-the-West Dodgers versus
second-in-the-wild-card, third-in-the Central Cards, and then follow up with
the Central’s leader…and doesn’t go to the Brew Crew next? Bad editing,
guys…Twins-M’s took us into the fourth commercial, and “End of an Era” followed
“PGA Championship”, followed by even more Favre. I am not going to
finish this entry until SportsCenter gets to the biggest accomplishment of the
night…I mean, you’ve got this 25-year-old, recently acquired…Ah, there’s
“Images”. Image of the week–Manny arriving in LA, Favre arriving and leaving
Green Bay, Carl Edwards celebrating a win, or US cyclists wearing black masks
in Beijing. Manny won out in the poll. “Headlines” and “Legends” follow
“Favre’s Best”…wait…at 11:47, “Headlines” could be that bit I saw…IT IS! The
next one after “Legends” is “Long, Strange Trip”, which was the final
segment–and, yep, there’s “Top Stories” again. Oh, look, “Favre’s Best” is the
daily top 10–they’re taking all of them from Favre’s career highlights instead
of the day’s plays. So, we’ve now got SportsCenter all wrapped up, and so many
games left uncovered. Brewers-Reds, A’s-Jays, Orioles-Angels, Braves-Giants,
Nats-Rockies (okay, that one got rained out; doubleheader today), and, of
course…Pirates-Diamondbacks. If a large-market team kept an opponent of the
bases–or was kept off the bases–for so much as six innings complete,
it’d probably be the top story. Jeff Karstens retires the first twenty-three
Diamondbacks he faces, and it doesn’t get on SportsCenter at all. Come on, near
perfect game? Against a division leader? Still a complete-game shutout–unlike
the Lackey game, which wasn’t a shutout, or the Davis game, which wasn’t a complete game?
Opposing a sure-fire Hall of Famer–“the ugly guy”, as my mom calls him. (Randy
Johnson may not be pretty, but he throws a mean fastball.) ESPN, you disgust
me.