Archive for May, 2007

Close the door, there’s a draft blowing

May 30, 2007

The baseball draft is next Thursday. For the first time it will be televised on ESPN. I’m sure there will be a bunch of reports on how the NFL and NBA drafts get much better ratings, ignoring that they are on a weekend and are hyped like crazy, whereas the baseball draft is on a Thursday afternoon and largely ignored.

Anyway, I wanted to give a little advice to the Rangers: Draft PITCHING! I don’t care who, all I want to see is a list of 40 pitchers they drafted at the end of the day (or days, since it takes a couple). Who cares who will hit, you can buy hitters (usually). And if you have pitching in depth, you can trade for all the hitters you need – witness whoever gets Teixeira in a couple of months.

I also wanted to do a little look-back at recent Ranger drafts. Since they are kind enough to provide the lists since 2000 on their site, let’s take a look at them.

In 2000, the immortal Scott Heard was the number one pick. Laynce Nix and Nick Masset (for a few innings, until making a name for himself with the White Sox this year) made the Rangers, although Ed Encarnacion got some time in elsewhere. Some other names pop out as being memorable from the Newberg Report, is Erik Thompson still a prospect?

2001 gave us Tex and CJ Wilson, and that’s about it.

2002 started with another immortal, Drew Meyer. At least he made the big club for a cup of coffee. Kam Loe came in. Nate Gold is still a prospect of sorts.

2003 brought Danks #1, now starting in Chicago. Wes Littleton, Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman came in this draft. Vince Sinisi is ripping the ball in AAA for someone else. Again a few names here and there.

In 2004, Eric Hurley and Thomas Diamond were 1 and 2, still good or very good prospects. A bunch of other names will be mentioned by Jamey Newberg now and again.

2005 got John Mayberry and a cast of thousands.

2006 brought Kasey Kiker, who is starting to take off in A ball I believe.

Okay, so it’s not fair to judge the last few drafts, although players are starting to arrive in the majors, with Tim Lincecum 2-0, 3.24 in 5 starts for the Giants this year (they drafted him #10 in 2006, just ahead of the Rangers taking Kiker at #12). But from 2000-2003, the Rangers graduated 9 players to the big club, of whom Tex is a star, Kinsler is making it, and the rest are fair to middling, some with more upsides than others.

I have no idea how good that is compared to other teams. By my quick math, there have been between 180 and 220 players making their debut each year from 2000-2006, which would be an average of 6-7 per team. I didn’t count all the players the Rangers drafted that made other teams, I’m sure there were some I missed. And of course you get into the trail of player X was traded for player Y, who did play for the Rangers, and so on. But still, if you average 6 players a year, even for 2000-2003 that’s 24 players that should have made it, and we have 11 or so. I’m sure I didn’t miss that many.

So in summary, the Rangers have sucked at drafting too. A franchise that is going nowhere but down. Good old Grady Fuson, meant at one point to be the GM, didn’t do much when he was drafting. Of course it’s also an indictment of John Hart, who was clearly past his sell-by date when he came here (Travis Freaking Hafner!). And ultimately back up the line to Hicks again, he hired these people.

Where does the knowledge come from? Do they scout? Do they run stats? Do they pluck names out of hats? Do they do some thinking? As I said previously, all they have to do is think pitching pitching pitching. This year they have four picks in the first 54, I hope they’re all pitchers. Next year they ought to have the 1 or 2 pick, someone we can really get excited about. Lincecum won’t be there, but someone like him will. Don’t be one of the 9 teams that passed on him, that’s all I ask.

A year or so ago there was a short fad of creating sort of family trees of some teams. Basically showing the current roster and how they got there. Did anyone ever make one for the Rangers? Anyone know where it might be?

You gotta cry without weeping

May 30, 2007

To be fair, Dan Haren is leading the league in ERA at 1 and a half, so scoring just one run in eight innings against him is par for the course, especially when you have a weak offense like the Rangers do. To also be fair, the Rangers brought up a AAA (or perhaps AAAA) pitcher in Koronka to make the start, a guy with a career 5 and a half ERA. Did anyone seriously think that was going to be a competitive game? Given the score of 6-1, it pretty much worked out exactly as the starters’ ERA’s expected.

A loss to Seattle tomorrow and the Rangers tie a team record with 20 losses in a month.

Here’s a quote from Tex today: “I hate the word frustrating,” first baseman Mark Teixeira said. “We’re not a good team. We’re not playing well. If you don’t play well, you don’t expect to win.” We’re not a good team. That’s the first time that someone on the team has said that, that I know of. Is reality finally setting in? And should we read anything into the fact that Tex is saying this, given that he’s the biggest trade chip we have?

Talk on the radio this afternoon was what we could get back for veterans. Someone was saying that if we trade Tex, who plays first, and Mike Golnick replied that they’d have to get a first baseman back. WRONG! You have to get a starting pitcher back, either a good #2 or multiple major league ready prospects. Problem is, teams that want him for the pennant races aren’t going to give up starting pitching that they need.

The Rangers are going to lose 100 games at least this year. Who cares who is playing first, for goodness sake bring up Jason Botts and give him a try. He’s got nothing else to prove in AAA, you’ve got to spend a few months trying him out, getting him some experience, and while you’d prefer it if it was in the OF, may as well play him at first as anyone else.

Think Michael Young regrets his big contract now that he’s signed on to be the guy playing with 24 kids? Well, not all of them are kids of course, if they were at least we’d have a little hope. What saddens me most is the thought that A-Rod is sitting in his penthouse saying “I told you so” to anyone who will listen.

Anyone know any Ranger nicknames? I was listening to the pre-game on the radio and they interviewed Gerald Laird, who called Vicente Padilla “Vinny”, which is pretty obvious, but he also called Joaquin Benoit “Jack”. Just wondering what else they call themselves. Tex is pretty obvious. What about the others? We’ve called Michael Young “Mikey” for years, but I bet they don’t call him that in the clubhouse.

Tomorrow is the one third mark of the season, 54 games played. The Rangers will be on a pace for 57-105 or 60-102. They lost 100 games their first four years in Washington, to be expected for an expansion team, and their first two years in Texas, to be expected for a bad team. They lost 99 in 1985, so will they break that mark or can they match the 1973 team that lost 105, worst record ever? Just keep channelling the Tigers, who lost 119 in 2003, 90 in 04, 91 in 05, then went to the World Series in 06 and are playing well in 07. Of course, they seemed to have a plan to suck for years to get high draft picks so they could compete. The Rangers keep pretending to be in it, then ending about .500, not enough to make the playoffs, not enough to get good draft picks.

You gotta know when to fold ’em

May 29, 2007

One thing I have to say about Ron Washington is that he is playing the cards he was dealt. If I am remembering correctly, all the coaches were rehired (except Wakamatsu, who was in line for the top job) before Wash came in. Which means that Mark Connor was already there. Scott commented on the blog today that Connor is the worst pitching coach in the bigs. Do I agree? Yes. No. Maybe. Since the studies of coaching are few and far between, it’s difficult to say for certain, although I’m sure he’d rank very highly (or lowly, depending on your perspective). The only study I know of was one showing that Leo Mazzone took half a run per game off the ERA of Braves pitchers. I’d love to repeat that study for Connor, although that would probably take a while. It’s made more difficult by his resume, which you can read at Wikipedia. A cursory read of it told me that he’d been a pitching coach for about 17 seasons. A little research tells me that 4 of those seasons were partial seasons (84-86 with the Yankees, who knows what was going on there, and 02 with the Blue Jays) and a few others were as bullpen coach (most of his time with the Rangers, in fact). Trying to study his effects on pitchers would be difficult with the back and forth his resume had. I can tell you that he got the Rangers job because he was Buck Showalter’s buddy from the Yankees, which is also why he got the D-Backs job. Where would he be without Buck? Oh yeah, and if you believe Wikipedia, he was responsible for Randy Johnson’s Cy Youngs in 99 and 00. Somehow I think RJ had a little more to do with it, in fact I’d almost say it was a despite Connor thing, since RJ already had one Cy, was in the top 3 in votes for several years, and won a couple more after Connor left.

In summary, I, and I bet every Ranger fan reading this, would probably be a lot happier if John Wetteland was the pitching coach today. Curiously enough, just a week ago he took a coaching job at some high school according to Wikipedia. I bet if the Rangers called he’d be available…

TR Sullivan must either be channelling me or reading the blog. If he is an ass, as I have said before, at least he has good timing to talk about Mark Connor today. The quote he has from Wash (BTW why in Oakland do they have signs calling him Wa’sh? I have heard it pronounced a little weirdly, that’s my only explanation) is “At some point, the accountability has be on the guys who are out there on the mound.” To which I respond, at some point the accountability has to be with the people in charge of the pitchers.

Wash or Wa’sh also said yesterday “He didn’t show me [any] guts” talking about Tejeda. Interesting he would call someone out like that. Could Tejeda go back down to work on some stuff? Is there any point? I think it would be much better for him to work on it on the big league level, for a couple of reasons: a) there’s no-one to replace him, and b) all the good pitchers struggled in their first year or two. Look at Maddux, 2-4 in his first season then 6-14 the next. Look at just about everyone in the Detroit rotation, all young, all good, all suffered through a 40 win season but earned their chops.

Hey, how ’bout them Rangers? As I’m writing, they complete a shutout, although dangerously close to blowing it at the end. Maybe they’re reading this too? I bet all the stories tomorrow will be about how Mark Connor turned them around. That’ll be conveniently forgotten in a week or two though, when they’re back to their old selves.

Okay, finally and appropriately, to the tune of Take Me Out To The Ballgame:

Take me out to the Ballpark,
Make me walk miles and miles,
Buy me a pitcher who can throw strikes,
I don’t care if at home he wears tights,
‘Cos we pay, pay, pay for the Rangers,
If they don’t win we’re ripped off,
For it’s one, two, three bucks a Coke,
At the new Ballpark.

Marian and I (okay, mostly me, since she doesn’t want to take the blame) made that up several years ago while attending games more regularly than we do now. You can tell how old it is, because now it’s at least four bucks for a Coke, but the sentiment is still the same – get some pitching!

You gotta earn them runs, boy

May 28, 2007

As I begin this, the Rangers are down 5-1 in the bottom of the 6th in Oakland. It’s 11.03 pm.

Here are a few numbers from ESPN.com:

The Rangers have given up 29 unearned runs this year, in 50 games, a little over half a run per game. Not the worst in the league, in fact tied for 26th. That extrapolates out to about 94 runs over the whole season. The generally accepted statistical standard is that every 10 runs is worth one win, which of course works both ways: score 10 extra runs and you would expect to win one extra game, but concede 10 extra runs and you would expect to lose one extra game. 94 runs is therefore worth a little over 9 wins, or in this case losses, that the Rangers defense will give up this year. By comparison, in 2006 they gave up 53 UER, in 2005 64, 2004 was 70, 2003 was 66, 2002 was 58, 2001 was 55 and 2000 was 98 (highlighted by Mike Lamb’s 33 errors). You could arguably say that over the last several years the Rangers have set a standard of roughly 60 UER a year, give or take about 10. They are on a pace to be about 34 higher than that standard, and this on a team where Ron Washington was supposed to be coming in as someone who concentrated on infield defense over the last several years in Oakland, including being given a Gold Glove from Eric Chavez as thanks for helping him.

As I finish writing this paragraph Bubba Crosby makes an outstanding fielding play to end the top of the 7th. The irony is dripping off the bats.

Rangers pitchers have walked 210 batters so far this year, second most in the majors to Florida. In 438 innings, that’s close enough to one baserunner every other inning. I’m not going to go back and compare that to previous years, because we know it is abysmal. I will say that the best team, Cleveland, walked 124, and the median team, Toronto, walked 161. Just compare them to the median and they’re down 50 baserunners. Linear weights will tell you a walk is worth .33 of a run, so the walks have cost the Rangers about 17 runs more than the average team, or just under two wins.

They’re only 25th in strikeouts, as surprisingly both the Cards and Yankees rank below them. Still, for a team that once boasted Nolan Ryan (ha ha), to be this low in strikeouts is poor. Of course, Gagne hasn’t had much opportunity to do anything, and the rest of them are not really strikeout pitchers, which is a shame because the more they put the ball in play the more home runs they give up in the Ballpark.

One more number, tied for last with 18 Quality Starts. Curiously, they’ve won 18 games. I wonder if they’re the same 18, I doubt it.

What can you say to all this? We already know they’re not hitting, pitching or fielding. Just adding some numbers, I guess. Doesn’t it seem like they somehow skipped spring training, or at least the fundamentals part of it? I repeat what I’ve said several times before, at least the Buck Showalter military style got them ready for the season, the Ron Washington easy style didn’t seem to work this year. Yet.

Okay, it’s 11.34 and it’s the bottom of the 8th. Still down 5-1. No, I’m pleased to say that as I write Michael Young gets a hit to the opposite field that scores Vasquez (is he finally starting to get in the groove where he goes opposite field all the time?), so it’s 5-2, runner on first, nobody out. Going to watch the rest, with little hope, but slightly more than a minute ago.

We’re number one!

May 27, 2007

The good news is that the Rangers are now firmly in the race for the number one draft pick last year, sitting just half a game behind Cincinnati for MLB’s worst record. The bad news is that the recent run of first overall draft picks has been pretty miserable, where for every superstar Alex Rodriguez and Joe Mauer you get two or three run of the mill major leaguers and five total washouts. Of course the one time the Rangers had it they took David Clyde, a ridiculous pick at the time which was only mismanaged by taking him straight to the big leagues to ruin his career. Look for them to make a similar mistake next year (let alone next week, when this year’s draft will be held), because the management has proven itself again and again incapable of making good decisions. It all ends up with Tom Hicks, of course, who fell into a winning team when he bought it, but since getting his hands all over it has made it fall into disrepair. On today’s postgame radio show, I heard a few comments about him selling the team. I only wish there was any fire behind the smoke, but having said that any new owner would only come in with their own five year plan anyway, and we’d be starting again at the bottom.

Laughable comments from players and manager in the game recap on the Rangers website today. Among them was Michael Young invoking the 2005 Astros as a team to emulate, and Ron Washington saying he’d been 14 games back and won before. Guess what, Michael? Your comments are like saying “Jesus performed some miracles, maybe we will too”. No, I’m not comparing the Astros to Jesus. I’m saying that what the Astros did was pretty darn incredible, and to suggest that you could follow that as your plan is ludicrous. At least the Astros could field, throw and pitch in 2005. And as for Ron, when you get three horses like the A’s had in Zito, Mulder and Hudson, then yes, you can suggest that. Your top three horses right now are Tejeda, McCarthy and Padilla, and McCarthy’s hobbled his finger. They shoot horses like that, don’t they?

Partway into the game today, in the second inning, I was thinking it might be interesting to blog a whole game. Not individual comments, like Twitter might do, but writing my thoughts as the game goes on, then posting it all at the end. It was too late to do today, since I would want to do a whole game, although today would have been perfect to do. A good beginning by Loe (although he was clearly afraid of Manny Ramirez), until he gave up a three run homer (and as soon as I saw that, I thought I would see a post-game comment along the lines of “he kept the ball down all day except for that one pitch”), a comeback by the Rangers to take the lead (with Teixeira increasing his trade value, and yes, I am starting to resign myself to the idea that he will be gone by July 31), then the pitchers giving it all back again. Kind of a microcosm of the whole season, although with a twist that the two most reliable pitchers, Aki and Gagne, were the ones to cough it up at the end.

By the way, Rangers relievers have a 3.77 ERA so far this year. That’s pretty good, shame the starters are at 6.26. Maybe the relievers should start the games. Or maybe they should begin the split thing they were doing in the minors a couple of years ago, where you have 8 starters, each only going 4 innings or so but two of them going together in a game (i.e. starter #1 starts and pitches 4 innings, starter #2 then pitches innings 5-8). Might be worth a try, they could go a little harder if they knew they were limited like that, and at least it would get some people some more major league experience. Or better yet, maybe drop from a 5 man to a 4 man rotation. They clearly don’t have enough for five, and could use the extra guy in the bullpen. Everybody used to run 4 man rotations not too long ago, in the 70s. They have nothing to lose by experimenting. It’s not like they have a division title to throw away.

PS If you’ve noticed some inconsistent punctuation in places, which you probably haven’t, I can honestly say it’s not my fault. I always type two spaces after a period, but for some reason whenever I switch to the code window to insert a link, when I go back WordPress drops one of them. So you will see occasions where I have one space after periods all the way up to my last link, then two spaces after that. Odd, and it only happens in Firefox. I would use IE, but that has it’s own problems, like dumping my posts every time I try to publish them. I reported these problems to them, but their response was kind of waffly and didn’t resolve anything.

Fate looked at my shirt, then laughed in my face

May 25, 2007

What would you do if you couldn’t hit, couldn’t pitch, couldn’t field, couldn’t throw, and couldn’t run? That’s right, you’d be a player for the Texas Rangers. Every time you think they’re about to do something good, they go ahead and throw it away. I suppose this is what Red Sox fans talk about when they say their team always breaks their hearts. Of course, I have great faith at the start of every season that the Rangers will win it all, but they always end up disappointing, and I am pretty sure that my faith is really just empty promises of undying support as they march to the World Series. I think I know all along that they’re not going to do anything, again. But even so, it’s not good when you see a couple of statistical analyses that shows the Rangers have about a 2% chance of making the playoffs (credit to The Book blog for these links).

I mean, back in the winter Jamey Newberg was telling us how the Rangers could compete with a rotation of Millwood, Padilla, McCarthy, Tejeda and Loe. Let me ask you, does that sound like a World Series rotation? Millwood was pretty good at one point, but never more than a #2. Padilla was a decent #4, possibly#3, last year, but that was his peak. McCarthy and Tejeda have promise, in another couple of years they might be good, but will they be #1’s? Not in Texas, I’m pretty sure.

The knock on the Rangers is always good hit, no pitch. This year it’s no hit, no pitch. And no field. Sosa drops two and Kinsler drops one, and boy oh boy, how did they not get errors on those? McCarthy looked mad right away after the first pitch, and he was right to. Could have been one pitch, one out, but Kinsler dropped it and McCarthy had to throw another 6 or 7 to get done. Of course, then he ended up with 50 pitches in two innings, so maybe it wasn’t all Kinsler’s fault. But I tell you, sometimes when I see Ron Washington I wonder if one of these nights he’s going to walk into JD’s office and quit, saying he gave it a go but it isn’t working. On the other hand, if you were a major league manager, you wouldn’t quit, and I wouldn’t either. It’s just the frustration talking now. You see them go so bad to start, then come all the way back, and then they immediately give those runs back again, with a few more for luck.

On the other hand, maybe the last few years have been just papering over the cracks. A bad team, but the hitting has held on as long as it could. Are the Rangers doomed to never have good pitching? Will it take another ballpark, in 20 years or so, with better dimensions, and maybe a roof, so the pitching will work a little better? If you can’t identify a good pitcher though, what’s the point at all? No, this isn’t how the Red Sox feel, this is how the Royals feel, year after year. Oh my god, I’ve turned into a Royals fan, complete with the blue shirts instead of the red ones the Rangers wore when they were winning.

I wore my McCarthy shirt today, because I had faith that his good run would continue against the Red Sox. Oops. I’ve reported before that when I wear his shirt he does bad, but I guess a few good starts aren’t enough to make Fate forget. Apparently he had a blister on his finger that caused the control problems. Not yet sure if it was there before, during, or after the game, but I hope it doesn’t recur. I hope I don’t wear the shirt again either, I’d go back to wearing U2 shirts on Fridays but I really want the new album to come out this year and I’m not going to screw that up for them.

Bottom of the 7th inning and I’m giving up. Bad start, good middle, bad end. Down 10-5 and I don’t think they’ll come back. Yes, I’m going to head to bed and watch the first episode of Band of Brothers, which I’ve been wanting to see for years but just got for my birthday earlier this week. I’m sure there’s no correlation between the title of the show and the Rangers season.

Brandon McCarthy initial analysis

May 25, 2007

As mentioned several times before, I’ve been playing with the Gameday data from MLB.com. I took a particular interest in Brandon McCarthy, possibly because he started quite well, slumped, then came good again. The variation in his starts could show some interesting information, perhaps reasoning why he slumped, what he was doing wrong, and what he did to correct it. The following is the initial analysis I have done on his data.

Through 5/20 McCarthy had 833 events that were logged in the Gameday system. 29 of these were pickoff attempts, leaving 804 pitches that were thrown. With the full Gameday system only having been installed in a few parks, fortunately one of which is the Ballpark in Arlington, I had 326 pitches in six games with the detailed stats that are becoming available. Of those, two starts had 19 pitches between them, which meant there were four starts which combined for 307 pitches. The charts that follow show all pitches, because even a little data is better than none, but there will be some explanatory notes with them.

McCarthyPitchSpeed

This chart shows McCarthy’s pitch speeds on the various days he has pitched. The horizontal axis is the starting speed, and the vertical is the speed as it crosses the plate. As you can see, most of his pitches are in the 88-93 mph range, but he does go all the way down to 72 mph for his breaking balls. One thing that is clear to me from this is the bias in the different parks. His 4/9 (red) and 5/4 (orange) starts were at the Ballpark in Arlington, and they appear to show a significant increase in speed, of the order of a couple of miles per hour, over the 4/15 (green) start in Seattle and the 4/29 (blue) start in Toronto. The other two starts are buried in the noise, and don’t have enough data to really see much of anything.

This issue was discussed on a recent blog posting by John Beamer at the Hardball Times. He found effectively the same situation I did, where different parks show different biases for all of the stats in Gameday. In a future post I intend to follow up somehow, perhaps by comparing different teams in different parks. For example, as seen here, TBIA is a couple of miles faster than Seattle and Toronto. I will compare other Ranger pitchers at those parks, and also Seattle and Toronto pitchers, to see how they fare, and how it might be possible to actually get some numbers for the bias and use them to neutralize these stats.

McCarthyReleasePoints

Looking at McCarthy’s release points shows another interesting picture. Again, these studies have been done in other places, and it is worthwhile comparing to one of the studies on the Baseball Analysts website, by Joe P Sheehan. He shows a few different pitchers and their release points. The pitchers, John Lackey, Felix Hernandez and Jeff Weaver, show markedly different release points, with there appearing to be a much tighter zone for the better pitchers and a wider zone for Weaver. McCarthy compares quite favorably to Hernandez, which Sheehan describes as having a release zone of 11.3 by 7.1 inches. I haven’t gone that exact in my measurements, but looking at the large chunk of pitches, I would estimate it at about 13 inches wide by 9 inches high, just slightly larger than Hernandez. McCarthy is also throwing at a much higher angle, his pitches being from 0 to about -1 foot horizontally compare to Weaver and Hernandez starting at -2 and Lackey about -2.75.

You’re probably wondering about the pitches away from the central concentration. Although I can’t be sure, I believe the purple dots below the main group are an error, that is from one of the days where they only gathered about 10 pitches, so my guess is something was wrong. The group way out to the left is more interesting. They all came on one day, 5/4 in Arlington, and although a couple of them came early in the game, at one point in the 4th inning there was a gap of one pitch then every pitch after that came over in that section, and also a number of pitches were missed after that. I had vague recall that I had read somewhere that McCarthy had been told by the pitching coach to try throwing some sidearm, which would explain this, but I cannot find that reference and I’m guessing I imagined it. In reality, I suspect one of the cameras that measures these things was bumped, causing the pitches to be off for the rest of the game. At some point I will go back and look at that game and see if I can confirm it from the other pitchers that appeared.

McCarthyBreak

Next up are the horizontal and vertical breaks. From this we see definite clumping of pitches, and articles have stated that you should be able to tell what pitch was thrown based on these numbers. I found another article online which talks about the pitches McCarthy throws, and it says he has four pitches: a 4-seam fastball (90-93 MPH), a 2-seam fastball (87-89MPH), a big breaking curveball(74-77MPH), and a changeup (77-81MPH). Looking at the chart, the two big clusters at the top are the fastballs, both the 4 and 2 seams, although there is not much to discern which is which. He has a clear cluster in the 71-73 mph zone, where the horizontal break (blue) and vertical break (red) reverse, this is presumably the curveball. The other group in the 75-78 mph range is probably then the changeup, although there is quite a bit of noise around it, especially in the 80-85 mph area.

McCarthyBreakLength

The fourth chart may help clear it up a little though. With his speed along the bottom, we are comparing the break angle in blue to the break length in red. The break length clearly relates to the speed, the faster it goes the smaller the break length. Again we see the clusters shown in the previous graph, this time making the curveball pretty clear, being the area with the highest break length and the -10 break angle. A little further along we see the change, with both angle and length being about +10, then moving on up to the fastballs, again not discernable from each other. There is still a lot of noise in the break angle, and it is hard to say what it is. Are those pitches around 80 mph, with a break angle of -10, curveballs that didn’t curve? Perhaps they were thrown too hard to curve properly? And why are the numbers not the same as previously reported? The article mentioned above gave his fastballs from 87-93 mph, which I think we are seeing in the charts. But the curve is not 74-77, it is more like 72-74, and the change is not 77-81 but closer to 75-77. What does this all mean? Is there something wrong, or is he throwing differently? Or is it simply a problem with the Gameday data being measured differently in different parks?

Next up will be an analysis of what happened to each pitch. Is there a difference in result between a curveball and a fastball? Were more of one thrown for strikes? Was he highly successful in one area, that perhaps he can build on?

Actually, next up will be McCarthy’s start against the Red Sox on Friday, where we hope he can continue his recent success, and we hope we can get some additional Gameday data to add to the mix.

Swing and a miss

May 22, 2007

Told you Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. Well, I didn’t have to tell you, because you knew that already, right? But to be fair, it wasn’t just him, as he struck out 13 in 7 innings and his relievers struck out 5 in 2 innings. It was pretty much all Rangers, all the time, swinging and missing. One of those days where you don’t feel like you can do anything. Actually, in the first I was hopeful, because Kam Loe looked really good starting the game. And when Sosa got one closer to leaving, I was even more hopeful. But then they came on with their home runs, and it was goodnight, turn out the lights. Loe is reaching a point for me where he’s not getting over the hump. He’s throwing a lot of pitches, getting into the 80s, 90s and 100s in his last several starts, but he’s not doing it with innings pitched. I mean, a couple of 6 inning and one 7 inning effort, but it seems like he’s throwing a lot of pitches for little result. His first inning today was outstanding, 8 pitches I think it took, but as time goes by you just expect him to wear down. His history the last few years was as a reliever (in 2006 he was a starter but only lasted 15 games and had a poor ERA), so maybe he just doesn’t have the gas to keep it going long enough. Or maybe he can learn from Brandon McCarthy, who was down but started getting better and better. Of course, Loe has a much longer career, but seemingly less to show for it. He’s only 25, so his peak should be ahead, but there are few signs that he’s improving.

Afternoon game tomorrow with Tejeda starting, should be interesting.

I’m a little closer to getting something written statistically about McCarthy. I’m analyzing his Gameday stuff, and it’s interesting too. First thought, which I’ll present soon, is how scattered his release point is. Some of the charts I’ve seen online have shown some of the stars with very tight release points. Might be something to be aware of, watching how a player changes this aspect of his pitching over time, possibly tightening up as they get better.

TR Sullivan is an ass because he insults his readers. I don’t know how he got the reputation he has, but to me he’s always been the poorest of the local writers. Why is he now writing for MLB.com, instead of a local paper? Maybe because they think he is an ass too.

Not much else to say today. Michael Young says he’s not pressing. Do I believe him? I don’t know, but I know he’s hit a lot of hard shots that have gone right to a fielder. If he gets a little luckier, they might start falling in.

A crooked number beats a straight one

May 22, 2007

Earlier today I read an article which reported that Tony La Russa wants to see his team score in several innings rather than a bunch of runs in a single inning. It was a little confusing, and had a little analysis which seemed to show that La Russa is wrong. Whether you agree with the writer, or with La Russa, I think everyone would say that the ideal situation would be to maximize the number of runs you score, whether all in one inning or over several innings. As it turned out, the Rangers scored a single run in each of the first four innings today, but still only led 4-2. I was thinking of the article, that this would immediately provide a rebuttal, because the Rangers could score in multiple innings but still end up losing. Fortunately we got to the 5th inning though, the Rangers scored 8 runs including a Laird grand slam, and my worries were over. For the second day in a row the Rangers finished with 14, and all of a sudden they’ve won three out of four. A comment that a co-worker made earlier today comes back to me though, he said that if the Rangers could spread those runs out a little they might win a few more. I hope that thought won’t come back to haunt them.

Back to the runs in multiple innings. I recall comments from several years ago, from someone on tv, that said they like to see picket fences – a bunch of innings with a run scored – but that crooked numbers (numbers that are not straight, like 1s are) are much better. And that is true, for example today the Twins could have scored a run in seven different innings and still not matched the 8 the Rangers put up in one inning. The ultimate point would be that you need to take your chances when they come, and score as many runs as you can when you can.

Good to see Frankie Cat come back with a HR. Odd to see Travis Metcalf back down again, just a couple of days after being pulled out of AA to replace Blalock. I guess Vazquez was impressive for a couple of days, and the Rangers management has never heard of small sample sizes. A couple of months down the road and he’ll be back to his career numbers.

TR Sullivan is an ass.

It’s supposed to rain all week here, so we’ll see if there are any more delays like the short delay to start today.  Maybe if it gives the pitchers a little extra time to warm up, they won’t give up runs early like they have been.  Of course, Padilla did give up runs in the first and third, but at least he hung on, until he was pulled after being hit, and the bullpen completed the blowout pretty easily.  Tomorrow is Kameron Loe against Johan Santana, which on paper is a walkover for the Twins.  Some early runs in either direction could decide the game.

Banging out the hits

May 20, 2007

It’s a good day when your team hits six home runs on the way to a 14-1 win.  Too bad that winning the Silver Boot from the Astros is probably the most the Rangers will achieve this season.  Yesterday I speculated that Brandon McCarthy and Woody Williams might end up in a pitchers duel, even though their records suggested otherwise.  My theory was that McCarthy was pitching well and might shut down the Astros, and Williams was pitching okay but was pitching against an anemic Rangers offense so might do the same.  Fortunately, McCarthy did the job and Williams didn’t, and the Rangers ended up cruising it.  Once again McCarthy went six innings, this time giving up just the one run, and the bullpen shut them out the rest of the way.  McCarthy hasn’t really dominated anyone yet, and has never gone over six innings pitched, although his last three outings have all reached 100 pitches which is an encouraging sign.  I think he took a little time to get his feet wet in Texas, but now he’s starting to go well, with his record now even at 4-4 and his ERA down to 5.82, which is good since it was at 9.90 on April 29.  In fact, in May he is 3-0 with a 2.31 ERA.

Interestingly, Nick Masset got his first win as a starter today for the White Sox.  Masset and John Danks were the guys the Rangers traded to get McCarthy.  Danks has pitched better than McCarthy (4.10 ERA), although he is only 2-4 since he’s apparently had some very poor run support.

Take out the 5-1 record the Yankees have against the Rangers, and they’re the worst team in baseball.

Next up is three against the Twins, who’ve been scuffling themselves (20-23).  They’ll be trying to kickstart things against the Rangers, like everyone else has.  I wish I could have faith that the Rangers could be the ones doing the kickstarting, but I still don’t see it yet.