Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Just Watching some Baseball and Stuff

Sitting here watching the Rays/Indians Wild Card game, and since the Danny Salazar vs. Alex Cobb match-up is less than intriguing rather than Live Blog the game I'll just write down some thoughts as they run through my head instead, especially since I haven't been around for a while what with feeling a bit under the weather.

Bets for tonight:

Rays -115
Alex Cobb UNDER 6 Ks (BIG!)
Danny Salazar UNDER 5 Ks (BIG!)
Delmon Young UNDER 2 h+r+rbi
Cobb UNDER 96.5 pitches  (MEDIUM!)

-  Since you asked, yes, I do like the 2 Wildcards in each League format.  I know some people hate it, but some people hate spicy food too - people are morons.  Think about it like this:  when there was just one Wild Card, you had 3 division winners and the WC in each league, so where's the advantage of winning your division when the WC and one of the division winners are treated exactly the same?  If you were out, say, a game from the division lead with 2 games to play and had the wild card wrapped up there was no incentive to try to win it, rather rest your players and set up your rotation for the playoffs.  Now?  There is a HUGE advantage to winning the division - HUGE.  No idea why people don't like it.  You guys are all idiots.

-  Speaking of things that people like, I usually don't like things that people like but I admit I'm pulling for the Pirates this year (and no, it has nothing to do with Francisco Liriano or Justin Morneau).  I just think that after so many years of being terrible I'd like to see them have a nice run, just like if the Royals made it.  I know Pittsburgh has had plenty of success with the Penguins and Steelers, but I don't know, such a historic franchise just being managed into the ground into an almost total failure, then rising 20 years later?  It's a good story.  And one us Twins fans should start to think hard about.  MORE GARDY!  HOORAY FOR BEING CRAPPY BUT LIKABLE! MORE RON GARDENHIRE PLEASE!

-  Oh good, Salazar has it dialed up to 98.  Excellent.

-  My my how things have changed with the optimism regarding the Gopher basketball 2014 recruiting class.  After getting mentioned by many, many top recruits and making numerous final cuts, it looks like they're going to get out with Josh Martin, who, right or wrong, dropped well out of ESPN's Top 100, and whichever of the Big 3 (if any) Pitino manages to grab.  There's still plenty of time and plenty of players left to get a solid class (Carlos Morris, Nate Mason, Josh Cunningham, Bonzie Colson, etc.) but the dream days of a monster class are dead, barring scoring two of the Minnesota kids.  I'm not knocking Pitino and I'm only a little disappointed, if only for myself for expecting a miracle, but it seems shooting for the stars with a brand new head coach with only a short time to recruit for the 2014 signing period may not have been the smartest thing for my mental health.  It turns out obsessively refreshing Twitter on a recruit's decision day just makes you angry and tired.

There's still no reason to panic or to start worrying about Pitino as a recruiter.  It isn't easy to make up ground in one off-season when most of these kids have relationships with other coaches going back years, and it's also tough to sell a program when suddenly someone like Michigan State swoops in at the last hour and steals a kid away like Pennywise the terrifying clown.

Yes, this is Tom Izzo.
So let's chillax a bit, bro, and dial it back.  Grab a couple of decent kids, pray for 1 (or 2!!!) Minnesota guys to stick around, and let's see what Pitino has as far as game planning/game day chops and then give him a full year+ of recruiting before we throw a fit.  Yeah, it's quite the change in tone from the reaction after he was hired and when he had gotten off to an intriguing start with recruiting, and I'm as guilty as anybody, but it's more realistic as well.  What I should have said a long ass time ago was that Pitino probably wasn't a hot shot young kid with a good name who was going to set the world on fire, nor was he an over-matched poor hire who was going to drown, but the truth, as in most things, lies somewhere in the middle.  We'll find out approximately one year from now, if not sooner.  No, this isn't doom and gloom here.  I like the Martin kid, and if nothing else Reid Travis is said to now be seriously considering the U, where he wasn't prior to Pitino coming around.  So that's something.  Love has patience.

-  I caught up on Breaking Bad in about 2 weeks just in time to watch the final 2 episodes "live" and there's no doubt in my mind it's the greatest show of all-time.  I'll admit to not having watched The Wire or The Sopranos, the two shows most think of as being in the running with BB, so the only other things I have to compare it to are Lost and Game of Thrones (Comedy is a different category in my opinion, and that's a Seinfeld runaway - Simpsons would have been right there too if they ended it after like, 8-9 seasons - with Scrubs solidly in second but without the re-watchability factor of Seinfeld).  Lost was right there where Breaking Bad was for 3-4 seasons and then fell completely apart, and Game of Thrones is based on books that I've read multiple times so there are no real surprises.  Thus, nothing compares to Breaking Bad.  Finale was pretty much perfect, and if you disagree you're mentally ill.

-  Good sweet lord, is Delmon Young the greatest playoff hitter of all-time?  He just hit the unhittable Danny Salazar about two billion feet out to left.  I know shit like, "clutch" doesn't technically exist and stuff like that but it's hard to believe when every time you look up Delmon is back in the playoffs hitting another home run.

-  Speaking of the mentally ill and Delmon Young, keeping Ron Gardenhire is still nagging at me.  He's not the worst manager in history, obviously, and a lot of his issues are exacerbated by a front office and club mentality that both enables and emboldens him, but the game has passed him by.  Whether you want to call him "old school" or ""stuck in his ways" depends on how generous you want to be, but he's not a forward thinker.  Whether it's sac bunting all the time, loving the stolen base, the insistence at speed in the leadoff spot at the expense of getting on base, the insistence on someone who can "handle the bat" in the 2-spot at the expense of getting on base, the whole "pitch to contact" thing, the "hit to all fields" thing, the love of the scrappy white player, or his refusal to platoon players no matter how much their splits call for it, that's a lot of "advanced" strategies that he refuses to engage.

I get that the guy is probably a great clubhouse leader and I would probably pick him out of any major league manager in steak grill-off or beer chugging race, but enough is enough.  Look at the teams who made the playoffs:  The Rays, Indians, Pirates, and A's all use advanced metrics, defensive shifts, and platoon situations to take small payrolls and maximize their ability to win games - something the Twins could certainly use.  But look at this quote from Terry Ryan,  
"I don't think he likes to platoon players at all. I don't either. Put guys out there that are everyday players, then you don't have to platoon. You're always looking for players that can play 162 games, right? That's what I'm looking for. I don't go out looking for platoon players."
 That doesn't accomplish anything other than validate the manager's outdated philosophy and style, and explains why nothing has changed from when Jacque Jones was constantly starting despite being nearly helpless against lefties to Trevor Plouffe constantly starting despite being hapless against righties almost ten years later - he hasn't had a reason to change so why should he (oh, right, the success of the A's, Pirates, Rays, and Indians this year).

Last season, for example, the A's had Brandon Moss and Chris Carter - both of whom could crush pitchers who threw with one hand, but struggling against pitchers who threw from the other.  So they put them together and ended up with 556 plate appearances and put up a line of .267/.349/.559 with 37 homers, 91 rbi, and 86 runs scored.  That's basically Josh Willingham last year, except he made $7 million (and was considered a steal) while Moss and Carter combined to make about $6 million less.

At this point baseball has evolved to the point where doing things "the right way" isn't enough because "the right way" is constantly changing.  For a time, building a team on solid fundamentals and not walking opponents was a winning strategy, but you need more.  It's no longer a checkers match, and although chess match might be a bit much it's getting closer.  Too bad the Twins just resigned a manager and still have a GM who are stuck on Connect Four.

BAM!  Don't pretend you don't like that analogy.

Actual Picture
-  Intentionally walking Delmon Young - so it's come to this.  Baseball is a strange, strange game.  And my satellite just went out.  Fucking weather.  God bless you internet.

-  So I have early season futures (To Win World Series) on the A's (33/1), Braves (14/1), and Cardinals (23/1) so that's pretty good.  Of course, I also had Twins, Royals, and D-Backs and that's pretty bad, but I'll take that 50% every time, especially since I wasn't exactly confident in either the Twins or Royals picks.

Danny Salazar exits with 4 Ks.  I'm a genius.  Time to get Alex Cobb out of there.

-  I just stumbled across a twitter conversation between a recruiting expert and a Gonzaga blogger, and the gist is that if that Looney kid commits to Duke before Reid Travis makes a move it's suddenly a West Coast battle between Stanford and Gonzaga.  Yes, I know recruiting experts generally know only slightly, slightly more than the the general public with a few exceptions (I'll put Adam Zagoria up there) and bloggers know basically nothing, it's still not a fun read.  I don't want to talk about it.

-  Satellite went out again.  This time the steam I found is in Spanish.  Excelente!

Well the satellite's not coming back and my internet feed is apparently shit.  I'm also tired and have already written too much for any mortal human to read.  So I guess I'll see you guys later.

1 comment:

John R said...

IS there another franchise that would extend a manager's contract after the type of run he's had the last three seasons?? I just don't get it man.