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Yankee Panky # 60: Quick Hits
2008-08-08 07:23
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

By Will Weiss

A few quick hits for the week, as the Yankees head to Anaheim for another big series against the "Whatever You Want To Call Them Tonight" Angels, as Paul O'Neill calls them:

* When the media has placed a skilled player on a pedestal, when said player becomes injured and it could affect a team's playoff chances, the press makes a point to hammer that possibility. The Joba Chamberlain tendinitis coverage was surprisingly matter-of-fact and not panic-ridden. Even more surprising, Mike Lupica provided excellent analysis in his Wednesday column, proving that when he wants to concentrate on a piece, he can still write very well. Buster Olney was solid as usual, also.

* With Joba out and not much hope on the Chien-Ming Wang front, YES is showing a number of graphics tracing the progress of Phil Hughes and Carl Pavano in the minors. Relying on Pavano as providing any kind of support for the rotation this year is laughable. Hughes could be a wild card. I'd expect to see him soon, particularly if Darrell Rasner continues to pitch his way out of a job. Mike Mussina is the team's only reliable starter, especially given Andy Pettitte's situation and the perceived lack of confidence in Ian Kennedy.

* It took Brett Fav-ruh to knock the Joba coverage to the deeper pages of the local sports sections. For all you Jets fans reading this, I hope the Favre era Jets are more Joe Montana leading the Chiefs than Joe Namath as a Ram or Emmitt Smith as a Cardinal. I had to choke at the thought of Chad Pennington potentially becoming a Ram. I may relinquish my fandom if that happened.

* I am a fan of Ken Singleton, as a broadcaster and a person. But sometimes, he drops some weird quotes on us unsuspecting YES viewers. Recounting a conversation he had with someone on the Rangers' staff regarding the strength of the Texas Rangers' lineup (I apologize for not recalling the exact person), Singleton said, "They're not guess hitters. They just see the ball and hit it." … Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the definition of a guess hitter?

* Speaking of guess hitters, Alex Rodriguez is becoming more and more disappointing to watch. His 0-for-14 performance in Texas was atrocious. He looked out of balance, out of sync, and completely fooled by even mediocre pitchers. Even when he's on a tear, I get the sense that opposing managers aren't afraid to let him beat them, because the pitchers can follow this pattern: fastball up and in; changeup, slider down and away. In three of the last six games I've watched, A-Rod struck out looking on fastballs down the middle three different times. If A-Rod had the plate coverage of a Vladimir Guerrero, who is another guess hitter but because he can hit the ball out of the park even if you throw it at his head, he'd be scary. I wish the broadcasters would have the gumption to call A-Rod out on his approach, or even go so far as to say he's guessing up there.

* Although his Civil War reenactment is over, for the balance of this year, I'm referring to Jason Giambi as "Jason Giambi's Moustache." It's too good to pass up.

Until next week …

Comments (68)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-08-08 07:28:32
1.   Alex Belth
Will, I think you are being a little harsh on Rodriguez--so says me, an admitted A Rod apologist. I agree with you, he has been disappointing with runners in scoring position, and he does have bigger holes in his swing than say, Albert Pujols or Manny Ramirez. At the same time, he's been pretty steady this year. He usually rakes in Texas. Isn't it possible that he's just in a slump?
2008-08-08 07:37:06
2.   Andre
given all that's going on in AROd's personal life, I'd expect to see BIG periodic valleys in his performance. I've been fortunate not to have to go through a divorce personally, but I've had a few friends who did, and their lives were a mess for at least a year - huge mood swings, etc. I don't know how anyone can be completely immune from that, especially with kids involved (one of them only 6 months old?). It does seem weird that all of his performance issues seem to crop up in pressure situations (men on, post season, etc.) but I think you've got to take the good with the bad.
2008-08-08 07:40:32
3.   Andre
Also, isn't a guess hitter someone who guesses what the pitcher will throw next pitch, and then swings based on that guess? If the guess is wrong, they're probably going to swing and miss, or not swing at all.

A "see ball, hit ball" person has no preconceived notion of what's coming - they just react, which I think is what some of the great raw talent hitters do (Manny, Giambi). The guys who supposedly have the best batting eyes are more reactionary because they have the talent to react quickly enough.

2008-08-08 07:43:43
4.   Bagel Boy
1 Agreed completely here. But I'm not sure why anyone needs to be an A-Rod apologist. The team is in 4th or 5th place with even Mike Lowell (where many YFs wanted that exact swap last winter).

A-Rod is what he is. But if anything, when has he had legit protection in the lineup? I'd love to see them sign Manny. Let's see what A-Rod can do with Manny hitting behind him (albeit an older version than what Papi had).

0 As for guess hitters, I've always thought that meant hitters who were trying to guess the pitch and location before the pitch is released. Hitters who see the ball and react aren't trying to figure anything out. They're simply following the old Berra logic. I place Manny firmly in this category.

2008-08-08 07:53:56
5.   tommyl
0 1 Yeah, I'd have to agree with Alex (Belth) here and support Alex (Rodriguez). Sure he's 0 for 14 and he's looked atrocious, but that's for all of 4 games. That screams small sample size. Before the Rangers series the guy was leading the AL in batting and has 24 homeruns despite missing almost 6 weeks of the season. He's human, he goes into slumps. I'm sure he'll pull out of it, he hit a few balls hard last night.
2008-08-08 07:58:53
6.   ms october
i do find myself getting more frustrated with arod than i should - my expectations on him are extremely high and also becuase i have a philosophy similar to weeping in that i would much rather see him try to hit a single than try to hit a hr and flail a crap in the dirt. i don't have a problem with hrs, i just think he is someone that really screws up his swing and approach when trying to hit hrs.
but even arod's "off years" are quite impressive.
plus we see him all the time and thus notice his slumps - we don't see manny or pujols (though he seems to avoid slumps more than the other top hitters)on that type of day to day basis.

yeah i thought a guess hitter was someone that tried to guess the pitch and location and was going to swing based on that guess.
manny is definietly see the ball, hit the ball.
not sure i would put giambi in that category - why do feel he is andre 3 ?

2008-08-08 08:00:07
7.   tommyl
5 You know, I just realized that without those missed weeks A-Rod might have a legit shot at the triple crown (now he'll never catch Hamilton in RBIs). Sure RBIs are stupid stats and BA isn't as important as OBP, but it would have been pretty cool.

Ok, IPK pitches tonight. I'm back to being on the edge of my seat. When Hughes comes back I'm going to be watching every pitch through my fingers. Anyone else feel that way?

2008-08-08 08:02:08
8.   tommyl
6 That just made me remember at the beginning of the year when Manny was dogging it, batting around .200 or something. Every single great hitter looks bad from time to time, its just the nature of the game. Remember when Jeter started a season 0 for 20 something? I'm sure Pujols has bad stretches here and there as well.
2008-08-08 08:05:10
9.   pistolpete
FYI, Will — your Lupica link is to the second page of his article...
2008-08-08 08:08:04
10.   mehmattski
This is my attempt to get the 2008-08-08 08:08:08 timestamp.... Karim Garcia!!!!
2008-08-08 08:10:25
11.   ms october
8 oh definitely - in the 2 week or so stretch of games before manny took those three straight pitches from mo he was in an awful slump. didn't mean to imply that pujols doesn't slump, he just doesn't seem to have the prolonged cold stretches as some of even the other top hitters go into.

and i know what you mean about phil and ipk 7 - it's like we can't endure much more of them getting hurt or being ineffective

2008-08-08 08:11:49
12.   ms october
10 well if you had used a real person's name - you might have been have even gotten the extra 4 seconds :}
2008-08-08 08:14:51
13.   Bama Yankee
10 Good try. Although, I thought everyone knew that Karim Garcia is four seconds ahead of the rest of the world...
2008-08-08 08:16:52
14.   Sliced Bread
10 nice effort there.
next time, maybe try the old "see the timestamp, hit the timestamp" approach, instead of being a guess timestamper.
2008-08-08 08:18:31
15.   tommyl
11 Fortunately I'll be at my girlfriend's place in Philly tonight so I'll be watching gameday through my fingers. Is that sad?

I'm more attached to Phil. I think because I've been following him almost since he was drafted and hoping he'd be the homegrown ace we've so desperately longed for. Joba and IPK just sort of burst onto the scene quickly being college kids who rocketed through the system. By all reports Phil's been back to his old self during his rehab so we'll just have to wait and see, but I remain cautiously hopeful. I hate that I get this attached, its stupid.

2008-08-08 08:19:17
16.   tommyl
13 Like Willow in Buffy (now that's a geeky reference)?
2008-08-08 08:22:32
17.   koolman2
jayd:

You posted a notice about Phil Simkins and the Daily News.

The story was about how the Yankees in the championship season of 96 used a body cooling invention of his and never got credit for it.

He finally asked for compensation, but the Yankees turned a deaf ear on him which has kept him in a homeless situation ever since and deprived the firefighters, police, soldiers, elderly, and everybody from having his revolutionary body cooling device that could have saved thousands of lives from heat stroke and allowed us to win the war in Iraq, years ago.

It's a great story and a sad one for the Yankees, which might explain why they stopped winning championships so suddenly and were humiliated by Boston.

It just might be the curse of the Kool Rope coming back to haunt them.

The reason I know the story is because I am Phil Simkins!!!

And for those who want to know the entire story follow along:

I had been in touch with the trainer for the Yankees, Gene Monahan, in 1995, about the cooling units and had made him several units of the necklace version which he kept in the training room locker.

He had even put me in touch with the Valvoline Nascar racing team and Mark Martin their driver to see if they could test the units while driving in a race.

I sent down 2 heavy duty Kool Ropes to Mark and he tried them out while practicing in his race car.

He got back to me and said that they worked great and if I could get the electronic freezer pack finished, he would definitely use them at races.

During the 95 season, the weather during the Yankee games never got too hot so the ropes were never used, but in 96 I developed the yellow Kool Rope for use by firefighters, policeman, construction workers, that i sent you the sample of.

I called Gene Monahan during the season and asked him if he would show the new unit to Dwight Gooden to see if he would endorse them and also that they were not for athletic use.

I dropped off to Yankee stadium, 2 units in late July and called Gene back on August 20 to see what Dwight had said.

Gene told me that he wanted to wait till after the season ended before doing any endorsement deals and then as I was hanging up the phone he said, "Oh by the way, Phil, some of the players have been using it in batting practice!!!"

I said to myself, Wow, now I am a part of Yankee history!!!"

Gene asked me to give him a call back in two weeks when they returned from California and he would discuss it further with me.

But, the team was doing so well at that time, I decided not to call until after the season was over, so not to take attention away from them winning.

I told the firefighters up at the 77th about the Yankees using the units and said that if we could be patient and wait until the season was over, if they won the Series, than what better publicity to get them into production than to have helped keep the team cool.

Well, as the story goes, they won an exciting Series with everything falling into place and I knew that my moment would soon come.

I waited until after the parades and festivities were over before I sent a letter to Mr. Steinbrenner.

He had known about the team use of the ropes right after Gene told me because I called his office and told his secretary, Lisa,about it and then sent her a unit to give to Mr. Steinbrenner, which she kept in the office refrigerator.

I waited for a reply and got none.

I then sent another and the same thing happened.

I did not know what was going on because I was not asking for money, just acknowledgement of my contribution.

It was a day or two after Christmas when I walked into a copy store on west 52nd street to fax another letter to Steinbrenner, when I saw on the wall all of these Christmas cards that were signed by Yankee players.

I asked the owner, Marthe, how she came by these and she said that her husband worked for the Yankees in the PR Dept.

So, I told her the story and asked her if she would give Gene a call to see what happened.

She spoke with him by phone and told me that he said that the team had used the Kool Ropes for a week in batting practice and then found them to be cumbersome and for me not to write to Steinbrenner anymore.

Well, I was crushed to say the least and didn't know why they would want to keep it a secret since they obviously had a positive effect on the performance of the team and by publicizing their use, it would have enabled me to get them into production for everyone, including the fans who came out to see games on really hot days.

So, for years after never knowing what happened and still trying to get the units into production someone told me that they probably didn't want it to be known that they used the ropes because it might have been considered an unfair advantage.

Gene Monahan knows the truth and the fact that they used the ropes for a week where they were playing in a heat wave in Texas and Kansas City and that they had to win at least one game at Texas or they would have known that they never could beat them at home which would have been a psychological disadvantage come the playoffs.

They won the third and last game they played in Texas and you had to know they were desperate after losing the first 2 to try anything to win. It was a close 6-5 win but keeping cool in that heat surely gave them the feeling of being able to overcome any obstacles and feeling as if they were Supermen.

They went on to Kansas City where they won 2 out of 4 and won on the hottest and most oppressive days. They also won in Texas on the hottest day. Then they left for cooler locations where they did not need the units.

TEMPERATURE IN DALLAS ON JULY 30, 1996
96.1
DEW POINT
69.4
HEAT INDEX RANGERS WIN 15-2
126

TEMPERATURE IN DALLAS ON JULY 31, 1996
89.6
DEW POINT
73.5
HEAT INDEX RANGERS WIN 9-2
107

TEMPERATURE IN DALLAS ON AUGUST 1, 1996
96.8
DEW POINT
72.5
HEAT INDEX YANKEES WIN 6-5
133

TEMPERATURE IN KANSAS CITY ON AUGUST 2, 1996
82.4
DEW POINT
67.3
HEAT INDEX KANSAS CITY WINS 4-3
87

TEMPERATURE IN KANSAS CITY ON AUGUST 3, 1996
89.6
DEW POINT
70.1
HEAT INDEX KANSAS CITY WINS 11-4
104.7

TEMPERATURE IN KANSAS CITY ON AUGUST 4, 1996
95.0
DEW POINT
74.2
HEAT INDEX YANKEES WIN 5-3
127

TEMPERATURE IN KANSAS CITY ON AUGUST 5, 1996
91.4
DEW POINT
74.2
HEAT INDEX YANKEES WIN 5-2
114

The 1996 World Series win marked the birth of the modern day Yankee dynasty, where they went on to win 3 more championships and made the playoffs each year, since.

It is a dark secret, kept by the Yankees for twelve years, that have prevented the world from having their cooling units and, certainly, changing the course of history!!!

If you guys want to get rid of a curse that might be keeping the Yankees in real hot water, and you can't blame me because I'm still stuck in homelessness, post this and give Lonn Trost a call who on 2 occasions called me a liar and the other asked what I wanted, because he knew it was true, before slamming the phone in my ear and then stand outside the player's entrance before a home game, usually he arrives about 2:00, and shout out to Gene Monahan, "Is it true that the team used Phil Simkins's Kool Rope in batting practice during the 96 season to keep cool in a heat wave in Texas and Kansas City??? "And why did you stiff him for the past 12 years and not allowed us to get our ropes???"

Monahan is the "keeper of the secret" guys so you have to get in his face and stay there until he fesses up, and then I can get you your ropes and the curse will be lifted.

But, you would think I would be still mad and hate the yankees??? Sure, to some extent, I'm human, but I will root for them and stand up for them by fighting a devious plot to put a curse on Yankee fans by putting up a monument to the Red Sox by a closet Sox fan who was the architect behind renovating the old Verizon buiding on 42nd street and sixth.

Dan Shannon, the architect, and Yankee hater, had the color of the building made in, brace yourself, "Fenway Green!!!"

That's right. Check it out. It's the exact color and shade of the notorious fenway Park and the Green Monster!!!

And you know how I found out his plot???

I matched the color on Google images and then went to his site where he had his projects listed and I knew that if he did any work in Boston then he certainly would know what that color was.

What I found at the bottom of the page when everything else was done in NYC and I was ready to admit he might be clean as a whistle was this entry:

0 ST. JAMES, Boston, MA, (1991)
Senior designer for 600,000 sq.ft. office building in
Boston Back Bay for Macomber Development.

BOSTON CROSSING, Boston, MA, (1989 to 1990)
Senior designer for the master plan and architectural
design for 3 million sq.ft. mixed-use project in
downtown Boston for Campeau Development.

So, as Columbo would break out a cigar when he cracked the case, I said to myself, "I got this guy!!!"

Check out the Green Shadow Post article and see what I said.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/08292007/business/the_green_shadow.htm

If I truly hated them would I try to save the team from a curse worst then what the Sox endured.

This one is right in your own backyard sitting right in your face.

Blackstone Group owns the building, so you got to call them, but don't do anything stupid, OK guys.

We'll get the color changed!!! and you guys help me with the Kool Rope. This has been a bitch of a ride but' things happen for a reason and I have some other monumental things to come out.

Take care guys!!!

Phil, Koolman2, Simkins

2008-08-08 08:30:07
18.   Bagel Boy
17 So.... let me get this straight. Yankee batters used your cooling device for a week in batting practice, and you're sad they didn't send you a X-Mas card? Now you spam random websites, why exactly? To get back at them?

Meanwhile, as for your curse - In case you haven't noticed the Yankees won three more world championships after 1996 and have made the playoffs each year.

It sucks that you're homeless. But you're probably schizophrenic too. Good luck getting the help you need to get your life back on track.

2008-08-08 09:01:06
19.   pistolpete
The homeless have internet access now? Neat!
2008-08-08 09:05:39
20.   Andre
6 I see Giambi as see ball, hit ball because everyone's always talking about what a great eye he has. If it's so great, I assume he doesn't have to guess. I don't have any real info behind it. I'm a "guess" poster.
2008-08-08 09:23:08
21.   ms october
man the koolman is here too.

15 yeah i agree with you on phil. in many ways he represents the shift in the farm.

20 thanks - i guess i could see it that way too. maybe he is a subset of see the ball hit the ball; since it seems that someone with such a great eye like giambi is someone who is ultra selective and is basically only looking for his pitch only; whereas the larger group see the ball/hit the ball guys are looking for anything they can crush - not just a specific pitch

2008-08-08 09:32:32
22.   weeping for brunnhilde
0 Isn't a guess hitter one who guesses what the next pitch will be, preparing to unload based on type and/or location?

I'd say that Alex often operates as a guess hitter.

A non-guess hitter is more someone like Damon or Cano who's MO is more to react to any given pitch with a short stroke, focussing not on unloading, but on making solid contact consistently.

Guess hitters thus look more foolish when they miss since they've committed their balance before they actually know how the ball is going to break.

I think that's basically right, no?

2008-08-08 09:37:20
23.   weeping for brunnhilde
0 And I agree wholeheartedly about your assessment of Alex. As great a hitter as he can be, I've always thought he can be pitched to in a way that I've never thought Manny could.

Yes, he can crush a mistake, of course, but yes, if a pitcher can execute his pitches in a critical spot, he doesn't have much to fear from Alex.

Manny, on the other hand, can hit any pitch with authority, thus (to my mind) taking more initiative in an ab than Alex.

It feels like Manny is never, ever off-balance whereas it feels like Alex is often off-balance.

2008-08-08 09:40:26
24.   YankeeInMichigan
I agree that it is foolish to count on Pavano, but he could be the ace in the hole. If he has any intention of stealing money from a professional baseball club next year, he has loads of incentive to contribute down the stretch. And his numbers in Trenton last night looked great (a bit more impressive than those of Hughes, who should be able to strike out more than 3 minor leaguers).
2008-08-08 09:46:52
25.   weeping for brunnhilde
5 I take your point, and of course all hitters go through slumps, but Alex's just seem really bad.

It's true I don't watch Manny play everyday, but honestly, I can't recall ever having seen him look as bad at the plate as Alex can.

I can't recall any series in which Manny's looked vulnerable or weak. Could be a faulty memory or just chance, but there it is.

2008-08-08 10:01:15
26.   Schteeve
0 Yeah for sure, the 12 consecutive seasons of OPS above .840, the lifetime .967 OPS, the 542 career HR sure lead me to believe that getting A-Rod out is as simple as fastball up, changeup, slider down and away.

Please. That's one of the more ridiculous things I've ever seen published on this blog. You take a sample of a dozen or so PAs in which you've seen him take a few fastballs for strikes and conclude that there is some simple formula to get him out, while ignoring the fact that for the last 12 seasons he has mashed pitching in a way that none of his peers have ever come close to. Lazy analysis.

2008-08-08 10:02:41
27.   Schteeve
20 Giambi has said that his approach is to lock in on pitch location. Most of the time he's looking for a ball in a particular zone, when he gets it, he hammers it. If he doesn't get it, he doesn't swing.
2008-08-08 10:05:06
28.   weeping for brunnhilde
8 I do remember when Jeter had that stretch (I think it was like 0-32). But I also remember that he never looked as bad as Alex looks. I remember being mystified because he looked fine, but just seemed incapable of driving the ball. But he didn't ever look "lost" to me.

As I recall he had a lot of 5-3, choppers and even sharply-hit balls, but right to the thirdbaseman.

2008-08-08 10:05:55
29.   JL25and3
For several years people have been talking about how pitchers don't really fear Alex Rodriguez. If that's the case, then pitchers aren't very smart.
2008-08-08 10:10:44
30.   weeping for brunnhilde
21 Agreed. I think Jason's thing is that he's got an uncanny eye and basically zones every pitch middle-in. I wouldn't call him a great hitter because he, too, can be pitched to, especially if he misses the first inside fastball he gets.
2008-08-08 10:11:01
31.   JL25and3
28 That was 2004, and as late as May 25 he was hitting .189/.249/.279 in 200+ plate appearances. That's not just hard-luck grounders and liners right at the third baseman.
2008-08-08 10:13:30
32.   Schteeve
28 What is the deal with aesthetics here. You might have noticed that when Alex hits balls 500 feet it often looks like he's barely taken a full swing. The mans mechanics are different than Manny's or Jeter's or whoever else you think has a handsome looking swing or whatever it is that is bothering you.

Why does it matter what he looks like to us, we are not his hitting coach, we don't know what he's supposed to look like. The fact remains that he is the best hitter on our team by FAR. All hitters will slump now and then. But he could look like he was doing the cabbage patch when he swings for all I care. I judge his body of work over a season. And when I do that, I don't have much to complain about.

Of all the things for us to be disgruntled with vis a vis the Yankees, Alex Motherhumpin Rodriguez and his last 14 ABs should not be all that high on the list.

2008-08-08 10:14:29
33.   weeping for brunnhilde
29 I think what it means is that pitchers recognize that if they make their pitches, they have a decent chance of getting the guy out. If they fear him, they should fear that if they make a mistake, he'll hit it out.

That's something to be feared, for sure, but in my mind, it's an entirely different kind of fear than the kind that a hitter like Mattingly or Manny can instill even in the best pitchers.

With hitters like this, a pitcher can make his pitch and the batter can still hit it with authority.

2008-08-08 10:15:49
34.   weeping for brunnhilde
31 Do you think Derek looked terrible at the plate during that stretch?

Because I don't remember a guy who looked lost at the plate.

Perhaps you do?

2008-08-08 10:17:56
35.   Schteeve
30 Ok, now I'm just curious. You say that Jason Giambi is "not a great hitter because he can be pitched to."

So I must conclude that the only way a hitter qualifies as "great" is if they CAN NOT be pitched to. What does that even mean?

Every hitter can be pitched to, that's why almost every hitter like, in history, makes an out more often than not.

2008-08-08 10:20:29
36.   Schteeve
I don't know why I get sucked into these subjective debates about the artistic merits of baseball players swings.

I guess if I cared what a guy looked like as opposed to his results, I'd be reading FigureSkatingToaster.

2008-08-08 10:21:01
37.   weeping for brunnhilde
32 I'm not sure what your argument is, but your comment about not being his hitting coach v. evaluating his body of work over the whole season may be apt.

When I watch baseball, I guess it's fair to say that I watch it as a coach, with attention to form, technique, mechanics, aesthetics, whatever you want to call it.

I guess we're just talking about two different things, or maybe about the same things from two (not necessarily incompatible) perspectives.

Not sure what you want me to say.

2008-08-08 10:21:39
38.   weeping for brunnhilde
36 Good question. If you're so bothered by this kind of a discussion, maybe just ignore it.
2008-08-08 10:22:33
39.   Schteeve
37 Me either. You just seem to be saying that Jeter is somehow a better dude that Alex because even when Jeter makes 32 outs in a row, he somehow seems to do it more debonairly.

And that just perplexes the shit out of me.

2008-08-08 10:23:30
40.   Schteeve
38 Ah, so you'd rather I not question things I disagree with or don't understand? Sounds like a fun life.
2008-08-08 10:26:07
41.   weeping for brunnhilde
35 I tried to explain what it means.

Some hitters excel at striking pitchers' pitches with authority.

Do you ever listen to pitchers (Darling, Cone, Leiter, whoever) talk about particular hitters and what it was like to face them?

They routinely talk about who's a "tough out" and who's not, and it doesn't always correlate with stats.

These scrappy hitters, for instance, who might only hit .260 are still counted as "tough outs" by pitchers because their customary "out pitch" is less effective on them than it might be on a batter who guesses, or zones, or whatever.

I'm not making things up, I just listen to players when they analyze the game is all.

2008-08-08 10:26:52
42.   Schteeve
I think reason that I can't stand the aesthetics stuff, is because it's so old school scouty and ignorant. It's the whole Moneyball thing about how a scout would look at a fat dude and say "he's fat, can't play, looks pudgy, doesn't project well." And then the analyst would say, "yeah but he hits a home run every time up! Wouldn't that be good?" And then the scout would be like, "Nope, you tell chubs to lose some weight and try out again." That kind of stuff makes my head asplode.
2008-08-08 10:27:34
43.   weeping for brunnhilde
40 What's your problem, Schteeve?
2008-08-08 10:28:06
44.   weeping for brunnhilde
39 "A better dude?"

Who the fuck said that?

What are you talking about?

2008-08-08 10:28:15
45.   DanTheStacheMan
Giambi needs to bring back the stache. ASAP! The people have spoken...

www.BringBackTheStache.com

2008-08-08 10:29:37
46.   Schteeve
41 RIGHT!!! It doesn't correlate with stats because players have selective memories like everyone else.

If Coney says, "Man I hated facing Bob Hamelin, he was such a tough out, used to light me up." And then you check the stats and Hamelin faced Cone 12 times and went 2-12 with no walks but his two hits were an RBI double that knocked Coney out of the game, and a 3 run walk off HR. You have to conclude that Cone is WRONG. He is remembering the 2 really shitty outcomes, but the fact remains Hamelin wasn't all that tough against him.

2008-08-08 10:31:25
47.   weeping for brunnhilde
42 Fair enough.

As I say, we have different, and as I said, not necessarily mutually exclusive perspectives on the game of baseball.

It seems like I'm more concerned with process (aesthetics, mechanics, fundamentals, whatever) while you're more concerned with raw productivity (outmaking, run-scoring, whatever), measured over time.

That's ok.

It takes all kinds to make a world.

2008-08-08 10:32:09
48.   Schteeve
40 Well, I'm trying to decide between accepting two different job offers and it's a tough call. Also I have a mild headache. But all in all things are good. Thanks for asking.

Why is it, that when I question things people say about players I have a problem? I disagree with some things you have said, and instead of talking about them, you just tell me I should ignore it, or that I have a problem.

2008-08-08 10:32:48
49.   weeping for brunnhilde
46 Fine, if you don't want to lend credence to a player's analysis of a baseball game, that's your prerogative.

Not sure why you seem to begrudge the fact that I do.

2008-08-08 10:35:43
50.   Schteeve
I think what set me off was that people seem to love to find things to hate about A-Rod. When Cano spends an entire season with an OBP below .300 people are all 'give him the benefit of the doubt.' IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not saying that you Weeping, have said that about Robbie.

But when A-Rod slumps for 4 games, people start talking about how he's soft, or not clutch, or he's easy to pitch to. And this was more directed at Will than you Weeping, but suggesting that Alex Rodriguez is EASY TO PITCH TO, is like the most nuts thing I've ever heard, and I can't just let it skate.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-08-08 10:38:37
51.   Schteeve
49 I don't begrudge you that, and I'm sorry if I made it seem that way.

But my belief is that a lot of professionals in any field, are way to close to it day to day to really know what the hell they are talking about. Dusty Baker has been in baseball forever yet he doesn't seem to understand fundamentally that getting on base is good, and Adam Dunn is good, and clogging the bases is a silly weird bias against guys who don't run fast, and pitch counts are maybe a good idea.

So no, on blind faith I don't just lend a lot of creedence to everything former players say. It's not absolute, but lots of "baseball men," say things that don't make a bit of sense.

2008-08-08 10:39:56
52.   weeping for brunnhilde
48 First of all, take an advil! And good luck making a prudent job decision; at least you seem to be in the driver's seat! (Better two job offers than no job offers.)

As to questioning, I have zero problem with being challenged, but I do respond poorly to feeling antagonized and to having words put into my mouth (e.g., about Derek being a better dude).

It's not the challenging, in other words, it's the tone.

I only suggested you ignore it because you yourself wondered out loud why you get "sucked in" to such discussions. I was just suggesting out that, if you don't want to be sucked in, don't let yourself be sucked in.

Personally, I love having these discussions because I enjoy getting multiple perspectives and I enjoy the opportunity to refine my understanding of the game of baseball.

But again, I'm really much more turned on by process than I am by results, at least, I feel attention to process is where the joy of the game lies for me.

2008-08-08 10:43:16
53.   Schteeve
52 More than fair enough.

Now what can we do to send some good fortune to IPK tonight?

2008-08-08 10:54:49
54.   weeping for brunnhilde
50 Thanks for the clarification and apology. I understand your point.

As to Alex being easy to pitch to, I think it's helpful to consider that "easy" is relative. In the context that Will is talking about, I think he's saying that if a pitcher executes his pitches, he can get Alex out easier, or more predictably, than he could get out someone like Manny.

You're right about people wanting to find fault with Alex, and, though I really like the guy (especially his glove), I do believe he underperforms when it seems we need him most. I understand that's an appearance, but I've really tried to be generous with him and yet still feel like he lets us down more than a player of his talent should.

I'm less concerned with results than process: if Alex gives it a ride or strikes the ball soundly in pressure situations, I shrug it off: we'll get 'em next time.

It's when he looks helpless up there that I just feel cheated.

I have tried to restrain my criticism of him, though, precisely because I recognize that it irritates people.

This is a salient point:

"But my belief is that a lot of professionals in any field, are way to close to it day to day to really know what the hell they are talking about. Dusty Baker has been in baseball forever yet he doesn't seem to understand fundamentally that getting on base is good, and Adam Dunn is good, and clogging the bases is a silly weird bias against guys who don't run fast, and pitch counts are maybe a good idea.

So no, on blind faith I don't just lend a lot of creedence to everything former players say. It's not absolute, but lots of "baseball men," say things that don't make a bit of sense. "

Again, I think this points to a difference between attention to process and attention to results.

Because guys like Cone are drawing on personal experience, they're more likely to remember what the process was like and maybe less likely to have a command of the data (i.e., the units of measurement of that process at the end).

But doesn't experience count for something? It might not count directly for winning baseball games, but doesn't it count for understanding how the game of baseball is played? And how emotions and management of adrenaline and subjectivity operate as factors in any given game?

When I watch Alex at the bat, for instance, I'm not watching a lifetime OPS guy, I'm watching a guy who's been hitting in a certain fashion for the past week, or whatever.

My expectation of his success is not a function of his lifetime success, but only his recent success. In other words, I get lost in the moment. The moment exists for me in the context not of the guy's career, but in the context of "how he's swinging the bat," which you're right, is more of a hitting-coach's perspective.

2008-08-08 10:57:23
55.   Schteeve
I definitely think Cone's experience counts for something, but often I think that "first person perspective" is just one piece of information that should be considered along side a cold evaluation of the facts in order to reach a conclusion.
2008-08-08 11:07:53
56.   weeping for brunnhilde
53 Aha! Now you're talking.

IPK will be good, I feel it in my bones. And Alex will mash.

(Voodoo power of positive thinking :)

2008-08-08 11:28:54
57.   Rob Middletown CT
I watched last night's game. ARod hit 2 or 3 balls hard. They just happened to be hard-hit grounders to the left side of the infield. None of 'em got through. One was a DP-ball. So he looks bad.

He might've gotten a little pull-happy, which is counterproductive (especially for him, given his power to RCF). He will be fine.

By the way, I remember Jeter's horrific slump. He looked terrible.

2008-08-08 11:37:45
58.   Rob Middletown CT
57 Which is to say, btw, that just about every hitter looks terrible when they're hitting a buck fifty with no power.
2008-08-08 12:03:53
59.   weeping for brunnhilde
57 That's interesting; can you be more specific about what you noticed re: Derek?
2008-08-08 12:06:13
60.   weeping for brunnhilde
57 Oh, and just so we can have a common frame of reference, here's an example: remember what Justice looked like in the 2002 postseason?

He literally looked like he was incapable of hitting a baseball.

That's kind of my standard of what "terrible" looks like.

I honestly don't remember Derek ever looking that bad.

But maybe I'm wrong?

2008-08-08 12:33:21
61.   tommyl
I dunno, I seem to remember a homerun Alex hit off Papelbon last year on a two strike pitch that was low, away and hard. I'd wager that was a pretty good pitch. Look, you don't consistently hit 40-50 homeruns a year if you can only hit mistakes. Do you guys remember last April when every single thing he hit went out of the park?

As for Manny, what about the series in NY when he hit like crap, and in his PH appearance took three straight strikes down the middle from Mo, never even lifting his bat. I guess he didn't take a bad swing though.

My point here is that our memories are selective. If Alex was mashing right now we'd all be talking about how he's impossible to get out. Over a long season Alex and Manny and whoever else mash. They have slumps too. So does Pujols otherwise he'd be hitting .500/.700/.900 for a whole season. Even the best make outs 60 percent of the time.

2008-08-08 12:35:00
62.   tommyl
One last bit, last night (when Alex looked "lost") the first AB he hit a laser to short that was stopped on a beautiful backhand play (almost a dive) and turned into a DP. About half a foot farther to the left and its a pretty single. Yeah he's off, but he's not "lost."
2008-08-08 13:04:50
63.   Will Weiss
Thanks for the critiques, everyone. I especially like the back and forth between Schteeve and Weeping. 54 Weeping's on point with the context of my thought. As to the "lazy analysis" comment 26 , I have been watching A-Rod very closely, especially since 2004 when he became a Yankee. I've seen him hit home runs into the loading dock in left-center one handed. The ball jumps off his bat in BP like no one I've ever seen. I do not question his talent or skill. I wish I had an iota of his natural baseball ability.

However, in watching him, not just in his last 14 ABs but overall, I've found that he does not have as discerning an eye as he's given credit for. As Tyler Kepner pointed out last year in a great feature he wrote in the NY Times re: A-Rod's mechanics and working with Kevin Long, when A-Rod's going well, his leg kick is quicker and his stroke is shorter and more compact. Now, the leg kick is high and the stroke is longer. He seems pull happy and homer happy.

The "guess hitter" moniker is accurate. He's trying to figure out what the pitcher will throw and the location of his pitch, and he's committed to swinging before the ball is released. At least, that's how it appears. If I'm a pitcher and I know that, and I have a book on how to get the guy out, I have the upper hand. It's not like facing Vlad, Papi or Manny, where you don't know where to pitch to those guys because they can beat you anywhere.

And Schteeve, I've lambasted Cano in this space all year for his lack of selectivity with runners in scoring position. I haven't had time to do it, but if I'm thinking of tracing all of Cano's at-bats with runners in scoring position and tracking how many times he swung at the first pitch. The AB he had in the ninth inning last night, where he sliced the double to left to cap a nine-pitch battle, was great. He can be that type of hitter consistently if he wants to.

Great stuff from everyone. I think A-Rod will get out of his slump soon. It's frustrating to watch him, though, because he can't get out of his own way psychologically. I can relate to that on the golf course.

2008-08-08 13:58:30
64.   weeping for brunnhilde
61 I understand that our memories are selective and can distort reality. Really, I get it.

Maybe it's hubris on my part, but guess I just have trouble accepting that because we all have selective memories that therefore the impressions I've gathered and the patterns I seem to have noticed while watching baseball are therefore built on feet of clay.

Sure I can accept that I'm wrong about things, but it's also true that I do try to avoid making bold claims unless I'm pretty convinced I'm on to something.

Still, it's possible that my mind is playing tricks on me or that emotions are distorting my judgments or whatever.

I guess I'm just not totally convinced. As I say, maybe it's hubris.

As to your point about slumps, to me, that's the really compelling question: are all slumps equal?

As I've been trying to articulate, when Derek had that awful slump, he didn't look the same as when David Justice (or Sori, for that matter) slumped in the postseason, flailing away at garbage ten feet off the dish.

The results of the slump may be the same (no hits), but to me the interesting question is mechanical: WHY are there no hits?

Does every hitter slump in the same way? How does Alex's slump differ from another's slump?

Is it a loss of strength? Batspeed? Batting eye?

How do these things break down?

To me that's the interesting part, which is why the idea that "all players have slumps" doesn't do it for me as a satisfactory explanation of things. It does nothing to enhance my appreciation of the skill of hitting a baseball.

That's just my personal interest.

2008-08-08 14:20:50
65.   JL25and3
54 "I'm less concerned with results than process"

Up to a point, fine. But let's not lose sight of the fact that the object here isn't to look good, it's to win baseball games. Form follows function; aesthetics are a wonderful thing, but the end result really is what matters in the long run.

I've loved Don Mattingly since he was a backup outfielder fresh from the minors. But you know what? Alex Rodriguez is a much better ballplayer, and it's not even close. Take that back - in Mattingly's very best years, it's close.

Don Mattingly had a total of three seasons where his OPS+ was higher than Alex Rodriguez's career OPS+

Over a four-year peak, Mattingly had OPS+ 156, 156, 161, 146. Rdriguez has ha dseasons of 160, 162, 160, 158, 173, 177, and 158 (this year). He also plays a more demanding position in the field (I have no doubt that Mattingly could have played a superb 3B if he'd been a righty, but the fact is that he didn't). And oh, yeah, he steals bases at an 89% clip.

He strikes out more. He has a longer swing. He's still a better hitter than Mattingly.

Do you really think that Rodriguez has compiled a 148 lifetime OPS+ just by hitting mistakes?

I also have a logical problem here. You're saying that Mattingly was a tougher out because he could hit a pitcher's pitch. But in fact pitchers did get Mattingly out - more often than they get Rodriguez out. So if Donnie could hit the good pitches better, that means he must be missing a lot more mistakes.

Pitchers make imperfect pitches a lot more often than they make perfect ones.

2008-08-08 14:22:33
66.   JL25and3
64 And I'll say again: form follows function. Given Rodriguez's stupendous success, maybe his at-bats are really the good ones. You might need to re-examine your aesthetic standards.
2008-08-08 14:41:31
67.   weeping for brunnhilde
66 Maybe.

But the thing is, you guys are arguing with me as if I'm a GM in a position to ruin your ball club by going after players who conform to my fetishistic desires.

Also, did I really say that Alex "just hits mistakes?"

If I did, I take it back.

Otherwise, please don't make me a straw man.

"Up to a point, fine. But let's not lose sight of the fact that the object here isn't to look good, it's to win baseball games. Form follows function; aesthetics are a wonderful thing, but the end result really is what matters in the long run."

Sure, but that's the whole point: when I reveal that I'm more attentive to process, I mean to say that I'm not attempting to make long-run analyses, at least, not primarily.

I feel like on some level you guys are trying to turn me into a different kind of baseball fan, which is your right, but sometimes I wonder what the endgame is.

It's not like I'm saying Alex is a lousy baseball player and calling up Brian Cashman to exert my influence and get him traded for David Eckstein.

I keep saying, I love Alex. When there was a real threat of losing him last summer, I really felt a sense of dread.

Yet at the same time, I believe he has some considerable flaws in his game that I find dismaying.

What sort of concession would you have me make?

Uncle!

2008-08-08 15:28:27
68.   yankees76
I'm coming late to this party, but a "guess" hitter is a hitter who "thinks along with" the pitcher and tries to guess location and/or pitch selection on the upcoming pitch. There was a good profile of Jason Giambi earlier this season in The New York Times, where he walked the reporter (don't think it was Tyler K.) through an AB, what he was thinking and what he thought the pitcher was thinking. Giambi is (and calls himself) a "guess" hitter. A-Rod is clearly a "guess" hitter, or he would almost never get beat down the middle with a FB for strike three. Singelton was right, though, Will, Manny is your classic "see ball, hit ball" type of hitter, as was Singleton. When Singleton describes his approach to hitting, it was very basic: always look for the FB (so that you don't get beat/don't get it blown by you), and adjust to offspeed pitches during/at the begginning of your swing.

It's pretty easy to tell the difference between the two approaches. Jeter will start towards, perhaps even starting to swing, at virtually every single pitch, while Giambi and A-Rod will, at times, have decided even before the pitch is thrown that they aren't going to swing at it.

With two strikes, Giambi usually changes his approach somewhat, and also starts his bat on virtually every two-strike pitch, but won't offer at it if he thinks it's outside the strike zone.

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