Random Observations

Posted by Baseball Bob at 08:55
Apr 242017

I’m back, sort of. After a week of full-time babysitting (not really babies, they range from 3 to 14) I now have two weeks of part-time child care, as my wife is traveling and I take her place 3 times a week at our daughter’s home. So I should have more time to post, but not THAT much more time.

The Yankees lost 2 of 3 to the Pirates, and are officially no longer tracking the 1998 Yankees. Apparently they never were, but were just showing an exaggerated home/road split: that 9-4 record was 2-4 on the road, 7-0 at home. They have now played 9 games each way, and their records are 8-1 home, 3-6 away. This translates into 99-63 so I’ll take it, but 1998 Yankees it is not. They lost yesterday 2-1, wasting a gutty performance by surprise rookie Jordan Montgomery, who allowed 7 hits and 2 ER in 6 IP despite not having his best stuff. But the Yankee bats did very little. And Girardi pushed so many buttons, unsuccessfully, that when they loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, their last 9 position players were already in the lineup, and so the last two outs were made by Austin Romine (surprisingly good with the bat so far, but a career near-zero) and Pete Kozma (offensive zero by any measure). They didn’t get the job done.

Meanwhile, Manny Machado made a slide into second that spiked Dustin Pedroia – for what it’s worth I think it was marginal, but not a clear violation of the new rule. The slide went right toward the base, clearly legal, but the spike was probably a bit high, and it could have been called a DP which would likely have avoided any controversy at all. But it wasn’t called a DP, Pedroia left the game and hasn’t yet returned (though he is not badly hurt) and yesterday Matt Barnes threw a fastball BEHIND Machado’s head, the best way by far for a pitcher to intentionally injure a batter, as the instinct is to duck INTO the pitch. Machado avoided that (the ball hit his bat, making it the weirdest strike of the season) but it obviously fanned the flames. The Red Sox pitcher and manager claim it was an inside pitch that just got away, but the catcher’s target was low outside. The likely “penalty” for Barnes is 4-5 day suspension, which could push his start back by 1 day. Some penalty! I think that, like the home-plate block/collision rule, this one needs to be seriously looked at. And because this incident involves Pedroia and Machado, it may get a treatment similar to Buster Posey, whose injury almost single-handedly changed the catcher rule, or Chase Utley, whose slide almost single-handedly changed the second-base slide rule AND the neighborhood play.

If the playoffs were held today, the three division leaders in the AL would be Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston, and the wild-card game would be New York and Boston. This is not truly an implausible list of playoff teams, though the order is shuffled (most would have Boston winning, with Baltimore and NY or Toronto as wild card. The NL would feature Washington, Chicago and Colorado, with Arizona hosting Miami in the WC game. THAT would be a shock, with neither LA nor SF involved at all, even with TWO west teams in the postseason. Of course, a few days ago neither Nats nor Cubs were there, and so baseball is resuming its normal shape. Within a few weeks you can expect a return to more or less normality (note: normalcy is NOT a word, no matter what the spell checker says).

Early in the season there are always some startling stat lines, as non-entities happen to have their unreal hot streak just as the season begins, and so have no “normal” stats dragging it down: case in point is Chase Headley of the Yankees who was batting .409 with OBP and SLG well over .500 until a few days ago. But what do we make of Bryce Harper, who is NOT a non-entity having a hot start, but rather a very young superstar having an unbelievable start: the Nats star in 18 games has 6 doubles, 7 HRs, 17 (!) walks, and a slash line of .400/.524/.815 OPS 1340. Since 18 games is conveniently 1/9 of a season, this projects to 54 doubles, 63 HRs, 234 hits and 153 walks. He probably won’t keep THAT up, but all indications are for a pretty historic season. And he’ll be a 26-year-old free agent after next season . . . hmmm.

Chris Sale is 1-1 with an 0.91 ERA. Can you spell poor run support? Amazingly, that 0.91 ERA is THIRD in the AL behind KC’s Jason Vargas (3-0, 0.44) and MIN’s Ervin Santana (3-0, 0.64). Speaking of non-entities.

On to Boston! Of course, the Yankees have not been good on the road, and the Red Sox are on the rise (only 1/2 back of NY as play begins today). New York will start Severino, Tanaka and Sabathia while Boston counters with Porcello, Sale and Pomeranz. That third game should be a bloodbath: neither Pomeranz nor Sabathia has the stuff to pitch as a lefty in Fenway. Sale of course does, but at Fenway is the Yanks’ best chance to get to him (see: Aaron Judge). I wish Gary Sanchez were back.

I love this game!

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