Who needs pitchers, anyway?

Leave a comment

Last night Nick Green became the second Red Sox position player to take the mound this season, tossing two scoreless innings against the White Sox after starter Junichi Tazawa was clobbered for nine runs.
Green hadn’t pitched in over a decade and it showed, as he found the strike zone on just 13 of 35 pitches and walked three of the nine batters he faced. However, his fastball regularly clocked in around 90 miles per hour and he also flashed a slider, somehow managing to record six outs without allowing a hit.
“I had success only because my ball had some movement, but I wasn’t trying for that,” Green said. “I was trying to throw it straight.”
For whatever reason teams have been a lot more willing than usual to use position players as mop-up men this season, with Green joining Josh Wilson, Paul Janish, Jon Van Every, Nick Swisher, Cody Ross, Ross Gload, and Mark Loretta on the mound. Here are their respective pitching numbers:

                   IP    ER     H    BB    SO    HR
Nick Green        2.0     0     0     3     0     0
Josh Wilson       2.0     3     3     1     0     1
Paul Janish       2.0    11     9     2     3     2
Nick Swisher      1.0     0     1     1     1     0
Cody Ross         1.0     0     1     0     0     0
Ross Gload        1.0     0     0     2     0     0
Mark Loretta      0.1     0     0     0     0     0
Jon Van Every     0.2     0     1     1     0     0
TOTAL            10.0    14    15    10     4     3

As you might expect they haven’t done so well, allowing 14 earned runs on 15 hits and 10 walks in 10 innings. On the other hand, if you remove Janish’s two ugly outings the other seven position players have posted a 3.38 ERA while serving up just one homer in eight innings. With eight walks in those eight innings the non-Janish guys could still use some work on their control, but allowing just six hits is pretty impressive.
Even with Janish included the position players have a 12.60 ERA, which is a better mark than the ERAs posted by the following actual pitchers (in theory, at least) who have logged at least five innings: Chris Bootcheck (19.80), R.J. Swindle (16.20), Chris Lambert (14.85), Brian Burress (14.21), Brad Mills (14.09), Bobby Korecky (13.50), Cesar Carrillo (13.06), and Clayton Mortensen (12.86).
Hell, Chien-Ming Wang has a 9.64 ERA in 42 innings and he probably can’t even play shortstop.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

Getty Images
7 Comments

Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
13 Comments

United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.