Link-O-Rama: Not every lineup is a work of art

Leave a comment

* Mark Newman of MLB.com talked to future Hall of Fame managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, and Tony La Russa about the art of filling out a lineup card, and Torre provided my favorite quote: “With our current lineup, you know where [Matt] Kemp, [Andre] Ethier, Manny [Ramirez], and [Rafael] Furcal will be. Those guys will be in the top four or five spots.”
Torre has recently come to his senses by finally using Kemp near the middle of the order, but overall this season the guy with the second-highest batting average and third-best OPS on the Dodgers has been “in the top four or five spots” just 38 times in 139 games. By comparison, Kemp has batted sixth (24), seventh (46), eighth (21), or ninth (3) a total of 94 times. And this is a career .302/.349/.485 hitter who’s batting .306/.363/.506 this season. That’s some art.
* Yesterday the Nationals were thinking about shifting Cristian Guzman to second base in an effort to overhaul their infield defense. Today the Nationals “plan to revamp the bullpen” this offseason. Translation: Teams that lose 100 games in back-to-back seasons are often motivated to make lots of changes.
* Mike Cameron’s strained hamstring is expected to keep him out until at least Friday, causing Adam McCalvy of MLB.com to write that “the Brewers are well-covered in the outfield, with Corey Patterson, Jody Gerut, and Jason Bourgeois all available to play center field.” You know something is structurally wrong with a sentence when “well-covered” and “Corey Patterson” are used in tandem.
* By making his 28th start of the season yesterday Josh Beckett triggered his $12 million option for 2010.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

Associated Press
Leave a comment

Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

Getty Images
1 Comment

This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.