Great Moments in Organizational Philosophies

Leave a comment

Repoz over at Baseball Think Factory links USA Today’s Organizational Report on the San Francisco Giants today. The report was written a couple of weeks ago, actually, as is evidenced by both the url and the references to the team maybe picking up Rod Barajas or someone to help Buster Posey out behind the plate.  But the age of the report only helps to highlight the best part: Brian Sabean explaining the Giants’ new organizational philosophy of getting on base and working counts: 

. . .the Giants want to change their hitters’ mind-set, a process that
began when they replaced hitting coach Carney Lansford with Hensley
Meulens after the season, and Molina’s .285 on-base percentage did not
fit with the philosophy. Plus, when you register the lowest OBP in baseball (.309), relying purely on instinct might not be such a good idea.

“Last year we were challenged because we had a bunch of free
swingers, and some of our better hitters were free swingers,” general
manager Brian Sabean said, naming Molina and Pablo Sandoval among them.
“It is a shift. The first thing we’ll do once we have the players at
hand on the roster is figure out how we can have a better attack. It’s
not necessarily hitting home runs as much as taking care of your
opportunities. We are going to work counts more if possible.”

I’m trying to figure out what my favorite part of this story is.  The choices:

  • The fact that Hensley Meulens, the man tasked with implementing this alleged new philosophy, had a lifetime .288 OBP;
  • The fact that Sabean seems to think that you should teach the players you have how to get on base as opposed to actually going out and signing players who have demonstrated that they know how to get on base;
  • The fact that eight days after this story was first published, the Giants re-signed Bengie Molina, who is repeatedly cited in the article as a counter-example to the team’s alleged philosophy and is probably the least patient hitter in baseball; or

Other than that, great philosophy fellas. Whether it’s any better than the last two Giants philosophies (i.e. “Do whatever Barry wants” and “sign old dudes and talk about how great it was when Barry was here”) is an open question.

Former MLB player Andy Marte also killed in car accident

GOODYEAR , AZ - MARCH 06:  Andy Marte #15 of the Cleveland Indians looks on from the dugout during the spring training game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Goodyear Ballpark on March 6, 2009 in Goodyear, Arizona. The Brewers defeated the Indians 17-7.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Compounding the tragic news of Yordano Ventura‘s passing is a report that fellow Dominican and former MLB infielder Andy Marte was also killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic early Sunday morning. The report was confirmed by Marte’s agency, J.M.G. Baseball, as well as Marte’s former MLB clubs. No further details have been released so far.

Marte, 33, appeared for the Braves, Indians and Diamondbacks from 2005 through 2014. He was ranked in the top 10 MLB prospects by MLB.com in 2005 and held a career .218/.276/.358 batting line, 21 home runs and a .634 OPS over seven seasons in the majors. He signed with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization after the 2014 season, slashing .312 with 42 home runs in 206 games.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marte’s family and teammates during this terrible time.

Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez were two of the most promising arms in MLB

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JULY 3: Starting pitcher Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals throws a pitch in the first inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on July 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

Baseball lost two incredible pitchers in the last four months, both to horrible and unforeseen tragedies. Jose Fernandez and Yordano Ventura were among the most talented and promising pitchers in MLB, two young arms that drew both accolades and criticism for their performance on the mound.

Ventura signed with the Royals in 2008, blazing through several tiers of their farm system before he was called up to replace an injured Danny Duffy in late 2013. He secured his rotation spot the following spring and finished a solid 2014 campaign with a 14-10 record, 3.20 ERA and 2.4 fWAR in 32 starts for the club. During the Royals’ World Series run later that year, Ventura dedicated his performance in Game 6 to Cardinals’ prospect Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in the Dominican Republic just two days earlier.

In four years with the Royals, Ventura pitched to a 38-31 record, 3.89 ERA and 6.5 fWAR. While his command and overall production rate waned, bottoming out in 2016 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.85 SO/BB rate, his dynamic pitch repertoire still kept him front and center in the Royals’ pitching staff. He brandished an electric fastball that, at its lowest point, hovered around 96.6 m.p.h. and, at its best, topped out around 102.6 m.p.h.

Like Ventura, Fernandez made an instant impression in the major league circuit. He earned Rookie of the Year distinctions in 2013 after delivering a 12-6 record, 2.19 ERA and 4.1 fWAR with the Marlins. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery in his sophomore year, he recovered to take on a full workload in 2016 and stunned the league with a 16-8 record, 2.89 ERA, career-high 253 strikeouts and 6.1 fWAR.

Ventura developed a reputation for brushing back hitters, which escalated in some cases to volatile bench-clearing brawls. In 2015, he was ejected for three altercations in three consecutive games and served a seven-game suspension. Halfway through the 2016 season, he earned another eight-game suspension after plunking the Orioles’ Manny Machado in the back with a 99 m.p.h. heater. Some speculated that his aggressive behavior on the mound was excused — or, at least, made more palatable — by his talent and track record, while others called for a more heavy-handed approach from the league.

Fernandez, too, found himself at the center of speculation after reports emerged that painted the 24-year-old as a “clubhouse difficulty,” citing attitude problems that damaged relationships between the pitcher and Marlins players and staff. On the field, he was occasionally chastised for failing to adhere to some of baseball’s unwritten rules, most notably when he showed his elation after hitting his first career home run off of the Braves’ Mike Minor in 2013.

It’s impossible to predict where Fernandez and Ventura’s careers would have taken them. We mourn them not for their actions on the mound or their potential as star pitchers, however, but for their inherent value as people who were loved and respected by their families and teams. Major League Baseball will be worse off for their loss.