What was up with A.J. Burnett's eye last night?

6 Comments

First, the important stuff. The Yankees climbed back into first place in the American League East with a 4-3 win over the Orioles last night.
Alex Rodriguez played the hero, slamming two home runs, including a
go-ahead three-run shot off O’s closer Koji Uehara with two outs in the top of the
ninth inning.

Last night’s starter A.J. Burnett gave up three
runs — including a pair of solo homers — over seven innings as part of
a no-decision. It was one of his better starts in a while, but all
everybody could talk about after the game was the noticeable shiner he
was sporting. All he would say about it, according to Peter Botte of the
New York Daily News, is that it was not baseball-related.

“I’m
not going to comment on it, but I understand you guys have to ask. There are more
important things going on right now with this team than my eye. It was a
huge win for us.

“Let’s talk about baseball. I understand you have to ask, but I’m not going to comment on it.”

Just in case the image to the right doesn’t suffice, check out this screenshot,
courtesy of Mike Axisa of the excellent River Ave. Blues. How’d it
happen? Well, my guess is that he tripped over his tremendous piles of money.
Dude’s a klutz. A rich klutz, though.
 

The Nats are going to sign Francisco Rodriguez for some reason

Getty Images
2 Comments

The Nationals bullpen is a tire fire. They’re about to add another tire. Per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Washington is about to sign free agent reliever Francisco Rodriguez.

K-Rod was released by the Tigers last week after posting an ERA of 7.82 over 28 appearances this season. He has a 1.658 WHIP, is allowing 11.9 hits per nine innings and is posting his highest walk rate in five years. Also worth noting: the Detroit Friggin’ Tigers decided that he was not good enough to be in their bullpen.

So, yeah, good luck with that Washington.

The Giants chemistry is suffering because a guy they all hated is gone

Getty Images
8 Comments

I’ve spent years arguing with people about team chemistry. You know the battle lines on all of that now: people who talk a lot about team chemistry tend to attribute winning or losing to good or bad chemistry, respectively. I tend to think that characterizing chemistry is a retroactive exercise in which teams that win are happy and then cite their happiness as the reason and vice versa. Jim Leyland agrees with me, for what it’s worth, so I’m pretty happy with my take.

Not that I’ll claim a monopoly on wisdom here. I’ve never played on a professional baseball team. I don’t know what it’s like to try to prepare to play baseball while surrounded by jackwagons who don’t get along with anyone. I can’t imagine that makes life easier. Indeed, based on the testimony of players I have spoken to, I will grant that there is at least some intangible yet real benefit if everyone is happy an gelling. I dismiss team chemistry arguments for the most part, but if I ran a team I’d at least try to get rid of bad seeds if their bad seeding was not outweighed by seriously outstanding on-the-field play. You want your workers happy, folks.

All of which makes me wonder what the heck to do about this passage from Ken Rosenthal’s latest column. It’s about the reeling San Francisco Giants. They have all kinds of issues — their offense is putrid, their pitching isn’t much better and they’ve been without their ace most of the year — but today Rosenthal looks at their team chemistry. It’s a quiet and subdued clubhouse, he notes, and it has a lot of people wondering if something is wrong there. What could it be?

Sandoval, who was an often noisy and boisterous presence during his time with the club, departed as a free agent after that season. Pence has suffered a number of injuries in recent years and declined offensively, making it difficult for him to be as vocal as he was in the past. Some with the Giants muse that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who created an odd sort of unity because most of the players disliked him.

Read that last sentence again. And then go on with your talk about how team chemistry is a legitimate explanatory concept regarding what makes teams win or lose as opposed to a post-hoc rationalization of it.

Not that it’s not a good article overall. There’s some interesting stuff about the Giants’ bullpen culture. And, of course, we now know why no one signed Pagan last winter.