Felix Hernandez would have three starts left if he stays on regular rest. Kirby Arnold of the Everett Herald reports, however, that he may start only two more games because the team is concerned about his workload. Hernandez’s workload, that is. Not Arnold’s. I’m sure he’ll be able to report for the rest of the season without risking injury or fatigue.
On the one hand I’m a big fan of not pushing your valuable franchise pitchers unnecessarily, and there’s absolutely nothing necessary about the rest of the Mariners season. On the other hand, even if he were to throw three more complete games, he’d still only have 22 more innings this year than last year. And he’s currently 109 pitches behind the number he threw last year. So yes, going all three starts will take him into unprecedented territory, but it won’t take him into crazy land. If they want to truly preserve him, why not just shut him down now?
But hey, if Hernandez is shut down, the writers who support CC Sabathia and David Price for the Cy Young Award* will have another fact they will believe to be in their favor. No, not durability or anything. Probably something about guts and bravery or something equally as compelling as the wins argument tends to be.
*I recently spoke with a couple of writers who had a reasonable request of me: stop referring to “the writers” as if they were some giant groupthinking blob. I try not to do that, but I’ll admit that I’ve done it a bit recently, most notably in connection with the AL Cy Young award and the Jeter phantom HBP thing. And that’s not fair, as there are a lot of them who think sharply about issues, and that’s the case even if they ultimately come out differently than I do. A lot of writers do support Hernandez. A lot of the ones who don’t, don’t do so simply on the “wins = everything” basis I’ve been criticizing. There are a lot of writers who, like me, thought the Jeter thing was much ado about nothing.
Anyway, as a guy who bristles whenever he hears the term “the bloggers” thrown around to describe everything from some mental defect with a LiveJournal account to yours truly, I think it’s more than fair that I avoid similar imprecision when referring to newspaper guys. Going forward, I’ll be careful to make it clear that when I’m talking about a dumb opinion, I’m limiting it to those who actually subscribe to the dumb opinion as opposed to everyone in that guy’s field.
The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.
Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?
As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.
Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.
Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.
A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.
I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.
That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.