The Question

You asked me questions on Twitter. So I shall answer them.

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We did the Twitter questions thing again last night. Let’s go:

Q: How do the Braves end up as “your” team if you grew up in WV, TBS?

Yep. That and an electric attraction to Andres Thomas.

Q: Will Ryan Braun be elected to start the All-Star Game even with the PED cloud over his head?

He’s still fourth overall in the voting and is the second-leading vote-getter among National League outfielders. Milwaukee draws a lot of fans and thus votes. I think he makes it.

Q: OK… Do the Cubs have ANY chance of finishing above .500 this season?

As of this this morning they’d have to 62-44 to make it. I think the odds of that happening are somewhere close to the odds of me winning the Cy Young Award.

Q: Umpires. Are they getting worse every year or is technology advancing so much we’re noticing their gaffes more?

I don’t know that we have any real way of measuring if they’re better or worse. I’m skeptical that they’re considerably worse and suspect that a lot of it has to do with the fact that we can see every mistake in high-def and watch it replayed like crazy on the web the next day. But saying “it’s always been bad like this” doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t improve umpiring. Jay Jaffe had some suggestions on how to do that yesterday.  They’re pretty darn good.

Q:  Rockies cut Moyer, sign Francis. Upgrade?

In terms of pitching? Probably. But they have taken a serious downgrade in metrics dealing with sitting around, telling people about how meat was rationed during the war while offering the children gross hard candies.

Q: So we’re putting the giant Morrissey poster in the foyer, right?

This is what happens when your girlfriend and you talk about moving in together. In other news.

Q: Just finished season one of Battlestar Galactica. Why is Baltar tormented? Hallucinating about Number Six does not seem like too poor an existence.

Oh, just wait, his torment become nice and justified later. And now, even though I just finished watching all of BSG last fall, I want to watch them all again.

Q: When a player is fined, where does the money go? The league? The team or union? Or (hopefully) charity?

There’s a central fund shared by all the teams. In some instances they go to charities. Really, though, the fine money in baseball is chump change, so it’s not like the league is getting rich off this or that charities are getting shafted. It’s like Major League Baseball’s give-a-penny, take-a-penny dish.

Q: Do you believe it’s even possible for any baseball player to dominate every day the way Richard Dawson did in Super Match?

Richard Dawson on Match Game was like Babe Ruth in 1920 crossed with Sandy Koufax in 1966. But at the risk of being controversial, there may not have been a better game show performance than Markie Post on Pyramid. Stone cold assassin.

Q: How many Altuves is Andrelton’s andrelton?

Based on the photographic evidence, I’d say it’s around 0.13845 Altuves.

Q: How does @norunsupport feel about your fascination with Andrelton Simmons’ junk?

I don’t think it bothers her or worries her nearly as much as the fact that I have a Madonna playlist on my iPod and listen to it fairly often bothers her.

Q: When the post about Bill Maher buying a share of the Mets went up, a lot of people replied with “another reason to hate the Mets.” Why do you think people with no vested anti-Mets rooting interest hate the Mets so much? They just don’t seem with the effort to me.

I don’t think people hate the Mets nearly as much as they love hacky jokes. The Mets merely provide an efficient vehicle for hacky joke delivery.

Q: If the Mets go into a slump, everybody’s going to blame Tuesday night’s game, aren’t they?

No, they’re going to blame Bill Maher for poor leadership.

Q: Did you ever have a personal one shining moment in little league?

Not really. I played baseball from age 7 through age 15 or so, and I was always kind of crappy. I could catch a little and I wasn’t an automatic out, but I was slow and was never high up in the batting order. Offensively speaking, the only highlight that comes to mind is the time when I was playing Babe Ruth ball and we faced some stud pitcher who had an amazing curve ball for his age and everyone thought it was the best thing ever. I knew I couldn’t catch up to his fastball, so I just decided to hope he bothered to throw me “his wrinkle,” as my coach called it. He did on the second pitch and I hit a double. I don’t remember ever hitting any other doubles. I think I was stranded at second base. For the rest of the game I acted all wise in the dugout, explaining to the other kids how to recognize that curve. I was completely full of crap, of course.

Q: Would you be interested in this Batman/Aquaman slash fiction I’ve authored?

No! Never! In fact I’m so appalled by the idea that you should just throw it out! If you can’t find an appropriate place to toss it, send it to hardballtalk@gmail.com and, um, someone here will dispose of it for you.

Q: Will Karolyi put Maroney on the team even though she is really only useable for one event? Will Utley ever play this year?

I think it’s more likely that McKayla Maroney plays second base for the Phillies — or Chase Utley makes the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team — than it is for Utley to play second base for the Phillies this year.

Q: Is Angel Hernandez always this incompetent, or just tonight?

I don’t even know what he did or where he was umpiring last night, but the answer is: yes, he is always that incompetent.

Q: What’s the most crazy? Pitt in 2nd, Dodgers in first, or Boston/Philly in last?

If by “crazy” you mean “unsustainable” I’d go with the Pirates. Unless you think that A.J. Burnett is going to continue pitching like and ace and the Buccos are going to continue to win despite having only one legit offensive threat.

Q: Name some of your favorite lines/moments from “Ball Four.” Where does it rank in your pantheon of baseball books?

There are so many. The first one that comes to mind is “A young girl asked one of the guys in the bullpen if he was married.  ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘but I’m not a fanatic about it.'”  The moments I like the most are the ones that tend to get overlooked when people talk about “Ball Four.”  Everyone mentions the stories about  Mickey Mantle and ballplayer carousing and stuff, but for me the best parts of the book are about Bouton himself, his desperation and just how aware he is that he’s close to losing his dream of being a ballplayer.  You can’t read the book without thinking of it as a man trying to come to terms with things. So much of the humor and so many of the observations can be read as Bouton in self-defense mode. It’s really affecting and the dynamic applies beyond baseball. In my case, I took a very similar stance with the law as I was leaving it, knowing I’d never be a partner in a law firm and trying my best to see it all with clear eyes.

Q: Aroldis Chapman on the mound, Batman at the plate. What’s the pitch-by-pitch breakdown?

[Pitch One]: Strike looking

[Pitch Two]: Strike looking

[Pitch Three]: Pitcher’s arm riddled with Batarangs, pelvis broke by kick to midsection, pitcher bound in rope, deposited on the steps of the Cincinnati Police Department with note pinned to him explaining how he orchestrated grand theft in Pittsburgh and facilitated a Cuban torture ring.

Q: What’s your favorite baseball memory?

Probably my first real one: watching Alan Trammell hit a home run against the California Angels in 1979. I was not yet six and it was the first game I remember attending. I thought it was the best thing that had ever happened. The Tigers (who were then my rooting interest) winning the World Series in 1984 and the Braves winning the World Series in 1995 didn’t even compare as far as what I felt and how I remember it. No lie.

Q: Old Shea or Hell?

Never went to Old Shea, so I guess I can’t say for sure. But I hear Hell is a dry heat so maybe it’s not that bad …

Q: The Twins drafted a ton of power pitchers, but their coaching staff is known for developing pitch to contact. Problem?

Nah. You can always teach a power pitcher to pitch to contact. The Twins play baseball the right way.

Q: If a tree falls in the woods, has @AaronGleeman kissed a girl?

Oh man, that’s cold.

Q: Give us a farfetched baseball prediction that could very well come true this year.

Cliff Lee goes all Private Pyle on the rest of the Phillies for not giving him any run support.

Q: Wilco, yeay or nay?

Yay, but I’m not a fanatic about it. I tend to like their older alt-countryish stuff more than the more recent things. “Being There” is my favorite. But honestly, I listen to Mermaid Avenue more than any proper Wilco stuff and “California Stars” may be my favorite song they’ve done ever.

Q: Should the Phillies be considering austerity at this point?

I think that’s out of the question. With all of the salary obligations they have right now they are To Big To Fail. I suggest a government bailout with the taxpayers picking up Ryan Howard’s deal. Oh, don’t complain Philly fans. You claim it’s not a bad deal, YOU pay it.

Q: Who would you rather have as a pinch hitter on the bench: Thor or the Hulk?

Thor. Hulk obviously has better power, but he strikes me as a three true outcomes guy. I’m guessing Thor has a way better on base percentage.

Q: Is the proposal for a more unbalanced schedule really a way for owners to cut overhead? Divisional foes are generally closer, right? Would those extra games represent sign. savings in travel expenses?

I don’t know that it’s travel expenses as much as it is TV revenue. When teams have to play more games on opposite coasts they have more games that start at funky hours for the home fans which likely leads to lower ratings.

Q: Any chance we can get a celebrity girls of baseball post? I like to stay informed, it’d be very boss of you.

Wait, are there any celebrity girls of baseball? And dude, if I wanted to whore for pageviews that badly I’d just do a 100-page slideshow of the worst Phillies contracts of all time. It would easily be more popular than a cheesecake thing.

Q: Who will be the better player five years from now: Trout or Harper?

Um, Harper the better hitter, Trout talked about as the more complete package and all-around player. But I think Harper will be enough of a better hitter to where this will be a Beatles-Beach Boys thing as opposed to a Beatles-Rolling Stones things.

Q: With Harper and Trout being the Batman and Superman of Rookies, does that make Matt Moore the Aquaman of the Rookies?

Look, I like the Beach Boys a lot, so that previous comp is not to take a thing away from Trout. But I wouldn’t lay Superman on him. Superman is great and all, but he’s so boring and that does not describe Trout at all.  And Moore is not Aquaman. Aquaman has repeated Double-A three years running and the club is considering converting him into a middle reliever or something.

That’s all for this week, folks. Now I’m off to watch more Markie Post videos.

CC Sabathia goes on the disabled list with a strained groin

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of a baseball game in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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CC Sabathia pitched wonderfully Wednesday night, tossing seven shutout innings in what was easily his best start in ages. But since we live in a world in which we simply cannot have nice things, that sweet has to come with some sour: the Yankees just announced that they have placed Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list with a strained groin.

The Yankees have replaced Sabathia on the roster with their old friend Phil Coke, whose contract they just purchased from Scranton.

The Yankees have had bad luck with all of their starters not named Masahiro Tanaka so far this year. Losing one of them just as he put together his best start of the season is just a killer.

Tim Lincecum’s showcase is a lot bigger a deal than it seemed before

Tim Lincecum
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When a pitcher doesn’t sign anywhere before or during spring training people sometimes wring their hands a bit, but it’s usually the case that they’ll be OK if they are patient. Once the season starts guys start going down with injuries left and right or show that they’re ineffective. In such cases, a free agent pitcher’s value goes way up. He’s a relatively low cost option for a team which, a month ago, seemed set but is now suddenly desperate.

Tim Lincecum may benefit from that dynamic.

As we noted earlier today, the Angels’ rotation is a hot mess now that Garrett Richards is out for the year and Andrew Heaney‘s absence may be just as extended. The back end of the Giants’ rotation is likewise a mess. Lincecum was never seriously on San Francisco’s radar this past winter, but given how Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are going, those crazy kids may get back together. The Dodgers could use a pitcher and their competition with the Giants may make this whole situation a lot more profitable for Lincecum than it might have otherwise been.

Of course, Lincecum still has to show that he can pitch and that he’s healthy. That’s why he’s having the showcase, that goes down here very shorty — 2:30 eastern time — and you can watch it streaming live at CSNBayArea.com.

Buddy Carlyle named the Braves new replay assistant

Buddy Carlyle
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The Braves have been terrible with respect to replay challenges this year. Almost improbably terrible. Fredi Gonzalez has challenged calls seven times and he’s been unsuccessful on all seven challenges. Given how these things work, it’s likely because he’s getting bad advice from the Braves employee designated to watch the replays and suggest when challenges should be made.

Now Gonzalez is going to have a new guy in that role. A familiar name too: Buddy Carlyle, who Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports, will join the Braves as a coaching assistant who will handle the replay review decisions.

Carlyle, of course, spent nine seasons as a major league pitcher and nearly 20 as a professional overall. Most recently with the Mets last season before calling it a career. He pitched for the Braves as well, from 2007-09.

Now he’ll provide a new and, hopefully, more discerning set of eyes for the Braves’ replay operation.

Garrett Richards needs Tommy John surgery, Andrew Heaney has UCL damage too

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 4, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
Associated Press
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Bad, bad news for the Los Angeles Angels: their best starter needs Tommy John surgery and their most promising young starter has UCL damage as well.

Jeff Passan reports that Garrett Richards has a torn right ulnar collateral ligament and is expected to need Tommy John surgery. Richards was scratched from today’s start due to fatigue and dehydration, but Passan says they found the UCL tear while examining him yesterday. Richards is the Angels’ ace, having won 13 games in 2014 and 15 games a year ago. So far this year he a 2.34 ERA in six starts.

Heaney, meanwhile, has damage to his left ulnar collateral ligament, Passan reports. He was diagnosed with a flexor muscle strain after he was placed on the disabled list following his first start of the season, but this is obviously more serious. Unlike Richards, the plan at the moment is for Heaney to rehab rather than go under the knife. Sometimes that works. Often it doesn’t and Tommy John happens later. We’ll see.

These twin blows are huge and terrible for the Angels, who already had serious depth issues basically everywhere on the roster. The conventional wisdom before the year started was that, if everything broke right and everyone stayed healthy, they could possibly contend in an often volatile AL West, but that they didn’t have a big margin for error. This is a lot of error. The Angels are 13-15 and four games out in the division as it is. Without two starters on whom they were counting big, it’s hard to see how the rest of the Angels’ season isn’t going to be a total slog.