I’m way too excited about this post, because it combines four of my favorite things: Baseball, podcasts, Chelsea Peretti, and snooping for information about people on the internet.
Chelsea Peretti is a great stand-up comedian, writer, and tweeter who just started her own podcast in which she takes calls from the audience. I was listening to the second episode this afternoon when about 12 minutes in a caller named “John” started talking about how he’s 24 years old and “blew a small fortune” of $210,000 after being drafted by the Mets as an 18-year-old.
Peretti asked: “And then what happened, you started sucking at baseball?”
“They thought I was a good baseball player,” our mystery man explained, adding that he was a pitcher before his “elbow blew out” and he spent most of the signing bonus on a truck and “buying sushi every night.”
That was more than enough information to discover our mystery man’s identity via the magic of the internet: John Holdzkom, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who was the Mets’ fourth-round pick in 2006 and signed for $210,000. He underwent Tommy John elbow surgery in 2009 and has yet to make it past high Single-A, throwing a total of 135 innings in seven seasons. He spent this season in the Reds’ farm system, but appeared in just six games and walked 13 batters in nine innings.
Holdzkom shared some interesting details about his arm problems and various off-field issues, showing a really good sense of humor about the whole thing. And he’s apparently headed to Australia to continue his career. You should definitely listen to their whole chat, if only so I feel less silly about spending time researching the identity of an anonymous podcast caller.
To experience my internet detective work unfolding in real time you can follow me on Twitter.
Former first base and infield coach Nick Leyva was promoted to senior advisor of baseball operations on Saturday, per a report by Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Pirates also fired third base coach Rick Sofield, with no named successor as of yet.
Leyva joined the Pirates’ organization in the 2011 offseason as a third base coach under manager Clint Hurdle. He shifted to his role as the first base coach and infield coach in 2014, when first base coach Rick Sofield was reassigned to third base prior to the 2015 season. According to Biertempfel, the swap was made in order to optimize the team’s baserunning strategies, all of which appeared to fall flat during the 2015 and 2016 seasons:
The results this season were awful. The Pirates ranked 13th in the National League with a minus-7.0 BsR — a FanGraphs.com metric that measures how many runs above or below league average a team gets via its baserunning.
In 2013 and 2014, the Pirates had one of the top five BsR ratings in the NL. In 2015, they were seventh with a 2.8 BsR.
This season, the Pirates made the second-most outs at third base in the league and were last in taking extra bases on singles and doubles. Their baserunners went from first to third base on hits a league-low 63 times.
Sofield, in particular, highlighted the Pirates’ poor baserunning choices in games like this one, when he sent Sean Rodriguez home too early during the last vestige of a ninth inning rally against the Phillies.
Following the announcement, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington issued a statement elaborating on Leyva’s role within the organization:
We have great respect and appreciation for both men. We thank them for their time and effort as part of our Major League team and the Pirates organization. It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was the right time to make this change on our Major League staff. We look forward to Nick’s continued impact in his future role with the Pirates. Nick has held nearly every coaching position at the major league level and at the minor league level, including Major League manager, in his extensive career and will be a quality mentor for our minor league managers, coaches and players.
With Game 6 of the NLCS just hours away, the Dodgers will opt for a lefty-heavy lineup against right-hander Kyle Hendricks. Batting leadoff is rookie outfielder Andrew Toles, who made one appearance at the top of the lineup during the 2016 season. The Cubs, meanwhile, will bench Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.. This will be Almora’s first start of the playoffs, and while he has yet to face Kershaw in October, his right-handed bat could play well against the lefty at the bottom of the lineup.
Game time is scheduled for 8 PM EDT; lineups are below.
1. Andrew Toles (L) LF
6. Wilson Contreras (R) C
8. Albert Almora Jr. (R) RF
9. Kyle Hendricks (R) RHP