Author: Craig Calcaterra

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Should Alex Gordon have tried to steal home on Wednesday night?


source: AP

Nothing else is going on, and we’re all sort of over asking whether Alex Gordon should’ve kept running in the ninth inning of Game 7, so let’s throw this one out there. It’s a reader email from Mark M.:

I wonder if you’d write about whether Ned Yost should have called a straight steal of home in the 7th game, bottom of the ninth, after there was one strike on Salvador Perez. There are some factors that might improve the possibility of a successful steal:

Alex Gordon, on third, is a fast runner.

Madison Bumgarner is lefty, and would not see a potential steal as quickly as a righty would.

Salvador Perez bats right, and would shield the base-stealer from Buster Posey’s view, at least a little bit.

After one strike on Perez, it was likely that the Giants would continue to throw him high pitches (“up the ladder”), which must be caught and brought down to tag a sliding base-stealer.

A straight steal would be risky, but I wonder if there is enough info to assign a numerical probability, and compare it to Perez’s on-base percentage after he’s already got one strike.

I can’t assign probability because I’m a math moron, but the thought is interesting to me in the same way any hypothetical baseball thoughts are interesting, especially when the baseball is all over and all we have to talk about are player options. My gut: really damn low percentage move, and one that would be more likely to lead to someone getting fired than a bad send on the original hit may have, and we know that human beings are risk-averse animals for the most part.

I guess all I’d offer is that, if you’re gonna do it, maybe have Terrance Gore do it as a pinch runner. Or would that eliminate the element of surprise?

Man, I dunno. What do you all think?

The Tigers exercise their option on Joakim Soria

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Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have exercised their $7 million option on reliever Joakim Soria.

Soria was dealt from Texas to Detroit in the middle of the season and, overall, posted a 3.25 ERA in 48 appearances while battling injuries. He was better in Texas, serving as the closer and saving 17 of 19 games. In Detroit his role was less-than-defined, though, with manager Brad Ausmus unwilling to use Soria over Joe Nathan in the ninth inning or, less excusably, Joba Chamberlain in the eighth. He only pitched one inning over two appearances in the playoffs, and was shellacked.

Of course, given how bad the Tigers bullpen served them and given how relievers can be sort of unpredictable from year to year, it is not at all surprising that the Tigers are bringing Soria back, even at $7 million. The only question is when he’ll pitch. I could see him doing everything from mopping up to closing in 2015, frankly.


Ruben Amaro unveils a “The Phillies Way” handbook

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies

Matt Gelb of the Philly Inquirer reports that Ruben Amaro has distributed a handbook about Phillies procedures and philosophies to team coaches, scouts, athletic trainers during organizational meetings this week. The headline at the Inquirer calls it a “Phillies Way” handbook.

Now, obviously, it’s good to have a philosophy. And the Phillies aren’t the first to do this, be it formally like this or merely rhetorically. We’ve mocked the Braves and Cardinals for this in the past, but the mockery is aimed at believing one’s “Way” is somehow exceptional or superior to everyone else’s, not because they actually have and encourage a certain manner of doing things. It’s good for the Phillies to have this sort of thing. I’d want every team to instill its theories and methods up and down the organization.

But . . . based on how things have gone in Philly the past few seasons, and given Ruben Amaro’s specific methods, you’re gonna have to put me in a straightjacket to stop me from thinking up the funny crap that could, if the book was honest, be in a “Phillies Way” handbook.

Stuff like “we believe, as an organization, in establishing insanely, easily-achievable and wholly unremarkable benchmarks for vesting options for players over 35-years-old and endeavor to reward those achievements lucratively.” Or “optimism is the hallmark of the Philadelphia Phillies. With ‘optimism’ being defined as ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Or “math is hard.”

I’m sure you have some ideas of what might appear in such a book as well. It’s a slow day. Let’s share!

(Thanks to Paper Lions for the heads up)

Fox’s World Series broadcast gets a low grade from The New York Times

old TV

Richard Sandomir does his normally good job of reviewing and dissecting the Fox World Series broadcast over at The New York Times. His verdict: it wasn’t good. While Fox’s camera work was excellent and some of its graphics good (others bad) Sandomir gives the booth low grades, noting that the three-man setup is too chatty and that Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci’s insight was often shaky, too late or less-than illuminating. Ultimately, the three broadcasters need more reps together, Sandomir notes.

The big takeaway, with which I agree: we miss Tim McCarver. Not that he was the be-all, end-all, obviously. And not that he was as good in the past few years as he used to be (he clearly had lost a step). But (a) he was way better at anticipating things and offering his insight before an event happened rather than second-guessing afterward; and (b) the mere fact of a three-man booth just really, really sucks for baseball.

Mets fans like their three-man booth, but I feel like the Hernandez-Darling-Cohen booth is the exception, not the rule. They have a relaxed thing that is better geared toward the regular season (and Hernandez is not totally full-time anyway). And if you have to have three guys in the booth, at least the Mets’ setup is ideal: a pitcher to break down pitcher stuff and an everyday player to talk about hitting and defense. Indeed, I find it rather crazy that the Fox booth doesn’t have either a former pitcher or former catcher like McCarver was who can talk about pitching. That seems essential to me.

In an ideal world — in my view anyway — you have a one-man booth with a person who can talk about the game at hand, not get lost in conversation. Someone who can set the scene and offer some occasional color-style insights (broadcasts over-analyze unimportant crap as it is). No one really does that anymore, but I think there are a lot of decent play-by-play guys who, if allowed to do that for a while, would become good at it. Vin Scully is great, but he’s not some absurd freak of nature or a god. He got great at that because he’s done it forever and knows what the heck he’s doing. If, say, Len Kasper or someone was allowed to do that for a long time and became, say, 66% of what Scully is, we’d be about 200% better with broadcasting than we generally are now. Heck, I bet even Joe Buck could do it. He’s way better than he used to be — he’s actually gotten really good at feeling the moment in a baseball game, which was one of his early problems — and he’s been around enough to make note of significant strategic things if he was allowed to.

But I suppose that’s a pipe dream. Now Fox, ESPN and TBS give us three-man booths, for whatever reason they do it. Maybe because they can. It makes for a crappy game product though. So short of going to a one-man, ratchet it back to a two-man booth and get someone in there who knows what the heck they’re doing.

Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game

Joe Maddon

News broke just before Game 7 that the Cubs had hired — or were about to hire — Joe Maddon as their manager. Then everything seemed to back off a bit. “Details were still being worked on,” and since then we’ve had more or less radio silence. The general consensus from reporters who tend to be right about this stuff is that it’s happening, but that there was hesitancy to announce it or have it confirmed on the day of Game 7.

Or, perhaps, because there is some P.R. and fence-mending to do beforehand. Because, as Andy Martino reports, some people in and around the game are not at all pleased at Maddon going to the Cubs when the Cubs, at the moment, have a manager in Rick Renteria. Maddon is being viewed as going after Renteria’s job and, in the fraternity of managers and baseball men, that is considered bad form.

Here’s Martino:

Amid widespread expectation in the industry that Maddon will be named Cubs manager, and conflicting reports about whether the hire has already happened, lifers were saying that the mere possibility did not look good. Maddon is well-liked, and his competitors are hoping that the full details, when they emerge, will prove more flattering. For now, the fraternity is displeased.

“The whole industry is talking about what a classless act (this is),” said one high-ranking major league executive.

I’m not sure if this is a classless act for Maddon as much as it is bad form by the Cubs in not dealing with Renteria somehow first, but I suppose that’s quibbling and that it takes two to tango.  I also suspect that the delay in naming Maddon manager is about the Cubs, realizing that this all got out before they wanted it to in a way they didn’t want to, engaging in some sort of damage control. Be it offering Renteria a job elsewhere in the organization, looking to sweeten a buyout offer or otherwise trying to make it so that this is not perceived the same way a dude dumping his wife for some hot new thing is perceived.