“David Ortiz is not a baseball player”

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Remember that John Steigerwald guy who blamed Bryan Stow’s beating on the fact that he wore a Giants jersey to Dodger Stadium? Yeah, that was some first class poop-stirring.

This bit he wrote about David Ortiz over the weekend doesn’t approach that state of sublimity, but it’s pretty good poop-stirring all the same.

The inspiration: the fact that Ortiz, by virtue of the Red Sox playing a weekend series in a National League park, had only three plate appearances all weekend. And the fact that, coming into the weekend, Terry Francona complained to a local radio station that he couldn’t use his best lineup because of that:

Francona told 93.7 The Fan that it wasn’t fair he had to keep one of his most dangerous hitters and highest paid players out of the game. He also said his batting order is built around Ortiz.

How pathetic is it that Ortiz is either so fat or uncoordinated that his manager can’t find a place for him to play? … He’s such a clod that he risks injuring himself simply by stepping on the field without a bat? Sorry, if that’s the case, David Ortiz is not a baseball player.

As I said a week or two ago, the old DH wars are, well, old.  That said, I am growing weary of hearing American League managers complain about not being able to use their DH in NL parks during interleague games.

Suck it up and either stop complaining or else put your guy in the field somewhere. Your team has been going to NL parks for several years now. Your boss constructed a roster knowing full well that, for a handful of games, you’d have some lineup challenges.  You don’t hear NL managers complaining that they, unlike their AL opponents, don’t have some offense-only player they can use at DH while on the road during interleague play, do you?

Fair? Not necessarily. But neither is rain on a weekend when you planned a picnic, and no one wants to hear you complaining about that either.

(link via BTF)

More position players have pitched this year than ever

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Yesterday, in Milwaukee, utilityman Hernan Perez pitched two scoreless innings, and backup catcher Erik Kratz pitched one himself, mopping up in a blowout loss to the Dodgers. In doing so they became the 31st and 32nd position players to pitch this season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that is the most position players who have taken the mound in a season in the Expansion Era, which began in 1961. Presumably far fewer ever did so when the league had only 16 teams.

It’s pretty remarkable to set that record now, in this age of 13 and sometimes 14-man pitching staffs. That’s especially true when teams shuttle guys back and forth from the minors more often than they ever have before and when, due to the shortened, 10-day disabled list, it’s easier to give guys breaks because of “injuries” than it ever has been.

Pitcher usage is driving this, however. While teams carry far more relievers than they ever have before, they actually carry far fewer swingmen or mopup men who are capable of throwing multiple innings in a blowout to save other pitchers’ arms. Rather, teams focus on max-effort, high-velocity relievers who go one or two innings tops, thus requiring catchers and utility guys to help do the mopping that actual pitchers used to do.

I don’t know if that’s a bad thing necessarily — some of these backup catchers throw harder than a lot of pitchers did 30 years ago and it’s always kind of fun to see a position player pitch — but it is yet another way the game has changed due to a focus on specialization and velocity when it comes to pitchers.