Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Told You So

Did I not just say that Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler were injury risks? Guess what? Kapler is hurt.

And who is his replacement? Adam Greenberg.

This squad is more of a publicity stunt than an actual team.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Serenity Now: A Bitter Farewell

The last post. I promise.

I've had a chance to mull things over a bit and I'm still upset. But I've collected my thoughts. And since this is still my blog, I thought I'd share them with you one last time.

I'm a guy who calls a spade a spade. I speak my mind - too much, probably. I'm sure it hasn't helped me make friends with "the right people" and advance in the world, but that has never been a priority for me. When I see injustice, it doesn't sit well with me. It shouldn't sit well with you, either. It happens all of the time, of course. Like violence, we've become desensitized to it. Why does it happen? Because no one ever does anything about it. Even if they feel that something is amiss, most people don't want to rock the boat. Well, let's capsize the boat, shall we?

Let's take a closer look at Israel's roster. Before we really delve into things, it should be immediately apparent that this team's strength is not its pitching. Of the 14 pitchers, there are truthfully only a handful who seem like they're solid. Jeff Urlaub stands out. Most of the others stand out for all the wrong reasons. The three Israeli pitchers. I get it. It's Israel's team. Ideally, you'd like a roster with at least a few homegrown players. But face the facts. Baseball is not popular in that region of the world, nor is it competitive. I watched Holy Land Hardball. The reception to that league was not at all warm by Israelis. It didn't take off; it didn't even get off the ground. And the players themselves would have been fortunate to play semi-professional ball in the Independent League. And yet we have three Israeli pitchers on the squad. Curious. One of those pitchers played for a junior college this year here in the United States. At Cypress College, the imposing 5'9" hurler was a work horse and tossed 10 2/3 innings, giving up 14 hits. Clearly, this guy was indispensable. He's an essential worker. The other two Israeli pitchers are 33 and 35 years old. In their prime, no doubt. Jeremy Gould was a good player at Duke. But he wasn't really a pitcher there. In the minors, he's a pitcher in the Mets organization, a pitcher who logged 6 2/3 innings this year. David Kopp's ERA has been over six for two consecutive seasons in the minors. His WHIP was 1.6 and 1.78, respectively. That's getting the job done - for the opposition. The list goes on.

To be clear, I have nothing personal against any of these pitchers. I'm merely stating the facts. Not to belabor the point, but as I said the pitching on this team will not put them over the top. What will win games for this team has to be its hitting. And so the emphasis all along should have been to put together a roster with our best hitters and not a bunch of scrub pitchers. But I digress. Onto the hitting.

Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler. It's a feel-good story. Green was the best Jewish ballplayer of the 1990s and early 2000s. There is no question that he is one of the best JMLs of all time. But he's on the wrong side of 30 now. As a matter of fact in November, he'll turn 40. And he hasn't played baseball since 2007. Kapler helped break the curse in Beantown in 2004. He's 37 now and hasn't played since 2010. And he wasn't very good that year, either. Green and Kapler are big names. It's good PR, but it's not good baseball. Because they're both washed up. When Bernie Williams played in the World Baseball Classic in 2008 for Puerto Rico, two years after he'd retired, the former Yankee was 39 years old. And he was a non-factor. Bernie was a great deal better than Kapler and, in my opinion, a little better than Green in his heyday. Long story short, Green and Kapler have no upside and are very likely injury risks.

I have no problem with two catchers being rostered. Charlie Cutler has always been pretty solid, even if he is a backup. I will say, though, that Nick Rickles was awful at the plate this year and Jack Marder can put on the gear if need be, which makes the Rickles selection unnecessary. Marder has seemingly come out of nowhere and was an absolute stud this season. Cody Decker and Nate Freiman may not be household names, but they're both very good players and teammates, as a matter of fact. Great selections. Every team needs middle fielders, and Ben Orloff and Jake Lemmerman should at least be serviceable. Josh Satin has some versatility in the infield and has actually made it to The Show, albeit only for a Cup of Coffee. Joc Pederson looks like an exciting young player in the Dodgers organization, flashing power and speed and demonstrating above average plate discipline. He's one to watch. Ben Guez is nothing special, but he's decent and has had success in the upper minor league levels. On the other hand, Robbie Widlansky just produced a respectable season in AA in the Orioles organization. The problem is he's about to turn 28 and has virtually no upside. Casey Haerther also has very little upside. And unlike Guez and Widlansky, who at least know how to take a walk, Haerther drew just 12 BBs (3 of them intentional) against 64 strikeouts. That's an awful ratio, plain and simple.

Extrapolate my brother's numbers this year to a full slab of 162 games (he wasn't hurt, the Angels just didn't send him to Single-A right away for reasons unknown), and you're looking at 23 HRs, 51 doubles, 6 triples, 27 SBs, 103 RBIs, 86 runs scored, and 55 BBs. And he didn't really start hitting his stride until the last few weeks of the season. Who knows what he could have done? For reference, the only player on Israel's squad with comparable numbers is Pederson, and he's probably the best minor league prospect on that team. Zach is a converted outfielder by trade; he played in the infield in high school and college. And he's turned himself into a terrific outfielder. He takes good routes, covers a lot of ground, gets a good read off the bat, and has a hose. He had a combined 14 assists from left field and right field in just 72 games. With Green, Kapler, Widlansky, Guez, Decker, and Pederson Israel's outfield does not have very good depth. I like what Pederson and Decker bring to the table, although I suspect Decker might be a Replicant (Blade Runner). The others are about as meh as it gets.

My brother has gotten overlooked his entire life. From Little League to junior high basketball. From varsity basketball to college baseball. From the MLB draft to, well, now. And yet he has managed to overcome every obstacle, and I admire him for that. I really do. But if there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that everyone needs an advocate. Most of the time, that advocate has to be you for yourself. However, for those without a voice it's incumbent upon those with a conscience to give them one. And so I have spoken on behalf of Zach because he deserved better than this. And always has.

-Josh Borenstein

Friday, September 14, 2012

Team Israel Announces Its Roster

My brother didn't make the team. What a joke. I'm done with the blog. For good, this time.


Lavarnway More Than Doubles His RBI Total

Batting 6th, Ryan Lavarnway was 1-3 with 1 BB, 1 HR (his 2nd), 4 RBIs, and 1 run scored against the Blue Jays. The 4 RBIs Lavarnway had tied a career-high for a game, which he set last September. Coming into tonight, Lavarnway only had 3 RBIs on the season.

Batting 2nd, Kevin Youkilis was 1-3 with 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 HR (his 19th), 1 RBI, and 1 run scored against the Twins.

Batting leadoff, Ian Kinsler was 2-5 with 1 HR (his 17th), 1 RBI, and 1 run scored against the Mariners.

Batting 3rd, Ryan Braun was 1-3 with 1 BB against the Mets.

Batting cleanup, Ike Davis was 0-5 with 1 RBI against the Brewers.

Pinch hitting, Sam Fuld was 0-1 against the Yankees.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Coming Down The Home Stretch

Batting leadoff, Ian Kinsler was 2-5 against the Indians.

Pinch hitting, Sam Fuld was 0-2 against the Orioles.

Pinch hitting, Ryan Lavarnway was 0-1 against the Yankees.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 scoreless inning of relief on 1 BB and 1 K against the Yankees.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Gotta Be The Stache!

Batting 2nd, Kevin Youkilis was 2-4 with 2 HRs (his 17th and 18th), 4 RBIs, and 2 runs scored against the Tigers.

Batting leadoff, Ian Kinsler was 2-4 with 1 double (his 40th) and 1 run scored against the Indians.

Batting 3rd, Ryan Braun was 2-5 with 1 run scored against the Braves.

Pinch hitting, Ike Davis was 0-2 against the Nationals.

Sam Fuld was a late inning defensive replacement in left field against the Orioles.

Ryan Kalish was a late inning defensive replacement in right field against the Yankees.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Kinsler Approaching 40 Doubles

Batting leadoff, Ian Kinsler was 1-4 with 1 double (his 39th) and 1 RBI against the Indians. Kinsler's career-high in doubles for a season is 41, set back in 2008.

Batting cleanup, Ike Davis was 0-2 with 2 BBs against the Nationals.

Batting 2nd, Kevin Youkilis was 0-3 with 1 BB against the Tigers.

Batting 3rd, Ryan Braun was 0-4 against the Braves.

Pinch hitting, Sam Fuld was 0-1 against the Orioles.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 scoreless inning on 1 BB against the Yankees.