Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Kapler Re-Signs With Rays

Well, that didn't take very long. Gabe Kapler has just signed a 1-year deal with the Rays worth $1.05 million. Over the last 2 seasons, Kapler has hit .304 against lefties with a .577 SLG, which ranks 11th best in all of baseball over that span. In addition to being a scourge to southpaws, Kapler is still an excellent outfielder.

However, Kapler's role on the 2010 squad is a bit murky. If the Rays platoon Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce in right, Kapler could wind up being the Rays' 5th outfielder. Then again, Kapler might be platooned with Joyce if the Rays decide to make Zobrist their everyday 2nd baseman. Kapler might even see playing time as a DH if the Rays can unload Pat Burrell.

One JML free agent down, four to go.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Never Too Early To Speculate And Prognosticate

Jason Marquis will sign a 2-year deal with the Mets and will relish pitching at Citi Field. However, he won't be a media darling in New York. The team that Marquis signs with in the offseason will make the playoffs next year. Take it to the bank.

Expect a down year from Ryan Braun if the Brewers shop Prince Fielder for starting pitching. Should this come to pass, Braun will have little to no protection in that lineup and will be pitched around. If Fielder remains on the Brewers, expect what we've come to expect from Braun.

Kevin Youkilis will have another great season. He'll fall a little short of 25 HRs, but he'll set a career-high in doubles with 44. However, if he continues to man the hot corner for the Sox, injuries may slow him down.

Ian Kinsler will have another 20/20 season. He will win his 1st Gold Glove and will be about as durable as he was in 2009. He will no longer be a leadoff man. Instead, he will bat 5th most of the time. As a result, he will drive in 100 runs.

Scott Feldman will make his 1st All-Star Team next year. His newly developed cut fastball will serve him well. He will have at least 14 wins. His stamina will be much improved, and he will pitch his 1st complete game in 2010.

Unfortunately, Ryan Sadowski will not pitch in The Bigs next year unless the Giants' rotation is decimated by injuries.

Sam Fuld will effectively replace Reed Johnson as the Cubs' 4th outfielder. He'll get more playing time. His .409 OBP may not be sustainable in a larger sample size, but he'll still get on base at a relatively high clip.

Josh Whitesell will be platooned at 1st base. He'll have more ABs than he had in 2009. More importantly, he'll have better ABs. And if he does well enough, the starting job could be his by midseason. If he does poorly, he'll be buried in the Diamondbacks' farm system or let go.

Aaron Poreda will have a shot at making the Padres rotation at the start of the season, but I believe he will once again be used in the bullpen. If he can cut down on the free passes, he could be moved into the rotation by June.

The Cubs will sign John Grabow to a 3-year deal or a 2-year deal with a club option. Most Cub fans will think Jim Hendry overpaid for him, but Grabow will have earned his paycheck when it's all said and done.

Unlike the Indians and the Twins, the A's will not put Craig Breslow on waivers next year. He will continue to be one of the best middle relievers in all of baseball.

Scott Schoeneweis may sign a 1-year deal with a team looking for a lefty specialist, but I have my doubts. I believe he will get a Spring Training invite from a team, and that's as much action as he'll see in 2010.

Brad Ausmus will either sign another 1-year deal with the Dodgers or call it quits. I'm leaning towards the latter. However, he'll be an MLB skipper soon enough. Before signing with the Dodgers, Ausmus had expressed interest in playing for the Padres. Should he sign with the Padres, he and Poreda would form a Jewish battery.

Gabe Kapler will sign a 1-year deal with a team in need of a 4th outfielder. Given Rocco Baldelli's lingering health issues, Kapler could return to Boston. If the Rays make Ben Zobrist their everyday 2nd baseman, Kapler will likely be re-signed by Tampa Bay. To tell you the truth, I have no idea where he will end up.

Mets 1B prospect Ike Davis will get a September call-up.

Last but not least, Phillies in 7.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sorry to see you go, Welcome to the tribe

I suppose I've put this off long enough. In terms of classification, JMLs who are converts invite controversy. While we've gained many players through conversion, we've also lost a lot through conversion.

Players who have left the tribe:

Bo Belinsky (LH SP) - Threw a no-no as a rookie in 1962 against the Orioles, was teammates with Barry Latman in 1964 on the Angels and again in 1967 on the Astros along with Norm Miller and Larry Sherry, was known more for his exploits off the field than on the field.

Lou Boudreau (SS/Manager) - Member of the Hall of Fame, won 1948 MVP, batting champion in 1944, led the AL in doubles 3 times, was a terrific two-way player, managed and played for the last Indians team to win the World Series.

Harry Feldman (RH SP) - was teammates with Sid Gordon, Harry Danning, and Morrie Arnovich on the 1941 New York Giants, was teammates with Phil Weintraub in 1944 and 1945, had a 3.27 ERA and a 1.296 WHIP in 217 innings in 1945.

Doug Johns (LH SP) - Played for the Orioles and the A's in the late 1990s, had a 4.47 ERA and a 1.223 WHIP in 86 innings in 1999.

Ryan Karp (LH RP) - Was teammates with Mike Lieberthal and Ruben Amaro Jr. on the Phillies in the 1990s, had 20 Ks in 17 innings of relief.

Bob Melvin (C/Manager) - Not an offensive catcher, threw out 176 of 552 attempted base stealers (32%), has won 90 or more games twice as a manager.

David Newhan (UT) - His father, Ross Newhan, is a Hall of Fame baseball writer, had a 113 OPS+ with the Orioles in 2004.

Jon Perlman (RH RP) - Logged a total of 39 2/3 innings of relief in 3 seasons in the 1980s, was teammates with Melvin in 1987 on the Giants.

Fred Sington (OF) - Played with Buddy Myer in Washington and Goody Rosen in Brooklyn, had 36 doubles and 85 RBIs in 516 career ABs, walked more than he struck out.

Players who have joined the tribe:

Lloyd Allen (RH RP) - Had 15 saves, a 2.49 ERA, and a 1.223 WHIP in 94 innings in 1971 for the Angels. Played under Jewish manager Lefty Phillips.

Jim Gaudet (C) - Had two cups of coffee with the Royals in the late 1970s.

Joe Horlen (RH SP) - Threw a no-no in 1967 against the Tigers, finished 2nd in Cy Young Voting in 1967, led the AL in ERA once and WHIP twice, won a World Series in 1972 with Ken Holtzman and Mike Epstein on the A's.

Skip Jutze (C) - Played in the 1970s, not much of a hitter, threw out 63 of 191 attempted base stealers (33%).

Elliot Maddox (OF) - Finished 8th in MVP voting in 1974 with the Yankees, stole 20 bases in 1972 with the Rangers, was teammates with Mike Epstein and Richie Scheinblum in 1971 on the Washington Senators under Ted Williams, walked more than he struck out, played every position but catcher and pitcher.

Jeff Newman (C) - An All-Star in 1979 for the A's, hit 22 HRs and drove in 71 runs that season, threw out 160 of 406 attempted base stealers (39%).

Bob Tufts (LH RP) - Logged a total of 42 innings of relief in 3 seasons in the 1980s.

Dan Warthen (LH SP) - Played in the 1970s, had a 3.11 ERA and a 1.294 WHIP in 167 innings in his rookie season with the Expos.

Steve Yeager (C) - Named World Series MVP in 1981, hit 16 HRs for the Dodgers in 1977, threw out 363 of 595 attempted base stealers (38%).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

NLCS Update

Brad Ausmus and the Dodgers have been eliminated by the Phillies in 5 games. Ausmus didn't get any playing time in the series.

While there are no JMLs left in the postseason, there are some former members of the Tribe, and by that I mean there are some former Cleveland Indians...

At least we still have the Phil's GM to root for; Ruben Amaro Jr. may not have a Jewish-sounding name, but tell that to his dear old mum.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Intangibles of Brad Ausmus

For those wondering how a guy with a career 75 OPS+ has managed to hang around for 17 seasons in The Bigs, here is an informative and insightful write-up on Brad Ausmus and the impact he's had on his teammates.

It also discusses how, more than any other position, the duties of a catcher cannot be quantified by metrics.

Friday, October 16, 2009

On This Date In 1974

Ken Holtzman hit a home run off Andy Messersmith in Game 4 of the World Series against the Dodgers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On This Date In 1965

After declining to pitch in Game 1 of the World Series due to his observance of Yom Kippur, Sandy Koufax pitched the 2nd of back-to-back complete game shutouts on 2 days of rest in Games 5 and 7 against the Twins. Naturally, Koufax was named World Series MVP.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

ALDS Games 2 and 3/NLDS Game 3

Kevin Youkilis was 1-4 with 1 double in Game 2 against the Angels. He was 0-4 in Game 3. The Angels swept the Red Sox and will face the Yankees in the ALCS. Overall, Youk was just 1 for 12 in the series. Not his finest October.

Brad Ausmus did not play in Game 3 against the Cardinals. The Dodgers swept the Cards and will play the winner of the Rockies-Phillies series in the NLCS.

Jason Marquis did not pitch in Game 3 against the Phillies. The Phillies are up 2-1 in the series.

Jim Tracy's decision to start Jason Hammel instead of Marquis didn't exactly work out. Hammel gave up 4 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Tracy also decided to use Jose Contreras instead of Marquis in the 6th inning, and Contreras gave up 1 run in his 1 inning of work. The Rockies ended up losing by 1 run. Kosher food for thought...

Update: Marquis did not pitch in Game 4. The Phillies beat the Rockies 3-1 in the NLDS. They will face Ausmus and the Dodgers in the NLCS. Will Ausmus get any playing time? We shall see.

Friday, October 9, 2009

On This Date In 2005

Brad Ausmus hit a home run with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th inning against the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS to tie the game at 6 apiece and send it into extra innings. The Astros would go on to win the game in 18 innings (the longest game in postseason history).

Also On This Date In 1973...

Ken Holtzman pitched 11 innings and gave up 1 run on 3 hits, 1 BB, and 7 Ks against Mike Cuellar and the Orioles in Game 3 of the ALCS.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

ALDS: Game 1/NLDS: Game 2

Kevin Youkilis was 0-4 against the Angels. The Angels are up in the series 1-0.

Brad Ausmus did not play against the Cardinals. The Dodgers are up in the series 2-0.

Jason Marquis did not pitch against the Phillies. The series is tied 1-1, which means there will be a Game 4.

Marquis could be called upon to start that game. A game which will be played in the frozen tundra that is Colorado in October. So, bust out that thermal underwear, Jason! May the Phil's bats be as cold as the frost in the outfield grass.

On This Date In 1959

After Johnny Podres got roughed up for 3 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings in Game 6 of the World Series against Barry Latman and the Chicago White Sox, reliever Larry Sherry pitched 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. The Dodgers won the game by a score of 9-3 and with it the Series. Sherry had 2 wins, 2 saves and a 0.71 ERA in the 12 2/3 innings he pitched. Small wonder why he was named World Series MVP.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NLDS: Game 1

Jason Marquis pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief against the Phillies. He gave up 1 hit. The Phillies are up in the series 1-0.

Brad Ausmus did not play against the Cardinals. The Dodgers are up in the series 1-0.

Marquis Relegated to Bullpen Duty

The Rockies announced yesterday that Jason Marquis will begin the NLDS against the Phillies in the bullpen. Ubaldo Jimenez is pitching Game 1 as we speak. Aaron Cook will pitch in Game 2. Jorge De La Rosa will be unavailable due to a groin injury.

Therefore, Jim Tracy has elected to go with Jason in Game 3 - Jason Hammel, that is. Not that I'm questioning the presumptive NL Manager of the Year's decision here, but Hammel's second half (4.23 ERA) wasn't that much better than Marquis' second half (4.56 ERA). One other thing to consider: Hammel's ERA at Coors was 5.73 this year while Marquis' ERA at Coors was 3.92. If the series goes to a Game 4, Marquis could be called upon to toe the slab.

The Dodgers have released their 25-man postseason roster, and Brad Ausmus is on it. Never had a doubt.

Finally, here's a good write-up from The Boston Globe on Kevin Youkilis that examines his intensity, what makes him a polarizing figure, and how he was overlooked and underrated for most of his life leading up to his MLB career.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

2009: A Year in Review

In 2009 the stars shone bright, the veterans were venerable, and the rookies made a lasting impression.

Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, and Kevin Youkilis are who we thought they were, to quote Dennis Green.

Jason Marquis was voted to the All-Star Game for the 1st time in his career. Scott Feldman came out of nowhere and emerged as the Rangers' ace.

Gabe Kapler gave southpaws fits. Brad Ausmus hit .295 (that's not a typo) for the Dodgers.

Craig Breslow and John Grabow experienced a change of venue mid-season and flourished for their new teams.

Aaron Poreda showed the promise of a live arm. Sam Fuld can flat-out field. And Ryan Sadowski defied the odds.

Lots of things made this season special. Here's a rundown in alphabetical order of what each JML did in 2009.
Brad Ausmus - At 40, Ausmus is at the twilight of his career, but don't tell him that. Not known for his offense, Ausmus actually had a decent year at the plate as the Dodgers' backup cacher. He put up a line of .295 / .343 / .368 for an OPS of .712 in 107 PAs. From an offensive standpoint, it was his best season since 2000 when he was on the Tigers. Ausmus threw out 30% of the base stealers who ran on him, which is a far cry from the years when he gunned down nearly half of the men on base who tested him, but it is still a respectable number when you consider his age. As far as career milestones are concerned, Ausmus hit his 80th home run and collected his 600th RBI. He also came within 1 game of tying Shawn Green's JML all-time mark of 1,951 games played. If this was his swan song, it was a pretty good one. And curiously enough, the Houston Astros now have a manager vacancy. One would assume the Dartmouth grad Ausmus would be on their short list.

Ryan Braun - In my opinion - and this is by no means a slam dunk - Braun had the best year of all the JMLs in 2009. He led the NL in hits with 203. Those 203 hits are tied with Hank Greenberg for 2nd most all-time in a season among JMLs after Buddy Myer's 215 in 1935. Incidentally, Greenberg's 203 hits were also in 1935. In addition, Braun set career-highs in games played (158), plate appearances (708), at bats (635), runs scored (113), RBIs (114), stolen
bases (20), walks (57), OBP (.386), HBP (13), and total bases (350). He tied a career-high in doubles with 39. As evidenced by his walks and OBP, his plate discipline was noticeably better this year than in '08 and '07. He even cut down on double plays he grounded into. He grounded into 13 in each of the previous 2 years and only 6 this year. Braun also became the 1st JML to hit 30 or more home runs in his first 3 seasons and only the 3rd to have a 20/20 season. He put up a line of .320 / .386 / .551 for a .937 OPS. With runners in scoring position, Braun had an OPS of .971. Braun was 1st in the NL in hits, 2nd in ABs and runs scored, 3rd in PAs, 4th in RBIs and total bases and extra base hits and HBP, 7th in batting average, 8th in OPS, 9th in doubles and SLG, and 10th in triples (6). Braun led all NL left fielders in fielding percentage (.994) and putouts (304) for the 2nd year in a row. He also led all NL left fielders in range factor (2.06) and was 3rd in assists (8). He turns 26 in November. After just 3 seasons under his belt, Braun has amassed 523 hits, 104 doubles, 103 home runs, and 317 RBIs. What will his counting stats look like 10 years from now?
Craig Breslow - Start with 1 team at the outset and end with another. That has been the formula for Breslow the last 2 seasons. It's amazing that teams keep putting him on waivers. Breslow is only 29 years old, and he sports a career 2.79 ERA and 1.214 WHIP in 145 innings of work. I mean, it'd be one thing if he were just a lefty specialist, but Breslow was actually a little better against righties this year than lefties. Against lefties in 31 innings he had a 1.13 WHIP and a .204 BAA. Against righties in 38 2/3 innings he had a 1.09 WHIP and a .191 BAA. That's outstanding. Coming into 2009, Breslow didn't have any decisions; he had 15 this year. He was 8-7 with 15 holds, a 3.36 combined ERA (Twins and A's), a 1.105 WHIP, and a .197 BAA in 69 2/3 innings of work (a career-high). His 6.2 hits per 9 innings was also a career-best. He was 2nd in the AL in appearances (77) and held batters to a .154 BA with runners in scoring position. Last year, I would've said John Grabow had the better year out of the bullpen (mostly because he logged more innings). This year, my vote would go to Breslow.
Scott Feldman - Inserting Feldman into the rotation last year ended with underwhelming results, so much so that Feldman didn't even start 2009 in the Rangers' rotation. But there was nothing underwhelming about what Feldman did this year, particularly his dominant performance against the Rays where he had 11 Ks in 7 shutout innings. Feldman was 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and a .250 BAA in 189 2/3 innings. As a starter, Feldman had a 3.79 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP in 183 innings. His 17 wins ranked 4th in the AL. His .680 winning percentage ranked 7th. And his 0.854 HRs per 9 innings ranked 8th. His 12 wins on the road set a franchise record. Needless to say, he set career-highs in just about every pitching category. Before the All-Star break, Feldman was 8-2 with a 3.86 ERA, a 1.18 WHIP, and a .233 BAA. After the All-Star Break, he was 9-6 with a 4.34 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP, and a .266 BAA. I suspect fatigue had a lot to do with the dropoff. In MiLB, the most innings Feldman ever threw was 70; that was in 2005. Last year, Feldman tossed 151 innings in 25 starts. This year, he tossed almost 40 more innings than that total in 31 starts. Now that his arm has been stretched out, I would expect him to have more endurance in 2010. Feldman will turn 27 in February, so he could be one of the top AL pitchers for many years to come.
Sam Fuld - For awhile, it looked like Fuld was going to be remembered solely for this dazzling catch he made in his brief stint with the Cubs in 2007. Fuld didn't get a whiff of The Show last year, and he was all but forgotten. But injuries to Alfonso Soriano and Reed Johnson paved the way for the 27-year old Fuld to finally get his shot. Fuld, like Johnson, is the type of hard-nosed player you'd think Lou Piniella would readily endorse, especially after seeing Soriano and Milton Bradley dog it on a daily basis in the outfield. Whether that's the case or not, Fuld didn't get a whole lot of playing time. Still, he made the most of it. He put up a line of .299 / .409 / .412 for an OPS of .821 in 115 PAs. In addition, he stole 2 bases (both off Ausmus) and drew more walks than he had strikeouts. But it was Fuld's play in the outfield that really won Cubs fans over this year. Fuld is an excellent outfielder, and compared to Soriano and Bradley he looks like Willie Mays. He covers a lot of ground, lays out for everything, and has a better arm than advertised. At the plate, he's a grinder. But most importantly, this guy shows up to play every day. I love
how he plays the game.
John Grabow - Grabow followed up a career-year in 2008 with a pretty decent 2009 campaign. After 5+ years with the lowly Pirates, Grabow was traded to the Cubs and unlike other additions to the bullpen (I'm talking to you, Kevin Gregg) Grabow didn't disappoint. He was 3-0 with 23 holds, a 3.36 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and a .233 BAA in 72 1/3 innings of work. His 75 appearances and 0.6 HR per 9 innings were both career-bests. Lefties hit .222 against him while righties hit .238 against him.
Gabe Kapler - Kapler didn't have the season he had last year with the Brewers, but he was still a force coming off the bench for the Rays. He put up a line of .239 / .329 / .439 in 238 PAs for a .768 OPS in the toughest division in all of baseball. All 8 of his HRs and 14 of his 15 doubles were off lefties; he had a .931 OPS against southpaws in 174 PAs. In addition, Kapler drew 29 BBs, the most he's had since 2001 when he was a full-time player with the Rangers. Also swiped 5 bags, the most he's had since 2004. Career-wise, he hit his 80th home run and scored his 400th run. Kapler also provided the Rays with excellent defense in the outfield, particularly in right field where his UZR was 8.3. In the AL, only Ryan Sweeney, Nelson Cruz, Clete Thomas, Ben Zobrist, J.D. Drew, and Ichiro Suzuki had higher UZR ratings in right field. Kapler is 34 years old now and will be a free agent in the offseason, and I think it's safe to say he still brings a lot to the table.
Ian Kinsler - Despite losing his All-Star bid to Brandon Inge's .720 OPS, Kinsler had another year worthy of All-Star consideration. Sure, his average and OBP were down, but just about everything else was up. Kinsler set career highs in games played (144), plate appearances (640), at bats (566), home runs (31), RBIs (86), stolen bases (31), and total bases (276). He joined Shawn Green as the only other JML to have a 30/30 season and became only the third 2nd basemen to have a 30/30 season. He put up a line of .253 / .327 / .488 for an OPS of .814. He finished 7th in the AL in stolen bases and 10th in runs scored (101). With runners in scoring position, his OPS was .976. His 31 stolen bases are 2nd best all-time in a season among JMLs behind Shawn Green's 35 in 1998. And he was only caught stealing 5 times. He became the 2nd JML to hit for the cycle and go 6 for 6 in a game. He is the only player in the modern era to go 6 for 6 and hit for the cycle. He had 13 total bases in that game and scored 5 runs. That's one of the greatest single game performances of all time. Kinsler's fielding also improved. His range factor was a little down from previous years, but he made less errors and he finished with an UZR rating of 7.5. Only Placido Polanco, Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia, and Felipe Lopez had higher UZR ratings at 2nd base. And at 27 years of age, you have to think that the best is yet to come.
Jason Marquis - Pretty nice bounce-back year for Marquis. Not that he was bad with the Cubs, but this was certainly his best season since 2005. Marquis was 15-13 with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP, and a .267 BAA in 216 innings pitched for the Rockies. His 15 wins tied a career-high set back in 2004 with the Cardinals and ranked 4th in the NL. His 216 innings set a career-high and ranked 8th in the NL. His 0.625 HR per 9 innings was a career-best and ranked 8th in the NL. Marquis threw 2 complete games (including his 3rd career complete game shutout). This marked Marquis' 6th consecutive season with 11 or more wins. Still, it was slightly disappointing that he didn't surpass 15 wins when he already had 11 at the All-Star Break. Before the All-Star Break, he was 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP, and a .254 BAA. After the All-Star Break, he was 4-7 with a 4.56 ERA, a 1.48 WHIP, and a .284 BAA. But anyone who can post a 3.92 ERA at Coors Field deserves some respect. And with a little more luck, Marquis could have definitely come close to 20 wins. He had 5 no decisions this year where he posted a 2.91 ERA and a 1.324 WHIP. He averaged nearly 7 innings in those 5 no decisions, so it's not as if he left those games early. Marquis won't win his 2nd Silver Sluggers this year, but he had a respectable year at the plate; he hit .172 with 3 doubles, 8 RBIs, and 7 runs scored. He has 28 career doubles in 505 ABs. This marked his 6th consecutive season with 10 or more hits. If Marquis stays healthy next year, and his track record says that he will, he will win his 100th game at the age of 31. The question is: what team will he be playing for? The Rockies? The Mets? Should be an interesting offseason.
Aaron Poreda - Touted as the 2nd best prospect in the White Sox farm system behind Gordon Beckham, 23-year old Poreda got a taste of The Show in 2009 and was pretty good. With the Sox and the Padres, he pitched 13 1/3 combined innings and had an ERA of 2.70 while striking out 12. He only gave up 10 hits and didn't surrender a home run. The only knock against him is the 13 free passes.
Ryan Sadowski - Sadowski began is MLB career with 13 scoreless innings and 7 hits allowed. Not bad for a guy who only pitched 6 2/3 innings in college. Sadowski followed up his first 2 outings with 2 so-so outings and 2 bad outings. He ended up being 2-4 with a 4.45 ERA, a 1.588 WHIP, and a .264 BAA in 28 1/3 innings (6 starts). Lefties hit .291 against him while righties only hit .235 against him. What does the future hold for the 27-year old Sadowski? Don't know, but for a guy who wasn't highly regarded in college or the minors, he's already accomplished quite a bit.
Scott Schoeneweis - Not much to say here. Schoeneweis was coming off one of his better seasons. As of May 16, his ERA was 2.53 in 11 innings of work. Schoeneweis lost his wife on May 20, and the rest is history. A lost season. At 36, perhaps his last season.
Josh Whitesell - After putting up a line of .328 / .425 / .568 for an OPS of .993 in 560 PAs, Whitesell was voted the Diamondbacks' 2008 Minor League Player of the Year. He hit 26 HRs, 36 doubles, scored 86 runs, and drove in 110 runs in Tucson. Baseball America also ranked him the best power hitter in the organization. With credentials like that and with first base manned by two has-beens in Chad Tracy and Tony Clark, you'd think Whitesell would have been given every opportunity to come in and win the job. Whitesell was given a grand total of 133 PAs. And unlike Fuld, this 27-year old did not make the most of his playing time. He put up a line of .194 / .346 / .287 for an OPS of .633. I'll say this: given his average, that .346 OBP is impressive.
Kevin Youkilis - Youk proved in 2009 that he is no fluke. He put up a line of .305 / .413 / .548 for an OPS of .961 in 588 PAs. He set career-highs in OBP, OPS, stolen bases (7), and HBP (16). He ranked 2nd in the AL in OBP and OPS, 4th in HBP, and 5th in SLG. He is the 1st JML since Mike Epstein in 1969 to have an OBP of .400 or above in at least 500 PAs. His 16 HBP is a single-season record among JMLs. With runners in scoring position, his OPS was 1.075. That's not an anomaly; his career OPS with runners in scoring position is 1.001. This was his 4th consecutive season with 35 or more doubles. In the field, he split time between 1st base and 3rd base. Because of Mike Lowell's fragile hip, Youk played 63 games at 3rd, the most since his rookie year in 2004. He even played 2 games in left field for the 1st time since 2006. He was once again a serviceable 3rd baseman and a sure-handed 1st baseman. He missed 26 games because of various back injuries and the 5-game suspension he was given for charging the mound. Say what you will about the incident with Rick Porcello, but it was memorable. Despite playing in only 136 games, Youk still managed to hit 27 home runs, 36 doubles, score 99 runs, and drive in 94 runs. At 30, he's still in his prime and should be for another 2 years or so.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Day of Regular Season Doesn't Disappoint

Ryan Braun was 2-5 with 1 BB, 1 double (his 39th), 1 RBI, 1 run scored, and 1 SB (his 20th) against the Cardinals. Braun joins Ian Kinsler and Shawn Green as the only JMLs to have 20/20 seasons. Braun swiped 8 bags in the last 31 games of the regular season. You get the feeling that if he really wanted to he could steal 30 bases in a season... Additionally, Braun led the NL in hits with 203.

Batting 5th, Kinsler was 1-4 with 1 double (his 32nd) and 2 runs scored against the Mariners. Kinsler finished the season with 101 runs scored. He's had back-to-back seasons with 100 or more runs scored.

Kevin Youkilis was 1-2 with 1 run scored against the Indians.

Sam Fuld hit his 1st MLB home run and with it also got his 1st RBI against the Diamondbacks. Fuld was 2-3 with 1 double (his 6th), 1 HR (his 1st), 2 RBIs, and 1 run scored.

Gabe Kapler was 1-3 against the Yankees.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up 1 run on 3 hits and 2 Ks. His WHIP was 1.11. His ERA was 3.36. His record was 8-7. He had 15 holds.

Jason Marquis picked up his 13th loss of the year against the Dodgers. He got off to a rough start, surrendering 4 runs in the 1st inning. But he settled down after that and pitched 3 scoreless innings. Marquis went 4 innings and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits, 2 BBs, and 3 Ks. His WHIP was 1.38. His ERA was 4.04. His record was 15-13.

Scott Feldman picked up his 8th loss of the year against the Mariners. He went 6 innings and gave up 4 runs on 6 hits, 1 BB, and 4 Ks. A vast improvement over his previous 2 starts, and in that sense it was a good way to end the season. His WHIP was 1.28. His ERA was 4.08. His record was 17-8.

Stay tuned for postseason coverage and a comprehensive review of the 2009 season.

Youk and the Red Sox will face the Angels in the ALDS on Thursday.

Marquis and the Rockies will face the Phillies in the NLDS on Wednesday.

Brad Ausmus and the Dodgers will face the Cardinals in the NLDS on Wednesday. Will Ausmus make the Dodgers' postseason roster? We shall see.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

One Plateau Down, One To Go

Ryan Braun collected his 200th hit today against the Cardinals; it was a 2-run HR off Kyle Lohse in the 1st inning. Braun was 2-5 with 1 HR (his 32nd), 2 RBIs, and 1 run scored. His 201 hits this season lead the NL. Miguel Tejada and Hanley Ramirez are right behind him with 198 and 199, respectively.

Braun is the 1st JML since Al Rosen in 1953 to have a 200-hit season. The only other JMLs who've done it are Hank Greenberg (3 times) and Buddy Myer. Lou Boudreau had 199 hits in 1948, the year he won MVP. Goody Rosen had 197 hits in 1945. Shawn Green came close in 1999 with 190 hits. Braun joins Cecil Cooper, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount as the only Brewers to have 200 hits in a season.

Braun needs just 1 stolen base for 20/20. Unfortunately, he has only 1 game left to do it, and Yadier Molina stands in his way.

Batting leadoff, Ian Kinsler was 1-3 with 1 BB against the Mariners.

Kevin Youkilis was 1-4 with 1 BB against the Indians.

Gabe Kapler was 0-2 against the Yankees.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief on 1 K. His WHIP is 1.08. His ERA is 3.29.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kapler Leans Heavily to the Lefties

Ryan Braun was 2-5 with 2 doubles (his 37th and 38th), 3 RBIs, 1 run scored, and 1 SB (his 19th) against the Cardinals. His 342 total bases this year are a career-high. Braun needs just 1 more hit for 200 and 1 more stolen base for 20/20.

Kevin Youkilis was 1-3 with 1 BB, 1 double (his 36th), and 2 RBIs against the Indians.

Batting 5th, Ian Kinsler was 0-4 against the Mariners.

Gabe Kapler was 2-4 with 1 BB, 1 double (his 15th) 1 RBI, and 3 runs scored against the Yankees. Coming into today's action, Kapler had a .952 OPS against lefties this year. His career OPS against lefties hovers around .850.

Sam Fuld was 0-4 against the Diamondbacks.

Scott Schoeneweis pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief against the Cubs.

John Grabow pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief on 1 hit and 2 Ks against the Diamondbacks. His WHIP is 1.41. His ERA is 3.36.

Aaron Poreda pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief against the Giants.

On This Date In 1963

Sandy Koufax fanned 15 in Game 1 of the World Series against the Yankees. After the game Yogi Berra said, "I can see how he won 25 games. What I don't understand is how he lost five." Koufax had the record for strikeouts in a World Series game until Bob Gibson broke it 5 years later when he had 17 Ks.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

No Surprise Here: Marquis In The Postseason

Batting 5th, Ian Kinsler was 2-5 with 1 double (his 31st), 1 RBI, 2 runs scored, and 1 SB (his 31st) against the Angels. Kinsler's 31 stolen bases this year rank 2nd all-time behind Shawn Green's 35 in 1998.

Ryan Braun was 1-4 with 1 HR (his 31st), 1 RBI, and 1 run scored against the Rockies.

The Rockies' win over the Brewers guarantees a Wild Card berth for them and keeps them in the hunt for the division race against the Dodgers. They're 2 games behind the Dodgers and will play the last 3 games of the season against them. Should be a good series. Jason Marquis will toe the slab on Sunday looking for his 16th win. This marks his 10th straight postseason. If nothing else, Marquis appears to be a good luck charm.

Kevin Youkilis was 1-3 with 1 RBI and 1 run scored against the Indians.

Gabe Kapler was 0-3 against the Orioles.

Craig Breslow pitched 1 inning of scoreless relief against the Mariners. His WHIP is 1.10. His ERA is 3.34. Bet the Twins are kicking themselves now for letting this guy go. William has been saying this all along. Not like they're in a playoff race or anything...