Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Fouled-Off Bunts: Now About The Actual Games Edition

MLB.com says that the Nats MVP might be Alberto Castillo. He's the one who helped convince Soriano to move to left. (Might that help his chances of breaking camp as the team's backup catcher?)

Other notes from the column:
--If Vidro dies, Damian Jackson moves to second. (whither Marlon Anderson?)
--Pedro Astacio finally threw well, shutting down the Triple-A Round Rock Express. 7 Ks and 1 BB are a GREAT sign.
--Jose Guillen played again. He went hitless, but he's still reporting no pain (Not that he'd tell anyone anyway!)
--The horribly struggling Ramon Ortiz pitches against the Orioles and John Halama tomorrow. Buck says that Frank has a $500 bill for each Nat who homers of Halama.
--In today's game, Kyle Denny stunk, and Steve Watkins looked solid. You've gotta think that Watkins will be the first name called once the next arm falls off.

  • Catching up on other stuff from the last few days...
    Armas looked good:
    Right-hander Tony Armas Jr. pitched three shutout innings against the Dodgers, and pitching coach Randy St. Claire said that Armas appears to be in top form like he was in early 2003 before he tore his labrum and rotator cuff in his shoulder.

    "His fastball has some riding life like it used to have," St. Claire said "He was a guy that used to throw four seamers up in the strike zone at 93, 94 mph. This past couple of years, he hasn't had that."


  • Nationals Farm Authority provides the Cliff's Notes version of a Baseball America interview with Nats Farm Director Andy Dunn.

    Key point: Kory Casto will stay at third, not second like the team had talked about. They want him to focus on his hitting, rather than trying to learn a more difficult position.

  • Nationals Farm Authority also notes that the Nats have named a few roving minor league instructors: Dante Bichette, Darnell Coles, and Keith Moreland. NFA points out that Coles and Bichette aren't strangers to Jim Bowden; surprise, surprise! They were former Reds!

  • Federal Baseball turns the keys over to a guest writer, who takes a look at the lineup for next year. Brandon Watson hitting 9th? Looks good to me!

  • The Montgomery Biscuits are having a turn-back-the-clock radio broadcast. Their pxp guy will be at the radio station, having codes sent to him via instant messenger which describe the plays on the field. There, he'll recreate the sound effects just as they did in the early days of baseball broadcasting. Sounds interesting, and I wish I could hear it!
    [update: I should've checked the dateline! I got this from a message board, and didn't check the date. Apparently this happened last year! Nice idea though]

  • Official MLB.com writer of Capitol Punishment, Jonathan Mayo, wrote a story about the New Orleans Zephyrs and their partnership with an organization to help rebuild New Orleans. I highlighted the story last week, and the donation page is now up. If you want to help the Zephyrs and Frank's Magical Builders rebuild a local Boys and Girls club, you can find out how at their website.

  • Boswell chips in and writes one that's already tabbed for his next book. It includes this gem, which is certain to get the crusty vets on the BPG forum riled up:
    Until such time as the Nats are offered a quality third starter in trade and he can escape, Soriano is being paid $10 million to hit 30 homers, steal 30 bases and not get killed in left field. Just because he's a speedster, he'll be better than past hard-hitting Washington left fielders like Frank Howard and Roy Sievers. "He'll be better than they were the first day," Robinson said.

    Did you ever really look at Frank Howard's numbers? He was a butcher in the field, but an absolute monster with the bat. Look at what he did and remember that he was putting those numbers up in the 1960s, which is the lowest run-scoring environment in MLB history. For his career, Howard had an OPS that, when adjusted for league and environment, was 42% better than the average player -- and this includes the decline at the end of his career. Alfonso Soriano, on the other hand, has never had even ONE season with an OPS that high relative to his league. His career high came 4 years ago and was 'just' 31% better than average.

    It's a rough day when I'm forced to side with the BPG crew.

  • 16 Comments:

    • I love baseball but don't know much about being a baseball player. Still, this sort of thing always surprises me: "Key point: Kory Casto will stay at third, not second like the team had talked about. They want him to focus on his hitting, rather than trying to learn a more difficult position." Is it really that hard for someone in this position to work on both things during one season; I mean when you're in the field, you're not working on your hitting (or are you? thinking about it, watching the pitchers and batters?). I guess there's only so much practice time, but still . . .

      Or is it a psychological/emotional thing -- don't want the guy to be possibly struggling with both ends of his game?

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/23/2006 7:21 AM  

    • Here's a rambling answer.

      I'm not sure if you're familiar with the defensive spectrum. Essentially, it's the ordering of how difficult positions are to play:
      SS -- 2B -- CF -- 3B -- RF -- LF -- 1B

      If you think about that, it sort of makes sense. You hide your worst defensive players at the positions on the right -- and you typically look for more offense.

      At any rate, you rarely see players shifting from the right to the left. Jim Thome, for example, came up as a 3B. It'd be silly to see him at second, so they shifted him to 1B, a less demanding position.

      Think about Soriano, a 2B. Everyone's been working under the assumption that a transition to LF is going to work, bc it's an easier position.

      OBviously, there are other factors, but that's a generality.

      It's pretty rare for a player to shift to a more difficult position, and when they do, there's usually a pretty big learning curve.

      In Kasto's case, he's been a 3B. They talked about moving him to 2B, a more difficult position, because Zimmerman was blocking him. I'd rather have him continue focusing on his hitting, rather than trying to learn how to field. What if he stinks at second? What if that beats him up inside, and it carries over to his hitting? His path to the majors is with his bat. If he can hit, he can be a corner utility guy -- sort of what Baerga was last year, or what Marlon Anderson will be this year.

      He took a big step forward last season, if he can hold on to those gains and improve further, he's got a chance to play a few years in the majors. But if he gets bogged down worrying about taking groundballs and all the errors he's making, it's going to be a more difficult process.

      I told you it was a rambling answer!

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/23/2006 8:45 AM  

    • "The Montgomery Biscuits are having a turn-back-the-clock radio broadcast. Their pxp guy will be at the radio station, having codes sent to him via instant messenger which describe the plays on the field. There, he'll recreate the sound effects just as they did in the early days of baseball broadcasting. Sounds interesting, and I wish I could hear it!"

      Ah yes, the old days, when kids would crowd around the radio waiting for the telltale AOL beep to let them know the sportscaster has another IM updated score...

      By Blogger thurdl, at 3/23/2006 8:56 AM  

    • On the Soriano v Frank Howard thing, I think that Boswell was specifically referring to playing left field. I thought the same thing that you did, but while looking up Howard's stats I got to the point where I couldn't believe Boswell (and Frank!)would actually go that far. When I reread it to talk about just fielding it made a lot more sense.

      By Blogger El Gran Color Naranja, at 3/23/2006 9:11 AM  

    • AHA! It's amazing how much more sense that makes. I don't know as much about Sievers, but Howard was a BRUTAL defender. Imagine Jim Thome lumbering around the outfield. ;)

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/23/2006 9:14 AM  

    • Scratch Watkins and Traber. Sent down. Others moved today before the game as well.

      By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/23/2006 2:55 PM  

    • To add to Chris' reply to comment #1...From what I have heard from good middle infielders, such as Cal Ripken Jr., the shortstop and second baseman need to be on the same page during the game. Before every pitch Ripken would make some sort of sign to the 2B indicating who would go for a ball in that particular situation. This requires coordination and knowledge of each batter's proclivities and what the pitcher is capable of throwing.

      The corollary to this is that these infielders must do their howework off the field if they want to excel, looking at stats and scouting reports on batters that they will soon face. I can imagine that this could be overwhelming to a kid who is new to the bigs and new to a position. It could mess with his head which would in turn mess with his swing.

      I trust the brain trust to do the right thing here. Note that when I say brain trust I am clearly excluding Jim Bowden.

      By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/23/2006 3:12 PM  

    • Thanks Chris, Bote for the thoughts.

      On another random commenting generating front. I just read that the Cardinals expect to run Junior Spivey out at second base on Opening Day. How about that.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/23/2006 4:00 PM  

    • There's a hardcore number cruncher who posts at Baseball Primer, and who serves as a stat consultant with the Cardinals. He's made the argument that the Spivey signing was the best one any team made all offseason when you factor in offense and defense and salary.

      Spivey's a decent player. He just didn't get much of a chance to show it here, unfortunately.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/23/2006 4:03 PM  

    • My comment was badly put -- my sarcastic point re Spivey was that it was a poor decision to non-tender the guy, rather than offer him arbitration, since I figured someone would offer him a better deal than arbitration.

      Now Deivi Cruz -- that's a whole different story.

      Anyhow, blogger keeps rejecting this comment (says I've got the wrong code word).

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/23/2006 4:13 PM  

    • Arbitration would've been a tough call. He probably would've accepted, and he probably would've been in the $3-4 million range. (Just guessing from memory)

      I wish I could get rid of the word verification, but I was getting SWAMPED with spam.

      By Blogger Chris Needham, at 3/23/2006 4:15 PM  

    • In fairness, while I recall having that view, I don't remember the exact salary risk the team would have been taking, as I am not sure what he had earned in recent years. I recall thinking it was not too great.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/23/2006 4:15 PM  

    • I don't mind the word verifier. I was just stuck where, when I typed the word, it said I had it wrong. But as far as I could see, I didn't. Then, it kept only giving me that word again and again. Finally had to restart my computer.

      All this, I did for you.

      By Blogger Sam, at 3/23/2006 4:18 PM  

    • Sam: That happened to me over at Nats Triple Play the other day. At first, I thought maybe they'd banned me or something, but no, it was just buggy Blogger software.

      By Blogger Yuda, at 3/23/2006 4:44 PM  

    • When the word verification fails when you know you've typed the correct word, try forcing your browser to refresh the page (Ctrl-F5 in Firefox).

      If that doesn't repair it, delete the cookies associated with blogspot and blogger.com and that will do it for sure. This worked for me last week.

      By Blogger Bote Man, at 3/24/2006 12:29 AM  

    • By Blogger kevin, at 10/02/2009 11:38 PM  

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