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Saturday, August 19, 2006
the smartest team in the league
the yankees. i've said some disparaging things about them in these pages, and what i've said is true: their talent level is not that high. it's high, but not as high as people think. i went on to conclude they've been lucky. but what i've come to realize lately is that they're smart. they're the smartest team in baseball. that's why they win.

you gotta give credit to joe torre. the job he's done these past two years has been incredible. he's easy to overlook, because of the talent. but i'll say it again: the talent level is not that high.

what am i talking about? look at their pitching. chien-ming wang does not get strikeouts. he relies on control and intelligence. randy johnson no longer gets strikeouts. same deal. mike mussina has been good. what else do they got? how do they win all those games?

their lineup is good. not really. it's not that good, from a talent standpoint. what it is is smart. they have a lot of trouble making contact. giambi, posada, abreu, all those guys strike out. arod gets his share. cano's back that helps. and damon hits for contact. melky cabrera. but come on. you're not gonna hold up melky cabrera as the reason the yankees are good.

the reason the yankees are good is they take pitches. they walk, they get in good counts, they get good pitches to hit. the key is they walk. what makes chipper jones such a great hitter? he walks. the yankees are a lineup full of walkers.

a hitter wants to be aggressive. when you swing, you wanna swing hard. but you also have to be selective. selective and agressive. don't fear the strikeout. embrace the walk.

the key is to get on base. a walk is 100%. a ball in play? nowhere near 100%. somewhere around 30. some hitters upwards of 40. that's way worse.

so many hitters swing too much. jeff francoeur. swings too much. i'm watching him swing right now. he's good at baseball, but he's not good at playing baseball. he's got so much talent. he could be so much more.

the goal is to walk. sometimes the pitcher refuses to walk you. that's when you gotta hit it. but only then. you swing at crap, you get out. outs are bad.

get 'em on, get 'em over, get 'em in. no. get 'em on, get 'em on, get 'em on. you keep getting them on, they'll get in. just get 'em on.

so many players are good at baseball, but they're not good at playing baseball. the yankees are good at playing baseball. they understand the game.
Monday, August 07, 2006
baby tigers
i've gotten some responses to my tigers article recently so i thought i'd revisit. one of the responses was from a fan who's happy about the team's success and wanted to use the opportunity to spread a little hate. not much to do with that. the other response was short and said i was wrong on 8 of 10. that's at least something i can work with.

so how are those tigers doing?

justin verlander was the number 1 guy on the list. i said he was good. i guess that's one of the 2 i got right.

joel zumaya was number 2. i said he strikes people out by the boatload. i'm 2 out of 2 so far.

the next guy was cameron maybin. i didn't say anything about him because i didn't have any data. so i'm still 2-for-2. but we do have data now. what can we say?

at this writing cameron is at 283 at-bats, with 17 doubles, 5 triples, 6 home runs, 40 walks, and 90 strikeouts. he also has 25 stolen bases in 28 attempts.

he's obviously very fast. and he has some power. if this is his first taste of pro ball, it's very impressive. strikeouts are high, but that's common for a young player. i'd say he has a bright future.

next we have brent clevlen. brent recently had his major-league debut, and had an exciting two home run game against the devil rays. at the time i wrote the article, i said he had good patience, mediocre contact, and mild power. i still think he has good patience, mediocre contact, and mild power. i also said he has a long way to go. i still think he has a long way to go. the fact that he's a center fielder greatly helps his prospect status. so that's good. but for what i said, i was right. does anyone care?

before he got called up, brent was playing in erie. he had 26 extra-base hits and 128 strikeouts in 366 at-bats, with 43 walks. he turns 23 in october. he's a mild prospect.

next we have wilkin ramirez. i said he had terrible patience, and terrible contact. he does have terrible contact, but a lot of his strikeouts come from swinging too much. i've recently revised my ideas about that.

in 249 at-bats, he has 22 extra-base hits, 10 walks, and 69 strikeouts. he's got a long way to go.

humberto sanchez. i said he was decent, but not great. he's got 43 strikeouts and 20 walks in 51 innings in AAA. that's decent, but not great.

jordan tata. i said he's not very good. in 92 innings, he had 39 walks and 72 strikeouts. that's not very good.

tony giarratano. good name. bad prospect, according to me. this year he's got 24 extra-base hits, 22 walks, and 45 strikeouts in 269 at-bats. the problem is none of those extra-base hits are home runs. it doesn't look like he'll be anything more than a utility player.

2 more. jeff larish. i was getting a little silly by this time, but apparently i didn't think he was good. he's currently got 46 extra-base hits, 66 walks, and 84 strikeouts in 384 at-bats in single-a. that's not very good. it'd be good if he was 20, but he turns 24 in october. this is his first full year in pro ball, so there's an outside chance he'll make it. the problem is the contact.

finally, we have kevin whelan. holy shit, he's from kerrville, texas! i once broke down in kerrville and spent a few days there. there's a nice park, and a library. kevin has good stuff but he's wild.

so that's it. turns out everything i said was right. there's a lot i don't know, because i'm not a scout, but it's amazing what you can tell from the numbers.

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