Trying To Avoid The Easy Jokes

Saccomanno, a hometown boy, got 10 at bats for the Astros in 2008. Upper Deck would have made you think he was a hot prospect, but Mark was 28. So basically the Astros threw him a bone for loyal service at Round Rock for a few seasons.

Which is nice of Houston to do. The Astros were kinda sorta in the wild card race (coming from way back to get within 3 1/2 back of Milwaukee) and some guy named Berkman had an OPS+ of 159 at first base that year.

In front of his hometown friends and family, and with two out in the bottom of the fifth, he crushed the first pitch he saw from Ian Snell and planted it in the seats to break a scoreless tie. The Astros scored two more runs in the inning and held on to a 3-2 win, giving Saccomanno a GWRBI.

His only other hit was a run-scoring pinch double off of James Parr. But the Astros were in a big hole at the time as the Braves scored eight off of Brandon “Baby Got” Backe in 1 1/3.

His only two big league hits were a double and a homer. Not a bad thing to tell your kids. After playing for the Marlins organization last season, it’s unknown if he’s in a camp right now (well, I haven’t looked that hard, but still).

Every time I hear his name, I think of Jeannie Cusamano or even Hunter Scangarello. Damn Sopranos.

See how hard this is? You give me a name like Saccomanno and I’m trying my best not to mention the Godfather, or pizza, or Tommy Lasorda’s linguine with clam sauce. But it all comes around somewhere.

Of course, being up here in the Great White North (12-18 inches of snow today, and I gotta drive to Northfield tomorrow), I am learning the difference between a Peterson and a Petersen. I now have a great arsenal of Minnesota Nice, and love walleye on a stick. My children are all above average.

But I’m drawing the line at lutefisk.

The Punch Line

Do you think anyone will sign Chan Ho Park this year?

Late update, Park has signed with the Orix Buffaloes. But the below still applies. Carry on…

It seems that everyone who takes a chance on him is the butt of many jokes around the baseball intarweb blogocube.

He wasn’t a joke until 2002. Up until then, he was a pretty effective pitcher (except for 1999). Then he signed with Texas in the Tom Hicks free agent stampede.

And he was stampeded.

As a Dodger, he had a 17.2 WAR. His total WAR for his career is 16.3.

Maths, you do it. That 17.2 does include his decent 2008 as a swingman for LA.

How can someone who has a negative WAR since 2002 still be employed every year? I understand that burning off his contract made sense, of course, but since then?

Anyone who wants a four or five year contract as a pitcher needs to realize that most teams learn from the past. All they have to do is look up Chan Ho’s career post-LA.

But then there’s the question on why Chan Ho succeeds in LA? The ballpark is one guess. Perhaps Chan Ho has found some good Korean restaurants in LA. I don’t know how prevalent they are in the Dallas – Fort Worth area, or Philly. “Yo, you want WHAT? Have a cheesesteak and shaddap!”






Best Sub .100 Pitching Season Ever?

First, thanks to Ted at Crinkly Wrappers for a good box of booty! I hear there’s a contest going on there…

And now…

Ross Ohlendorf went 1-11 last year with a 4.07 ERA, which was an ERA of 100+. Of course, it would be hard to be anything but 1-11 with a team that scored 2.9 runs per game.

There have been many good pitchers saddled with many horrid teams. Now, they may not have good ERAs because bad teams tend to play bad defense, and bad defense isn’t just shown in unearned runs. That double to the gap against the Phillies would have probably been an out with Mays in center field.

But 1-11 isn’t just bad, it’s awful. That it a .083 winning percentage. For comparisons sake, three of the top four pitchers of the 1899 Spiders (in terms of innings pitched) bettered a .083 winning percentage.

So I ran a list using the play index on Baseball Reference for any pitcher with less than a .100 winning percentage, listed by ERA+. I had to limit it pitchers with 10 decisions or more, otherwise all of the 0-1 and 0-2 pitchers would show up.

It turns out that Ohlendorf’s 2010 wasn’t the best season for a pitcher with an under .100 winning percentage, but it was close.

The Top 10

1. Anthony Young, 1992 Mets, ERA+ 108, 1-16 record.

2. Gary Lucas, 1982 Padres, ERA+ 108, 1-10 record (he did have 16 saves, though).

3. Zane Smith, 1989 Atlanta / Montreal, ERA+ 104, 1-13 record (For ATL he was 1-12, 4.45, it was his 1.50 ERA at MTL that propelled him up here).

4. Ohlendorf, 2009 Pirates, ERA+ 100, 1-11 record.

5. Ryan Dempster, 2006 Cubs, ERA+ 97, 1-9 record (with 24 saves).

6. Carl Scheib, 1951 Athletics, ERA+ 96, 1-12 record (with 10 saves).

7. Guy Morton, 1914 Indians, ERA+ 95, 1-13 record.

8. Steve Gerkin, 1945 Athletics, ERA+ of 95, 0-12 record. (That was his only big league season. He did win 20 for Lancaster in 1943.)

9. Howie Judson, 1949 White Sox, ERA+ of 91, 1-14 record.

10. Willie Hernandez, 1980 Cubs, ERA+ of 90, 1-9 record.

But a closer look reveals that of those pitchers, Ohlendorf was the only one to start more than 20 games. Even Morton had just 13 starts in 25 games.

In fact, you have to go all the way down to the #19 pitcher in the list (Bob Miller, 1962 Mets) to find another pitcher that had over 20 starts.

So, you can safely say that Ohlendorf’s 2010 was the best season by a starting pitcher with an W/L record of .100 or under.



Ryan Braun – 2009 Bowman

February 16, 2011

Things Ryan Braun Is / Is Not:

A. Depending on how you classify these things, he is technically of Jewish descent. But only his father was Jewish and he never celebrated any holidays.

B. He  is the “Hebrew Hammer”. That’s an old-school nickname, back when they didn’t care about offending the person because it was all in good fun.

C. He is improving in the field. In 2010 he finally earned a positive WAR.

D. He is the better of the two players between Fielder and him.

E. He is signed through 2015, so the Brewers won’t have to worry about him for a while.

F. He is not a third baseman.

G. He is not a third baseman.

H. He is not a third baseman.

Why did I repeat that three times? Well, in his rookie year, he had a 5.0 offensive WAR and a -3.5 defensive WAR. His fielding percentage was .895 and he turned just 12 DPs in 112 games. At third, he makes Pedro Guerrero Brooks Robinson.

I. He is not related to the Other Ryan Braun, who pitched for the Royals a few years ago.

J. He is not related to Steve Braun, “professional hitter”.

K. He is not related to Sandy Koufax, who was Sandy Braun until his mother re-married.

L. He is destined for Cooperstown unless something goes awry, or he gets injured. Which could happen, of his 10 most similar players through age 26 three are HOFers (Hafey, Kiner and Billy Williams), two will get there (Ramirez, Thome), one could (Teixeira), two are modern players that fizzed (Mondesi and Shawn Green), and two are old-timers that had issues with health (Charlie Keller) or consistency (Jeff Heath).

M. As far as I know, he is not a vegan – so offer him a kielbasa when you seem him!

(Oh, wait, wrong one…I just thought this was a cool pic!)

Plenty Of Good Seats Available Here At The Ballpark

I once owned a Wilmington Rocks jersey that Mr. Byrdak wore back when he was a KC farmhand. I found out he wore the jersey on a nice feature on the Rocks web-site.

He was a Royals farmhand (which is how he got to Wilmington at 21), that seemed to be dead and buried as a big leaguer after 2000. He had outstanding AAA stats but was basically eviscerated at the big-league level (0-4, 8.27 in 48 innings).

After scuffling around the minors, he emerged in Baltimore as a LOOGY in 2005. That’s not that surprising, because you know the rule…YOU GOTTA HAVE A LEFTY! Any lefty pitcher in AAA that’s upright and breathing will get another chance to be a LOOGY if nothing else.

But 2006 came and he was back to his Royals performance in the bigs. So, I thought, that’s the end of that. Injuries played a part as well, but it’s not unusual for a 32-year old fringe pitcher to call it quits after a season like 2006.

Detroit signed him in 2007, and after a stint in Toledo brought him to the bigs. Leyland didn’t LOOGY-ize him; he actually had more innings pitched than appearances for the second place Tigers. His ERA was 3.20 and over 50% of his appearances were high or middle leverage situations.

Byrdak was part of a numbers game though, and was released in Spring Training 2008. Houston snagged him, and for most of the last three seasons was LOOGYing it up. It does make sense for him as lefties have a .677 OPS against him while righties have an .886 OPS against.

Last season it was EXTREME LOOGY for Byrdak – 64 appearances, 38 2/3 innings. Is even a shower necessary, unless  you have sunflower seeds all over yourself? Now, he’s a Met, and at age 37 may be long in the tooth for a rebuilding team.

These are the Mets, though…


Why Is This Man Smiling?

A. He doesn’t have to wear the Padres alternates anymore? (What color IS that, anyway?)

B. He’s humming his favorite song…”Baby, You’re A Rich Man.”

(BTW, you know this was a B-side. You know what a B-side was, right?)

C. 107 home runs on the road, 61 home runs at home in his career. He moves to Fenway Park.

D. He had 101 RBI in 2010 with a team that had an OPS+ of 93. In Boston, he’ll get to bat with Pedroia, Youkilis, Martinez, Crawford, Ortiz, etc.

E. Because of C and D, he knows he’s a free agent after 2012, which leads us back to B. It like a loop, man.


Is He The President Of Bezerkistan?

This gentleman’s name is ZEP-CHIN-SKI. Of course, why not?

What a great name!

I remember when Vanderbilt had a center named Dawid Przbyszewski. It’s pronounced CHEB-U-CHEF-SKI. Of course.

Shall I do the Raymond Luxury Yacht thing again? Nah, but remember it’s pronounced Throat Wobbler Mangrove!

Rzepczynski has a lot of potential, but has dealt with injuries in both 2009 and 2010. He’s still high on the list of possible breakout pitchers this season. He’s a lefty with good stuff and poise, which of course are qualities in high demand. He just needs better control. Mark him on your ‘sleeper’ list – and swoop in and pick him up when injuries inevitably hit (or when Bartolo Colon challenges CC Sabathia to a hot dog eating contest, and they accidentally eat AJ Burnett).

I love odd, weird names, but his name reminds me of a current Doonesbury story arc, where the president of the fictional Bezerkistan is named Bmzklfrpz.

There’s High Maintenance…

and then there’s Bradley.

The sad thing is that I remember Milton Bradley as a game manufacturer, and their products gave me hours of pleasure as a kidlet.

And now, I think of a certifiably nuts, yet talented, outfielder.

Bradley makes Carl Everett, Dave Kingman, Vince Coleman, and all of the other past and present misanthropes seem likable. He’s the only one who would lose a popularity contest to AJ Pierzynski.

I think the only player that could rival him in crazy-go-nuts is Alex Johnson. Actually, scratch that. Bradley hasn’t accused a middle infielder on pulling a gun on him in the clubhouse, as far as we know.

One thing strikes me in this pose…I can almost feel the narcissism.”Oh, you handsome devil…”

If any sports psychologist can get him to chill out, calm down, and just play, that guy (or gal) would be mega-rich. But there have been these kind of guys throughout baseball history. Baseball isn’t a game where the troubled souls can suffer in silence. Nope, it’s all out there for us to see.



Not Part Of The Old Money Elite, I Would Gather

I hate to paint with a broad brush, but I will as long as it serves my writing purposes.

If you said someone from North Carolina was named Norris Hopper, I’d say he was a Dukie that is either an attorney or an investment banker with a mansion and a yacht.

I would not have said African-American baseball player from Shelby.

But that’s what I get for painting with a broad brush.

How about this, if a player hits .359 in a cup of coffee, then .329 as a rookie center fielder, you’d expect him to be groomed as a star.

Well, that’s not what happened either.

If Upper Deck didn’t need players to fill it’s gargantuan set in 2009, then Hopper would not have received this card. See, Hopper received just 50 at bats in 2008, none after June 30. He started as a scrub, was sent down, called up, then sent down again. He was taken off the 40-man, signed as a six-year free agent in 2009, traded to the Nats organization for the immortal Corky Miller, then sold to the White Sox. In 2010, he played for the Brewers AAA farm team.

So why did a rookie hitting .300 get the slow boat to Louisville?

1. Corey Patterson. Dusty’s man-crush on Patterson took Hopper’s at bats away. Hopper wasn’t a Dusty player – he was a Narron / Mackanin player.

2. Jay Bruce. He needed PT and could spell Griffey quite a bit.

3. Ken Griffey, Jr. At 38 he was semi-productive, and you weren’t going to sit Ken Griffey, Jr. to get Norris Hopper more PT.

4. Guys like Freel, Hairston and Jolbert Cabrera. Dusty likes his vets over 30. But wait, Hopper was 29.

5. Hopper was 29. He was an ‘old’ rookie. Before he was first called up by the Reds he logged almost  1000 minor league games for the Royals and Reds. He didn’t look like a prospect, really. He could run but had no power and not a great SB%, and his patience at the plate wasn’t the best.

6. Even though Hopper hit over .300 in 2007, he still had an OPS+ of under 100. His OBP was .371, which looks good until you see he walked just 20 times in 335 PAs. But the worst thing was that he was a slappy – 14 doubles, two triples and no homers. His SLG was just .388.

7. In the winter of 2007, he was sent home from his Mexican Pacific League club by Mario Mendoza. I don’t know if he had any issues in the winter of 2008, but Dusty doesn’t like disgruntled discontent.

So that’s how a .300 hitting rookie becomes just another AAAA player in two short years.


The Leader Of The Bland…

You know, it is hard to be a major league baseball player. It’s probably as hard as being a worker in North Korea when Kim Jong-Il just wanders by…

Thanks to the great blog Kim Jong-il Looking At Things.

It’s also hard to be an NBA player. Hendrickson has done both.

But he’s been downright meh at both jobs.

Hendrickson (the new Kevin Jarvis) has been in the league for nine seasons, and not counting his first cuppa coffee in 2002, he’s not been good at all except for two seasons. Well, a half season for Tampa Bay in 2006 (no pressure there) and as a swingman in 2009 for Baltimore (again, about as low pressure as you can get).

57-74, 5.02 and an ERA+ of 90. Bleah.

Last year, I was listening to a Twins game on the radio against Baltimore. This was during the Juan Samuel regime, and the Orioles were dispirited at best and outright apathetic at worst. It was a Sunday day game in August in Baltimore, 96 degrees and the humidity was pretty high as well. So yeah, it’s not fun to be out there if you’re getting your head beat in.

Hendrickson replaced Jake Arrieta in the 4th and was perfectly ineffective. And must have looked bored out there. So much so that the Twins color commentator, Dan Gladden, was ripping Hendrickson on the air questioning if he really wanted to be out there, and with attitudes like that its no wonder the Orioles lose.

I may be wrong about the tenor of it, but to me it was clear…Hendrickson was mailing it in that day.

But he’s still employed.

Before joining baseball full-time, he played four seasons in the NBA for four teams (Sixers, Kings, Nets and Cavs).  He averaged 3.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in just 13.2 minutes per game. He was basketball’s version of a mop-up man.

Yes, I say this about Hendrickson knowing that major league baseball ain’t easy – and you got critics watching your every pitch. But, he keeps getting a chance to have an ERA over 5, and others in AAA don’t get a sniff.

Oh, he’s a lefty, and you know the rule…