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MLB: Is Greinke the Unluckiest Pitcher Ever?‎

May 5, 2010 Comments off

After winning the Cy Young Award last year, Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke appears primed to make history of a different sort this season: unluckiest pitcher ever.

Mr. Greinke’s ERA of 2.27 is 79% better than the league average when adjusted for ballpark effects. Yet his record stands at 0-3. In baseball history, only 17 pitchers have won 15 games or fewer with an ERA at least 50% lower than average (minimum 32 starts and 200 innings pitched). None has won fewer than 12 games, and only two had losing records—Ben Sheets (12-14, 2004 Brewers) and Dave Roberts (14-17, 1971 Padres).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, fellow Cy Young winner Steve Carlton won 27 games for a 1972 Phillies team that finished 59-97. Mr. Carlton’s ERA that year was 80% better than average—almost identical to Mr. Greinke’s current pace. A big difference was Mr. Carlton’s completing 73% of his starts while Mr. Greinke has already seen his league-worst bullpen blow three would-be wins.

While Kansas City presently doesn’t rank last in a single key offensive category, the team has scored just 12 runs for Mr. Greinke in six starts. Perhaps former Yankee Mickey Rivers had it right when he famously said, “Pitching is 80% of the game. The other half is hitting and fielding.”

Uh, a Little Help Here Guys?

Here’s how Zack Greinke stacks up against the five unluckiest pitchers in baseball history based on their number of wins and how their ERA compared with the league average.*

PLAYER/TEAM/YEAR ERA COMPARED WITH LEAGUE * RECORD
Zack Greinke, Royals , 2010 2.27 79% better than average 0-3 (so far)
Ben Sheets, Brewers, 2004 2.70 60% better than average 12-14
Tom Candiotti, Blue Jays/Indians, 1991 2.65 57% better than average 13-13
Lefty Grove, Athletics, 1926 2.51 67% better than average 13-13
Kevin Brown, Dodgers, 2000 2.58 67% better than average 13-6
Roger Clemens, Astros, 2005 1.87 124% better than average 13-8

*min. 32 starts, 200 innings pitched; league ERA is adjusted for park effects Source: Baseball-Reference

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MLB: America’s Pastimes: Baseball, Apple Pie and Political Flame Wars

May 5, 2010 Comments off

Remember back during the Congressional hearings for baseball, when elected official spent their time, and therefore hard-earned taxpayer money, talking aboutbaseball, of all things? Baseball and politics…whodathunkit?

Now, we can’t seem to get away from it. The New York Daily Newshad a story – albeit under their News section and not Sports – focusing on a group called the Working Families Party, which has drafted a letter to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and Mets owner Fred Wilpon asking the two New York teams to boycott the 2011 MLB All-Star game in Arizona if the state doesn’t repeal its new immigration law.

“Will Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera have to show ID to take the mound next year?” asked Working Families Party director Dan Cantor in a letter to the labor-backed party’s 130,000 supporters.Arizona’s new law will require cops to ask for immigration documents from anyone suspected of entering the country illegally. Critics say it could lead to racial profiling, and opponents across the country have urged MLB to move the 2011 All-Star Game out of Phoenix.

“If New York’s baseball teams say they won’t go, they could become leaders in a national push to move the All-Star Game out of Arizona,” Cantor wrote.

Hugging Harold Reynolds profiled the article this morning and made the point most of us are probably thinking: “please, leave your politics out of my baseball.” But at this point, that’s nearly impossible. The comment from HHR even came a paragraph after pointing out that moving the All-Star game could cost the region “approximately $60 million” in revenue, much of which, the post asserts, would be going to the same undocumented workers the law was put in place to eradicate.

“Please leave your politics out of my baseball.” Maybe that should end with a question mark. In reading the NYDN story on the push for a boycott, the right side bar had a link to an opinion piece by S.E. Cupp with the headline, “Starting in left field, Keith Olbermann: He’s embraced by MLB and the NFL while Limbaugh was shunned.”

If you click through to Cupp’s byline you’ll see an error message as this is, presumably, the first article the bespectacled pundit has written for the paper. At the end of the slam piece, Cupp’s personal web address appears, and when clicking through, you are linked to a book she wrote called Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media’s Attack on Christianity. So, is Cupp upset with Olbermann because he’s “liberal media” or is she upset because he’s a Yankees fan?

Look, I’m no fan of Olbermann’s heavy-handed style of broadcasting – no matter how much I agree or disagree with his politics – but holy cow talk about taking yourself too seriously. This is too fantastic not to quote:

Nothing says “America” like our national pastime. For a few yawning hours, chronological time becomes primordial time, and within those walls of sacred stadiums, space becomes holy. And the Boys of Summer do what they’ve been doing for nearly two centuries. They play ball.But over the years, nefarious characters have threatened to sully baseball’s good name. Chick Gandil persuaded the Chicago White Sox to throw a few games back in 1919. Peter Edward Rose had a bit of a gambling problem. And, of course, there’s everyone’s favorite recovering opportunist – Jose Canseco, the Danny Bonaduce of baseball – and the long line of performance-enhancing abusers from Mark McGwire to you-know-who.

Now there’s another menace lurking in the shadows of the dugout, someone so ugly, so vindictive, so polarizing that with every word he utters he is bastardizing whatever sanctity remains of the game.

His name is Keith Olbermann.

And that’s just the start. The NYDN unleashed this woman on Olbermann with the angle that Olbermann is such a hate monger at his day job at MSNBC that MLB, and the NFL if you consider his work on NBC for Football Night in America, should be ashamed to associate with him. And, to the point of the article, how dare they let Olbermann have a sports voice when Rush Limbaugh “can’t even buy his way into the NFL.”

Olbermann, thus far on his Twitter feed, has taken the high road. Here’s another gem from Cupp:

So let’s get this straight. Limbaugh is too conservative for football, evangelical minister the Rev. Franklin Graham is too Christian for the National Day of Prayer, and Islam is too touchy for “South Park.”Meantime, Olbermann’s misogyny, race-baiting and fear-mongering makes him a perfect voice for America’s national pastime?

Take me out to the ballgame…take me out with the crowd. Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jacks…but you better make sure the person selling them to me doesn’t look like he’s from Mexico or I’m calling the cops.

So we’ll root, root, root for the home team…if they don’t win it’s a shame…but not as much of a shame as a former sportscaster having a blog on MLBlogs that anyone who wants to can create and write about baseball…

For it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old…ball…game!

WTF: Mike Bacsik

April 26, 2010 Comments off

Hidden Racist?

For those that don’t know who Mike Bacsik is, he’s a former Major League Baseball pitcher and the son of Michael James Bacsik, who was also a pitcher in the majors. He’s most famous though for giving up Barry Bonds 756th career home run, which broke the all-time record formerly held by Hank Aaron.

Bacsik currently is the producer on The Ticket 1310 in Dallas for Norm Hitzges and performs other fill-in duties however he allowed his hidden racism spill out onto Twitter after the Dallas Mavericks loss to the San Antonio Spurs in game 4, with his above tweet. Shortly thereafter he deleted his comment, hoping it would forever cease to exist and followed it up with a back handed apology.

Mike Bacsik’s tweet is probably a very accurate representation of how he really feels about certain races when he out of public’s eye, if not where does these feelings come from then?

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MLB: Angels send Matthews, cash to Mets

January 22, 2010 Comments off

NEW YORK — Gary Matthews Jr. was traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the New York Mets on Friday for right-hander Brian Stokes.

Matthews hit .313 with 19 homers and 79 RBIs for Texas in 2006, when he made the AL All-Star team, then signed the big deal with the Angels that turned out to be the worst contract in the team’s history.

He slumped to a .252 average with 18 homers and 72 RBIs during his first season in Anaheim, then lost his center field job when the Angels signed Torii Hunter.

Matthews, who also endured some knee problems in Anaheim, had just 46 RBIs in 2008 and 50 last year, when he started 80 games. Now 35, he is the son of Gary Matthews, the 1973 NL Rookie of the Year.

Matthews expressed a desire to be traded last spring, and reiterated that request this offseason. Sources said that trading Matthews was a major priority for general manager Tony Reagins this winter.

SI.com reported in February 2007 that Matthews was sent human growth hormone by Applied Pharmacy in August 2004, an accusation Matthews denied. Major League Baseball concluded there was insufficient evidence to discipline him.


The 30-year-old Stokes was 2-4 with a 3.97 ERA last season, setting career highs for games (69) and innings (70 1-3). He spent the last two seasons with the Mets after making his big league debut for Tampa Bay.

With Matthews’ departure, the Angels still have Hunter, Bobby Abreu and Juan Rivera in the outfield, with Reggie Willits in reserve.

Hideki Matsui, who signed a one-year deal to be the Angels’ principal designated hitter, has said he would like to play some outfield this season after knee problems limited him to the DH role with the Yankees.

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MLB: New York Mets, Scott Boras still bickering about Carlos Beltran’s surgery

January 18, 2010 Comments off

No one seems willing to put aside the flap between the Mets and Carlos Beltran following the center fielder’s arthroscopic surgery last week. Perhaps the air is notso clear after all between the two sides, and bruised feelings linger.


Two days ago, GM Omar Minaya said the Mets have a “good relationship” with Beltran and weren’t unhappy with him, but with “the process” that led to the operation and not getting a chance to get an additional opinion on the diagnosis made by Beltran’s personal physician. Yesterday, Beltran’s agent, Scott Boras, said he wanted to “define the process.”

“This is an internal issue (for the Mets),” Boras said. “Carlos Beltran was not at fault. He followed the orders of the Met doctor, who told (Beltran’s doctor) to go ahead with the surgery (Wednesday morning).”

Boras said that Beltran’s physician, Dr. Richard Steadman, called Mets physician Dr. David Altchek on Tuesday afternoon and, “after hearing Steadman’s diagnosis, Altchek gave the OK.

If Altchek and the Mets didn’t want the surgery and the Mets didn’t want the surgery, Altchek had the authority and control to direct Steadman not to do it.”

Boras noted that Beltran had called Minaya on Tuesday night to tell him about the surgery, and Minaya did not put the brakes on the operation.

“Omar spoke to Carlos after Dr. Altcheck made his decision and if the Mets chose to stop what Dr. Altcheck initiated, they had every opportunity to tell Carlos during that conversation or anytime that evening,” Boras said. “Altchek’s decision to proceed was the correct one as Steadman found 20-30 cartilage fragments in the knee and now Carlos has a chance to return early in the season.


Without doing that, he may have been lost to the Mets for a substantial part of the season. Altchek did his job well. And Carlos is a dutiful employee.

Minaya didn’t disagree with that assertion – “We have talked about this enough. As we’ve said, we have no issues with Carlos or the doctors. Our focus is getting Carlos back on the field,” he said in an e-mail – but the club’s actions tell a different story.

The Mets sent a letter to Boras outlining their unhappiness with what they maintain was a break in protocol, in order to reserve any legal rights they may have regarding Beltran’s contract. The Mets also have contacted Major League Baseball to discuss options, but the Players Association said last week the Mets have “no basis to assert Carlos Beltran violated his contract.”

It seems unlikely anything would happen with Beltran on the mend. He is supposed to resume baseball activity in 12 weeks. “His rehab is going well and he’s feeling very good about his prognosis to return to play,” Boras said.

MLB: Frank McCourt says divorce won’t affect Dodgers

January 18, 2010 Comments off


The Dodgers have stayed on the sidelines of the free-agent market this winter and their season-ticket sales are down, but owner Frank McCourt said Friday that the fans he has spoken to stand firmly behind the team.

“I talk to fans too,” McCourt said in his first interview with The Times since it became public that he and his wife and former club president, Jamie McCourt, planned to divorce. “They’re very excited about the team. They’re very supportive of what we’re doing.”

McCourt declared the Dodgers are “headed in the right direction,” pointing to how they have reached the postseason in four of the last six seasons and settled on an organizational philosophy of building around a group of homegrown players.

We’re going to do what it takes to put a winning team on the field,” he said. “We’re going to do that a smart way. We might not do it the way other people have done it. We’re going to do it our way.”

McCourt said that his team’s lack of activity in the free-agent market should not be interpreted as a sign that his team is facing financial difficulties as a result of his personal situation.

My divorce has no bearing on the club whatsoever,” he said.

McCourt said the Dodgers will return a majority of the team that reached the National League Championship Series last season, and added, “We’re not through the off-season yet.

McCourt was not specific on how much financial latitude General Manager Ned Colletti would have to sign players before the start of spring training next month. Jamey Carroll, who signed a two-year, $3.85-million deal last month, is the only free agent the Dodgers have signed to a major league contract this winter.

Alluding to recent high-priced free-agent signings such as Andruw Jones and Jason Schmidt who didn’t work out, McCourt cautioned that spending large amounts of money on players does not necessarily translate into victories.

I’ve learned the hard way it’s not that easy,” he said.

So if the Dodgers cut their spending on free agents, does that mean they will allocate their resources elsewhere?

“I’m not going to get into a conversation with you on how we spend our resources,” McCourt said.

Kemp, Billingsley avoid arbitration

The Dodgers avoided salary arbitration with center fielder Matt Kemp and pitcher Chad Billingsley by agreeing to new deals.

Kemp was signed to a two-year, $10.95-million contract that buys him out of his first two years of arbitration. Kemp will earn $4 million this year.

Billingsley signed a one-year, $3.85-million contract.

In addition to Kemp, the Dodgers are looking to sign arbitration-eligible players such as Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton and James Loney to multiyear deals.

Loney’s agent, Joe Urbon, said his client is focused on signing a one-year deal.

Ethier, Broxton, Loney, Russell Martin, George Sherrill and Hong-Chih Kuo filed for arbitration Friday. They will trade salary figures with the Dodgers on Tuesday unless they agree to deals before then.

LA to Scout Sheets

The Dodgers are among the teams that will scout pitcher Ben Sheetswhen he works out for interested teams Tuesday, according to a club official who asked that their name not be used because they were not authorized to speak on this topic. Sheets, who missed the entire 2009 season because of elbow surgery, is believed to be asking for a contract worth $10 million a season. Sheets spent eight years with the Milwaukee Brewers before his latest injury.

MLB: Yankees unlikely to re-sign Damon

January 13, 2010 Comments off

The Yankees have signed lefty reliever Royce Ring and outfielders Reid Gorecki and David Winfree to minor-league contracts. Meanwhile, their chances to re-sign Johnny Damon remained remote

The Yankees are telling agents they only have $2 million, at most, to spend on a left fielder. They figure Damon, even in a diminishing market, never would drop his demands that low.

The Yanks being the Yanks, of course, could always just create extra money in the budget as they did last year when GM Brian Cashman successfully lobbied Hal Steinbrenner to add Andy Pettitte’s $5.5 million base plus makeable incentives to the payroll.

Yankees management, however, clearly felt the the team needed Pettitte far more for the 2009 season than it needs Damon for 2010.

In addition, the Yanks were feeling a level of desperation last off-season having failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2008 and with a new stadium about to open in 2009.

After having won the World Series, ownership is not quite as compelled to blow up the budget again.

Hal Steinbrenner, after all, has shown a much greater willingness to hold to some financial guidelines than his father, George, did. For example, The Post has learned, the Yanks had a completed trade last July with Milwaukee for Mike Cameron, pending ownership’s blessing to take on the money. But Hal Steinbrenner refused to add the approximately $5.5 million in salary and luxury tax it would have cost for the rest of the season, so the deal was scrapped.

So unless ownership reverses course on the budget, the Yankees will continue to look at a supplementary player for left field rather than Damon. Specifically, the Yanks would like to find someone to start rather than Brett Gardner or serve as a righty-swinging complement to Gardner.

The player who most entices the Yankees is Xavier Nady, who, like Damon, is represented by Scott Boras. However, Nady is of interest to several teams and, therefore, might be too pricey for the Yankees.

Their next target is Reed Johnson because, of the remaining candidates, he is the one who projects best to being a help defensively while also having a history of hitting lefties well.

The other three free-agent possibilities, at the moment, are Rocco Baldelli, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Marcus Thames.