The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

 

Friday's Child

Another week, another Hit List, this one completed under the influence of my wife's 103-degree fever, Sammy Sosa's 600th home run, a suspicious-looking early-morning handoff of a laptop at Port Authority, and my editor Christina Kahrl's impending move to Chicago. As such, it didn't go up until late Friday afternoon and missed inclusion in BP's daily newsletter, but it's there in all it's linkalicious glory.

"Hurting Hurlers" is this week's title, and with injuries to Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Jason Schmidt, John Lackey, Dontrelle Willis, Brad Lidge, Anibal Sanchez, A.J. Burnett, and Ian Snell, there was certainly no shortage of high-profile ones. Here's what I had to say about Schmidt, the ninth-ranked Dodgers' $47 million investment:
Another troubling outing prompts Jason Schmidt to go under the knife; he's got the Deluxe Torn Labrum Platter with all the trimmings, so forward his mail to Spring Training 2008. Chad Billingsley takes his spot in the rotation, and while he's much improved over his rookie season, the move may upset the balance of the league's second-best bullpen (not that I'm advocating more Brett Tomko or Mark Hendrickson). Meanwhile, hitting coach Eddie Murray takes the fall for an underperforming offense that's 11th in EqA at a subpar .253, but he didn't sign Juan Pierre (.240), Nomar Garciaparra (.237), or Rafael Furcal (.254) to those big deals.
One more note on the Dodgers: yesterday's L.A. Times featured a surprisingly rational column from Bill Plaschke, in which my nemesis tells GM Ned Colletti not to panic over the Schmidt injury by trading exciting youngsters such as James Loney, Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche, and Andre Ethier. Shocking to find the two of us on the same page for once.

Turning to the Yankees, even after being swept in Colorado, they're ranked seventh; I addressed their first base situation in my entry:
Mile High Drub: fresh off a Subway Series win that caps a 14-3 run, the Yankees are swept in Colorado while being held to just five runs in a series more memorable for the 2007 first base debuts of Jorge Posada and Johnny Damon. As injured Jason Giambi cuts a deal to meet with Grand Inquisitor George "Torquemada" Mitchell, the picture at that position appears dire. Yankee first-sackers have hit .270/.336/.416, well below the league average (.274/.352/.452). With Damon possibly DL-bound, Posada needed behind the plate to minimize the presence of .116-hitting Wil Nieves, Josh Phelps DFA'd in favor of Andy Phillips, and a surprisingly torrid Miguel Cairo still representing what Joe Sheehan rightly terms "baseball malpractice," it's clear somebody's license to assemble a roster may have expired.
My colleague Derek Jacques' linked parody of the Monty Python Flying Circus "Spanish Inquisition" sketch is a must-read. Bring me the comfy chair!

It certainly felt like a particularly interesting week, or at least one where I felt I had plenty more to say than would fit in a typical Hit List entry. A few asides:

• I believe I set a personal record on the Rangers' entry, which discussed Sosa's home run as well some foolishness by owner Tom Hicks and the grim track record of boy wonder GM Jon Daniels. Lone Star Ball's Adam Morris challenged me on my assertion that the Rangers were "smoked" (to use my word) on the John Danks/Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Cordero/Carlos Lee trades. While I agree they've got longer time horizons than the infamous Padres deal (Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez and Terrmel Sledge for Akinori Otsuka, Adam Eaton and a minor leaguer) or the Alfonso Soriano/Brad Wilkerson trade -- both of which would make a Texas pitmaster jealous -- they're certainly short-term losses. Throwing out reliever Nick Masset and his 7.16 ERA, Danks has been much more usable than McCarthy, and it may take years to evaluate whether the first-round pick the Rangers received as compensation for Lee's departure was worth the trouble. In the meantime, I've yet to be impressed by Daniels, I don't think there's much merit to his extension, and if I'm a Rangers fan I'm worried he comes back with something like Jay Payton, Danys Baez, Steve Trachsel and Billy Ripken's unwashed laundry for Mark Teixeira, or Jason Grilli for Eric Gagne even up.

• Lest I stretch the Orioles entry to the extreme, I decided to let Miguel Tejada's injury go. Then again, all I really had to say about that was a Nelson Muntz-ian "Ha-ha!" I find Tejada to be one of the game's most disappointing stars. The guy's stats against the Yankees the past few years are actually impressive -- .312/.357/.545 in 2004, .373/.407/.547 in 2005, .419/.451/.514 in 2006 -- but the images of him loafing down to first base or making a lazy-ass defensive play are so indelible that they color my whole opinion of him. And let's face it, I'm still wary of him after that 2003 Division Series baserunning blunder (as I am of Eric Byrnes, but that's a story for another day), and I'm no fan of consecutive game streaks, particularly when they're artificially extended as Tejada's was the other night. As for Joe Girardi turning down the managerial reins, this proves he's not stupid; Andy MacPhail's arrival or no, the O's haven't been worth a damn in a decade, and Girardi will have better options at his disposal -- perhaps even the Cubs, White Sox, or Yankees -- this winter.

• Speaking of the White Sox, one of my colleagues got me laughing yesterday in response to my entry. "I still think your research on the White Sox bullpen is wrong -- those numbers look WAY better than what I've seen seeing. If you asked me to guess the bullpen-Jenks ERA in the last month, I would have said somewhere in the thousands." Oh, SNAP! I had the bullpen ERA besides Jenks at 8.70, with a 2.28 WHIP, which is pretty ugly, but then I haven't been suffering through the daily litany like this.

• Also, I pulled up short in discussing the Milton Bradley situation; Bradley was designated for assignment by Oakland on Thursday, a surprising move even given his three trips to the DL this year and the backstory about his impatience with the timing of his activation. For whatever it's worth, if he's had problems in Oakland, they've been kept under much tighter wraps than in L.A., which makes the move all the more surprising. From a roster standpoint, various reports have noted that the A's have Nick Swisher, Travis Buck, Mark Kotsay, Shannon Stewart, Bobby Kielty, and Chris Snelling in various states of readiness; as a GM or a manager, I'd take Bradley, warts and all, over all of those guys except the first two unless the guy was missing a leg or beating his wife again. Given that the A's looked ready to settle for the Royals' Leo Nunez -- a 23-year-old righty reliever with a career ERA of 6.99, a K rate below 5.0, and a bleak PECOTA outlook -- in a trade that was scotched by an apparent oblique injury to Bradley, I have to think there's far more dirt under this rug than is being discussed.

As I said, it was an interesting week.

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