Archive > April 2010

$125 Million

» 26 April 2010 » In mlb » 4 Comments

Today, Ryan Howard signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Phillies. Despite his flaws (200 strikeouts), Howard is a great hitter and run producer, and a lot of fun to watch. This deal seems excessive, but I don’t begrudge him for getting it. I will, however, take issue with this:

“I knew I wanted to stay in Philly,” Howard said in San Francisco. “I’ve grown so accustomed to the fans. It’s a special relationship with the fans. That wasn’t a very hard decision.”

(Quoted from the Sacramento Bee)

That isn’t exactly Mike Hampton claiming he signed with the Rockies because of Colorado’s school system, but who is he fooling with this type of cliche? I would love to hear one of these guys say “I signed this contract because it sets my family up for financial prosperity for the next few generations.”

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-25

» 25 April 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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Three Quotes That Changed the Way I Think About Baseball

» 20 April 2010 » In NPB Tracker » 2 Comments

Rather than post something about the news tonight, I thought I’d share a couple of insights that affected my view of baseball. I doubt the audience here will consider these revelations, but maybe they will lend some insight into why I write about what I write about.

1. When I was about 14 or so, my dad repeated to me something he had heard in an interview with Chad Curtis: “in baseball, you have to think about the process”. And I guess that that was a concept I sort of got prior to hearing that, but that was the first time I had heard it articulated so succinctly and it just stuck. Remember I was about 14 when I heard this.

2. A few years later, I was reading the letters section of Baseball America, and someone wrote in calling some prospect a bust. BA’s response was, and I paraphrase, “what do you mean he was a bust? He reached 3A and got hurt.” It dawned on me then that playing 3A is actually a sign of a pretty good playing career.

3. This last one is the only one I don’t have to paraphrase. John Sickels on former Cubs prospect Brooks Kieschnick: “In an alternate universe somewhere, the Cubs let him play in ’96 and ’97 and he ended up having a decent career.” I’ve always enjoyed John’s work, and his prospect retros are an elegant way of pointing out that every player needs a chance in order to be successful.

I’ve spent nearly my entire life to this point learning about baseball, and I think most of the knowledge I have has been accumulated over time. But these three ‘ah-ha’ moments stand out as things that immediately affected the way I look at the game.

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Colby Lewis Japan Stats

» 19 April 2010 » In npb » 2 Comments

Every day someone winds up on this site from a search string like “Colby Lewis Japan Stats”. So here they are, courtesy of Wikipedia.

Note: the formatting of the NPB Tracker blog is not conducive to publishing stats tables, and I don’t feel like messing with it, hence the link to the static html page.

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Bullet Points: NHL Playoffs, Debuts

» 19 April 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 8 Comments

First a little diversion into hockey: the NHL playoffs are underway and my local San Jose Sharks won the top seed in the Western Conference, and are off to an… interesting start to their first series. If you’ve paid any attention to the Sharks over the last few years, you know that they’ve made a habit of perennially flaming out in the early rounds of the playoffs. So I had modest expectations coming in, which I thought were realized with a rather lackluster game one. But in game two I saw a Sharks team that I haven’t seen in a long time. I can’t remember the last time I saw them play with such a level of urgency. And they took it up a notch in game three, completely dominating the puck in the second and third periods.

But the Sharks had their flaws in both games two and three: in game two they few chances they gave up were top-notch, and Evgeni Nabakov didn’t make any big saves in regulation; in game three the Sharks just couldn’t manage to score, despite getting 51 shots to the net, and eventually lost on an own-goal in overtime. The Sharks are clearly more talented than Colorado but have yet to really play a complete game.

Somewhere in an alternate universe, the Sharks kept their young players together, Jonathan Cheechoo never fell apart, and a team featuring lines of Joe Thornton, Cheechoo, and Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau, Milan Mihalek, and Steve Bernier has played Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup finals the last two years.

And while we’re on hockey, Janblurr put up a post last week on the state of German professional hockey and some of the issues currently facing the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

On with the bullet points…

  • On April 18, Hanshin’s Tomoaki Kanemoto failed to play every inning of his team’s game for the first time since 1999, ending his “full inning” streak at 1492. Just think about that for a second. 1492 games without missing an inning, from age 31 to 42. Kanemoto did make a pinch hit appearance, so his consecutive game streak is alive.
  • Roberto Petagine updates: Petagine will make his SoftBank debut during the interleague games in May at the earliest, and word is he’ll retire after his time in Fukuoka. Roberto’s 62 year-old wife Olga will be accompanying him to Japan.
  • Randy Johnson threw out the first pitch at a Seibu game last week.
  • One of my players to watch, Romash Tasuku Dass, made his first ichi-gun start of 2010 last week. The results? Not impressive. I didn’t see the game but he featured mostly a mid-80’s fastball, and got knocked out of the game early. Deanna was right.
  • Casey Fossum also made his Japan debut last week, throwing six shutout innings in a Tigers win. His velocity wasn’t great either.
  • SoftBank worked out Michael Olmsted and JD Durbin. Based on the Nikkan Sports write-up, Olmsted was the more impressive of the two, striking out six of nine batters faced. Durbin struck out four of 11. I’m not sure if these were live batters or in a simulated game scneario.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-18

» 18 April 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

  • NPB Bullet Points: The Season Thus Far: News and notes on the season so far
    …In Japanese:

    Juan Morillo has been d… http://bit.ly/b7YaDC #

  • SoftBank Brings Petagine Back to Japan: Looking for another power hitter, the SoftBank Hawks have pulled former NP… http://bit.ly/b5KAYU #
  • sports leagues unite against Skip Bayless: http://onion.com/crvggd #

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SoftBank Brings Petagine Back to Japan

» 15 April 2010 » In npb » 9 Comments

Looking for another power hitter, the SoftBank Hawks have pulled former NPB star Roberto Petagine off the scrap heap, signing him to a $400k deal with performance bonuses. Petagine previously played for Yakult from 1999-2002, where he was an absolute terror, before Yomiuri signed him to replace Hideki Matsui’s bat. Since leaving Japan, Petagine has spent time with the Red Sox, Mariners and LG Twins of Korea.

Petagine joins a rather crowded 1B/3B/DH/LF depth chart. I figure whatever at-bats he gets will come at the expense of Lee Beom-Ho. Nobuhiro Matsuda seems to be getting most of the starts at third, relegating Lee to a bench role despite his superior OPS (.741 vs .691). Hiroki Kokubo (1B) and Jose Ortiz (LF) are off to good starts, and Nobuhiko Matsunaka is SoftBank’s DH, even though he’s not the hitter he once was.

Two other questions remain:

  1. How much of his wife, who is about 30 years older, be seen at Fukuoka Dome? She was ever-present in Roberto’s Yakult days.
  2. Will Tuffy Rhodes get another shot? (Rakuten? Nippon Ham?) Petagine is, of course, playing for a fraction of what Rhodes turned down from Orix.

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NPB Bullet Points: The Season Thus Far

» 11 April 2010 » In mlb, nichibei, npb » 10 Comments

News and notes on the season so far

…In Japanese:

  • Juan Morillo has been demoted to ni-gun. Unfortunately, his lack of command has translated to NPB. His velocity has been as advertised though.
  • On the flipside, Matt Murton is off to a hot start in Japan, having reached base safely in all 13 games so far this season. His slash line is a robust .407/.484/.556.
  • Takayuki Kishi took a no-hitter into the 7th against Orix on the 6th, and finished with a one-hit shutout. Bonus points to those of you who can recall Japan’s last no-hitter.
  • Tsuyoshi Wada set a new career best with 15 strikeouts against Lotte on April 8.
  • The Hanshin Tigers picked up lefty Yusuke Kawasaki for cash from the Chiba Lotte Marines. The last trade that Hanshin made with Lotte worked out pretty well for the Tigers, netting them Yasuyuki Kubo.
  • The Japanese baseball media has an uncanny ability find and point out obscure streaks. Examples? Last week, Nippon Ham’s Kensuke Tanaka’s streak at-bats without hitting into a double play ended at 862. On the 11th, Hiroshima’s Tomonori Maeda went yard for the first time in 686 days.
  • In a rather forward-thinking move, Nippon Ham is limiting Yu Darvish’s pitch counts to 120 per start. Darvish surpassed 140 pitches in two of his first three starts, and Ham is concerned about keeping him healthy for the whole season.
  • Belated congratulations to Shingo Takatsu, who has now saved games in Japan, the US, Korea and Taiwan. I hope he plays Winter League ball somewhere this year.

…and in English:

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-11

» 11 April 2010 » In Uncategorized » Comments Off

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SoftBank to Work Out Two

» 09 April 2010 » In nichibei, npb » 8 Comments

According to Sanspo, SoftBank will be working out American pitchers JD Durbin and Michael Olmsted after the Hawks’ game against Rakuten on April 18th. SoftBank had looked for pitching reinforcements after failing to retain the services of Justin Germano, but didn’t make add any arms over the off season.

Durbin has 72.2 MLB innings under his belt, and was last seen in the Show in 2007. Olmsted played in the Mets’ low minors in 2007 and 2008, which would make him an ikusei-level prospect.

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