Table of Contents

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Today in Baseball (4/19/06)

Reflections on today's game
Way to go offense -- EdE's the man tonight!

Eek about the pitching. I'm not really worried about Harang, though Brennaman's comment on today's radio broadcast about his notable inconsistency in the early goings here is valid. Nevertheless, I still have more confidence in Harang than any other pitcher on our staff. There's little indication that he'll regress substantially this year vs. last year based on his prior performance. Good to see Coffey come in and be dominant again, however.

Womack really seems to be in Narron's doghouse these days. I haven't been surprised that Tony's not starting much with Freel starting in centerfield; there's little point from an offensive standpoint to have both Womack and Freel in the same lineup. They're both essentially defined as leadoff hitters, at least among traditionalists...which Narron is (mostly). It's a great time to get Phillips some at-bats at 2B (go Brandon, by the way--he's certainly surpassing most people's expectations in his first week with the club, mine certainly included).

But in the bottom of the ninth, when Dunn walked to lead off the inning, I was surprised that Narron didn't pinch run for Dunn with Womack and try to steal a base. Narron still would have had Valentin on the bench to pinch-hit for the pitcher, who was not due up for another 7 batters. It all worked out in the end thanks to Hatteberg's single and EdE coming through in the clutch, of course. But I still found it surprising given Narron's comment the other day about how "you can't just wait for the home run every night." That's especially the case in a tie home game, in the bottom of the 9th, when your bullpen has been awful.

Womack, by the way, has yet to steal a base this year.

Gosling up, then down; Shackelford present for road trip

Michael Gosling was up to the majors and then down again before I even had a chance to post about it! But Shackelford has now arrived in the big league camp to take over for the largely ineffective Mike Burns. Stats on Shackelford (copied from my post when he was demoted):
Year/Team IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP ERA FIP PERA VORP GB%
2003/A+ 27.3 6.6 2.6 0.33 0.205 1.98 3.09 5.47 4.4 ---
2003/AA 20.0 8.6 6.3 1.35 0.359 6.30 5.35 9.00 -8.2 ---
2003/AAA 15.7 5.7 4.0 0.00 0.288 2.29 3.26 4.20 3.3 ---
2004/AAA 73.0 7.8 5.2 0.74 0.263 3.58 4.27 5.35 10.0 --
2005/AAA 32.7 5.8 2.8 0.28 0.333 5.23 3.23 4.18 0.1 57%
2005/CIN 29.7 5.2 2.7 0.61 0.224 2.43 4.45 4.40 9.1 45%
His 2.43 ERA with Cincinnati was very impressive last season, while his 5.23 ERA in AAA was thoroughly unimpressive. If you look at his peripherals, however, they differ in the opposite manner--his FIP in AAA was 3.23, while his FIP with the Reds was 4.45. The reason for this seems to be his BABIP, which was unusually high in AAA and unusually low with the Reds. Still, a 4.45 ERA would be an improvement for this Reds team. He's a guy who doesn't strike out many hitters, but also doesn't walk all that many and, most importantly, consistently keeps the ball in the park (0.61 HR/9 last year, and has been below 1 hr/9 in every season except his 2003 20-inning stint in AA).

Shackelford's promotion gives the Reds four right-handers (Belisle, Coffey, Weathers, White) and three left-handers (Hammond, Mercker, Shackelford) in the bullpen. There's a sense in which I would have preferred that they bring back Wagner instead of Shackelford, but they may want to keep Ryan down there a bit longer to keep working on his fastball velocity. I still think Wagner can really help us this year (he was unbelievably unlucky last year--compare his 6+ ERA to his 3.8ish FIP!), but it might be good for the kid's psyche if he can have a good couple of months down there to get his confidence back before we bring him back up to the big club.

Dunn is the 19th most valuable player in baseball
...at least he is according to Nate Silver, PECOTA guru at Baseball Prospectus. This is based on a two-part series he did on ESPN's page 2. Excerpt:
Even the most tradition-minded fans have come to accept the importance of a high on-base percentage and slugging average. However, in spite of his excellence in those departments, there remains something of a blind spot with respect to Mr. Dunn; I expect to receive more than a few choicely worded e-mails about how such a clumsy-looking player can rank two slots ahead of Mr. Intangibles. The math here is simple -- all of Dunn's strikeouts and base-running gaffes don't cost the Reds more than a handful of runs over the course of a season, whereas his bat projects to be worth about 50 runs per year for the foreseeable future. His awkward outfield defense is a more tangible problem, but it isn't his fault that the Reds put him back out to pasture while employing Rich Aurilia and Scott Hatteberg at first.
Edwin Encarnacion was also mentioned favorably, though only in passing under Brian McCann's spot at #40. Thanks to Red Reporter for the link.

David Wright makes 3 errors
Wright, widely regarded as the best young third-baseman in baseball (Silver rated him as the #2 most valuable player in baseball in his rankings in the above story), made three errors today. It's worth pointing this out, because I thought people were going to lynch Encarnacion when he did the same a few days ago.

Granted, EdE's now made 7 errors and absolutely must improve on his consistency on routine plays. Nevertheless, it's worth pointing out EdE was a better defensive third baseman than Wright was last year. EdE was rated (Fielding Bible) at +5 bases saved in 478 innings, while Wright was rated at a very poor -17 bases saved in 1404.3 innings (25th out of 27 regular 3B's in MLB). Good range from EdE made up for his miscues.

Thanks to AvesIce51 at RedsZone for the heads up.

Grapefruit League Sets Attendance Record
Spring training in Florida was more popular than ever, despite the World Baseball Classic sucking many of the best players away from their teams. This is yet another indictment against those who nay-say (nay-said?) the WBC. I'm really looking forward to the Classic when it comes again in 2009--if you think the US team is a bit peeved about not winning the classic, the Dominican Republic team is going to be fuming--although I still am hoping for some changes in the format.

Thanks to the Hardball Times for the link.

Superstitions and Baseball Players
bhsu21 posted this article on his blog about baseball player superstitions. Really funny stuff. Here's an excerpt:
Larry Walker is obsessed with the number "3." He sets his alarm for 33 minutes past the hour, takes practice swings in multiples of three, wears No. 33, was married on Nov. 3 at 3:33 p.m., and bought tickets for 33 disadvantaged kids when he played in Montreal, to be seated in Section 333 at Olympic Stadium. His last contract his current contract included a joint $3,333,333 donation to children's organizations in British Columbia and Colorado. Finally he has 3 kids.
Thanks to MikeS21 at RedsZone for the link.