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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Weekend News Roundup/Commentary (5/13/06)

Williams pushed back a day in rotation

Dave Williams is set to pitch today against the Phillies. That's something of a surprise, because it means he was pushed back a day to keep Elizardo Ramirez on schedule. This certainly indicates that Williams will need to shape up in his next few outings to remain in the rotation--and possibly with the big league club--when Eric Milton returns from the disabled list. Given that Elizardo again pitched well, I would not be surprised to see Milton's return mean Williams' demotion. Another possibility would be that Williams could be sent to the bullpen and Shackelford could be demoted. As I mentioned in my BKR profile on Williams, the bullpen might be where he could help us the most. Many pitchers see their ERA's drop by ~1 run upon entering the bullpen.

Denorfia down to AAA; Stratton out

Chris Denorfia was predictably returned to the minor leagues when Griffey returned. McCracken has played well for us and, being a veteran, he could not be sent down without his consent. Therefore, Denorfia was the only guy to go.

To make room for Chris, Rob Stratton was released. I was surprised by this move. According to Redleg Nation's Reds Organization chart, AAA-Louisville had five outfielders: Andy Abad, Alex Sanchez, Brian Buchanan, Norris Hopper, and Stratton. Hopper seems liken an obvious choice for release instead of Stratton, although that could mean that Rob would be sitting on the bench. Perhaps this move was just meant to allow Rob a chance to sign on with another ballclub, as he clearly was below Abad, Sanchez, and possibly Buchanan on the depth chart.

Cole Hamels lives up to hype?

Hamels did go five shut-out innings and struck out an impressive seven, but also was pretty wild, walking five. All things considered, not a bad first-time outing for a young pitcher, particularly against the Reds' powerful offense. I think we'll be seeing him a lot over the next several years. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that many in Philadelphia might be a bit let down by his performance given their high expectations (hat tip to jd at red reporter).

Elizardo was a tough-luck loser yet again. The kid pitched well. I've very pleased with his performance this year.

iBall Reds Marketing Campaign

Daedalus has a great idea for a Reds marketing campaign.

Ground ball pitchers @ Hardball Times

David Gassko has a nice little article investigating the characteristics ground-ball pitchers. You see me harping all the time about how the Reds need to get more guys who induce a lot of ground balls. A big part of this is due to the unique character of the Reds' ballpark. GABP is a neutral park: it is very tough on ground balls (high out/gb ratio), but fly balls become home runs at a high rate. Nevertheless, there are costs and benefits to ground-ball pitchers. Gassko's article reports the following characteristics to groundball pitchers:
  • Lower HR-allowed rate
  • Non-groundballs off of ground-ball pitchers tend to be line drives, not fly balls
  • Groundball pitchers give up far more unearned runs, which may mean that their ERA's are artificially lower than they should be.
Coors Field's use of humidor has lowered its HR-park factor

Speaking of ballparks, Coors' field is infamous for its insane offense. Nevertheless, in 2002, they began storing their game balls in a humidifying room called a humidor. Dave Studeman at the Hardball Times reports that Coors Field's home run's have declined each year since the humidor was installed. Directly from his article, here are the ratios of home runs hit in Coors' vs. elsewhere since 2002:

2002 1.60
2003 1.37
2004 1.23
2005 1.10
2006 0.85

In contrast, he reports that non-HR scoring has not been influenced.

Given all the concerns about GABP's home run friendliness, I can't help but wonder if the Reds should consider installing their own humidor. Granted, Cincinnati already has a more humid climate than Denver, but it might be worth a go. Seems like a relatively cheap way to try to address the problem compared to moving the fences back and such.