Well, I hope you caught at least the highlights of Mark Buehrle's performance yesterday, as the lefthander became just the 18th member of the perfect game club. And I'm sure you saw the absolutely sensational catch made by Dewayne Wise to protect the perfect game in the ninth (eat your heart out, Aaron Rowand). Buehrle had already tossed a no-hitter (one in which he only faced the minimum 27 batters) in 2007, but this was special. Over at BP Unfiltered, Steven Goldman takes a look back at the other White Sox perfect game. As perfect game club member Catfish Hunter put it, "the sun don't shine on the same dog's ass all the time." Well, it's certainly shining on Buehrle's today.
Today's box score is all about lists. You know, the sort that internet baseball writers compile so people like me will link to them?
Have you ever seen Albert Pujols bunt? It's not that he's never done it (he had one back in 2001). Heck, he's probably an excellent bunter. It's just that he's got a comparative advantage in hitting. Which is why I was sort of confused when I saw that Sports Illustrated had asked Joe Posnanski to compile a list of the 100 best current baseball players. It's not that he did a bad job (though of course there are things to quibble with), it's just that he's got a comparative advantage in excellent baseball writing. But here I am, linking you to it. Here's what he says about #1, Albert Pujols:
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Cardinals
"Every hitter is human," says pitcher Zack Greinke (No. 4). "Except Pujols."
Just for sporting sake, I'll pick a bone with putting Evan Longoria (15) behind Carlos Beltran (12). What's your beef with the list?
Continuing with the lists, I'm always deeply satisfied by the coincidence of sportswriters deadlines and the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline. It's a match made in heaven! So how about a list of the 10 worst trade deadline deals of the last decade? Of course, number one is Omar Minaya's biggest debacle ever:
1. Expos trade for Bartolo Colon, 2002. And you wonder why the Nats are so bad. Do you think they could have used Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips the past few years? That's who they gave up for Colon and the black sheep of the Drew family.
But I don't think this one gets enough credit as a terrible trade:
3. Braves help the Rangers rebuild by acquiring Mark Teixeira, 2007. This could have been a move that helped both teams. Instead, the Braves never sniffed the postseason with Tex, and swapped him out for Casey Kotchman and Steve Marek (who?) about a year later. The Rangers, on the other hand, came away with Elvis Andrus, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Neftali Feliz and Beau Jones.
Elvis Andrus is playing shortstop every day, Saltalamacchia splits time in the bigs, Neftali Feliz threw 101.4 mph in the Futures Game, and the other two guys aren't bad either. Give it a few years.
How about trades that, instead of requiring one team to forfeit tons of talent, simply required a large salary payout with little performance in return? Jonah Keri looks at the deadline trades that squandered millions. Here's a reminder that not so long ago, the Pirates had absolutely NO IDEA what they were doing:
Sometimes a team would have been better off burning a pile of money in center field. In 2007, the Pirates, who were in last place, traded for starting pitcher Matt Morris. They stayed in the basement that year and the following year. In that time period, the Pirates paid more than $13 million for Mr. Morris’s 7.04 ERA.
Not even the Wall Street Journal's last name convention (Mr. Morris) can gussy up this trade above the level of steaming hunk of garbage. So to you teams that want to acquire Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, keep in mind what Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has said he would like in return:
Ricciardi said recently he expects a package "similar or better" to packages the Orioles received in 2008 for Erik Bedard and the Indians received in '02 for Bartolo Colon. The Orioles received All-Star outfielder Adam Jones, All-Star closer George Sherrill, top pitching prospect Chris Tillman and two others for Bedard.
Some teams have been making smart, incremental moves, however. Take the Rockies, for instance, who yesterday improved their bullpen in two ways. First, they called up top pitching prospect Jhoulys Chacin to pitch out of the major league bullpen. Over at THT, Nick Steiner breaks down his Futures Game performance. He's particularly intrigued by his changeup:
Without the late bit of tail, you could easily classify it as a slider; however, it's movement and spin more resemble that of a change. The speed differential with it and the fastball isn't great, but the flight pattern of both of the pitches are so dissimilar, that it should make for a nice out pitch.
The Rockies also acquired set up man Rafael Betancourt from the Indians for Class-A starter Connor Graham. At Purple Row, using Sky's Trade Value Calculator, Jabberwocky says this is a very even trade.
I am a little more pessimistic on Graham than Sickels is, given his likely future (and ceiling) as a setup man, so I personally value him at around $3 million--which is right around the return the Rockies can expect to receive from Betancourt. My verdict, therefore, is that this is an exceedingly fair trade--one that could be tilted either way by Graham flaming out or becoming a productive starter or even Betancourt returning to 2007 form (3.2 WAR).
You know what would really help us fans evaluate all these trades that are being made? More in-season projections. Sure, you can find in-season ZiPS at FanGraphs, but what if you want to compare multiple projections? Well I'm happy to report (and was as giddy as a schoolgirl to learn) that Baseball Prospectus now features in-season PECOTA projections on all player cards. Of course, you still need to be a subscriber to get access. In a related item, BP Idol alumnus Ken Funck looked at players who are routinely over- and under-rated by PECOTA.
Think of the most sabermetrically-inclined MLB managers. Who's on your list? Eric Wedge? Ken Macha? Terry Francona? I bet you didn't say Charlie Manuel. With his girth and piedmont Virginia accent, he'd be tough to confuse for a stats-geek, but that doesn't mean he doesn't grok the essential lessons, says Bill Baer:
More managers should mimic Manuel in his decision-making because it’s based on logic, which is backed up by facts (disclaimer: not always; nobody’s perfect). Manuel is not a Sabermetrician and probably has little or no idea what one is, yet he probably thinks a lot like one anyway — even without the graphing calculator and slide rule.
The Phillies just executed an unusual double play. There are two types of ground double plays; the traditional when players are forced at two bases, and a reverse force, which usually happens when the first baseman steps on first, then throws to second for a tag play. The Padres had men on first and second when Kouzmanoff ground to Feliz. Cabrera was running from second, but stopped to avoid the tag. Feliz threw to Utley for the force at second, and when Cabrera fell down, Utley threw back to Feliz for the tag. I guess that’s a double reverse force double play!
Finally, for some comic relief, I offer you Alyson Footer's pictures from the Astros' wives galas in the 1990s. Oh, the hair. And Casey Candaele, what is that vest you are wearing, my friend? Are you trying to breakdance? Oh my.