Games » New York YankeesAug13
If you’ve been following this website from the beginning, you know there have been wildly different opinions expressed about certain players. How does that happen? Why do some people think Jason Kendall is a horrible catcher and others think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread?
Probably two things: ‘eyes’ vs. ‘numbers’ and watching every day vs. watching once in a while.
The ‘numbers’ guys think the ‘eyes’ guys let unimportant factors influence their evaluations and the ‘eyes’ guys think the ‘number’s’ guys miss important factors. Most of the people I’ve talked to think a combination of the two is the best approach.
Case in point: Last night the Yankees stole two bases in two attempts. (See? Kendall is horrible, he can’t throw anybody out!) Those are the numbers, but if you were watching you know the first stolen base happened with runners at first and third in a one-run game and the Royals decided to have Jason let the runner go to second and look to third where there was no play.
And if you were watching you’d also know the second stolen base was a blown rundown after a pickoff in which Kendall never touched the ball. Two stolen bases that go against his record, but aren’t an indication of his ability to throw out runners. (By the way: Going into this game Kendall had thrown out 29 percent of all base stealers, not great, but not awful.)
OK, so how about watching every day vs. watching once in a while? Mike Swanson, the Royals vice president of communication and broadcasting expressed…oh, let’s say amazement…at the number of people who have firm opinions without actually watching the games or players.
Despite some of the less than flattering evaluations expressed on this website he thinks it’s fair. He likes the system and the patterns it reveals. He doesn’t agree with everything but said, “It’s subjective, because it’s your opinion, but it’s also fact, because you’re watching every day and it’s based on what you’re actually seeing.” By watching every game he felt I was balancing the positives and the negatives all players bring to the field. By paying attention to offense AND defense, he thought the website was bringing some ‘sanity’ back to the debate.
On the other hand, if I’m the one supplying sanity, we’re in a LOT of trouble.
The blown rundown…
Blake Wood picked off pinch runner Ramiro Pena in the eighth inning. The first baseman has to move toward the pitcher on this play so when he receives the throw, he’s not directly in line with the base runner. Billy Butler did that. The defender on the other end of the rundown, Yuniesky Betancourt in this case, has to get on the same side of the runner as the first baseman so the throw doesn’t cross the runner’s path and risk hitting him. Betancourt did that. The defender with the ball holds the ball up in the air and sprints at the runner, forcing the runner to go all out. Butler kinda did that. The defender on the other end makes sure he’s past the base because he doesn’t want to have to make a tag while the runner is sliding into the base (any problem and the runner will be safe) so the play is made before the runner gets near the base. Betancourt did that. The defender receiving the ball signals for the throw, Betancourt did that, and the defender with the ball flips it to the tagging defender.
Butler didn’t do that.
The problem was Billy didn’t have Pena going full speed (and let’s face it, Billy might need to be driving a late-model sports car to get Pena going full speed). Just when Yuniesky signaled for the ball, Pena feinted back to first, Billy bought the fake, pumped once and by the time he threw the ball, Pena was past Betancourt.
When in doubt, throw early and count on your teammates to be where they’re supposed to be. The mental mistake was Butler’s.
Qs & As…
I talked to Jason Kendall about the double play ball in the previous game and he said he peeled off because he just couldn’t get there in time. He also said catchers have to take a lot of pain and anytime they get a chance to inflict some, they don’t mind doing it. “Trust me, if I could’ve gotten there, I would’ve.”
I also wanted to know just how close that fastball came to his head and he said he didn’t know, he was busy getting out of the way. “How close did it look?” I told him that on TV it seemed to have a pretty good chance of removing his lips. He agreed the pitcher was trying to move him off the plate to get outside corner, but doubted he wanted the pitch that close.
The guy almost killed him and it’s all in a day’s work.
Kanekoa Texeira talked about his trip to a Hawaiian restaurant in Seattle and asked if there was anything like that around here. So if anybody knows of one, drop a line. He showed me the grips he’s using and agreed he’s being brought in when they need a groundball. His two-seamer runs in or in and down to a righty and he has no idea which motion it’s going to have. If it goes down and in he gets ground balls and if it just goes in he gets fly balls. His pitch to the other side of the plate is a cutter (a kind of half-assed slider). He said he’d just decided to be aggressive and live with the results and figured the pressure was on the guys with the big contracts, not him.
Jerry Dipoto, former big league reliever and current Diamondbacks GM, once complained to his agent about the size of his contract: It was too big. “Y’know, for this kind of money, they’re going to expect me to get someone out.”
Kanekoa understands that mindset completely. For the kind of money he’s getting he figures he’s supposed to get beat so go right at the hitters and make them earn their money.
Next I asked Bruce Chen why he chewed gum in some games and not others. (Hey, this stuff is important in the world of baseball.) He looked stunned and said he didn’t realize that. (OK, now I’ve jinxed him.) I apologized for making him think about something that wasn’t an issue before. He guessed that if there was some around in the bullpen, he’d grab it, but if there wasn’t he didn’t go looking for it. If his next start’s bad, you can blame me.
I ran into Willie Bloomquist and asked about first-pitch hitting against CC Sabathia. The better the pitcher, the fewer good pitches you’re going to get, so jumping on the first good fastball made sense to Willie (and it worked). A lesser pitcher might make more mistakes and you can afford to take more pitches. Despite the fact that Sabathia was sweating like a Christian in a strip club, Willie said CC can throw 140 pitches if he needs to, so taking to get him out the game probably isn’t going to work. He agreed the downside of first-pitch swinging is that if you don’t get a hit you make an inning very easy for the defense.
The notes ran a little long today and I didn’t even get into what Steve Palermo had to say. I’ll wait until I have more room for all the expletives. (He’s one funny dude.)