|OS Real Time|
|Mark Forums Read|
|Edit Your Details|
Gary Armida's Blog
The FullCount: Media, Rangers, Swings and MissesPosted on August 3, 2012 at 09:25 AM.
One of the best things about new media is that everything is instant. Information, stories, developments are all instant. We no longer have to wait until the morning papers to read about the stories. News is literally breaking when it happens. The worst part about new media is that everything is instant. Information, stories, and developments are all instant. Because of the instant information, it has led to a race between reporters. Each reporter will race to twitter, race to hit the publish button, and race to get their name out there first. Being first, sadly, equates to being the best. But, it comes at a price. It comes at a price of accuracy.
All anyone had to do was follow the national writers on twitter during the last days of the trade deadline. Every writer had their “sources” tell them that deals were close. Of course, almost all of them were wrong. I get it; it’s the industry. They have to do it. But, sometimes the truth gets lost. Sometimes, the focus gets too much off of the field and speculation rules rather than truth.
The instant nature of the business ends up with writers trying to dig up stories. They are starting to circle around Josh Hamilton. Hamilton’s struggles are definitely a story. He hit just .177 in July. Nolan Ryan criticized him in the media, which raised some eyebrows. Then came cryptic comments from his Manager, who should have just said that Hamilton was in a slump. Then Hamilton made some cryptic comments of his own about not being able to share what’s wrong yet. Of course there is a story here. Of course, Hamilton is a player whose past always brings the worst thoughts when it comes to issues. Speculation is starting to simmer. It will explode until Hamilton reveals what’s going on.
The problem is that Hamilton shouldn’t really have to reveal what’s going on. He eventually will because there is going to be a circus, especially if he continues to struggle. Perhaps he can stave off the media if he has more nights like last night. Back in the third spot in the order, Hamilton had two hits and drove in four runs. Nights like that and the talk shifts back to baseball. Hopefully, Hamilton can just go back to being one of the best hitters in the game and the story will be about the field. Every player has a personal life that has personal problems. New media, old media, or any type of media shouldn’t be digging around for it. Hopefully, they leave Hamilton alone. Doubtful.
Now on to the more important events on the field...
Pitch One: Dempster’s Debut
I had doubts about Ryan Dempster’s ability to succeed in the American League and in Texas. His first game in Texas was a disaster. In just 4.2 innings, he allowed 9 hits, 8 runs, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts. He was bailed out by Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, but Dempster had trouble against the deep Angels lineup. Of course, it is just one game and there can be nerves and an adjustment period. But, the Rangers did not get an ace like the Angels did. Although the two played to a draw in this series, the Angels are a more well rounded team and better suited for the playoffs. That doesn’t mean that the Rangers can’t win the World Series, but they are a team without a number one pitcher.
Pitch Two: Mike Olt and Dan Straily
Two of the better prospects in Baseball were called up yesterday as Mike Olt of the Rangers made his Major League debut against the Angels. Dan Straily of the Oakland A’s will make his debut tonight as he takes the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays. Olt has dominated double-A this season, batting .288/.398/.579 with 17 doubles, 28 home runs, and 82 RBI in 95 games. The Rangers, needing a spark, decided to have their second best offensive prospect skip the triple-A level and come to Texas. Ron Washington said that the rookie will start at first base and designated hitter against left handed pitchers, but that seems awfully limited for a top prospect. After going one for three with a run scored in his debut, Olt should get an opportunity to win a more regular role. If not, he would’ve been better off playing every day in the Minor Leagues.
The Rangers are making the move because of the struggles of Michael Young. The veteran has only a .297 OBP and is in the midst of his worst season as a Major Leaguer. Olt could provide some more power to an already powerful lineup, allow Washington to rest Adrian Beltre and his outfielders, while returning Young to more of a utility role.
The A’s called up their hottest prospect, Dan Straily. The right handed starter has dominated both double-A and triple-A this season, making a huge leap in his development. In 22 starts (8 at triple-A), Straily is averaging 6.3 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 2.4 BB/9, and 11.6 K/9 along with a 2.72 ERA. Billy Beane is hoping that his suddenly great prospect--he wasn’t highly regarded or ranked in any preseason publication--can be a boost to his rotation that has been one of the better rotations in the league, but also one that ranks 12th in strikeouts. Strikeouts aren’t everything, but a lack of them puts tremendous strain on a defense and allows for more run scoring opportunities for the opposition. Having a starter like Straily can help ease the pressure of the defense.
The A’s didn’t make a trade, but Beane will hope that Straily can be his acquisition much like the Tampa Bay Rays add from within. If Straily can succeed, the A’s can truly compete for a playoff berth. With Brett Anderson on the way back and Brandon McCarthy making his way back, the A’s rotation can perform even better.
Pitch Three: We’re Missing a Good Story
The A’s are rightfully getting quite a bit of attention. Their 57-48 record is a huge surprise considering they were supposedly rebuilding again. But, the Baltimore Orioles deserve some attention too as they are still in playoff contention with a 55-50 record. Their run differential is at minus-64 and their rotation is a mess, but they have won 6 of their last 10 and still haven’t fallen off despite having the least talented roster in the division. They rank just 10th in the AL in runs scored, 11th in on base percentage, and 12th in slugging percentage. Their 4.23 ERA is just 9th in the league. Every statistic points to having a losing record, yet they are still on the periphery of a pennant race. They are overachieving in every way, which is a trademark of a Buck Showalter team. Showalter rarely gets credit, but he’s been a part of three different organizations’ transformations. He piloted the Yankees during the early 90’s before their great run. He built the Diamondbacks. He helped develop the Rangers and now he is making the Orioles better. The Orioles, in a tougher division, are a tremendous story. They haven’t had a winning season since 1998, but they look as if that will end this season despite the imperfect team.
Pitch Four: American League’s Hottest Team
It’s not the Yankees, Rays, Rangers, or even the Angels. The American League’s best team of late has been the Seattle Mariners. They are currently riding a seven game winning streak and have won 8 of their last 10 games. They now have a +3 run differential, something that seems remarkable considering just how poor their offense has been all season. They’ll face a much tougher set of opponents in their next 12 games with dates against the Yankees, Orioles, Angels, and Rays. Since trading Ichiro Suzuki, they are 8-2. Maybe that has something to do with it, but most likely it has to do with getting some offense. In their last 8 wins, they have scored at least four runs per contest. What’s even more important is that they have scored those runs at home. Since July 2nd, the Mariners have outscored their opponents 107-76.
Since the All-Star break, the Mariners are 13-6, the second best record in the Major Leagues. Their bullpen has averaged 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings since June. The offense has finally started to show some signs of life. It’s not as if they need a juggernaut. The Mariners are 39-14 when they score at least four runs. Their pitching staff is good; their defense is elite. The second half has illustrated that they can be a good team with just an average offense.
Pitch Five: Z-Contact %
I write a lot about strikeouts being important, but that is just one component of what makes a good Major League pitcher. Rick Peterson, the Baltimore Orioles Director of Pitching and former Pitching Coach for the A’s, Mets, and Brewers, once told me that most organizations look for a pitcher who can not only strike out hitters, but who can also generate swings and misses on pitches in the strike zone and generate groundballs. Today, we’ll look at the pitchers with the best swing and miss rate.
Z-Contact % Leaders: Starting Pitchers (100 inning minimum)
1. Justin Verlander (21.4%)
2. RA Dickey (20.7%)
3. Matt Moore (20.3%)
4. Cole Hamels (19.1%)
5. Johan Santana (18.9%)
BORN: April 17, 1975 (38)
JOINED: Oct 26, 2003 (9 years, 212 days ago)
MEMBER # 13,930
JOINED: Oct 26, 2003 (9 years, 212 days ago)
MEMBER # 13,930
2,669 Forum Posts
0.76 Posts Per Day
147 Blog Entries
284 News/Blog Comments
2 Reader Score Votes
0 Chalkboard Messages
233,526 Arena Visits
Gary Armida's Blog Categories
More Gary Armida's Friends