Friday, October 9, 2015

Thoughts on a Woman in the Broadcast Booth

OK, I understand this is dangerous territory here, but I gotta comment on Jessica Mendoza doing color commentary for ESPN in the AL Wild Card Game.  Maybe hearing a woman's voice in a setting where you are not used to it is not so strange to Giants fans.  After all, we've been listening to Sherry Davis and then Renel Brooks-Moon do the PA duties at Candlestick and then Pac Bell/AT&T Parks and it sounds normal to us now.  Here are the things I liked about Jessica Mendoza's commentary on the game:

1.  I liked the tone of her voice.  Definitely sounded like a female voice, but not too high pitched.  She had some power in the voice without having to strain it or hit high pitches.

2.  She seemed knowledgeable about what she was commenting on.  The two points she made that I recall off the top of my head were 1.  Explaining why a batter spit on a slider from Masahiro Tanaka.  I might have seemed obvious to those of us who learn at the feet of Kruk and Kuip on a daily basis, but there are millions of people who don't start following baseball until the postseason starts.  2.  Solid explanation of why I was advantageous for George Springer to put his back foot on the back line of the batter's box, showing the plane of  his swing matching the plane of the ball as it met the bat.

3.  She was enthusiastic about the game.  That's a lot more than you can say for her booth-mate, John Kruk, or the dry, unemotional PBP from Dan Shulman, or whatever his name is.  She got really excited about describing Even Gattis as old school and even added in a subtle sense of humor about it.  Maybe not as funny as Kruk and Kuip would have been, but also more animated and not in a forced sense.

Some people objected to the idea of a former softball player being an expert commentator on baseball, but since when do you have to be a former baseball player to understand and describe the game?  I did not hear anyone objecting to the use of Tom Verducci as an expert commentator.  Eno Sarris does a great job of breaking down mechanics of both hitting and pitching over at Fangraphs and I don't think he ever played professional baseball.

I think it is only a matter of time until we get a woman PBP announcer in the booth either on radio, TV or both, so we better get used to the idea.  If they sound as good as Jessica did, they can start tomorrow as far as I'm concerned.  Between Gamer Babes and people I talk to at work who are Angels and Dodgers fans, it sure seems to me that interest in baseball among women is at an all time high and that is good for the game.   I know I have two daughters who would kill for a job like that!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects Review Honorable Mention Part 4

Again, this is a REVIEW of the 2015 list.  The 2016 list will be out sometime after the Winter Meetings:

Jeremy Sy, IF.  Low A:  .247/.346/.372, 4 HR, 12 SB in 231 AB.

Jeremy voluntarily retired after playing a game on 7/15/2015 in which he went 3 for 4.  Stock:  Retired.

Ryan Jones, IF.  Low A:  .219/.303/.240 in 96 AB.  

Jones got a late start due to a suspension, played poorly and was released on 7/15/2015.  Stock:  Released.

Chase Johnson, RHP.  High A:  8-3, 2.43, 111.0 IP, 34 K, 111 K's, GO/AO= 1.60.  AA:  1-1, 5.93, 13.2 IP, 8 BB, 18 K's, GO/AO= 1.40.  

Chase Johnson had a breakout season for SJ putting up dominant numbers.  ERA was not as good after a promo to AA in a SSS, but the 18 K's look promising.  Should start next season for AA Richmond and I expect him to dominate again.  Stock- Up, Way Up!

Steven Messner, LHP.  DNP.  Released 3/20/2015.

Carlos Diaz, LHP.  Low A:  4-3, 1.63, 55.1 IP, 17 BB, 75 K's, GO/AO= 1.42, 9 Saves.  

Let's see, a lefty reliever who can go multiple innings with a K/9 of 12 and a strong GB tendency?  Didn't they just have a pretty elaborate ceremony honoring a guy who fit that general description?  Diaz has to prove it at higher levels but the numbers here look very good.  Stock- Up.

Robert Ramer, RHP.  DNP.  He was apparently injured all season and reinstated from the DL a few days ago.  Stock- Down.

DJ Snelton, LHP.  High A:  0-5, 4.84, 35.1 IP, 15 BB, 31 K, GO/AO= 1.31.  Low A:  5-6, 2.86, 85 IP, 19 BB, 95 K's, GO/AO= 1.50.  

This is going to sound very similar to Pat Young's comment.  Numbers were great for Augusta except he washed out in San Jose.  Hopefully he'll get another try at SJ next year and fare better, because I really like his ceiling.  Stock- Stable.

Conner Kaden, RHP.  Low A:  2-4, 3.81, 49.2 IP, 23 BB, 37 K's, GO/AO= 1.71.  

Decent numbers in first full season.  Stock- Stable.

Seth Harrison, OF.  Low A:  .253/.301/.356, 6  SB in 87 AB.  High A:  .212/.268/.307, 4 HR, 13 SB in 345 AB.  

Yikes!  I did not realize how bad Harrison was going for San Jose.  That is really bad!  Stock- Down.

Jason Forjet, RHP.  High A:  7-4, 2.67, 94.1 IP, 18 BB, 86 K's.  

Solid numbers for SJ.  Should move up to AA Richmond next year.  Stock- Up.

Scouting the Offseason: Should the Giants Sign Jordan Zimmermann?

The Giants offseason plans are well known.  They need to upgrade their starting pitching if they intend to compete for their 4'th consecutive even year championship.  The only questions left are what SP's they are going to acquire and how much are they willing to pay.  One available free agent pitcher seems like a perfect fit.  That would be Jordan Zimmermann of the Washington Nationals.  While he is not a top tier starter in the same class as David Price and Zack Greinke, he is solidly in the second tier and that makes his price tag potentially more palatable to Giants management.  

There is one factor in Jordan Zimmermann's resume that should make the Giants think twice about giving him a large, long term contract, which is likely what it would take to sign him.  He had Tommy John surgery in 2009.  You might respond to that concern by saying all pitchers are at risk of injury at all times.  Zimmermann has already successfully recovered from his surgery.  There are many very good pitchers in the major leagues who have undergone the procedure.  I will counter with some data about Tommy John surgery I have gleaned from articles in Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN and Viva El Birdos.  If you want to look them up for yourself, you can use the search words Tommy John Surgery Recurrence.

1.  The number of pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery is increasing over time.  At the same time, the number of repeat Tommy John surgeries is increasing at an even faster rate.

2.  Long term data from TJ surgeries done between 1974 and 1999 are now complete.  Data from 2000-2009 in nearly complete.  20% of MLB pitchers who undergo TJ surgery never pitch in the major leagues again.  The median career survival after TJ surgery is 100 innings pitched.  95% of pitchers who undergo TJ surgery with a mean age of 22 years are retired within 10 years.

3.  The demographics of pitchers who need TJ surgery is changing with a strong trend toward younger, harder throwing pitchers.  Jordan Zimmermann was one of the first of the younger type of pitcher to undergo the procedure.  You might even call him the index case of the new TJ epidemic.

4. The career survival curves for pitchers who underwent the procedure between 2000-2009 is significantly lower than for those who had it 1974-1999.  It is too early to know how the career survival curve for surgeries done from 2010 on will compare, but lower end of the projected range is farther from the preceding curves than the top end.

5.  I was not able to find full career survival curves for second TJ surgeries, but 35% of pitchers who have a second procedure never pitch another MLB game and the performance levels of those that do are generally quite poor.

Of course, there are always exceptions such as Tommy John himself and AJ Burnett who has had a long post-TJ career and is a hard thrower.  In general though.  We also do not have comparison curves for the attrition rate for pitchers who have not had the procedure.  How many pitchers have 10 year MLB careers with or without TJ surgery?

Let's stipulate that the probability of a post-TJ pitcher having a recurrence is the same as a non-TJ pitcher having a first injury.  The pitcher undergoing the procedure for the first time is much more likely to come back and resume a successful career than one who has it for the second time.  In other words, the risk may not be so much in the probability of injury, but in the probability of successful recovery! While his prior TJ surgery should not disqualify Jordan Zimmermann from consideration for a free agent signing, it should factor into how much money the Giants are willing to pay him and for how long.  The market may push his price to the point where it would be more prudent to invest in a lower risk pitcher or pitchers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects Review Honorable Mention Part 3

Again, this is a REVIEW of 2015.  The 2016 list will be coming out later in the offseason:

Alberto Robles, IF.  DNP.  Stock Down.

Joe Biagini, RHP.  AA:  10-7, 2.42, 130.1 IP, 34 BB, 84 K's, GO/AO= 1.47.

Giants patience with this low round draft pick seems to be finally paying off.  Breakout season.  Stock- Up!

Pat Young, RHP.  Low A:  8-5, 3.39, 82.1 IP, 34 BB, 64 K, GO/AO= 2.03.

Numbers don't look too bad, but he washed out of high A.  Stock- Stable.

Joe Kurrasch, LHP.  DNP.  Stock- Down.

Tyler Rogers, RHP.  High A:  5-1, 1.47, 79.1 IP, 20 BB, 86 K's, GO/AO= 2.69.  AA:  0-1, 5.91, 10.2 IP, 5 BB, 15 K's.

One of the workhorses of the SJ bullpen.  ERA not so good in a SSS with AA, but the peripherals there look good.  Again, SSS.  Stock- Up.

Tyler Mizenko, RHP.  AA:  4-3, 1.98, 50.0 IP, 14 BB, 28 K's, GO/AO= 2.67.

Extreme GB pitcher.  Will this kind of line work at the MLB level as a middle reliever?  Stock- Up.

Martin Agosta, RHP.  High A:  5-9, 4.25, 106 IP, 26 BB, 125 K's.

Terrific K and BB rates but gives up a lot of HR's.  I'm predicting a breakout next season in AA.  Stock- Up.

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP.  High A:  3-0, 2.73, 33 IP, 6 BB, 17 K's, GO/AO= 1.30.

Was getting his best results since being drafted then disappeared after 6/16/2015.  TJ?

Stock- Stable.

Rafael Rodriguez, OF.   High A:  .293/.341/.366 in 82 games.

DNP after 5/3/2015.  Stock- Down.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2015 Giants Top 50 Prospects Review Honorable Mention Part 2

Once again, this is a REVIEW of the 2015 list.  A new list for 2016 will be out after the Winter Meetings:

Ricky Oropesa, 1B.  AA:  .254/.311/.424, 17 HR in 453 AB.

The 17 HR was tied for 4'th best in the EL while the OPS of .734 was 14'th.  Ricky was still plagued by slumps.  He can hope for an assignment to Sacramento next season.  Stock- slightly up.

Angel Villalona, 1B.  High A:  .249/.334/.447, 13 HR in 257 AB.

Solid offensive season and came on strong in August and the September Cal League playoffs.  No telling what he might do if he got himself into better shape.  Stock- slightly up.

Jeff Arnold, Catcher.  High A:  .250/.370/.382 in 68 AB.

Didn't play much, presumably due to injury.  Love him as a player, but the injuries might be too much to overcome.  Stock- down due to apparent long term injury issues.

Phil McCormick, LHP.  AA:  4-3, 2.04, 57.1 IP, 21 BB, 38 K's, GO/AO= 2.33.

Lefty reliever who puts the ball on the ground and can go multiple innings.  Hmm….who does that remind us of?  Stock- Up

Carlos Alvarado, RHP.  Low A:  2-1, 3.75, 24 IP, 12 BB, 26 K.

Last appearance was 7/7/2015 presumably due to injury.  Stock- Down.

Dan Slania, RHP.  High A:  4-5, 3.53, 71.1 IP, 15 BB, 90 K's, 16 Saves.

Terrific K and BB rates.   Headed to the Arizona Fall League.  Stock- Up!

Bryce Bandilla, LHP.  DNP.  Not sure if he is still in the organization.

Elliott Blair, OF.  DNP.  Not sure if he is still in the organization.  Stock- Down.

Ben Turner, Catcher.  High A:  .267/.317/.333, 2 HR in 180 AB.  AAA:  .293/.359/.337 in 92 AB.

The man with the great K/BB.  Like his bat.  Apparently the Giants liked Trevor Brown's D better.  Stock- Stable.

Brandon Bednar, IF.  High A:  .237/.277/.327, 3 HR in 346 AB.

Didn't get much traction this season in a mostly backup role for SJ.  Stock- Down.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fantasy Focus: 2015 Savvy Vets Season Review

My fantasy baseball team, the Savvy Vets, is part of a 10 team H2H Yahoo league with an auction draft.  After finishing a dismal 8'th out of 10 teams in 2014, the Vets improved significantly this year to finish in second place in the fantasy regular season and in 3'rd place in the fantasy playoffs.  Just for review, here is the Savvy Vets that started the season after our auction draft:

Catcher:  Evan Gattis  $4
1B  Albert Pujols  $26
2B  Dee Gordon  $29
3B  Evan Longoria  $17
SS  Troy Tulowitzki  $35
IF   David Wright  $6
OF Jorge Soler  $19
OF Billy Hamilton $16
OF Matt Kemp  $14
UT Matt Holliday $12
UT Brandon Belt  $2
SP  Johnny Cueto  $22
SP  Hisashi Iwakuma $7
SP  Jake DeGrom  $8
SP  Michael Wacha $6
SP  Ian Kennedy $2
RP  Jenrry Mejia  $5
RP  Johnathan Papelbon $5
RP  Hector Rondon $5
P  Joe Nathan $2
P  Neftali Feliz $2
B  Matt Garza $2
B  Brandon McCarthy $2
B  Carlos Carrasco $4
B  Doug Fister $3
B  Carlos Rodon $5

Now, here is my final Savvy Vets Roster.  We were allowed 40 moves in the regular season and 2 in the playoffs, all fantasy, of course:

Catcher  Wilson Ramos
1B  Albert Pujols
2B  Dee Gordon
3B  Evan Longoria
SS Eugenio Suarez
IF  Kendrys Morales
OF Matt Kemp
OF Jackie Bradley
OF Adam Eaton
UT  Anthony Rendon
UT  Domingo Santana
SP  Johnny Cueto
SP  Hisashi Iwakuma
SP  Jake DeGrom
SP  Michael Wacha
SP  Marcus Stroman
RP  Jonathan Papelbon
RP  Hector Rondon
RP  Jeurys Familia
P  Shawn Tolleson
P  Ken Giles
B  Noah Syndergaard
B  Lance McCullers
B  Mike Leake
B  Kevin Gausman
B  Brandon Finnegan


1.  After punting Saves for the past 2 seasons, I wanted to maintain 5 closers, but at the cheapest possible price.  I bid up to $5 on every closer that was nominated in the draft and ended up with 5.  3 of those did not work out, but I was able to replace them once the season started as new closers came available.  Jumping on Familia was the big pickup, but Tolleson and Giles helped a lot too.  I picked up Giles when it became clear that Phils were going to trade Papelbon.  After the trade, I had an extra closer.  I ended up winning Saves all but 1 or 2 weeks all season.

2.  Evan Gattis got off to a horrible start and Travis D'Arnaud, who I really liked too, got off to a hot start.  Unfortunately, D'Arnaud went down with a prolonged injury right after I dumped Gattis for him. Gattis go picked up by another team, so I went with Ramos.  He did not have a great season, but it wasn't terrible either.  He gave me fairly steady production all season.  I will probably target D'Arnaud in next year's draft.

3.  Tulo was my most expensive draftee.  He was good all season, but not spectacular.  I had to dump him just before the fantasy playoffs due to the injury and Suarez was the best available out of slim pickings.

4.  David Wright looked like a bargain for about 2 weeks then went down for the season with his perennial injury.  Talk about Injury Central!  Kendrys Morales was a terrific pick up to replace him.

5. Bradley and Eaton performed very well after I picked them up.  Rendon and Santana were very late pickups to replace injured players.

6.  My goal in drafting both Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon was to lock up the Steals category with just 2 players to free me up from having to worry about SB's in my other picks and moves.  The did that very well most of the season until Hamilton got injured late.  I thought I had overpaid for Gordon by a lot, but he turned out to be one of the most valuable fantasy players in all of MLB.

7.  I ended up with an inexpensive Starting Rotation. It was weak on the back end. I spent most of my early moves shoring it up and ended up with one that dominated most of the pitching categories most weeks.

8.  BTW, I beat the team that finished first in the regular season 9-1 in the 3'rd place playoff round.  The team that finished 6'th in the regular season won the Champiohship round over the team that finished 4'th, so you can see how competitive the league was and how much of a crapshoot any given H2H matchup is.

9.  I don't anticipate changing much in my draft approach next year although some of the other managers may have gotten wise to my SB strategy.

Down on the Farm: DrB's 2105 Giants Top 50 Prospects Review Honorable Mention Part 1

We'll got through the HM's 10 at a time.  Remember, this is a REVIEW, not a new list.  We'll do our 2016 Top 50 after the Winter Meetings:

Jarrett Parker, OF.  AAA:  .283/.375/.514, 23 HR's, 20 SB in 434 AB.  MLB:  .347/.407/755, 6 HR in 49 AB's.

Parker had an excellent season in Sacramento.  He whiffed on a 9 AB cup of coffee early in the season, but got a September callup when Gregor Blanco went down with a concussion.  He went nuts in a weekend series in Oakland including the 3 dinger game, but kept the BA up after pitchers started respecting him more.  Stock- Way Up!  Definitely on the radar for a 25 man roster spot for 2016.

Chris Dominguez, IF/OF.  Chris is in the Cincinnati organization now.  He hit just .223 for AAA Louisville.  Stock- Out of the organization.

Chris Heston, RHP.  MLB:  12-11, 3.95, 177.2 IP, 64 BB, 141 K, GO/AO= 1.76.

Heston made the Opening Day roster when Peavy couldn't go.  He had a tremendous first half of the season including a no-hitter.  Faltered a bit down the stretch.  In the mix for next year.  Stock- Way Up!

Mike Kickham, LHP.  Kickham was released and had an ERA of 7.00 for two AAA teams in 2015.  Stock- Out of the organization, going backwards.

Jake Dunning, RHP.   3 levels:  5-2, 5.43, 68 IP, 22 BB, 61 K's, GO/AO= 2.07.  Missed quite a bit of time, presumably due to injury.  Peripherals look much better than his ERA.  Stock- Stable.

Brett Bochy, RHP.  AAA:  6-1, 2.95, 58 IP, 22 BB, 43 K's.   MLB:  0-0, 0.00, 3 IP, 1 BB, 3 K's.

Strong season in Sacramento.  Looked sharp in 3 1-inning appearances for the Giants in September.  Could be in the mix for a back of the bullpen job next spring.  Stock- slightly up.

Austin Fleet, RHP.  2 levels:  3-3, 6.17, 35 IP, 13 BB, 23 K's.

Shut down after 5/23/2015, presumably due to injury.  Stock- down.

Kelvin Marte, LHP.  AA:  10-6, 2.63, 130 IP, 40 BB, 77 K, GO/AO= 1.45.

Seems like Marte has become an organizational pitcher.  Strong season for Richmond, but the peripherals are uninspiring.  Stock- Stable.

Mario Lisson, IF.  Left the organization for greener pastures.  Hit .269 at 2 levels for the Washington Nationals organization.  Stock- Out of the organization/Stable.

Devin Harris, OF.  AA:  .240/.301/.418, 14 HR in 404 AB.

Typical Harris season at the highest level he's achieved so far.  Stock- Stable.