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albert pujols thank you for the moneyIt’s been a while since we’ve checked in on some of the more interesting stories from around baseball, so

  • Albert Pujols chased the money. I certainly don’t blame him for it, but he left behind the people of St. Louis, where he’d been the kind of heralded legend they’d not seen since Stan Musial, in favor of a touch more money in Anaheim. Hey, what’s $20 million between friends, right? It has not been a successful move so far for the 33-year-old, whose 2012 season was unrecognizable by Pujols standards, and whose 2013 season is downright bad (.241/.314/.418). Joe Posnanski writes that the story is much worse than the struggles. The story is the decline into irrelevance. Who talks about Pujols anymore? Who cares when he steps up to the plate? Isn’t it crazy to be able to say those things about Albert Pujols? I am trained to hate Pujols by virtue of the Cardinals thing, but even I find his swift descent into obscurity really sad.
  • Also kind of sad: Josh Hamilton is hitting .216/.271/.351 in his first year with the Angels, who are expensive and flailing. They have become only the latest example of why buying up a bunch of free agents – even the best of the best available – can fail spectacularly. And the real problem is, when that approach fails, as it sometimes does, your organization will feel the pain for a long, long time.
  • Barry Bonds says that Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in baseball (duh), but he’s no Barry Bonds (also duh, but … who says that kind of thing? Answer: Barry Bonds). My favorite paragraph in that Bob Nightengale piece is this one, which comes after Bonds says that Cabrera doesn’t have Bonds’ numbers: “Cabrera broke into the big leagues in 2003 when Bonds was winning his sixth MVP award. He’s still just 30 years old. He leads Bonds in every Triple Crown category at the same age, hitting .320 with 332 homers and 1,170 RBI. Bonds had a career .285 batting average with 259 homers and 760 RBI at the same age.” Right … but I have a suspicion that Cabrera won’t match the 1.262 OPS that Bonds somehow managed to put up from age 36 to 42.
  • Rob Neyer digs into the ever-changing landscape of pitch counts. The predicate for his piece is Ron Washington’s recent decision to allow Yu Darvish to throw 130 pitches – a plateau almost never reached anymore – in a game against the Tigers that the Rangers were winning comfortably. I know that the science of pitch counts remains very much “science” rather than science, but I fall very, very far on the conservative spectrum when it comes to pitcher usage. Perhaps the 2000s era Cubs have burned me for good, that being a formative stage in my baseball-reading-and-covering development. There are times, and pitchers, where I would sanction letting a guy go well over 100 pitches. But when your team has a big lead, to me, there’s just no excuse. Is the incremental difference between that starter and the bullpen really worth any additional risk at all, however small?
  • MLB hopes to have expanded instant replay in 2014 – which could include just about everything short of balls and strikes – but it’s a slow process of approvals and implementation. I feel like a bad baseball fan for not having a stronger opinion on instant replay, since it seems to really get some folks riled up. But I just don’t have it in me. When football expanded instant replay, I was totally in favor of it. Get the call right. Why can’t I summon that same feeling with respect to baseball? Even when the Cubs get screwed, I just accept that as part of the game. Maybe it’s the 162-game season? Maybe I feel like it’s more likely to even out in baseball than in football? Yeah, that’s probably it. Doesn’t mean I’m right, obviously.
  • A fascinating article on the rapid increase of pronounced defensive shifts in baseball. There is some data to suggest that the decline in offense we’ve seen over the past half decade could be thanks in part to increased shifting. Check out the numbers on the right side of the article, and note the consistently decreasing average BABIP from year to year. If that’s not due to shifting, I don’t know how else to explain it. (h/t to BN’er Josh, whose email to me about this article was aptly titled “Shifting My Pants”).
  • If you’ve been watching the Dodgers disintegrate from a distance, you’ll appreciate manager Don Mattingly’s comments today, collected by Bill Plunkett. The gist? The Dodgers have poorly constructed roster that was designed around BUY-ALL-THE-PLAYERS, and they are seriously lacking in “grit.”
  • More than you ever wanted to know about pitch-framing.
  • If you’re going to celebrate a game-tying or winning home run immediately and all the way up the base line, make sure it’s a home run, and not a harmless fly ball that barely reaches the warning track.
  • The New York Times with an awesome infographic on players on the disabled list, and the cost to their respective teams.
  • This FanGraphs article is worth reading and all, but, really, I just can’t stop looking at another one of the greatest gifs of all-time:

  • SirCub

    Wow, that’s a lot of cool baseball stuff.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      And it just got buried by the damn Shawn Camp news. Stupid timing …

    • Timmy

      I of course agree that both Hamilton and Pujols were overpaid due to their age. But lets not mistake lack of early-season production as validation for the Ricketts to refuse to sign agents so they can pocket additional profits. Do free agent signings, especially the ones that demand a player is paid top dollar into their late 30s, sometimes go bad? Of course. But if one wants to contend one has to *appropriately gamble on talent.

      We’re seeing the shift in Cubs mentality from lovable losers to coerced mediocrity.

      • Timmy

        maybe the term would better be said from “lovable losers” to “complacent losers”.

        • CubFan Paul

          I like ‘coerced mediocrity’ better.

      • hansman1982

        A: I’m still not convinced, at all, that this is all (or even mostly) on Ricketts.
        B: Literally, the ONLY free agents I now wish we would have gotten from the last two classes are Aramis, Darvish and Sanchez. Free agents are, generally, far to volatile to want to spend on the guys who get the 3-5 year deals and no team can afford to sign the big-name guys every year.
        C: Signing free agents is NOT the answer.

        • CubFan Paul

          Cespedes and/or Puig too.

        • Timmy

          Just to be clear I share the concern by fellow fans that signing a bad free agent could hamper future team success. But the team has to get that salary base up to 160-180m in the next 2 years to compete.

          Pujols definitely messed up by taking marginally more money (after 100m who cares?) over sustained reputation. Now he’s the guy who took too much money and couldn’t produce. Even though I hate the Cards more than the Ricketts I was always astoundingly impressed by his caliber. If he had waned on the Cards it would still have been a great career, now it’s just another overpriced free agent signing. Prince Fielder, on the other hand, looks to be exactly the kind of slightly overpaid but productive player we could have used.

  • jt

    I been hypnotized….

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Actually it’s spelled (and pronounced) “hypmotized”.

  • beerhelps

    man I wish the Cardinals had re-signed Pujols…. but then he would still be awesome probably.

  • fromthemitten

    Pujol’s steep decline may be a sign that he lied about his age… it’s been alleged for a while

  • hansman1982

    The Angels really are a case study for the dangers of spending big in Free Agency, especially considering the got a lot of free agents that many were wanting the Cubs to get.

    • TWC

      Funny how no one mentions Theo’s “failure” to sign Pujols and/or Hamilton any more around here.

      • hansman1982

        That is curious…

      • brickhouse

        No failure to sign Pujols and or Hamilton since they were never a consideration. Epstein did not have the budget even if he wanted to sign a big ticket item based on what has been recently learned about the teams finances.

        • hansman1982

          There’s the explanation now. Gotta blame someone and can’t give Theo ANY credit.

          • fromthemitten

            LMAO

      • @cubsfantroy

        Theo should have signed them. They would fit right in on this team. Prince still hurts to. Water to wine, water to wine. That is what Theo does.

  • http://www.dccoffeeproducts.com John

    It was also rumored he was in with a Kansas City Royal trainer who was into the HGH and “supplements”. Notice how all of a suddon his little nagging injuries have popped up? Just curious. Not accusing but curious.

  • hansman1982

    “Doumit’s head jerks sharply downward the instant after he catches the pitch. Molina’s remains still.”

    (Doumit’s pitch was called a ball and Molina’s was a strike despite nearly identical pitch locations)

    Fangraph’s had an article a few months ago about this and the impact a good defensive catcher can have and it seems to be HUGE. The article says .13 runs for every ball you can turn into a strike. Not sure if that accounts for the cumulative effect that lower pitch counts will have as the season wears on.

  • The Dude

    Great article, Brett! Loved the warning track home run celebration.

  • EB

    Being from Evansville (Mattingly’s hometown), I really do not want to see Donnie Baseball lose his job. With that being said, I find it quite hilarious what is happening to the Dodgers

  • North Side Irish

    Kiley McDaniel ‏@kileymcd 24m
    Working on Mock Draft likely up on Monday. Big development since the last one is real momentum to UNC 3B Colin Moran going #1 overall to HOU

    Would leave the Cubs with their choice of Gray/Appel

  • Kyle

    Lots of smoke, including that McDaniel report, indicates that the Astros are looking to go cheap with the No. 1 pick again and save the money for later in the draft.

    That makes me very, very happy.

    • hansman1982

      Maybe I do want them back in the NL Central…give the Cardinals to the AL West.

      If that is true, that makes for an incredibly difficult decision for the FO.

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I don’t think it changes much for the FO. They likely have their Top 2 ranked already.

    • North Side Irish

      McDaniel also had a Tweet that neither SP was willing to offer Houston a discount and Bryant is a Boras guy…plus Moran looks good to the stats guys. Choosing between those two pitchers would be a nice problem to have.

      I pick Appel, but I understand the case for Gray and will sleep just fine if he’s the pick.

      • hansman1982

        Heck, I’m ok with the Cubs taking any one of the top three.

    • Saving grace

      I’ve heard Colin Moran for the Astros
      They like his analytics
      They just scouted him again

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Who are you leaning towards Kyle?
      I prefer Appel, myself.

      • Kyle

        Gun to my head, have to choose?

        I’d take Bryant. I just don’t trust pitchers, ever.

        If I do take a pitcher, it’s Appel.

      • Noah

        I’d be with you on Appel. The difference between Gray’s ceiling and Appel’s isn’t that great (both have ace ceilings), but their floors are vastly different. Barring injury, I’d be very surprised if Appel is less than a 3/4 starter. But if Gray’s command and third pitch don’t improve, you could make a legitimate argument that he could end up in a bullpen. Plus, these guys who suddenly add 3-4 mph on their fastball the year of the draft make me nervous.

        • hansman1982

          “Plus, these guys who suddenly add 3-4 mph on their fastball the year of the draft make me nervous.”

          Very much so. Appel has been good at top of the draft for a couple years now. Gray is the contract career year FA that you sign and then are surprised when he craps the bed (AKA Jayson Werth)

        • JJ

          I thought Gray had been a hard thrower (mid90s) since HS, the difference was he lacked command. If that’s true, then he’s not someone showing a sudden surge in MPH that tends to break down or regress.

    • Featherstone

      If the Astros do intend to go cheap again I would be absolutely thrilled. I love the idea of having the absolute best player available to me in a draft. This also puts a huge emphasis on the FO to get the pick right too because it will be known that we had our choice of ANYBODY.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I would take Bryant first and then stock up on arms. I hope that is the way Theo decides to go.

  • @cubsfantroy

    I really wish I could read that piece on the Dodgers, but I am not paying for that shit.

    • @cubsfantroy

      Sorry, Brett. I didn’t mean to cuss.

  • Internet Random

    “Shifting My Pants”

    Well done, Josh.

  • Cyranojoe

    I’m pretty pleased to see that analysis of the defensive shifts impacting BABIP. I believe I suggested something of the sort a week or three ago…

    • Ron

      No BABIP is driven by luck. See what happens when you suggest otherwise on here.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        We say that large fluctuations from a player’s historic BABIP tend to regress back toward that historic figure?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          We also say that *fielders* affect BABiP hugely, and that this is even more important when evaluating a fielder than are errors.

          However, from the point of view of a batter who hits a hard grounder 10′ to the right of second base, whether it is good/bad luck to have a low/high ranging guy playing second. After all, at that point it is out of the batters’ hands, and the same grounder might be a single or an out.

  • Clark Addison

    I’ve never been a fan of Colletti. The Dodgers have put together a fantasy team. Fantasy teams don’t win pennants.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      They did win a lot of Oscars in 2004.

  • Saving grace

    if we didn’t go with a pitcher,which i think we will
    I prefer Frazier to Bryant
    I think he we be the better all around player
    I think who ever gets Frazier as the consolation will be extremely happy

    I’ve read a number of scouting reports that don’t project Bryant hitting well as he moves up the ladder
    The power will be there thou
    I’m seeing more and more stuff of him moving to 1st base now

  • Die hard

    Yet the stands are half full or half empty in most parks and all have Jumbotrons ? Means the fan is irrelevant to Baseball which will lead to its death eventually

    • DarthHater

      According to MLB, average regular-season attendance in 2012 was 30,895 fans per game, up from 30,362 per game in 2011. So if the stands are half empty, then the average MLB stadium must have a capacity of over 61,000. I think not.
      [img]http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8551/8705395082_71435b7e84_o.jpg[/img]

  • Honey nut Sorianos

    The Cubs top brass met with Jonathon Gray today. This according to Gordon Wittenmeyer.

    • Die hard

      Sounds like a planted story to upset Houston plans

      • Honey nut Sorianos

        Either that or trying to see if they could get Gray way under slot so they can spend more in second round… OR… Get Bryson way under slot as to spend more in the subsequent rounds. Either way its strategy.

  • Honey nut Sorianos

    Yikes! I meant Bryant.

  • MichiganGoat

    Okay I love these gifs, it really shows you how consistent a great pitchers delivery looks. Multiple games in that gif and Mariano’s mechanics look exactly the same. Love the ghost batters impressive stuff.

  • Eric

    Nothing pleases me more than the Angels and Dodgers failing completely. Angels for buying up 2 o the most insane expensive guys, and Dodgers for signing everyone fucking left after those 2. The Dodgers signed some Korean or Chinese starter I can’t remember but we were interested in him. So YAY for their suckage!

  • Die hard

    DJ Lamehu (sp) on Rockies highlights ESPN– who did we get for him?

  • Internet Random

    “Nothing pleases me more than the Angels and Dodgers failing completely.”

    Beer. Pizza. The free-cat picture. Bad things happening to the Cardinals.

    • Internet Random

      Bad things happening to Duke.

  • http://www.jrolsenbonds.com/ Sally Surface

    Not every free agent plays bad or has bad performance. If there’s anything, they should be the ones performing better because they want to impresst the teams to hire them. They’d be down in the damps if they continue to play bad baseball.

    • hansman1982

      The prablem is that free agants are typicully the ones that do undarperforate.

  • Die hard

    Maybe can trace beginning of Pujols decline to Braun investigation?

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