Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?
You know the baseball season is winding down where there's no baseball on Friday night. A taste of the long, cold winter ahead.
I spent the sadly baseball-less evening checking out a new software program. (I know, I really need to get a life.) Recently, I read a review of the new version of Picasa (Google’s free photo organizing software). It’s supposedly the best, pay or free. There are many reasons, but the ones that caught my interest are that it’s really fast, and it has really good face recognizing capability. It highlights faces for you, and you type in the name of person. It “learns” to recognize the faces, and eventually will tag the photos with the correct names all by itself. Supposedly, it can even recognize babies and young children as they grow up.
That sounded a lot easier than putting in names as keywords on each photo individually, especially for baseball pics. So I decided to give it a shot.
It makes ludicrous mistakes at first. It mistook Brandon Phillips for Andy Phillips. And my sister for Wladimir Balentien. (My sister looks nothing like Wlad.) And my mom for Todd Frazier. But sure enough, after awhile it started to get it. Eventually, it gets pretty good at recognizing faces, even from different angles, with different expressions, etc.
I had been using ZoomBrowser, the photo organizing program that comes with Canon cameras. While it has some advantages (like displaying the EXIF data for each image prominently), I think I'll be using Picasa from now on. It's so much faster at loading the images than ZoomBrowser (or Windows Explorer, for that matter). And the face recognition thing is great for baseball photography. I'm far to lazy to actually label every game photo I take with the names of the players in them. Now, I don't have to.
Labels: baseball photography
I enjoy Stephen King, but I wouldn't call myself a diehard fan of his work. I'm not the type who pre-orders his books as soon as they are available, or camps out in front of book stores to buy them hot off the presses. I'm a casual reader. I don't read everything he writes, and usually wait until the book is in paperback.
However, being a baseball fan, I had to read Blockade Billy. It's a baseball story, with a signature King twist.
King did get the baseball part right. It rings true, especially since he uses real players and places mixed in with the fictional ones. You can believe that ballplayers of that era really talked that way, and that it really was like that inside the locker room.
The actual story was kind of weak. I mean, it was interesting, but it was very short, and didn't really hold together if you think about it.
I find I can't discuss it without spoilers. If you don't want to know, bail out now. SPOILER WARNING!
I repeat, SPOILER WARNING! SPOILERS down below!
Blockade Billy, the star rookie catcher, turns out to be a serial killer. He's murdered the real Billy, and his family, and assumed his identity in order to get his chance in the show.
There's nothing supernatural about this story. Dirty tricks learned in his rough upbringing in an orphanage are one of the secrets of his success. But mostly, he's just very talented - much better at baseball than the real Billy. He's also just plain nuts. Everyone realizes this, but no one realizes how dangerous he is.
The ending is typically over the top. Blockade Billy takes the crowds' cries of "Kill the umpire!" literally, doing in the home plate umpire by slashing his throat.
The part that's really hard to swallow is the aftermath. We're supposed to believe that no one remembers Blockade Billy because his records were expunged, and none of the games he played in counted. They made up all 20 games by playing doubleheaders.
I find that hard to believe. They've had players playing under false names before, and players who committed crimes, and the games still counted. And 20 games is a heck of a lot of make-up.
It's also impossible to believe that people wouldn't remember it. It's not like you could keep it a secret; at the very least, you'd have to explain why all the games had to be re-played. It doesn't matter that the game was more local back then. A serial killer like Billy would be big news. Eddie Gein was big news in the '50s and is still remembered today, and Blockade Billy would have been, too.
But then, I guess Stephen King isn't exactly known for the believability of his stories. All in all, I would recommend this book for a baseball fan. It's rather overpriced for such a short work, but baseball fans will enjoy it.
The Yankees' postseason dreams were decisively squashed by the Texas Rangers. Well, the series went six games, so I guess it wasn't exactly a blowout. Still...it seemed more one-sided than that number suggests.
I shouldn't be greedy. Last year was everything a Yankee fan could dream of. The new stadium broken in in the best way possible. One last win for the Boss. A last hurrah for the aging core of the dynasty team, and finally a ring for A-Rod. I couldn't ask for more, really.
This year's team didn't seem very good. They couldn't even win their division, despite having a huge lead earlier in the season. They just didn't seem to be peaking at the right time.
But after they made such short work of the Twins, I really started to think they could do it again. They couldn't. Girardi made some highly questionable moves, there were defensive blunders, and young Phil Hughes looked like a deer in the headlights pitching against the Rangers, but in the end, it came down to offense. The Bronx Bombers didn't hit.
The Yankees were looking awfully old and tired during that last series. Derek Jeter had a bad year with both stick and glove. He's playing shortstop at an age when most shortstops have moved to easier positions, become part-time players, or retired. At the plate, his OPS this season was the worst since his cup of coffee as a 21-year-old rookie.
Just a bad year? Maybe, but he'll be 37 next year - an age where bad years often turn out to be terminal decline.
Jorge Posada's stick is still pretty good, but he obviously can't play every day any more. And even if he somehow manages to stay healthy...he's never been a great defensive catcher, and now he's terrible.
And A-Rod...he looked so stiff and awkward during the post-season. I would guess he was injured - probably his hip again. I think the Yanks are going to regret signing him until he's in his 40s. No doubt they have insurance that will cover the contract if he can't play. But it probably doesn't cover him if he can play, but badly.
Despite their efforts to get younger, the Yanks have at least three players who should probably be DHing next year.
Jeter is probably the most problematic. I'm pretty confident that the Yanks will re-sign him. He's made it clear that he doesn't want to move from the SS position, and there's nowhere for him to move to, really. I'm not looking forward to seeing Jeter turn into Bernie Williams.
Nice game yesterday (not least because I didn't have to stay up to an unholy hour to watch it). CC Sabathia wasn't exactly unhittable, but he got outs when he needed them, and the Yankees gave him run support. At one point, the Yanks had 6 runs on 6 hits, while the Rangers had 1 run on 9 hits. In the end, the Rangers 13 hits, but only two runs out of it.
There was a scary moment when Lance Berkman fell flat on his back. His feet just slipped out from under him. It looked like he hit his head, which was worrisome, but he said later he didn't. After losing Mark Teixeira yesterday, the last thing the Yanks needed was to lose Berkman, too. He stayed in the game, but expects there will be a lot of pain and stiffness today. Hopefully he'll be okay by Friday, when the Yanks face another do or die game with Phil Hughes on the mound.
Meanwhile, in Cincinnati...beat writer John Fay covers shortstop in his position-by-position hot stove analysis. He thinks Paul Janish is the way to go, but says it's hardest position to predict for the 2011 Reds.
One thing working in Janish's favor: he's cheap. The Reds' budget is extremely constrained. They have a lot of young talent they want to sign to long-term deals, and some expensive veteran contracts they can't or don't want to escape. They'll have to cut corners somewhere, and it might as well be at SS.
Labels: Paul Janish
Last night's Yankees game was terrific...until the 9th inning. Andy Pettitte made one mistake, resulting in Josh Hamilton 2-run homer, but other than that, he pitched well, while Cliff Lee was otherworldly. Still, I was looking forward to the ninth inning. Lee was over 120 pitches; surely he was getting tired. And if they put the closer in, well, he couldn't be better than Lee.
Unfortunately, the Yankees imploded in the 9th. The bullpen couldn't get anyone out, and the sloppy fielding didn't help. The entire team just seemed to collapse. They gave up 6 runs in the inning, turning a tight game into a laugher.
What a bummer. A great game, ruined by the stupid ending. If they'd played well and lost, I'd just tip my cap to Cliff Lee. But that Bad News Bears impression was utterly galling.
And speaking of endings...Melky Cabrera has been released by the Braves. It's not exactly a shock. He did not play well this year, and at over $3 million, was not worth the money. He'll probably get a look from other teams, but I would guess it will be at a much lower salary, if not the minors.
The Yankees' playoff rotation is looking kind of rocky. CC Sabathia was not very good yesterday. It looked like the Yanks were going to lose - so much so that many fans turned off the TV and went to bed. They would regret it; the Yanks staged a miraculous comeback against the Texas pen.
Tonight, Phil Hughes, who looked so good his last time out, only lasted 4 innings before getting the hook. He gave up 10 hits, 3 walks, 7 earned runs, and a home run.
Andy Pettitte is up next, against Cliff Lee. Weirdly, I'm sort of optimistic about that game. I trust Andy in the post-season more than any other starting pitcher. Yes, even against Cliff Lee.
On another topic...someone sent me this link. It's got some Andy Phillips news from Japan, in English. Apparently, the reason he played so little and spent so much time in the minors is that he was injured. It says he suffered injuries to his left flank and knee.
Labels: Andy Phillips
Reds GM Walt Jocketty hinted Wednesday that the club is unlikely to exercise Orlando Cabrera's $4 million mutual option for 2011.
"It's probably more than we want to exercise, we'll try to find a happy medium," Jocketty told WKRC Sports Director Brad Johansen. "If not Janish would be our (shortstop)." Cabrera made around $3 million this past season and doesn't exactly deserve a raise after posting a .263/.303/.354 batting line. He may realize that on his own and sign back for less. Otherwise, the capable Paul Janish will take over on the left side of Cincy's middle infield.
Cabrera’s poor stick, recent injuries, and moderate price tag may be enough of a reason for the Reds to decline the option and pay the $1 million buyout. If not, Paul Janish should be. Janish has posted 2.0 WAR in his first two significant stints in the Major Leagues. His bat hasn’t been anything stellar, but since his disastrous first stint in 2007 (42 wRC+ in 89 PAs), Janish has shown moderate patience and good contact. He doesn’t have much pop, and some bad luck and a fly ball heavy batted ball profile has led to low BABIPs. It is those two factors which have largely driven his poor batting lines to date.
...His bat probably only plays at shortstop, but that’s not a problem for Janish. According to Baseball America, Janish has “nearly flawless footwork, soft hands and a plus arm.” UZR was insane over Janish in 2009, rating him at +11 in only half a season. That seems outrageous, but DRS and TZL nearly completely agree. He wasn’t quite as impressive in 2010, possibly due to splitting time between SS and 3B in the small sample, but he was still above average. Overall, Janish has a +12 UZR at shortstop that is supported, much like Cabrera, by a strong defensive reputation.
Labels: Paul Janish
No baseball until Friday - a brief taste of the long, cold winter to come.
Here's a Bubba Crosby rookie card:
Labels: Bubba Crosby
He's 28 today.
I came across this article today:
The Reds Are Past the Point of Placating Veterans
It's from August 18, 2010, but I missed it when it was posted. It includes a scouting report of sorts, and argues that the Reds need to start him instead of Cabrera, even if Cabrera's healthy.
Didn't happen, of course. Though Cabrera stayed on the DL so long it didn't matter.
Until the post-season.
Labels: Paul Janish
The Cincinnati Reds were shut out in game 3, their World Series bid ended in the first round.
Paul Janish never got into the game. Orlando Cabrera was 0-3, and worse, had a throwing error that allowed a run to score. I can't help suspecting the bad throw was related to his rib cage injury. Cueto gave up a home run in the 5th, so I guess I can't blame the loss solely on the Cabrerror, but it's still aggravating. Janish hits lefties in general, and Cole Hamels in particular. Might have been a different story if he started instead of Slo-Cab.
Janish was philosophical on the last-minute lineup change. I was less so. I was especially peeved when the media quoted Cabrera as saying this might be his last post-season game, so he wanted to be sure he played. Maybe he didn't mean it as it sounded, but man, that sounds selfish.
But in the end, the buck stops with Dusty Baker. He should have had the 'nads to sit Cabrera. Cabrera is not better than Janish at this point in their careers, and an injured Cabrera certainly isn't.
Reds beat writer John Fay has a breakdown of the Reds contract situation. Here's what he says about Cabrera:
Orlando Cabrera: There is a mutual option for $4 million. I don’t see the Reds picking that up. Paul Janish is better defensively and has come on offensively.
Labels: Paul Janish
Sigh. I thought for sure that Paul Janish would start for the Reds tonight. He was in the lineup. Reds Insider posted a nice interview with him. Lefty Cole Hamels is on the mound for Philadelphia, and Janish kills lefties.
But no, Dusty has decided to go with Cabrera instead. Stupid, IMO. You'd think the last two games would have shown them how important defense is in the post-season. And at this stage of his career, Cabrera is not a better hitter than Janish...even when he's healthy.
Labels: Paul Janish
The Yankees won Game 3 against the Twins yesterday, and the champagne flowed, but the interesting game was the Rays-Rangers game. It was just a great, back-and-forth game. It was win or go home for the Rays, and they hadn't even been able to make it close on their own turf. But they rallied to win in Texas' house. Player of the game had to be one-time Columbus Clipper Carlos Pena. He hit the game-tying RBI single in the 8th, then a two-run homer to provide insurance in the 9th.
Pena is actually a product of Texas farm system. He was their first round draft pick in 1998 - the same year the Dodgers drafted Bubba Crosby. (Also drafted in the first round that year: Austin Kearns and CC Sabathia, among others.)
The Yankees sweep means the Reds-Phillies game moves to prime time, tonight at 8pm. The Reds still haven't made a decision on whether Chris Valaika will replace Orlando Cabrera, but it sounds like Paul Janish will be the starting SS tonight, either way.
Prof. Bukiet is predicting the Reds will win tonight, so maybe they, like the Rays, will live to fight another day.
The AL is off today. Heartbreaker of a game for Reds fans in Philly tonight. The Reds seemed like they were heading for a blowout. 4-0 in the 5th, and Oswalt struggling. Alas, they ended up losing 7-4. They gave away the game, with four errors and three hit batsmen. Only two Phillies runs were earned. Now they go back to Cincinnati to play a do-or-die game on Sunday.
Paul Janish came into the game unexpectedly. Orlando Cabrera aggravated his strained oblique turning a double play in the 4th, and left the game. Janish pinch hit for him in the 5th, laying down a nice sac bunt that helped get the Reds' last run on the board. He made a couple of very nice plays on defense, too.
John Fay thinks the Reds may replace Cabrera with Chris Valaika. I believe that's a relatively new rule - letting a team replace an injured player mid-series. But if they do replace Cabrera, he cannot come back in the current series, or the next one. Janish becomes their starting SS, for the rest of this series, and the next one, should they make it.
Given that, I wonder if the Reds might not hold off in replacing Cabrera. They have a history of doing that kind of thing.
Labels: Paul Janish
According to Bukiet's model, run before the playoffs began on Wednesday (10/6), the Phillies have an 18-percent chance of sweeping their series against the Reds, a 25-percent chance of winning in four games, a 21-percent chance of winning in five games and a 64-percent chance of winning the series.
...The Rangers have a 54-percent chance of defeating the Rays, Bukiet found, and the Yankees have a 53-percent chance of defeating the Twins. The Giants have a 52-percent chance of knocking out the Braves.
USA Today has an article about Derek Jeter today, and what kind of contract he'll sign in the twilight of his career. They don't think there's any chance he won't be a Yankee. But will he continue to play SS...every day? He seems to have a lost a step this year, on offense and defense.
Even while Jeter was in the midst of a 14-game hitting streak in September, there was little consensus on which way he was headed. USA TODAY surveyed four veteran scouts, all of whom have seen Jeter play since he was an amateur, during a recent three-game series in Baltimore, and their assessments hardly provided accord.
One said Jeter looks tired, not as quick as in the past in the field and at the plate, and that the Yankees should expect one good season from him in the next contract and then be prepared to move him to an advisory or ceremonial role.
Another said he sees Jeter's swing being as quick as ever and that he wouldn't be surprised if Jeter hits .300 next year, as he has in 11 seasons. The other opinions fell in between.
Jeter is at an age when longtime elite shortstops often decline, sometimes precipitously. Larkin hit over .300 for the final time in the season he turned 36 and .266 over his remaining four seasons. Alan Trammell, a six-time All-Star in 20 years with the Detroit Tigers, hit .329 the season before he turned 36, .258 in the three more years before he retired.
"It's a demanding position mentally and emotionally," says Ripken, who moved from shortstop to third base at 36. "You're taking in signs (from the catcher and coaches), making decisions in (defensive) coverage. You're in on every pitch. Emotionally, there's a lot to process."
That leads to another issue: where to move Jeter when and if the Yankees feel he becomes a liability at shortstop. First baseman Teixeira is signed through 2016, third baseman Rodriguez through 2017. Second baseman Robinson Cano, 27, is an AL MVP candidate and has a deal through 2013, assuming the Yankees pick up two option years.
Will Jeter's production warrant a move to the outfield, where most teams' best hitters play? Does he spend time as a designated hitter and not play in the field? Or will he become a utility player, filling in at several positions? A new contract almost certainly would address those issues, as well as his role with the Yankees beyond his playing days.
Simple rest could be an answer.
Ripken hit .340 as a 38-year-old playing an injury-shortened 86-game season in 1999 after ending his long playing streak. Larkin made the 2004 All-Star team at 40, playing 111 games that year.
This was completely expected, but is now official: Paul Janish made the Reds postseason roster. He more than earned it.
The Reds had a rally for the fans yesterday.
That's former Tampa Ray Jonny Gomes with the wild jacket and wilder hair. Janish is behind him, at left. (Fan verdict: Janish looks like a geek. A 15-year-old geek. They love him anyway.)
Labels: Paul Janish
Thanks to an anonymous comment left on an earlier post, I've found a new source of Japanese baseball stats in English.
Andy Phillips did not have a good year: .198 / .283 / .296
Worse, he played in only a few games. About a month's worth. He seems to have spent most of the season in the Japanese equivalent of the minors. I wonder if he was injured.
Marty Brown, his manager this year and last, got canned.
I wonder if this is the end of Andy's Japanese baseball career. Or his baseball career altogether. Next year will be his age 34 season.
He could probably play AAA ball here in the US next year, assuming he's healthy. Aaron Guiel was 33 when the Yankees picked him up off waivers and called him up.
Speaking of Guiel, he seems to be doing all right at age 37 in Japan. Batting average is low, but his OBP and SLG are holding up.
Andy's teammate, former Yankee Darrell Rasner, is doing okay, too.
Labels: Andy Phillips