All Things Bubba

Because how can you not love a baseball player named "Bubba"?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

No home games for the SWB Yankees

They are rebuilding PNC Field next year. The playing surface itself is fairly new, and will remain, but the rest of the ballpark will be more or less replaced. The new PNC will have a full concourse and berm seating, among other things.

But that means the SWB Yankees have to find somewhere else to play next year. They asked the Mets if they could play their home games in Newark, but the Mets refused. (Both the Mets and the Yanks have veto rights when it comes to other affiliated teams moving into the NYC area.) The Yankees promised that they would not stay in Newark for more than one season, and then offered to let the Mets move any of their teams into the NYC area if they ever needed to, in perpetuity, but the Mets still said no.

So instead, the SWB Yankees are playing their games at various ballparks all over the northeast - the baseball equivalent of couchsurfing. The schedule and locations are here. "Home" games will be played at Frontier Field in Rochester, Dwyer Stadium in Batavia, New York, Alliance Bank Stadium in Syracuse, Coca-Cola Field in Buffalo, Coca-Cola Park in Allentown (Lehigh Valley), and McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

That's gotta be rough for the players. Sure, they travel a lot anyway, but this means they'll have no home base. They'll be living out of hotel rooms all season.

The Louisville Bats come to Syracuse in early June, then play the SWB Yanks in nearby Rochester and Batavia. Not a great time of year for me (too close to Memorial Day), but I might try to go some of those games.

posted by BubbaFan, 11:51 PM | link | 2 comments |

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Rice University Alumni Game

Ray o' Sunshine: Jeff Niemann at the 2010 Alumni Game

The date of the next Rice University Alumni Game has been set: Saturday, February 4, 2012.

I went to the last one and it was a lot of fun.

I would guess Bubba won't be there. He (or someone claiming to be him - it's so hard to tell on the Internet) posted a comment awhile back saying he and his wife are expecting their first child in February.

posted by BubbaFan, 5:54 AM | link | 2 comments |

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Is it possible to work TOO hard?

The Reds roster is now down to 34 players. There's plenty of room to protect young prospects, sign free agents, and perhaps draft a Rule 5 player. Paul Janish is still on the roster, but some are predicting he'll be non-tendered. I still think the Reds will probably keep him for depth, since they have none at SS, and he still has options. He'll be cheap, and they don't seem to need his roster spot for anyone else. But who knows.

Been thinking about what went wrong for Janish this season. Maybe he was just unlucky. Maybe he couldn't handle the pressure of being the starter on a team that was playing much worse than fans and pundits had expected. Maybe he was exposed, playing every day.

But according to the Reds announcers, you can't accuse him not working hard enough. They said no one worked harder, and wondered if he worked too hard. They thought he spent so much time in the weight room he looked tired during the games.

I suppose that's possible; beat writer John Fay reported last year that Janish had a tendency to wear down over the season. Not surprising for a tough position like SS.

But I wonder if it's something more specific. One of the Reds coaches thought Janish's wrists were too weak, and recommended that he work on strengthening them. He reportedly did just that.

It may have backfired. I'm reminded of that time tennis great Andre Agassi bulked up, putting on 20 lbs. of solid muscle. He was tired of being blown off the court by power servers like Pete Sampras, and thought getting stronger was the solution.

It wasn't. The extra muscle made him stronger, but it also slowed him down. He later said that speed is an underrated component of sports in general. He eased up on the weight lifting and went back to his skinny, speedy self.

I wonder if something similar happened with Janish. Perhaps stronger wrists meant slower bat speed. In any case, whatever he did this year wasn't working; maybe he should go back to whatever he was doing last year.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:14 PM | link | 4 comments |

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Phillips-Janish fifth best double play duo

From Reds beater writer John Fay:

Bill James rates Phillips-Janish fifth

For anyone who watched the 2011 World Series, it’s no surprise that the AL Champion Texas Rangers had the best double-play combination in baseball. Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler totaled 29 Defensive Runs Saved between them—tops in the majors. But the Cincinnati Reds totaled 15 Defensive Runs Saved by their keystone combination, good enough for top-five status (tying them with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Paul Janish (8) was tied for sixth-most, and Brandon Phillips (7) was tied for seventh-most in Runs Saved at their respective positions. Seattle’s Brendan Ryan (18) led all shortstops, while Tampa Bay’s Ben Zobrist (17) led all second basemen. But together, Janish-Phillips formed the fifth-most deadly double-play duo in the majors. And over the past three years, Janish has proved himself the ninth-best defensive shortstop with 19 Runs Saved over that time (Ryan, with 65, is #1).

As I understand it, Baseball Info Solutions' "defensive runs saved" is like UZR; there's no adjustment for playing time. Obviously, a part time guy like Janish will not be able to prevent as many runs as a similar full-time guy. That means Janish's ranking is pretty impressive, considering how little playing time he's gotten over the past three years.


posted by BubbaFan, 11:56 PM | link | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cingrani made transitions look easy

Meant to post this last week, but didn't get around to it. has an interview with Tony Cingrani:

Boasting textbook mechanics and a smooth, flowing delivery, Reds prospect Tony Cingrani made the transition from college reliever to professional starter look effortless.

A third-round selection out of Rice University in June's Draft, the 6-foot-4 southpaw was slotted immediately into the rotation at Rookie-level Billings and looked like he belonged there all along.

Cingrani was kept on a short leash after pitching 57 innings in college, going 3-2 in 13 Pioneer League starts. His 1.75 ERA would have led the league if he had enough innings to qualify, but he still ranked fourth with 80 strikeouts.

"I thought it went really well. There were some good points and some rocky points, I guess, but everything was about learning," Cingrani said. "I was glad that I was in Billings, it was a really good starting point for my pro career. It went well."

With a fastball that hovers in the low-to-mid 90s and tops out around 97 mph, a slider and a changeup, Cingrani began well and gained strength as the summer wore on.

He was scored upon just once in his first six pro starts and surrendered more than one earned run only twice. Limited to four innings or fewer in his first six weeks with the Mustangs, Cingrani finished on a high note by earning victories in each of his last three regular-season outings.

"I threw a lot of fastballs in there for strikes, I threw my changeup for strikes and I never really got beat with my slider," the Illinois native said. "I mixed in my fastball and changeup a lot, so I worked off that. My changeup is really good, but my slider is a work in progress. It's all I've really worked on in instructs, but it's coming along. I'm throwing it a little bit harder and with a little bit tighter spin. We've been working hard on it."

According to Billings pitching coach Bob Forsch, Cingrani has a big upside.

"He throws around 93 with good movement, and what I mean by that is that there's good tail on his fastball. He can spot it to both sides of the plate, which really helps because he can get in on right-handed hitters," said Forsch, who pitched in the big leagues from 1974-89. "There are a lot of kids that can throw hard but can't make quality pitches down in the zone. He was able to do that right out of the gate.

"His breaking pitches are still works in progress. In order for him to get to the next level, he has to throw them behind in the count. That is how you become a Major League pitcher."

In his first pro win, a 3-1 victory over visiting Casper on Aug. 27, Cingrani recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts over six hitless innings. He followed up that performance with a win at Helena five days later, then wrapped up his season by fanning 10 over six shutout innings against Missoula on Sept. 6.

The success came from the combination of a lively fastball, a deceptive delivery and excellent command on both sides of the plate.

"I had a really long arm when I was younger," explained Cingrani, who went 4-2 with a team-best 1.74 ERA and 12 saves in his senior year with the Owls. "When I went to Rice, we switched it up a little and moved it to where it was up. We moved my glove a little bit higher, so that added a little bit of deception because my glove is above my face, where my release point is. That hides the ball a little bit. I have always had smooth mechanics through my legs. I guess it just kind of happened.

The transition from the bullpen in college to the starting rotation in the Minor Leagues was not a difficult one, he said.

"I just took my closing mentality and took that out there with me," Cingrani added. "They started me off with two innings and built me back up until I could go five or six innings and get in line for a decision."

"He has a really smooth delivery," Forsch noted. "It is deceptive, but as smooth as it is, it's quick, too. The ball gets on the hitter a lot sooner than they think. He has some real talent. He wasn't really challenged this year ... it seemed pretty easy for him. I hope to watch him on TV, let's put it like that. I have seen a lot of young pitchers come up, and he has some natural ability."

I'm not sure if he has what it takes to be a starter. Scouts love his fastball, but say his other pitches need a lot of work. I guess the Reds will be giving him the chance to do that work.


posted by BubbaFan, 1:53 PM | link | 0 comments |