“Chin Music” by Lee Edelstein is a compelling story that that weaves family tragedies with a young man’s love for baseball. It is obvious the title was selected with great care as a baseball term applies to everyday life. When things come in high and tight and things knock you to the ground it is time to get up and dust yourself off and hang in there with new intensity and desire.
The Buck family goes through many struggles and personal issues after a loss in the family. With mom at wits end she decides to do something about it. Through happenstance ( or God’s intervention) she meets someone that shows compassion and a willingness to help brought on by his own tragedy.
Baseball is interwoven throughout the story and gives insight into how a game can teach so many valuable lessons to an entire family and all the people they meet on their quest for normalcy. It is that love of the game that helps them get through to a new normal.
Be sure to pick up a copy of this book for a book that is hard to put down until you have read it all. This read involves mystery, intrigue, romance and baseball. It is a very good and easy read and if baseball is your passion, this book must be read.
Editors note: I did not receive compensation for this review but I did get a free copy to read.
It was an explosion. An offensive explosion!
It appears the bandages were applied, the bleeding has stopped and the patient is getting better.
The Cardinals absolutely destroyed the Cincinnati Reds this weekend.
Now for the Dodgers. Another good team has me concerned for the Cardinals in this series and then the getting-better Chicago Cubs are up next on the schedule.
Memphis lost 4-2 to Las Vegas
2B: Wong (20, Montero), Garcia, G (18, Carson, R).
TB: Wong 3; Christian; Garcia, G 3; Jackson, R.
RBI: Garcia, G 2 (24).
2-out RBI: Garcia, G 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Curtis; Christian.
Team RISP: 1-for-4.
Team LOB: 4
Michael Wacha (L, 5-3)5.0IP/ 6H/ 3R/ 3ER/1BB/ 6K/ 1HR/ 2.65ERA
Yes, the Braves swept the Cardinals. Atlanta is a very good team which is evidenced by their huge lead in the National League East. The Cardinals had their bats go silent for the weekend but now face the Pirates in a Central Division show down with a five-game series. This is a big one.
There are 60 games left and if the Cardinals can finish at .500 they will win 92 games. that is going to propel them somewhere into the playoffs. A complete collapse is the only thing that keeps them out.
The Cubs are 48-55 and playing well. Cub fans are excited and it is only 2013.
Did you see Yasiel Puig’s walk-off home run? I don’t mind the bat flip as it happens often around baseball. But the slide into home was showmanship and will cause him to get one in the ribs.
The trade deadline is approaching and John Mozeliak is tempering the Cardinal fans expectations by proclaiming nothing major is likely to happen that involves St. Louis. I’m ok with that.
I spent the day in St. Louis and the area to catch the Rams practice and then head over to the Cardinals game. The crowds are awesome for the game but WOW are the concession prices skyrocketing?
Lines are super slow and it appeared the workers are very bored with their work.
But the good part is the Cardinals baseball team looked good. They took FIVE hits and made that into three runs and a WIN.
Don’t see much reason to trade for anything except for a veteran Starting pitcher.
Matt Holliday comes off the DL on Saturday. It appears to be Rob Johnson or Brock Peterson heading back to Memphis. My guess is Johnson gets sent back to work with the young pitchers.
Tyler Lyons will likely get a call soon. Last night he pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 hits. He has been very good in his outings since being sent back to Memphis.
Let’s win in Atlanta!
Who Makes It to the Majors After the Draft?
( this is from an article in Baseball America and is not written by me)
Approximately two out of every five (38.3 percent) position players drafted among the top 100 picks will reach the majors for at least 100 games. If modern draft history is any guide, then college position players will graduate for more than a cup of coffee about half of the time (48.5 percent), while high schoolers will graduate a little less than one-third of the time (30.2 percent). That last figures to rise slightly as more prep players from the 2006-08 drafts make the big leagues in the coming years. (Keep in mind that the typical ’06 high school pick still is just 25.)
Despite the large disparity in graduation rates for college position players and high school ones, the gap in impact rates is much narrower. About 14 in 100 college players in our study have accumulated at least 10 WAR for their careers, while nearly 11 in 100 high schoolers reached that level. In fact, the star-of-stars high school position players (Top 5) produced more wins above replacement (1,091) than their college counterparts (1,016), which is remarkable when you consider their lower graduation rate, lower impact rate and the fact that prep stars spot roughly three years of experience to college players at the time of their draft selection, a phenomenon that ought to make collegians in the later years of our sample considerably more productive.
High school position players keep track with collegians if you expand the impact threshold to 20 career WAR (34 high school, 31 college), 30 career WAR (17, 17) or 40 career WAR (11, 11).
In broad strokes, high school players drafted as shortstops, catchers or outfielders (particularly center fielders)—those positions that require the most athleticism, speed and/or skill—tend to out-produce their college counterparts. This is apparent from the comparative Top 5 WAR sums above—776-449 in favor of high school players—and also in the head count of 40-WAR players. For the high school set, those players would be Carlos Beltran, Johnny Damon, Torii Hunter, Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, Jason Kendall, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins—with Carl Crawford and Joe Mauer in hot pursuit. For collegians, J.D. Drew, Nomar Garciaparra, Chuck Knoblauch and Tim Salmon are the lone representatives in the 40-WAR club, though Curtis Granderson, Dustin Pedroia and Troy Tulowitzki could get there if their careers track normally.
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION-The average draft position of top 100 draft picks, 1989-2008, can tell us a lot about the types of players that teams prefer. After all, the higher a player is drafted, the more money it typically costs to sign him. In this sample, we consider signed picks only.
POS HS COLL
RHP 51 49
LHP 50 47
C 55 55
SS 47 52
2B 68 49
3B 52 43
OF 47 52
1B 49 46
The fact that those high school shortstops, catchers and outfielders turned pro in the first place, rather than attend college, hints at selection bias on the part of major league organizations. Teams want these skilled, multi-tooled teenagers in their farm systems, and they’re willing to draft them higher and, consequently, pay them higher bonuses. Average draft positions for MLB graduates reflects this fact. The only positions where signed high school players are selected earlier than signed college players are catcher, shortstop and outfield (see Average Draft Position table). At every other position, pitchers included, teams tend to prefer college players, seeing as they draft and sign them out of higher draft positions.
Should Pitchers Throw a First Pitch Strike?
Statistical analyst Eno Sarris has been studying first-strike percentage for years. Now with FanGraphs, he says first-strike percentage is important enough to explain “almost half the variance in walk rate.”
“So half the battle is getting strike one,” Sarris says, “and half the battle is having good control. Hitters are just not changing, as a whole, their approach when it comes to swinging at the first pitch. In fact, they’re swinging less and less while first-strike percentage from pitchers is going up.”
Sarris’ numbers show that hitters swung at the first pitch more than 30 percent of the time in the early and mid-1990s, and that number went down in the late 1990s and is sitting at around 27 percent now. Meanwhile, first-pitch strike percentage went up to 59 percent by pitchers last year and is at 60 so far this year, the first time in history it’s cracked that barrier.
But not everyone goes with the percentages.
This year, Anthony Rizzo is in a similar scenario. The Cubs’ second-year first baseman had nine home runs through Wednesday, and four of them were hit on first pitches. He also had 34 strikeouts in 130 at-bats.
“The objective of the pitchers is to throw first-pitch strikes,” Rizzo said. “If it’s there, I’m going to hit it. If I don’t recognize it, I’ll lay off it. That’s just how it goes, if that first pitch is a home run. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first pitch or pitch [No.] 10, I’m just trying to put the ball in play and hit it hard.”
The difference between 1-0 counts and 0-1 counts is so staggering that you’d figure even the most old-school of baseball evaluators would have these numbers at their disposal during every Spring Training workout and in-season batting-practice session.
Through Tuesday, according to Baseball-Reference.com, after almost 15,000 total plate appearances in 2013, hitters who take a first-pitch ball have a slash line of .269/.383/.442. Hitters who fall behind at 0-1 are flailing away to the tune of .221/.261/.341.
Will Major League Teams Look for Talent or Sign-ability in 2013 Draft?
Let’s face it. The newest major league baseball slotting system has changed the way teams are looking at the draft in 2013. They now have a dollar amount and must make the most of it but signing players that will eventually forge their way to the major leagues but they also have to have players in all of their team affiliates. How do you do that? Take the best available or cheat a bit and take real good players that are ones that they can sign and hope they make it or at the very least they force them to the major league field.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement passed in Decembe 2011, MLB teams are limited by a slotting system in the amount that they can spend on draft bonuses. Each pick is given a corresponding bonus allotment. Teams then calculate a bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club’s selections in the first 10 rounds of the draft. Exceeding that allotted bonus pool results in tax penalties.
Many General Managers, including Cardinals GM John Mozeliak, realize that the new rules increase the need to know signing bonus demands ahead of time. General managers thus need to know if a player they draft will actually sign a contract or not.
“Sign-ability” has always been a concern for MLB teams but that doesn’t mean teams will pass on the best player available when it is their turn to make a pick in the draft.
Buster Olney, from ESPN, speculates that that this could come in the form of teams drafting players agreeing to sign for less than the slot allotment. The player is then drafted higher, and the team saves cap room for later in the draft.
Dan Kantrovitz, Director of Scouting for the Cardinals had this to say last year about the draft,
“Certainly from a scouting standpoint, our strategy has to be aggressive, because we have three picks in a span of 20 picks, we’ve been aggressive in terms of seeing players that might fit into that range multiple times. Right now, we’re approaching each pick in terms of players’ talents and then in terms of our budget constraints.”
Budget constraints, determined not by the organization, but by Major League Baseball, provide a twist to the Draft. The Collective Bargaining Agreement, passed in December, limits the amount that teams can hand out as Draft bonuses.
Therefore, due diligence is now the norm for teams and the draft. Mozeliak stated it like this:
“Doing your due diligence on a player hasn’t changed at all, but now the critical point in decision making becomes understanding whether a player is sign-able. As we get closer to the Draft, I think that’s where a lot of our energy and focus will then be on the sign-ability issue.”
Teams have some decisions to make. Young talented baseball players have them too.
(With the MLB Draft about 9-10 days away, I thought I would weigh in on this topic.)
I am not trying to oversimplify this but here are some reasons that I can see that make pitching from the left side more valuable than right side.
First of all in the youth leagues players have very little experience hitting against LHP’ers. When kids take batting practice most do not have a lefty tossing at the hitter. Some hitters face a mental block when the ball is coming in from the “wrong side” of the mound.
As players move to older leagues they begin to see more and more lefthanders but they see far more right-handers during their seasons. So why do right handed hitters struggle against left-handed pitching?
• LHPs have considerable arm-side run (away from RHHs)
• Pitchers work away from hitters (especially against metal bats)
• RHHs are natural pull hitters
(The above is for MOST but not ALL lefties.)
Therefore RHHs are constantly trying to pull pitches off LHPs
Holding runners close to their bases is a huge component of pitching. If a pitcher is unable to hold runners effectively, it gives the opposing team a considerable advantage. While RHPs might be at a slight edge at holding runners at second base, LHPs should benefit greatly at holding runners at first base.
The LHP is staring directly at the runner at first so he is able to see any subtle changes in the runner’s lead. Some LHPs have an innate ability to read runners as they attempt to steal second base. If they are able to do this, they can pick over immediately and get an easy out. Other LHPs cannot do this, but if taught properly can develop a pick-off move that is devastating which can get one or two outs per game. Not only do LHPs have an opportunity to get easy outs at first, but by limiting a runner’s lead at first base he gives his fielders an extra step in turning a double play or reduces the chance of the runner taking an extra base after the ball is hit.
Another reason that LHPs are important is that they give your staff balance. The old cliché of pitching is to keep the hitters off-balance. That not only applies to the pitches a hitter sees from a pitcher, but also the various looks you give a hitter during a three game series.
Even though you may start three different types of guys in your weekend set, if they are all RHPs, it gives the hitter some sense of familiarity. However, if you are able to mix in one LHP or even two LHPs as your starters, you are already forcing the hitter to make an adjustment before the game starts.
Bullpen balance is equally important for your overall staff success. Having one or more LHPs in your pen gives you options in the late innings when games are decided. A large number of teams have big time hitters that swing from the left side and if your team does not have LHPs to neutralize those quality bats it could cause trouble late in games. Remember teams offensively try to create balance as well and if they know that your team doesn’t have lefties in your bullpen they are able to stack their lineup with LHHs with no fear of match up problems at the end of the game.
LHPs also hold a distinct advantage against RHPs with making teams, getting drafted and length of career. Consider these differences—
Regarding reputation, why is a LHP with minus velocity considered crafty while a RHP that throws with same speed thought of as a junkballer?
How come a LHP that throws 88-90 is considered a prospect while a RHP that throws 88-90 is considered a JARP (Just Another Right-Handed Pitcher)?
Baseball scouts repeatedly say a LHP has to give you a reason not to like him while a RHP has to give you a reason to like him.
If a LHP shows pitchability in the major leagues, he can find work for a long time i.e. Jesse Orosco, John Franco and Terry Mulholland.
A LHP that possesses the same traits as a RHP will always have more value simply because it is tough to find good left-handed pitching. It is very likely your team will lose a game this year to a LHP that might not make your team.
Hopefully this makes sense and I didn’t over-generalize or oversimplify too much.
(source: Inside Pitching)
June 6th (6/6) -Should Be Stan Musial Day Every Year in St. Louis
Editor’s Note: The following article is written by Daniel Shoptaw, founder and our leader at the United Cardinal Bloggers. Daniel has an awesome blog at C70 at the Bat. Be sure to check it out. This idea is fantastic and I believe it should create unabashed enthusiasm every year as it rolls around.
6/6. Stan Musial Day. Every year.
I am probably not the first to come up with this idea, but I don’t think I’ve seen it anywhere else. I think this would be an incredible way to honor a player that was more in tune with the fabric of his city than any other. There’s never been any doubt that Stan was one of the greatest to ever play and one of the greatest off the field as well. This combination needs to be recognized in perpetuity. Because the generation that saw Musial play regularly is getting older, and there will come a time when the generation that just knew Musial as a legend, a red jacket on Opening Day, will pass as well. Musial deserves to be immortalized so that generations to come will stop and realize just who he was and what he meant to this city and this organization.
Of course, besides the stance and perhaps the harmonica, nothing is more tied to Stan than his number. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when the marketing campaign for Mobil On The Run came along, they selected six to be their serious number. Six is embedded into the organization because of The Man that wore it last and best.
Which means that June 6–6/6, of course–is the perfect day to have a perpetual Stan Musial Day. Like the Jackie Robinson tribute comes around every April 15 and we honor him for what he did in breaking the color barrier in baseball, so should June 6 come to be the day everyone stops and remembers that left-handed swing or the humble man who fashioned it. (I’m not saying that everyone on the team should wear 6 as their jersey that day, don’t get me wrong. Let’s leave the number on the wall where it belongs.)
What would this entail? I envision that every year, the Cardinals would wear a jersey from Stan’s career. Maybe they go with the 1942 version one year to celebrate that World Series team, maybe they’d go with 1963 one year to honor his retirement. I think they could mix it up–there are, after all, 23 different years to choose from.
There should be a Stan Musial giveaway of some sort. The Cards are doing that already this year, with a poster giveaway against the Diamondbacks. Maybe one year it’s a pennant, one year it’s a baseball card, one year they bring back the harmonicas. Something that ties to Stan in some way.
Normally, the first pitch should be thrown out by a member of Stan’s family. Child, grandchild, great-grandchild, someone who has the Musial blood in their veins. However, if the club was to start this in 2013, being that the Musial family has already thrown out first pitches this season, I would suggest that Stan’s long-time teammate and friend Red Schoendienst get the honors. He might not have been physically related to the Musials, but I expect he was considered family anyway.
If the team is at home, a portion of the proceeds of the game should be dedicated to a charity that either Stan personally supported or one that would seem to fit his spirit. For instance, there’s a Stan Musial Scholarship Fund, which would work, or Covenant House Missouri, where people were directed in lieu of flowers at his passing. If the team is away, a fixed amount should be donated instead.
Which brings me to my last suggestion. I believe the Cardinals should petition Major League Baseball to instruct the schedule makers to always have the Cards in St. Louis on June 6. It’s not an unheard of request–the Red Sox always play at home on Patriot Day, for instance–but it is unique enough to honor The Man in a special way. It’s not a requirement–save for the giveaways and the first pitch, the Cards could celebrate Stan Musial Day on the road as well, just using special road jerseys–but it would seem to mean more if it could always be held in front of the fanbase that cheered Musial on and in the city where he meant so much.
I encourage the Cardinals to implement this. Save for the jerseys (which, I expect, would take longer than two weeks to arrange), all aspects of this could be handled this year. As noted, there’s already a Stan giveaway for that day. Let’s give Stan that holiday on the baseball calendar he’s always deserved!
LAFF (Looking Around Fan Forums)
They have a new whipping boy in Detroit by the name of Brayan Villareal. Here are some samples of what they are discussing at MotownSports.com .
#1- He’s faced 16 batters. Of those batters he gotten 5 — less than 1/3 of them — out. He’s given up 6 hits and walked 5 batters. Consider this… last night he faced just two batters. He got one out, and gave up a home run ending the game. His ERA for this game is: 26.95! 26.95 is a VERY larger number. And yet with outing he actually LOWERED his season ERA by about 5 and half points. Now, in defense of him we’re talking a very small sample size. 16 batters faced is not very many. So while his hugely high season ERA is 48.60, if he pitches just one scoreless inning he drops that to 30.38. If he can work things out he’s got plenty of time to get the stats back under control. But if he doesn’t work it out soon I’m guessing he’s headed to Toledo.
#2- Problem is, Villarreal has never been good, so the odds of him turning it around are very slim. He needs to go away or Leyland will just keep using him.
#3- Part of the problem is Jim Leyland’s horrible managing. Using the wrong guy out of the pen last night was just one sample. Leaving a reliever in the other day (same guy) after he walks two guys is just inexcusable. Relievers can’t afford to walk guys. Sitting two .400 hitters against the hottest team in the AL last night was just plain stupid. It’s April, the weather is cool, Tori and Omar are in fantastic shape, they are hitting everything in sight and setting up the big fellas. Why do they need rest. It’s ridiculous. Foolish over-managing. Kelly, Tui and Santiago should almost never start games.
#4- I hate Villarreal right now too but must get my rant out.
#5- The Tigers would have won in 9 had Maxwell Scherzer not thrown the ball into left field as Crisp was trying to steal 3rd base. Max is old enough where he needs to learn how to handle the pressure of the game. Verlander & Fister make all the plays. Max strikes out 11 but stinks at throwing to 1st base or making a simple throw to Cabrera which would have won the game. The A’s made the bonehead of play of running Crisp into an out in a dumb steal attempt and Max couldn’t make the easy play. I think Verlander and the coaches need to talk with Max and tell him he needs to relax and let the game slow down. Come on. I keep thinking Verlander never makes a mistake in the field – he just reacts when he gets the ball. If we can get Max on board with holding runners and throwing to bases we have 3 of the best starters in baseball.
#6- I wonder if Villarreal is healthy – remember he was shut down during the winter with elbow soreness, though he seemed ok in ST. While his control wasn’t great last season, he was tough to hit – only 38 in 54 2/3 innings. With last year’s sample size and his age, it doesn’t seem reasonable that he’d flame out like this if he’s healthy.
#7- Next time he takes the mound, I hope it’s as a Mud Hen.
There you have it, folks! The Tiger fans are not particularly happy with some of the pitching and some are not enamored with Jim Leyland. Such is life.