Tuesday Morning Cram Session, 7/31

Some stray thoughts and links while we wait around for the trade deadline this afternoon:

The Common Man has come to really hate the trade deadline and all the rumor mongering.  Check out his post at Getting Blanked yesterday for a more complete picture, but it really boils down to realizing that so much of the “information” that we get winds up being utterly meaningless and wrong at the end of the day.


John Sterling continues to be history’s greatest monster.  Way to go with the implicitly racist homerun call, John.


For whatever reason, these are the first Olympics that The Common Man doesn’t care about at all.  Maybe it’s because he doesn’t have TV anymore (everything’s through Netflix, Amazon, MLB.TV, and Hulu), maybe because he’s outgrown the manufactured drama, or maybe it’s because he’s way too old to watch 13 year olds do gymnastics without feeling dirty.  But from what it sounds like, given NBC’s coverage problems, TCM picked a good one to skip.


TCM will get into this below, but he’s feeling incredibly pessimistic about the Twins’ long-term future, given their reluctance to deal anybody who’s worth anything.


Over the weekend, the uncommon wife hosted a 50 Shades of Gray book club meeting at TCM’s house.  The Common Man was urged not to attend, so he went to the library with the kids.  He did, however, leave behind a series of discussion questions, including:

  • Do you think you owe the trees that died to make these books an apology?
  • Guestimate the ratio of how hot a scene is supposed to be with how bad the writing is.
  • Approximately how many years do you think this book set you back, gender-ly speaking?
  • Do you think these books have transcended the harlequin romance genre? If yes, how?  And what accounts for the discrepancy in popularity between 50 Shades and those romances?

And finally…

  • Are you proud of yourselves?


TCM’s review of the trades from the last two days are as follows:

  • Astros deal Chris Johnson to Diamondbacks for Marc Krauss & Bobby Borchering: Jeff Lunhow is a wizard. Neither are high probability guys, but Krauss and Borchering are both good lottery tickets (Borchering especially has tremendous natural ability), and Johnson is a bad 3B.
  • Brewers deal George Kottaras to A’s for Fautino De Los Santos: This is probably not going to have a huge impact either way, but the Brewers clear up a logjam and address a need in the bullpen.
  • Cubs deal Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson to Braves for Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman: The Braves get two useful, but not exciting, parts for two very live arms, one of whom may still have a chance to start.  This underscores how underwhelming the return for Liriano was for the Twins.
  • Mariners deal Brandon League to Dodgers for Leon Landry and Logan Bawcom.  Neither Landry nor Bawcom are impact guys.  Landry is probably a 4th or 5th outfielder, and Bawcom is a minor league reliever.  That’s an ok return for League, who has (somewhat frighteningly) become even less of a groundballer as his strikeout rate has fallen.  He should be ok for the rest of 2012, but stay away next offseason.
  • Blue Jays deal Eric Thames for to Mariners Steve Delabar: Thames is a mediocre outfielder, and Delabar is a strikeout machine out of the bullpen.  TCM will take the upside.
  • Cubs deal Geovany Soto to the Rangers for Jacob Brigham: Soto has been terrible, but will be a capable backup in Texas, and Brigham is a 24 year old repeating AA, who probably won’t turn into anything.  Meh.
  • Blue Jays deal Travis Snider for to Pirates for Brad Lincoln: A tremendously exciting deal for the Pirates, who needed a corner outfielder, and get a good upside play in Snider. Lincoln’s been a tremendous story this year, after looking like a 1st round washout just a year ago.  He’s been a strikeout machine, but has really troubling homerun rates, and can’t keep the ball out of the air, which could be a problem in the AL East.  Both players have a high bust potential, but the Pirates get the potential for a great player for somebody who wasn’t part of their long term plans.


Finally, the greatest out of context line ever by the AV Club’s Sean O’Neal: “It’s definitely not the first time Courtney Love’s vagina has ruined Nirvana.”

Pitcher of the Night: Hisashi Iwakuma, 8 IP, 4 H, 3 BB, 13 K, 1 R
Iwakuma was tending to personal business in Japan just a couple days ago.  Now he’s kicking ass and taking names in what is, by far, the best start of his brief Major League career.  Since joining the Mariners rotation on July 2, Iwakuma has tossed 29 innings in 5 starts, struck out 27, and posted a 3.41 ERA.  Looks pretty good.

Hitter of the Night: Kendrys Morales, 2-5, 2 HR, 6 RBI  
Morales becomes the 3rd player to homer from opposite sides of the plate in the same inning to help the Angels rout the Rangers.  Morales has had an abysmal July, hitting just .233/.282/.315 for the month before last night’s explosion.

Play of the Night: Denard Span

More about Span in a minute, but this was one heck of a play to rob Alex Rios of at least a double.

Injury of Note:
Angel Pagan, stupid hand
Pagan punches a wall in the Giants dugout, and needs to be removed from the game.  Turns out it’s probably not going to cost him any time.

Ryan Sweeney, stupider hand  
On the other hand (see what TCM did there?), Sweeney punched a door and may have broken his hand.  He’s probably DL bound.  Remember, with sub-par power for an outfield corner comes great responsiblity to not be a freaking moron.

Yasmani Grandal, stupidest oblique
If he’s out for any length of time, Nick Hundley’s going to get a chance at redemption after being mired at AAA for the last couple months.

Jim Thome, adorable neck spasms
Thome gets an MRI, which may have trouble diagnosing his neck problems with all the residual awesomeness being radiated by Thome’s body.

Trade Bait of the Night: Denard Span, 2-3, R
OK, so last night Denard Span’s chances of being dealt effectively melted away to zero, as Span exerted his authority on both sides of the ball and went on TV after the game and specifically and publicly asked Terry Ryan not to trade him.  Not even TCM can root for a trade after that.  But then, if Span’s not going anywhere, and Willingham’s not going anywhere, and Morneau’s not going anywhere, and Burton and Perkins are staying put, where are the Twins going to get the infusion of talent they need to become competitive in the long run? It’s great to have a team where everyone likes each other and likes playing in Minnesota.  It would be better if they’d win.


Angels: Mike Trout, 2-4, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, BB
Our long national nightmare is over.  Trout is ok.  Well, better than ok.  He’s hitting .351/.408/.600, and has the 4th highest OPS ever for a 20 year old player, behind Mel Ott, A-Rod and Ted Williams.  That’s pretty damn good, actually.

Angels: Jerome Williams, 4 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 5 R
Williams earns a save despite giving up 5 runs.  It’s the most runs given up in a save since Mark Huismann in 1986 also gave up 5 runs in four innings of work.  Dave Goltz holds the record for most runs surrendered in a save, as he gave up 8 runs in 3 innings in 1973.  Saves are dumb.

Brewers: Livan Hernandez, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 3 R
Hernandez blows the save, gives up the lead, and still winds up with the win. God these stats suck.

Rangers: Roy Oswalt, 5.1 IP, 11 H, 0 BB, 4 K, 8 R
This is the second truly disastrous start for Oswalt in his last four outings.  In between, he’s dominated the Twins and A’s, but it’s not at all a sure bet that Oswalt will help this team going forward.

Orioles: Nick Markakis, 3-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI
You know, the money to sign him is long gone, so it’s time to focus instead on what markais is at this point: which is…well, it’s not good.  He’s hitting .286/.353/.460 on the year, which is good enough (and kudos to the Orioles for using the plodding Markakis in the leadoff role).  But despite his offensive success this year, his defense remains abysmal, no matter what metric you look at.

Red Sox: Will Middlebrooks, 1-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K
Of course, it’s far to early to truly say that the Red Sox made a mistake in dealing Kevin Youkilis to clear the way for Middlebrooks.  But for fun: Middlebrooks had hit .256/.269/.433, with 24 strikeouts and 2 walks in 93 plate appearances since Youkilis was dealt.  In that same time, Youk has hit .255/.375/.462 in 128 plate appearances.  So Youkilis has played more and played better.  OK, TCM lied.  It’s not too early.

Braves: Tommy Hanson, 5 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 4 K, 1 R
This is the fourth straight start Hanson has gone fewer than 6 innings, and despite the decent looking results, Braves fans have to be worried.

Padres: Will Venable, 2-4, 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB
TCM has a soft spot in his heart for Venable for some reason.  Venable’s a tweener who had a terrific and underrated year in 2010 and who, if TCM had his druthers, would play for the Twins and be the 4th outfielder of his dreams.

Cubs: Darwin Barney, 3-5, 3B, HR, 3 R, 4 RBI
Don’t let his rWAR fool you, Darwin Barney continues to be mediocre at baseball at best.  Baseball Reference’s system is giving Barney credit for 3.2 wins on defense (shades of Brett Lawrie, giving him a 4.1 WAR (10th in the NL according to Baseball Reference).  There is no way Barney has been that good.  Awesome game though.

Twins: Danny Valencia, 2-3, 2 RBI
He’s going to end up on the 25 man roster for the rest of the season, isn’t he? Sigh.

Rays: David Price, 7 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 11 K, 3 R
Price was absolutely nasty last night, and got more than half of the 21 strikeouts the Rays recorded against the A’s.  But he gets nothing to show for it (you know, aside from respect).

Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt, 2-5, HR, 3 RBI
Goldschmidt has really built on his strong rookie campaign and become a better offensive player, with fewer srikeouts, and far more line drives than last year.  

Mets: Scott Hairston, 2-5, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI
TCM was shocked to learn this is actually the 6th time Hairston has hit 2 homers in a game. If The Common Man were going to pick someone to hit two homers in a game, Hairston wouldn’t even have made his top 200.  At .264/.303/.537, he’s having the best season of his career.  It’s weird the Mets aren’t looking to move him, since he’ll be a free agent.