Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tom Verducci and the World Series

"It should be supremely interesting to see what happens to pitchers with a Texas Rangers uniform on. This one all alone in the pursuit of building pitchers by having them pitch a lot. Personally, I'm rooting for them because I'm pro-not being a baby. But let's face it: The people being treated like Phil Hughes are having a much better season than the people treated like Daisuke Matsuzaka."
-Tom Verducci and the Year of the Pitcher, HYD Baseball, July 14.

At least in the short term, things are looking quite good for pitchers in Texas jerseys. They largely shut down arguably the two most high-powered offenses in baseball on their way to the World Series, and while the centerpiece of the rotation is not home-grown, this is the way Tommy Hunter (especially) and Colby Lewis (unintentionally) grew up with the organizational philosophy of throwing them in with the sharks. Hunter, only 23, suffered a minor hip injury this year, and because of this injury, he's thrown the fewest number of innings in the last three years. The last two years he was close to 200 innings a season.

Lewis is an interesting story, as he was a classic Verducci case in the minors - heavily worked very early, then suffered a slew of injuries to the point that he had to revive his career in Japan. But he's back.

Obviously, in the current term, things are going well with both. But Lewis seems to be proving the Verducci theory and Hunter seems to go against the grain. It should be extremely interesting to see whether Texas, especially assuming that Lee is gone in two weeks, can remain a perennial contender. They have several good guys offensively who are still around for varying lengths of time. But can these pitchers with the nontraditional philosophy stay afloat?

Also notable, and bringing in the Boston connection: John Farrell is gone, and this morning's Globe mentioned Rick Peterson (who was Verducci's main source in the formulation of the theory) as a candidate to become the Red Sox' next pitching coach.

Other intriguing stories surrounding the World Series:

-The former Red Sox factor: Ramon Ramirez, Javier Lopez, Freddy Sanchez, and Edgar Renteria all had the Red Sox connection during different parts of their careers. Will Ramram do what he did once thus far in the playoffs and many times with Boston in 2010? We could talk about how David Murphy is a great value right fielder who is benched against lefties and gives you 65 RBIs a year, but that is not necessary.
-It's down to "A Vineyard, Gimme A Break" versus "That's Logistics" for the commercial of the playoffs.
-I'll admit that I have not watched every inning of the NLCS so I haven't heard all of the banter between Buck and McCarver, but can they go without a Beach Boys reference for the entire World Series? If the Giants are up late in a close game, I will say no. It's to appeal to a wider audience.
-The Giants were the iceberg that sank the Red Sox' season.
-Is the Rangers' bullpen trustworthy? I'd say no. But they have the advantage of not having Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez in there.
-The NLCS was a good series. Close games. Tension. Benches clearing once. Managers playing to win single games instead of saving them for later (hello Girardi). The Giants' "potential" rotation outpitching (slightly) the Phillies' more-proven rotation. Lincecum is obviously proven, but if you're in a fantasy draft, do you pick Matt Cain early? No, because you don't know if he's got it all together yet. Even his 2010 numbers indicate that it's questionable. Same for Sanchez. And Bumgarner was in the minors for most of the year. But they outpitched the pitching juggernaut. Wow.
-I think Pat and I can probably agree on the opinion that neither of these teams were the best this year. Not that either of them will contest the '06 Cardinals as the weakest World Series team in recent memory. But they are doing pretty well at proving the Billy Beane theory of getting in and getting hot.
-Non-baseball fans and emotionally-exhausted Yankee fans will yawn at this matchup. Even if there weren't many things (see above) to watch it for, this is the last chance to watch baseball until March. Next time you have a chance at seeing baseball, Mel Kiper, Jr. will be on the TV more than baseball will be. So enjoy it while it lasts.


Jon said...

My brother is pretty sure that the cartoony "Vineyard" guy is the same one as the "Just because we're on a plane, doesn't change the way we do business" commercial.

"Oh look it's that suck-up Brian about the shareholders meeting....Delete"

Patrick said...

do you mean cj wilson, colby lewis, or both?

2006 st. louis cardinals, not 2005.

the nlcs was a great series, and san fransisco did a job of reminding everyone of what a great baseball city it is. i only see that continuing in the world series. not that they'll win it. but that city/stadium will be bananas.

Patrick said...

*san fran did a good job.......

the gm at work said...

That would be Colby Lewis. CJ Wilson never played in Japan, instead having a typical middle reliever-type career as a middle reliever. My sincerest apologies, and you are also correct about the year of the 83-win Cardinals. I'll chalk it up to emotional exhaustion - 18 games against Tampa this year. I will make the necessary adjustments during my lunch break.

I infer that you have the Rangers winning the series. Is this because you see Cliff Lee getting three wins, or because you see the SF pitching staff melting against an aggressive AL offense?

I'm surprised we have not yet seen Bandi on this board trolling about his Raiders.

Ross Kaplan said...

Unfortunately, I have missed the entire National League playoff and will be missing the World Series because I like millions of other in the metro NY and Philadelphia areas am a Cablevision subscriber where Fox has been blacked out for the past 3 weeks. I apologize in advance for the phony populist rant, but this whole blackout thing is ridiculous and it doesn't help that I despise the two central figures involved, Knicks owner and aspiring musician Jimmy Dolan and Rupert Murdoch.

As upset as I am about the Yankees not getting to the World Series, there definitely is a sense of relief to no longer have to watch games on edge, that is if two multi-billion dollar corporations are unable to come to a carrying fee agreement. I like both teams, but I think I'm rooting for the Giants if only because my grandfather grew up in the shadow of the Polo Grounds.

And that my friends, is logistics

TimC said...

So in terms of pitching philosophies and the like, one common theme throughout the history of sports is that a team that can figure out a winning strategy and employ it while the rest of the league simply carries on with business as usual will enjoy a level of winning above that which should be expected. In baseball, this has not been seen since the Moneyball A's but the Rangers pitching could be the next one. Given the nature of pitching and the head start the organization would have on MLB, they could/should be a perennial contender if they are onto something that the rest of the league is still asleep on.

They might also be wise to trade for Dice if they are fully committed to such a strategy.

Obviously, the WS is unappealing to those who made predictions in the spring and had these teams nowhere near each other. I expect some good games, though, as tends to happen when two surprise teams meet in a playoff series. Shoot-outs in Texas and pitcher's duels in San Fran, perhaps, which could make this one of the better WS we'll get a chance to see.

Patrick said...

i actually have the giants winning the series in 7. that is also what i am rooting for, as i think the yankees have a better chance of getting lee if he doesn't win the world series. the yankees do not longer just pay whatever it takes to get every single player, and while he is certainly a special free agent, he's also 31. the rangers have new ownership, and are having success with lee, and i think they will be major players. perhaps most importantly, players seem to be taking a more serious look these days at what the value of contracts are depending on the city/state where they will be playing. the difference between dallas, texas and new york, new york/new jersey (where a lot of the players live) in terms of cost of living and taxes is massive. when talking about a contract of that size it is millions and millions and millions of dollars. i heard someone say the other day they estimated if texas offered him $120 million that the yankees would have to $160 million for it to have similar value for lee. that's not to say lee would be most concerned with value, he may prefer new york or some other team to texas, i'm just pointing out it's not a foregone conclusion. hence, i think it's go giants.

Patrick said...

to tie that up, i don't think it's out of the question the rangers would go to about $120. and i'm not sure the yankees would be willing to beat $120 by $40 million to get him if that's what it took. if lee was 28 like sabathia was two years ago, that's one thing. and i was mistaken in my previous comment, lee is 32. that means he will be almost 4 years older than sabathia was when he signed his contract. i can't see the yankees giving him a similar amount. i think they would be more likely to want to be in the $120 range as well, but obviously i have no idea. either way, i don't want him to feel a world series championship connection to coming back to texas at any price, so go giants.

the gm at work said...


Gunn and I had both expressed concerns about Lee's Beckett-caliber seasons. Do you share the same concerns, or do you consider the volume of good work to render the Beckett-caliber seasons insignificant?

Patrick said...

to me, yes. lee went bad season, good season, average season, bad season to start his career. but since then he's pitched 3 dominant seasons consecutively. if those dominant seasons were more mixed in, as with beckett, then it's a more legitimate concern. but at this point i think it would be silly to evaluate him on anything other than what he's done the last three years. it's a 667.1 inning sample, which is a significant size, and he's put up a 2.98 era across it. he had a 10.28 k/bb this year. so it's not just that he's been good for three years in a row, it's that he's been absolutely dominant (far more dominant than beckett has ever been), winning a cy young, putting up ridiculous numbers, and putting together one of the great playoff runs ever. what's more, even when he was pitching poorly he was pitching innings. he hasn't had injury issues ever and he hasn't had performance issues in a long time. i think those are the things you look at. that doesn't guarantee he won't have performance or health issues going forward. but he is no more of a risk in either of those categories than anybody else. i think this guy is going to be super attractive to a lot of teams.

the gm said...

Very fair points. I think he's had a few lower abdominal problems back in March, and you can tell by looking at Mike Cameron's 2010 and my own 2010 that if these come back, it can cause some significant frustration. However, if treated quickly, he can come back quickly. Let's just hope he goes to a team with good doctors.

Your points about the last three are more than fair. He just looks like a guy who took a while to get it all together.

PF said...

yes absolutely, i should have said he hasn't had significant injury problems.