Apr
13

Sunday Links: Tanaka, Puig, Cardinals, Pitchers

By
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees and Red Sox do not play the final game of their four-game weekend series until tonight (8pm ET on ESPN), so here are some random links I have lying around to help pass the time. Most of them aren’t Yankees-related but they’re all worth reading. I wouldn’t link to them otherwise. Enjoy:

  • Tom Verducci put together a great article on Masahiro Tanaka and it covers pretty much everything. His career in Japan, the pursuit from various MLB teams, blending into the clubhouse, the cultural differences — “The [toilet] washlet is a system in Japan where you press a button and water comes out and washes your ass. Not having that is a big difference,” he said — and a bunch of other stuff. It’s really good, so check it out.
  • Yasiel Puig might be the most polarizing player in baseball today. He’s insanely talented but prone to dumb plays (overthrown cutoff man, etc.) and dumb off-field decisions (speeding arrests, showing up late), and that makes him a popular target for the media. Dan Le Batard, who is a bit of a dope on television/radio but a brilliant columnist, penned this excellent piece on why it’s difficult for us to understand why Puig doesn’t just change. Culture, man.
  • The Cardinals are the premier player development organization in baseball right now, and Derrick Goold wrote this article on their strategy for scouting and developing pitchers. They specifically look for guys with arm strength and athleticism, two traits that can not be taught. In the minors, they emphasize weak contact (not necessarily on the ground) and throwing all pitches to hitters on both sides of the plate. Patience as well. They don’t mind if players take five or six years in the minors to develop.
  • With that in mind, here’s an article by Travis Sawchik on fastball velocity, the average of which continues to increase around the league. The recent emphasis on young players means more fresh arms who can really cut it loose. Velocity isn’t everything, obviously, but it sure does give a pitcher more margin for error. The Pirates, who have flame-throwing former Yankees first rounder Gerrit Cole, are one club that has placed more emphasis on pure heat.
  • And finally, I enjoyed this post by Drew Fairservice about making advanced stats work for television. The Astros show stats like WAR and BABIP on their broadcasts, but most fans don’t care about that stuff and explaining it each time isn’t practical. I think less is more on television broadcasts.
Categories : Links
  • JCK

    We wipe our own asses like animals here in America. :(

    • ropeadope

      I’m strongly considering relocating to Japan based on this single factor. Leave it to the Japanese use of technology to simplify life.

      • Dalek Jeter

        You can get a bidet in America. My buddy did in his college apartment…you’re just going to get a lot of people asking “dude what is this second weird looking toilet? Is that a urinal?

        • ropeadope

          I’ve heard of a bidet, though never seen one. I think it’s just folklore. Possibly one of the young ladies on the site can clarify.

      • Chip Rodriguez

        I had a 6 hour layover in Tokyo’s Narita airport a couple of years ago on a business trip.

        I have never enjoyed taking a dump as much as I did there. More buttons and functions on those toilets than my car’s dashboard.

        • ropeadope

          You’re preaching to the choir. I’d also love to try sleeping in those sliding drawers, although I’d be a bit worried about never getting free. Like an extended MRI without the imaging benefit.

      • ALZ

        Have heard though that most Japanese households don’t have dishwashers.

    • Dick M

      If you’ve ever read Shogun — the hygiene difference between the first western explorers (smelled like shit, wore wool in the heat and rarely bathed) vs the native Japanese (wore silk to beat the heat, bathed regularly etc) was pretty stark.

      By the way you can get a bidet in the newer rooms at Caesar’s.

  • Dirk Diggler

    I would never want to see Yasiel Puig in pinstripes. I always, always, prefer a less toolsy/talaneted player that is less prone to game costing/ game changing decisions. So between Gardner or Puig with everything (salary, age) being equal, I’d take Gardner. If it’s between Puig and a guy like Alex Gordon — again, I’d prefer Gordon.

    The last thing you want to see or worry about as a fan is a bonehead mistake in a playoff game or even the current one game wild card playoff.

    • JMK

      Not sure if trolling.

      Even with Puig’s mental lapses and questionable off-the-field behavior, he is significantly more valuable than Gardner and Gordon. I love the guy (baseball needs more colorful characters, in my opinion) and would be off-the-walls excited if he were donning pinstripes. Puig gives the team a better chance to reach and win a playoff game than either Gardner or Gordon.

      • Dirk Diggler

        Puig had a good rookie season, but you can get back to me when he posts 6+ WAR seasons like Gardner and Gordon have. I won’t hold my breath.

        • Dalek Jeter

          Puig posted a 4fWAR in his rookie year, playing only 104 games. If that is his true talent level I’d be utterly shocked if he never posts a 6 WAR season. As for Gardner, I love him, but let’s not pretend that he’s a perennial 6 win player, or that he’s an offensive juggernaut. I’m not saying Gardner isn’t crazy valuable, just that a lot of his value is defensively and I’d take Puig over GGBG in a cocaine heartbeat.

          • Dirk Diggler

            Just let me know when he posts a 6 WAR season, ok?

            His defense and baserunning leaves a lot to be desired. And I think he may be a candidate for some offensive regression. His rates indicate he’s kind of/ sort of a hacker. If his BABIP drops a bit, oh boy.

            • vicki

              you’re letting your feelings blind you. puig has all five tools.

              • Dirk Diggler

                Kemp also ‘has five tools’, but he’s also had exactly one elite season in his career and that was three years ago. And he isn’t getting younger.

                • vicki

                  what on earth are you trying to argue now? you said you wouldn’t want puig in pinstripes, which sounds insane to rational people. i addressed your comment about his defense and baserunning. if you only know him from his bloopers on sportscenter and murky defense and BsR stats on fangraphs you have no idea what you’re talking about.

                  • Dirk Diggler

                    Yeah, silly me for using statistical evidence to criticize Puig’s mediocre defense and base running figures from his rookie season.

                    Dang you statistical evidence!!!

                    • stuckey

                      One question – why do you think Puig is fully formed as a ML ballplayer and a person, for that matter?

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      The statistical evidence, based on one season. That has him just barely below average in both of the things you’re saying he’s terrible at. I have this page bookmarked, so at the end of the year, when Puig has a ~6fWAR season we can revisit this conversation.

                    • vicki

                      104 games, dude. uzr and ubr are both prone to short sample size fluctuations. but a big, bad stat-head like you would know that.

                    • Dirk Diggler

                      Y’all just watch the average, regressed season he puts up this season compared to 2013 and we’ll see if you feel the same way a year from now, ok?

                      Also, feel free to page me when he puts up a 6+WAR season. Thanks.

                    • Dirk Diggler

                      But Vicki, that also means that his stats may have fluctuated in a positive fashion and he could actually regress across the board. His BABIP will probably regress, and I’d be willing to bet his SLG% does as well.

                      Oh well.

                    • vicki

                      you’re contorting the conversation again. i’m saying a person with respect for numbers and probability would not use 100 games worth of uzr and ubr to make his point.

                      i think puig’s slugging may regress too; almost certainly his batting average will. but he’ll likely take more walks, and polish other aspects of his game.

                      you don’t have to like him. but your disapproval doesn’t make him any less special.

                    • Dick M

                      I’ll take Puig, thank you very much. What was Gardner’s WAR in his rookie year?

                      Puig obviously has maturity issues but the talent is undeniable.

                      His BABIP is high because he hits the ball so hard.

                      He may in fact slide a bit in year 2 as the league catches up to him, it happens all the time. Won’t make you an oracle.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      Thank you, Dick.

                  • Dirk Diggler

                    Hey Dalek, please refer me to where I stated Puig was a “terrible” baserunner/defender?

                    I merely stated that he is sub-par in both areas.

                    But you bookmarked it, so you already no that — eh?

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      “…leave a lot to be desired.” Where your words. When somebody tells me something I do “leaves a lot to be desired,” I take that to mean that I’m pretty bad on it and requires a ton of work, not that I’m simply subpar.

                    • Dirk Diggler

                      So you CAN’T refer me to where I used the term terrible to describe those elements of Puig’s game?

                      Gotcha.

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      When your argument is lost, argue semantics. That always works…wait no it doesn’t, you still haven’t convinced anybody as to why you’re right and everybody in the world of baseball is wrong about Puig being a star.

                    • stuckey

                      I’ll ask again, why do you think Puig is fully formed as a baseball player and/or as a person.

                      Puig played in 62 MiLB games in the Dodger system.

                      Gary Sanchez, for example, just started his first stint in AA and he’s played 370 games in the MiLB season.

                      You seem to be basing your evaluation based on the premise Puig is state of the art or will regress.

                      So, again, why do you think a 23 year with a little more of ONE season experience in North American professional baseball and still making the vast cultural adjustment he has won’t learn and development his skills and baseball smarts?

                    • Dirk Diggler

                      Which is why you tried mincing my words to support YOUR argument — eh?

                      Oops!

                    • Dirk Diggler

                      It’s hard for me to believe that a 23 year old man is going to be able to “learn” to play smart baseball. That someone already thrust into the show is going to just wake up one day and learn to take better routes, get better jumps, and learn how to just overall be a more intelligent baseball player. Heck, Soriano still makes some of the same baserunning blunders he made back here in the early 2000s. Hamilton slid head first into first base — that worked out well eh?

                      I’m not saying Puig is a bad baseball player, he flashes a lot of skills. I just personally prefer smarter and more polished ballplayers that are more consistent and reliable in the mental aspect of the game.

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      Again, arguing semantics (which is exactly what you’re doing by calling me out on how I interpreted what you said) is not at all arguing the point. We’re all still waiting eagerly to hear why you’re right and everybody else here and in the world of baseball is wrong about Puig.

                    • stuckey

                      “I’m not saying Puig is a bad baseball player, he flashes a lot of skills. I just personally prefer smarter and more polished ballplayers that are more consistent and reliable in the mental aspect of the game.”

                      I think what people are reacting to is you’re very possibly underselling how “not bad” a baseball player Puig may someday be.

                      The guy posted a .925 OPS his first 104 games in the ML, this after 63 games in the minors.

                      I don’t know enough about Cuban baseball to know about equivalent of what level he played and what fundamentals they do or don’t teach there, but if seems like you’re overreaching to make a point.

                      Maybe in a few years he moves to 1B if taking bad routes and missing the cut-off man never approves. The point he, he could become of the more special bats in the league.

                      To dismiss him for his entire career based on his first 114 games or so, seems pointlessly premature.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      “It’s hard for me to believe that a 23 year old man is going to be able to “learn” to play smart baseball. That someone already thrust into the show is going to just wake up one day and learn to take better routes, get better jumps, and learn how to just overall be a more intelligent baseball player. Heck, Soriano still makes some of the same baserunning blunders he made back here in the early 2000s. Hamilton slid head first into first base — that worked out well eh?”

                      I don’t get this, like, at all. You don’t think baseball players continue to hone their skills throughout their career?

                      You’re pointing out specific player flaws. Every player has them. If they each were flawless, it’d be a pretty boring game. That’s a completely separate thing from one’s ability to improve throughout their career. Most 23 year-olds are still in the infancy of their careers. Imagine if they were all the same players at 30 that they were at 23. That wouldn’t be a boring game – that’d be a pretty shitty game. It’d be like watching the XFL.

                • Dalek Jeter

                  Kemp also has an incredible ability to get injured, up there with the Grady Sizemores of the world. I cannot believe that you with a straight face can say “If I’m building a franchise right now and I have a choice between Yasiel Puig, Brett Gardner, and Alex Gordon, Puig is the last player of the 3 I’d go with.” It’s insane and shortsighted.

                  • Dirk Diggler

                    If there was no age attributed to them or zero salary implications attatched — yes, I would pass on Puig. I value BB%, defense, and SMART baserunning quite a bit — as does fWAR. But you can page me when Puig accumulates 6+ WAR. Maybe someday.

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      I disagree in just every conceivable way, and I think your reasoning for why you’d go with a Gardner or a Gordon is exactly why you shouldn’t. If two guys have the same speed home to first, and one runs with perfect form while the other is a sloppy runner, you don’t take the guy with the perfect form you take the guy with the sloppy form because you can coach him and make him better and faster.

                    • vicki

                      war gives the tiniest fuck about baserunning.

                      power and average, then fielding and arm.

              • Some other guy named Mike

                I didn’t realize being a tool counted as one ….

                • Dalek Jeter

                  That would make him a six tool player ;)

    • Dalek Jeter

      No way. Look at what Manny did in Boston. He made some stupid, stupid, stupid plays but his crazy hitting ability covered that and more. There are some exceptions to the rule, but talent over anything for me.

      • Dirk Diggler

        Manny was also walking over 13% of the time and striking out under 20% of the time. I don’t think Puig will ever do either of those things on a season to season basis. Also, Manny at one point Manny was putting up isolated power figures over .300 consistently. Manny is one of the greatest right handed hitters of all time and a legendary offensive player? Puig will never be that good offensively, period.

        • Dalek Jeter

          Manny’s rookie season (1994, 91 games):

          .269/.357/.521 wRC+ 120 wOBA .372 BB% 12.5% K% 21.4%

          Puig’s rookie season (2013, 104 games):

          .319/.391/.534 wRC+ 160 wOBA .398 BB% 8.3% K% 22.5%

          I’m not saying that Puig is going to be Manny Ramirez, or that he’s going to be better than Manny Ramirez, just that Puig is an incredibly talented player and to judge him on a handful of plays where he let his over aggression and lack of baseball aptitude (at age 23 in his rookie year) show is incredibly shortsighted.

          • vicki

            one last point before i hit the lipgloss.

            from 1994 to 2013 walks are down and stikeouts are (way) up.
            league average rates:

            1994 bb% 8.9; k% 15.9
            2013 bb% 7.9; k% 19.9

            http://www.fangraphs.com/leade.....;players=0

            • Dalek Jeter

              That makes sense, as offense has been starved out of the league by more dominant pitching and the lack of PEDs, weaker hitters are being overwhelmed more while stronger hitters are more willing to risk a K to get a pitch to hit out of the ballpark.

              • vicki

                yep. and it’s context for manny’s edge in those columns.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      He’s got plenty of time to either become a superstar or fall flat on his face. I’d gladly take a chance on the former if he was available.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Man, can somebody take Dirk’s side please. I’m very bored at work and am here for another 3 and a half hours, and as much as I believe he’s blatantly wrong everybody disagreeing with him while he pulls the “no donkey” is just plain boring.

      • vicki

        we need forensic.

        • forensic

          You beckoned? :-)

          • vicki

            we needed a puig-hating scholar to play with. dj is stuck at work; i’m procrastinating getting dressed for my shift.

            5pm til 4am tonight. of course seven of those hours i’ll be diverted by the yanks-sox game (zing).

            • forensic

              So I guess you’re one who actually likes when they have Sunday Night games.

              (like how I’m artfully avoiding the debate at hand?)

              • Dalek Jeter

                Seriously though, Sunday Night Games should not exist during the Game of Thrones season.

                • ropeadope

                  Only nine episodes remaining this season; should be best season yet. No show Memorial Day weekend.

                  • Dalek Jeter

                    I really REALLY hope the royal wedding is tonight and not next week.

            • ropeadope

              do you need a ride home?

        • Dalek Jeter

          Nah, he may be a pessimist and prickly from time to time, but forensic is a knowledgeable guy, and there is no way in this universe he’d take Gardner over Puig to start a franchise….right forensic?

          • forensic

            Prickly???

            And I prefer realist to pessimist. :-)

            • Dalek Jeter

              Most pessimists would :p

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        There’s not much there other than “I don’t specifically like Puig and, therefore, think there will be no outcome other than him sucking.” That’s a pretty dead-end discussion.

  • Pineda Colada

    That’s ridiculous

  • ropeadope
  • Eselquetodolosabe

    “Ass washing toilet” ?! Now you tell me…. I thought that f’er was a water fountain ! Well, at least my ass is happier. My mouth…… ? That’s a different story. Lebatard a dope ? Not fair imo. He’s on TV and radio…., he has to entertain.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      His TV stuff is really funny, but he’s a legit columnist and pretty much the biggest name, sport wise, in South Florida.

  • Eselquetodolosabe

    Is it Nova’s turn tonight ? If so…., oh boy, I hope we get good Nova !

  • joe

    Any connection between these teams obsession with velocity and all these TJ surgeries around the league to young arms? Interesting that the Pirates, who were mentioned loving and pushing big arms, just loss their top prospect Jameson Taillon to TJ and have a few other injured guys.

    90 mph on the black will always be better than 96 mph down the middle.

    • Chip Rodriguez

      Clearly you haven’t been here for any game threads when CC started. Don’t you know that it’s velo above all, and if a pitcher is only firing fastballs at 90/91, we start mourning his career and contract?

      • ALZ

        CC is struggling, but at least he is still going out there for 200 innings every year.

    • stuckey
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Not that I have any interest in giving some sort of discourse on cultural competence, but I can imagine it’s very easy for many to dismiss LeBatard’s article. Too bad, since he’s spot on.

    The late Neil Rogers used to always refer to LeBatard as “Dan Le Bastard” on the radio. Always made me laugh. RIP.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Ariel Prieto didn’t know anything about banks or credit cards or our currency so he walked around for more than a week with his $1.2 million signing bonus in the pocket of his jeans.

      This just made my brain explode. He was either walking around with a physical check worth 1.2 million dollars, or the incredibly less likely scenario, he was walking around with 12,000 hundred dollar bills in his pocket. Either way, wow.

      • stuckey

        It must have been a check.

        You can’t walk around with $1m in your pockets, in any denomination, as I’m sure you know.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I laugh, and it’s even hard for me to believe, but you’d be surprised at what the adjustment for some folks who grew up only under Castro is like sometimes in the US. My dad had some family of his wife’s life with them for months, and they’d do things like hoard food under their beds, etc. I was once yelled, and I mean really angrily, at by a co-worker for eating a soy burger in Miami because that’s what was rationed out at the end of the month when you’d used up your meat ration. I have a friend who is a successful jazz pianist who came in his 20′s who still has major eating issues and is almost impossible to go to restaurants with. It fucks with your head.

    • Dalek Jeter

      Also, I really hope Puig’s agent got him a very good accountant.

  • MB923

    “The Astros show stats like WAR and BABIP on their broadcasts, but most fans don’t care about that stuff and explaining it each time isn’t practical.”

    That’s cause nobody is watching them, 0.0 TV Rating

    http://mlb.si.com/2014/04/09/h.....on-rating/

    • forensic

      I was about to go there too, but I prefer Awful Announcing.

      http://awfulannouncing.com/201.....onday.html

      • vicki

        i went to college in houston. it’s just not a baseball town; football and hoop are king. but i LOVED the radio broadcasts with milo hamilton and larry dierker.

        • ALZ

          A successful team goes a long way towards changing that. The metro is also pretty big, if they are good they will be able to get enough fans to survive.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I’d personally love it, but I completely understand that most fans wouldn’t…now if I could only understand why your average fan doesn’t want to know how good their players really are.

  • Dick M

    I love that “pitching to weak contact” that the Cards are teaching.

    Always thought the babip/regression to the mean and 3 true outcomes stuff was overrated.

    • vicki

      and i think the key phrase was “(not necessarily on the ground).” phil hughes, for example, was at his (non-reliever) consistent best when he was getting weak fly balls early in counts several years ago.

      • Dick M

        Yes, yes, yes. A thousand times yes.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Really weird question…how does one dry themselves after using the Japanese toilet with built in bidet or a regular bidet…if not with some type of disposable towel?

    • http://twyankeesfan.wordpress.com/ Taiwan Yankee Fan

      Isn’t it just like how you dry yourself after taking a shower? XD~

      • Dalek Jeter

        At home…sure, you just have a towel, but I was thinking more about public toilets.

      • Nope

        There is an air dryer that shoots warm air up there to dry it, I kid you not.

        • Dalek Jeter

          This settles it, I’m moving tonight. Also, I know it’s sort of vulgar…but how do you not go with “I shit you not” there? It’s set up perfectly.

        • ALZ

          That sounds fantastic. They also have heated seats…

  • http://twyankeesfan.wordpress.com/ Taiwan Yankee Fan

    Hello Michael,

    Thanks for the insightful article about Tanaka. Like you said in one of the season previews, one of the two reasons Tanaka might not be so successful this season is that Tanaka likes to pitch up in the zone. We saw the “potential” damage in Spring Training and verified the damaged caused in his first two games so far. Hope he/the pitching coach staff will find a way to tackle it. Gonna read the article on Cardinals’ young arms. :-)

  • The Other Matt

    No Jeter in the lineup, again, tonight. I wonder what the story is.

    • MB923

      Something has gotta be wrong if Girardi is going to bench him back to back games with an off day tomorrow.

      • The Other Matt

        That’s my feeling. I’m sure we’ll find out soon. But something has to be up.

  • MB923

    Nick Cafardo ?@nickcafardo 2m
    Derek Jeter out with tight right quad according to Joe Girardi. Holding him out until Tuesday. No tests planned.

    Mark Feinsand ?@FeinsandNYDN 1m
    Girardi said Jeter would be available tonight if he really needs him.

    • ALZ

      Pedroia out too.

  • 461deep

    Puig will be fine IF HE TONES IT TO WHERE HE DOES NOT HURT HIMSELF. Excuse caps. Dodgers so much talent in weak division winning despite losing Kenshaw & Puig’s gaffes. MLB reviews taking some fun out of game as no beefs plus they’re not perfect either. Ah yes lets get Nate Silver to explain sabermetrics between innings along with MLB reviews, manager & team interviews, as we cannot have any quiet time. Now you know why Vin Scully announcing alone is so enjoyable. Sabermetrics are nice but WAR etc. have a subjective element to them like any data driven research. We do not need to explain why a 150 RBI year is valuable despite the rubbish that someone needs to get on base before you hit. Many hitters get RBI chances but cash in at a low rate. Miggy, Teddy, Hank, Babe, Lou, Joe D, Willie, Albert etc. at a high rate over their careers.