Thompson gets the call because he is a lefty and the Snakes have a lefty-dominant lineup. He is currently on the disabled list for Double-A Jacksonville with a calf injury. Thompson is 0-2 with a 3.89 ERA, 43 strikeouts and 19 walks in 41 2/3 innings for Jacksonville this year. In 2004 he went 5-7 with a 3.72 ERA at Double-A. Thompson, hampered by knee injuries since high school, had surgery in 2001 where doctors transplanted cadaver cartilage to his knee to provide a cushion between the tibia and femur where they meet at the knee. Thompson says it'll never be 100% and that it bothers him at times, but he has been effective enough to get the call up to the bigs.
"I don't have anything good to say about the guy, to be personally honest with you," Freel said. "He is a cancer in every single clubhouse that he goes to."
With all this praise for the Texas Rangers defense, their ability to turn a batted ball into an out must be called into question. The Hardball Times graphs fielding independent pitching vs. defensive efficiency, and according to that, Texas' defensive strength is the staff, not the fielders.
There is, however, one thing that leads me to believe that the chart may not be accurate. If you scroll down to the pitching table, you'll see that the Rangers pitcher's have allowed a high percentage of line drives. Since line drives often turn into hits, the defense may be better than the DER is telling us. When I get the data for the Probabilistic Model of Range, the Rangers will be the first team examined.
I just can't say enough about the game Jake Peavy pitched last night. I've been keeping my eye on his since he returned from the DL last July and started charging toward the ERA title. Pitchers who win an ERA title by just qualifying are a little suspect in my mind; after all, it's still a small sample. But Jake has continued to baffle batters this season, and last night changed the way he pitches to save his team's bullpen. "It's very satisfying," said Peavy, a power pitcher who acknowledged ignoring strikeouts to concentrate on finishing. "I'm just glad we could rest that bullpen. We're going to need those boys the next couple of days."This reminds me of a game I saw at Fenway in 1988. Roger Clemens had been struggling with an injury, but on that day he didn't try to strike batters out and pitched a masterful 1-hitter. These two games make me wonder if power pitchers should drop the power every once in a while and pitch to contact. It's a change that may catch their opponents off guard. Pinto brings up a good point with this last thought. Most good pitchers, young and old, try to strike out too many batters instead of just learning how to get them to pop up to first or third base. But if Peavy has turned that corner, he could end up having a season equal to what Johan Santana had last year when he figured out there was more to pitching than just strikeouts.
"We don't feel that (Lyon) is ready to go back out at this point in time, and we have to kind of make some decisions based on further interpretation."It's also noted in that article that Bob Melvin mentioned that Jose Valverde might get some save opportunities in the near future.
The results have been dramatic. Maddux took Doug Davis, a journeyman, and helped turn him into a 12-game winner last season. He helped transform another itinerant, Danny Kolb, into a 39-save reliever. He took a bunch of young kids and helped make a legitimate pitching staff. This spring, one of his projects is Derrick Turnbow, a former pitcher with the Angels who is throwing in the mid-90s. Maddux says Turnbow could be a closer someday.The Brewers have a team ERA of 3.59, a WHIP of 1.28, and their opponent's batting average is .239. Look at the names on their roster. Who are these pitchers? Chris Capuano appears to be this year's gem but take a look at the name that everyone does recognize, Ben Sheets. Maddux was hired as the Brewers' pitching coach on 2 Nov 2002. Now check out how Sheets' numbers break down around that date:
"Our big thing we talk about is not power or strength, it's hiding the ball," said Maddux, who taught Davis to hide the ball better. "You know those pitching machines when the ball just shoots out? That's pretty hard to follow the ball. Same with pitching."
"It's getting better, but it's still there. It's a tough call, because I feel like I could throw," said Toronto's ace. "Whether or not it's going to get worse, who knows? They kind of made the decision for me and allowed me to take the extra two days."
The injury to the Padres' Mark Loretta, on the other hand, is not front-page news nationally, but it is devastating to San Diego. He's hit over .300 the last three full seasons, he scored 108 runs last year and was on pace for about 100 this year, he plays a strong second base, he draws walks, and he puts the ball in play (19 walks and just 15 strikeouts in 40 games).Olney's list is an interesting one, only because for the most part it links each team's 'must have' players with their resident superstar. The two exceptions, Mark Loretta and Cesar Izturis, emphasize how underrated these middle infielders are to their west coast teams.
Izturis, 25, presently has a seven-game hitting streak during which he had at least two hits in six games and five hits in one of them. He leads the majors with 23 multihit games.
Perhaps most important for a switch-hitter who earlier in his career was known for a glaring discrepancy between his left-handed and right-handed averages, he is batting well over .300 from both sides of the plate. Izturis also is batting .680 (17 for 25) in "close-and-late" situations, defined as the seventh inning or later in a one-run game, a tie game or with the potential tying run on deck.
Manager Dusty Baker admitted the Cubs would have interest in Danny Graves, who was designated for assignment Monday by the Cincinnati Reds after allowing five runs Sunday to Cleveland and then making an obscene gesture to a fan after he was roundly booed.
"I'm sure we will," Baker said when asked if he and general manager Jim Hendry would discuss Graves. "We'll have to talk about it, and our advance scouts that are out there watching him will have to determine if it was warranted for him to be designated or not.
"With every year and every subsequent start, the distance for me becomes more and more,'' Glavine said before Monday's series opener. "But even on top of that, Andruw (Jones) and Chipper (Jones) are the only two guys I've spent an extended period of time with.The Braves plan to sit Chipper for a while against LHP.
"Everybody else kind of comes and goes.''
Let's get right down to business and look at how today's Aaron Sele was different from the one we're used to. For one thing, he was pounding the strike zone and getting ahead in the count, allowing him to go to his curveball and collect a bunch of groundballs. While 26 of the 30 batters he faced put the ball in play, few of them were hit with any authority, likely a function of Sele keeping hitters off balance all game long.Jeff then uses a series of screen shots of Sele delivering fastballs and curveballs and compares Sele's arm angles between each shot. Check it out for yourself.
"I still feel a little bit of pain," Beltran said after receiving treatment before and throughout yesterday's 5-3 loss. "The doctors said it looks better than yesterday, so I have it in my mind that maybe it will take a few days to get it to be at least 80-85% so I can go back out and play.
If the Astros give up on their season, the player who could bring them the most in a trade is not RHP Roger Clemens but closer Brad Lidge. The Braves, Cubs, Marlins and Diamondbacks need late-inning relief help, and the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox almost certainly would jump if Lidge, 28, became available.
When right-hander Adam Bernero cracked the Braves' Opening Day roster, it appeared to signal a lack of depth in the team's bullpen; Bernero, 28, had signed with the club as a minor-league free agent. But Bernero, who missed nearly the entire first half with the Rockies last season due to a right shoulder injury, suddenly is part of a committee that will replace Dan Kolb as the Braves' closer. Using an above-average changeup, Bernero struck out 21 and walked only three in his first 23 2/3 innings while limiting opponents to a .228 batting average.Also in that link, Rosenthal discusses the potential of Royals' rookie third baseman, Mark Teahan, who's been very impressive in the field this season.
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