Notes on a Scorecard
Today's column is in honor of the late (and great) Allan Malamud of the now defunct Los Angeles Herald-Examiner who was known for his Notes on a Scorecard during the 1970s and 1980s. However, my notes are from the back of a golf scorecard, developed while watching my nephew Brett Lederer play in the final threesome of the Pasadena City Golf Championship on Sunday.
On a baseball-related note, Brett threw out the first pitch at the UC Riverside-Long Beach State game on Friday night in recognition of the fact that he carded a Big West Golf Championship a few weeks earlier.
I'll start off with a couple of posts on Brett's favorite team, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
I went to the Dodgers-Angels game on Saturday night. Dodgers and Angels. Saturday night. Jered Weaver on the mound. It doesn't get much better than that, at least not from my perspective.
The Halos won the middle game 6-2 on their way to sweeping the weekend series. Weaver made his fourth consecutive "quality start" and evened his record at 3-3 for the season with an ERA of 3.46.
Although Weaver's K/9 rate has increased from 7.68 in 2006 to 8.31 in 2007, his K/100 pitches has actually slipped a tad to 5.22 (down from 5.43 last season). The reason? Jered is averaging 4.01 P/PA and 17.7 P/INN (vs. 3.94 and 15.7, respectively, in his rookie campaign). [You can check the top five starters in each league in K/100P, as well as the top three hitters in the four Quad categories, near the bottom of the sidebar on the left.]
We all know that Shea Hillenbrand can't run, field, or throw. Based on the five tools, that means he better hit for average and power if he wants to play in the big leagues.
G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
34 131 10 31 3 0 1 13 2 10 0 2 .237 .252 .282
At the risk of small sample sizes, I don't think Hillenbrand is doing a very good job at hitting for average or power this year. Based on those stats, one would never know that Hillenbrand is a designated hitter. The seven-year veteran has only played two games in the field this season - both at first base. Did I mention that he made an error in one of those contests?
Oh, and as far as tools go, Hillenbrand has never possessed what should be the sixth: plate discipline. As shown above, he has drawn two walks in 135 plate appearances this season and is averaging 24 free passes per 162 games and 615 AB during his career. Shea's single-season high is 26 even though he has gone to the plate over 600 times in three separate campaigns. Hillenbrand signed a one-year contract for $6 million with the Angels last December. The club can either exercise a $6.5M option for next year or buy him out for $500,000. Hillenbrand's option becomes guaranteed with 600 plate appearances in 2007. The good news (if you're an Angels fan) is that he is on pace for just 486 PA. As such, it appears as if Arte Moreno will not be on the hook for Hillenbrand's inflated salary beyond this season.
Speaking of players who can't hit, can someone please explain to me the rationale for writing Tony Graffanino's or Craig Counsell's name on the lineup card when Milwaukee has Ryan Braun tearing apart the Pacific Coast League?
AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG
Graffanino MLB 101 10 20 2 0 1 8 9 16 0 1 .198 .268 .248
Counsell MLB 85 7 19 5 1 0 7 15 14 3 1 .224 .350 .306
Braun AAA 102 24 34 10 0 8 17 12 9 3 3 .333 .405 .667
I realize that Graffanino and Counsell are playing well in the field while giving Braun extra time to work on his defense in the minors. However, Milwaukee's #1 draft pick in 2005 (fifth overall) has made only two errors in 28 games while manning the hot corner for the club's Triple-A affiliate (Nashville Sounds). Braun proved he belongs offensively during the spring when the former University of Miami All-American hit .353/.405/.912 with 5 HR in 34 AB.
Braun just returned after being sidelined for two weeks with tendinitis in his wrist and may need another week or so to get his batting stroke back. But there's no excuse to keep him down after June rolls around. The fact that the Brewers are in first place as a reason for not rushing matters doesn't wash with me. The big league club has won only three of its last ten and every game Braun misses is a lost opportunity to put even more distance between the Brew Crew and its division rivals.
The Brewers also have the luxury of Yovani Gallardo waiting in the wings. Braun's Nashville teammate is leading the minors in strikeouts with 66 and is as major-league ready as he will be.
IP H R ER HR BB SO W-L ERA WHIP K/9
Gallardo AAA 48.2 27 13 12 1 16 66 5-1 2.23 0.88 12.21
In contrast to Graffanino and Counsell, Milwaukee's starting rotation is doing well with Dave Bush the only one with an ERA over 4.00. Bush's strong strikeout (6.67 K/9) and walk (1.43 BB/9) rates, coupled with the highest BABIP (.337) on the staff, suggest that it is a matter of time before his ERA begins to more properly reflect his overall pitching.
Nonetheless, expect to see Gallardo before the All-Star break. He is just too valuable to keep down on the farm for long. It's always nice to have six starters when one of them is Ben Sheets but, like Braun, Gallardo would only make the Brewers that much stronger.
Has anyone other than me noticed that B.J. Upton's rate stats have plunged from .371/.425/.660 to .309/.385/.540 since I featured him two weeks ago? My year-end predictions (.280/.340/.500) are looking better by the day.