Change-UpJune 24, 2009
Around the Majors - June 23
By Patrick Sullivan

This seems like as good a morning as any to go Shyster-style around a night in the Big Leagues. I had a chance to log a decent amount of Extra Innings time, watching parts of six or seven games and came away with a few impressions that I thought I would share.

  • First, here are Craig's words on last night's Orioles-Marlins tilt:

    Two counts of bullpen malpractice. Count I: against Danys Baez for allowing five runs on four hits in the seventh. Count II: against a quartet of Fish relievers that immediately turned around and blew that lead in the eighth and ninth. Jorge Cantu singled in the winning run in the twelfth, but that can be blamed on the pen too, as Brian Bass walked Emilio Bonafacio for some strange reason, then uncorked a wild pitch to allow him to get to second before Cantu did his thing. Pfun Pfact: by the year 2017, use of the term "uncorked" in the wild pitch context will exceed its use in the wine context for the first time in recorded history. If you don't believe me, you can look it up.

    I would add to that a couple of counts of managerial malpractice by O's skipper Dave Trembley. First, as Craig notes above, Danys Baez pitched the seventh inning and did so rather poorly. The bigger issue in my mind is the mere fact that he found himself on the hill to start the 7th. Koji Uehara had thrown 76 pitches, 59 of them strikes, and allowed just one earned run on seven hits. He didn't walk anybody. Uehara now has a 4.05 ERA, a 1.25 WHIP and perhaps most impressively, a 48/12 K/BB ratio. In other words, Uehara's good and not the type of guy you yank after he has tossed just 76 pitches.

    The second count of managerial malpractice has to do with Trembley's bullpen mismanagement. This one is pretty simple, and it's something that a number of Managers can be accused of regularly; managing around the "Save". Since May 1st, George Sherrill has allowed two earned runs in 19 appearances, good for a 0.95 ERA. His OPS-allowed is somewhere around .480. He has been just about as lights-out as you could hope any reliever would be. In last night's 12-inning affair in Miami, Sherrill didn't pitch. He had thrown three consecutive games in Philadelphia over the weekend but Baltimore had an off-day Monday. He should have been available.

  • Francisco Liriano cruised to his 3rd win last night in Milwaukee. And by "cruised" I mean "stumbled and stammered and subjected fans and fantasy owners alike to another infuriating performance". This is an especially touchy subject around these parts, as Liriano is a guy that both Rich and I really liked to start the year. I am embarrassed to say what I bid on him at my fantasy league's auction back in March. His line last night? 5 innings, 7 hits, 5 walks and 117 pitches. Oh and 6 strikeouts and the Win. If ever a performance laid to rest the significance of the "Win" as any sort of meaningful measure of how well a starting pitcher performs, it was this one.

  • Quietly, Max Scherzer is rounding into form. The youngster had another effective outing last night, striking out 7 over 6 innings. Among starting pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched this season, Scherzer now ranks 7th with a 9.23 K/9. With Brandon Webb's status now up in the air for 2009, I am not ready to predict a Wild Card run for the Snakes but with Scherzer and Dan Haren at the top of the rotation and a lineup that is bound to improve, I do think they will mount a real charge in the second half.

  • The Boston Red Sox are now 14-5 in June, having outscored opponents 109-69 in the process. While the reigning AL MVP has struggled (.203/.267/.253) over those 19 games, two players that drove this Sox fan crazy in April and May have stepped up. Jacoby Ellsbury has hit .357/.448/.554 with 9 stolen bases (he hasn't been caught stealing) in June, while David Ortiz is hitting .308/.400/.654 this month. Boston now has a 5-game lead in the AL East and has overtaken the Rays for the best run differential in the American League.

  • Elsewhere, Zack Greinke, Tim Lincecum and Hiroki Kuroda were all awesome, the Cubs bullpen troubles continued and the Yanks bats remained quiet.

  • Comments
    With only one exception, Koji gets crushed in the 7th, and he had gotten hit hard in the 6th. Pulling him was the right move.

    And you can't use your best pitchers every game. Bass is normally the long man and should have no trouble going two innings. I have no problem with Trembley's BP management.

    This was arguably the best managed game of the year for the O's, highlighted by the not obvious choice of pinch running Guthrie for Wieters, which resulting in the O's tying the game. I can't fathom why you'd pick this specific game to criticize Trembley.

    If Sully is going to expose me for liking Liriano, I may as well fess up and remind readers that I picked the (last place) Diamondbacks to beat out the Dodgers in a tight race in the NL West. D'oh!

    I also picked Alexei Ramirez over Troy Tulowitzki in my fantasy draft. Tulo hit two more HR last night and is now 22-for-51 with 7 HR since June 7th. Ramirez has picked it up a bit of late but his OPS is still .171 behind the guy that I passed up. Aargh!

    While I'm at it, I drafted David Price, who turned in a Liriano-type performance last night (4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO). And I hesitate to mention that I took Ricky Nolasco as my first pitcher (before Zack Greinke, who I actually liked so much I had him ranked 15th among all SP). After a stint in the minors, he appears to be back on track. We'll find out more tonight when he faces Baltimore.

    Speaking of last night, Edwin Jackson pitched another great game (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 4 BB, 7 SO). I was one of the few who didn't pan the deal from Detroit's perspective. The young righthander is delivering on the potential we all saw in him when he outpitched Randy Johnson in his MLB debut six years ago as a teenager.

    Oh, and out West, did anyone else notice that the Angels beat the red-hot Rockies and are now tied with the Rangers for first place in the division? Given all the injuries and tragedy, the Halos are doing pretty well and leading Oakland, the popular choice among the sabermetric crowd by 6.5 games. I'm glad that I didn't get sucked into the dark side on that one.


    That's a lot of stock to place in FOUR starts (the last one being all the way back on May 5th) in which he was allowed to pitch into the seventh.

    Also, even if you think Wieters would not have made it to third on the Wigginton single to center, there is no way he would not have scored from second on the single by Salazar anyway.

    Moreover, do you think Wieters could have handled the ball misplayed in the bottom of the 12th that allowed Bonifacio to advance to second?

    Finally, Sherrill HAS to make an appearance in that game.

    Wieters is very slow. Him scoring is by no means a guarantee.

    And why does Sherill have to pitch? They overworked him last season, and they're being careful not to do the same this season.

    Sorry. I pressed post to soon.

    Koji was a relief pitcher last season. He's had trouble going deep into games all season. It's not just the 7th he's had problems in, it's the 6th and sometimes the 5th too.

    What Wieters could possibly do in the 12th is irrelevant to the decision to pinch run for him. They had to do everything possible to tie the game up before they could even start thinking about the 12th. As Guthrie is faster than Wieters, having Guthrie on base would more likely result in a run.

    Sherill does not have to pitch, I suppose. But do you think he would have appeared if the O's had a three run lead in the 9th? Or a one-run lead in the bottom of the 12th?

    Have to agree with Laura on Wieters... that dude is SLOW. I absolutely think he could have been thrown out trying to score from second.

    And on Uehara. By all accounts (Schmuck/Kubatko), he was gassed, and if you've followed the Orioles at all this year, that's expected. I generally like the writing here but this is definitely a case of the analyst taking the numbers out of context.

    I do agree that Sherrill could have been used, but you could fire half the managers in MLB for the saving-the-closer decision. I'd be angrier if the Orioles were in pennant race. They're not, so I'm not.


    1) Uehara had thrown 76 pitches, 59 of them for strikes. He had allowed just one run on a solo home run and had not walked a batter.

    2) In the sixth, after a leadoff double to Hanley Ramirez, Uehara retired the next three batters rather easily (two pop ups and a strikeout). He looked strong to end the sixth.

    3) Uehara was pulled to start the seventh in favor of Danys Baez.

    4) Baez gave up five earned runs that inning.

    5) Trembley pinch ran Jeremy Guthrie for Matt Wieters in the ninth, forcing Baltimore's last man off the bench, Gregg Zaun, into action.

    6) Two singles later, Guthrie scored the tying run. Cody Ross, playing center at the time, fielded both singles and is known to have an average arm.

    7) Because no position player was available on the bench, Trembley had to pinch hit starting pitcher Rich Hill in the 11th.

    8) Zaun allowed a pitch to get by him in the 12th that allowed the eventual game-winning run to advance to second.

    9) Trembley never gave the ball to his best reliever in a 12-inning loss.

    In the face of all of that, you guys are sticking with "Trembley had a good game"...

    Turns out there may have been more to the story on Uehara...