Flip Flop

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November 20, Phoenix – Much has been written from coast to coast about the NL MVP. It is a great debate as we hoped it would be as the season wrapped up. I was one in September almost nightly saying that Howard should win the award as it felt like each night he homered and each of those homers lifted Philly to victory. He had an incredible final month.

So let’s talk months. Just for kicks, here are the season numbers for both Albert Pujols and Howard, month by month. Added to the chart is runners in scoring position and stats within their respective divisions. The first is batting average, then on base percentage and slugging percentage.

Pujols Howard
365/523/594 Apr. 168/298/347
373/454/706 May  238/344/590
302/444/558 June  234/287/439
347/413/564 July 311/366/612
398/491/745 Aug. 213/328/463
321/427/702 Sept. 352/422/852
339/523/678 RISP 320/439/589
365/469/662 In Division 270/343/587

There are 24 total chances for each player to better one another statisically. Pujols does so 21 of the 24 times, leaving three for Howard. Ryan deserves a great deal of extra credit for for his team’s 17 wins in September, but Albert certainly needs at least a pat on the back for the Cardinals 18 victories in April, when little was expected of them in 2008.

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The last few weeks meant everything to Philly, while the Cards certainly faded from the the Wild Card race. Does that mean that pitchers eased up on Albert? Or that he would not have had the same level of success if St Louis had been in it until the final Sunday? It is safe to assume that both hitters got the very best out of opposing pitchers every single at bat.

It is what makes baseball great, these great debates. Much like Holliday v. Rollins or Tulowitzki v. Braun (ROY) a season ago.

See you soon.

Dirt

November 19, Phoenix – Three NL shortstops garnered votes the other day for the MVP Award: Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Stephen Drew. Drew was called to task by many of us so called experts heading into the 08′ campaign as a player that needed to improve and he got it done, an improvement of 20 points in on base percentage and a jump of 132 in slugging percentage.

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The reason it was so exciting to see Drew rewarded for his efforts was that his efforts never lagged while he was hitting .238 in 07′. Stephen never jogged on a routine fly ball to right or a three-hopper to second base…never. Now effort, ability and experience have teamed up to build a player in a special class.

Drew’s 44 doubles are more than any Dbacks shortstop in a single season, as were his 21 home runs, 76 extra base hits, .502 slugging percentage and .835 OPS.

Only Hanley Ramirez had a higher OPS (.945) as a shortstop than Drew in the entire Major Leagues. But Stephen’s extra base hit total was tops amongst all at his position in the game and also rank in the top 25 single season totals at shortstop all-time.

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Speaking of awards, one would think that Chris Young could have a Gold Glove in his trophy case someday soon. As a matter of fact, the numbers show that he might have been overlooked in 2008. (Note: Visit the websites for explanations of the stats if needed)

NL CF
Fielding Bible +/- (http://www.fieldingbible.com/)
1.) Beltran +24
2.) Young +23
3.) Ross +15
4.) Gerut +12
5.) Victorino +10 

The Hardball Times RZR (Based on BIS Data) (http://www.hardballtimes.com/)
1.) Ross .952
2.) Young .947
3.) Rowand .945
4.) Cameron .943
5.) Beltran .925

The Hardball Times OOZ
1. Beltran 111
2. Young 92
3. Mclouth 87
4. Victorino 83
5. Bourn 82

Stats Inc. Zone Rating
1.) Patterson .901
2.) Victorino .899
3.) Beltran .899
4.) Cameron .892
5.) Young .889

Thanks to the Diamondbacks Bullpen for lighting the flame on this topic and stacking up the numbers to back it up..http://forum.diamondbacksbullpen.org/viewtopic.php?t=5340.

See you soon.

Decision 08′

September 29, Phoenix – Like twenty two other teams in baseball, my vacation starts today in peace and relaxation, while still having the burning desire to be joining the team for the first round of the playoffs. For the eight fortunate franchises, their employees and most importantly their fans..congratulations! Enjoy the ride, the joy and the emotion that you will never ever forget.

For the likes of Randy Johnson and David Eckstein, this October and the months to follow present a period of time to make career and life decisions. As of this morning, N.L. Cy Young voters have made their made their decision on who will receive the coveted hardware. In this entry are conversations with Johnson, Eckstein, plus Brandon Webb and Tim Lincecum together.

First up a two part conversation with Randy on the day before he took the mound for his 295th career victory. It was heard on Baseball Sunday on Sports 620 KTAR:

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Randy Johnson Interview 1.WMA

Randy Johnson Interview 2.WMA

This conversation was also from the radio show and it took place with David at Dodger Stadium on what turned out to be a very tough weekend:

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David Eckstein Interview.WMA

This interview was with both Webb and Lincecum for Fox Sports Arizona. Listen a bit more closely because with television, they were not identified by name as much.

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Lincecum and Webb Interview.WMA

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Enjoy the postseason. I’ll be back here this winter once a week.

Dog Days Baseball Sunday

August 25, San Diego – Good morning. Here’s hoping that you are enjoying the ups and downs of the race to October as much as we are. Here are a few mid-season conversations from Baseball Sunday, heard on Sports 620 KTAR.

 

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Ozzie Smith Interview.WMA

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Justin Upton Interview.WMA


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Kirk Gibson Interview 08′.WMA

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Chris Coste Interview 1.WMA

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Chris Coste Interview 2.WMA

See you soon!

More Baseball Sunday

July 1, Phoenix – While the Dbacks manage to hang on to the top spot in the NL West, here’s hoping that you are managing to have a great summer wherever you may be. Here are a few recent conversations that have been heard on Baseball Sunday, heard every Sunday on Sports 620 KTAR.

First up Missoula Osprey hitting coach Alan Zinter on his incredible journey as a minor league and big league baseball player that ended in 2007.

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Alan Zinter Interview.WMA

Next is Nationals third baseman Aaron Boone talking about a life filled with this game.


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Aaron Boone Interview.WMA

The voice of baseball in the South has been Pete Van Wieren for more than a quarter century, here are a few of his unique Braves memories.

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Pete Van Wieren Interview.WMA

 

Finally Brandon Webb, a chance to get to know more about the man behind the Cy Young seaon.


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Brandon Webb Interview.WMA

See you at the ballpark! Have a great 4th!

 

Baseball Sunday

May 21, Miami – Greetings from the sun and sand! I have had the unique opportunity to work with the Dbacks flagship station Sports 620 KTAR in hosting a weekly baseball show called “Baseball Sunday” http://www.ktar.com/baseball_sunday.php. The most rewarding part of filling the weekly slot is having the chance to spend time with some of the game’s great personalities. Each week I will post the interviews from the show. Since I am a bit behind (does that surprise you?), here are the first three conversations:

 

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Vin Scully Interview.WMA

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Lou Piniella Interview.WMA

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Ernie_Harwell_on_Baseball_Sunday.mp3

See you soon.

Put me in Coach

March 13, Tucson – Six innings into a Spring Training battle, the scoreboard tallied: Ojeda/Burke/Salazar-6, Milwaukee Brewers-3. On a day that Stephen Drew, Justin Upton and Mark Reynolds enjoyed a deserved day off, Augie, Chris and Jeff made the most of their afternoons.

BenchBurke hit his third homer of the spring and Ojeda and Salazar each pitched in RBI doubles. It was just a few hours earlier that manager Bob Melvin was talking about his bench corps and how difficult it is to walk the line between holding on to the desire to play every day and embracing the role of team player.

Augie_ojeda"As a player you have to accept it and work accordingly. He (Salazar) and Augie know what they have to do to get ready," according to their skipper.

Melvin also proved to be a master last season in communicating with his role players and making sure that they received plenty of starting assignments to keep them fresh and more importantly, confident.

"And you have to get them a start when they have a chance to to have some success," shared Melvin, "I’ll try to look at the matchups and make sure that they can succeed, like if a guy is 6 for 10 off of a certain pitcher, I’ll do my best to get him in there. It wasn’t always that way when I was a bench player."

Jeff_salazar_catchIt is hard to imagine that Salazar played in just 38 games last year for the Dbacks, isn’t it? From the catch of th year to the game winning bomb in San Francisco, it felt like his impact was felt for much more than a month and a half worth of ballgames.

"For a guy who didn’t start with us, he had quite the impact. One play (the catch) can accentuate your importance to a team and make you feel more comfortable, but we saw plays like that one all the time from Jeff."

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Juan Gutierrez looked very sharp in twirling three scoreless innings in the game. The Venezuelan right hander acquired in the Valverde trade could be a candidate to step into that stuntman role that we talked about below. To me, the only way he can take that spot is to find consitency and if Edgar is moved in a trade. Juan still probably remains behind Yusmeiro Petit as well for that spot.

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Finally, I thought we could all take a trip down memory lane together, with some help from my good friends Tim and Willy (http://timandwilly.com/). Give this a listen from last fall: Download ANYBODY-ANYTIME-timandwilly-2007.mp3

The Stuntman

March 10, Tucson – The stuntman is the individual willing to the dirty work. The man who, while the star is in his trailer, is willing to fall off the roof, get run over by the horses or mix it up in a brawl scene. Stuntman In 2007, Edgar Gonzalez was the stuntman. Randy’s not ready, Edgar will go. Team getting blown out, Edgar will eat some of the innings for you.

On June 13 at Yankee Stadium, Livan Hernandez took one on the chin, three homers, seven runs allowed in just four innings of work. Edgar grabbed the ball and went three shutout innings in a blowout saving the bullpen for an upcoming series against the Orioles at Camden Yards. In that series in Baltimore, Edgar again took the bullet. With Randy Johnson unable to make his start, Edgar made himself available on two, that’s right two days rest and answered the bell in Randy’s place. In that start, he went five innings, allowed two hits, and just a single run, outdueling Daniel Cabrera and pitching in a win as part of a three game sweep of the O’s.

Edgar_gonzalez_1In his seven starts from April 21 to September 16, Edgar went 3-1 with a 3.16 ERA, allowing just one run in five of those seven starts.

Here is a guy that could have packed his spikes out of frustration several years ago. In his first 15 big league starts went 1-13, while allowing 3 earned runs or less in 8 of those starts. In his next 14 starts, including last season, he is 6-4, with a 4.04 and has allowed three earned runs or less in 10 of those assignments. What makes it a bit more challenging is that he isn’t always quite sure when those assignments will be.

Edgar_gonzalez_2I would imagine teams might call with interest in Gonzo as injuries occur and starting pitchers are needed, and if he were to go, his shoes would be tough to fill. Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner and Juan Gutierrez are all capable candidates to step in, but here’s hoping that they could handle a New York/Baltimore in three days type of assignment.

Every team needs a stuntman to make their stars look good. No stuntman, no box office hit in October.

New Daddy Dan

January 10, Phoenix – Happy New Year! I got caught up in the Christmas rush and never dropped in the Dan Haren interview I enjoyed doing just before the holidays. This takes you beyond his numbers and standing in the big leagues and will allow you to get to know Haren a little better. He seems like a great fit beyond the obvious reasons.

Dan_haren_2 Download dan_haren_interview.WMA

Joe’s Holiday Blend

December 19, Phoenix – Happy Holidays everyone. Here are the third and fourth parts of my memorable conversation with Joe Garagiola.

Download joe_garagiola_interview_3.WMA Joe_garagiola_5 Download joe_garagiola_interview_4.WMA

Just_play_ball_2 Don’t forget that Joe’s book "Just Play Ball" carries that same kind of optimism and heart surrounding the game of baseball as was heard in those conversations.

Dan_haren I had the chance to have a quality conversation with new Diamondback Dan Haren on Tuesday. It will be posted in a few days. In the meantime, many wishes to you and those important to you at this time of year and let the countdown to pitchers and catchers begin.

P.S.-Do you see Joe in this pic?

Joe_polo

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