Archive | February 2013

Baseball Heaven, Voiceover Hell

I love baseball. I think about it all the time. I follow it as intensely during the winter as during the season. I read about prospects, I watch the World Baseball Classic when I can, and I watch games from the past season to study interesting players and teams. So naturally, I was very excited for pitchers and catchers to report yesterday.

I was particularly excited to go to MLB.com and watch some of the first footage coming out of camps … and then I did. And I had my skin grated off by this little guy:

Dick Wad Sings the Hits

What cell phone store did they pluck this dopey over-enunciator from? To say that it’s not natural is understating it. It’s not even human-like! He’s been around awhile (in-season game recaps don his syrupy gag nightly), but this was the last straw for me. Welcome to my hate spot, Kimosabe.

It makes a little more sense when you read the job posting he responded to.

“We here at Major League Baseball are looking for a motivated former customer service representative interested in doing some voiceover work for the first time ever, with no practice.

The ideal candidate possesses the ability to track down and slash every word presented to them with a screeching, demonic, Disney character voice in a wooded area, where nobody can hear the screams. The more you sound like a talking tootsie roll’s accountant, the better!

Obsession with Aquatic Snails is a must.”

Mission accomplished, boys!

[RA Rowe]

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2013 Arizona Diamondbacks

So far I’ve covered the Dodgers and Padres with this series. This week the Diamondbacks are  up. Given the fact that this club employs the ever-deficient Kevin Towers and a manager who talks about make-up like he’s a goddam Avon lady (ba-zing), I expect a wider margin of error for the Snakes than the other teams in the division. It’s hard to predict what irrational men will do. 

The 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks

Position Players

C – Miguel Montero
1B – Paul Goldschmidt
2B – Aaron Hill
3B – Martin Prado
SS – Didi Gregorius
LF – Cody Ross
CF – Adam Eaton
RF – Gerardo Parra

My placement of Gregorius at short is heavily influenced by the fact that Cliff Pennington and Willie Bloomquist, while their names also sound like characters from a British mystery novel, stink at hitting. Gregorius will likely be below average offensively, but I think he’ll still be better than the other two candidates. Many may suggest Didi will get the job because Kevin Towers gave up a top prospect to acquire him. But I am not convinced Towers operates that way, and I am not sure Kirk Gibson will be able to understand that just because his other two candidates for short are scrappy veterans, doesn’t mean they are better.

I spent some quality time, thinking about whether Parra or Kubel will get more time this season. I think Kubel will get his ABs, but the Ross signing makes me think they are not particularly high on Kubel. He had a pretty rough finish to 2012 and is inferior defensively to Ross and Parra. Currently it seems the Diamonbacks have an interest in defense, so Parra gets the edge in a platoon.

Note: Adam Eaton will get his first full season in the big leagues. For some reason I envision him as a sort of bizarro Chris Young. Young had the great tools, but was frustrating due to his inconsistency and huge strikeout totals. Meanwhile, Eaton has four quality tools, power being the one left out, but can really play the game, and makes a lot more contact than Young.

Starters

1 – Ian Kennedy
2 – Brandon McCarthy
3 – Trevor Cahill
4 – Wade Miley
5 – Tyler Skaggs

Top four are pretty well set, but that last spot is tricky. Patrick Corbin would seem to have the edge based on service time, but Skaggs is the best talent of the group and he seems ready so I’m penciling him in. Randall Delgado, although he is a nice ground ball pitcher with sharp stuff, is not going to be able to show the command that Skaggs possesses.

Daniel Hudson comes back from surgery mid-season and they’ll be able to allow him to take his time given Corbin, Skaggs and Delgado are all in the mix.

Bullpen

CL – JJ Putz
SU – Heath Bell
SU – David Hernandez
RP – Brad Ziegler
RP – Tony Sipp
RP – Josh Collmenter

Newcomers Heath Bell and Tony Sipp fill important roles, and Collmenter is the long man. Delgado and Corbin are left off to get regular starts at AAA Reno.

Bench

C  – Wil Nieves
UT – Eric Hinske
IF – Cliff Pennington
IF – Willie Bloomquist
OF – Jason Kubel
IF – Eric Chavez

John McDonald has not been a major leaguer for a few years now, and the greatest triumph of the Diamondbacks offseason is that they have finally assembled enough pieces that they can release him.

On to the next disposable piece of this bench. Having both Eric Hinske and Eric Chavez is just plain stupid. They play the same positions and both hit left-handed. So that’s $4MM and two roster spots for what amounts to one player that can’t defend, run or play everyday if someone gets hurt…KT is a genius! Hinske is easier to get rid of given he is owed just over $1MM. Chavez’s $3MM contract makes him tougher to release or trade, and there will be few takers.

Unfortunately, the most logical guy to put on the roster, if they do ditch an Eric, is A.J. Pollock. I say unfortunately because I think it would be better for him to see at bats every day in AAA, and then get the call if an outfielder goes down.

The Outlook

A ton of depth in the rotation and the outfield, as well as a quality defense, give this team a high floor. With Prado and Hill signed up long term, youngsters Paul Goldschmidt, Didi Gregorius and Adam Eaton, plus a host of young arms, the team is built around a pretty stable core. But that core is without high ceiling guys on offense (outside of Goldschmidt). As such it’s hard to see the Diamondbacks doing anything other than burrowing into an age of respectable mediocrity that sees a playoff birth or two when things break right.

 

[RA Rowe]

Next week it will be the Colorado Rockies, even though they are pointless.

2013 Los Angeles Dodgers

As I did with the Padres last week, I have selected the players I think will get the most playing time in their respective capacity for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2013. Many choices are obvious. I will spend time on the more interesting ones. So if you came to read about how bomb-ass dank-ass the Dodgers are going to be this year, I would advise you check CBS. They will happily indulge your hunger for things you could have written yourself.

The 2013 Los Angeles Dodgers

Position Players

C – AJ Ellis
1B – Adrian Gonzalez
2B – Mark Ellis
3B – Luis Cruz
SS – Hanley Ramirez
LF – Carl Crawford
CF – Matt Kemp
RF – Andre Ethier

It’s obvious who is going to play all eight of the starting positions for the Dodgers in 2012. The most interesting situation, and perhaps the name penciled in most precariously, is Luis Cruz at third. While a lack of walks prevents him from being much more than average offensively, he was defensively marvelous at the hot corner (a crazy UZR/150 of 22), and has played his share of short, should Hanley prove inadequate there as the season goes on. If Cruz proves inadequate at third, Jerry Hairston will see time there.

You may notice that Dee Gordon has been left out of the picture here. In fact, you won’t count him among my bench selections either. 2013 will be spent in Reno, his latest chance to learn to play baseball.

Here is your reality check on Dee Gordon. He created runs at 58% the rate of an average offensive player last year, despite stealing 30 bases in half a season. If he had continued playing defense as poorly as he did in 2013, for the entire season, he would have cost the Dodgers nearly 10 more runs (-26) than the worst qualified player in the game (Curtis Granderson -17.6). If you are hoping he will be the Dodgers’ shortstop one day, knock it off. It’s depressing, and you deserve to dream better dreams than that.

Starters

1 – Clayton Kershaw
2 – Zack Greinke
3 – Chad Billingsly
4 – Hyun-Jin Ryu
5 – Josh Beckett

A potentially very top-heavy rotation. Reports on Billingsly are that he is healthy, but he’s always been inconsistent; fine enough for a number three starter. Ryu is totally unproven, coming from the KBO. It should be noted that Josh Beckett’s performance and numbers took a sharp, positive turn when he made the move to the NL West. But this was largely due to a spike in his ground ball rate. Either when he got to L.A. he made a conscious effort to induce more ground balls, or he had a flukey stretch. We’ll find out soon.

The Dodgers may opt to have Ryu open the year in the minors, to get a feel for his role, should Spring Training prove inconclusive. But they paid him like a starter, and one would think they’ll make a serious run at justifying that judgement.

Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Ted Lilly are all rostered, should Ryu fall short, but once they figure out how Ryu fits in, a move is likely. Capuano seems the most plausible trade candidate, as his value is the highest of the three. Ted Lilly is healthy, and as with Capuano, there would seem to be matches all around the league. Harang was mister lucky last year, outperforming his xFIP by nearly a run and a half, and his value probably won’t go much lower unless he gets injured. It wouldn’t shock me if he were released before the Dodgers finish up in Glendale this spring.

Bullpen

CL – Brandon League
SU – Kenley Jansen
SU – Matt Guerrier
RP – J.P. Howell
RP – Javy Guerra
RP – Ronald Belisario

This is one of the best bullpens in baseball, one through six. The fact that the Dodgers have installed League as their closer means they actually understand the value in having your best reliever work as the setup guy. League is dependable, but Jansen is dominant.

Health issues for Jansen, Guerrier and Guerra all seem resolved. Scott Elbert (left hander, not on the above list) has been effective, but the underlying numbers are ominous and it seems the Dodgers are aware of that, given the J.P. Howell signing. Meanwhile the young and effective Paco Rodriguez, though ready for the majors, will start the year on the farm. But given Ronald Belisario’s constant behavior and visa issues, I feel the least confident in selecting him for a larger share of innings than Rodriguez, as compared with the others listed above.

Bench

C  – Tim Fedorowicz
UT – Jerry Hairston
UT – Skip Schumaker
UT – Elian Herrera
UT – Nick Punto
IF – Juan Uribe

The Dodgers are sure to lead the league in utility men. Hairston and Punto have played all but catcher and pitcher in the majors. Herrera is right behind, playing all but catcher, pitcher and first base just last year. Schumaker pitched an inning in 2011, and has played 2B, LF, CF, and RF outside of that. This, along with Carl Crawford’s ability to cover center field, gives the Dodgers extreme flexibility when somebody needs a day off, or in the case that an injury wipes out a star.

Tim Fedorowicz (25) is the backup catcher now, but most certainly won’t be in 2014. He has essentially the same skill set as A.J. Ellis (32), and the Dodgers won’t bring him up to rot. He’ll get a decent share of the playing time, so the organization can see what they really have.

Unfortunately, Juan Uribe.

The Outlook

The Dodgers have spent a lot of money, and not all of it wisely, but with one of the thinnest systems in the league, it was really the only way to build a winner in the near term. They’ll get back into the playoffs, but I don’t think they have what it takes to top the Nationals, Braves or Reds for the Pennant in 2013. Those clubs are built better for the future as well, and I think this version of the Dodgers will come up empty in terms of World Series trophies. If I were a Dodgers fan, I would enjoy watching the much improved team in place now, but I would be far more interested in what the club does to continue to strengthen their farm system. The greatest era of Dodger baseball will be the next one.

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