Monday, July 14, 2008

Random Thoughts

* A nine-game winning streak is an impressive feat, no matter who the opponents are. Yes, sweeping the Giants and the Rockies at home aren't a true measure of how good a team truly is, but it's still very encouraging because the Mets haven't shown an ability to dominate inferior teams for over a year now. Anyone would've been satisfied if the Mets had won two out of three in each series and went into the break 49-46. They went one step further in sweeping their NL West foes and deserve extra credit for doing so. The schedule will be tougher after the All-Star Break, but perhaps the newly-found confidence boost will help buoy the Mets through rougher waters.

* Fernando Tatis is having a nice run, but it doesn't mean the Mets shouldn't be pursuing a corner outfielder. Damion Easley is on a hot streak, but that doesn't mean that Luis Castillo is suddenly a forgotten man. Tatis is still a backup corner infielder and Easley is still a backup middle infielder. I hope Jerry Manuel keeps both men in the lineup until they stop producing, then immediately re-cast them in the backup roles each man is destined for.

* I have no answers about why Mike Pelfrey is suddenly pitching so well, other than to say that Rick Peterson's firing had nothing to do it. If Dan Warthen was such a genius, he wouldn't have already been fired by three other teams. As far as I can tell Pelfrey has simply excelled at keeping the ball down; I don't know if it's a mechanical adjustment or a confidence boost, but it sure doesn't seem to be any particular pitch that's doing the trick. Pelfrey still needs to develop an out pitch against lefties to have sustained success, but it's hard not to be excited by his recent success.

* Oldtimers love to wax poetic about how the game has changed since they played. Goose Gossage is one of the worst offenders in this respect; Gossage acts like he was some type of Iron Man who pitched three innings a day, every day, with the bases loaded and nobody out to start every inning. And yes, Gossage did have a lot of multi-inning saves - 125 of which went two or more innings.

Mariano Rivera is undoubtedly more specialized, but that's the fault of his managers and the foolish direction that reliever usage has gone. Tony LaRussa made a smart move to deploy Dennis Eckersley in the way that he did hen managing the late 1980s Oakland A's, to save Eckersley's arm and preserve maximum effectiveness. The rest of the league somehow missed the memo that these were specifically "Eckersley Rules," created because of a vulnerability in one individual, and decided to deploy their closer the same way. I think the current deployment of closers is the dumbest intentional misuse of a player in all of baseball.

Rivera has had only 11 saves of two or more innings in his career (not including the 12 he had in the playoffs). The game has changed, which is why Mariano doesn't pitch more innings, but for my money he is still the best reliever to ever play the game. By the way, one of my pet peeves is when fans espouse the importance of the closer by pointing to Rivera's effect on the Yankee championship teams in the late 1990s. How foolish - Mariano Rivera was merely the greatest and most dominant post-season pitcher in baseball history. No one will come along in our lifetimes that will ever compare. Unless Mariano Rivera is your closer, it is simply asinine to even deploy your best reliever in such an overly specialized role, let alone paying him $10 million a year to do so.

3 comments:

tim said...

Pelfrey is pitching so well for a variety of reasons.

#1. Willie's last good decision to keep him in the rotation and send Vargas to the pen gave him a boost of confidence.

#2. The Peterson firing gave Pelfrey back his curveball, which, though he doesn't throw it all that much, if he throws it four times a game he's got the dugout thinking.

#3. Willie's departure has ultimately made things looser for all involved in the clubhouse. He had a buttoned down approach, it doesn't work in Queens. In Queens we like to keep shirts untucked and grow our beards a little. We like to drink beer and rabble-rouse a bit, that's what those faggots from the Bronx never understood, yeah, they may have more championships, but at what cost, we have more fun. Pelfrey, more than any other player (Delgado, Beltran) has responded to the sense of freedom Jerry provides. What I like and I'm sure that whole pitching staff likes about Jerry, (and again I have to disagree with you about Peterson who was to busy talking about ketchup on ice cream and not about pitching), is that he gives everyone enough rope for you to hang yourself. Players like that, pitchers love it. It has liberated Pelfrey.

You defend Peterson to point of madness. Peterson has been there longer than Willie, I think certain members of that staff grew tired of him long ago. And by the way, he is the pitch count motherfucker. As for the bullpen, that falls on Willie's lack of acumen when rotating his pen pitchers. Jerry has been nothing short of brilliant in that area.


Rivera, while I agree under the Eckersley effect is clearly the best reliever the game has ever seen, if he pitched like Fingers, Gossage or Sutter his numbers would be dramatically different and his career would have been over two years ago. He's only been over 100 IP once, which is also the only time he's ever pitched more than 80.2. The year was 1996 and he was the set up man then.

Rivera averages 71 IP per year over 14.
Rollie Fingers averaged 100 over 17 years.
Goose Gossage averaged 82.3 for 22 years.
Bruce Sutter averaged 87 over 12 years.

The above numbers do not represent any post season appearnces by any of those pitchers. Even adding in Rivera's post season innings he he doesn't touch these guys at a 79 IP clip.

I'm really not trying to disparage Rivera but I don't think we would put him so far ahead of others in the game and its past like we do. Yes, it's not his fault his managers specialized him, but your assuming he would have been up to the task if he was used like Fingers, Gossage and Sutter. Who, except for Sutter whose arm gave up on him, were fairly dominant most of if not just about all of their careers. River has been losing a step the last few years, still very nasty, but the armor is chinked, we'll see how he finishes his career before we make any more bold statements.

Judge Roughneck said...

“The Peterson firing gave Pelfrey back his curveball, which, though he doesn't throw it all that much, if he throws it four times a game he's got the dugout thinking.”
I’m trying to confirm this but haven’t been able to. I had read the Mets were amenable to letting Pelfrey go back to using a curveball, but I didn’t think he had started using it in game situations yet.

“You defend Peterson to point of madness. Peterson has been there longer than Willie, I think certain members of that staff grew tired of him long ago. And by the way, he is the pitch count motherfucker.”
Everyone is a PCMF these days, not just Peterson. Look, no one was slamming Peterson in 2006 when the younger members of the bullpen (Sanchez, Heilman and Feliciano) were dominating the league. No one had a problem with him in 2007 when Maine and Perez were emerging as rotation studs. All of a sudden everyone wants to hammer Peterson and I’m not going to join the chorus because Heilman had six bad weeks and Perez is inconsistent.

“Rivera, while I agree under the Eckersley effect is clearly the best reliever the game has ever seen, if he pitched like Fingers, Gossage or Sutter his numbers would be dramatically different and his career would have been over two years ago.”
I don’t agree with this. Rivera is amazing for many reasons, but perhaps more than anything else he is amazing because he only has one pitch! The cut fastball takes no toll on the arm in the way breaking pitches do, so I have no reason to believe an increased workload would lead to more fatigue or arm problems.

“Rivera has been losing a step the last few years, still very nasty, but the armor is chinked, we'll see how he finishes his career before we make any more bold statements.”
I agree that Rivera had a bit of a “down year” in 2007 – he had his highest WHIP since 1997 and had an ERA over 3.00 for the first time since his rookie season. But Rivera has a 1.06 ERA and a 0.638 WHIP going into the All Star Break this year, all without blowing a save. If he’s losing a step, it’s only making him more dominant.

tim said...

Pelfrey actually commented on it in the Post game story, or was it the story I read on my blackberry story, I forget.

Come on, if Rivera was throwing 100+ innings a season that one pitch would flatten out and he wouldn't be as effective. It's an impressive pitch, he get's a liberal strike zone these days and I have never met a batter that doesn't love to swing at a ball at their eyeball level.


The point about the "ketchup" remark is that tuning him out as if he were Randolph, and whether right or wrong he became an extension of Randolph, even if he was there first.

Rivera may not have blown a save but he has blown his share of tie games.

We can argue this forever I'll still be right, and you'll still not admit to be wrong, but we know where this always ends up going so...