Posts Tagged ‘Scot Shields’

Brian Fuentes No Longer The Angels Only Closer

September 16, 2009

Going into the 2009 postseason not having a firm grip as to who your closer is going to be is starting to become a trend in baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies are on board with this trend. It seems like Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge are going to draw straws to see who is going to close in Game 1 of the NLDS.

Fuentes has struggled in September

Fuentes has struggled in September

Now, it seems the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have no clue who is going to pitch the ninth inning of Game 1 of the ALDS. According to MLB.com, Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia plans on using both Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes in the ninth inning based on matchups.

Has this ever worked in the postseason?

I am serious. When was the last time a team has won the World Series using the “closer by matchup” approach? I would say you have to go all the way back to the 1990 Cincinnati Reds to find a team that won the World Series without one closer.

But the Reds were unique because they had Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, and Rob Dibble or otherwise known as the “Nasty Boys.” They were three legit closers, who could have closed for any team in the majors at that time.

I can’t say the same about Fuentes and Jepsen.

Having two relief pitchers moonlighting as closers is like having two quarterbacks in the NFL. It really means you have none. Now the Angels are going into the 2009 postseason without a closer.

The Angels made their own bed when it comes to their closer situation. They refused to re-sign Francisco Rodriguez, they didn’t try to sign Kerry Wood or Trevor Hoffman, and they ended up with Brian Fuentes. Probably the worst option out of that group.

Now, I will cut the Angels a little slack because Scot Shields was lost for the year because of injury and Jose Arredondo has taken as major step backwards this year. They were expected to fill in for Fuentes if he struggled as the closer.

However, the Angels did nothing at the trading deadline or waiver deadline to improve their bullpen. That’s on them.

Despite having 41 saves, I have been saying from the beginning that Fuentes is a nice left-handed set-up guy on a contending team rather than a closer on a championship team. Now the Angels are finding that out first hand.

As for Jepsen closing in October? I am sorry, but I just don’t see it. It’s one thing to pitch the eighth inning against the Oakland A’s in September. It’s another thing to pitch the ninth inning at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium in October.

Here is a very likely scenario. Game 4, ALDS, Fenway Park and the Angels are beating the Red Sox 4-3 heading into the ninth inning. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Victor Martinez coming up to bat.

The Angels options are Fuentes and Jepsen. Is there an Angels fan alive who thinks that ninth inning ends without that game tied or the Red Sox winning on a walk-off?

I didn’t think so.

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The WBC And The Affects On Pitching Part 2..

May 18, 2009

Back in January, I wrote a post title “The World Baseball Classic And The Affects On Starting Pitching.” I wrote the post to show that most pitchers who pitched in the WBC in 2006 had a worse era that season than they did in 2005. Now that we are over 30 games into the season and the WBC is well behind us, I think is now a good time to see how some of the WBC pitchers are fairing this season.

Cueto is off to a good start

Cueto is off to a good start

Pitcher-Record-ERA

Jose Arredono – 1-0 5.51 era

Johnny Cueto – 4-1 1.93 era

Felix Hernandez – 4-2 3.53 era

Ubaldo Jimenez – 3-4 4.73 era

Rafael Perez – 0-1 15.19 era. Optioned to Triple A in May.

Daisuke Matsuzaka – 0-1 12.79 era. On the DL since April with Shoulder Fatigue.

Ian Snell – 1-5 4.93 era

Roy Oswalt – 1-2 4.50 era

Ted Lilly – 5-2 3.27 era

Jonathon Sanchez – 1-3 5.06 era

Jake Peavy – 2-5 4.30 era

Jeremy Guthrie – 3-3 5.21 era

Scot Shields – 1-3 7.90 era

JJ Putz – 1-2 3.86. Is currently pitching with a bone spur in his right elbow.

Joakim Soria – 1-0 2.08 era and 7/7 in saves. Currently on the 15 Day DL because of a sore shoulder. Royals GM, Dayton Moore wonders if the WBC led to Soria’s issue.  “I don’t think it helps,” Moore told the Kansas City Star. “We couldn’t control his work. If you can’t control a pitcher’s workload and you can’t script their preparation during spring training, it’s a problem.”

JP Howell – 0-2 2.81 era

Joel Hanrahan – 0-1 5.51 era and 3/6 in saves

Jonathon Broxton – 4-0 1.50 era and 9/11 in saves

Matt Lindstrom – 1-1 5.40 era and 7/9 in saves

Heath Bell – 1-0 0.00 era and 9/9 in saves

LaTroy Hawkins – 1-1 2.70 era and 5/7 in saves

Brad Ziegler – 0-0 3.86 era 4/5 in saves

Perez is having a terrible 2009

Perez is having a terrible 2009

John Grabow – 1-0 5.29 era

Oliver Perez – 1-2 9.97 era. Placed on the 15 Day DL because of a knee injury. In reality it was because he is terrible.

So that is 24 pitchers with a combined 37-41 record on a 5.08 era. Now can all these poor starts be solely attributed to the WBC? Absolutely not. That wouldn’t be fair saying that was the case. However, I do believe there is some connection between these poor starts and pitching in the WBC. Out of those 24 pitchers, it seems only Johnny Cueto, Heath Bell and Jonathon Broxton have pitched in the WBC and have pitched exceptionally well in 2009.

There is no evidence to suggest that the WBC is going away any time soon.  So when the next WBC comes around and if you see a pitcher on your favorite team on the roster, don’t expect a good year out of him.

*Please note all stats were calculated prior to Sunday’s games.

Looking At Team USA’s Roster For The WBC…..

February 25, 2009

As I have written several times I am not a fan of the WBC. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t root for Team USA as I feel it is always important to route for your country any time you can. Tonight on the MLB Network, the final rosters were announced for the WBC. Let’s take a look at Team USA’s roster and what are there strengths and weaknesses.

Starting Pitchers

Jake Peavy, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Guthrie, Roy Oswalt

Relief Pitchers

JP Howell, Jonathon Broxton, Scot Shields, Brian Fuentes, Brad Ziegler, Matt Lindstrom, JJ Putz, BJ Ryan, Scott Thornton, Joe Nathan

Catchers

Chris Iannetta

Brian McCann

Infielders

Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Derek Jeter, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, Chipper Jones, Mark DeRosa

Outfielders

Brad Hawpe, Grady Sizemore, Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson

 

Potential Lineup

1. Grady Sizemore, CF

2. Derek Jeter, SS

3. Chipper Jones, DH

4. Ryan Braun, LF

5. Kevin Youkilis, 1B

6. David Wright, 3B

7. Brian McCann, C

8. Dustin Pedroia, 2B

9. Brad Hawpe, RF

 

Stengths

1. Bullpen – Team USA has put together a who’s who of top set up guys and closers. This is a smart move by Team USA because of the new pitch count rules for starters. Starters in the 1st round can only throw 70 pitches, 85 in the 2nd round and 100 in the semi-finals and finals. Knowing starters can only throw a certain amount of pitches in the WBC, Team USA built their team around it’s bullpen. They can match up against lefties late in the game with Fuentes and Thornton, if they need a strike out in the 7th inning they can bring in Lindstrom or Shields and if they need someone to close the game they can turn to either Broxton or Nathan. No team in the WBC has the bullpen Team USA does

2. Team Speed – Sizemore, Jeter, Pedroia, Granderson, Wright, Rollins and even Ryan Braun can steal a base. I think team speed is important in any type of baseball game but in particular an international game. Pitchers from countries such as Japan, Cuba, Venezuela, etc… usually take a little longer to get a pitch to home plate. Team USA can take advantage of this.

 

Weakness

1. Starting Rotation – I have no issues with Oswalt and Peavy, but is Ted Lilly and Jeremy Guthrie really the best Team USA can do?? Where is Lackey, Halladay, Lincecum, Lester, Haren, Webb or Greinke??? I understand there is a deemphasis on the starting rotation due to pitch counts but this is ridiculous. Lilly and Guthrie might not even get to 70 pitches. If Team USA doesn’t win, the starting rotation will be the reason.

 

Overall Analysis

This team from top to bottom is much better than the one that took the field in 2006 and they are determined to give a better showing than they did that year. Team USA will have their hands full with Venezuela, but at the end of the day I think they will win their group and go on to compete with Japan, Cuba and the Dominican Republic for the right to win the 2nd annual World Baseball Classic.

The World Baseball Classic And The Affects On Pitchers…

January 20, 2009

Bud Selig has done a lot of good things for the game of baseball since he became acting commissioner in 1992. Selig realigned the divisions, introduced the Wild Card, helped baseball get through the strike of 1994 and was instumental in formulating a revenue sharing model. However, Selig has done a couple of things over the years that I have questioned. Home-field advantage in the World Series is decided by the winner of the All-Star game, introducing inter-league play(I believe it takes away from the World Series ), he allowed the steriod-era to happen and most recently he organized the World Baseball Classic 

Much like Inter-league play, the World Baseball Classic is good for the fans but not good for Major League Baseball. Fans are intrigued by the World Baseball Classic because not only will the World Baseball Classic give fans the opportunity to see their favorite MLB players play for their respective country but the tournamant will also give fans the opportunity to see the top players from across the world who they may not be familiar with. Remember in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the world was first introduced to Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kosuke Fukudome.

That being said, the World Baseball Classic is a bad idea for Major League Baseball. The main reason….PITCHING. A major league pitcher whether a starter or reliever, is the most unique position and most precious commodity in sports.  General Managers spend millions on trying to find it by any which way possible. Whether it be signing a major league talent, scouting Japan or the Dominican Republic or by going to the local High School General Managers are always looking to improve their clubs through pitching. So when you have that pitching you have to take care of it like you are taking care of your baby.

The pitching position is such a precious commodity because with just one pitch and one tweak of the arm, your career could be over. Just ask Mark Prior. What the World Baseball Classic asks pitchers to do is throw unnecessary pitches at a time when most pitchers are not ready to throw….In Spring Training. 

I am sure Cubs ownership is thrilled with the fact that injury-prone Rich Harden will be pitching for team Canada, I am sure the Reds ownership are doing jumping jacks in their office because their 2 young guns, Edison Volquez and Johnny Cueto are pitching for the Dominican Republic and I really think the Twins are beyond ecstatic that their ace Fransisco Liriano, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery is pitching for the Domincan Republic as well.

How worried should these teams be? Let’s take a look at team USA’s pitching staff from the 2006 World Baseball Classic and compare their respective era’s in 2005 and 2006

Player                                                  2005          2006

Jake Peavy                                            2.88              4.09

Dontrelle Willis                                    2.63              3.87

Al Leiter                                                6.13             DNP

Roger Clemens                                      1.87              2.30

Todd Jones                                             2.10              3.94

Brian Fuentes                                         2.91              3.44

Joe Nathan                                             2.70               1.58

Huston Street                                         1.72               3.31

Brad Lidge                                             2.29               5.28

Chad Cordero                                         1.82               3.19

Scot Shields                                           2.75                2.87

Mike Timlin                                           2.24                4.36

Gary Majewski                                       2.93                4.61

As you can see, except for Joe Nathan every pitcher who tossed for team USA in 2006 had a higher era than they did in 2005. I don’t think this is just a mere coincidence. When pitchers are taken out of there routine at the beginning of the season, it affects them for the entire season.

I hope team USA’s pitching staff in 2009 World Baseball Classic fairs better in the regular season than predecessors. If not, Mr Selig will have a tough time convincing anyone, especially owners the World Baseball Classic is a good for Major League Baseball.