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Randy Levineing Up the Price, Burnett’s Velocity Issue, Are Yanks Being Insensitive, The Value of 300 Saves



By Mike Silva ~ August 28th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

John Keri wrote a piece on the Cubs future “road map for success.” over at Grantland. When discussing Cubs President Crane Kenney stepping into the Alfonso Soriano negotiations, he called it “Randy Levineing Up the Price.” This is in reference to the Yankees Team President meddling into the Rafael Soriano signing.

I think I am going to shamelessly steal that term going forward when non-baseball people meddle into a baseball decision that turns out bad. We will say your “acting like a Randy Levine,” or you “Randy Levined” those negotiations.

Levine isn’t a bad guy; you just want to see baseball people determine the value of the players on the 25 man roster. Sometimes what appears to be a smart business move in terms of marketing (i.e. winning the hot stove headlines by signing a sexy name), doesn’t always make sense in terms of the baseball operations. That why you trust the judgment of a Brian Cashman over a front office suit. You hire baseball people for a reason; let them do their job.

I don’t want to pick on the guy so, on a positive note, Levine does do some very nice work for animals. A dog owner, he is very active in animal rescue efforts, and on the Board of Trustees of the ASPCA. That is the kind of meddling that is always appreciated.

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This is a very telling statement by A.J. Burnett after his disastrous outing on Friday. 

“I think I need to pitch in more. I think guys are sitting away and sitting hook. In the past ,I could get away with a lot of that throwing 97, 98. I have great stuff still, but I don’t throw that hard, so I need to start using both sides of the plate a little more and I think that’s going to help with the hook and getting them off the fastball away… If guys are comfortable out there, they’re going to take good swings off you. And guys are comfortable out there. I can see it. I pitched in after that second inning, and I saw some differences. Guys taking pitches and the hook was better. I definitely learn from that, pay attention to that, and use it. And use it as a weapon.”

Check out this quote by Russell Martin

He’s not the type of guy that has the best command of his offspeed stuff, so hitters are more selective. They wait for fastballs. If you get in a fastball count and you get a fastball that’s in the zone to handle, they’re going to hit it.”

Basically, Burnett is a one-pitch pitcher who can’t command is secondary pitches. When the velocity isn’t 95+, the hitters will pounce on his mistakes. Let’s take a look at how down his velocity is since the 2009 season.

In 2009, Pitch f/x by Texas Leaguer had Burnett’s 4-seam fastball at an average of 94.2 for the season. This year he is down to 92.7, and throwing his heat only 40% of the time versus 64% in 2009.

A pitcher that needs velocity to mask mistakes is throwing his fastball slower and at a reduced rate. Sounds like it’s pretty obvious what the problems are.

You can’t be a one-pitch pitcher in this league, but clearly Burnett isn’t capable of being more than that. Maybe he should scrap the knuckle-curve, slider, changeup scenario he is messing with this year, and just go straight 4-seam/curve like 2009. This was the same recipe he also used in 2008 when he won 18 games in Toronto.

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Some believe the Yankees are being insensitive to the Orioles by publicly fighting over the scheduling of the September 8th double header.

The Yankees wanted to play the doubleheader on Friday, but the Orioles said no, which is probably because they wanted the Saturday gate. Now that Hurricane Irene washed away yesterday’s doubleheader, the O’s rescheduled it for the 8th, a Thursday. This is the Yankees last day off in the regular season.

The Orioles position is as follows:

“Floating an idea for a Friday doubleheader to media hours before contacting the home club, and then attempting to make our fans turn around in less than 24 hours and make arrangements to come to a weekday afternoon game was simply not acceptable to us,” Greg Bader said. “Certainly not when Sunday night, Monday afternoon and two mutual off days available in September were more reasonable options.”

Curtis Granderson seemed perturbed the team found out on the scoreboard during Friday night’s game. The feeling around baseball is the Orioles organization deserves better from the Yankees as they are still reeling from the death of Mike Flanagan.

I think the O’s have been quite uncooperative in terms of working with the Yankees, but I don’t see another alternative. What kind of gate could you have expected yesterday with Hurricane Irene on everyone’s minds? Not a good one. It’s a tough spot this late in the season.

The AL East is close enough where they are potentially going to need the full 162 games to determine a winner. I think playing it on September 8th, when they are in New York facing the O’s the night before, is better than extending the regular season after the final day. It’s not like they have to go to a different time zone.

Both teams should have been able to solve this without public sniping through the press. Unfortunately, the relationship between Baltimore and New York hasn’t been good for quite some time. You can thank Peter Angelos for that.

***

My latest piece on the Perpetual Post discusses the milestone of 300 saves and Jason Isringhausen. You can read my take here, but here is a quick blurb that summarizes my point:

Jason Isringhausen is not a Hall of Famer. Other relievers such as Doug Jones, Jeff Montgomery, and Todd Jones have saved more ballgames. None of those names come up when discussing elite closers in the history of the sport. Although this is not a record that should be celebrated like 3,000 hits or 600 home runs, it’s still an accomplishment worth noting. It shows that Isringhausen was able to perform a very important duty for his team consistently over a long period of time. Anyone who played professional sports knows how hard is it to make it and stay in the big leagues for one season, much less perform at a high level for 10 or more. That’s what should be celebrated when you think about 300 saves.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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2 Responses to Randy Levineing Up the Price, Burnett’s Velocity Issue, Are Yanks Being Insensitive, The Value of 300 Saves

  1. Stu B

    Mike, I agree with you about the Orioles-Yankees relationship, but I also believe that, given MLB players’ compensation, that Granderson and other players, coaches, and managers should be bigger than to bitch and whine publicly about a scheduling like this. Not many fans are going to be sympathetic.

  2. Steve S.

    I did a piece on AJ yesterday. The stuff just isn’t there (even the curve is down lately) and his fastball is getting destroyed. He’s not the type of guy that has the command of the secondary stuff to pitch backwards, so he’s a 1 trick pony who’s losing the one thing he’s good at.

    I’d give him one more start for this year, as much due to the jam packed schedule as anything else. But if he gets shelled again, you can’t keep running him out there. I think his best long term use will be out of the bullpen, where 2 pitches is fine, his stuff will play up and you can limit the damage when he loses it. But that’s a discussion for next year.

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