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Parnell and BABIP, Bill Buckner on Curb, Second Spitter, Jesus Montero and Marketing of the Future



By Mike Silva ~ September 4th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

Check out this blurb from a piece by Andy McCullough in the Star Ledger about Bobby Parnell:

Few Mets have experienced patches of bad luck like him this season. He possesses the second-highest batting average on balls in play (.343), which measures how often a hit is recorded when the hitter makes contact. The average for a pitcher should be around .300. Only Ryota Igarashi (.381) has a higher mark among regular Mets pitchers.

I argued with McCullough about this thought process on Twitter to a point where I got agitated with him.

I am not debating the whole pitchers usually are around a .300 batting average on balls in play. With that said, that theory states that a pitcher has no control over where the ball is hit, ever. If that’s the case then why not really save money on payroll and throw out Mike Silva to pitch. It’s luck, right? I will fall behind, throw meatballs, and sweat profusely on the mound. I say this because McCullough is using an outcome stat to describe the process. It’s not only wrong; it’s irresponsible to do such a thing when you are covering a big league ballclub.

The two pitchers he mentions – Parnell and Igarashi- are the two members of the staff with lousy secondary stuff and command of their pitches. They fall behind in the count and never seem to be in control on the mound. Igarashi was fortunate on Friday night when Michael Morse missed a hanging curveball with a runner on. Scoreless inning, but bad process. Parnell’s attempt to close out the ballgame last night was even more ridiculous as he fell behind the hitters, and when he threw strikes it was his customary meatball. He even was having trouble throwing strikes to Ian Desmond when Desmond was clearly giving himself up to bunt. Yes, the final play was a bloop hit that Lucas Duda should have caught, but the other three runners weren’t bad luck, it was bad pitching.

Bobby Parnell has looked scared in his role as a closer. He still is incapable of commanding his pitches, specifically his slider, which would be an awesome outpitch if he could throw it for strikes. Every hitter spit on his slider last night. It wasn’t even close.

Name me one young pitcher that has improved under Dan Warthen this year? “Go get em,” my nickname for Warthen,  is an old school pitching coach that doesn’t have much value in the game today where pitchers need as much science as they do motivation. They at least need someone who communicates well, which I know for a fact is not happening with the ballclub. Let’s not forget the embarrassing moment in Detroit where a reliever was brought into the game cold.

I will get more into Warthen later on in the week, but the point is we have to stop using outcome stats like BABIP without studying the process. You can’t simply say Parnell will get better because he is unlucky. This is especially egregious since McCullough is watching the same game I am and hasn’t done his homework to discuss the process. I told him to call Rick Peterson and educate himself (as I did), and I was met with a snarky response. Yup, that sounds about right. Great way to take feedback and improve on your trade.

There are many good sabermetric stats, but BABIP, FIP, xFIP, etc. are outcome stats and you won’t truly understand why a player is performing in such a way unless you look at the process. That’s why I am glad to have guys like Chuck Johnson and Joe Delgrippo, who actually played the game, helping me with it. It would behoove other writers to reach out to a scout, former player, or someone inside the game (you have more access than I!) in order to bring the same element to their writing.

***

It should be a fun Sunday night for sports fans who watch Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Neil Best of Newsday reports that Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson turn up during Larry’s stay in New York, with Buckner playing a significant role in the episode. The next-to-last “Entourage” features four New York sports figures, two of which are the Yankees Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. There were some Twitter rumblings that Amar’e Stoudemire is one of the others.

Do you think Turtle will ask Granderson about his UZR?

Also, do you think Larry deserved to get into the Hall of Fame two weeks ago? If you are a Curb fan you will understand the reference and give me an appropriate answer

***

I am a couple of days late on this, but did you hear about how a few union thugs bullied Keith Hernandez when he was out on a date?

 Keith Hernandez got more than a meal recently when he went to lunch with a friend. The former Met (and current broadcaster) was eating at the Central Park Boathouse with a female friend when he received some harsh criticism on his way out of the establishment.

One Boathouse worker, after berating Hernandez for crossing the picket line to have his meal, shouted, “Mark Teixeira is a better fielder.” Ouch.

The New York Daily News reports Hernandez, the 1979 National League MVP, yelled back at his critic: “Stop bullying me!”

Was there a second spitter?

I am surprised they didn’t call him “pretty boy.”

***

Yankees fans love their prospects. They love them so much they get defensive when you criticize the way the team handles their development, or question how good they will be in the big leagues. To this day Joba Chamberlain, despite being a colossal disappointment, can do no wrong in the eyes of some pom-pom waving fans of the Bombers. Ivan Nova and Jesus Montero are two that make up the next kiddie crop wave.

The Yankees have to realize that incorporating kids into the team is an important part of the process going forward. The age of the internet has allowed fans to start following players from the minute they get drafted. This year, some fans have discussed Mason Williams of the Staten Island on Twitter more than Derek Jeter. Jesus Montero’s arrival was treated as a holiday and his at-bats an event.

This will make it increasingly hard to market to the future fan base if you use these kids as pieces to acquiring another team’s player. Yes, they will make an exception for players like Felix Hernandez, but they don’t want to see a Manny Banuelos traded for Wandy Rodriguez just to win today when the upgrade is minimal, at best. It’s the designer way of running a ballclub; get an established name to make the fans believe you are doing all you can to win, when in the long run you are losing.

That is a concept the Upper East Side Yankees front office might not completely grasp. In a stadium that celebrates luxury brand advertisements throughout, they believe a declining name like Alex Rodriguez sells more tickets than an infusion of youth. The fans will grow tired of A-Rod (see Posada) once his skills decline to the point where he is not helping the team win.

You can’t build a team just on what the fans want, but you need to be cognizant that players like Nova, Montero, Banuelos, and Betances have to be given every chance to succeed here. The fans don’t want any more JarEd Wright‘s, over-the-hill Randy Johnson‘s, or Tony Womack’s. They don’t want to win the Hot Stove League by signing the best free agents. They want the right free agent that complements their homegrown squad. They loved Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, and Mariano Rivera a lot more than Roger Clemens, David Cone, or David Wells. The team forgot that after 2001. Brian Cashman has changed that philosophy since 2005. Now it’s up to the team to have some guts and go with the struggles that inevitable will take place. You don’t pass up a King Felix, but those guys are not readily available in the modern game. Look what a little patience did with Ivan Nova? You now have a starter that is probably just as good as Ubaldo Jimenez, who would have cost you 4 prospects.

Montero is the perfect example of what the fans want from their team. The question is will Randy Levine and the Upper East Side ownership allow this to happen if the team struggles a bit? With Cashman around, maybe, but we all know that his future past this year is a huge question mark.

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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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4 Responses to Parnell and BABIP, Bill Buckner on Curb, Second Spitter, Jesus Montero and Marketing of the Future

  1. Stu B

    In the Cooperstown scene, it looked like the pill was Viagra. That woman should not have been able to keep Larry out.

  2. Steve S.

    The Yanks have a very tough balancing act with young players. On the one hand, they are always in win-now mode and fans demand that. On the other, young players (esp pitchers) often need to take their lumps before figuring it out. Look at what Ian Kennedy is doing in AZ. He looks like a completely different pitcher in how aggressive he is in attacking the strike zone. He’s even added a few ticks to his FB, which topped out at 92 here and is up to 94 there.

    It’s not all just the NL West, either. He’s performed well against the better offensive clubs in the NL. I don’t hear anyone dismissing what Kershaw, Lincecum or Cain are doing, and they all pitch in the same division.

  3. Brien Jackson

    I assume this is well intentioned, but it’s a very weird way of looking at young players. A couple of points in turn:

    1. The issue with Joba has always been and continues to be that you’re simply wrong in labeling him a disappointment. Once you take a more realistic view of the 24 carefully managed innings he threw in 2007, there’s nothing at all disappointing about him. Even looking at 2009 you see a guy who was basically a league average starter in the A.L. East in his first full season as a SP. For reasons I don’t care to speculate on here, the Yankees then decided to completely give up on him. I’m very disappointed in the organization for that, but there’s nothing to be disappointed about in Joba’s 2008-10 performance.

    2. Is there really anyone outside of the ranks of people who like minor league baseball more than the majors or who have carved out a niche covering the minors who really cares more about Mason Williams than Derek Jeter?

    3. The reason you wouldn’t trade Banuelos for Wandy is that THAT WOULD BE A HORRIBLE TRADE. Even putting aside the “who will pitch better in the majors?” question, if you do decide to shop Banuelos, he’s valuable enough that he ought to fetch a much better return than Wandy Rodriguez.

    4. As for Montero, the real question for him is simply going to be whether or not he can be an adequate catcher until he can move to first base for the Yankees. If not, the organization will be much better off to shop him for some quality pitching, because the Yankees financial resources are such that being cheap alone won’t make him all that valuable to them as a DH.

  4. Steve S.

    As for Montero, the real question for him is simply going to be whether or not he can be an adequate catcher until he can move to first base for the Yankees. If not, the organization will be much better off to shop him for some quality pitching, because the Yankees financial resources are such that being cheap alone won’t make him all that valuable to them as a DH.

    Bingo. That’s why I’ve never been attached to him, as so many others are. I’ve always thought his best use for the organization would be as a trade chip. The emergence of Russel Martin has only cemented that belief.

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