tepid participation

I mostly write about minor league basball and I take very little of it seriously. Booorring!

Month: June, 2012

Metaphysics and Melodrama, a Guide for Watching Rookie Pitchers

 

As many of you know, I’m on a sojourn this year into the backwaters of baseball. I’ve been having a grand old time exploring, watching, and integrating myself into the minor league baseball world. Having said that, the countless hours of MiLB.tv, not to mention the 2 dozen or so games I’ve attended in person have given me a particular insight into watching players who barely qualify for a post game cerveza. Here are some tips to help you survive when one of these neophytes makes his way onto the playing field for your favorite big league team. This article can be used for nearly any emerging prospect, but is primarily centered on tonight’s 1st big league start for Martin Perez.

 

1.    Remember, they literally have no idea what the hell they are doing. When you were 21 you didn’t know what you were doing either. Lucky for you, 45,000 people weren’t standing there watching, as is the case for Mr. Perez. One of the things about Colby Lewis that gives folks from Wash to you a bit of confidence is their experience. Colby has substantially less “stuff” than Martin Perez, but he’s a substantially better pitcher- today. The adversity Martin has faced has been as the top-prospect, or when his stuff hasn’t been good and there are 5,000 people in the stands. The adversity you face at the big league level is an entirely different beast, and as they say, there is no substitute for experience. (case in point, Justin Grimm now knows exactly what it feels like to snap your neck around to locate the mistake you just made to one of the top hitters in the game)

2.    Enjoy it. One of the things I’ve learned most this year is to savor the moments of clarity or execution. He won’t be consistently good tonight, but he will, hopefully, show you moments with well located 94mph fastballs, swings and misses on the fading changup, and a bit of knee buckle on the curve.

3.    Understand the process. Martin Perez is younger than 8 of the 12 pitchers on the staff of the Rangers Low-A affiliate, Hickory Crawdads. He turned 21 in April- of this year!  He’s starting a game in a sold out stadium, against a division opponent, on a Saturday night, under the lights, for a first place club. Many have said, he’s not entirely ready for this, and I tend to agree. I do think however that almost everyone in the dugout and front offices tonight will be palpably excited to see what the kid does. Regardless of the outcome, his prospect status probably won’t see much fluctuation one way or another based solely on tonight.  There’s a solid likelihood, when the proven pitchers are healthy, this kid is going back to AAA to continue his development. But he’s here tonight and he’ll be here again eventually.

4.    The Rangers will still be in first place at the end of the night. I’ve done some of my world-famous, SABRmetric, algorithm based permutations, calculations, and salutations and they all seem to indicate that it is mathematically impossible for the Rangers to relinquish their lead on the sole results of this evening’s performance. Having said that, you should probably just calm the hell down, grab some drinks, some grub, someone you love and at least one other person you can tolerate and enjoy watching the Ranger’s #1 pitching prospect take the bump on a Saturday night.

 

This will be fun. As always, enjoy baseball.

 

Your Friend,

Tepid

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What I’ve Learned

Hey everybody! Been a little while since I’ve done a “what I’ve learned column”. Its been so long, I was thinking of calling it, “brain dump”, or “random shit that is more expansive than 140 characters”, but we’ll stick with “what I’ve learned. Hope you’re enjoying baseball and if you’re not, I hope you are enjoying enjoying.

-I learned that the Bundy Brothers are the new Maddux Brothers. Older brother, Bobby, is a starting pitcher in the Orioles organization. Younger brother Dylan is a starting pitcher in the Orioles organization.  They have the same parents. They’re both likely to pitch in Major League Baseball. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. Bobby is a slower moving prospect, but a AA pitcher at age 22 nonetheless. He’s considered to be a cerebral pitcher and one who will occasionally rely on his smarts when his stuff falters. Dylan faced Myrtle Beach a couple of days ago and the first pitch of the game was 95 and he sat 95 for 5 innings occasionally tormenting the Pelicans with a flying hammer curve or a dancing 87mph changeup. Dylan could be special. Bobby could be a special pitching coach. Who knows?

-Will Middlebrooks is now the full time 3rd baseman for the Boston Red Sox. He is a rookie. He’s from Texarkana where in addition to a ridiculous roster of baseball accolades, he was an All-State punter. He was also a backup quarterback and handed the ball off to LaMichael James, the former Oregon stud and recent 2nd round pick of the San Francisco 49ers. He really wanted to play football, but was completely blocked at his favored QB position by his childhood best friend, Ryan Mallett. Mallett, of course, is the 6’6”, heir apparent to Tom Brady as the QB of the New England Patriots.  Sometime this offseason, Middlebrooks, whose year probably couldn’t really get any better, is set to marry a woman he’s grown up with and known since she was 12 years old. It’s probably just a coincidence she’s a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader.

-Trevor Bauer has been called up. I am anxious to see how it works when he starts dicking around with a bunch of pitches and doesn’t make it through the 6th (because of pitch count) despite ridiculously awesome stuff.

-Martin Perez had the best start of his career. One word: moxie. You can read more about it below.

-Frisco’s Leury Garcia started the game on Sunday in centerfield. He had never played in the outfield during a game as a professional. He’s incredibly fast, lightning quick, and has a strong arm. He’s played a lot of shortstop, a lot of 2nd base, and now CF. Don “Coach” Welke made the comment during Sunday’s Baseball Prospectus event that the Rangers prefer to build up the middle. He was downplaying the absurd amount of talent they have in said positions. Rougned Odor has just started his first two games as Hickory’s shortstop after primarily playing 2b. Luis Sardinas has been oft-injured in his brief career, but he’s still super young and can really pick it at SS as well. Hanser Alberto, or as I like to call him El Pequeno Locomotoro (The Little Engine) is playing a very solid short stop while hitting .330 and he’s just been promoted to High A Myrtle Beach. Jurickson Profar has played mostly at shortstop, but it would surprise no one if he ultimately breaks into the Rangers lineup at 2nd base.  Frisco has three players who can play centerfield, not including Leury Garcia. Engel Beltre, Ryan Strausborger, and Jared Hoying can all play the position. Catcher is, frankly, a little soft and that’s one of the reasons I’ve picked recent 3rd round draft pick Pat Cantwell to move aggressively through the system if, as always, he produces.  The Rangers’ organizational depth up the middle is a rather stunning collection.

-lots of promotions and even a notable demotion this week within the Rangers organization as Buckel, Alberto, and Hoying led some of the more notable names going in the positive direction and of course, Neil Ramirez is the primary name going in the negative direction. Me, myself? Oh, I’ve been going in the negative direction for a long, long time. Too bad I’m not left handed. (that’s not true, I actually am left handed and I’ve recently topped out at 63mph. Looking for a LOOGY job if anyone’s got one)

-In case you didn’t already know, Bill Murray, yes that one, has been a co-owner of minor league baseball teams since 1984. He’s been a goofy, fantastic, spokesman/ambassador for the beauty and fun that is minor league baseball ever since. In fact, his exact title for the Charleston River Dogs is “Director Of Fun”. The River Dogs are the low-A affiliate of the Yankees and they are really stocked this year with some fantastic prospects. They, along with the Hickory Crawdads and 12 other teams, play in the South Atlantic League, commonly referred to as the “Sally” League. Murray was recently elected to the Sally League Hall of Fame. It’s a ceremony that looks just like you think it does. Guys in suits in a generic hotel ballroom. Podium at the front, flanked by two 12foot banquet tables. Opposite the dais, stackable chairs neatly aligned in rows of fifteen or twenty on either side of a non-marked aisle. Murray gave a very graceful, touching and funny speech and I wanted to share it with you. It takes about 10 minutes and has some real “keepers” as far as lines go, but then again so do most of his films. (he refers to Brian Cashman as “Commander Cashman”. A name he apparently used every time he spoke to the GM during the entire duration of Cashman’s 3 day visit. A visit in which after landing in Charleston, Cashman was surprised to see a bucket hatted, shorts wearing Murray standing at the terminal.  “I’m your ride, it’s just the two of us, if that’s ok.” It was.)  I’m going to link to it, but I also wanted to link his performance during a recent rain delay that pretty much cemented his place as a Hall of Fame owner. After trying, unsuccessfully, to get a River Dogs player to pitch to him with a kickball, he did this:

and here is the Sally League induction ceremony:

**As always, enjoy baseball.**

Feel free to email me with comments or questions, but not criticism, ’cause I ain’t got time fo that shit. Or you can use Twitter if that’s your preferred style of prose.

tepidparticipation@gmail.com

@tepidp on Twitter

Love Ya,

Tepid

My Favorite Player

80 grade power, 80 grade arm, 80 grade speed. You just don’t see it. I don’t know, maybe Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays? Look for an appearance from The Rangers CEO and old Arlington Stadium at the the 5:37 mark. This video is also fantastic if you enjoy goofy-ass production techniques and an appearance by Greg Hibbard. Enjoy.

It’s Not a Straight Line

I watched nearly every pitch of Martin Perez’s best baseball performance tonight. He was, as you know, fantastic. He pitched a complete game and only gave up 3 hits and 2 runs. He walked a couple of batters and fanned 4 more. The most remarkable statistic is that he did it with only 90 pitches.  He was a different guy up there tonight. We may never see that guy again, or we may see him on a regular basis. He was different. When I first saw Perez he was working 96 and daring batters to swing. Tonight, he was working 92 and encouraging them to swing.  He was doing so, firm in the knowledge that he’d placed the ball in a location where they couldn’t get the good part of the bat on it. I saw Martin start hitters off with different pitches all night. Most of them for strikes. The lower and outer parts of the strike zone were his consistent domain. He was pitching tonight. His development has not been linear.  It has been, and most likely will continue to be, a frustrating arduous climb, but he’ll be a big leaguer.  I have no idea what to expect from his next start, but I think with this kid it starts between the ears. I know that is a tired and cheap sports narrative, but he had swagger tonight. He had the youthful arrogance that can never actually be recaptured as one ages. He looked tonight like most 21 year olds. Confident that his best days are ahead of him and cocksure there is nothing you or I can do to stop him. I know I’m not alone in hoping the feeling sticks around for a long, long time.  Tonight, Martin Perez- the pitcher, was fun to watch.

Image

I Got a Save!

So I was at lunch with my lady love today and she was writin’ some stuff on this little pad, because a.)she was technically “at work”, and b.)at this point, I’m providing uninteresting lunchtime conversation fodder.  She set her pen down in a quick exchange for her fork and the pen began its slow roll toward the edge of the table. Just as it rolled off and began its descent onto the multi-hued carpet, I caught it. Technically, I saved the pen. What happened next was just plain weird. I began to feel my face getting itchy. My normally stubbly facial hair was growing at Teen Wolf speed into a wholly generic shape commonly exhibited by people under the age of 25. I had a long tuft covering my chin and extending south a couple of inches. I had mutton chops. All of this happened in the span of 20-30 seconds. Next thing I know, while still holding the pen and with my new found facial hair, I began gesticulating wildly to the other diners. I knew they had seen me save the pen and they knew I knew how friggin’ cool I was for doing so. It was a coolness ‘splosion and I was the detonator. You may be asking yourself if I am making too big of a deal of the save, or isn’t that kind of my job as her man.  Well the answer to your question is “who the hell cares!”.  I saved it, so if I want to grow ridiculous facial hair and jump around like a goomba after doing something you think I’m just “supposed” to do, well then the problem is yours, buddy. I’ll be over here. Celebrating like a mofo!

**God bless Mariano Rivera and Joe Nathan.

Jurickson Profar is Dead!

***Here is the piece that originally ran on Texas Farm Review last month. You should just pony up for a subscription now, ya know, so you’re not a month late on stuff.  www.texasfarmreview.com ***

 

JURICKSON PROFAR IS DEAD!

As a prospect, I mean. He’s dead.

I went out to the Soda Stadium on Monday morning for a matinee starring the Frisco Rough Riders and the San Antonio Missions.  Aside from the usual weird shit that I seem to fixate on, the McAfee sponsored playground that was “closed for cleaning”, and the somewhat disconcerting vision of school busses unloading young field trippers from both the “Whitesboro” and “White Settlement” school districts, I went to see players. I go to my fair share of Riders games and watch many of them through the magic of MiLB TV (side note to MiLB- get more teams signed up for this wonderful invention), so I went somewhat well versed with the on field talent. I was interested to see Frisco starter Jake Brigham who has good stuff and flashed a kinda new change-up that had the scouts a buzz. I got a chance to see Fabio Castillo, once a member of the Rangers 40-man roster. Johan Yan who as a third baseman was to hitting what Richard Simmons is to restraint, pitched for only the second time in front of my own eyes. Brigham was great and I think he gets to the big leagues with his stuff, Castillo threw just 3 pitches, but I couldn’t evaluate him because my eyes were clouded by a player who may simply never live up to his potential. Yan was terrible, but it is easy to see why people like him. He threw 2/3 of an inning, blew a save, gave up 2 earned runs, 3 walks, a home run, and hit a batter. Told you he sucked that day. But he’s only really been pitching for 3 years and his ball weighs about 9 pounds when it gets to the batter.  Unfortunately, if the ball is left up in the zone, it is deposited a little south of Prosper Texas.  It is the glimpses of Yan’s potential that get real scouts, real writers, and interlopers like me, excited about minor league baseball.

Jurickson Profar doesn’t show glimpses anymore. He doesn’t flash the potential of what he can be. At this point glimpses and flashes are not his game. His game is a steady, constant display of talent. A locked-in, better-that-everyone-else-in-the-stadium, baseball ability that is on pointed display from the moment he walks out on the field to the moment he disappears into the dugout after another win. I watched the bulk of his at-bats in the 29 game hitting streak that ended on Sunday before the game I attended. He hits from both sides of the plate, with authority. He is balanced and preternaturally aware during his at-bats.  He is the youngest player in Double-A baseball and has a profoundly ill-fitting uniform for his 6’1” 180-ish lb frame. He smiles a lot. Not an awkward, aw-shucks smile, but a well informed, this is what I was born to do smile. He jokes with the other team’s players marooned on second base, he smiles and acknowledges kids’ howls before the game. If it sounds like I’m glowing, it’s because I am. He isn’t a prospect, he’s the prospect. And it’s kinda boring now.

Scouts and writers talk about the “WOW” moment when a prospect does something great and how it energizes them to see the player putting it all together. Profar is very far from perfect and he is significantly behind the current Rangers shortstop, but he simply doesn’t flash “wow” anymore, he embodies it. On Monday he went 3-5 with a home run and two singles. The home run was to right field when the wind was blowing in and no one on either team hit the ball close to the warning track in that direction, one single was in the third and the other was with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, on the eighth pitch of the at bat, with the tying run on second. He drilled the ball to center scoring the tying run. In the 3rd inning he spun a remarkable double play that began with a ball deflected off the pitcher to the second baseman whose throw pulled Profar away from the base. His footwork around both the bag and the oncoming runner allowed his arm to uncork a strike to beat an admittedly slow runner to first for the always entertaining 1-4-6-3 double play. In the 5th inning with a 2-1 Missions lead, a boy named Jeudy got to second on a single and a sac bunt, the next batter lined a shot up the middle that Profar dove for and got such full extension that his sunglasses left their perch on the bill of his hat and landed 10 feet into right field, he popped up and again showed the arm that originally had scouts wondering if his future was in pitching. The advancing runner could only make it to third as Profar threw out the batter, and the next hitter grounded out to second to end the inning. Run saved with a Superman dive.

As I was driving to the game I was wondering if Buechele would give Profar a day off. It was a morning game before a scheduled day off and his 29 game hitting streak had ended the day before. Then I remembered he is 19 and incapable of being tired. He plays baseball for fun because he’s good at it and enjoys it. I have no idea if the thought of a day off even came up, but I’m glad it didn’t. I’ve seen many of his games and now I’ve seen his best game. He was the best and most complete player on the field by some margin. John Gibbons, who for four years managed the Toronto Blue Jays, manages the Missions. Aside from his desire to dicker with umps and a clear penchant for the post game spread, he wasn’t much of a presence during the game. Except when Profar made the diving stop in the 5th. Gibbons knew it cost his team an important run and he kicked and swung at the air, simultaneously, with disgust. It was frustration and acknowledgment of a game-changing play made by a game-changing young man.

I’m not normally one to unabashedly hype a youngster with wanton disregard for his shortcomings. But this time is different. Profar is conceivably the best prospect in all of baseball and he’s going to play for the Texas Rangers. It is rare that a player like this is property of your favorite team and he’s playing, most likely, for an entire season, in a park you can visit for 20 bucks. For me, however, and other dorks like me, he’s dead. Dead as a prospect. He’s a big leaguer with all-star potential, he’s a multi-millionaire, he’s a professional baseball player. He’s still working on some stuff, I guess, but on all my future visits to see the 2012 Frisco Rough Riders, I’m not really going to pay much attention to him. I anticipate Monday will be the last time my notebook is filled with Profar related scribbles. The redundancy of the word “good” is getting ridiculous. That’s not to say I won’t enjoy watching him. On the contrary, I’ll enjoy his play and presence even more. But please tell all of your Ranger friends that he’s coming. He’s getting there. He’s on his way. He’s bringing a bag full of charm and a bigger bag full of ability. He’ll likely be in Arlington in some capacity before he is legally allowed to buy beer, but he’ll be there. He’ll be there with a winning mentality that has been on eerily visible display since he was 12 years old. But for now, tell your friends to pay a few bucks to see him in Frisco. And good luck convincing them he’s still “a work in progress.”

 

As always, enjoy baseball.

Your Friend,

Tepid Participation

Father’s Day Gifts

Stupid golf crap. That’s what you’re trying to avoid. I mean for Father’s Day. Dad’s day is Sunday the 17th and you don’t want to give or receive any more stupid golf crap. I am a condescending jerkface.  Always have been, but hopefully I won’t always be. Bear this in mind while perusing my little Father’s Day gift guide for the baseball fan/Rangers fan.

Let’s get stared.

-First of all, anyone attending baseball games knows you’re almost certain to need a few key functional elements of style. One of these elements is sunglasses. I would like to take this moment to explain something about sunglasses. Over the last decade or so, “sport” sunglasses have taken up a huge portion of market share. I’m talking about the kind of shades meant to be worn during sporting activity. These sunglasses are great, functional, and frankly, Willie Mays would have really loved them while fighting the San Fran glare.  They are, however, to be worn DURING SPORTING ACTIVITIES. The chances of Josh Hamilton asking to borrow your shades? None. So having said that, leave the Oakley’s at home and get a proper pair of leisure sunglasses. For the most part, they look great on all men.  I normally suggest the classics.  I don’t know you or your father but every man looks pretty cool in a proper fitting pair of aviators.

http://www.ray-ban.com/usa/sunglasses?cat=12

***warning*** you are unlikely to look “Newman Cool” in proper sunglasses. Do not let this discourage you from trying.

—Now let’s address my ultimate male-style pet peeve. Surprisingly, this conversation has permeated baseball talk, mostly due to the yeoman’s efforts of Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks’ Up and In Podcast.  I’m talking about the proliferation of flip flops. Here it is: the pool, your house, the beach, your driveway, a gym shower, your backyard, Hawaii, any vacation. That is the entire list of where flip flops are appropriate footwear for a man.  Your feet aren’t good looking. Furthermore, you’d like to look like you’re in charge of something, right?  I don’t care what it is, be it a Fortune 500 company or simply your family, you don’t look like you’re in charge of a damn thing if you’re wearing flip flops. They are not “OK” at the ballpark.  If you go to a Ranger’s game and you’re steaming down I-30 on your way back to Big D at 10:45 with sticky kids and an exhausted wife, you’ll be 100% screwed if you blow a tire. YOU CAN’T STAND ON A TIRE IRON IN FREAKIN’ FLIP FLOPS!” Also, ballparks are concrete hangouts filled with beer and 45,000 sweaty people. They are not clean. Put on some shoes.  Here, try these:

http://shop.vans.com/catalog/Vans/en_US/style/$$1.html?categoryId=65121&colorCode=EYECHR

or these:

http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/seavees-baja/3233678?cm_cat=datafeed&cm_ite=seavees_%27baja%27_slip-on:501594&cm_pla=shoes:men:slip_on&cm_ven=Froogle&mr:referralID=NA&mr:trackingCode=3B520AAF-9083-E111-8435-001517B1882A

Oh, and this is very important! For the last bazillion or so years, men have been using this to keep odor and sweat away. Go to CVS and buy a can and sprinkle some in all of your shoes. Quit being ridiculous:

http://www.overstockdrugstore.com/products/Gold-Bond-Foot-Powder-Medicated-Max-Strength-4-Ounces.html

And I’ll punch you in the left kidney if you wear Crocs. They’re for kids. You have a mortgage, your shoes shouldn’t float.

—Ask a woman if they like the way you look in cargo shorts. Go ahead, ask ‘em. Any woman will tell you, it’s not a good thing to balloon out around your hips and thighs. Do you work in the Safari business? No?  Then why the hell do you need 12 pockets!? Go buy a proper fitting pair of long shorts with deep pockets to hold all the nonsense your kids hand you. I like to use the ones with buttons on the back pockets, so I know my wallet is safe.  Whatever you get, just do me a favor and light a fire to your sloppy, droopy, wrinkly cargo shorts and eliminate all Velcro from your wardrobe. (side note- Velcro is only appropriate on “hunting clothes” section of your closet.)

—Golf culture is pretty annoying to me, but a man at a ballgame in a golf (polo) shirt, isn’t. Weird, I know. Can’t explain it really. I just know that you’re a grown man and wearing a shirt with lots of logos all over it gives you a bit of a silly air. Antigua is the manufacturer of choice for MLB and they make those crazy light-weight, simple, solid color golf shirts that tell people, “Hey, look, I support these guys, but I’d choose my family, my wife, my friends, my spiritual beliefs and my work before any team I’m not actually on.” Remember, less is more:

http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=4040086&cp=1452369.1452921.707858

http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=11788057&cp=1452369.1452921.707858

-if you must wear a t-shirt, understand a couple of principles. 1. It is going to show your sweat more than a golf shirt. Be cognizant of this. And 2. The fewer the words, the better. You know what, better yet, no words. If you want to amaze your friends with your Rangers fandom try one of these obscure gems from Low-A Hickory:

http://crawdads.milbstore.com/store_contents.cfm?store_id=54&dept_id=1046&product_id=11101

or this from High-A Myrtle Beach:

 http://pelicans.milbstore.com/store_contents.cfm?store_id=102&dept_id=1513&product_id=10439

and finally, the good folks at No Mas make some fine T’s with words:

http://www.nomas-nyc.com/3-t-shirts

**on a less popular note, while I understand your desire to do it, I’ve always thought it a bit weird to have another man’s name on my back. I see it all the time and I know it’s a touchy subject, I’m just saying it’s weird to me. I don’t look up to any man, other than my own father, enough to wear his name on my back.  Get a golf shirt and call it a day.

-Finally, headwear. I’ll be frank. The six-panel, wool, properly structured ball cap is a perfect style piece. Always has been, always will be. Remember with hats, less is more. You need one logo. On the front. I am a staunch supporter of the New Era 59/50. It holds it’s shape, has classic lines and it has that ridiculously effective sweatband. Yeah, it’s kinda hot at first, but there’s a reason the ballplayers wear it. If, however, your 59/50 starts to look like John Wetteland’s, get rid of it. Sweat lines and dirty hats are for college kids. Again, if you’re looking for something creative here, rock a hat from one of your favorite teams’ minor league affiliates. MiLB hats can get a little carried away though, so use caution. Or, ask your wife if it looks good.  You should probably do that more often anyway.

I also own one of these DFW Spurs hats from the brilliant folks at Ebbets Field Flannels. The Spurs played in Turnpike Stadium before it became Arlington Stadium before it became the parking lot for The Ballpark in Arlington. You can get one here:

http://www.ebbets.com/product/DallasFtWorthSpursBallcap/Ballcaps

Ok, so those are my tips for you fellas out there. This was a lot more fun than that cocamamy idea I had about Martin Perez (which I still wholeheartedly believe in). Hopefully, this helps. If not, just keep wearing your Oakleys, cargo shorts, flip flops, and a t-shirt with some other dude’s name on the back. Regardless of your gameday attire, remember, enjoy being a father and/or having one. Seriously. People get old and die and bad shit happens sometimes, so enjoy and savor every ballpark related moment. Baseball has always been a generational link and that’s one of the reasons we love it.  Have a Happy Father’s Day.

Love Ya,

Tepid

Let’s Roll the Dice, Bitches!

He has an intimidating 23-29 record through 95 starts. He’s allowed 230 runs in 474.2 innings pitched. In those innings, he’s given up 203 walks and struck out 433 batters. He turned 21 in April.  And I think he should start in the big leagues. This is probably the dumbest baseball related thought I’ve had in a while. Baseball is a game rooted in empirical probabilities and he’s done little to deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as “major league”. Time after time, this kid has walked up to opportunity and reeled backward. Which is why I think it is time for Martin Perez to get a start in the big leagues.

If you are a Ranger’s fan, a sabermatrician, a statistically inclined person, or even a person for whom rational pragmatism is the norm, you should probably stop reading now.  If you’re argumentative, there’s no point in reading any further. I’m not logical. I know this. I also have an unwavering ability to hug risk tighter than the average person.  Yes, this trait has served me well, and yes, it has gotten me into some pickles. But the Rangers aren’t like that. They take what we call “calculated risks”. That is to say, they could throw a 21 year old with loads of promise in for a spot start under the auspices of a “cup of coffee” and I think they should do it.

I am admittedly biased. I probably saw Perez pitch 8 times in Frisco and I saw some of his best starts last year before his promotion to AAA. I’ve seen him sit 93-94 touching 96 with command and two plus off speed pitches. I’ve also seen him have the middling starts where both his mechanics and his effort could be called into question. I’m not basing this suggestion on logic and/or numerical evidence.  It’s just a hunch. No shit. Nothing more. Literally. I sometimes feel like one of the last passionate baseball fans that occasionally believe a player needs a big challenge and a big stage. Sometimes, obviously not all the time, they step up. I have no idea if Perez is one of those players. I understand the risk that he could be permanently damaged, mentally or physically, but I don’t buy it. I also understand the chances of diminishing his trade value and I still believe that a couple of poor MLB starts aren’t going to turn teams off of a 21 year old lefty with a 3 plus pitches. There is a quick tendency to refer to the case of Bryce Harper, who’s AA and AAA numbers were not necessarily begging for a call-up, but the Nats had a couple of injuries and he wedged his way in. I am not alone when I tell you I thought when Zimmerman returned they’d ship Harper back to AAA until he forced the issue. He forced the issue on Sunday night baseball in a packed stadium on national television. You’re as likely to have a graduate school class with a Kardashian as you are to see him in AAA again. Harper is truly a generational talent, but the point is, it happens. It’s a calculated risk, but I’ve seen this organization take a few of those and come up with 7s.  I like risk, and I think to a certain extent, the Rangers do as well. So I’m thinking I’m OK with it. Let Martin start.  Let’s see what happens.

 

Now if you’ll excuse me the hostess just called, “Mr. Tepid, party of one?.”

Inspiration

As a rule, albeit a comically flimsy one, I don’t find people very inspiring. Acts are inspiring. Often wildly so. A person’s response to fear, failure, or success is inspiring. But on the whole, people, myself included, are a bit dull. There are however, exceptions to my steadfast, fleeting rule. Somebody made a movie about one of my favorite exceptions.

 

Sean Doolittle

I’m hoping to see Sean Doolittle in this series against the Rangers.  He’s just been called up and his story is remarkable. It’s been well documented, but he was a great pitcher and hitter at UVA and subsequently a 1st round draft pick. The A’s chose to have him hit and develop into a power hitting corner outfielder or first baseman. Knee and wrist injuries robbed him of nearly two full minor league seasons before Billy Beane and David Forst amongst others, decided to let him go back to the mound. The results have been stunning. He pitched exactly 1 inning in his return to the mound in last fall’s Arizona league, then began this year at High A Stockton. While in Stockton, he pitched in only 6 games. 10.1 innings, 21 strikeouts. Then a promotion to Double-A Midland. This is where I became truly interested. I saw him on May 7th. Truthfully, I went to see Justin Grimm pitch for Frisco and Michael Choice hit for Midland. Of course any excuse to see Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt is also welcome. But Doolittle stole my attention. He came in during the 7th inning against the heart of the Frisco lineup. He walked Engel Beltre and got Jurickson Profar to fly out to center. Chris McGuinness flied out to right field.  Then Brad Hawpe came up.  By this point Doolittle’s arm was warming. I’ve been fascinated with Brad Hawpe’s place on this team all season. He’s supposedly sort of “rehabbing” from elbow surgery, but I think the truth is quite evident. His long swing has been subjected to more than a few fastballs from guys who would kill to have the big league career Hawpe enjoyed. I was charting Doolittle at this point and it went like this: FBC 95, pickoff(safe), FBC 94, FBS 96: K. It was the most overpowering thing I saw all night, and I was fascinated.  Doolittle realizes that at age 25, as a converted position player, he’s going to have to challenge hitters and get them out. He did just that.  There was an air of desperation from both the hitter and the pitcher that is rarely seen at this level. Hawpe walked agonizingly slow back to the dugout and my mind raced with what he was thinking. Doolittle had just showed him a bigtime, major league quality heater thrown with precision to the inside part of the plate. Both, the left handed pitcher and the left handed hitter probably knew exactly what was coming. Doolittle won the battle. Handily. Almost mockingly. It was minor league baseball at its finest. Heartbreaking and heartwarming simultaneously. I had a feeling right then Doolittle could make it to The Show rather quickly. His stuff is awesome and he wants nothing more than to dominate you. I’m rooting for him because he almost had this taken away from him. Obviously not many crumbling first baseman also have left-handed 95+mph fastballs to fall back on, but it still takes a crazy amount of perseverance and effort to make it from Single A to the big leagues in less than half a season. Hats off to you Mr. Doolittle, now if we could just do something about that name.

Sean Doolittle’s season thus far: 25ip 8h 7bb 48K,  0.6WHIP,  17.3 K/9ip