Greetings from a super-secret location! Getting some appreciated down time with the family. The baseball viewing/thinking has been limited to a few glances of the Yankees and Red Sox games Friday night at a restaurant, a few glances of yesterday's Yankees game at another restaurant and snippets of both Yankees game and last night's Mets game on the radio.
So...I offer mostly second-hand attempts at insight today, along with some links. It has, after all, been a rather busy weekend (for baseball, not for me).
--For my Sunday Insider, I conducted my third annual, anonymous survey on Memorial Day "turnaround teams" - clubs that posed losing records last year and are now winning, or vice versa, and whether they'd continue these reversals.
As you can see, there was strong confidence that the Reds would maintain their winning ways, if not necessarily win the NL Central, and that the Angels would wake up and contend for a fourth straight (and sixth in seven years) AL West title - although they didn't know about the Kendry Morales development that we'll discuss further below.
On the flip side, not a soul believed that the Mariners could climb out of their current hole. The Cliff Lee trade sweepstakes (again) should be very exciting.
Only two people voted on the Mets - and if I had the benefit of including last night's results, then the Mets, back at .500, wouldn't be mentioned at all - but I thought it was interesting that one official mentioned the Mets' bad chemistry. I don't believe this is true for their clubhouse - I thought it always was overstated - yet it's telling that people still think this. And certainly, the Mets' organization as a whole has its issues.
--Speaking of the Mets, I guess they haven't solved their road problems, eh? I know the issue of whether Jerry Manuel should've sent out Johan Santana for the ninth inning Friday night has been a popular topic of discussion on the blog. My answer is...some decisions are tough. I can understand the frustrations of those who feel Santana should've gone back out there, but as NaOH displayed, Santana just isn't a workhorse in the mold of Roy Halladay or CC Sabathia.
Now, there are many decisions which aren't as tough: Don't fry Fernando Nieve to a crisp as a reliever and then upgrade him to starting pitcher. Don't use Gary Matthews Jr. in an important spot. And it's those sort of calls which continue to call Manuel's competence into question.
--Matthews Jr. should just be released already. And I know there's a lot of clamoring for Oliver Perez to be a "team player" and accept a demotion to the minor leagues. I say, it's all business. He's not contractually obligated to do so. If the Mets can't bear looking at Ollie anymore - and they shouldn't - then they're just going to have to release him.
If the Mets are looking for a primer on how to handle this, they should read this story on the Tigers designating Dontelle Willis for assignment. You could pretty much replace Willis' name with Perez's, and the story would read the same - except, of course, that Perez has another year to go on his albatross contract, whereas 2010 is it for Willis.
Notice, though, that no one is going to criticize Willis for being "selfish" for declining a demotion to the minor leagues.
--Manuel advised Jeff Francoeur to stop listening to so much advice on his hitting. The better call, of course, would've been for Manuel to advise his Mets superiors to try to trade Francoeur for a prospect.
--Condolences to Willie Randolph, who is missing the Mets' visit to Milwaukee due to the death of his father.
--It's the one-year anniversary of the Glanzer Doctrine.
--In the Bronx, the day was dominated by Indians starter David Huff, who left the game after taking an Alex Rodriguez liner to the head. How horrifying. Thankfully, it sounds like he's OK.
--The Yankees need to straighten out Joba Chamberlain, Anthony Rieber writes. Looking at Chamberlain's game log for this season, he has made 22 appearances, and has allowed no runs in 16 of those. Of the six appearances in which he allowed a run, in five, he has decreased the Yankees' chances of winning, as we can tell by WPA.
So in 22.7 percent of his appearances, Chamberlain has left the Yankees worse off than when he entered the game. As a point of comparison, I figured, let's look at Phil Hughes' 2009 season as an eighth-inning setup man. You might remember that he didn't really assume that role until July 3.
So, Hughes made 36 appearances as the Yankees' eighth-inning setup man last year, and he recorded a negative WPA in just five of them, meaning he decreased the Yankees' chances of winning in 13.9 percent of his appearances.
In order for Chamberlain to get to Hughes' success area, then, he'd have to pitch 14 straight times and help the club toward the finish line. Or, bigger picture, if he takes the mound another 45 times, given where are are in the season, he could mess up four more games.
Of course, that doesn't account for just how much damage/help a pitcher can contribute to each game, so let's put it another way: Hughes' WPA last year, during his time as eighth-inning closer, was 2.095, meaning he was personally responsible for just over two wins in his two months. Chamberlain's WPA for 2010 is currently -.183. In his magical 2007, Chamberlain's WPA was 1.594.
--In other Yankees bullpen issues, David Robertson's back acted up. At this point, looking ahead to the trade deadline, you'd have to guess that the Yankees' top priority would be a reliever. However, looking at the teams likely to be out of contention, I don't see any tremenous options.
--Really nice feature on Kevin Russo, by Kimberley A. Martin.
--As for Halladay's perfect game, is it weirding anyone else out that we've now had three perfect games in less than a year, and two in less than a month? We're talking about something that has occurred just 20 times, ever, but really seems to be picking up. I can't imagine there's any logical explanation for it.
--Alas, you can't predict baseball, as Kendry Morales' injury reminded us again yesterday. It's horrible for the Angels, of course, but from a larger perspective, it's fascinating how this will now surely change celebrations for walkoff homers around the league. Every manager will tell his players, "No more" when it comes to walkoff craziness. And the Angels now have to figure out how they're going to replace that offense.
One name to keep in mind: Back in the 2005-06 offseason, the Angels went hard after Paul Konerko, who decided instead to re-sign with the White Sox. Now, Konerko's deal is winding down, and the White Sox might wind up in rebuilding mode. Maybe there's a match there.
--The Giants recalled stud prospect Buster Posey, who immediately helped San Francisco get a victory.
--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on WFAN at 12:05 today with Richard Neer.
--Have a great day.