Was Shaun Marcum the missing link to the Brewers success?
08/30/2011 4:39 AM - Devo
The bandwagon is completely full with Milwaukee Brewer fans these days, and I can’t say that I blame them. They are a young exciting team that completely dominates the competition at home (50-16), and are now literally running away with the NL Central.
If there is any talk about mid-to-small market teams not having success, the Brewers are completely blowing that out of the water. Admittedly, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun are the main spokes in this wheel, but as every baseball person knows; pitching wins in the playoffs.
Zack Greinke was a huge coup for the Brewers which gave them a legitimate number one starter, but perhaps the biggest move they made in the off-season was acquiring Shaun Marcum from the Blue Jays for Canadian born Brett Lawrie.
The trade, in hindsight, made sense for everyone. With the demise of Aaron Hill, and the emergence of Jose Bautista the tides were turning in TO. Another youth movement is on the horizon. Marcum to the Brewers, now side by side with Greinke, Yovani Gallardo, and Randy Wolf, gives them four solid starters, something no other team in the NL Central has at this moment.
And bringing Marcum into the fold was not something that was out of the blue. With a spotty history of nagging arm injuries that perhaps made the Jays’ a little apprehensive, he has a knack for getting people out, rarely touching 90mph.
With parts of six years under his belt Marcum has a .240 batting average against, and a career WHIP of 1.21. What makes this even more remarkable is the fact that he is relying less on his fastball (32.8 percent) and really laying it on thick with curveballs (15.2, highest in six years), and change-ups (almost 27 percent)*. Granted he is away from the power-laden AL East, in theory, Marcum now deals with eight batters in an ultimately weaker division.
What Marcum proves is that if you are consistently hitting your spots, changing speeds and keeping the hitters off balance, you can win. And winning is something that he does nearly 62 percent of the time. Given that the six years is a relatively small window to determine how good he is, you can almost guarantee 13 wins and 5 losses per year. It is almost as if the Brewers played this out perfectly with a rotation of five starters who on average pull in 13-15 wins (including Chris Narveson).
It will be interesting to see how the Brewers wind up in the playoffs. They have the power, they have the pitching and all the momentum any team could ask for. If Marcum stays healthy, and can stay on pace for career highs in wins, innings pitched, ERA and anything else positive, the Brewers will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in October.
*Many thanks to Fangraphs for the statistical information.
The crowds continue to roll in for Independent baseball
08/28/2011 8:26 AM - Devo
While the MLB and MiLB dominate the headlines, Independent baseball has a reliable stream of supporters and why not? And since the pros charge an arm and a leg, a family can attend an Indy League game for a fraction of the price.
To some, the calibre is not up to speed, but you are getting players giving it there all for a full nine-innings.
So in theory, fans get a competitive game, reasonable prices and the old-barnstorming feel of teams playing for the fun of it.
Independent baseball has a close relationship with their fans as the majority of the teams are not playing in the biggest baseball friendly cities. So, when teams struggle, become defunct, or relocate, the hardcore fans do find it difficult. Lately I have been discussing the idea of a MLB purchase that would help solidify the Indy organization as a whole, while at the same time capitalizing on the “vintage” and “heritage” aspects that the fans have grown to love.
I’ve had a great number of responses from all sorts of professionals through the ranks and it’s been split more or less down the middle. While it would benefit the players who could now move up the ranks in an organizational hierarchy, Indy owners pride themselves on the product that they produce. Would this merger benefit anyone involved?
Whether or not this develops beyond paper, fans continue to enter the stadiums in record numbers;
American Association: 660 games - 2,082,854 total attendance
Atlantic League: 403 - 1,644,496
Frontier League: 512 - 1,278,745
North American League: 363 - 615,889
Can-Am League: 313 - 563,793
For the Indy game to survive there needs to be superior ownership with a good handle on the day-to-day operations. And when I say this, look at the North American League for example.
Kevin Outcalt, Chief Executive Officer has combined the Golden Baseball League, Northern League and United League Baseball to form the first “super league” of its kind. And with a project this big, there will be up’s and down’s.
With names like Canseco, and Aybar, it brings a sense of legitimacy to the first year organization. However, the unfortunate fate of two teams; Maui Na Koa Ikaika and Lake County Fielders, have brought the league under some criticism. But when it comes down to it, the leadership and support staff has to be working on all cylinders to continue to expand and move forward.
Outcalt was quoted in an article on 880AM News about the state of the league and plans on expansion for the future;
"I anticipate that adding the teams in the locations that (the league) is working on, is going to bring some good local rivalries, lower travel costs and firm up the group of owners that we have as well," says Outcalt.
He admits, however, that the expansion could mean the relocation of existing teams into newer markets.
"By expansion, I mean expanding into geographies where we already are, which would provide more teams closer to the existing teams," he says. "We're looking at doing that on the (US) west coast in California and Arizona, and in Canada."
All signs point to all leagues contusing to flourish and provide the fans what they paid for. If you have never been to an Independent League game, you really should. It’s minor league baseball at its best. Heck, six million fans can’t be wrong!Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM's Perspective
He is author for the Business of Sports Network, which includes the Biz of Baseball, the Biz of Football, the Biz of Basketball and the Biz of Hockey. He is also a contributor to the Canadian Baseball Network. Devon is a featured writer on Examiner.com , member of the Yarbarker Network, contributor to FullCountPitch Magazine and is an Associate member of The Professional Writers Association of Canada.
Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies, and is now an independent scout.
He has continued to further his knowledge by completing Sports Management Worldwide's Baseball General Manager Class and interning with The Football Outsiders.
Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Johnny Damon belongs in the Hall of Fame
08/25/2011 4:16 AM - Devo
By the end of the 2011 season Johnny Damon will be less than 300 hundred hits away from 3,000.
And if things play out as planned 3,000 should happen sometime near the end of the 2013 season. If Damon does in fact eclipse the legendary number a serious discussion for his enshrinement will take place.
While my opinion may not make the biggest headlines, the closer Damon comes to the end of his career some interesting questions will be asked of the two-time World Series Champion; What cap will you wear at your Hall of Fame induction?
According to Hardball Talk, Johnny Damon, who appeared on the MLB Network, was indeed asked about the Hall of Fame and what cap he would wear if inducted,
“Well, it’s a tough decision… four years in Boston… four years in New York… five and a half years in Kansas City. And if you go by the numbers, that’s where my best years were. So if they’d have me…”
He would garner some consideration if his career ended to today, but if Damon makes it through two more seasons and hits the magic number, in my opinion he has to be a guaranteed lock to get in.
Just to put this into perspective, his statistics; 500 plus doubles, over 100 triples, more than 200 homeruns, and over 2,500 hits, are only matched by some players you might have heard of; George Brett, Lou Gehrig, Goose Goslin, Rogers Hornsby, Willie Mays, Paul Molitor, Stan Musial, Babe Ruth, Al Simmons and Robin Yount.
If that’s not enough of a case, I don’t know what is.
If you read the BBWAA election rule No. 5, “Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played”.
When you couple Damon’s accomplishments with his ability, sportsmanship, character and other intangibles, in my eyes I cannot understand why he wouldn’t be inducted. Damon has never been accused of anything, except being that of an “idiot” during his Boston days, and has always shown up for work and delivered.
The writers, voters and fans should embrace someone, not flashy, but dependable and his body of work does demonstrate Hall of Fame credentials.
Keep the dream alive: Arizona Winter League is waiting for you
08/21/2011 1:42 PM - Devo
With the Independent baseball season winding down, many players will return to post-graduate studies, full-time jobs or continue to play, hoping to catch the eye of just one scout.
For those that are looking for an additional opportunity, one that has a proven track record, the Arizona Winter League could be the best place for you. For those unfamiliar with the AWL, it has been around for five years now and has produced nearly 250 players who have gone on to sign professional contracts. Most notably;
2007 - Sergio Romo: MLB - San Francisco Giants
2007 - Scott Richmond: MLB - Toronto Blue Jays
2010 - Rylan Sandoval: AFF - Brooklyn Cyclones (NY Mets A-), Savannah Sand Gnats (NY Mets A), St. Lucie Mets (NY Mets A+)
Please note that nearly 50 players signed with Independent League teams after the 2011 AWL.
One of the benefits of this league is that the first 160 people, who register, are guaranteed a roster spot. This is an instructional business and is a real opportunity for those players who literally slipped through the cracks and need the chance to play.
Think about a senior in college, a borderline prospect who was injured in his senior year and did not play, or did not play up to his potential. With his collegiate career over in the month of May, eight months of rehab or training and this player can seriously impress coaches with a guaranteed roster spot. Indy baseball is all about giving those left out one more chance to lace up their cleats and and give it their all. Why not?
With five years under their belt, the AWL is really turning into a legitimate resource for reporters looking for their feel good story of the year, coaches looking for a prized prospect in the dead of winter, or scouts and teams filling up roster spots for the upcoming season.
Now that the North American League has partnered with Poinstreak, “Game/Player statistics will be reported to the Associated Press and ESPN and displayed on the Pointstreak.com statistics website, and will be emailed weekly to all major league Minor League Operations Directors. All major league scouting Directors have been invited to attend.” (Courtesy AWL site)
And if you are headed to Yuma at the end of January, I wish you all the best. Keep the dream alive!