2006 Photo Outtakes #38

Bonds

I left Saturday’s Fan Fest early, so I missed the part where Milton Bradley charmed everyone’s socks off. Seeing that Barry Bonds finally signed with the Giants again makes me wonder if Milton Bradley might get a similar treatment from the free agent market next year: only one team knows how to handle you–you better stay there.

That’s assuming that Bradley doesn’t blow up in Oakland this year. And that he stays healthy. And that he doesn’t get blamed for accidentally spilling too many coffee cups on teammates.

I am still busy holding Bobby Kielty Prisoner, so I haven’t had time to comment further on Fan Fest, or on Justin Duchscherer, or the latest on Kirk Saarloos (again). I hope that this, too, shall pass, so these words that build up like magma under my dome may one day be released, without too much violence.

I Am Holding Bobby Kielty Prisoner

Kielty mug shot

I arrested Bobby Kielty today. Call it a citizen’s arrest. I took one look at him at the A’s Fan Fest, and I instantly realized that a terrorist could kidnap him, trade him to Pittsburgh, and create a weapon that could injure or kill thousands, if not millions, of innocent people.

It is a danger that in good conscience, I could not allow to persist. Rest assured, Bobby Kielty is safe, and will not be harmed. I am detaining him merely to protect the innocent. When I have received written proof that Kielty cannot and will not ever wear that hideous new red Pittsburgh Pirates uniform, I will release him.

I realize that my actions have consequences. I am prepared to accept those consequences, whatever they may be, in order to save the lives of others. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. I am not sure when you will see me again here at Catfish Stew.

The good news is that The Pastime author Ryan Armbrust has agreed to join the staff of Catfish Stew. I’m sure you will find him to be a fine young writer, with many lovely charts. I am excited to have him join us, even in these dangerous and difficult times.

Save the outfielder, save the world…

Kielty Signs (2006 Photo Outtakes #37)

Kielty Signs

Bobby Kielty and the Oakland A’s avoided arbitration by agreeing to sign a one-year, $2.1 million contract. The A’s led the majors this offseason with nine players eligible for arbitration, but avoided hearings with all nine.

I think they should have given Kielty a bonus if he gives up switch hitting. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be in the cards.

No word on what Matt Watson thinks about all this.

2006 Photo Outtakes #36

Goodbye Kirk Saarloos

It’s too bad Billy Beane couldn’t have waited a week to trade Kirk Saarloos. The A’s Fan Fest is coming up on Saturday, and it would have been nice to have Saarloos around. Last year, of all the people who appeared in Q&A sessions, Saarloos was probably the most entertaining of them all. The dude may not have a sharp fastball, but he does have a sharp wit.

I have plans to attend Fan Fest again this year. If anyone else is going, and wants to meet up, let me know.

Saarloos Traded To Reds

I was just thinking last night that maybe Billy Beane had ceased to actually exist. He hadn’t made a trade involving a major league player since the Juan Cruz-for-Brad Halsey trade back in March 2006. Where’s he been?

Responds Beane, “I trade, therefore I am.

Who the heck is David Shafer? Never heard of him. PECOTA doesn’t think that much of him; it gives him at best a 50% chance of being nothing more than a scrub. Kevin Goldstein doesn’t bother to mention him in his Top Reds Prospects article, while John Sickels ranks him as the Reds 18th best prospect, calling him a “useful bullpen spare part.”

So basically, this was a salary dump. Saarloos just hit arbitration status, and his mediocre production, while valuable at minimum wage, isn’t so valuable at higher prices. Plus, I think the A’s had about 13 pitchers who were either too good for the minors, or were without any major league options left, so someone had to go.

From the Reds point of view, I suppose a ground-ball pitcher like Saarloos would have more value in a home-run launching pad like Cincinnati than elsewhere. My call: a good non-deal for both sides.

Zito Epilogue (2006 Photo Outtakes #31)

Stretch

To conclude our thoughts about the Man On Top (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), TangoTiger backed up my scouting report with some strong statistical evidence for Barry Zito’s prowess against right-handed batters:

That’s right, while Zito’s career BABIP against LH is virtually exactly league average, he has a BABIP of 42 points less against RH! Zito has 3200 BIP against RH, meaning one standard deviation would be 8 points. His performance is FIVE standard deviations from the mean. That is about as significant as significant gets.

There’s also some vigorous discussion of the articles going on here and over here, which might be quite illuminating if you can read Korean, which I can’t.

As for the Man Underneath, I got nothin’, except that he’s currently serving as the punchline over at Humbug.

Zito Thoughts, Part 3 of 3

We completed Part 2 (Part 1 here) with the question, is Barry Zito really an exception to the rule, a pitcher who can reduce batters’ batting average on balls in play? If so, how does he do it, and what makes him different?

I’m just a fan, not a scout, but I have watched a lot of Barry Zito, so I think I have some idea of how Zito approaches batters.

Zito’s approach is a lot more complex now that he has five pitches instead of three. I think it’s useful to go back to 2000-2003 when Zito had only the fastball, curve and changeup, and study his basic three-pitch approach. To narrow it down further, we’ll focus just on right-handed batters.

So here’s the plan. It all starts with the curveball.

* * *

The Curveball

curveball

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Phone-Enduced Dramatics (2006 Photo Outtakes #27)

Bullpen phone

Just to clarify: this is the phone that got the calls to tell Dennis Eckersley to get prepared to do the Phone-Enduced Dramatics (PEDs) that eventually got Dennis Eckersley a certain phone call that Eckersley’s twice-teammate Mark McGwire is not going to get today.

Personally, I do not believe McGwire’s dramatics were phone-enduced, but what do I know? I never really thought that McGwire was phone-call worthy while he played in Oakland, partly because he could never stay healthy or slump-free long enough to put together any long stretch of dominant play, and partly because I don’t think he was all that great a relief pitcher.

Whether or not McGwire gets the phone call today, I don’t feel required to have an emotional reaction. We’ll leave that job to the Cardinals fans.

Goose Gossage, on the other hand, was a great relief pitcher, did get calls on that phone, and although those particular calls didn’t produce the most dramatic moments of Gossage’s career, I’d really like to see him get one more phone-enduced dramatic moment. Although Yankee fans would deserve the emotions far more than I, I plan to steal a little bit of the joy or disappointment for myself and my fellow A’s fans. Call me selfish.

Score Bard’s 2006 Top 25 Baseball Player Names and Vacation Photos

If you’re as obsessed with baseball as I am, anything and everything reminds you of baseball. You use baseball analogies to argue every point. You compare the body of every person you meet to a baseball player. When people mumble and you can’t quite hear them, your mind fills in the blanks with the names of baseball players. Pretty much anything you hear, smell, touch, taste and see reminds you of baseball in some way.

And so in that vein, Humbug proudly presents the following slideshow: Score Bard’s 2006 Top 25 Baseball Player Names and Vacation Photos. As you will see, even on vacation halfway across the globe, I can’t stop thinking about baseball.

Warning: this is a large (1.5MB) Flash file. Proceed at your own risk.

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