Unrestricted View

"Lou is not talking about mechanics when he goes out to the mound,"
~Chicago Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tim Kurkjian Loves Grit

Real quickly, let me put on my Fire Joe Morgan hat and rip an article written by Tim Kurkjian today.

Because apparently we don't hear enough about intangibles, Kurkjian decided to give us a look at 5 MLBers who supposedly are just loaded with things like hustle, grit, unselfishness, and the desire to "play the game the right way." Of course nobody claims that these traits are bad things, but when you use Sandy Alomar Jr, Darin Erstad, Mike Matheny, Mark DeRosa, and the timeless Julio Franco as your examples of why intangibles are so great, it makes me glad there aren't any intangible-filled players on my favorite team.

If I'm making an arguement about why OBP correlates to runs scored much better than batting average, I'm certainly not going to cite Neifi Perez as my example. If I wanted to show how pitchers with high strikeout rates are less susceptible to random fluctuations in BABIP than those who don't strikeout batters, I wouldn't point you towards Carlos Silva's career numbers. So why would somebody use the 5 aforementioned players in an article about intangibles?

The only thing less shocking than "the Intangible King - Darin Erstad" being on this list is that I found the list on ESPN. The only thing more shocking is that the whole article wasn't dedicated to David Eckstein. And the only thing more shocking than that is the fact that I continue to get duped into reading anything an ESPN writer not named Simmons or Neyer writes.

Screw this. I'm switching my homepage to Baseball Prospectus.

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Sunday, June 25, 2006

This Is Me Bragging...

It's been a good couple weeks to be a Twins fan. The 2-1 series victory over the Astros combined with the dominating performance by Francisco Liriano give me bragging rights with all my Astro fan friends for the remainder of the year. To top it off, the Twins just finished a sweep of the Cubs who happen to be Graham's favorite team.

Once again the Twins got great pitching performances from Johan Santana, Boof Bonser, and Brad Radke en route to a combined 18-3 series sweep. The only good news for the Cubs was the return of Derrek Lee. It should be interesting to see what Graham has to say about the weekend over at his Cubs Blog, Behind The Ivy. Just wait 'til next year, Graham.

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Pronouncing Francisco Liriano

So...um....yeah..as I've mentioned here, here, and here, Francisco Liriano (aka The Frisco Kid) is pretty damn good. On a national stage last night, the 22 year old stole the show from one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. What was set to be the return of Roger Clemens may now be remembered as the night Francisco Liriano had his coming out party.

Twins fans have long known about Francisco's potential to be among the top 3 pitchers in the league for the next 10 years, but considering he plays in Minnesota and has only made 11 starts in his career, Liriano has been flying under the radar for most baseball fans. But with all the hype surrounding last night's game and some prominent members of the national media in attendence, I suspect he will remain a secret no more. Just hours after the game ended, Jayson Stark wrote an article about Liriano stealing the show, saying "this was Liriano's stage, he just needed the Rocket to make sure the spotlights were shining on it."

The Frisco Kid cruised through 7 innings of scoreless ball, allowing only 2 hits and a walk in that time. Astro hitters looked dazed while standing at the plate, either watching Liriano paint the inside and outside corners or swinging and missing at a late breaking slider or a changeup that seems to stop just before reaching home plate. At one point in the 6th, I actually laughed at how ridiculous The Kid was making these professional hitters look. Then I just felt sympathy for them. Not until the 8th innings, when Jason Lane hit a two run homer did it look like they had any clue of how to hit this kid.

When it was all said and done, Liriano's line looked like this:


Last night's game actually raised his season ERA to 2.17 - 1.64 as a starter. With a few more innings under his belt, he will become the AL leader in ERA, pushing back Johan Santana to #2 in the process. As Liriano goes through the league a second time around, he'll have to pick his game up. Now that these guys have seen him once before, they won't look quite as foolish in the batter's box. But at age 22, he has much room to grow. I expect it to be no problem. The sky is truly the limit for this kid. But don't take my word for it. I've compiled a collection of quotes form baseball writers and players about Liriano.

Jayson Stark: I'll never forget talking to a scout in April who was watching the Twins, and he said, "I just saw the guy with the best stuff in baseball." I said, "You mean (Johan) Santana?" He said, "No, Liriano. His stuff is way better than Santana's."

Phil Garner: "That's as good as we've seen. Let me say that again -- that's the best we've seen so far."

Brad Ausmus: "I don't want to say yet that he's better than Randy Johnson because Randy has done so much. But his stuff is as good as any lefty I've ever seen."

Melvin Mora: "Nasty. Everything nasty. What I hear is he throws a nasty slider, a nasty changeup, a nasty fastball, a nasty everything. We just went over there to just try and hit the ball. Even that ball he threw for a walk to Brian Roberts was nasty."

I would certainly like to hear Brian Sabean's comments on Liriano. After all, he is the one who got hood-winked by Terry Ryan in a deal that sent AJ Pierzynski to the Giants for one year in return for Liriano, Joe Nathan, and Boof Bonser. Even the nickname, "The Frisco Kid", is just one more reminder of how Liriano ended up in Minnesota in the first place. All I can say, and I'm sure other Twins fans agree, is Thank you, Brian Sabean.

Oh, I almost forgot. Check out my buddy Pat's My Space profile. He happens to be a huge Astros fan that just felt the wrath of Francisco Liriano. We had a friendly little wager on the series. So when the Astros lost the series, Pat's dignity was forced to go right along with them.

Feel free to leave to leave Astro-hating and/or emasculating comments on his page or pictures - so long as they're in jest.

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Sell The Marlins

Not just the team members, like has happened twice in the last few years, but get the franchise out of Florida and move it to another city. I'm thinking West. As in, the AL West.

OK, hear me out. Sell the team and move it to San Antonio. SA is the biggest city in America that currently does not have a baseball team. Bingo. There's your market.

Then, move them to the AL West. You have an immediate rivalry with the Texas Rangers and you fill out that division, giving it five teams.

OK, with that done, you move the Pittsburgh Pirates to the NL East, where they used to be anyway before there were three NL divisions. You have the rivalry with Philly right there. Nice. Maybe you even get Mark Cuban to buy the Bucs before the move, to give it even more splash.

With all that done, every division in baseball would have five teams, you'd have a new rivalry with the Rangers and San Antonio, and you'd renew the Phillies/Pirates lovefest. Sounds good doesn't it?

Someone get Bud Selig on the phone. Oh yeah, he's not taking any calls right now. He's in hiding to wait out the Grimsley Tropical Storm.

Now, on the name of the new team. San Antonio Marlins just wouldn't work. How about the San Antonio Missions? Oh yeah, that's already been used in the Minors. San Antonio Guerreros? San Antonio Tiradores? San Antonio Sluggers?

Ah, who knows. Just make the move already.

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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A Few Things To Watch Tonight

Roger Clemens makes his season debut tonight with the Class A Lexington Legends. His son Koby will be starting at 3rd base for the first time since breaking his finger. An interesting sidenote to the actual game will be counting how many times the announcers make reference to a "Living Legend" playing for the Lexington Legends. This appears to be the approach FSN has already taken, so if were lucky(?) they might approach "Laura Quinn At The Ohio St/Notre Dame Game" territory.

Francisco Liriano goes head-to-head with King Felix for the second time in as many weeks in what is billed as a matchup between the game's two best young pitching prospects. It'll be fun to watch these two phenoms carve up their opponent's pathetic excuse for an offense.

Kerry Wood makes his 4th start of the season against a struggling Astros club.

Two former teammates go toe-to-toe tonight in LA. Both Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe have ERAs under 2.70.

The season is over but if you haven't yet tuned in to "House" now would be a good time to catch what you've been missing. The show airs on Fox @ 8:00 central.

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Monday, June 05, 2006

Therapy Via Astro Bashing

Every now and then, typically after a Twins or Braves losing streak, I like to look up the Astros statistics and bash each of their players whom present me the opportunity to do so. Why would I engage in such childish behavior? Because all of my friends are Astros fans, and if I'm going to suffer through a terrible baseball season, then dammit so are they. Is it mean spirited? Sure. I've got no problem admitting to that. But I see no reason for my friends to bask in baseball success while I miserably follow the Twins mistakes and inadequacies. I believe the term is "player hating." But for me looking up Willy Taveras' stats and then giving my roommate a detailed report (powerpoint slide included) of how terrible he is, is the equivalent of somebody with anxiety disorder taking a Xanex. It makes me feel good. And if that's wrong, then I don't want to be right. So let the therapy session begin.

Willy T, who I have cleverly nicknamed "Slugger" just to point out his obvious faults everytime his name is brought up, is currently hitting .262/.313/.311/.624.

The Astros have lost 11 of their last 13 games and are now 4 games under .500 and 9 games behind St Louis.

Preston K Wilson is hitting .263/.298/.390/.688 with 62 strikeouts - ranking him 3rd in the NL in that category.

Phil Garner has been dumb enough to give the two aforementioned players a total of 438 at-bats. Taveras and Wilson, despite those miserable lines, rank number one and two in at-bats.

Adam Everett has been predictably terrible, hitting a measly .209/.267/.308/.575. No glove in the world in good enough to make up for such poor skills with the bat. Between Everett, "Slugger", Preston K Wilson, and the pitcher's spot, the Astros have 4 "black holes" in their lineup. All the while, Phil Garner continues to wonder outloud why the club has trouble scoring runs.

Other than Oswalt, the starting pitchers have ERAs of 4.81, 5.19, 6.03, and 6.25. They have struggled to keep the ball in the strike zone and the ballpark - the two big deathwishes for a pitcher.

Lidge and Wheeler have ERAs of 5.06 and 5.11 respectively. They have combined for 4 blown saves and taken 6 losses. Qualls has blown 2 other saves, while Mike Gallo adds one more to that list.

The team has absolutely no money available to trade for a player that could help fix this mess. This is the team they have and it's the one they'll have to keep. But hey, Roger Clemens is coming back, right?

I feel much better!

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NBA Finals Preview

Two teams who haven't been there before are about to fight for the right to be called NBA Champions. Mark Cuban's Dallas Mavericks have shown that they are the team to be reckoned with. Pat Riley has taken over the reins of the Miami Heat and brought Shaquille O'Neal to the promised land once again, and superstar Dwayne Wade to the Finals for the first time in his young career. Matt seems to think it's not very exciting, but I see it as the best possible matchup in the Finals.

It's going to be a series of matchups. As I mentioned on National Fox Sports Radio last night, on the Thompson Brothers show, I think it's about who's going to cover who. Who can cover Shaq? Who can stop Dwayne? OK, they're tough, no question, but who on the planet can stop Dirk Nowitzki? Udonis Haslem tried to in their Feb. 9th game, but did so quite poorly, getting burnt inside at Dirk's will and being shot over like the smaller man he is from the outside. Dirk ended up with 27, and Haslem had eight. It's going to be tough for the Heat. Especially since they need to keep every game under 100 points if they have a chance to win.

Also, it's fundamentals. Shaq, Alonzo Mourning and Antoine Walker all have worse free throw shooting percentages than anyone on the Mavs. Anyone. And those guys are going to see a lot of minutes. Also, can they run the transition game if they need to against the offensive minded Mavericks? Can the Heat overcome their fundamental shortcomings?

Now, I'm not about to say Pat Riley, who is about to coach in his ninth NBA Finals, and Shaq, who's about to play in his sixth, can't find something to do about it. I'm just saying it's going to be as hard as it looks. And once you make a plan to stop Dirk, what about Jerry Stackhouse? Do the Heat have another quick, tall guy to guard him? I'm not sure they even have one. Maybe the 6'7" James Posey? I just don't know. Add Josh Howard and Jason Terry to the mix, and I think the Heat are in trouble.

I've been wrong before, and it's dangerous to not believe in the Big Aristotle, and Wade has performed as good as any other player in the playoffs to this point, but I just think the Mavs are the team to beat in this one. Coach Avery Johnson has finally taught this team that defense matters, and the team believed it and enacted the plan to perfection. They've beaten the San Antonio Spurs and Phoenix Suns along the way, which is tougher that the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets.

Of course, the Detroit Pistons were tough, and nobody expected them to fold in six (except maybe the Heat). What's going to happen to Flip Saunders? Expect the riot to begin soon and he'll be running out of Motown from the pitchforks and torches soon enough. Was it his fault? Well, he's the coach and he didn't get enough out of one of the best teams in the NBA, the holders of the best record in the regular season, the team who'd been to the last three finals. I'd say, in a word, Yes. Sort of like the Cleveland Cavaliers coach, Mike Brown. He's terrible. Sorry. But he's somehow getting credit for the Cavs performance in the playoffs, where he should be getting the blame for not getting them further. Next season, watch the huddle when he's "talking" to the players. No one pays any attention. Well, at least not the players. I tell you what, if Kobe Bryant had the supporting players that LeBron James has, he'd have gone much further in the playoffs, I assure you. But, that's a different story, so I'll let that be for now. Bottom line is the coach carries much of the responsibility for the team's performance. Nuff Said.

Alright, Thursday night, 8pm CST, is set for the first game of the 2006 NBA Playoffs. I'm ready. I'm off work that night, so I'll have the popcorn popped and the beverages cold by tipoff time. ABC, here I come. Sorry, Matt, but I'm excited to see this. It might be a Dallas steamrolling, but, hey, I'm going to be there to see it.

And I wouldn't count out Pat Riley just yet.

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Friday, June 02, 2006

Unrestricted View Radio Interview

Matt and I are going to be inteviewed by Real Radio 104.1 WTKS-FM in Orlando Florida at 8 PM EST (7 PM CST). They want to talk to us about our site and our campaign to get Neifi Perez, 2B, CHC, and Juan Castro, SS, MIN, voted into the All-Star Game as a protest to fan involvment in a game that determines the home field advantage of the World Series.

Join us here to hear us on The Hideout with El Jefe and J-Dubs tonight!

Hope we are entertaining enough for ya! Thanks for listening and thanks for reading.

And don't forget to VOTE EARLY and VOTE OFTEN!!!

There's a link at the top left of our page leading you to the ASG Ballot, but here it is again if you need to know where to vote.

Neifi Perez, write-in candidate at 2B for the NL.
Juan Castro, SS, Minnesota Twins in the AL.

Let Your Voice Be Heard!

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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Can I Get A What What...

Francisco Liriano made his third start of the year last night giving up no runs and one questionable hit through 6 innings. He did walk four batters putting him at 8 walks in 16 innings pitched as a starter. He hasn't displayed control problems as a reliever or a starter in the minor leagues so I'm guessing the walks will begin to diminish as his arm gets used to pitching 6-7 innings each night rather than one.

Even with the walks, Liriano has been better than advertised in his first 3 starts of the year. Take a look at the stat line.


I've always been a big fan of Liriano and I feel like he has the potential to be Santana-like. But his overall performance this season has exceeded my wildest expectations. I'll withhold some enthusiasm until I he makes his way through the league lineups for a second time, but I expect by the end of the season Liriano with have dethroned King Felix and taken over the crown as "Best Young Pitcher" in baseball.

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All-Star Snub Already

I just voted today on the MLB site. I know that I'm a little late but I still need to vent. It looks like there needs to be a least one write-in vote for the All-Star ballots this year. One that I have the most gripe about not even being on the ballot is Jim Thome. I did a write in vote for Thome and the only place I could put him was OF.
I don’t care that the game is in a National League Park. The AL should still make a roster spot for the DH, since it is a position in the AL at least I sure thought it was one since 1973. So the AL fans should be able to vote for our player of choice for that position. This is definitely a drop ball or one off the coconut like Error-miss Ramirez, by the front office of MLB. I don’t want to argue about if there should be a DH or not, the fact is that there is a position and that position should be on the ballot so us fans can vote for the players we see. Isn't it a Fans Game?
It is a good thing Ozzie is the Manager so he will be able to take him as a manager’s pick.

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