Friday, May 15, 2009

The Beej is back

So here's where it's gonna get interesting.

Since Spring Training, when B.J. Ryan spent much of his time putting radar guns to sleep with his diminished velocity, we've been pretty much examining and scrutinizing every pitch of every outing from the hulking lefty.

With his return to the big club after having nursed his "injury" back to health, we'll be given to opportunity to not only pore over all of the Pitch F/X data for Ryan in the coming weeks, but we'll also be watching for every misstep or misplaced pitch from the Beej's replacement in the closer role, Scott Downs.

(Okay, so we won't be looking at those data sets, but someone will, and we'll just repeat whatever they say as though we know what we're talking about. We call this the Tothian Method.)

While Cito is loathe to touch his batting orders (even if it meant doing something completely reasonable like hitting Aaron Hill third and Adam Lind fourth), he seems a lot more likely to yank his bullpen roles around. Should Scott Downs post a couple of weaker outings and if B.J.'s allegedly slower delivery helps him return to form, we could see the closer role changing hands multiple times throughout the rest of the season.

Look who else is back
As we were glancng through the pitching stats from the Dunedin Blue Jays to see how the Beej did in his brief stay in sunny Florida, we noticed another recognizable name amongst the D-Jays' pitching staff: Chris Michalak.

It seems like just yesterday that Michalak came out of nowhere as an aging rookie to make the Jays pitching rotation in 2001 and lead the team in wins through April.

(Hmmm. That story sounds awfully familiar.)

Our most vivd memory of Michalak was of his wicked pick off move to first base, and the game in which then-Yankees skipper Joe Torre got into the upmire's heads about his move to first. Within a month, it seemed as though the umpires were onto him, and he was called for balks in three straight starts.

By the end of the season, Michalak had been dropped from the rotation, then shipped off to Texas. And while we're not wishing a similar fate on Scott Richmond, it's worth remembering that these feel-good tales of overcoming the odds sometimes don't last much longer than the time it takes to spin them.


Darren Priest said...

This is all fine and good, but where's my Friday Rock Out? Don't tell me I took my pants off for nothing!

Tao of Stieb said...

The Rock Out will be up in an hour or so. Keep your pants down.

Stedron said...

Darren - You saying that would be a lot less creepy if I couldn't see your face as your avatar.

Just sayin'.

khole said...

I don't understand why people are pushing to have Aaron Hill batting 3rd. An optimal lineup according to The Book has your best OBP/SLG guys batting 1st/2nd/4th with 3rd and 5th being of the second level of importance. I could see the argument for batting Lind 4th but keeping Aaron where he is makes sense.

Bruno Von Rottweiller said...

Stedron, leave my buddy ,Darren alone. It seems like your Little Willy was excited by his post more than anything!Darren is a cool guy with a cool name. Stedron, that name sounds like a serial killer's name!

Tao of Stieb said...

I dunno...I always thought that the book said "Your #3 hitter should be the best hitter on your team."

Not that we necessarily agree with the axiomatic knowledge contained in the Book, but it does seem like a guy with a good OBP and SLG who hits line drives and makes good consistent contact might be the man for that position in the batting order.

(Of course, the newer "Books" basically say that lineup construction doesn't matter all that much, and that you could pick names out of a hat and pretty much be in the same place after 162 games...)

Darren Priest said...

This isn't my face, Stedron, I am actually Gabriela Bundchen. I just found the picture of this hot guy on the web and thought I would be taken more seriously this way.

Nevertheless, my pants are still off.

Bruno Van Rottweiler said...

@ DP, you go boy, give 'em hell!

Stedron said...

I'm submerged in a tizzy of inexplicable emotions.

And for some reason my pants are now off as well. It just felt right.

Ian H. said...

For my fantasy team's sake, I hope that Ryan returns to the closer role sooner than later. But I think until Downs blows a couple of saves, Cito will be hard-pressed to replace him with Ryan.

In the meantime, we have a $10 million dollar middle relief guy.

Bruno Von Rottweiler said...

@ Stedron, it's your inner perv comi' out again. A Jays' loss does this to folks!

khole said...

Well, the Book says it can give you a couple of extra wins. It doesn't *really* matter, but hey, 1 or 2 more wins could've helped the Mets 2 years running.

This is a quote from talking about the Books' take on lineup optimization.

"You want to try to get your best five hitters (by wOBA or equivalent stat (e.g., not OPS) in the top five spots. Of those 5, generally, the best hitters will be in the #1, #2, and #4 spots. Ideally, of these three the hitter in the #1 spot will have the best OBP, the #4 hitter will have the most power, and the #2 hitter will be somewhere in between (relative to the #1 and #4 hitters). The best hitter will probably be in the #2 or #4 spot. The fourth and fifth best hitters will be in the #5 and #3 spots, respectively."

As far as Ryan goes, it's not just an issue of Downs blowing saves. It's also an issue of Ryan proving that he is a better choice to close than even a guy like Carlson IF Downs were to seriously falter. Even if Downs blows a couple of saves, we shouldn't be rushing to put a guy who hasn't been the same closer since TJ into the closer role. I would think it will take a serious fall off from Downs to get BJ back into the closing spot. Unless BJ is absolutely untouchable, which seems unlikely.

Sven the Swede said...

So, theoretical question: would you (you being Tao, Ack, Drunks, or random blog commentators, with or without pants) want to have Chris Michalak's life? Obviously we'd all rather be, say a half-cyborg pitching machine named Roy, but is being a AAAA lefty with a degree from Notre Dame something that you'd want to do?

And at 38, would you still hang around, pitching A Ball? AAA in Vegas is one thing, but in A ball?

Just something to mull over whilst rocking out to The Who.

I hope everyone saw the SI rankings today.

Off to Jasper to drink Pil.

Darren Priest said...

I like the way you think, Sven. These are the kinds of conversations (over drinks, of course) that make me happiest. Now, when I am having dinner with Gisele and Tom, we often talk about who has the best life...

OK, when I am licking the cheese off of a Wendy's wrapper after a day of teaching, I sometimes see a dog wandering around with his tongue hanging out. He looks so happy and carefree. I bet he doesn't remember having testicles. Sometimes, I wish I could be that dog. So do I wish I had been a stud pitcher in high school and college then a mediocre professional whose buddy from college will give him a cushy job at his tech firm just so I can be a ringer on his company softball team? I going to have to say yes, a thousand times, yes!

eyebleaf said...

Best. Comments. Ever.

Ian Gray said...

I think Michalak's actually coaching now-I read that they activated him when Las Vegas literally ran out of pitchers.

But yeah, I'd take his life. Good college degree.and the memories of a golden April of 2001 when only Pedro Martinez was better in the American League. Also, he has two weird distinctions: he's the only Blue Jays pitcher ever to hit a triple, which was hilarious to watch, and he is the last man ever to beat Roy Halladay out for a rotation spot. That, of course, was before Doc went down to Dunedin and completely reinvented himself...