Tuesday, 3 June 2008

The Roundup

I'm only repeating it for the benefit of those of you who've been up in a cabin with no TV or radio for the past week: get out your air sickness bags because pancake-faced Joba Chamberlain makes his ML debut as a starter tonight in Yankee Stadium against the Jays and Doc Halladay. Even if he throws a no-hitter, he still won't be able to live up to all the hype.

The ESPN Supercomputer (batting 3 for 3 since I started checking it regularly), gives the Jays a 46% probability of victory. Doc's on the hill, Joba will likely be out after 5 innings max, and the Yanks have few arms at present to bridge the gap to Mariano Rivera, but that's the Yankee Stadium Effect for you.

The Yanks are coming home off a 3-4 roadtrip and their bullpen lost one in the later innings last night. I mention that because the key to tonight's game is getting to the Yanks bully as early as possible. With Joba to the rotation, the only effective reliever the Yankees have before Rivera is sophomore Edwar Ramirez, a 27-year-old righty strikeout artist. The relievers upon which they rely most heavily (Kyle Farnsworth, LaTroy Hawkins and Ross Ohlendorf) have all been train wrecks to varying degrees.

Frankly, I would not be bothered if the Jays went back to their Scott Kazmir playbook and left their bats on their shoulders early to let the young starter run out of gas. With a strict pitch count of 65-70, that shouldn't take too too long, though Chamberlain admittedly has much better command than Kaz.

Not to encroach on the eminent Jon Hale's territory, but this is what you can expect from Chamberlain in pretty graph form courtesy of Fast Balls:

Joba Chamberlain’s main pitch is a 95-100 mph fastball, delivered roughly from the 1 o’clock position. His fastball has a little bit of cutting action, moving away from a right-handed hitter more than a typical four-seam fastball, but I wouldn’t say he’s throwing a cutter, as such.

His second pitch is a slider with a lot of break, running 84-89 mph. Some of his sliders look almost like very hard curveballs. He throws the slider more to righties (39% of pitches) than to lefties (26%), but he definitely relies on it to both.

He'll also mix in the occasional, average curveball to lefties and will presumably look to rediscover his changeup if he's going to stick as a starter. The Jays as a team do not fare will against this sort of power pitcher (.242/.323./.346), though Overbay and Rios have had some success against Chamberlain in an extremely limited number of ABs.

And it doesn't really mean anything (unless you're offended by people who make crass remarks to attractive women), but minor controversy ensued a little over a month ago when Chamberlain apparently said something distasteful to ESPN Sportsbabe Erin Andrews after a quickee interview on the health of his father. The mic cut off before it could catch what he actually said, but the look of disgust on her face clearly tells the story.

How about the disgruntled Bill Hall as a trade target for the Jays? He could play CF for us now (as he did for the Brew Crew in '07), allowing Rios to go back to right and Wilkerson back to the dole queue. He's signed through 2010, so with V-Dub healthy he could play short for us in 2009 with J-Mac as his defensive caddy. The move would be a salary dump/expunging of a disgruntled staff member, so I can't imagine the asking price would be outrageous. And JP and Doug Melvin have had a fruitful trade relationship in the past. I'd have him somewhere near the top of B list candidates, probably behind Raul Ibanez. Thoughts?

With David Ortiz out for a month and possibly more, do the Bosox trade for a slugging LF and shift Manny to DH, denying us the joy of his crazy antics? They certainly have the pieces to make something happen, so it'll all come down to will and the severity of Papi's injury. They could just slot Coco Crisp back into CF and move Ellsbury to LF, but you never know.

I'm guessing that the vast majority of our readership plays fantasy baseball and gets a huge kick out of it. You'll be pleased to know that the Supreme Court has rejected MLB's bid to force fantasy baseball operators to pay a licensing fee to use baseball statistics. My poolies and I use Yahoo for baseball and hockey and have had nothing but satisfaction with its product and value for money. If he had to pay, say $50 in fees instead of the $15 you shell out for Stattracker so MLB could get its cut, I think maybe one or two of us might think twice about participating. Those cheapos could be easily replaced by new poolies, but still.

Stop raining on our good times, MLB. I'm hooked on your product, you've got me paying $45 for tickets, $10 for beers, and $50-100 on t-shirts and hats every year. Squeezing me for any more is just overkill.

Class dismissed.

-- Johnny Was

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