The day after the MLB All-Star game good thoughts permeate the atmosphere of the world of baseball. Here are some of those as well as a few other things on my ornery mind.
It’s official – Joe Mauer has the prettiest swing in the game. The balance, the fluid stroke that is exceedingly flat through the zone, and the precision of it – simply amazing. If you want your kid to learn how to hit, tape a bunch of Twins games and stick the tape in your VCR for your son to watch over and over again on Saturday morning (I may be dating myself with that reference, perhaps it would be better to TiVo a few of his games). You can sum up the greatness that is Mauer in that one at bat last night where he had an RBI double to the opposite field. He stayed back on the ball and seemed to keep the bat in the zone for an amazingly long period of time before shooting that liner to left. I touched on his statistical greatness in a piece earlier today that you can find a link to in my By The Numbers – Hitters piece.
How bad an outing was that for Tim Lincecum last night. Too bad he failed to come through under the bright lights of the nation’s eyes. Even so, he is still the single most exciting pitcher to watch in the game today. Hopefully he will be able to use this pressure packed scenario to his advantage later in the year when he will need to keep his composure to help lead the Giants to the playoffs. Yeah I said Giants and playoffs in the same sentence.
Speaking of the game, how great was it to see Carl Crawford get the MVP award for his defensive contributions? In today’s day and age of statistics and fantasy baseball that almost exclusively focus on a player’s ability to hit, it was nice to see that some deference is still being given to those men who flash the leather on defense. Speaking of the focus on defense, did any of you catch one of the latest pieces written by Alan Schwartz detailing a new computer invention that will help to give us a better understand of how to analyze defensive prowess? If you missed it, make sure to give Digital Eyes Will Chart Baseball’s Unseen Skills a read.
Speaking of Crawford, did you see that interview he had right after being presented the MVP Trophy by Bud Selig? Talk show host Chris Rose broke the cardinal rule of interviewers – he didn’t ask a question. Guys, when you are interviewing someone ASK THEM A QUESTION. Statements of fact like “that was a good game tonight” or “you really looked locked in while making that play” – those are not questions. Just makes me wonder how those guys got to where they are. We “fantasy guys” are often snickered at and looked down upon as not being real journalists, but I can tell you this – on my podcast show ever morning at 8-9 AM PST with Kyle Elfrink, you will never, and I mean never, catch me asking a guest a non-question during an interview. I just don’t get that (you can access the show each morning on the Fanball Homepage.
In other baseball news — first overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg hasn’t signed with the Nationals yet, hardly a surprise given the massive dollar figures that he is said to be seeking (a minimum of at least $15 million even though the record for guaranteed money given to a starting pitcher is, I believe, the $10.5 million given to Mark Prior when he came out of USC). I cannot see anyway that the Nats don’t eventually sign the phenom, but at the same time don’t expect it to happen until possibly the last day which is August 17th.
While the signing of Pedro Martinez is getting all the publicity, it appears another former All-Star is closing in on a return to the bigs, and that man is lefty Mark Mulder. According to a recent report by Jon Heyman of SI, Mulder is reportedly back to 95 percent with his injured shoulder. Don’t know if I buy that at all, and even if I do I’m certainly not at all excited given that he has tossed just 12.2 innings since the start of 2007. Still, I do hope that Mulder can make it back to the field, he is just 31 years old, and from 2001-05 he averaged 17.6 victories a season. If he is at 95 percent, does that mean does that mean he can post 16.7 victories a year at this stage of his career? Honestly, I might settle for 16.7 innings in the bigs the rest of 2009.
* Photo courtesy of Ryan Houston
By Ray Flowers