Thursday, June 22, 2006

Not Just Sitting Back...

Yeah, I know the Weblog has been quiet the last few days. It's not for lack of effort.

I've been writing a bit over at Baseball Prospectus, stuff that's cut down on my blogging time. Earlier in the week, the website carried my coverage of Bartolo Colon's return in Interleague action, Padres at Angels on Father's Day:

Colon takes the mound after roughly two months on the disabled list, and he both ended last season and started this season ineffective due to injury. In between, he threw 14 spectacular innings during the World Baseball Classic, the second-most innings thrown by any pitcher in the tourney. I don’t know that there’s any correlation, much less causation. Colon’s a big guy, with an interesting idea of what constitutes proper conditioning, so it’s not exactly shocking if he breaks down.

Meanwhile, Park is still pitching under a contract that will go down as one of the classic blunders of free agency, with lessons almost as clear as "never get involved in a land war in Asia," and "never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line": never think a free agent pitcher will pitch as well in your bandbox as he did in Dodger Stadium, and never pay a guy like he’s one of the best pitchers in baseball, just because he’s the best pitcher on the market that offseason. After the Texas Rangers very painfully learned those lessons, and after Park spent years being horribly ineffective, or injured, or both, he’s back to being a league-average innings guy with the Padres, which is probably about where he should be at this point in his career.

Getting to the game, Bartolo Colon’s first pitch is a fastball, taken for strike one. I’m no Will Carroll when it comes to pitching mechanics, but I see Colon’s delivery, and my right shoulder starts to ache in sympathy. It’s just a violent, maximum-effort delivery, which sometimes leaves Colon’s bulk corkscrewing around his stiff left landing leg.

The feed gives us the home team announcers, who make a game effort of minimizing Colon’s girth--a lot of "he’s looking thinner, isn’t he," and "if you see him in the weight room, you’d be surprised by how athletic and nimble he is" comments. Colon doesn’t look as huge as he did during the WBC, but he still doesn’t look like someone who’s going for the salad in the postgame buffet.

Later in the week, I had a Prospectus Notebook piece on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Another requisite taste:

  • The Southpaw Jinx: Most people know that the natural enemy of a Pirate is a Ninja, but this season, the Sinestro to Pittsburgh’s Green Latern has been lefthanded pitching. The explanation for this is somewhat mysterious, as the Pirates tend to hit lefthanders pretty well—as a team, they have a .778 OPS against lefties (7th in the league) but only .735 (13th) against righthanders. Nonetheless, the Pirates are 6-19 when a southpaw starts against them. It’s no coincidence that the Bucs’ recent 4-9 slide has featured losses to Jeff Francis, Mark Mulder, Francisco Liriano and Johan Santana.

  • Our Long National Nightmare Is Over: In the end, the Chris Duffy situation turned out not to be so much operation Shutdown as Operation Shuteye, with the alleged mutineer returning to the fold after a brief vacation, without much of anything by way of an explanation or apology to the public. Duffy goes to Extended Spring Training (which these days seems to extend all the way through to the Fall Instructional League) and from there back to Triple-A, and all is forgiven.

    Duffy might have ended his holdout in time to save his bobblehead day, but too late to remove a black mark on his career. Already, during Duffy’s absence, the centerfield play of converted thirdbaseman Jose Bautista has captured the affections of manager Jim Tracy, and Nathan McLouth has impressed with his attitude, if not with his bat. After time in Brandenton to get back up to speed, and time in Indianapolis to work on the skills that got him demoted in the first place, when is the soonest we’re likely to see Duffy in a Pirates’ uniform? Late July, at earliest; perhaps as late as when the rosters expand in September. Not only has Duffy lost playing time, but what kind of opportunities are going to be available for him in an organization so obsessed with “character” that they’re reportedly working on extending Sean Casey?

The funny thing is, in that first one, I missed a link where I talk about the Pirate's natural enemy being the Ninja. Here's the link: Go and enjoy.

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