Monday, May 24, 2010


A couple things:

First is an excerpt from my latest "Suitcase Chronicles" entry, entitled "Now an Outsider:"

The game halts not for the retirement of greats, and definitely gives no pause to the passing of a minor league blip. Each generation it gobbles new bodies, this spinning black hole. My baseball life is mere debris, cast aside as waste, scattered in the same bin as a thousand others.

But I don't miss spinning within the black hole's grasp.

Read the rest here:

Next is an interview with David Laurila of Baseball Prospectus in his "Minor Issues" column, in which I talk about the language of baseball:

But aside from curse words, other words infiltrate as well. In fact, certain Spanish words become part of everyone's lingo, since Latinos are such a large part of the game. A change-up becomes a "cambio," a line drive a "linea," and a glove a "guante." And then, of course, their are the Spanish curse words, which everyone quickly mixes in--mierda, cono, get the point.

The rest:

And finally, a random article about genes and sports. It's a really long read from David Epstein in Sports Illustrated, but it was perhaps the best thing I read all week:

I'll write more soon!!

I might even write about baseball and Pearl Jam next. Not sure how those two topics will mix. Hmm...

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Pragmatic Posey Post (Hopefully)

I don't like evaluating my former teammates. Being friends, my evaluations are usually short of objective, and I feel they have enough people judging them. Is my short-sighted opinion really needed?

Today I'm going to make an exception. With all the hoopla surrounding Buster Posey, and after Brian Sabean's ridiculous comments, I thought I'd follow my last post with a couple of statements. So I'll try to brush away my knowledge of Posey as an affable, well-liked guy, and strictly look at his baseball skills.

Statement #1

Buster Posey can play in the big leagues--right now.

Now, before you go too crazy, read on.

Buster Posey should not be playing in the big leagues--at least not right now.

On the surface, they're two completely contradictory statements, but they're more compatible than they seem. Let's take a look at the first.

We all know Posey's bat is glowing like Frodo's Sting Sword down in Triple-A. But since numbers such as .346 BA and .549 slugging don't matter (according to Sabean), we have to throw those numbers out.

As I look at Posey's swing, I'm confident it will play in the big leagues. I don't think fans should expect Fresno-type of numbers there, as yes, the pitching is better in the big leagues and the two parks are DRAMATICALLY different. But you can expect a lot of doubles in the gaps and a more than respectable batting average from him during the first couple of years.

As for his defense, his blocking is fine and his arm is very good. The release is quick, the strength is there, and the accuracy is solid. (Hopefully he avoids the Saltalamacchia yips.) He will do fine in the running game.

His glove and the "ability to call the game" are the two traditional knocks on him. Having thrown to him, I can say that his hands are great. He's only been catching a couple of years, and so the experience with catching pitches with movement still needs to come, but the hands are there. They will continue to develop.

I thought he called the game adequately. He's a smart guy, and there is a solid thought process to his game-calling. Of course, this improves with experience as well. Just don't expect him to be Bengie Molina upon arrival.

So, all in all, I have no problem saying Posey can play in the big leagues right now. He may not be an All-Star catcher yet, but he could more than hold his own.

Now, statement #2.

Just because he could hold his own doesn't mean that he should be in the big leagues right now. The main reason is because he's not really needed. Molina is hitting .330. Whiteside is hitting .324 as a backup. Both are very, very good defensive catchers.

"So he could play first base," some people say.

I don't like this idea at all. The production out of Posey's bat won't be as impressive as a first baseman. It will play much, much, much better as a catcher.

His catching skills need to continue to develop. Yes, I thought his hands were wonderful and his game-calling was adequate, but I'm not Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain. Far from it. It's a lot easier to catch my crappy fastball than some of the best fastballs in the game.

Some might say there's no better learning experience than actually doing it. You might as well just throw him in the big leagues and let him catch those guys. But again, there's no need for catching right now. The pragmatic move is to allow his glove to continue to develop in Triple-A, where, believe it or not, he's still catching some pretty darn good pitchers.

So, yes, he can do it. But no, he shouldn't be doing it.

Hopefully that makes sense. Go ahead and scream at me if you'd like.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Triple-A and Sabean

I'm going to begin this by saying that I don't really know Brian Sabean very well. For this reason, I can't tell you whether or not he has an IQ above 75, or whether or not he has a thing for 80s rock and margaritas. I'd just be making that stuff up.

Sure I played in the minor leagues for 6 years in the Giants' organization, but I never had any contact with the general manager. Why would I? I was in the minor leagues. I was useless.

Well, apparently all of the pitchers in the minor leagues are useless, as Sabean recently commented that pitching in Triple A isn't very good, and neither is baseball in general in Triple A. He did this while answering questions about the performance of Buster Posey.

"Triple-A baseball isn't very good," Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News recently.

"I'm going to tell you that right now," he continued. "Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues."

Hmm. I guess Tim Lincecum was never in Triple-A. I guess if he was ever there, he must have been awful. He clearly didn't know how to pitch, because he wasn't in the big leagues.

And what about this Strasburg character that everybody keeps talking about? He obviously is no good. He's not in the big leagues, he must not be able to pitch.

If Sabean had said that Triple A pitching, as a whole, on average, is not as good as big league pitching, I would have no problem with that. That's why it's Triple-A baseball and not the big leagues. If he'd said that offensive numbers are inflated in the PCL since it is a hitter-friendly league--especially in the division that Fresno plays--I would have no problem with that. That's clearly true.

But instead Sabean decided to say that Triple-A baseball is just not good period, and especially the pitchers. He managed to not only belittle the performance of Posey, but to belittle the performance of all his minor league pitchers and catchers. He did this all in a couple of sentences. It's not easy to make that many people feel like crap in so short of a time span, but Sabean managed to do it. That takes real talent.

I sort of remember not long ago having a conversation with a couple of my buddies. Some of us had been in the big leagues; some of us hadn't (I clearly was in the ranks of those who hadn't). We were talking about the difference between Triple-A and the big leagues. It was the opinion of those who had played in the majors that the difference is magnified. Sure, there's a difference, but it's not a huge difference.

Here's the thing. If you're pitching in the big leagues, you're probably among the top 400 pitchers in the world. That's pretty frickin' good. If you're pitching in Triple-A, you're probably among the top 1000 pitchers in the world. There are probably some better guys in Japan, and maybe in Korea. A few more might exist in Cuba. And then there are almost all of the MLB pitchers above you.

I'd say being one of the top 1000 in the world is still pretty good. In fact, if you took any of those top 1000 and put them in the big leagues, they might even hold their own for awhile.

Sabean could've said a number of things in defending his decision to keep Buster Posey in the minor leagues. He could've said Posey needed more time to hone his glove work. He could've said that he was happy with how both of his big league catchers were playing, as both are hitting well. Both of these things would've been believable, and they would've been benign statements.

Instead he decided to trash every minor league player in the system. And I take exception to that. Many are friends and former teammates. Some are darn good pitchers. Some might have big league careers ahead of them.

With so much of the Giants' pitching staff being self-grown--Cain, Sanchez, Lincecum, Wilson, and Romo among them--you'd think Sabean would know that sometimes there's some pretty good pitching down there. But I guess not.

Again, I don't know the guy at all, so I can't vouch for his mental stability, and I can't tell you whether or not he has a proclivity for listening to Michael Buble. But I can tell you that this was not a smart statement.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Friday Quickie: Receta de Pollo

So I shared this on Twitter a few days ago, but I thought I'd share it again on here.

Some of my favorite moments from minor league baseball are the result of going over to one of my teammate's apartments after a day game and hanging out. Sometimes I'd hang out with my Dominican buddies. Often they'd cook for me. I hoped it would make me throw harder, as they said arroz con pollo was the key to velo. Obviously it never worked, and here I am today preparing for law school.

Anyways, here's an easy recipe for grilled chicken from Osiris Matos:

Easy Grilled Chicken the Dominican Way (Or Coño Chicken, as one of my teammates liked to call it):


Chicken Breasts
Red Wine Vinegar
Adobo Seasoning with Pepper

Place Chicken Breasts in any container known to contain things. Pour a thin layer of red wine vinegar on them (not too much). Sprinkle both sides with Adobo and Oregano (both usually used generously). Cover and marinate for a couple of hours. Grill and enjoy!

If you really want to feel like you're in Santo Domingo, try Matos' Platanos Fritos as well. They're as easy as catching a box turtle without a box.

If using green Platanos, just peel them while some oil is heating in a pan on medium-high heat. Cut the plantains in quarter inch slices. Place in oil. Fry on each side for 1.37 minutes (exactly). Remove from heat and use any blunt object to smash them (hopefully clean). Once flattened, place them back in the oil for another minute or two on each side, or until slightly golden brown. Remove and sprinkle with a little salt (or a lot if you feel like having a heart attack and don't like the actual taste of food).

I was told with yellow Platanos it's not necessary to use blunt objects, as they're soft enough you don't need to flatten them. They're also sweeter. I think smashing things is fun though. Very cathartic.

Anyways, wash it down with a little cocktail made with Brugal, and you'll be speaking Spanish in no time, even if your velocity doesn't improve.