Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Buzz Around The Bullpen: The Indians Aren't the Only Ones Praying That LaPorta Will Be a Success?

Welcome back to another edition of the “Buzz Around the Bullpen”. This past week several bombshells were dropped on A-Rod and the Yankees’ clubhouse. Among them, the most publicized and outrageous was the allegation that A-Rod took performance enhancing drugs during high school. The evidence…his bench press increased significantly. While I’ve voiced my feelings for A-Rod before, I have to come to his defense on this one. With nothing more than some baseless circumstantial evidence, author Selena Roberts sent the national media into a frenzy with the new scoop on A-Rod and his supposed misdoings. Unfortunately, I believe this “new scoop” was rushed to the shelves in an attempt to capitalize on the “media money machine” that has become the A-Rod steroid scandal. Regardless of your feelings on A-Rod or your stance on whether this new information is in fact true; you have to ask yourself, did this author really intend to break the next big story, or was the author simply looking to “strike while the iron was hot”?

For now, lets talk about some hits and misses for this upcoming week.

Big Hits

Matt LaPorta (OF, CLE): After an injury last week to Tribe DH Travis Hafner, the Indians were forced into promoting stud prospect Matt LaPorta to the major leagues. While it is likely that LaPorta will be stuck in a platoon situation with David Dellucci for the time being, his ability to hit will eventually force manager Eric Wedge to give him everyday at-bats. As a result, you should move quickly on picking him up in your league. While he does have star potential, I’m not sure he can mimic Ryan Braun’s unreal numbers in 2007 after his early-season call-up. Depending on the number of at-bats he gets, 20+ HRs is not out of the question. In case you didn’t see, he got off to a good start last night when his first major league hit was a home run.

Kendry Morales (1B, LAA): There were definitely some questions coming into 2009 about filling the first base vacancy for the Angels. Critics questioned whether a guy with less than 400 major league at-bats could be the answer to fill a position that was previously held by one of the game’s most talented young hitters. For the time being, his performance has left those critics silent. Although he did struggle in the very early-going, he has rebounded over the past couple of weeks and raised his average to .279. He’s also showed some pop with 4 HRs, 16 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .535. Although he’ll never be Mark Teixeira, I think you can count on him for .275, 24 HRs and 90+ RBIs. Those are numbers that any fantasy owner would love to have on their squad.

Big Miss

Oliver Perez (SP, NYM): Unfortunately, Mets’ fans are finally getting a taste of what Pirates' fans had to endure for several years before Ollie’s departure. When he was still a member of the Buccos, I forbid myself from attending any game in which he pitched. It reminded me too much of the movie “Remember the Titans”. Just when you think everything was going great and there would be a positive ending, tragedy strikes.

I believe what makes Perez so frustrating to watch is that he has as much natural ability as anyone that pitches in the major leagues. He’s has a great arm, a great breaking ball and an ability to make any hitter look like they’ve never tried to hit before. The problem with Perez is that has lacks any sort of consistency.

If you watch a game that Perez pitches, keep tabs on how many different deliveries he uses. Also, watch to see if he establishes any sort of rhythm in his delivery or in his pre-pitch and post-pitch routine. While this all may seem somewhat elementary and unnecessary at the major league level, watch any great pitcher today. The only thing that changes pitch to pitch is their grip on the baseball and occasionally their arm-angle. A pitcher’s ability to duplicate and repeat their delivery is what breeds consistent pitching performances. Furthermore, if a pitcher repeats the same delivery, when they do make a bad pitch, they can recognize the mechanical flaw and make an adjustment. Ollie lacks any sort of a consistent delivery so when he struggles out of the strike zone, he has no idea what adjustment needs to be made.

From a fantasy standpoint, Perez’s demotion to the bullpen makes him much less attractive. If Perez can find his way back into the rotation he does have the ability to give you quality starts with an opportunity for great strikeout numbers. However, he also has the ability to walk six and give up a ton of runs. Personally, I’d shy away from Perez and go with a less sexy, more consistent option. From the looks of it, the Mets are thinking the same thing with their promotion of reliever Ken Takahashi to their starting rotation. Mets fans…did you ever think Ken Takahashi would be in your starting rotation this year?

As with any SportsJudge articles, please feel free to post any questions or comments. Until next time, keep your ears open for the Buzz Around the Bullpen.

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Mike Colligan said...

Couldn't agree more about Selena Roberts. I have zero respect for the lady and often question her motivations as well. The background info on her is a story in itself.

Short version is she left the NY Times and went to SI when Rick Reilly left. She was chasing the smoke around Arod and dug up new sources with more information. She planned to write her book and cash in, but then realized the NY Times were beginning to put together the same pieces, so she released the story before the Times had a chance to. Supposedly she has more information on drug use in her book and I can only hope she handles it a little better than she did with this.

What's sad is Arod would never pursue a defamation suit either. You can tell he just wants all of this to be over.

Let's also not forget she was the reporter who completely botched the Duke case without credible evidence: http://www.timeswatch.org/articles/2007/20070326114135.aspx

Whether the info on Arod is or isn't true doesn't bother me, but irresponsible reporting with unnamed sources does. Unfortunately, I think it will only get worse in the future as the internet becomes more prevalent and traditional reporting standards go out the window. I hope I'm wrong.

Brian Doyle said...

Similarly (to Roberts), I would like to break the news that A-Rod occasionally eats a blue snow cone between innings. I know because sometimes his lips are blue and because Doug Mientkiewicz says it isn't true.

Lenny Dykstra Rocks said...

A-Rod Loves Lamp