Somewhere In New York, MSTI’s Head Has Exploded

So, I know what some of you are thinking. 
Miss_Cleo2.jpg
“Oh, MSTI, you have some ‘splaining to do!  Schmidt picked up another win.  HA!” 

But, see, guys, he doesn’t have to admit any wrongdoing.  In fact, I argue, we should be thanking the man.  Let’s go back through the history, this year: 

On May 13th, 2009, MSTI writes about James Loney’s inability to hit a HR

The next two games?  Two HR’s! 

On June 18th, 2009, MSTI then posts about Russell Martin’s issues and lack of power

Two days later, he hits his first HR. 

On July 20th, 2009, Jason Schmidt returns to the mound.  He has a horrific first inning.  During the first inning, MSTI says it’s all over for Schmidt

Three hours later?  His first win in two years.   

MSTI doesn’t post about Schmidt before his second start and he gets shelled against Florida. 

Right afterwards, MSTI again calls Schmidt done

His next start?  Somehow, Christopher Lloyd comes out of the woodwork, turns the clock back to 2006, and Schmidt turns in his best performance as a Dodger and picks up another win!  

I’m not sure what to call it, though.  See, I don’t want to call it: “The MSTI Curse” because the word “curse” seems to imply something bad and obviously these effects have been anything but bad, so I’ll leave it to you guys to find the name.  But either way, the effects have been quite nice and, by the way, do note the power that we here have at MSTI.  When MSTI also took off for the weekend last June, I took over, only for the Dodgers to win their no-hit game against the Angels.  He leaves again from mid-July through early August, and we get Manny

The point?  Don’t mess with us, my friends.  And, dammit, if you see this man, buy him a beer!  
Eat your heart out, Miss Cleo! 

But on to the game and I’ll be brief with it SchmidtOfTheDead2.jpg
because there’s not much to say and it’s past 7 A.M. and I’ve yet to sleep.  Anyways, Schmidt was pretty much unbelievable, today.  He wasn’t necessarily dominating, but he was better than I ever thought we’d see, going 6 innings of 1 hit, scoreless baseball.  The downside is he did walk 5 and struck out 3, but he seemed to have good control on his pitches, and his curveball was working.  Even the fastball seemed to have, for the most part, a touch more velocity, occasionally hitting 87 MPH and, in the final inning, touching 89 MPH, which shocked me. 

Now the big question: was it skill or more luck?  To be honest, it seemed to be a bit of both.  On one hand, Schmidt did look better than his previous starts, both in terms of stuff and velocity, but on the other hand, he also had the great fortunate of having a lot of the fly balls he gave up go to someone.  In other words, even if the Braves hit a ball hard, it was going right at someone so, in that sense, he lucked out.  Either way, it’s been a long road back, and while he can very likely implode from here on out, it was definitely impressive to see at least for one game and it was a game that was nice to win, after the mess in St. Louis.  Other notes from the game: props to your reigning NL Player Of The Week, Andre Ethier, for his performance, hitting the 3 run HR and then picking up a key RBI double late in the game and also big props to George Sherrill, making his debut in the 7th inning in a two on, 0 out jam.  Sherrill came on and proved why he’s death on lefties, striking out the side and allowing one walk.  He looked lethal and if he can keep it up, our bullpen will just continue to be sick. 

Overall, a nice win and, hey, whatdoyaknow, a two game winning streak.  After this past week, a two game winning streak seemed long way away.  Nonetheless, today’s game is at 1 P.M. on FOX and we see Lowe.  Let’s win this ya, alright? 

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg

And There’s Your Ace

kershawshutsoutcards.jpg(Update: Okay, I wrote this as the Dodgers were in the process of blowing two saves. They’re currently in the 12th inning, tied 2-2. Depending on how this ends, this post might look really out of place. But you know what? Clayton Kershaw RULES, and nothing that happens in this game is going to change that.)

You want an ace? You’ve had a problem with recent weak outings from the rotation? Or with the fact that they don’t work deep into games? Well, how’s 8 shutout innings against a team with the best hitter alive strike you? Not only that, but in a one-run game on the heels of the first three-game losing streak of the entire season? I wasn’t kidding when I said I wouldn’t trade Clayton Kershaw for Roy Halladay straight up, because even though I hate the word, Kershaw’s been absolutely nothing if not ace-like. Now, it’s true that Jonathan Broxton just blew it for Kershaw in the 9th (reason #10830371 why wins are a terrible pitching metric!!), but while that’s a worthwhile conversation, it’s also a separate one – it takes nothing away from how good Kershaw was in this game.

Look, what Kershaw is doing right now is simply unbelievable, as his 2.76 ERA is good for 11th in all of baseball. Forget his age for a moment, because the performances we’re seeing are outstanding no matter what year his was born. In the 9 starts since his 2.2 inning struggle on June 10, Kershaw’s pitched 56 2/3 innings… and given up all of five earned runs. That’s an ERA of 0.80, which would be awesome if it didn’t make the blood rush to my head hard enough to make me think I’m going to pass out. Really, you think there’s anyone in baseball that’s going to improve on that? There’s a pretty solid case to be made that Clayton Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball for the last two months, and that’s even with Mark Buehrle doing nothing but throwing perfect games lately (he gave up 8 ER in 3.1 IP four starts ago).

Oh, and he’s 21, and still improving. So there’s that. I don’t think this was ever really going to be an issue, so I can’t even get too mad about it, but how’s about we stop with the idea that it’d be fun to trade him, okay? Yes, I’m looking at you, Steve Phillips. Yes, it’s my own fault for ever listening to a word Steve Phillips says.

As for trades that were made today, let’s all take a moment to laugh at the Giants for trading top prospect Tim Alderson for second baseman Freddy Sanchez. Granted, second base is a huge black hole for San Francisco, and Sanchez is indeed an upgrade – except that he just missed the entire Giants/Pirates series with a bad knee. But at this cost? Well, it’s always fun to look around the internet and see Giant fans freaking out…

El Lefty Malo:

That’s the
report
. I’m not disappointed the Giants have traded Alderson, but for a guy
who won’t hit with any power? Why? Why why why why why? Was it not possible to
put Alderson and a couple other prospects together for someone who can hit
cleanup? If Sanchez hits .330 / .380 / .460 down the stretch and the
Giants score five runs a game, I’ll be happy in a general sense. But I still
won’t be happy about this trade. Even worse, I’ll have to read for the next two
months the national punditry revving their LOLSABEAN engines yet again.
Sigh.

McCovey Chronicles:

But this was an awful, stupid, and unbelievably short-sighted move. Bengie Molina
is on pace to become one
of the worst cleanup hitters in the last 50 years
. Think about how special
that is. A lot of people have stunk in the last half-century, but we’re watching
one of the greatest stinks in the history of stink. As such, a
productive-for-his-position second baseman and a productive-for-his-new-team
first baseman isn’t the boiling water to our contending-flavored ramen. The
Giants needed someone who would have pushed Molina out of the cleanup spot.

And, just for fun, FanGraphs:

One of the most enjoyable parts of writing for a site like Fangraphs is
“hearing” the banter between writers behind the scenes. After news broke of the
Pittsburgh-San Francisco deal that saw second baseman Freddy Sanchez head from the Pirates to the Giants, these
comments were made from some of Fangraphs’ finest:

“What the hell?”

“The best pitching prospect of the day doesn’t get traded for Cliff
Lee
, but for Freddy Sanchez. Awesome. Nice job, Cleveland.”

“My lord, Sabean, what are you doing?”

Just when you thought it was safe to love San Francisco prospects again,
general manager Brian Sabean tossed away the club’s second best pitching
prospect for an injury-prone, veteran second baseman in his free agent year
(although he has an $8 million option that is way too high). Oh, and the Giants
organization just gave away its third best pitching prospect (Scott Barnes) to the Indians for a league-average first
baseman. Madison Bumgarner is suddenly very, very lonely.

If you want to imagine what it’d be like if the Dodgers traded Kershaw, take that vitriol and multiply it by the intensity of forty billion suns. Not to be hyperbolic or anything, but I’m pretty sure that it would be the worst thing in the history of the human race. 

The other big winner to come out of the Sanchez trade? Old friend Delwyn Young!

What the deal does is give Delwyn
Young
a chance to get regular at-bats as the Pirates’ second baseman. The
27-year-old has definite offensive potential and has been waiting for a chance
to play every day, and it appears he might finally get his opportunity as the
team evaluates if he can be an option there in 2010. Young’s defense at second
base is still a work in progress, and is likely going to be a negative in terms
of holding on to a starting job. However, he could be a quietly effective
producer in deep mixed leagues, hitting for batting average with a little pop if
he gets regular at-bats down the stretch.

If you’ve followed this blog at all, you know we’ve been huge Delwyn supporters, so it’s great to see him finally get a chance.

But it can’t all be good news, can it? Of course not, because despite my best efforts, Jason Schmidt is getting another shot to start on Friday. The question I can’t seem to answer is, why? He’s proven completely that he’s cooked, and even Joe Torre admitted that Schmidt’s bullpen session was just “okay”. Why not bring back Eric Stults? He’s pitched exactly 6 innings in each of his last 4 AAA starts, giving up 2, 3, 2, and 2 earned runs. It’s not great, but you’re not looking for “great”. You’re looking for “5th starter acceptable,” and that’s exactly what Eric Stults is. Either way, it’s much better than “busted old man who ruins the bullpen,” i.e., “the Jason Schmidt special.”  

Anyone Still Think I Was Premature in Calling Schmidt’s Career DOA?

Last week, I waited less than an inning into Jason Schmidt’s big comeback before declaring it a failure, causing some to call me out for impatience when he somehow held on for a win after I’d said:

This isn’t rust. This is, I’m sorry to say, a man who has nothing left. Joe Torre already announced that Schmidt was going to get a second start, but I can’t see any way you can run him out again and ruin the bullpen even more (James McDonald is already warming up).

So what do you do with him? I don’t know. It almost seems pointless to send him back to the minors; perhaps you can stick him in the pen and see if the velocity comes back if he’s only asked to go 1-2 innings at time; but you can’t let him start any more.

martinpatsschmidt.jpgThat he was able to turn it around somewhat after the first inning last week got him a second start today, and what do we get? A 3+ inning debacle. That’s now 8 innings in which he’s allowed 10 hits, 8 runs (7 earned), walked 4, and struck out just 3. Small sample size be damned; it’s beyond clear that he just doesn’t have it anymore.

This isn’t an Andruw Jones situation, because I do recognize that Schmidt has worked his ass off for two solid years to recover, and I respect the hard work he’s put in when he could have just as easily taken the money to sit on the couch, so this is nothing personal. It’s just the cold, hard, truth. He’s cooked, and you absolutely cannot torture the bullpen by letting him go out for another short start. I originally thought maybe it’d be worth a shot to put him into the bullpen to see if shorter stints would help the velocity come back, but I don’t even think it’s worth the trouble any more. He shouldn’t be taking up a roster spot when more talented players like Scott Elbert are still in the minors.

Cut him. DL him. It doesn’t matter. Appreciate the effort Jason, but it’s time to hang ‘em up.

Somewhere In New York, MSTI’s Jaw Has Dropped

Tonight at 7:10 P.M., Jason Schmidt died again. 

87toppsjasonschmidt.jpgAfter the 1st inning, he, once again, rose from the dead: 

SchmidtOfTheDead2.jpgSchmidt2009.pngEver have one of those moments when you joke around with someone and then give this crazy hypothetical situation and laugh because you know it’d never come true? 

Tonight was something like that.  As Jason Schmidt was self destructing in the first inning, in order to humor ourselves through the pain, it was fun to joke with some friends at the possibility of him actually somehow 1. finishing the 1st inning and 2. going four more innings and win the game. 

Except, well… it actually happened. 

As you are aware, Jason Schmidt started off tonight’s game about as badly as you could have imagined.  He wasn’t fooling anyone and I honestly didn’t think he was going to get an out, much less make it out of the first.  It wasn’t pretty at all, but somehow Joe Torre stuck with him and it paid off.  The offense put on a nice display, but the story of tonight is Schmidt.  He went 5 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 3 BB, and 2 K’s and was far from what you’d call dominating, but managed to settle down significantly after the first and get out of some jams to pick up his win which, on a side note, somewhere Randy Wolf is cursing out the Dodgers offense screaming: “You help give Jason freaking Schmidt a win, but not me?!”  Nonetheless, the array of pitches for Schmidt went anywhere from a mid-80′s fastball to a curve ball in the high 60′s and Schmidt mixed up his pitches well enough to where, while he gave up quite a bit of fly balls, he only allowed one hit after the first inning. 

While he could end up easily imploding from here on out, tonight’s game was definitely a success and, sans the first inning, a nice return from Jason Schmidt.  It’s been an incredibly rough road and, sure, while he’s making a ton of money, I still can’t imagine it easy to go back on the mound knowing you are a shell of what you used to be, but Schmidt has tried to make the adjustments and all of the hard work over the past two years finally came together and proved successful… at least for tonight.  Again, if tonight is his best, then it’s not something that you’re going to find to be particularly reliable over the long haul, but what he did tonight at least warrants some props.  It’s definitely one more win than I thought we’d ever get out of him, and, for that matter, one more start than I thought we’d ever get out of him, but overall, a nice game that could have ended far differently after that first inning. 

Well done, tonight, Schmidt. 

- Vin vinscully-face.jpg