Reveille 9/30/13

by Jason Epstein

Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Game-163 Monday a bit more bearable:

  • Game 163, which will decide whether the Rays or Rangers earn the second American League wild-card berth and face the Indians on Wednesday, gets underway this evening in Arlington at 7:07 p.m. CDT. Bill Baer of NBC Sports Hardball Talk has additional details.
  • Considering how the AL wild-card race turned out, ESPN SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield contends that fans of the Rangers and Rays will not soon forget what happened in the ninth inning of this A’s–Indians game at Progressive Field way back in May.
  • Schoenfield also offers up a list of his list of the “10 worst decision of 2013.” Among his choices:

8. Yankees have no backup plan for Derek Jeter. Knowing Jeter’s return from last October’s broken ankle didn’t have an exact timetable, and knowing his defense was an issue even when he was healthy, the Yankees needed an alternative plan — and, no, Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez weren’t good ideas. I advocated early in the season that the Yankees go after defensive whiz Brendan Ryan, a move the team finally made in September. Nix, a .214 career hitter entering the season, didn’t hit much and Nunez, a terrible fielder, rated at minus-28 Defensive Runs Saved, the worst total of any player in the majors.

7. Brewers pretend Yuniesky Betancourt is still a major league player. Giving Betancourt 396 plate appearances is kind of like giving up. Betancourt hit .280 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in April. Fake! He was still Yuniesky Betancourt and has hit .189/.215/.287 from May 8 on — that’s 284 PAs. Once it became obvious that April was a fluke, why keep him around all season?

4. Mariners think it’s a good idea to play Michael Morse and Raul Ibanez in the outfield. Together. OK, we’ll be a little fair to GM Jack Zduriencik, who did reportedly acquire Justin Upton, only to see Upton veto the trade. He also pursued Hamilton. So Morse was kind of a Plan C or Plan D, the hope being his bat would make up for his lousy defense. Nope. Morse’s defense was predictably awful, plus he didn’t hit. When Franklin Gutierrez spent the year raising sheep in Australia instead of playing center field, that forced the Mariners to use Ibanez regularly in left field, giving them two of the worst (the worst?) corner defenders in the majors.

  • MLB will have a new commissioner come the 2015 season, as Bud Selig, 79, is calling it quits. When Selig steps down on January 24, 2015, he will have served more than 22 years as the game’s top official. Jay Jaffe of Sports Illustrated presents a balanced look at how the game has changed since Selig took the reins from Fay Vincent in 1992.
  • Larry Beinfest’s 13-year tenure with Jeffrey Loria has come to an end. The Marlins’ owner relieved his president of baseball operations, and Dan Jennings, the vice president of baseball operations, is likely to replace him. Scott Miller of CBS Sports’ Eye on Baseball takes Loria to task for allowing a reported longtime feud between Beinfest and Jennings to fester for way too long.
  • Eric Wedge turned down a one-year extension; therefore, he will not manage the Mariners in 2014. Wedge subsequently told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times of his disgust with the front office and that he wouldn’t have stayed even if offered another five years.
  • Via Big League Stew’s Mark Townsend: “Stretch!
  • Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus shows how Billy Hamilton finally got nabbed in an attempted steal.
  • Miller’s colleague, Mike Axisa, reviews a series of Baseball Prospectus baserunning statistics and focuses on one measuring how much players helped their teams on the bases without stealing bases – what he calls “non-stolen-base base-running runs.” The MLB leader in the category is Matt Carpenter.
  • Meanwhile, Joe Posnanski makes the (what I consider absurd) claim that the game’s slowest runner is not named “Molina.” Instead, Poz bestows the dubious honor on Billy Butler:

But more than the statistics, there is the extraordinary joy of watching Billy Butler play baseball. His running is only part of it. Butler is listed at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds and it’s possible that both numbers are exaggerated to the good (more on this in a minute). His uniform pant legs seem about four sizes too big, so that the bottoms bunch up around his shoes and it looks like he is wearing a hand me down from a much older brother. I remember when Billy came up to the big leagues, the other guys on the team gave him a pretty hard time because of his size and age and body type and speed and because Billy is just a good-hearted lug who commands that sort of ribbing. . . .

The Yankee Stadium send-off of Mariano Rivera was an emotional one. In contrast to Mo’s farewell tour, Bruce Markusen of the Hardball Times recalls Mickey Mantle’s final season, which lacked pomp and circumstance.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.