Thursday, April 24, 2008

Super Top Secret Exclusive Scouting Reports

I almost wasn't going to write anything tonight, but then I stumbled onto this hilarious piece by Jayson Stark in which he polls a combination of managers, execs, and scouts and asks them who the "scariest" hitter in the game today is. For starters, it's probably an article that didn't need to be written. Even if the interviewees actually had really poignant and insightful things to say about the subjects (they don't, but if), it still just comes down to the fact that Pujols/Guerrero/Ramirez are really good hitters.

But as bad as that concept is, its awfulness completely overshadowed by horrific execution. Check out these quotes Stark managed to pick up; I'm surprised I didn't need an Insider subscription to gain access to this incredibly valuable information.

Re: Pujols

"He's the total package," said the Mets' Willie Randolph. "He's capable of adjusting to any pitch and any pitcher. You come inside, he'll pull it. You pitch him away, he'll take you the other way."

Is... is that allowed? Are you allowed to pull inside pitches? And take outside pitches the other way? Does the commissioner's office know about this? No wonder he's so good- he's cheating!

Re: Guerrero

"Vlad's the answer," said one AL executive, "because there's no one else in that lineup I fear. Torii Hunter is a really good all-around player. But the difference between him and Vlad is, Vlad's a guy who makes you feel like you can't breathe the whole time he's at the plate."

The actual difference between the two of them is that one is a pretty good (if overhyped) hitter, while the other is fucking incredible and will probably merit HOF consideration one day.

"I'd go with Vlad because the plate isn't 17 inches wide with him," laughed a long-time advance scout. "It's more like 25 inches. He's an amazing guy. He's not a guy with a swing you'd put in an instructional video. But, somehow, he puts that bat on the ball no matter where the pitch is."

Man, if I want to become a better beer league softball player, I'm going to have to consider altering my approach at the plate to mimic what these guys are doing. (Larry B writes vigorously in marble notebook labeled "Stuff To Do" on front) Put... bat... on... ball.

Re: A-Rod

"He has the ability to change the game with one swing," said one manager who requested anonymity.

Unlike most players, who usually need between ten and fifteen swings to change a game.

"He's like Pujols," said a scout. "There's no way to pitch him."

Hilariously, that's not even the most useless quote Stark will credit to an anonymous scout before this column is over. Wait for it- it's a doozy.

Re: a package deal of Ramirez/Ortiz

Pitch to Manny or pitch to Big Papi? Or neither? Or both? That turned into the big debate within the debate.

The term "debate" being used loosely given the divisive quality of the analysis being given.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said he prefers not to mess with Ortiz. "He has a propensity for hitting in the clutch situations," Maddon said. "He just lives for the moment."

Ramirez, on the other hand, is miserable in the clutch and prefers to live for three weeks ago.

But Joe Torre picked Ramirez, even though the former Bronxian is now safe from both of them out in L.A. "He's always been one of the top five hitters in the game," Torre said of Manny. "But when gets in that 'determined' mode, he's really, really difficult to deal with."

So I guess if you're an opposing team, the key to getting through the Red Sox lineup is to try to make Ramirez hit in the moment and then force Ortiz into being determined. If you accidentally get those two backwards, the results will be disastrous.

And Toronto's John Gibbons sounded like a man who has decided you can't win either way. "The tough part of saying the guy you fear the most is Manny is, you've got Ortiz, too," Gibbons said. "When Ortiz is on, there's no point in pitching around him because then you have to face Manny."

Take notes, kids. If you want to be a big league manager one day, you have to be able to identify subtle nuances of lineup construction like Gibbons has here.

"What the hell," muttered one scout. "It's pick your poison."

Sounds like that scout has been out in the sun too long, or is maybe getting up there in years and has become disenchanted with the world around him. Anything else to offer? No? Just damned if you do, damned if you don't? Great. Be sure to forward that hot tip straight to your general manager's office the next time the Red Sox come to town. I'm sure there's something the team can do with it.

Re: Ichiro

"The guy that we probably end up walking the most is Ichiro because you can't set him up," said Boston's Terry Francona. "He has a way of dictating things, depending on how he feels. Left-handers don't bother him, either. And you can't double him up. Lots of ways to beat you."

Among the top two examples Francona can come up with to explain why Ichiro is good: his ability to hit into fielders' choices.

Re: Utley

"He hits for average, hits for power, has a great idea of the strike zone," said an NL manager who preferred not to be named.

The manager must've been afraid that if Utley found out who was saying this kind of stuff about him, he'd hit for even more average and power against the manager's team while developing an even greater idea of the strike zone.

Re: Chipper Jones

"Still the best pure hitter in the league, from both sides of the plate," said Washington's Manny Acta.

Wow, that's a little bold. But give Acta credit for not saying something like "He's really good. He'll get hits against you when your pitchers throw him the ball."

Re: Derrek Lee

"He can hit the ball out of the park," said one scout.

Remember when I said look for that fantastically useless quote from an anonymous scout?

Thanks Jayson. Don't sleep on Prince Fielder, though- there are so many ways he can beat you. And don't forget the fact that Hanley Ramirez does some great stuff when he's in the batter's box. Oh- and Miguel Cabrera really likes food.


pnoles said...

It's crap like this that makes Stark so frustrating. You can tell he's not stupid. He's no HatGuy or Jay. But then sometimes he does something like this and somehow deems it worthy of publishing.

Bengoodfella said...

I actually like Jayson Stark because he can write such a great article. Then, like pnoles said, there is this. I just assume he had a tough week and could not think of anything to write about this week, so he called 10 GM's and asked them a couple questions, quoted them and wrote an article.

The argument over whether to pitch to Big Papi or ManRam is stupid. Because you can't pitch to the entire Red Sox lineup without getting fucked up in some way. You are better off just not even trying to pitch when they are in Fenway Park and you got the diehards behind them. Haven't you seen the movie Fever Pitch? It don't matter who is up, Red Sox Nation causes every hitter to be dangerous. Go Sox!

I have no idea where that last paragraph came from...probably extreme dislike for the Red Sox.

Tonus said...

Well at least the article avoided so many of those silly baseball cliches such as "he hits the ball where it's pitched" and "he can change the game with one swing" and "when he has that determined look, he's dangerous."

Because that kind of crap sets baseball analysis back a few years each time it appears. Man, I'm glad Jayson didn't let us down this time!

CitizenX said...

I think the hitter that is the most consistent is Gary Sheffield. He is the most feared hitter not just because of his cocetration but becauase he makes everybody in the lineup better but they have a good lineup around him. Vlad is good but hes not consistent like Gary, and swings at too many bad pitches but Sheffield does not because of his consistency.

Actually, I'm pretty sure the only honest answer to this question is somebody like Jose Offerman, who might just snap and rush the mound with a club. If I were a pitcher, that would be way worse than the 1/10 chance that LARRY hits a fly ball off me that happens to land in some fat Georgian's cheese curly fries.