Posts Tagged ‘MPH’

Holy Crap! Cincinnati Reds Sign Cuban Uberstar Aroldis Chapman

January 11th, 2010

The Cincinnati Reds will, on Monday, January 11, 2020, at high noon usher in a new era of Reds' baseball.  Seemingly out of nowhere, they won the Aroldis Chapman sweepstakes.

Chapman is set to earn about $5 million per annum over the next five years with a club option for a sixth.

Possibly a bit over the top, but Chapman has been hailed the best pitching prospect in the last 50 years. While that is doubtful, what's not to like about a 6'4" lefty who has been clocked consistently between 97-100 and as high as 102 mph?

The move is simply shocking for Reds' fans and, well, all of baseball.  To say General Manager, Walt Jocketty had been inactive during the off-season would be like saying a 104-year-old man is the best break dancer in the world.

Chapman will probably start the season in AA Carolina or possibly at AAA Louisville. 

Regardless, Major League Baseball has a brand new number one prospect.  Sorry Stephen Strasburg, but 100 mph hurling southpaws are a hotter commodity than their century dialing right-handed counterparts.

The move has all the markings of a "WIN NOW!" season expectation rather than yet another rebuilding year.

Take a listen to Houston Astros' General Manager Ed Wade's high praise of Chapman:

"The kid's got a great arm.  He's a physical specimen. He's left-handed. He throws hard. Obviously, anybody would be interested in an arm like this. He's got some great stuff. The early feedback from our guys, and everybody else, is he's a tremendous talent."

Let's see.  

Great arm? Check.

Physical specimen? Check.

Left-handed? Check. 

Throws hard? Check.

Great stuff? Check.

Tremendous talent? Check.

As a Reds' fan, right now it's a bit hard to type without shaking the Chapman cold chills. 

Small market teams just don't sign guys like this. Or at least the Reds don't sign guys like this. When the Reds spend money it's on over-the-hill third basemen or horrendous lead off hitters.

Chapman has said that his goal is to become the greatest baseball player ever. Or maybe it was just pitcher. Either way, Reds' fans not excited about this move are in a coma.

Not knowing anything about the kid—other than he was a phenom likely headed to one of the New York clubs or Boston—personally speaking, not much was known to me discounting rifle left arm that again seemed destined for a city with bright lights. 

How is his control? 

Can he hit the corners? 

Secondary pitches, what are they? 

How well does he change speeds? 

Does he need a best friend while in the States?

There are so many questions that should have been researched before this article was written. 

But when waking up and hearing the biggest news to come out of Reds' country since the Frank Robinson trade for Milt Pappas, it's just too bloody hard not to write on pure adrenaline.

Are churches open on Monday?

Aroldis Chapman has suddenly given me the desire to thank a higher power.



Arizona Fall League Quick Hit: Has Donald Veal Turned the Corner?

November 7th, 2009

Donald Veal, acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 Rule V draft, may finally be displaying the talent that many have believed he possessed. 

He has struggled since being promoted to Double-A in 2007 (with the Cubs) to the point that the Pirates tried him out of the bullpen last season (with awful results).

In the Arizona Fall League, he appears to have rediscovered himself:

3 Wins
16.2 Innings
0.54 ERA
0.74 WHIP
17 Strikeouts (9.44 K/9)
2 Walks (1.11 BB/9)
.259 BABIP

It is obviously an extremely small sample size, so I wouldn’t be hanging your hat on this as a reason to consider him a tremendous sleeper for 2010.  For a player who has been considered one of the Cubs' Top 10 prospects in the past, however, there is reason for optimism in the lefty.

Back in 2008, Baseball America had him as the team’s No. 2 prospect, saying:

“Hitters can’t square up the ball well against Veal because he has quality stuff and hides it with an unorthodox delivery. He has a 92-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95, and he likes to bust hitters inside with a four-seamer and then paint the outside corner with a two-seamer. His 74-79 mph curveball has tight rotation and is a strikeout pitch when it’s on. His changeup is a solid third pitch. He has long arms and operates with a big leg kick and a high three-quarters slot, and his pitches get on top of hitters before they’re ready.”

Of course, there were questions about his control, something he has never fully gotten on track with (career minor league BB/9 of 5.1).  Despite what he’s shown in the AFL, if he cannot avoid walking batters, he’s never going to be successful.

That’s really the bottom line with him, as there is no doubting his raw ability and his ability to get swings and misses (his career minor league K/9 is 9.2).

With the Pirates, he should get the opportunity to challenge for a rotation spot, at least one would think.  That makes him a pitcher that should be eyed by fantasy owners during Spring Training, though he really should only be considered by owners in the deepest of formats.

Considering his struggles with control in the past, it’s just as likely he finds himself in the minor leagues or in the bullpen, as it is he has turned the corner and will become a viable fantasy option.  It’s going to take time and results before we fully buy into him, but what his performance thus far has done is put him on the radar.

What are your thoughts on Veal?  Could he become a viable fantasy option in 2010?


Tim Lincecum Smokes Weed: Time to Cue the Outraged Media

November 6th, 2009

Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession last weekend in southern Washington State.

Washington State Patrol reported smelling marijuana when Lincecum initially rolled down the window, and upon inquiring about the smell Lincecum produced 3.3 grams and a pipe.

I just want to tell those members of the media who are about to explode: its OK.

Life will go on.

Look, the 25-year old Lincecum went to Liberty High School in Renton, WA just a few miles away from me and was also just a grade in front of me.

He remained in the Pacific Northwest when he went on to play college ball at the University of Washington, and throughout the years we played in many of the same leagues and played with many of the same people.

You may not be shocked to learn that this news comes as no surprise to some of us in the area.

But of course, the ensuing talk of the sports jabber heads around the country will be to chastise Lincecum for being irresponsible and lacking the characteristics of a proper role model.

The media will have a field day using whatever they think is the hip lingo to demonize Lincecum as some sort of menace to society, and somewhere amongst the masses of opinions you will surely hear the argument that “if he smokes weed, what else does he do?”

Nothing else.

I can assure you of that.

He didn't go all Andre Agassi on us and end up on some crystal meth, and Lincecum was not driving under the influence at the time. He was cited for going just 14 MPH over the posted 60 MPH speed limit.

The stretch of highway that he got pulled over in is a well-known spot for speed traps, because it is located just a few miles from the Oregon border where speed limit changes about every 20 yards.

Seriously, the speed limit is ridiculous.

It goes from 45 through Portland, then to 55, and back up to 60 before it hits a cool 70 a few more miles north.

Regardless of the speeding or weed involved, Lincecum has no prior history of indiscretions and no tarnish’s on his record up to this point, so can’t we just give him a break on this one?

I’m sure that Timmy will be the first to admit that this was an extremely poor decision and come on folks—he’s still a kid.

Knowing the kind of guy Tim has been over the years, I would be greatly surprised if he runs into anything remotely like this throughout the remainder of his career.

He’s a smart guy, and he happened to make a very public mistake.

But hear me out Tim, if you choose to smoke weed, and you happen to be a Cy Young award winner, it would probably be wise to drive as close to the speed limit as possible when transporting said weed.

A Game Six Classic In The Making

November 5th, 2009

Hollywood would be hard pressed to write a better script than the one we have today in real life.

The New York Yankees go after their 27th World Title in the spanking brand new $1.2 billion stadium replica of the House That Ruth Built. They will attempt this monumental feat on the back of 37-year old Andy Pettitte, who has won more postseason games than anyone else in the history of the sport.

He will face the legendary Pedro Martinez, undoubtedly the finest pitcher of his generation in the very twilight of his career. Most of us believed that Pedro’s remarkable career was over when he didn’t receive any offers coming out of spring training this year despite his fine showing in the World Baseball Classic.

I was besides myself for the Mets not to pick up Pedro as their pitching fell apart early enough in the season to perhaps make a difference in their miserable season. However, they, along with the rest of the league passed on Pedro until July, when the Phillies already sensing another appearance in the postseason took on Pedro and Cliff Lee.

We all know what has happened since.

Tonight’s matchup is classic because it’s not two guns firing 95 mph darts at the opposing batters, but two crafty older and experience pitchers who have learned to change their styles over the years to remain effective. Pettitte will still bore you inside until he either breaks your bat or breaks your fingers.

Martinez will throw his patented circle change at 76 MPH after putting one under your chin at 90 or 91 MPH.

Pettitte goes on a three days rest which has worked so far for C.C. Sabathia but not for A.J. Burnett. If Pettitte can’t get the job done tonight, the Yanks will turn to their ace C.C. Sabathia again on three days rest to complete the series victory for New York.

Game Seven, if there is to be one for the Phillies will see Cole Hamels try to make redemption to his teammates and the Philadelphia faithful for his offbeat comments after losing Game Three in Philadelphia and saying he wished the season already to be over.

Prediction: I still believe there will be a Game Seven; however, I don’t see the classic pitching matchup to take place. I believe both pitchers will be gone by the sixth inning and a good old fashioned slug fest to take place.

The winner of this game goes double digits as the Phillies take Game Six, 11-8.

MLB World Series Game Five Debate: A-Rod As Hero Vs. Lidge As Goat

November 3rd, 2009

A-Rod delivered the big blow last night—but was he more HERO or Lidge more GOAT?

Let's build the case for each...


A-Rod hammered a fastball to left that was just one mph and about three inches different than the pitch he'd just taken for strike one.

(Technically the pitch seemed to A-Rod about two to three mph different, given the three inches higher, but that's easy pickins for a decent three-spot hitter.)

As a professional hitter in the three-spot of the biggest payrolled lineup in baseball, that's not much to pony up in a bid to be a World Series HERO.


Let's see, Lidge threw the same pitch twice in a row to the three-spot hitter of the biggest pay-rolled line up in baseball...

...after failing to cover 3B on Johnny Damon's steal.


Not a tough call...

Lidge wears the Goatee for this one...through "shear" loss of control...of himself.

Yes, he hadn't pitched for a long time, so I'll grant him that. 

But to get caught grazing on the in-field grass after the throw buzzed over his head is a mental error.

(More accurately an emotional error.  I'm certain they've discussed this, who covers 3B, so mentally he knows it—but most likely the stampede of emotions pumping through Lidge's body got his goat.)

The even bigger offense was throwing the same pitch to A-Rod twice.

By far most well hit balls in baseball are hit when the current pitch occurs to the hitter very similar to the last pitch.

This is why guys throwing 100 can get hit and a Glavine can make the Hall-of-Fame with much less.

Many more home runs are the result of pitching mistakes than hitting excellence.

Anatomy of a Goat

Like last night, most Goatees are not shorn by the situations themselves, but by the loss of emotional control.

And lack of confidence.

Lack of trust. 

With Damon on 3B Lidge was too scared to throw the obvious pitch (slider) that would have stacked the odds in his favor (A-Rod might still have hit it, but then he would be the HERO for hitting a good pitch.)

Fascinating, isn't it? 

Someone with as much success as Lidge has had in his career still losses it.

But most players lose it.  Look at the chokes and goats throughout all sports history.

(I lose it myself sometimes.  It's easier to be a writer than a player...)

So the poor strategy of the pitch selection, precipitated by the lack of trust and flood of emotions, goated Lidge.

One antidote is to look inside Derek Jeter's mind ...

...another is to train yourself emotionally as effectively as you train yourself physically.

The Phillies have a mountain to climb to win this series, but I believe they have the goats to do it.

Dr. Tom Hanson offers more insight on the mental and emotional aspects of baseball -- including a free mental training program -- at .

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