Ryan Braun’s Kansas City Jam

mkc

A week ago, Baseball Prospectus’ daily podcast celebrated its 500th episode by holding a “baseball draft” in which a few writers drafted their favorite things about baseball. Grant Brisbee’s first-round draft pick was “the other Ryan Braun,” a focal point of his interest in baseball players with the same name as each other. As it turns out, just before that Ryan Braun synthetically rose to prominence, a young-ish reliever named Ryan Braun pitched for the Kansas City Royals for two seasons.

On Monday, I started a free trial of satellite radio. I’m still deciding if I’ll stick with it, partly because I tend to think the stations can be too narrow in scope, but for now I really am enjoying their bluegrass station and the fact that I can listen to the Detroit Tigers Radio Network game broadcasts outside of the conventional listening area. One of the first songs I heard was by someone named Lou Reid, and I heard it again last night. (So much for the liberating medium of satellite radio!) We’re big Lou Reed fans here, so the conceit of this post birthed itself pretty quickly. Today’s Jam is the only video version of that Lou Reid song I could find, and if you’re wondering about the audio quality, yes, this is an amateur taping of a CD release party, which was held in the parking lot of a North Carolina Wal-Mart.

If I can, I’ll just add a quick happy birthday note to ALDLAND. It’s been a fun three years. Thanks for stopping by.

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Flying Tigers: Detroit finds relief, but at what price?

Last night, the Tigers traded two of their top pitching prospects, Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson, to the Texas Rangers in exchange for reliever Joakim Soria. My immediate reaction was that Knebel and Thompson were a steep price to pay for Soria (or virtually any single relief pitcher), but two realities likely drove up the price: 1) in general, it’s a sellers’ market, because league-wide parity (some might say mediocrity) at this point in the season means there are more buyers than sellers as we approach the main trade deadline, and 2) everyone knows the Tigers need bullpen help and therefore have Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski a little bit over a barrel when it comes to negotiation leverage. However you weigh the trade pieces here, Detroit had to make a move like this if it wanted to contend this October, and the equities certainly are not as imbalanced as they were in some of the Tigers’ preseason moves.

Soria is a thirty-year-old relief pitcher who was born in Mexico and spent the first five years (2007-2011) of his career in Kansas City. After sitting out all of 2012 while undergoing Tommy John surgery, he joined on with the Texas Rangers in 2013. While a glance at his numbers suggests that he picked up in 2013 where he left off in 2011 (in a hitter-friendly park in Arlington), he has been absolutely excellent so far in 2014.

I’ve had my eye on Soria since he popped up in serious trade rumors in the past week or so, and I haven’t found much to dislike about him. Continue reading

Pine Tar: The Untold Story (via WSJ)

On Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, George Brett will hold a news conference to talk about the most famous moment in his Hall-of-Fame career: the Pine-Tar Game.

Yet absent from that news conference will be a 47-year-old New York cop named Merritt Riley, who feels personally responsible for the pine-tar debacle.

“I really believe the Pine-Tar Game would never have happened if I hadn’t done what I did,” said Riley.

Speaking publicly for the first time ever about his role in the Pine-Tar Game—which took place 30 years ago this month—Riley said, “I remember it happening like it was yesterday.” … Read More

(via WSJ)

Bay of Cigs: April in the D

As briefly mentioned at the end of the last post, ALDLAND will have a presence in Detroit this weekend, where the Tigers will host the Atlanta Braves for three games, beginning tonight.

After twenty games, the Tigers can’t seem to get themselves above .500, and the early ride has been bumpy.

Yesterday afternoon’s game was particularly rough. After allowing just one earned run, starter Justin Verlander left the game with a lead on the scoreboard and a sore throwing-hand thumb. Rookie reliever Bruce Rondon, making his first major-league appearance, promptly gave up that lead, and then the ball. Phil Coke entered and, through a series of walks of varying intentionalities, put Detroit behind. Darin Downs relieved Coke and immediately gave up a grand slam. The supposedly hard-hitting Tigers, who have a way of not scoring late, plated no runs from the fifth inning on through the tenth, when they lost.

As anyone reading Upton Abbey knows, the Braves are red-hot. The consensus best team in baseball, Atlanta is off to a 15-6 start, and they’re hitting home runs like crazy. I haven’t taken a close look at their runs/inning distribution, but it sure seems like they can hit for power both early and late.  Keep reading…

Upton Abbey: Episode 3 – Hosting Royalty

upton abbey bannerI attended my first Atlanta Braves game last night, with the then-AL-Central-leading Kansas City Royals in town for the first of two games in thirty-six hours.

Getting to Turner Field via public transportation is easy, particularly considering Atlanta’s bad reputation for transit. The park itself is nice and clean, with three escalators ferrying us to the top level, where we were sitting. Originally constructed as part of the 1996 Olympic complex (it cannot in any way be overstated how much Atlanta loves the ’96 Games), it does not show its age, even if the third escalator broke down while we were on it, bringing to mind Mitch Hedberg’s bit. But let’s not dwell on the notion of being too lazy to take the stairs on one’s way to sitting and watching three hours of baseball. Instead, let’s note that Turner Field has roving Chick-fil-A vendors and a nice view of the downtown skyline.turner field 4-16-13With a seating capacity of roughly 50,000, it actually is bigger than Comerica Park, but even sitting in the top section, I felt closer to the game than one might at some technically smaller parks, and there didn’t look to be a bad seat in the house.

It was good that we were closer to the game, too, because Continue reading

The DET Offensive: Everybody knows this is nowhere

It seems I spoke too soon. I didn’t say it explicitly, but I thought losing a Justin Verlander start to the Royals while treading water in second place in all the relevant standings in late August was pretty much rock bottom for a team with the preseason expectations and on-paper (both white and greenbacked) potential of the 2012 Detroit Tigers. No, I see now that getting swept by the Royals to end the month of August three games out of both the division lead and the second wild card spot is rock bottom. Although I’ve begun the process of emotionally untangling myself from this team, they aren’t dead in the water and their closing schedule allows them to control their own destiny. If that destiny is to include a playoff berth, though, they’re going to have to string together some winning streaks against critical opponents, something they largely have avoided this entire season. If there are to be no playoffs for this team, though, then I think we can all look back on the above-captured moment when Mike Moustakas grapple-tackled Prince Fielder as the Tigers’ point of know return.

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Previously
Now it’s just offensive – 8/29
Explode! – 7/23
Halfway at the Half-way – 7/9

Interleague
Play – 6/26
Call the Experts! 
 5/26
Recipe for a Slumpbuster
 – 5/2
Delmon Young Swings and Misses
 – 4/30
Brennan Boesch’s Birthday – 4/12
Tigers open 2012 season with Sawks sweep – 4/9

The DET Offensive: Now it’s just offensive

Last night’s Tiger loss on the road in Kansas City felt pretty crippling.

The Free Press story starts like this:

In a span of 11 batters over the first and second innings Tuesday night, the Royals got more hits off Justin Verlander than they’d ever gotten off him in a game.

In that same span, they scored seven runs — more than they’d ever gotten off Verlander in a game.

Detroit rallied, tying the game on a Jhonny Peralta home run in the eighth, but Phil Coke, who has been ineffective on the road, gave the lead right back in the bottom half of that inning. The game effectively ended in the ninth, when officials ruled that a Delmon Young drive to the right-field seats wasn’t a homer. It would’ve scored three for the visitors. (Watch the video here, second clip on the right.) That’s Young, pictured above, as he stood on first awaiting the review. He has a mustache now, which I did not know/remember until this morning.

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After the way last night’s game and the month of August has gone for them, there’s little more I can add about this team right now, except to present some numerological reality and then get out.     Keep reading…

The DET Offensive: Recipe for a Slumpbuster

When your baseball team is in a bad way like the Tigers have been, what can they do to get out of the collective slump? It’s a question as old as baseball, but if you’re playing in the AL Central anytime between the 1990s and the present day, the return path to winning ways runs through Kansas City. If you can get them to come over to your place, all the better. Mix in young Rick Porcello’s righting ship, add a pinch of Victor Martinez’s happy return to the clubhouse (if not the playing field), and extract Delmon Young’s unproductive toxicity. Score five runs in the first inning. Allow that to rise into a 9-0 lead. Let settle over the remaining five innings into a 9-3 victory.

Keep reading…