Question came up earlier ... to what extent might a manager put a hitter into the lineup, or keep him out, based on a particular ump? TR asked that question of Matt, not me, but it's an interesting community issue, also.
Asterisk: as it pertains to Mike Zunino, the M's evidently give Zunino credit for +0.50 or even +1.00 in catcher ERA, and at that point his hitting malaise in the bottom half of the inning is engulfed by his contributions in the top half of the inning.
Asterisk two: as it pertains to hair-fine data that drive daily lineup cards ... this is a good way to find yourself leaving Joe Beimel in to face ARod because this year ARod has worse stats against LHP's and this year Teixeria is hitting .111 against left hand breaking balls. :- )
Asterisk three: when umps used to have far different strike zones, it's easy to imagine Earl Weaver putting a free swinger into the lineup because Ron Luciano had (or didn't have) a TINY zone.
But it's an awesome question ... are we getting that hair-fine, that the umps' strike zones factor in on the level of "Joe Shalbotnik can't call a curve ball correctly, and Dave Henderson is a dead red hitter, so let's put Hendu in?
Bill James just remarked on this subject:
I suspect you've already covered this, but what do you think explains the phenomenal improvement in pitchers' K/BB ratios over the past 15 years? This year pitchers are averaging 2.70 K's for every BB, whereas in 2000 the ratio was 1.72 K's for every BB. Looking over the data it's not just that K's have increased, but BB's have also declined sharply.
Asked by: jfadams
Calling the actual strike zone. Video technology revealed that actual strikes were not being called strikes. You call them strikes, everybody strikes out. But it's a step forward, because now we can fix the strike zone.
These days, every fan including Soccer Mom gets an instant transmission of every pitch. If the ump calls a ball on a pitch that did tick the corner of the rectangle, bang, the fans are angry with the ump. So the consistency of the strike zones are drastically increased. This would lead us to doubt that Ump X gives away more than (say) 2-3 inches at the top of the zone. This might or might not affect one pitch call on Zunino for the night. I doubt Zunino would factor that in much. Could be wrong.
But the more interesting idea here is that --- > umps used to force pitchers to throw the ball through "an area the size of a license plate," as Roger Clemens put it. My own observation is that this was true in the 1990's, that half the umps wanted the pitcher to throw the ball into the hitters' wheelhouses. One time the 1991-92 Randy Johnson threw a good game and the UMPIRE made a curious remark TO THE SPORTSWRITERS after the game: "Tonight, he just said 'here it is, hit it.' He was great." That was the attitude 15 years ago: a pitcher should be willing to challenge the hitter on the hitter's terms. Lou Piniella was also of that mentality. He'd put Bobby Ayala in to get rocked for a 7.00 ERA and say "You want to know why I like this guy. You can't drive him off the plate."
So, now, the pitchers have a fairer strike zone to work with, and the umps are taken out of the equation to a much greater degree. The only thing that could make Dr. D happier would be if the umps were taken further out of the equation, far enough to allow for automated strike zones. Then we fans could enjoy a well-thrown curve ball the way that NBA fans enjoy a well-stroked 3-point shot. With the swish of the net or the green lights approving a strike.
(1) Word is that the Seahawks are offering 4 x $21M or 5 x $21M but ... get this ... guaranteeing only $20M of it?!
(2) If I were Russell Wilson I'd be profoundly insulted by that also.
(2a) Is Russell Wilson not your guy? With all the work ethic, character, 21st-century style, etc? To at least the extent that you'd guarantee TWO seasons' salary?
(3) Perhaps this is a savvy maneuver on the Seahawks' part to offer the $40-50M guarantee the day before the deadline, as it were, and have Wilson sigh with relief.
My bar for NFL players' character isn't very high. And what a lot of people call "cheating," Dr. D sees more as gamesmanship. When MLB players steal signs, or throw a fastball while stepping in front of the rubber, or what have you, it is against the rules but not against the PLAYERS' code.
So I don't care much about Brady using bean bags in cold, wet New England weather. The other QB probably did it too.
That said, Brady has come off as creepy to me this winter, a liar and a cheat by any standards. And the NFL had some reason to drop the "invisible hammer," throwing Brady to the wolves. His general reputation has taken a huge hit from which it won't recover.
In that context, I'm all the happier to have Russell Wilson as my QB.
I'd probably take Mike Montgomery at this point before I'd take Roenis Elias. And 10-game winners making the minimum don't fall out of trees. Montgomery looks VERY promising.
The M's offensive surge has just about directly coincided, right? Even last night, there was a 96 MPH lefty in there against our LH lineup, spotted 3 runs into the bargain, and we still put up a tremendous struggle. Like we sez, the only problem with getting George Brett to be your hitting coach is that he's got bigger fish to fry. Thankfully, Edgar's ego isn't that way. And thankfully, we have got a top-5, top-10 offense since The Edgar joined us. Think that will continue over the next 3 years?
I dunno if Russell Wilson will eventually become the Edgar Martinez of Seahawk football, but I wouldn't rule it out.