East Notes: Henry, Pineda, Phils, Simmons, Harang

In an outstanding profile of Red Sox principal owner John Henry, Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek writes that Henry “captures baseball’s current era” with his financial savvy and mathematical orientation. The full piece comes highly recommended, but a few particularly salient points are worth mention here. According to Henry, Boston’s disastrous 2012 season taught the organization “a lesson in ever-growing, long-term contracts with free agents.” An important element of the team’s turnaround, says Green, was Henry’s “ability to ignore sentiment” in making personnel decisions. Though Henry says “it’s gotten harder to spend money intelligently,” Green paints a picture of a man determined to do just that, precisely because of the challenge. In the immediate term, of course, the question is at what price the Sox deem staff ace Jon Lester a worthwhile investment. (The team has reportedly offered four years and $70MM.)

  • Of course, the major topic of conversation last night (and this morning) was the ejection of Yankees starter Michael Pineda for taking the hill with a generous application of pine tar on his neck. Pineda will almost certainly earn a suspension and miss at least one start; last year, Rays reliever Joel Peralta lost 8 games after he was caught with the substance. Of course, virtually every player, manager, front office official, and journalist to have commented on the incident has noted that it is widely accepted that pitchers utilize various kinds of grip-enhancing agents. As ESPN.com’s Buster Olney writes (Insider link), it is increasingly ridiculous to maintain a rule that is so rarely enforced and widely disregarded. His recommendation of a pre-approved substance (or, presumably, substances) that pitchers can utilize seems like a good starting point for considering a rule change; it makes little sense, in my view, to implicitly permit “cheating” so long as the pitcher is not “too obvious.”
  • The Phillies bullpen — particularly,  its grouping of right-handed set-up men — have been an unmitigated disaster thus far. Indeed, Philadelphia relievers currently sport a league-worst 5.64 ERA. As Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes, the club has already demoted three of its righties — B.J. Rosenberg, Brad Lincoln, and Justin De Fratus — and will now rely on a series of questionable arms (for different reasons) in Mike Adams, Jeff Manship, and Shawn Camp. Last August, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the pen would be an area of focus in the coming offseason, but the team did not spend there in free agency.
  • Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons has already established himself as a nearly incomparable defensive shortstop, writes Howard Megdal of Sports On Earth. Club manager Fredi Gonzalez said that it was premature to put his young, newly-extended whiz alongside The Wizard: the legendary Ozzie Smith maintained his defensive prowess for 19 seasons. But, as Megdal explains, Simmons’ early success puts him on that kind of trajectory, and better. With a seemingly greater offensive (and, possibly, defensive) ceiling than the Hall-of-Famer Smith, Simmons has both legitimate upside and a high floor.
  • While Atlanta obviously did well to identify starter Aaron Harang, who is off to an incredible start to the season for the Braves after being squeezed out of the Indians’ rotation mix, Ben Lindbergh of Baseball Prospectus explains that there are no analytical or scouting reasons to believe that Harang has re-invented himself at this late stage of his career. Ultimately, Harang has benefited from a low BABIP, high strand rate, and unsustainable level of success with runners in scoring position. Though his contributions to date should not be underestimated, says Lindbergh, there remains a good chance that the Braves will end up replacing Harang in the rotation before the season is out.


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51 Comments on "East Notes: Henry, Pineda, Phils, Simmons, Harang"


Eric Mack
1 year 4 months ago

I love, just LOVE how when someone is doing good the critics come out and automatically say it’s not something they can sustain and that they’ll be benched by the end of the year.

Ben_Cherington
1 year 4 months ago

Do you honestly believe he can sustain this?

Eric Mack
1 year 4 months ago

Over the course of a full season? Maybe, maybe not. But I just don’t fall under the negativity side of things. Everyone wants to be the one to say “I told you so” first – so they write these things for whatever reason(s).

Enjoy it while it lasts. I’m sure he won’t finish w/ an ERA under 1, but I don’t think he’ll be removed from the rotation either. Hale, he’s out as soon as Minor is back. He shouldn’t be in the rotation anyways, IMO.

Like saying Trout can’t sustain what he’s done, but, he has. It’s possible. Sure, when Trout is 35 he might not be a 10.0 WAR player, but he’ll still be better than his comparable peers (age wise).

1 year 4 months ago

If he goes back to typical Harang standards, he stands a good shot at being removed from the rotation.

Harang isn’t Mike Trout. He’s a pitcher who used to be hyped by the media who fizzled out. He’s a nice start, but people are writing about how it’s unsustainable because that’s what is.

BraveCrowe
1 year 4 months ago

I would love to imagine a situation in which he pitches well enough to be in the rotation for the whole season. But we are talking about a guy, if I am not mistaken, pitched for three teams last year and was released from all three. Also was cut from a team in spring training and was shelled in spring training. I dont think these people are being “negative” or trying to be the first to say something, I honestly feel like they are just being realist on the matter.

Tesseract
1 year 4 months ago

Said by a Braves fan!…. good job

Karkat
1 year 4 months ago

Not everyone who tries to analyze baseball and make predictions does it for the “I told you so.” Some of us just enjoy performing and discussing analyses, you know, for good ol’ fun?

Hal Haney
1 year 4 months ago

Maholm got off to this kind of start last year. Not quite that low an ERA, but he was very effective over the first six weeks. I’m hoping for the best with Harang, but of course I have my doubts. What he’s already given us is worth the price of his contract. Where would we be without his performance?

Tesseract
1 year 4 months ago

Trout is different because he was a rookie a couple years ago. Sure he came up hot, but he’s been hot ever since. He was a top prospect before that and there was no reason to believe he could not succeed at the big league level. In fact, this was expected

Eric Mack
1 year 4 months ago

It’s also like Harper. Everyone wants him to be the greatest. He had a good first season, but since then, he has been average. But he’s just GOING to break out this season, he’s going to win MVP, etc.

He’s shown mediocre at best. Let’s let him prove himself before crowning him the 2014-2018 MVP’s.

Tesseract
1 year 4 months ago

did you read the part where he has benefited from an unsustainable level of success with runners in scoring position? If a fringy guy is good for a while and did not improve his fastball velocity, movement or command, or added an extra pitch, etc. There is no reason to believe he will stay good for long

JAke
1 year 4 months ago

Harang is going nowhere!

Karkat
1 year 4 months ago

I kind of hope the Pineda things leads to some kind of reform. When literally everyone, including both Red Sox and Yankees personnel, echo the sentiment that the problem was just Pineda being “too obvious” that really shows there’s a problem. It was awkward for everyone last night when Farrell was basically forced to go say something because of Pineda’s completely obvious application to his neck. If everyone is okay with some pine tar in the glove, then there’s no reason it can’t be officially allowed.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

Has MLB ever looked into using the baseballs they use in Japan ?
It makes no sense to me , they use balls they have to “alter” by rubbing them
down with mud.

1 year 4 months ago

After the media frenzy last week, there’s no excuse for Pineda being so obvious. I’d slap a nice hefty suspension on him and Joe Girardi, for failing to deal with the manner after it was looked into by MLB.

MB923
1 year 4 months ago

Reports have said Giardi and the Yankees had talks with Pineda after the last time this incident occurred. You can’t suspend a manager for a violation that one of his players did. That’s ridiculous.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

I don’t necessarily agree that Giardi should be punished. However
being In charge he is responsible for his “employees” at the place of business. Apparently the first time they spoke to him they didn’t
get across the right message. That’s on them. I’m sure a second
call from Torre will get the correct message across to Cashman
and Giardi and to Pineda.

Scott Berlin
1 year 4 months ago

If you go into an establishment and had an altercation with an employee, are managers ever held accountable, or if employees aren’t following a rule or regulation? Sure you can direct a complaint toward a manager, but they are hardly ever disciplined for what an employee does unless it’s a department wide or company wide issue. Not if its coming from just an individual.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

it’s true . it all rolls downhill.

1 year 4 months ago

That’s my point. I also don’t really know how Torre’s phone call with Giriardi went, but this game was airing all across the country and the pine tar became more of a story than the game itself. If Girardi told Torre it wouldn’t happen again and it did, I’d have some choice words for him.

1 year 4 months ago

Clearly the talks didn’t get through to him. These are the only kinds of baseball stories ESPN cares about airing which reflects poorly on the sport. Managers should be held accountable for substances their players take the field with. If I were the ump, I would’ve booted Joe too.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

Cashman has said publicly the yankees take repsonsibility
for this. Whether or not they believe it is a different story.
I’m sure nothing will happend to Giardi, but he is in charge
and he doesn’t look good from this incident.

Karkat
1 year 4 months ago

If managers can get ejected for their pitchers beaning a guy, I feel like they could probably get suspended for something like this IF the thought was that the manager was complicit (which I don’t think anyone thinks Girardi was in this case; just saying in theory)

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

If you saw the look on Girardis face after talking to the ump,
I couldn’t tell if he was upset at Pineda, the umps or himself .
Hard to prove that Giaridi knew about it, which i’m sure he did.
Just hard to prove unless he admits it.

Hills of Glenallen
1 year 4 months ago

I have MLB.tv and watched the Pineda inning on both the Sox and Yankees networks. It was funny because the announcers for the Sox clearly saw it almost right away, the camera men focused on it, they talked about it, and when Farrell came out they were like okay “Here we go”.

And on the Yankees broadcast, they never once showed Pineda up close, and ever when they did, they didn’t mention the giant mark on the guy’s neck. And then thought that Farrell was coming out to argue about the Yankees shifting defense in the middle of an at-bat.

randomness lez
1 year 4 months ago

So……….a Yankee gets caught with a giant gob of pine tar on his neck and Buster Olney has a rule change to propose.
Some might call this a coincidence.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

worked for the patriots.

westcoastwhitesox
1 year 4 months ago

Sweat should also be legal as a foreign substance…every pitcher seems to wipe sweat off their brow then rub it on the ball.

Scott Berlin
1 year 4 months ago

Or in the case of Red Sox pitchers rub their hair.

Rally Weimaraner
1 year 4 months ago

Why couldn’t Pineda just use sunscreen like everyone else?

westcoastwhitesox
1 year 4 months ago

Pine Tar blocks more UV rays than sunscreen.

godewey
godewey
1 year 4 months ago

Is it realistic to believe that MLB will change the rule? How do they police that ?
Allow something on the mound with pine tar, then the pitcher bends down several
times during an at bat to get some. Alowing them to put some on their glove or arm.
How do they then know its pine tar and not something else.

Sal
1 year 4 months ago

You’ve used the word ‘moral’ more than once and for me that’s the furthest from the point. I don’t care about the morals, I care about the impact of the damned score. Pineda was getting rocked in the first, and he came out looking like a different pitcher in the second. It’s an impact on the game, not on my moral stance about anything. Buchholz did the same thing in Toronto; he’s no more or less immoral than Pineda but if it means that his ERA is lower as a result of using pine tar then it is an impact on the game that should be considered. It’s stats plain and simple. Stop trying to make me out to be the morality police because I’m far from that. And constantly citing the rest of the herd means that you are the victim of a herd mentality, as are most of the astute sports analysts who are weighing in on this via radio, blogs and comments sections of sites like this. That’s probably what bugs me the most, the herd mentality.