The Hanging Curve – Baseball Opinion Blog with MLB Analysis that won’t Bend or Break

Zito to Bullpen

This year’s Hanging Curve Noose Award is looking more and more like Barry Zito every day. Yeah, yeah, I can’t imagine Barry will stay in the pen for very long. San Fran’s rotation isn’t deep, although Sanchez has performed admirably as a #3 starter, compiling 36 strikeouts in 28 innings. Zito has to be headed back though.

My theory is that management wants to send a “message” to Zito. This is pretty stupid considering Zito’s general lack of passion for anything, coupled with the fact that he can at any point call on his uncle Patrick Duffy for a new career in show-biz. No way Giants leave $126 million out there as a long reliever regardless of how much of a hittable Jamie Moyer he is turning into.

Fearless prediction: Zito ends season with at least 2 victories.

Read the full article or just stare deeply into the eyes of the new Fox police-comedy-action-drama duo. “D to the Z” stars Patrick Duffy and Barry Zito as two Wisconsin Park Rangers faced with a terrible choice; to serve, or be served.

Whatever that means, you’ll be sure to get a face-full of B and Z as they punch, kick, bite and throw low 80’s fastballs at a heart-pounding pace that will keep you on the edge of your division!

D to the Z coming at you!!

Report: Clemens Accused of Injecting Something Else Entirely

Roger the 'Rocket'
Clemens making his “O” face.

Generally I wouldn’t write about topics along these lines, but this is just too hilarious (for viewers with moral fiber that should read: tragic) to not post. Please note that this closely beats out me reporting Matt Morris being demoted to AAA-Pack your shit and go. Plus, I’m sure Jason has enough pain already.

The NY Daily News reports shit that is just too hilarious not to cover.

“Roger Clemens carried on a decade-long affair with country star Mindy McCready, a romance that began when McCready was a 15-year-old aspiring singer performing in a karaoke bar and Clemens was a 28-year-old Red Sox ace and married father of two, several sources have told the Daily News.”

I wonder if she has a big pile of used condoms she kept for DNA testing. That’s pretty much the only way this whole thing could get any better. I guess Yahoo! trotting out this jock-itch attorney for his opinion on the matter is real classic. Guy looks like he sells “premium” life insurance out of his fake leather briefcase. You can almost smell him just by looking at the picture, and it’s not a pleasant odor.

Gardenhire Makes Good on Threats, Demotes Liriano to Company Slow-pitch Softball Team

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Well, not that far…yet.

Pioneer Press reports

“After three unsatisfying attempts to keep him in their rotation, the Twins sent the former rookie sensation to Class AAA Rochester on Friday, in hopes he returns a more polished pitcher.”

“Now he understands what it’s going to take for him to get back out on the mound and make it back to the major leagues,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Friday, shortly after informing the left-hander of the team’s decision. “. . . Now he understands he really has to go down there and work.”

Yeah he hasn’t looked good…or even average. The slider that used to be so nasty has no snap to it, and even if it does the batter doesn’t have to swing – since it’s a foot and a half outside.

No Santana to help him out has to hurt.

No Hunter either. Twinkies in the meantime are in a bit of trouble, the only positive of which is that the AL Central has been much weaker than expected so far.

Probably some pissed off fantasy owners out there. We all knew he was a risk, but this is insanity.

Update: Pretty sweet compilation article detailing Liriano’s pitching mechanics this year. It’s all worth reading but here’s the moneymaker shot (2007 on left, 2008 on right):

SOMEONE IS SHORT-ARMING IT!!!

RP Rotisserie

Trip and I were talking the other day about how ridiculous relief pitching has become. Since when was it not only socially acceptable, but common practice to have a pitcher(s) who can only pitch 1/27th of the game? At most? It’s cowardice.

Then, low and behold, the box score I was following spits out this gem of an inning:

A. Ramirez singled to left
K. Fukudome doubled to deep center, A. Ramirez to third
M. DeRosa singled to right center, A. Ramirez scored, K. Fukudome to third
R. Cedeno struck out swinging
D. Ward hit for H. Blanco
P. Feliciano relieved J. Smith
G. Soto hit for D. Ward
M. DeRosa to second on wild pitch
G. Soto intentionally walked
M. Murton hit for B. Howry
J. Sosa relieved P. Feliciano
M. Murton grounded into fielder’s choice, K. Fukudome out at home, M. DeRosa to third, G. Soto to second
R. Johnson grounded out to second

End result is Feliciano comes in to throw a wild pitch, and intentionally walk a batter, then he’s dumped for Sosa. And the Cubs play right back: they payed Ward something along the lines of $7,500 (his salary per diem) to stand in the on deck circle for a couple minutes.

Now, some of this I can tolerate. Take a Dámaso Marte. A manager might consider him a left-handed specialist because his career splits list a .193 BAA by lefties. However, righties have only hit .249, which is significantly higher, but it’s still good. The man can pitch to either side, he just happens to decimate lefties. Furthermore, these splits are for 184.2 IP for lefties and 232.2 IP against righties.

So, you have an inning with lefty-righty-lefty due up. Bring in your Marte, he’ll kill the lefties and probably get the right hander out too, but don’t use three pitchers like a goddamn coward. That’s how you get A.J. Burnett losing the game in the 14th inning.

Hanging Curves

  • Marte pitched two innings on Wednesday against the Cardinals, facing 4 righties, 1 lefty and 1 switch hitter. The lefty got a hit, but was caught stealing a play later.
  • Ironically, Sosa gets hung out to dry in the next frame of the game showed above. He ends up getting hammered while pitching the next inning, and being forced to pitch out of it to the tune of four earned runs.
  • Daryle Ward hasn’t made this much money by doing so little since he gave up competitive eating to play baseball.

Yanks Ban Clubhouse Junk Food, Security Must Use Force to Take Giambi’s Peeps

Yahoo always does such a great job of picking up mainstream baseball articles that really effect the game. They picked up a Los Angeles Times article:

“New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi has banned candy and ice cream in an effort to create a more healthy diet.

Furthermore, the Journal News of Westchester County reported that the Yankees asked opposing teams to remove the offending items from the visitors’ clubhouse before the team arrives.

In Tampa Bay, the candy was replaced with nuts, dried fruit and granola…”

Man the press are all over the Yanks this year. There’s Joba-gate, and A-Rod refusing to high-five teammates except when required by court order. Someone (THC) should mention how Kennedy happens to be 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA and WHIP that has a guy at least rounding second every inning. Hughes is 0-3/7.85/1.96. That’s pretty godawful.

You expect Giambi to just quit eating bag after bag of Moonpies to solve this problem?

Babe Ruth smoked, swilled beer, ate hot dogs and shit on the pitching mound!!!

Frank Thomas Rejoins A’s, Threatens to Eat John Gibbons Face

Big Hurt Frank Thomas has rejoined the A’s

Thomas Ready to Take On Gibbons
Thomas Intends To Hurt You All

This is a pretty predictable move. Thomas certainly fits into Beane’s scheme whereby no player should be allowed to play unless they resemble someone who cleans up the stadium for minimum wage after the game is finished. Interesting the trade happens between a pair of Moneyball players – Beane and Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi, formerly the Director of Player Personnel for Beane’s A’s.

Thomas was given 2 years and $18 million to play for Toronto and initial reports were that the Blue Jays bought out the last $8 million. A’s sign him for around $500k with bonus clauses.

I think Thomas has a pretty legitimate beef with Toronto. I mean, he’s slumping sure, but he lead or was near the lead of Toronto’s offense all of last year – playing 155 games and hitting 26 jacks with a .377 OBP. He also played in 155 games. There seems to be a lot of talk about Thomas and his lack of durability, but I’m not really sure where any of this is coming from. Thomas has missed the majority of only 3 seasons in his 19 years in the bigs. Granted those years are ’01, ’04 and ’05, but I don’t think many doubt that he still wants to play (for those too lazy to read the entire article, this was the reason Thomas left Toronto).

Besides, who on Toronto doesn’t want to club Gibbons to death? Excuse me, Mr. Thomas? Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly on line 2. They want to talk to you about Gibbons’ imminent death.

Hanging Curves-

  • I love Toronto players and how they rally all around Gibbons every time. “This is for the best,” “I think it’s in everyone’s best interest,” “It’s about improving the team.”
  • Replacement DH for Toronto? In the first game it’s Robinzon Diaz…that’s right RobinZon Diaz. The Z is for zero..as in zero major league at bats.

Bulls Mascot Brutally Attacks Oral Surgeon with Epic High-five

The Chicago Tribune reports the Chicago Bulls are dealing with a lawsuit regarding Benny the Bull giving an atomic U2-blasting high-five.

“Dr. Don Kalant Sr. alleged he was sitting near courtside on Feb. 12 when he raised his arm to get a high-five from Barry Anderson, who portrays the exuberant mascot in a bright red fuzzy costume.
But Kalant, an oral surgeon, may now wish he had settled for a fist-bump instead.
Instead of merely slapping Kalant’s palm, Anderson grabbed his arm as he fell forward, hyperextending Kalant’s arm and rupturing his biceps muscle, according to the lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.”

Man that’s nothing. A friend of mine got trichinosis from the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug mascot and all he got was a free hotdog (undercooked). He also claims John Travolta is a part of this global Banana Slug trichinosis conspiracy.

Waiting for your Estes to drop?

AAA PCL – Salt Lake Bees @ Portland Beavers April 21, 2008
PGE Park, Portland Oregon
Perfect baseball night…42 degrees outside with a near constant rain.  Game was delayed 20 minutes, which was fortunate because I was 15 minutes late.  Fortunately I still received an Earth week re-usable hemp tote carrying bag provided by Esurance.  The bags were given out to the first 1,000 fans attending the game, and since I was 15 minutes late there were probably only 850 or so remaining.  It was a close call.

Going along with the theme of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle was Portland verteran pitcher Shawn Estes and his left arm (which is now constructed with approximately 98% recyclable man-made materials).  Estes held the Bees in check until the 6th inning; utilizing a dazzling display of mid 80’s power and low 80’s off-speed.  In the 6th he faced six batters, retiring none.  He left with the score 6-2 Bees compliments of Bees SS Brandon Wood torching a ball over the tall wall in left field for a grand slam.

After watching the ball sail out of the stadium, Estes threw a pitch up and in to Dee Brown before beaning him in the midsection.  The home plate umpire decided Estes was clearly vengeful after giving up a grand slam, and chose to take out his frustration by beaning a .185 hitter with the bases empty and nobody out….with a change-up.  Hey ump, maybe it’s the only pitch he can locate?

As the ump points his finger at Estes to warn him and the Beavers bench, you can clearly hear Estes scream “FUCK YOU IT WAS A CHANGE UP!!!!  FUCK YOU….CHANGE UP!”  At this point I started feeling pretty bad for Estes – standing out there in the rain, coaches and players pretending to be concerned about his anger while they all secretly eye the bullpen to see if relief is stretched out yet.

But then I started thinking about Estes – about how his life isn’t so bad.  Over 18 years in professional baseball and even got to throw a baseball behind Roger Clemens in an attempt to bean him.  I’d give 20 years of my life for a chance at that.  The closest I ever got was throwing a baseball at Clemens’ wife as she was leaving a Tony Roma’s.  Come to think of it I’m not even sure that was his wife.

Rest of the game was pretty uneventful.  Bees tacked on a couple more late and Jody Gerut hit his first homer for the Beavers. Final score 9-4 Bees.

Hanging Curves –

  • Bradley Coon is a great name for a white player from Salt Lake. Probably a derivative from the ancient and storied Mormon family name “Coonhater” which had to be shortened when the LDS church recognized blacks as being “somewhat human” – a landmark religious reversal that was revealed to the prophet in 1994 while watching Wayne Brady on Whose Line Is It Anyway?
  • I counted the number of fans left as I left in the middle of the 9th inning at 10:20 p.m. local time (had to catch the light rail). 29 fans. I’ve seen bigger turnouts in the dentist office.
  • Good prop bet – Over/Under on how many times Beavers OF Chase Headley gets called “Hedey” by Mel Brooks fans in the crowd this year.

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Here is baseball at its finest.  The Hanging Curve is published by a “band of brothers” of the baseball world.  Contained within you will find wisdom of the diamond ranging from insightful to downright obscene.  Enjoy.