Maybe if I write really fast people won't notice that this is how I spent my Saturday night.
- When I went through the PITCHfx data and saw that Luke French threw 63% strikes, I could hardly believe it, because I could've sworn he threw a lot more balls. Turns out maybe he should've, because the strikes he threw got pounded. Though I thought he was a lot better than his results the last time out, today he was awful - just awful - to the point that even the A's made him pay. Slider? Fine. Fastball? Kept missing. Change? Practically non-existant. How does a guy with French's fastball throw 37 pitches to righties and only five changeups?
A step back for a guy whose spot in next year's rotation is in no way guaranteed. While he's not a bad pitcher, I'd wager he doesn't have anyone's confidence right now, and that confidence won't come until he starts getting better results.
- Jason Vargas, meanwhile - welcome back. Vargas was good with Tacoma, came up, had his ups and downs, went back to Tacoma, was good, then came up again. Tonight he worked in relief of French and threw 2.1 perfect innings, flashing more of that changeup I love so much (five thrown, three swinging strikes). I think it's a product of having spent so much of my life surrounded by praise for Jamie Moyer and Trevor Hoffman, but the changeup is my favorite pitch, so I love having a guy like Vargas who can use it whenever he wants to great effect. French may very well wash out. Garrett Olson may never improve. Vargas, though, I think is good enough to pitch in the bigs for a pretty long time, even if he doesn't get any better.
Michael Wuertz's swinging strike rate among all relievers:
Seems like the could've used something like a ZiPS projection before trading him for pocket change. Wuertz has often been accused of falling in love with his slider, but considering his slider is literally the most unhittable slider in baseball, I think he can be forgiven, and if the A's handle this right, they'll be able to use him to trade for a lot more than they originally gave up.
- Of the two feel-good stories we've plugged in at DH, I never expected Mike Sweeney to be the one to catch fire down the stretch. His homer today was longer than any Jose Lopez has hit all season.
- I can't find an exact count, but on only something like 120 occasions has a player ever struck out five times in a game. BIll Hall just wants to be remembered.
- Since he got so close today and I don't think I'm going to be around tomorrow, let's get this out of the way - congratulations, Ichiro, on reaching 2000 career hits. 2000 career Major League hits, anyway. People will always bring up his Japanese stats and some will insist that their exclusion is insulting, but the Japanese (A) don't play in the Major Leagues, and (B) don't play at a Major League level, so for our purposes, those stats are meaningless. What does hit #2000 mean? Nothing, really, at least nothing more than hit #1999 or hit #2001, but America loves a big round number as much as it loves its big round people, and to get there in fewer than nine seasons is one of those things that I don't think we're going to appreciate in full until Ichiro's gone.
We all take Ichiro for granted. Every single one of us. Let his big day be the one day we try - just try - to understand how extraordinary he really is.
Miguel Batista : :: appendix : humans. He doesn't serve a critical purpose and all he ever does is make you hurt.