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Gettin' Ziggy With It (vol. 11)

Well, since there's no A's game tonight, I'll go ahead and post this in the early evening. We played at 10:30 AM this morning, so it's been a relaxing afternoon.

This week has been pretty uneventful baseball-wise, as weather is wreaking havoc on our schedule (just as it is all over pro baseball). We played the first game of our series in Springfield last week, winning 4-3. Then the last 3 games of the series (which were scheduled to be played over 2 days) were rained/snowed out. So we drove to Little Rock, AR, where we’ve split the first two games of the series (losing 9-3 Sunday and winning 15-1 today). We’re supposed to play tomorrow night in Little Rock, but thunderstorms are forecasted for the area, so cross your fingers on our behalf...we need to get this game in! After tomorrow’s game, we’ll board the charter bus and head back to Midland for a 4-game homestand.

The road trip wasn’t a total washout, though, as I was able to see my wife and spend some time with family and friends in Springfield and Little Rock. Springfield is my hometown, and my sister lives just outside of Little Rock. Traveling so much during the season, I don’t get to see them often, and I enjoyed the time I got with them.

I have yet to pitch on the road trip thus far, so my statistics are the same as they were last week...

Rockhounds record: 6-2
My updated season stat line: 1-0, 3.86 ERA, 2.1 IP, 2 H, 2 K, 0 BB

Q & A:

*As a pitcher it has to be tough when the UMP has a small strike zone. Mentally, the pitcher feels like he is throwing in the strike zone but not getting the call from the UMP. How does a pitcher "regroup" when this happens? -- Yas822

My biggest key with an umpire is he has to be consistent. I can handle a small strike zone as long as it stays the same the entire game. To succeed as a control pitcher, you have to know as soon as the catcher catches the ball if it’s a strike or not, even before the umpire makes a call. If you are always having to wait for his call to know, that’s when it’s the most frustrating (unless he calls everything a strike, of course).

*Is it frustrating for some players in the minor league system who might feel like a more highly rated prospect gets several opportunities to succeed at the major league level whereas a guy who might not be as high on the "prospect" rankings is putting up the numbers in the minors, but still doesn't seem to get that chance. I mean, if you're a high draft pick or one of the organization's favorites you get every chance to succeed, but if you aren't in that position does it get tremendously frustrating? -- Blez

The bottom line, in all circumstances, is that baseball is a business. The organization makes investments, and they want the bigger investments to pay dividends. And the big league team wants to win.

If you make an investment, you’d want it to pay off, too. In the grand scheme of things, a $1000 investment for a baseball team doesn’t involve a lot of risk. When you give $1.3 million to a player, you hope to get big returns. At some point, the talent was there, and they keep giving chances to the player in hopes that it clicks for him and he’s the big league regular they foresaw in him as an amateur. But if a minor leaguer who is NOT a top prospect is playing lights-out, I guarantee he’ll get a shot at a higher level (especially if the team sees him developing into a potential big-leaguer).

*I pitch myself a little bit in a league here in Switzerland/Europe, and there is always a batter or two that i just don't feel comfortable to pitch against. It always feels like they know what is coming, and I have no confidence that I could throw anything by them. On the other hand there was this other hitter, actually one of the best in the league, that I totally owned. I see him in the on-deck circle, and I'm already looking forward to get him out. Do you have similar experiences with hitters and if yes, who is it? -- homerun13

In 2005, as a starter in Stockton (high-A), I was striking out a lot of batters. I had a great changeup going all season, and occasionally, I knew before I even threw it that guys were going to swing and miss at it. However, Clay Timpner from San Jose (Giants) would not miss that changeup. He’d always at least foul it off, and then he’d seem to catch another pitch (even a good one) and smoke it for a hit. The most frustrating thing was that he was their leadoff hitter, so it felt like I was always pitching with runners on base. If you checked stats, there were probably other guys who hit me well, but Timpner always stuck out in my mind.

*A lot of recent statistical research has shown that a pitcher has little influence on the outcome once a ball is put in play. That is to say, the Batting Average on Balls put in Play (BABIP) is fairly random for any given pitcher. Does that strike you as totally counter-intuitive, or does part of it ring true (sometimes good pitches get hit hard, and guys pop up a fat changeup down the middle)? -- MrIncognito

There are definitely hard-hit balls on good pitches, and mistake pitches that get missed by the hitters. But there is so much more to it than that. I don’t know the statistical research that well, but I know my job as a submariner is to get ground balls. If they hit a ball on the ground and it gets through for a hit, I did my job and there’s nothing I can do about it at that point (except go after the next hitter). And if they hit a fly ball off of me, even if I get an out, I need to make an adjustment to try to get the ball sinking more and lower in the strike zone. There are a lot of stats that I don’t think are good measures of a pitcher, and BABIP would probably be one of them. They may have some use, but I think a pitcher’s value can be seen in other more-common stats (WHIP, BAA, etc.).

2 questions from captainbubblehead...

*[This was right after I pitched my first inning in a big league spring training game...] Do you think the adrenaline will be similar next time out or will it help to have been there?

I think it will definitely help to have been there. I got the first experience out of the way, and I had some success. At the same time, I know I’ll have adrenaline. I get adrenaline going as soon as they call down to the bullpen and tell me to get throwing, even if we’re losing 9-1 (like my last outing). It’s just a matter of harnessing the adrenaline and using it to benefit me instead of it being a hindrance.

*What's the funniest thing you've ever seen a fan do or heard a fan say at a ballgame? What's the funniest thing you've ever heard a manager say to an umpire?

I don’t think my response to either of these would be appropriate in a public forum. :-)

Thank you all for continuing to read and respond. Enjoy the week, and hopefully the weather will allow us to get in a full schedule of games this week.