Fellow Blurbstompers, witness lust:
Julio Rodríguez went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer on Monday in a 7-4 victory over the Astros.
With the score 5-4 in the top of the ninth, Rodríguez added some insurance with a two-run roundtripper to make it 7-4. That’s the seventh homer of the season for the outfielder, and he’s now plated 26 over his 55 games. After a shaky start, the 21-year-old has looked like a star, and while there will likely be some ups-and-downs, it’s reasonable to expect more good than bad from one of the most talented young players in the sport. He’s going to be a superstar (Rotoworld).
You know this feeling. It searches, fumbles, and excites. It feels akin to remembering that person you almost asked out in high school, who ends up being a successful entrepreneur and model, who years later admits they would have dated you. It’s not enough that you got cold feet, but to receive confirmation that your own lack of confidence and self-love obstructed your path to a more interesting and maybe fulfilling life? Talk about getting hit with a steam roller going 60 mph! Julio gives me that feeling all the time, and I am a prisoner to this feeling.
Players that you draft aren’t symbols of regret or loss. You draft players and they become part of your family. The players on your league mate’s teams are like one giant rival high school in yet another Netflix bildungsroman (I decree we have now reached the threshold for “high school party scene” in TV and movies. I hear loud music, see poorly lit extras holding red solo cups, and I immediately become the oldest man on earth. On stormy nights, you can hear me grousing to myself from the hilltops, my voice booming, gravelly and intrusive: “Surely there are other ways to show growth in these characters? You know, not every kid goes to parties. They could have a BMX race instead. Maybe they could stow away in an airplane’s wheel well and freeze to death? Maybe I just hate the concept of people having fun?” There is no greater creative death than writing characters pretending to be drunk, besides inserting multiple paragraphs of prose into an introductory paragraph as you’re completing an obscure analogy). You don’t want your league mate’s players to succeed; in fact, one finds themself actively rooting against certain players to help justify fading them in the draft.
Every year there are exceptions to this bias. Last year Shohei Ohtani turned the game of baseball into his backyard game of wiffleball. Jose Ramirez is almost always that guy for me. This year Julio Rodriguez is my guy. I missed him by a cat’s whisker in every single one of my leagues. Unlike Raul Mondesi Jr, his batted ball stats back up his performance, meaning he’s Mondesi who can actually get on base. I get in a right frenzy when I see his blurbs, even if I already absorbed the boxscores. The man froths me up like I’m a happy cappuccino, a happyccino!
I need this joy in my life, as I’m spending many hours holding a 10-day-old kid on my couch in one arm, and a jealous cat in the other for hours as my better half catches up on sleep. One’s mind starts to wander without another human face, book or screen to turn to. I think again how grateful I am to be able to write on this here site. I then think about Julio Rodriguez emerging from his statistical chrysalis into a beautiful 5-category butterfly and I started smiling. I look down and my kid seems to be smiling. Then they grunt and spatter their diaper, and I am reminded that I drafted Teoscar and Robbie Ray as my 3rd and 4th round pick in my home league. Life imitates sport!
A Blurbstomp Reminder
We will analyze player blurbs from a given evening, knowing that 1-2 writers are usually responsible for all the player write-ups posted within an hour of the game results. We will look at:
- Flowery Diction – how sites juice up descriptions of player performance
- Friendly Reminder – when a blurb insists upon itself
- Q and Q – when a site contradicts a player valuation on back-to-back blurbs
- The Blame Game – a player takes on the fault of the team as a whole
- Stephen A. Smith IMG_4346.jpeg Award – Given to the player blurb that promises the most and delivers the least.
- Bob Nightengale Memorial Plaque – getting it wrong better than anyone
The hope is that by season’s end, we’ll all feel more confident about our player evaluations when it comes to the waiver wire. We will read blurbs and not be swayed by excessive superlatives, faulty injury reporting, and micro-hype. I will know that I have done my job when Grey posts, and there isn’t a single question about catchers that he did not address in his post. Onward to Roto Wokeness!
One of the most electrifying young arms in the game, Cabrera will make his second start of the season on Tuesday evening against the Nationals in pitcher-friendly loanDepot park. The dynamic 24-year-old righty struggled in his first taste of the majors last year, but authored a dominant performance last Wednesday against the Rockies in his season debut, recording nine strikeouts over six scoreless frames. Cabrera’s omnipresent control issues remain a work in progress, and pose some issues from a run prevention standpoint, but his prodigious strikeout upside makes him worthy of a roster spot in all fantasy formats.
I am also excited for Edward Cabrera to start, but not enough to pick him up in all fantasy formats. A rookie like Cabrera can sink your team’s ratios in Head-to-Head, and his win (or even quality start) chances are limited on a team so bad that the results of an all team airing of grievances had coach Mattingly saying that everyone is now more depressed, and you should expect to see it in their level of play. Gossip aside, to use a wonderful word like “omnipresent” in describing Cabrera’s control should scare you away from any rookie pitcher. Depend on a pitcher with omnipresent control issues as one depends on a car whose brakes go out “only every once in a while.”
Don’t take the bait, even after that repeat performance at pitcher-friendly and nihilistically-named loanDepot stadium. The stadium’s name is formatted like many a subject line in my Spam folder. Lower case letters, not even a humble hyphen separating the words loan and depot. It’s so very sad. Soon all of our stadiums will just be named after hedge fund managers.
Hex Enduction Hour
Danny Jansen will undergo X-rays on his left hand on Tuesday.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said late Monday that Jansen is “fine” after being hit by a pitch on the left hand during the eighth inning of Monday’s contest against the Royals. He’s merely undergoing some additional precautionary testing to rule out any structural damage. It seems like he’ll get a break for a day or two at least to rest and recover before returning to Toronto’s lineup.
I promise you I wrote this section on Monday. This blurb had everything to make the perfect injury hex: The manager saying the player is okay, no comment from the player, the blurb then saying the player is “merely undergoing some additional testing.” Merely is a rather audacious, if even pompous word to attach to an injury situation. When it comes to hand injuries in baseball, there is no mere. Mere is the first word of any given injury hex on a player.
Lo and behold, a fracture is found and Danny will be tossing out his rabbit’s foot while he sits in the dugout, watching Alejandro Kirk round third like he’s a roller coaster car tipping off the rails at high speeds.
Once again, it was a big inning that doomed Ray for having a quality fantasy start. He gave up one run in the first, but it was a three-run second that really hurt the ole ERA. The southpaw gave up three homers in the contest, and walked three with three strikeouts. The southpaw settled down nicely after the second frame, but again, there have just been too many crooked frames for Ray to come close to justifying the 2022 hype. He takes a 4.97 ERA into his start Sunday against the Red Sox.
There is no crooked frame that can be used to recontextualize a start where your pitcher trashes your ratios. It doesn’t matter if the opposing team hits 20 seeing-eye grounders between infielders with average exit velocity of 70mph. It doesn’t matter if the wind is blowing out 100mph and every ball in the air is blown out of the park. At the end of the game, you combine all the at bats and innings pitched and you take your medicine.
You get what you get, and you don’t get upset.
There are some who will explain away a bad start by saying a crooked frame did them in. My brother in Christ what if I told you that an All Star pitcher’s season contains many crooked frames. And yes, do I own Robbie Ray to the point that every start is basically me sticking my hand into the garbage disposal knowing full well that I didn’t unplug it?
Yes. You get what you get and you don’t get upset.
Bob Nightengale Memorial Plaque
There was a brief period during last offseason’s lockout when it was plausible to suggest that Nogowski could be a temporary placeholder until the Braves found a long-term replacement for Freddie Freeman. That optimism evaporated once the team landed slugger Matt Olson in a trade with the Athletics and also signed him to a long-term extension. The 29-year-old first baseman was hitting just .234/.338/.323 with two homers and six steals in 148 plate appearances this season at Triple-A Gwinnett.
I’m not going to do the research, because it’s the internet in the time of COVID, and I’m sick of Google’s iron grip on my reality. Nevertheless, I googled “John Nogowski” “Starter” “Starting 1B” “Braves” and came up a post saying that he could get 15+ HR’s given starters at bats. From the same scouting support:
“Physical Description: Short for the position and stocky. Thick core and lower half. Strong forearms. Maxed out physically and considerably old for a prospect. High baseball IQ and character.”
Say what you will about John Nogowski’s raw talent and skill set, but you’ll never take away his THICK CORE. Also, isn’t “High Baseball IQ” code for something or other? Anyways…
It was never plausible to suggest John Nogowski could act as a starter for the Braves. Ever. If that’s plausible, then I’ll tell you I’m in the running to be the next James Bond. This Bond is different.
Bond: He is tall, almost all legs, not overweight, and in a Bond first, he doesn’t have abs.
Bond: Women can stand to be around him.
Bond: He doesn’t drink, and in doing so pays the social tax of loneliness.
Bond: He wears mostly Bonobos, because they do XL Tall Slim Fit better than most.
Bond: He recently remembered to get a haircut.
Bond: He sometimes pays his bills late, even though they’re automated.
He is Bond. C.A. Bond.
On that note, it is plausible to spend a few days off the internet and away from blurbs, an activity that I strive for but seldom attain. Wish me luck in my noble yet ignoble pursuit!