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Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective for 9/13/11

–  How bout those Rays?  Can they really pull the rabbit out of the hat and clench a playoff berth?  I mentioned this earlier as a joke, but the Tampa Bay Rays are about to pull a Houdini.

–  But which is more impressive- The Rays surge, or the Boston Red Sox collapse?

–  Good old Manny being Manny again…or is it Manny being Kirby now?  Either way, at least Manny Ramirez’s legacy was already tarnished, right?  Makes this episode just a bit less shocking.

–  I am not sure what all the hullaballo was about MLB not allowing the Mets to wear hats that did not meet the “uniform” requirements as written in the rulebook.  It is a rule people.  And it is not like there were not other ways that the Mets, and every other NFL and MLB team used to show support for all of 9/11.  Sure, they could have shown a little leeway, but then they might be setting a precedent that could cause problems somewhere down the unforeseen road.

–  Someone asked me to describe teaching 6th graders in a single sentence the other day…and this is what I came up with- “Teaching 6th grade is the equivalent of herding cats.”

–  Watching a player begin his decline as a ball player is always difficult.  It is even more difficult when said player has never given anyone a reason to hate.  That said, it will be interesting to see how Ichiro Suzuki‘s 2012 campaign goes.  Is him not reaching 200 hits that big a deal this year?  Does it mark the start of his decline?  Only time will tell.

–  Good luck to Andrew McCutchen while negotiating what hopefully turns out to be a favorable deal with the Pirates.  It’s really exciting to see a team like Pittsburgh rising from their grave.  It gives Astros fans hope.

–  Speaking of the Houston Astros, we currently host 16 rookies on our roster, with 10 of them being pitchers.  Yikes.  Talk about rebuilding.

Matt Moore Links

Even though Matt Moore was in Baltimore for Monday night’s game, he did not make his Major League debut.  I thought that Rays’ skipper Joe Maddon might call upon Moore to close out the game in the ninth, but Joel Peralta received the nod instead and went on to collect his third save of the season.

Here is a collection of articles/links from around the web about Moore’s arrival:

Video: Matt Moore on getting to the majors [Marc Topkin/TampaBay.com]

Is Matt Moore the New David Price? [Rob Neyer/SB Nation]

Prospect of the Day: Matt Moore [John Sickels/Minor League Ball]

Moore to join hard-charging Rays [Daren Smith/MiLB.com]

Happy Matt Moore Day [Mike Rosenbaum/The Golden Sombrero]

Matt Moore: Tampa Bay’s Best Ever Pitching Prospect [Steve Slowinski/FanGraphs]

Rays Have a ‘Nice Problem’ with Matt Moore [Marc Hulet/FanGraphs]

Call Up of Rays Matt Moore Reminds of Missed Opportunities [Mike Newman/Scouting the Sally]

Happy Matt Moore Day

This year has been an amazing season for prospects.  Here at the Sombrero, we’ve celebrated the MLB debuts of many of baseball’s future stars:

Sunday brought the news that the Tampa Bay Rays, who are now just 3.5 games back in the Wild Card after a weekend sweep of the Red Sox, have finally called up their top prospect, LHP Matt Moore.  Not only is Moore the best pitching prospect in their loaded system, he’s the consensus (including all of us here at the Sombrero) top pitching prospect in baseball.  And with good reason.

The left-hander enjoyed a breakout season in 2010 for High-A Charlotte in the Florida State League.  There he posted a 6-11 record with a 3.36 ERA over 144 2/3 innings.  He allowed 109 hits and walked just 61 hitters while fanning 208, as he became the first pitcher since Francisco Liriano in 2005 to record a 200-strikeout season.

This season, the 22-year-old went 12-3 with a 1.92 ERA and 210 strikeouts across two levels.  Ranked as The Golden Sombrero’s No. 31 prospect headed into the season, Moore dominated for Double-A Montgomery, posting an 8-3 record with a 2.20 ERA and 131/28 K/BB ratio over 102 1/3 innings.  Shortly before he was promoted to Triple-A Durham, Moore fired a no-hitter with 11 strikeouts against Mobile on June 16.

After the promotion to Triple-A, Moore absolutely dominated, posting a 4-0 record, 1.37 ERA, 0.968 WHIP, and 79/18 K/BB over 52 2/3 innings.  He finished the regular season with a ridiculous 210/46 K/BB, as he became the first pitcher in nearly two decades to record back-to-back 200+-strikeout seasons in the Minors.

Moore’s insane talent will now be on full display for baseball fans as the southpaw will be called up before Monday’s game against Baltimore.  While he will likely work out of the Rays’ bullpen, especially with Kyle Farnsworth experiencing elbow discomfort, Moore should receive at least one start when the Rays play a double-dip against the Yankees on September 21.

It’s one thing to keep a player in the Minors if you’re out of the playoff race so that his arbitration clock doesn’t start too early.  But when every game matters and your harboring a pitcher with video-game stuff in Triple-A, all concerns are thrown out the window.  With the promotion, he instantly becomes the Ray’s third-best starter and their best reliever.

This September call-up carries extra significance for our staff, as Dee and Griff are both New Mexico HS alums like Moore and have been tracking his progress since he was drafted in 2007.  We are all pumped to watch him continue his ascent to greatness as begins what will surely be an outstanding MLB career.  Happy Matt Moore day, Sombrero Nation.

Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective for 9/2/11

–       Stephen Strasburg’s final rehab start has come and gone.  He again looked supreme in comparison to the hitters he faced.  He even appears to have more of a mental edge after recovering from Tommy John.  Watching the way he carried himself, and the mound presence he exuded, gave me goose bumps.  MLB hitters be wary.  Strasburg is about to eat your soul.

–       Had a conversation with a friend last night and discussed what it was like to face Matthew Moore as a senior in high school.  My friend faced him twice that year and said he went from being “…Unreal the first time I faced him…to absolutely unhittable the next time I faced him.”  I can’t wait to see how Moore does with the Rays.

–       Tim Lincecum has finally reached stardom- sort of.  He has his own t-shirt.  The sillohette is pretty good, including the fantastic job they did with his hair.  However, $38 for a t-shirt is stupid.

–       Anybody who says the power/speed guy is history has no idea what they are talking about.  The 20/20 guy is alive and well in major league baseball.  There are currently seven players who have already reached this mark with more than 15 others who are a mere five HR’s or SB’s shy of reaching the milestone.

–       It’s no wonder the White Sox are struggling the way they are.  They are rostering three of the most detrimental players in the game.  Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Juan Pierre have all posted negative fWAR’s so far this season.  Adam Dunn at -2.6, Rios at -1.2, and Pierre at -0.1.   Good luck getting that extension Ozzie Guillen.

–       Goodbye Carlos Zambrano.  The Cubs have said he will not pitch again this season- yet they will still pay him.  Sounds like a cushy job.  Until you realize that we won’t be seeing anything like this again this season.

Changeups and Screwballs: A Southpaw’s Perspective for 8/31/11

–       Another Yankees vs. Red Sox series got underway last night…yawn.  At least there was a little bit of tension after Francisco Cervelli’s (weak) celebration of his own homerun.  But other than that, what is the point of so many meaningless games for these two teams down the stretch Bud Selig?

–       How cool would it be to play for Joe Maddon?  The guy used to go to elementary school with Julius Caesar, supports awesome Rays fashion wear , and is a leading man in the case of using crunched numbers (to give his team the best chance of winning).  Is he baseball’s Phil Jackson?

–       Why does MLB not care about exciting pennant races?  Here’s a great article by Rob Neyer over at SB Nation.

–       I can’t seem to understand why so many people hate the Mets blue and black unis.  Not the “Los Mets” ones, these.  They seem to be fitting for a team who is getting beat day after day.

–       Matt LaPorta is being sent back down to the minors.  Is anyone surprised anymore?

–       How about Alex Gordon?  After being the 2nd overall pick of his draft class, and not living up to people’s ridiculous hype, he has finally hit his stride as a ball player.  It is my personal opinion that maybe if the Royals had pulled their heads out and given him enough regular AB’s with the big club this probably would have happened sooner.  Just look at his Triple-A numbers.

–       I have become discouraged with youth baseball over the last couple seasons.  I am sick and tired of watching 11-year-old kids quit all other fall sports to play baseball year round.  I find it extremely frustrating and detrimental.  It not only limits a child’s athletic development, but it deprives them of experiencing different aspects of sport and what it offers.  This idea is probably best reserved for an entire article of its own and most likely will find its way to the Sombrero very soon.  Just wanted to vent my frustrations.