Reading Room: Choosing rationalization over revenge

Brett Ballantini took to the locker room prior to Wednesday's game to follow up on the plunkings suffered during Tuesday's doubleheader, and what he discovered ... won't surprise you.

Chris Sale: "I don’t really do too well in situations like that," he admitted. "I just go out there and give everything I’ve got and try to do my job."

Sergio Santos: "You have to look at the situation, the pitch, the count, and make a decision about whether someone is being thrown at intentionally."

Paul Konerko: "I don’t think any of them were intentional, but there’s a cumulative thing that kind of adds up after awhile. So, we’ll see how it goes."

(When Brett was tweeting shorter forms of these quotes prior to the game, he said that Konerko "seemed a touch hopeful but then sort of trailed off.")

There's not much more I have to say about the topic -- I don't think anybody wants me to tack on another 2,500 words about it -- but Konerko's point confuses me the most about the whole thing. You'd think it would be in the pitching staff's best interest to make sure that errant pitches don't knock out starting position players, and dragging a warning out of an umpire is the best way to do it. But when hearing Santos rationalize it, they sound like they're trying to procrastinate long enough for the window of opportunity to close, followed by, "Oh, I was totally going to hit them!"

The way Jesse Crain pitched Trevor Crowe in the eighth inning basically symbolized the internal "I-will-I-shouldn't" debate they grapple with. 3E8 grabbed the pitch map, and it might be the first Brooks graph to make me laugh out loud:

The saddest part is that even though Crain didn't hit Crowe, it still resulted in a free base, via a full-count walk.

 

Christian Marrero Reading Room

Mark Buehrle secured a winning record for the season with his victory over the Tribe on Wednesday, and now the attention turns to his next and last start of the year. Will it be a season finale or series finale?

Ozzie Guillen supposedly loves what Alejandro De Aza is doing ... but nobody asked him why De Aza has been platooned while lesser outfielders play every day. He's already eclipsed 2 WAR, which makes him the fourth-most valuable position player, or third-most if you only factor in the healthy players.

Chris Sale didn't need much minor-league seasoning when it came to pitching, and you could say the same thing about the way he handles tough questions. When asked which role he would like to assume in 2012, he answered it perfectly:

"Obviously, I would like starting. I grew up, ever since I've been pitching, I've been a starter since summer ball, college, everything," said Sale, who nervously laughed when making his choice, despite staying relatively non-committal. "If the last choice came to me, I'd like to start.

"But at the end of the day, I have nothing to complain about so far. It's not like I'm unhappy with the role I'm in. By no means is it anything like that. I'd like to get an opportunity to start and if it happens, awesome. If not, I'm still lucky to be where I am."

Omar Vizquel wants to play one more year, which is awesome, because if he plays one game at shortstop at any point after April 24, he will be the first 45-year-old to play the position in a major-league game. Many teams could carry him on the bench to accomplish this goal, but as Larry wrote a few weeks ago, it just can't be a team as production-starved as the Sox.

J.J. notes that Alexei Ramirez is being more selective, but it's not necessarily resulting in better pitches to hit. He's been an interesting guy to follow over his first four seasons, because it's almost been like watching four different hitters, but it seems like he's destined to end up at an OPS just shy of .750 no matter what. Which is fine from a shortstop.

Over at Baseball Prospectus, Mike Fast breaks down how well catchers are able to frame pitches. If you can't read the first link due to a paywall, Rob Neyer offers a nice summary of how Fast went about it.

A.J. Pierzynski comes out looking OK, scoring slightly above average in each year (saving one to three runs a season). To get an idea of the range, Jose Molina dominates the top end (he saved 26 runs in 2008), whereas Ryan Doumit occupied the cellar that seson with a -36. Fast compared their techniques to see what might've caused such a difference:

Molina got quite a few more strike calls on the outside edge with left-handed batters at the plate than Doumit did.

Compare Molina and Doumit’s movements in the following pitch animations. Despite Doumit’s solid stance and subtle glove movement, he dropped his head to follow the pitch into his glove and he hunched down slightly, as if he were trying to coax the ball carefully into his glove. Molina’s head stayed mostly stable as he received the pitch.

Doumit dropped his head on 11 of the 12 pitches I reviewed on video. On the one pitch where he did not do that, he got a strike call. Molina dropped his head to follow the ball into the glove on two of the 10 pitches I reviewed on video, and both of those pitches were called balls.

This fascinates me, because I'd always paid attention to how a catcher moved the glove, but never what he did with his head. So this gives me something else to pay attention to as the Sox play out the string -- does the way Pierzynski catch borderline pitches differ from Tyler Flowers' technique?

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