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  1. I thought Baseball Tonight/ESPN actually did I pretty good job illustrating his predictable tendency to “pitch away” … problem was it was “middle away” and “up away” … This isn’t the 1960s where batters don’t drive away pitches … now, they dive into them.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 1, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

  2. “The Reds lineup engaged in some sweet hitting against Axford, who allowed a couple hard-hit fly balls when holding a three-run lead is the easiest situation to obtain a save.”


    Comment by jkljk — April 1, 2011 @ 4:28 pm

  3. In hindsight, the best thing for Axford to have done would be turn to Casey McGehee before the Rolen at bat and say “when this ground ball comes to you, you better get at least one out”

    If McGehee gets that out (and everything else plays out exactly the same), then Axford walks off the mound with a 3 run win.

    He still didn’t pitch well, though.

    Comment by glassSheets — April 1, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

  4. Based on this performance will Jonah Keri change his World Series prediction?

    Comment by Scout Finch — April 1, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  5. True. That kind of play is something we battle our 10yo IF’s with.

    Why even try to make that tag? What are you trying to accomplish? What is the risk?

    Unfortunately, “in the moment” sometimes leads to bad decisions.

    Here’s what I don’t get … first off, it’s not a horrible play because McGehee is moving, into the baseline, so a potential tag play is somewhat understandable. However, if you are going to tag the runner, then dammit TAG him … put your bare hand over the ball, inside the glove, and tag the living hell out of the runner. If the runner doesn;t like it, so be it.

    But, on what planet does a defender like McGehee make that tag play AND still throw out the runner at first for double play? Has he ever made a play like that? Would the 50403 DP attempt be more probable.

    This is why coaches continually tell young players “know what you’re going to do if it is hit to you.”.

    Even if the umpire was wrong, and he did tag him, it’s still the second best option.

    Not only did Axford not pitch “well”, he looked to me like he was pitching “scared”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 1, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

  6. Axford lacks anything resembling a track record of success as closer, save 2.5 months last year. This spring Axford couldn’t find the plate….

    Ron Roenicke has probably never seen Axford look good, ever. If I am him, I have to ask myself, this is my team, why should I automatically declare Axford “CLOSER”….why?

    To me, RR would be wise to choose K Loe or Saito to replace Axford sooner than later… tomorrow. RR owes Axford nothing. This is a team game.

    Comment by LionoftheSenate — April 1, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

  7. This is all true but on the other hand if McGehee had known Phillips would run 4 feet out of the baseline and not be called out he probably wouldn’t have tried the tag either. Bad play, bad call, bad result.

    Comment by Ender — April 2, 2011 @ 12:24 am

  8. “Let’s recount Axford’s unfortunate Opening Day performance, starting with Brandon Phillips’ at-bat. In 2010, Phillips swung on 52% of all pitches, but only swung 33% of the time on the first pitch of the at-bat. So it was unexpected that Phillips swung on the first pitch in three out of five at-bats yesterday,”

    Waaait a minute. Where’s the sabermetric motto: “Sample size, sample size, and sample size”?

    Comment by dorasaga — April 2, 2011 @ 7:34 am

  9. In the next sentence: “His aggressive approach (if that’s a new adjustment for the season, we’ll come back in at least a month) rewarded him with a long fly ball single off the left-center outfield wall.”

    Comment by harry — April 2, 2011 @ 10:52 am

  10. From what I saw of Axford, he doesn’t threaten the inside (inside corner to batter’s belt), nor does he seem to have the stuff (running fastball, desire, etc) to do so.

    So, especially Hernandez appeared to be sitting outer half and had no worries about driving an outer half pitch. That’s problematic as Greg Swindell’s pro career illustrates.

    Pitching on the inner half with mediocre stuff in not desirable, but pitching inside is crucial. If Axord is going to contune to close, IMO, he’s going to have to use a cutterlike pitch that he can start inside off the plate and run it over the inside corner. Otherwise I think batters are just going to look away and guys at that level can, obviously, drive that pitch if it isn’t 96mph.

    Not that everyone can be Mariano, but he shows that a closer can use the same pitch to pitch RH and LH batters “inside”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 2, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  11. Harry,

    I was highlighting that line ‘cuz if you read the whole article, for another example, “Up till this point, Axford had thrown 13 fastballs and only one breaking ball, a slider.”

    Or this, “[…] but what Axford should have done was trust his breaking ball stuff more during this outing. He can get whiffs with his fastball, but he’d be better served if he can mix his breaking balls with them. His slider induced whiffs 22% of the time in 2010, compared to 12% for his fastball.”


    Axford only pitched 989 last year. We all know now that we need 3000 pitches to really get a skill summary of the guy on the mound. The author here cherry-picked this limited sample size from 2010– Not to mention that we don’t know if the relatively young Axford REALLY SHOULD actually whiffed that much with his breaking ball.

    Was he trying something new? Did he lose his grip for the secondary pitch that cold night? Was there an extended spring training in that inning?

    We knew not. Thus, we should rely on the inadequate sample size, but as much as possible. That means 2008, 2009, and even minor league data, even scouting reports of Axford’s ability to do this and that.

    The conclusion is like beating the bushes. The direction of this analysis is sound, but the proofs are not.

    Comment by dorasaga — April 3, 2011 @ 2:35 am

  12. Excuse me, 2009, not 2008. Anyway, I made my point.

    Comment by dorasaga — April 3, 2011 @ 2:37 am

  13. If he throws a slider, that would be a much prefered option, especially with runners on the corners and a slow-footed catcher at the plate.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — April 3, 2011 @ 10:39 pm

  14. “4 feet out of the baseline”

    Um, not really. He maybe took a step out of the baseline. I was at the game and have watched the replay multiple times. If you thought that was tough you must have enjoyed the rest of the series. lol

    Comment by blackoutyears — April 4, 2011 @ 10:27 am

  15. “From what I saw of Axford, he doesn’t threaten the inside”

    Agreed. He was around 94 with the FB but it was away, away, away, which is how he walked Votto. And FWIW, Axford didn’t look a whole lot better in the 12-3 blowout yesterday, giving up two more hits. For the guy recommending replacements above, I could see Saito getting some opps, but Loe is thoroughly unimpressive every time I see him and it’s hard to imagine him in high leverage situations. I like Braddock but I’m not convinced he’s closer material. If I had one major reservation with MIL coming into the year (aside from Betancourt) it was the ‘pen.

    Comment by blackoutyears — April 4, 2011 @ 10:33 am

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