Why Has BJ Upton Declined; Can He Come Back after Rough 2014 Start?

BJ Upton over the 1st two weeks of the 2014 season has probably been the worst hitter in the league this side of Moustakas. And yet, it is mind-boggling to think that a guy who has 20/20 potential with a good eye can be so bad.

I can Sabr this whole matter and talk about his declining walk rate, anemic line-drive rate or his penchant to produce strikeouts with less ability to get on-base. But one of the biggest issues with BJ Upton is this: The spotlight got to him. Period.

When he was in Tampa, he didn’t initially have the pressure that comes with trying to produce against the best. Although the Rays built themselves into constant postseason contenders, Upton’s stardom could come from producing, and mistakes can be treated softly as he develops into a star.

But after his first couple of years, things started to change. After lazily shagging down a flyball Joe Maddon set him as an example and benched him. This happens a couple of more times, but I don’t correlate it exactly with how he stopped being productive. But what people did see was a young player who started getting ridden hard on how to play the game right.

And played the game right he did. Most of the time. He still was valuable with his defense and bat going through his “I’m a grown man now” years of 2007-2010. At the same time, going into his prime 20′s, his abilities were getting worse. You’d think that the moniker of laziness would wane as he was nearing his free agent sweepstakes.

But, even before then, Upton’s learning and adjustments had helped or decimated him throughout these seasons. He would change his bat stance, and voila! He’s batting .400 in July. But then struggles in September. Then gets his mojo back and kills Jon Lester in the ALCS.

The up and down, and his constant adjustments, I think are made out of fear. Where he was a great player in a team that *meh* its way through the first few years of the century, now was counting on him on a daily basis to help them win a championship. And guys who are lazy or don’t work to get their team in contention get spotted very quickly. Tampa and the Phillies made the mistake with Delmon Young, but each time only lasted about a few months (although Tampa did a “Fool me twice” maneuver by bringing Young back.).

BJ Upton works hard. He works smart. But when he has to step up, more times than not the spotlight kills his game. Where in 2006-07 if he didn’t time a steal attempt correctly, he could work on it as management waits for their young star to blossom. In 2010, management start murmuring “Should we put money down on this guy? He should’ve of been better by now.” You have fans saying “Desmond Jennings hasn’t been getting time so this clown can suck it up each year?”

Instead of taking the bad times in and honing it to get better, he is now constantly going through the mentality of producing under immense pressure that he suppose to be the star. He’s suppose to have the responsibility of getting the Rays to the World Series. When he didn’t have this responsibility or crowding media, he played well. When his talent and work ethic was questioned, he played worse.

And worse. And worse. And worse. Whatever reactions he had to his bad playing, it only manifested itself deeper in his next slump, or his next adjustment, or his next bad play. Instead of focusing on just being good, he then started focusing too much on hiding the hole in his bat with better mechanics. But what do mechanics mean, if you’re pressured to drive a 3-1 pitch down by 2 by swinging at an un-hittable breaking ball in the dirt? Now, he goes back to the tape.

“Stop swinging at those low breaking balls.”

Now he is so pressured to stay close to the inside zone, he’s letting outside pitches ring him up without him taking a shot. Goes to hitting coach.

“Hey coach, need to get my batswing pulling to drive those corner fastballs.”

And what happens is that he is so pressured to fix the past mistakes, that he forgets he’s fucking good and instead reacts to past mistakes by overloading his game to make up for him. By trying to fight his past self, he ends up dragging the same horrible BJ Upton to the plate. But, in a crazy conclusion to this cycle, he is essentially giving Tyler Durden more power. The evil BJ Upton, the one that has lost confidence in himself, that is constantly trying to make up for all his woes in one at-bat, shows up and gifts his opponents with an 0 for 4 bundled around 3Ks.

BJ Upton thinks leaving Tampa and finding solace amongst his brother and the Braves organization will fix things. But it can’t, because his game has gone south even though he’s made this move toward the North. And it has left him because he has left himself. He has let all the things that affect him control his ability.

If this were, let’s say, a Miguel Cabrera or Adrian Gonzales, one reason it could’ve been fixed is that these guys’ mantra is to get the bat on the ball, and let the pitcher lose touch of the plate by themselves. BJ Upton’s weakness is that he’ll let the pitcher dictate the count, but will falter trying to do too much with 3 balls in his favor. When he was 24, he’d let the pitcher give him first base. At 28, he’s a superstar. What does a BB mean to the best? What does it mean to win a pennant? Maybe it means a lot? Maybe not. Maybe he can steal when he gets on 1st…

… “Strike three called on the corner! Man, Upton looked really fooled there.”

Not fooled. Overwhelmed. Chipper Jones can help his swing, but he might need Dr. Phil to get his mojo back. The Braves are counting on him, but the murmurs are beginning to question his actual job. Let’s hope he plays to his talent; it’s great enough to keep his job all by itself. He just needs to realize that he’s great, and take on the responsibility of what a great player should be.

Good luck Upton!

WTF is Emilio Bonifacio N/A on Yahoo! Fantasy For No Reason!?!

bonny-emilio

Emilio Bonafacio is a sleeper possibly on a few people’s boards. Bonifacio has played pretty good during the pre-season. He possesses leadoff man and speed skills that they don’t have in other players trying to make the roster. He can play multiple positions for the Cubs, important since guys like Sterling Castro are hurt or not ready (Ott). And there has been no word that his spot was in jeopardy, considering he’s played up to par with guys like Darwin Barney up to this time.

So why does Yahoo do this to his status… yet gives NO INFORMATION!?!

emiliooooo-bonifacio-waiversIs his wife pregnant? Did they send him on waivers, even though they picked him up in hopes of being trade bait? Where is the waiver clearing news? If so, why hasn’t any other team try to pick him up? Detroit is really that short on cash for the vet minimum? Or maybe he’s on the team and Yahoo! made a mistake? Or Theo Epstein is playing some Moneyball mindgame and hopes no one notices.

Whatever the reason is, Yahoo! needs to have this information available so Fantasy leagues can organize their drafts. This isn’t like its freakin’ Edwin Encarnacion and updates on his wrist. Understood if the news isn’t readily available. But you’re talking about a guy who can contribute a good deal of speed stats for a team with amazing value, or not even be on the team by opening day!

Not to do a coach Calhoun, but Yahoo!… Get the facts, and get back to me! Please, Bonny was like my #3 sleeper. I feel like R. Kelly right now.

The Bad Luck of Jenny Dell and The NESN Hot Woman Farm System

So, the Red Sox broadcasting network NESN pulls out Jenny Dell from her sideline reporting due her dating situation with 3B Will Middlebrooks.

She took the news well, as she has stated no ill will toward the move via Twitter:

Which leads me to address one issue which seems odd: Via Boston.Com, it appears that many people in the organization were aware of the relationship long before this reassignment. If there was a precedent or if they considered the relationship a distraction, why did they let it persist?

It wasn’t like the Red Sox weren’t trying to win the East and make a serious playoff run. And it wasn’t like Will Middlebrooks production was good enough to let it slide. The article does however make a point that this “demotion/promotion” comes around the same time Jenny Dell was considering joining the new Fox Sports One team:

While it’s very hard to believe that their relationship was breaking news to NESN management, it certainly appears as though Dell’s status has been affected by either the backlash to that or perhaps her desire to work elsewhere. There was mutual interest between Dell and Fox Sports 1, though that appears to be in a holding pattern.

"You may not touch Middlebrooks... no more! -#DinnerwithSchmucks #Impression

“You may not touch Middlebrooks… no more!
-#DinnerwithSchmucks #Impression

The point is that: if the Red Sox cared, they would’ve done something about this long ago. They had too much at stake that if there was a rule in place of media/player relationships, this would’ve been handled in-house rather than push this demotion out so blatantly. So this move looks more to be a re-organizing in preparation for another Red Sox reporter to head for bigger/national pastures.

The NESN Sideline Reporter Development System

The Red Sox seem to be a broadcast farm system cultivating beautiful women to join up with bigger networks once they brand themselves as the Red Sox hottie that will keep you interested in a 7-2 lead against the Mariners with Dubront on the mound.

tina-cervasio

It begin with Tina Cervasio reporting for the Sox up until around 2008/2009, when she left for New York after gaining a great reputation with a great voice, succinct interviews, a great smile, and a good amount of reporting analysis when she did her interview rounds with WEEI.

She was married, so there weren’t rumors of her and anyone else but her husband and family, which being close to them was one of the main reasons she left NESN.

Along with Cervasio was the beautiful Hazel Mae. Her demeanor was always conservative a the lead NESN baseball anchor, but her look was too good to be ignored. he had a huge following, to the point you had people posting horrible love songs to her (also, this video is numbered in the 5-digits, meaning its one of the earliest Vimeo videos ever created):

There were rumors about her dating players, even the one rumor that she was having an affair with former skipper Terry Francona. She was probably the first woman in the Red Sox sideline report farm system to have forum topics dedicated to her personal life. Even though it was hard to see her and Cervasio leave, then came #1 pick in the draft…

All Rise for the Great and Majestic Heidi Watney

Brandon Beachy MRI: Partial Tear, Maybe Season-Ending. Sees Dr. Andrews Next

Brandon Beachy left Sunday’s game when he felt a twinge in his right elbow. His feelings were not met with optimism on Monday, as the MRI taken on his elbow revealed a partial tear in a ligament in his elbow.

The Atlanta Braves have not given any word on what this means, but have said that he will seek a 2nd diagnosis from Dr. Andrews, The most re-known elbow ligament transplant specialist in the country.

Colby Rasmus 2012 Hot Streak: Buy High or Stay Away

Yahoo Roto Arcade posted an article on Colby Rasmus’s recent streak and pondered whether he has broken thru for 2012 or whether the Blue Jays will see their erratic outfielder come back down to Earth. Fantasy owners and non-believers are gathering around one of the most mind-boggling questions of 2012, but the answer can be worth a league championship IMO.

They talk about his lefty-splits for the season and his K/BB rate to justify that this streak is meaningless, but if they are using his hot streak to justify this conversation, how about looking at how Rasmus stacks up against lefties during the streak?

Colby Rasmus vs lefty starters (most notable, only missing 1-2 DNP games):

  • 06.16 vs Cliff Lee  - 2 for 4 2 RBIs
  • 06.06 vs Jose Quintana  - 1 for 3 1RBI
  • 06.02 vs Felix Dubront – 0 for 3 1K
  • 05.25 vs. Derek Holland  - 1 for 3 , 2B
  • 05.22 vs Matt Moore – 0 for 1, 1BB
  • 05.18 vs John Niese – DNP ( I’ll talk about this later)
  • 05.15 vs David Price – 0 for 3
  • 05.14 vs Cesar Ramos (Niemann left game after 1 inning, Ramos pitched until 5th) – 0 for 1 , 1BB 1run
  • 05.13 vs Scott Diamond – 0 for 3
  • 05.05 vs CJ Wilson – 0 for 3, 1K

Two things I see here that I feel benefit Colby in the long run. One thing is that the Blue Jays don’t start him against every starter. He has sat when they played Johnathan Niese and the Mets, he has sat when Matt Harrison of the Rangers pitched. His splits against lefties aren’t good, but the Jays make sure they don’t constantly match him up against hard lefties all the time. Sitting him down against lefties 20% of the time will only have him lose 70-90 ABs this season. Seeing he is a #2 hitter now he’ll make-up for those at-bats on the top of the order as well against pitching he can hit.

Another thing I see is that he is walking and kinda hitting lefties better than I thought. He has 2 walks in the 24 at-bats shown here, and these lefties aren’t necessarily the easiest group to be at-bat against (David Price, Quintana, Cliff Lee, CJ Wilson, Matt Moore).  The stretch improves as the days go by.

Also, he has walked twice vs lefties, considering that he has probably only walked 2-3 times during this entire stretch. And over that many at-bats and with the talent of lefties he’s facing, I think along with his streak its a real achievement that he’s at-least doing something against lefties instead of dragging his stats down playing them.

Do I think Rasmus breaks out this season? Very probable. He might’ve needed a little space to grow mentally, and it might have been his fragile ego and his quick call-up to the fire criticism of LaRussa that may have slowed his progress. Hopefully the Blue Jays still have a leash on him where they can encourage his growth in this atmosphere, and that he doesn’t need constant coddling from the likes of his dad.

But if he’s doing a 1 for 4 against good lefties daily, especially since there are only about 3-4 legitimate tough lefties in the AL East, I don’t see how the splits will become a hindrance if his skills improve. With that momentum, I expect to see a .285/24/87/94/16 line at the end of 2012.

With that in mind, I see a buy-kinda high scenario. If you’re crying in your coffee over Lorenzo Cain, Chris Young, or Alex Gordon this season, Rasmus could be your guy to get your team back into shape for the Summer run.

Ron Artest Flagrant Foul (VIDEO) – SHould World Peace Be Suspended?

Ron Artest AKA Metta World Peace’s case was that he was overzealous in celebrating a dunk over the Oklahoma City Thunder on this great Sunday. But the video shows a very brutal hit to the face of James Harden, and my reaction of total shock.

10 game suspension at least if you ask me. Knowing his history, and how the NBA has been cleaning up the game, wouldn’t be surprised he’s gone for the season. What do you think? Whoever guesses it right I’ll give you a shoutout of anything you want on my blog (keep it clean).