Tondar's Daily Rant

Prepare yourself for the writings of Tondar the Destroyer, Baron of Atlanta, Rightful Heir to the Throne of Spain, from whom all babies come. As his will be blogged, so let it be done.

Monday, March 03, 2008

THE NEXT GRRREAT TIGER

From Seth...

-----GENESIS OF A MOTOWN STUD-----

"Okay, so here's how it works in Detroit when we have a hot prospect coming up:

First the bloggers talk about him like he's the second coming of Christ.

Then the Free Press reports on the player with pretty much the same article they've used for every other player of that position.

Then the News reports it a day late with an extra quote from an interesting source.

Then the Free Press interviews him.

Then the Detroit News interviews his coaches and way overhypes him.

Then a national guy from ESPN or FoxSports or Yahoo does an article on him, based off of the Freep and News articles.

Then the Freep does a video.

Then Local Fox Sports does a video

Then one of the Tigers' two writers (Todd Jones and Curtis Granderson) gives the guy a nickname in their column/blog.

Then Mitch Albom writes a sacharrine story about the guy's dad.

Then Drew Sharp says he sucks.

Then he plays.

Anyway, the process has begun again with Rick Porcello. We're now at Stage 4: big hype from the DetNews:

-----PORCELLO: ANOTHER NOLAN OR NATE?-----

This is the guy they knew they had when they traded Adam Miller. He is being compared to Nolan Ryan for having three unhittable pitches. I think he's more Josh Beckett or Jeremy Bonderman than Nolan Ryan, though, with two B-minus (meaning above-average) pitches to complement his A-Plus (unhittable) pitch. Nolan Ryan, in comparison, came up with two A-level (awesome) pitches and a B+, and Justin Verlander has an A+, an A- (great) and a B (good).

Note the groundouts in his line: from my perspective, that's kind of what you would expect from good a raw guy, because it means the major league guys aren't getting under his stuff (so it's gotta be good), but that he's using it a lot (which means once they've seen it enough they'll catch up). For reference, when Verlander and Zumaya were making a place for themselves on the 2006 roster, it was all about their ridic fastballs and curveballs striking everyone out. Porcello doesn't have that kind of burn, although his fastball is on par with Bonderman's.

Of course, a guy once came up through the Tigers organization putting up similar groundout numbers, and generated similar hype. He became Nate Cornejo.

However, Cornejo never had a B-level anything (just a whole can of C+ sinking stuff). And nobody ever said this about Cornejo:

"Detroit Tigers
By Mark Anderson, TigsTown.com

Rick Porcello

Position: RHP

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 195 pounds

DOB: 12/27/1988



"Despite going 27th in June's draft, Porcello is one of the absolute best high school pitching prospects to come along in quite a while; likely since Josh Beckett.

He combines a plus fastball that sits in the 93-95 MPH range and touches 97, with impeccable control to dominate hitters. He also flashes two very good breaking pitches, a tight slider with good depth, and a hammer curveball; both pitches that possess plus potential. His changeup hasn't been needed in recent seasons, but he has demonstrated a feel for the pitch and it could develop into a fourth above-average offering.

Overall, Porcello has nearly a limitless ceiling, and barring injury he should develop into a frontline ace."

-----ONCE IN A GENERATION?-----

In the News article, they call hime a "once in a generation talent."

That's pretty high praise.

How are they defining generation? Do they mean Porcello will be the best Millenial (1982-1995, a.k.a. Gen Y, a.k.a. The Babies on Board) to ever play baseball, rising high above mere mortals like fellow Millenials Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian McCann, Prince Fielder, Justin Upton, Jose Reyes, Carl Crawford, Grady Sizemore, David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Joe Mauer, Scott Kazmir, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Hanely Ramirez, or Francisco Liriano, not to mention any other superstar who might now be as young as 13.

Note they say talent, though, not skill. Talent and skill are not the same thing. Babe Ruth was talent incarnate; he barely practiced or took care of himself but could still generate more bat speed than any player in history until Barry Bonds. But greats like Satchell Paige and Ty Cobb, while doubtlessly talented, were never considered superbly talented athletes so much as men who used a greater understanding of the game to dominate it.

I think such an appelation need not measure greatness in its entirety, but the player's ceiling of greatness. That is, I'd apply it to guys like Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Ken Griffey Jr., Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Walter Johnson or Babe Ruth -- guys whose talent alone was so sublime that by Porcello's age of 19, they were already challenging for league MVP, not a spot on the roster.

This raises a fun question though. If you had to pick the greatest talent of each generation, who would it be?

My picks:

  • Progressive: Al Spalding (over Cap Anson)

  • Missionary: Walter Johnson (over Cy Young)

  • Lost: Babe Ruth (over Josh Gibson)

  • G.I.: Bob Feller (Dimaggio and Teddy became far greater, but Feller had the most pure talent of the golden agers)

  • Silent: Mickey Mantle (but Mays was the better player)

  • Baby Boomer: Human Growth Hormone (HM: Barry Bonds, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, in that order)

  • Generation X: A-Rod (So hard to pick btw him & Griffey. HM: Doc?)

  • Millenials: Wright? Verlander? Rick Porcello? Too early to tell.

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