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Monday, March 23, 2015

Nationals’ Jerry Blevins as much a renaissance man as he is a baseball player

He became an avid film watcher then, too. His mother always made time on Sundays to take him and his brother to the movies. As a minor leaguer with a lot of free time on the road, Blevins always found the local video store.

“I remember Clinton, Iowa,” said Blevins, whose favorite movie is “The Shawshank Redemption” and who loves the documentary “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” “They had a riverboat casino and a Blockbuster down the street. You could go and get five movies for 25 bucks. I’d get the most obscure movies and watch them.”

Blevins also reads a lot, from the news to books. His favorite genre is science fiction and fantasy. He is reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. He goes to sleep each night reading on his Kindle.

Martin Prince: As your president, I would demand a science-fiction library, featuring an ABC of the genre. Asimov, Bester, Clarke.
Student: What about Ray Bradbury?
Martin Prince: I’m aware of his work…

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 23, 2015 at 01:35 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, jerry blevins, loogys, nationals

Sunday, March 22, 2015

For A’s prospect Canha, better bat speed the key - San Francisco Chronicle

Really, who can wait on a cookie?

“They said, ‘These guys don’t make as many mistakes, so you have to go up with the mind-set, ‘I’m going to have to go outside my comfort zone. Be ready for everything, don’t wait for that cookie, because you’re hardly ever going to get those,’” Canha said. “‘Just go after those pitchers’ pitches, because otherwise you’re behind in the count — and then you’re walking back to the dugout and what you’re looking for is never going to come.’”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2015 at 07:40 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Neyer: I have seen Pat Venditte and He was glorious.

The bottom of the seventh inning ended, Venditte trotted in from the bullpen—his arrival trumpeted by the nine-year-old boy running loose in my row—and at 3:42 Mountain Standard Time, I finally saw Pat Venditte throw a real pitch to a real batter.

Win Big Stein's Money Posted: March 19, 2015 at 05:14 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, pat venditte

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Geldbal? Dutch club AZ Alkmaar hires ‘Moneyball’ executive Billy Beane

We’re not selling clogs here.

Pardon us, Netherlands readers, but how do you say Moneyball in Dutch? Besides ‘Moneyball’, of course.

AZ Alkmaar has hired Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane, one of the most celebrated advanced statistics gurus in the world and the subject of the film “Moneyball”, in an advisory capacity.

The AZ site says he’ll be helping the club in the areas of “high performance and innovation”.

The club’s general director, Robert Eenhoorn, played four years in Major League Baseball, and its director of soccer is USMNT legend Earnie Stewart.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 18, 2015 at 09:48 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, billy beane, netherlands, scocer

Monday, March 16, 2015

Barry Zito – what are the odds he’ll make A’s rotation? - Oakland Athletics : The Drumbeat

Barry Zito is going back to the future.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 16, 2015 at 07:08 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, barry zito

Monday, March 09, 2015

A’s facing a major power outage in 2015 - Spring Training Blog - ESPN

The A’s certainly won’t be a powerhouse on the position player side. If you look at BB-Ref’s Positional Comparisons it looks like the rebuilt A’s have the potential to put at least similar WAA on the position player side as they did last year. Ben Zobrist (5.0 bWAR) is a big upgrade at 2B (Oakland -1.4 bWAR last year). This one pick-up can have a big impact. The keys, however, are Marcus Semien and Brett Lawrie. If Semien can provide slightly above average play at SS and Lawrie can stay on the field (1.7 WAR in 70 games in 2014) the sky won’t fall in Oakland.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 09, 2015 at 08:20 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Oakland Athletics Top 20 Prospects for 2015 - Minor League Ball

John Sickels’ Top 20.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 08, 2015 at 10:12 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, prospects

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Jim Harbaugh Suits Up For Oakland A’s

The man who brought the 49ers to Super Bowl XLVII and fled to Michigan after last season amid a falling out with his bosses is in camp with the Oakland A’s today.

In a green and gold uniform. Wearing stirrups – “That’s old school,” he said. With a No. 4 jersey. And planning to coach first base for a couple of innings when the A’s host the Angels at Hohokam Stadium.

#6bid rescued Ichiro the carpenter! Posted: March 07, 2015 at 03:50 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, jim harbaugh

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Joe Posnanski’s Top 100 Players: No. 40: Eddie Collins

Annnd, we’re back!

There is no satisfying way to compare ancient players from Deadball to the players today. For instance: There is an argument to be made, a strong one, that Eddie Collins was one of the ten best player in baseball history. If you treat the baseball of his time as equal to all other times, you almost have to rank him in that stratosphere. He ranks tenth In wins Above Replacement. He hit .333 with more than 3,000 hits, more than 700 stolen bases, more than 1,800 runs scored — only Ty Cobb has that combination…

How can you guess what Eddie Collins would be in 2015? He was a 5-foot-9, 175-pound competitor, a peerless bunter, a breathtaking base runner, a player with a brilliant baseball mind. Would that game play in 2015? Collins averaged — AVERAGED — more than 20 sacrifice hits per season over his 25-year career. Last year, no player had more than 13 sacrifice bunts. We don’t have complete information, but based on what we do know it seems Collins routinely would get thrown out 30 times a season attempting to steal. That obviously wouldn’t play these days. Collins seemed to get on base a lot with bunts … but even his admirers would say that he wasn’t breathtaking fast, he was just a great bunter. Would that work in 2015 against specialized defenses?

Then again he was just such a smart player — you have to believe he would adjust to modern times. Would have become a faster Dustin Pedroia? A Joe Morgan type? Your guess is probably as irrelevant as mine.

The District Attorney Posted: March 05, 2015 at 02:12 PM | 146 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, eddie collins, history, joe posnanski, white sox

Mike Norris and the Moral Winter – The Hardball Times

Here’s a nice article about Mike Norris.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 05, 2015 at 08:33 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, mike norris

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Deep dive from Ike Davis on Mets’ downfall, hope for future - NY Daily News

I still kinda like Ike.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 28, 2015 at 08:06 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, ike davis, mets

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Donaldson already proving great fit with Blue Jays | MLB.com

“I have a pretty good relationship with [A’s GM] Billy Beane,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ve done a bunch of small deals. The one thing about Billy, he’s always open-minded and you can never offend him; you can ask about anybody at any time to make a deal.

“[Donaldson] is somebody we asked about right at the end of the season. We were adamantly told, ‘He’s not going to be moved.’ Then we asked about him a little later. [Beane] was still adamant that [Donaldson] was not going to be moved. Then I guess, about a week before we did the deal, we asked about him again in a conversation, he again said he wouldn’t move him, but it seemed in passing that one of the issues was they wanted to win this year. They might retool, but they weren’t going to tear it down.

“[Beane] wasn’t going to leave a hole at third base. I’m the one who introduced Lawrie at that point. We weren’t going to trade Lawrie, but I wasn’t getting anywhere with trying to get Donaldson. Once I introduced Lawrie to fill that hole for him, he seemed a little bit more open-minded and we took it from there. That was the only way I think things could get off the ground, because [Beane] still had every intention to win.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2015 at 05:52 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, blue jays

Friday, February 20, 2015

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-20-2015

Pittsburgh Press, February 20, 1915:

One writer suggests that the Cleveland Americans be called the Submarines, because they are always on the bottom. The only objection is that the Cincinnati Reds might dispute this title.

...and elsewhere on the same page:

After being with a second-division team for several years Lajoie has got renewed ambition. He has got something worth while to work for in 1915.
...
“I can hardly wait for the time to go south,” said Lajoie. “It has been several years since I was so eager to get into a baseball uniform as I am now. I want to show that I’ve got a lot of good ball playing yet left in me, and I think the ‘old boy’ will be back there in the .300 class next season.”

The joke was on Nap. The 1915 Athletics lost 109 games, which was the third-worst record in MLB from 1900-1915. The 1916 Athletics were the worst team of baseball’s modern area. They went 36-117 (.235) and finished 54.5 games out of first place. 41-year-old Nap hit .246 with no OBP or SLG to speak of, then retired.

And the Cleveland Submarines? They won a World Series before the Athletics finished above last place.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Zito back with A’s part of Beane’s next movie plot | CSN Bay Area

Here’s your feel good story of the spring.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 17, 2015 at 08:34 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, barry zito

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Schoenfield: Ranking the teams: 18 through 13

I’m just the messenger: Just pointing out that Lester had a 4.82 ERA in 2012 and 3.75 in 2013. Yes, big 2014, new league, no DH and more cutters instead of four-seamers and he could be even better. But you never know. He may not be as good as he was last year. And then there’s Jake Arrieta, former faded prospect turned rotation anchor. He looks like the real deal but ... again ... you never know. Hey, I’m trying. I like the Cubs! I have them ranked 13th!

The final word: If I had more guts I’d predict them to win the division, but they have two strong clubs ahead of them and even the Brewers or Reds are capable of 90 wins. The Cubs are still sorting a few things out and waiting for some of the young guys to mature. Sometimes, teams do break through right away; if Bryant and Jorge Soler are 3-4 win players as rookies and Lester and Arrieta throw 400-plus innings of great baseball, the Cubs could be the big surprise of 2015.

Prediction: 84-78

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 12, 2015 at 10:21 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, athletics, cubs, david schoenfield, padres, royals, tigers

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Many new faces but same high expectations at A’s FanFest - San Francisco Chronicle

“I’d like Billy Beane to be able to tell America, ‘Take that!’ when this is all over,” new bench coach Mike Aldrete said during the Q-and-A.

“One thing I’ve always heard around the league is, ‘Billy knows what he’s doing,’” new first baseman Ike Davis said. “I figured he had a plan, just be patient, and now that you look at it, it’s a pretty exciting team.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 08, 2015 at 10:35 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, billy beane

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Billy Beane has re-made the A’s again. Will it work? - MLB - SI.com

Jay Jaffe’s A’s Winter Report Card.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 05, 2015 at 09:01 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Monday, January 19, 2015

Madden: Beane’s A’s good to go, Hart’s Braves gone for year - NY Daily News

Comparing and contrasting John Hart’s and Billy Beane’s off-seasons.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2015 at 05:36 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, braves

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Zobrist in Oakland | Articles | Bill James Online

Dave Fleming looks at the A’s and Ben Zobrist.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 15, 2015 at 02:40 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, ben zobrist, sabermetrics

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Nationals To Acquire Yunel Escobar

Not a Bay Area guy, I guess…

The Nationals have reached an agreement to acquire shortstop Yunel Escobar from the A’s, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). He speculates that a swap of Escobar and Tyler Clippard was a possibility.

Escobar, of course, had only just been acquired by the Athletics this past weekend…

As for the Nationals, the acquisition opens a number of avenues. First and foremost is that Escobar simply supplants Danny Espinosa as the team’s second baseman… However, the possibility of an eventual Desmond trade cannot be outright ignored…

The 32-year-old Escobar, typically a sound defender, had somewhat of a down season on both sides of the ball in 2014. Though he picked things up with the bat late in the season to salvage a .258/.324/.340 batting line (92 OPS+, 95 wRC+), he posted a UZR/150 of -26, and Defensive Runs Saved dinged him equally, rating him at -24 runs. However, Escobar also battled shoulder and knee problems last season and has otherwise always been regarded as an excellent defender, so while some will assume this to be age-related decline, there’s reason to believe that he could rebound in 2015.


Monday, January 12, 2015

Oakland’s Ben Zobrist Deal Erases Any Doubt About Billy Beane’s Strategy «

Ben Lindbergh takes a look at the A’s moves.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 12, 2015 at 04:09 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics

Saturday, January 10, 2015

A look at the A’s deal for Ben Zobrist, Yunel Escobar

Another slow news day and BOOM!

With the additions of Ben Zobrist, who will become Oakland’s primary second baseman, and shortstop Yunel Escobar, the A’s are likely done assembling their 2015 team – and there is little doubt they plan to contend.

Zobrist was hotly pursued by numerous teams this winter, including the Giants, but the fact that Oakland could also find a spot for Escobar probably helped the A’s complete the deal.  The A’s will send catcher John Jaso to the Rays along with two minor-leaguers, top shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson and outfielder Boog Powell.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 10, 2015 at 01:35 PM | 44 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, ben zobrist, boog powell, daniel robertson, john jaso, rays, yunel escobar

Has Josh Donaldson reached his peak? - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

David Schoenfield takes a look.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 10, 2015 at 11:00 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, blue jays, josh donaldson

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bill James Mailbag - 1/4/15 - 1/6/15

But what does this have to do with… oh.

Bill, I saw an early return on a few (under 100) HOF ballots online, and Smoltz has over 75% needed to get in. Schilling has under 75%. Would it surprise you to see Smoltz get in ahead of Schilling?...

Well, I would certainly vote for Smoltz over Schilling. If you compare them as starting pitchers Schilling is ahead, but he wins by an NBA score. . . .98 to 93, or 102 to 97, something like that. If you put Smoltz’ three seasons of top-shelf relief pitching into the equation, I think he beats Schilling. In overtime.

What are the parameters in estimating improvement in MLB play over decades? For example, in sports that are measured quantitatively (track, swimming, weight-lifting, etc.) we know that runners have not improved their times in the 400 meter dash by 200% over the last few decades but that new records have been set, and we can eyeball what that improvement has been. Can we use a variety of comparative measures, not necessarily from these sports but including them, to estimate the ranges of improvement in MLB, or is it all just guesswork and BS and bias?

It’s not easy. The problem with the “parallel track” assumption is that the time line doesn’t match. The improvements that have taken place in track and field from 1960 to 2010 may have occurred in baseball from 1876 to 1920. (Certainly it is obvious that there was vast improvement in skills in baseball from 1876 to 1920. . .less obvious what the improvements have been since then.) Also, improvement in a complex set of skills is not parallel to improvement in a simple, direct skill such as runnin’ real fast or picking up something heavy. Baseball requires a mix of 100 or more highly refined skills. All of those improve at different speeds, and improvement in one waits on improvement in the others. One cannot learn to hit a 92 MPH breaking pitch until a significant number of people are around who can THROW a 92 MPH breaking pitch in the strike zone. We can work on the problem and gain some insight, but I’m not confident that we can measure improvement in baseball skills relative to other activities.

Bill, I dont remember if youve been asked this before? Do you support the pitch clock for pitchers? I think there should be a 30 second limit from when the pitcher receives the ball. And you?

I don’t know that a CLOCK is necessary. DIscipline is necessary. Stop calling timeout when there is no REASON to call time out. ALlow the umpire to call a “ball” when the pitcher dawdles. Skip the clock; it’s just discipline.

Hey Bill, It’s 1959 and you’re transported back to the Kansas City A’s owner’s office. You have one day to talk with him and the GM to try to impart as much as you can to them with the goal of trying to create a Kansas City A’s dynasty in the 1960s and beyond. Without naming names or saying stuff like “go trade for that young 1st baseman on the Giants”, that is, teaching them how to fish instead of giving them a fish, what are the things you would tell them to look at or to do? What are your priorities to get across to them to turn their club around?

The number one thing, certainly for THAT organization, is to get them to understand that player development is a process that takes time and requires patience. 1959 is a little bit too late to save that franchise. In 1959 they had no farm system to speak of. Connie Mack’s old farm system from Philadelphia, that moved to KC in ‘55, was way behind the time, and didn’t produce anything from 1955 to 1959. There is nothing you can do with nothing; you can’t trade your way to a pennant if you have nothing to start with, so the first thing you have to do is build a farm system. By 1959 that process was underway but slow. By 1963, with the hiring of Hank Peters, their development system started moving, and by 1967, when they left for Oakland, this was producing talent. So if you could move that process forward by 4 years, from 1963 to 1959, that would have helped, and if the organization had shown more patience with young players like Lou Klimchock, Nelson Mathews, Manny Jimenez, Bill Bryan, Fred Norman and others, that would have helped, and if you put those two things together, we could have moved the clock back to where the organization was rolling in 1964, rather than in 1968.

Hey Bill, did Brian Giles just become the best player ever to get zero Hall of Fame votes?

Frank Tanana. It was in the New York Times this morning. Same article mentioned my name. . ..thanks to whoever wrote that.


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