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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Checking the facts ... yup, MLB still has greater parity than the NFL

But the NFL is better to parody.

* Since I spend most of my year honed in on baseball, I can actually tell you exactly which day I first started looking forward to writing this column. It was Oct. 15. That was the day we learned the identity of the final four playoff teams in a sport in which everybody knows The Same Teams Win Every Year. Those four teams were:

The Royals—who hadn’t won a World Series since 1985 (30 years).

The Mets—who hadn’t won since 1986 (29 years).

The Blue Jays—who hadn’t won since 1993 (22 years).

And the Cubs—who hadn’t won since Lincoln was president. All right, not really. I made that up. It was 1908 (107 years).

So that adds up to 188 title-free seasons. In a sport in which The Same Teams Win Every Year. Just thought I’d throw that out there.

* But back in the NFL, the final four looked slightly more familiar.

There were the Broncos. They’ve been in the playoffs five years in a row and 12 of the past 20.

There were the Patriots, who were playing in their fifth straight conference final in their seventh straight trip to the playoffs. And their 12th in the last 13 years.

And there were the Panthers and Cardinals. Two teams that hadn’t faced each other in a playoff game since—oh, wait—a whole 386 days. In the previous year’s playoffs.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:21 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: nfl, parity

We’ll have robot quality umps by 2059

Better umpires? Or replicants?

But improve is what umpires have done every year since we’ve had access to robust PITCHf/x data. When you plot out every pitch umpires had to call a ball or a strike from Baseball Savant and judge accuracy using its strike zone definition, the consistency of this improvement stands out immediately. Over the past seven seasons, umpires have improved their accuracy by 0.37 percentage points each year, a value that seems negligible until you work out that over the course of the season the decision to call a ball or strike comes down to the umpire on roughly half of pitches thrown. This represents more than 350,000 strike zone judgement calls home plate umpires, as a group, must make each year….

Umpires’ mastery over the strike zone has been on a steady, linear progression toward robotic perfection since we’ve been able to track it in the public domain. The adjustment that younger pitchers have been better able to make is calling fewer balls as strikes each year. If the yearly changes continue on, we’ll have robot quality umpires in the summer of 2059. Maybe even sooner, as the older, less adaptable umpires are replaced.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 06, 2016 at 09:13 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch fx, umpiring

WANTED: New home for American League baseball team | Tampa Bay Times

Actual criteria for picking stadium deal: make a deal which extracts as big a profit as possible regardless to the the actual benefits of taxpayers.

The potential for public-private partnerships, economic development opportunities, site accessibility and regional connectivity — “those are critically important elements of any potential location.”

The Rays appear eager to start providing details to interested parties. Team officials delivered the document to St. Petersburg officials three weeks after the City Council approved a deal allowing them to look outside the city. The memorandum of understanding gave the club 60 days.

The document lists six categories by which the Rays will evaluate potential sites:
• Catalyst for development
• Local authenticity
• Regional connectivity
• Site accesibility
• Size and geometry
• Financial feasibility and development readiness

The granite countertops could come up later.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 06, 2016 at 06:17 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: rays

Padres say they’re not rebuilding, plan to compete in 2016 | SanDiegoUnionTribune.com

If the Padres won’t call this a rebuild, what do they expect in 2016?

“Significant improvement,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “We underperformed last year. Our goal is to overperform this year.”

“For us, 2015 was just a step in the process,” said president and CEO Mike Dee. “It was part of a journey, part of the plan. 2016 brings a next step with a new manager and a team we think is going to compete.”

“We’re looking to field a team that’s competitive in the short- and long-term,” said general manager A.J. Preller. “I think the biggest thing is you want to continue to grow, and on the big-league side, it’s going to be fun to watch (manager) Andy Green this season putting players on the field and getting them in position to play better.”

Said lead investor Peter Seidler: “We’re going to try to be in the playoffs this year, and that’s going to be from day one.”

 

Jim Furtado Posted: February 06, 2016 at 06:10 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: padres

Friday, February 05, 2016


Stephen Strasburg: This Could Be the Year | FanGraphs Baseball

Tony Blengino’s take.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:58 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: nationals, sabermetrics, stephen strasburg

Citi Field and Yankee Stadium Could Become Off Limits to Smokeless Tobacco

The effort has achieved results. Starting this season, smokeless tobacco will be banned in three of baseball’s most notable sites: AT&T Park in San Francisco, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and Fenway Park in Boston. Players will be barred from using the substance both on the field and in the clubhouse.

Get the big sports news, highlights and analysis from Times journalists, with distinctive takes on games and some behind-the-scenes surprises, delivered to your inbox every week.

Now, a member of the New York City Council, Corey Johnson, is set to introduce a bill Friday that will include language that would ban smokeless tobacco from Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, along with other public arenas in the five boroughs.

“If New York passes this bill, and I think it will, it moves us dramatically closer to the day when smokeless tobacco is prohibited in all major league cities,” said Matthew Myers, the president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 10:21 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, smokeless tobacco, yankees


Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-5-2016

Topeka State Journal, February 5, 1916:

Jim Scott, big league star, got his start this way: In 1907 Oskaloosa in the Iowa State league had eleven pitchers and no catcher. The manager wired to Chicago for a catcher and through mistake Scott was sent out. He was determined to pitch in the first game after his arrival, and did so well that he was signed to a contract before the end of the game.

A fun story, but it likely isn’t true. According to Scott’s SABR bio, he showed up uninvited in Oskaloosa after a failed tryout 60 miles away in Des Moines.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 05, 2016 at 06:57 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, jim scott

Japan Times: Retired slugger Kiyohara refuses to divulge drug source, admits injecting, smoking stimulant

This isn’t some run-of-the-mill former star getting busted for drug use. Kiyohara was one of the greatest sluggers in NPB history, hitting 525 home runs over 22 seasons from 1986 to 2008. With multiple gambling scandals in NPB this off season, it hasn’t been a good year for baseball’s reputation in Japan.

The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating the possibility that the seller of the drug is connected to yakuza. They also plan to learn when and how Kiyohara started using the drug. The police plan to send him to the public prosecutor’s office later on Thursday for suspected violation of the laws to control stimulants…

...“Sometimes I injected it into my arm, and sometimes I burned it in a glass pipe and inhaled,” he reportedly said.

vortex of dissipation Posted: February 05, 2016 at 02:24 AM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: drug abuse, japanese baseball

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Jonny Gomes: Sayonara, For Now: Why I’m Playing In Japan

Gomes will be big in Japan.

Unsure of whether or not I wanted to wait again until February to find an MLB team, I remembered that old scout from Durham. Have you ever thought about playing in Japan? And the idea of playing in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan became option 1A. So I started doing some homework.

Here’s what I learned:

Free agency is a lot different over there. They like to set their rosters early. So if you start pushing that panic button in late January or February and you think Japan is an option, it’s really not. They don’t do the long negotiations like we do here. There’s no free-agency frenzy. Only a few guys a year become free agents.

Also, if you’re from the Major Leagues, it doesn’t matter how bad you want to play in Japan. They have to really want you. They don’t just take scraps from the big leagues here. They have plenty of talented players of their own.

They don’t need or want Major League leftovers….

Maybe I’ll see you guys again come August … Maybe I won’t.

But we’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, I’m 100-percent focused on winning a championship in Japan.

Until then? Sayonara, ‘Murica.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 04, 2016 at 10:36 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: japan, jonny gomes, players tribune

Bobby Cox endorses Eddie Perez as MLB manager | MLB.com

Bobby likes Eddie.

“Eddie is really a plus on any team. He would be a plus managing someday,” Cox said. “He’s still got young kids in high school and the family. He’s such a big family guy, and it’s hard for him to leave Atlanta right now. But I think in a couple years, he’ll be able to do that or whatever. He’s Major League managerial material, for sure.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 09:43 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: bobby cox, braves, eddie perez, managers

Suddenly Frugal Yankees Playing Long Game With Eye On Bryce Harper

For those who have more than a Passan interest in the Yankees and/or Bryce Harper’s future:

Nobody with the Yankees dared comment on Harper, even off the record, because their future marriage is considered so inevitable by most in the sport that the team dare not trifle with tampering charges. Considering the pains to which the Yankees are going to tighten finances, Harper as the endgame makes worlds of sense.

His age – and the ability to cull prime years from a free agent, a rarity – is as much of a selling point as his ability. And Harper’s transformation from enfant terrible to the most marketable player in baseball by a large margin fits the Yankees’ ethos. Star power matters to the Yankees more than any other team.

How much they’re willing to pay for their ideal fit is the question. Presuming Harper plays at a similar level for the next three years, his contract floor will be $400 million – a number, surely, at which the Washington Nationals won’t balk in their efforts to keep Harper in their uniform for his entire career. Their presence creates the prospect of a bidding war, and the idea that Harper skips $400 million altogether and aims for a half-billion-dollar deal is not altogether far-fetched. If that’s the price it takes to ensure he’s in the same lineup as Greg Bird and Aaron Judge and Jorge Mateo and Gary Sanchez, the homegrown core that the Yankees hope will have developed by then, it’s just money, something the Yankees in the past have all but printed.

Bote Man sez $/yr not yr/$$ Posted: February 04, 2016 at 07:38 PM | 68 comment(s)
  Beats: bryce harper, free agents, nationals, yankees

Don Orsillo makes new home with Padres | MLB.com

The Padres have a great announcer.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 03:07 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: broadcasters, don orsillo, padres, red sox

The Wainwrightization of Rick Porcello | FanGraphs

Great stuff from Jeff Sullivan.

Granted, there are similarities between lots of great players and lots of inferior players. The limitation of the pitch-comp system is it says nothing about consistency, and I can’t imagine Porcello yet trusts his curve the way that Wainwright has trusted his. One still has to assume Wainwright commands the pitch better, and then there’s also the matter of Wainwright having the cutter, which is better than Porcello’s. The effectiveness of a pitch is in part about the effectiveness of the other pitches, so Porcello still has a lot of proving to do. The point isn’t that Rick Porcello turned into Adam Wainwright when nobody noticed.

The point is simply that Rick Porcello’s curveball has evolved into something extremely similar to Adam Wainwright’s curveball. You can choose how much to make of that. If nothing else, it’s something to watch for.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 02:45 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: adam wainwright, cardinals, pitching, red sox, rick porcello, sabermetrics

OT: Soccer Thread - February 2016

Coming up in the month of February:

Man City v. Leicester (2/6)
USWNT Olympic Qualifying (2/10 - 2/21)
Juventus v. Napoli (2/13)
Arsenal v. Leicester and Man City v. Spurs (2/14)
The return of the Champions League (starting 2/16)
Madrid Derby (2/27)
League Cup final (2/28)

Probably lots of other things I’m failing to remember.

Baldrick Posted: February 04, 2016 at 02:37 PM | 57 comment(s)
  Beats: football, off-topic, soccer

NBC/Calcaterra: Cubs sign Matt Murton

When you saw this link, you thought the database must have puked on itself and started pulling up articles from ten years ago. But no, this actually happened in the Year of Our Lord 2016.

I’m rooting for him.

But after the 2009 season he went to Japan and has been playing there ever since, all of it with the Hanshin Tigers. And he’s played really well there too. In 2010 he broke Ichiro’s single season hits record with 214 in a year in which he put up a line of .349/.395/.499. Over the course of his six seasons his line is .310/.352/.437. He fell off last season, however, posting a .691 OPS and seeing his OBP fall to .316.

PASTE Transcends Almost All Generations (Zeth) Posted: February 04, 2016 at 12:03 PM | 29 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, matt murton, no, really

The Mets plan to implement a six-man rotation again in 2016 | FOX Sports

It appears as though the New York Mets will hold another on-and-off affair with a six-man rotation.

General manager Sandy Alderson tells ESPN.com that the Mets plan to “strategically use a sixth starter to keep their staff fresh.”

New York implemented a six-man rotation primarily consisting of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese, Bartolo Colón, and rookies Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz with mixed reaction in 2016.

Although the format allowed the Mets to preserve their young arms, not everyone was thrilled with the unorthodox arrangement, particularly Harvey, who lamented that it threw off his usual schedule for preparing for a start.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 10:48 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: mets

Scott Boras, other baseball minds propose anti-tanking measures - Buster Olney Blog- ($Insider$)

How do these changes actually help bad teams return to contention?

In no particular order, here are some of the suggestions mentioned by evaluators and agents:

1. Prevent teams from picking at or near the top of the draft in successive seasons:
(snip)

2. Reduce the difference in draft dollars attached to the highest picks under the current system:
(snip)

3. Have a draft lottery:
(snip)

4. The E system: Agent Scott Boras presented a multifaceted idea that would allow the worst teams to extract proper value from their picks in the years in which elite talents (like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper) are available in the draft, but also would push the worst teams to compete to the best of their ability.
Call it the E system. As in “Elite.”

Boras spoke with admiration about how the science of scouting has developed, how much more precise the evaluators and their evaluations have become, and his suggestion places a lot of power in the hands of scouts.

Some years, no special talents like a Ken Griffey Jr. or a Joe Mauer or a Harper emerge in the draft. But when they do, those players can be undervalued under the current system. If Harper had been available in last year’s draft, by rule he could not have gotten more than what the Diamondbacks had available in draft dollars, without substantial penalty to the team.

So Boras proposes a special E draft. Ask teams to submit a list of possible E talents, players they deem to be worth more than the dollars allotted to the top slot in the draft. Any player listed by 15 or more teams as being one of those elite talents would become eligible for a special E draft. “You let the industry decide who those players are in a given year,” Boras said.

Griffey, Harper and Strasburg certainly would’ve been in that category. Some years, there might be four or five, Boras explained, some years there might be only one or two. For as many players who are selected for the E draft, there would be a matching number of teams eligible to participate, according to which clubs finished at the bottom of the standings.

Here’s the catch: Under Boras’ proposed system, in order for a team to participate in the special E draft, it would have to win at least 68 games, a threshold that, according to Boras, distinguishes teams that are simply bad from those that are tanking and trying to lose. This would provide incentive to bad teams to do as much as possible to win down the stretch, and eliminate a lot of the incentive for teams to tank seasons.

For example, let’s say there were four players deemed worthy of the special E draft in 2016. The four teams participating could bid openly on those four players, with the option of trading their picks, selling their picks, etc., to ensure they would receive proper value. Each of the teams participating in the E draft would be assured of one player, either to sign or trade or sell.

The system also would ensure that the very best players eligible for the amateur draft would be paid like the players from Cuba and other countries are paid, with offers that reflected their actual value to clubs. Boras believes that this would help attract the best athletes in the U.S. and Canada who might otherwise play other sports.

After the players were selected in the E draft, the remaining players would be eligible for the standard draft process, with the worst teams picking first.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 10:07 AM | 69 comment(s)
  Beats: economics, scott boras

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-4-2016

Pittsburgh Press, February 4, 1916:

In a Western league game last season the following play came up, the like of which probably never before occurred on a ball field. Omaha had three men on bases with none out; three balls and two strikes had been called on the batter, when he met the ball solidly and drove it on a line straight to the shortstop…It looked like a sure triple play, but [baserunner] Cy Forsythe...reached up into the air with his right hand and pulled the ball down, thus preventing the shortstop from catching it.

Naturally, a long argument immediately took place. St. Joseph insisted that Forsythe and the batter should be declared out for the former’s interference, which prevented the shortstop from completing at least a double play. The umpire could find nothing in the rule book to warrant such a decision and called Forsythe out for interference.

I’m not sure what the rule was in 1915, but in 2015, this situation was covered with Rule 6.01(a)(6): If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball…the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner

It’s still probably a good move by a baserunner if he’s fairly certain he’s breaking up a triple play, but that’s not likely to happen terribly often.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 04, 2016 at 09:45 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Will Detroit Tigers Lopsided Right-Handed Lineup be a Handicap?

Can a team win with an almost exclusive RH lineup?

This year the Detroit Tigers will feature an everyday lineup with eight right-handed batters and one switch-hitter Although it’s quite a potent lineup, it’s a remarkably lopsided one. You can argue this one-sidedness doesn’t matter, but the numbers say it does. To take a fair measure, examine the Tiger regulars’ OPS against righties and lefties over the last three seasons.

Here are those figures for the cumulative OPS from 2013, 2014, and 2015: Only Maybin has a “reverse split” with an OPS over that three-year period of.639 vs. lefties and .667 vs. righties…

Wahoo Sam Posted: February 04, 2016 at 09:29 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cameron maybin, detroit tigers, justin upton

Orioles have expressed interest in free-agent right-hander Tim Lincecum - Baltimore Sun

They have “expressed interest”.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 09:20 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, orioles, tim lincecum

Wrigleyville -THE BEST CUBS CATCHERS SINCE 1988

BP thinks Joe Girardi stunk.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 08:53 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, sabermetrics

MLB’s most unpredictable team in every division.

Winning the off-season means nothing.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 08:31 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: predictions

Mets GM: Premature to call Conforto an everyday player - NY Daily News

Why trade for De Aza? He’ll probably end up getting cut.

Alderson said he could see teams approaching him about deals for Alejandro De Aza, though he’s not engaged there now. The GM acknowledged that the outfielder’s playing situation is “a little less clear” now that Cespedes is here. “But we’re happy to have another left-handed hitter who hits well against right-handed pitching and we’ll figure it out,” Alderson said. Juan Lagares, meanwhile, “definitely has a role for us, probably coming off the bench, maybe against left-handed pitching, primarily,” Alderson said. “But certainly his defense will get him into most games.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 04, 2016 at 08:07 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, michael conforto

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