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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Spector: Negative run differential doesn’t tell whole story for first-place Cardinals

Didn’t realize Boras took Jesse on as a client! (Kidding, kidding.)

the Cardinals have been outscored for the season, 532-526. That means St. Louis’ Pythagorean record — where the Cardinals could expect to be, based on their runs scored and allowed — is 68-69, six games worse than their actual mark of 74-63…

St. Louis has gone through this season with a highly stratified starting rotation. The Cardinals have gotten 70 starts from Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright and the injured Michael Wacha, whose combined ERA is 2.69. The combined ERA of the eight other pitchers to start games for St. Louis this season is 4.59.

In games started by the Big Three, the Cardinals have a 256-203 scoring margin, which means that in all other games, the Cardinals have been outscored 329-270. From a Pythagorean standpoint, the Cardinals have performed exactly as expected in starts by their top pitchers, going 42-28, which means that they have outperformed math in the starts by the dregs of the rotation… the Cardinals have a 16-18 record in games decided by five or more runs, [and] they have been outscored by 30 runs in such games. As the sixth-lowest scoring team in the major leagues, St. Louis does not have the ability to really blow out opponents. Having lost four games by 10 or more runs, the Cardinals have only one such win on their ledger, and that was Saturday’s 13-2 rout of the Cubs.

To put it a different way, in their 10 biggest wins and 10 biggest losses — games that were in no kind of doubt whatsoever — the Cardinals have a run differential of minus-18. When they wave the white flag, they really wave it. To call St. Louis lucky does not capture what the National League Central leaders have done, but neither does it work to say that they know how to win.

The reason that the Cardinals are in first place with a negative run differential is that they know how to lose.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:53 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

Expanded Rosters Exacerbate Baseball’s Biggest Issue

It’s generally a good thing that the latest iteration of the MLB schedule attempts to put so many intra-divisional games late in the season, but that just means that so many of these extremely important games are played with wildly over-inflated rosters. Worse, it’s not the same for every team. Tampa Bay, for example, added only three new players, plus brought back David DeJesus from the disabled list. It’s valid to say that there’s no reason that the Rays couldn’t also have activated as many players as anyone else, but that also hardly seems to matter. That there’s even an option for any team to have more active players as their opponent is stunning.

It’s a complaint we see every year, of course. In 2009, Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin came out against it, saying “It’s like a Spring Training game” and “it’s like playing three-on-six in basketball or 11-on-18 in football.” While that’s not entirely accurate — it’s not like one team gets to add a second shortstop and two more outfielders during play — his point is well-taken, and his solution was the same one that everyone has: activate as much of your 40-man roster as you like, but designate a certain amount — say, 30 — for each game…

Remember, really, that this isn’t just about what’s fair and right when it comes to contesting very important baseball games. It’s also about not exacerbating one of the main problems facing the game right now. The biggest talking point about baseball right now, fairly or not, is length of game. There’s a certain beauty to the clock-free nature of baseball, and there are absolutely situations where the hand-wringing about the length of games goes too far, but it’s absolutely a valid question worth discussing.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:13 PM | 34 comment(s)
  Beats: expanded rosters, length of games, pace of the game

Passan: 10 Degrees: Cole Hamels’ trade value might be Phillies’ lone bright spot

I assume a ‘shop of Amaro looking like Derpy Hooves already exists, what with this being the Internet.

BTW, Harrison also leads the NL in Chadwick Ratio.

The latest reminder that the Philadelphia Phillies are an actual major league ballclub, as opposed to a Ruben Amaro Jr. fever dream in which he endeavors to lavish old, older and oldest ballplayers with contracts bad, worse and what were you thinking, came Monday afternoon. Four Phillies pitchers combined to no-hit the Atlanta Braves. It was a cool moment.

Particularly because it reminded the world that not only does Cole Hamels still exist amid the mountain of derp that is these Phillies, he is turning in one of his finest seasons at the perfect time for Philadelphia to cash in… Amaro told Philadelphia reporters Monday that he planned on overhauling his roster this offseason, which is all well and good in a fantasy land where opposing teams agree to pay full freight for the overpaid boondoggles with which he has saddled the Phillies….  if the Phillies want to start over – and they need to start over – they’ve got to trade Cole Hamels.

Anybody who performs so improbably well that he finds himself on an MVP ballot a year after logging fewer than 100 plate appearances deserves every bit of praise imaginable.

[Josh] Harrison’s selection into the All-Star Game this year got waylaid in this space as an overreaction to a small sample of productivity. All Harrison has done since the break is lead baseball with a .599 slugging percentage. Yes, 5-foot-8 Josh Harrison is outslugging Abreu, Big Papi, Giancarlo Stanton and every other leviathan who can punish a ball 500 feet.

In the six weeks since the break, Harrison has hit eight home runs in 167 at-bats. Over his first three seasons in the major leagues, he hit seven in 532 at-bats.

Matt Shoemaker… turns 28 at the end of September, and his major league career before this season consisted of one start at the end of last season.

He had journeyman written all over him, what with back-to-back seasons of palindromic 5.65 and 4.64 ERAs at Triple-A… Since joining the rotation June 17, Shoemaker is 11-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 80 strikeouts and 13 walks. Opponents are hitting .229 against him and getting on base 26.5 percent of the time. His current scoreless-inning streak is at 23, and he should be a lock for AL pitcher of the month in August, during which he went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA and allowed just two home runs in 41 1/3 innings.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 03:01 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, cole hamels, josh harrison, matt shoemaker, phillies, pirates

Gleeman: Twins ask fans which brand of luxury car they are

Okay, now I know this data is useless.

Below you’ll find a question included in a “brand survey” the Minnesota Twins’ marketing department just sent out to their fans via e-mail.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:51 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: marketing, twins

The indisputable selfishness of Derek Jeter

The indisputable selfishness of Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is often portrayed as the perfect team player, but the inevitably poor production of his age-40 season is putting the Yankees in a bind from which only he can free it. The reason so many people get annoyed with Derek

EvilBoWeevil Posted: September 02, 2014 at 02:27 PM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: yankees

Newsweek: Can Baseball Get More Interesting to Watch With Big Data?

I love stats. I think the broadcasting of baseball games could be much better and more interesting than it currently is. This nonetheless doesn’t describe anything I have the slightest desire to see. But, you tell me.

h/t Sean Lahman, known to data some data in his day

The top task for Major League Baseball’s incoming commissioner, Rob Manfred, is to try to make a lullaby-paced sport that takes three hours per game relevant to the Snapchat generation. This season the league began installing a phalanx of gadgets and systems that will collect and analyze data about every sliver of action in every game, clearly betting that data will add a Twilight Zone-like dimension to baseball that no one can yet see. Claudio Silva, the scientist MLB hired to help make sense of the data, is authoring an academic paper titled “Baseball 4D.” Claudio Silva, the scientist MLB hired to help make sense of the data, is authoring an academic paper titled “Baseball 4D.”...

The goal, Silva says, is to have so much information, a game could be re-created completely by using data.

Baseball would come to exist in an entirely digital form, which could be manipulated by fans to perhaps create new games. You might be able to tap into a previously played baseball game and create a new game by taking charge of calling the pitches: curve, strike, changeup. Then watch as a real-time, realistic version of the game unfolds as you play. Or maybe you could do that through Google Glass while at a live game: Call a different pitch and see what might have happened in the live at-bat you just witnessed…

This could be baseball’s comeback… Or perhaps data will uplift a new sport, the way TV ushered in the NFL… Expect intense data to create a new kind of sports excitement—less visceral, more analytical—that translates a non-TV event into a perfect smartphone event. This could turn the Tour de France into a global obsession, and make bike racing as addictive as Candy Crush.

All this is still a great unknown. What is clear is that we’ve reached a new dividing line in sports. Newspapers, radio, TV, data. We are now in a new era that is waiting for some sport to claim it. MLB is stepping up to the plate. Let’s see whether it whiffs or hits one out of the park.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:54 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: media, sabermetrics, television

OT: September 2014 College Football thread

Link is to Ian Boyd’s piece at SBNation on the evolution of the zone read:

{I}f you were to ask a longtime defensive coach like Manny Diaz where the sport is heading, he’d point you to a signature moment in the most thrilling game in recent memory: Auburn’s victory in the 2013 Iron Bowl over mighty Alabama.

But Diaz wasn’t as struck by the “Kick Six” touchdown that sealed the deal for the Tigers, nor the budding Saban-vs.-spread rivalry. Instead Diaz zeroes in on a play by Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, one ending 31 seconds before Chris Davis’ 109-yard game-winner.

“It’s the most significant thing to happen to college football,” the 17-year coaching veteran says. “The most important play of last season was the touchdown that tied the game at 28.”

The play in question started out as a standard zone-read play, one Auburn had been running the entire season. It was at this moment that Gus Malzahn’s offense brought football’s future to the biggest stage.

Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: September 02, 2014 at 01:10 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: college football, off-topic

Giants to promote Brett Bochy

Gleeman is not a fan.

The Giants are rolling a family reunion into their September call-ups.

The team plans to purchase the contract of right-hander Brett Bochy, son of manager Bruce Bochy, along with four other additions after Triple-A Fresno plays its season finale on Monday.

The younger Bochy, a 20th-round pick in 2010 out of Kansas, posted a 3.57 ERA in 34 games (two starts), striking out 47 and walking 24 in 53 innings… The 27-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after the Giants drafted him and has made steady progress over the past four seasons…

This isn’t the first time a Giants manager has had his son on the roster. Bochy’s predecessor, Felipe Alou, managed Moises Alou with both the Montreal Expos and Giants.

The District Attorney Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:50 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: brett bochy, bruce bochy, giants, minor leagues

Rule change means more players to choose from for postseason roster

In the past, players on the 25-man roster as of Aug. 31 were eligible, along with players on the disabled list. The overall restriction was not that severe, however; any player in the organization could replace an injured player.

The difference now is that all players on the 40-man roster as of Aug. 31 are eligible. The Pirates, for example, can name outfielder Gregory Polanco to their postseason roster even though they will not recall him from the minors until Tuesday.

Polanco also was eligible under the previous rule, as a potential injury replacement. But this system is cleaner. Teams did not need to place players on the “phantom” DL in late August to keep them eligible for the postseason. They can simply pick from their 40-man roster before the playoffs start.

Also, there can be no shenanigans with bumping players off the 60-day DL to create space on the 40-man roster. That player cannot be replaced on the 40-man unless he has served the full 60 regular-season days on the DL.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:50 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: ken rosenthal, post-season roster

Brewers prospect plays every position, all in one game

Nathan Orf plays for the Brevard County Manatees, the Single-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, and he might just be the most versatile player in all of baseball. Normally we’d need to show you a series of charts and supporting claims to prove that point. Instead just look at the box score from Sunday night….

That’s right. Orf played all nine positions for the Manatees, and you know, he didn’t completely suck. He drew a walk, then forced a ground out in the ninth inning as a pitcher. The team’s manager planned to play Orf at every spot, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:49 AM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: brewers, nathan orf, playing all nine positions

Klapisch: Yanks need Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira to lead way to postseason

Mark sends a Tex message! (okay…who pressed the new Invisible Tex app?)

September will require more than a better winning percentage, it means a full makeover for Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, who combined to hit .201 with 14 RBI in August. The two were part of a much larger problem for the Yankees, who rank 13th in the American League in runs and have a minus-27 run differential. ESPN.com says it’s practically hopeless, giving the Bombers a mere 5 percent chance of getting to the playoffs.

The lineup poses two distinct problems for Joe Girardi in particular. He has no everyday replacement for Teixeira, yet watches his first baseman struggling to make contact, let alone drive the ball into the gaps. Over the last month, Teixeira has been striking out once every three at-bats, a decline so steep one talent evaluator said, “It feels like I’m watching a totally different player” than the one the Yankees signed in 2009.

“[Teixeira] only seems to hit mistakes now,” said the scout. That’s what’s so demoralizing to ownership: Teixeira is owed another $45 million through 2016, which means the Yankees are stuck with him, just as they’ll be left to figure out what to do about Carlos Beltran, who’s also signed through ’16.

...To be fair to Jeter, he’s stayed healthy all year, playing 111 games in the field. He’ll likely finish with at least 130, making good on a vow to overcome the effects of a devastating ankle fracture in 2012. But the grind appears to have had a corrosive effect on Jeter, as it would any 40-year-old. One major-league executive said, “Derek just looks tired sometimes.”

Good luck trying to get Jeter to understand the concern. His legacy is secure, his popularity with the fans at an all-time high. There’s no doubt Jeter would be embarrassed by a demotion to, say, the No. 6 spot. But what choice does Girardi have? He’s on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second straight year – a catastrophic setback for a franchise that spent $483 million last winter to ensure October wouldn’t be dark again.

 

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:35 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: yankees

Doc Daugherty: Aroldis Chapman not necessary for Reds

Hell, even Doc Sportello is right once in a while (Fabian Fazzo).

Not that I dislike Aroldis Chapman. I like a good strikeout as much as the next guy. I think it’s great every time he throws a pitch 100 mph, every broadcaster has to tell us about it. It’s cool when he runs in from the bullpen and the GASP crowd cheers. His role in feeding pizza to the masses cannot not be underestimated.

But the fact is, Chapman is useful here, not necessary.

Should we list the reasons again, kids?

Let’s start with the fact that 14 pitchers in MLB have more saves than his 29. Including Addison Reed (Diamondbacks, 57-80) and Glen Perkins (Minnesota, 60-77). Yep, I know Chappy started the year on the DL. But the larger point remains, a great closer on a mediocre-at-best team is like a diamond ring on a chimp’s finger.

Again: Closers are beholden to situations. Specific situations. Somewhere in the Manager’s Manual For Running Games is this edict:

A manager may not use his “closer’’ unless his team is ahead by at least one run, but no more than 3; the game is not in the final inning, preferably the start of the final inning. Managers who employ a “closer’’ in other situations risk being booted from The Order of The Book and subjected to a lifetime of second guessing.

If BPrice had truly wanted to break the mold and burn The Book, he’d have used his best reliever in the most important situations. Hint: They ain’t always the start of the 9th, with the bases clean.

That would have ensured Chappy was used more, and just might have made his presence worth the circus atmosphere surrounding his entrance. As it is, Price hasn’t much strayed from The Book.

Beyond that, Chapman should have been put into the starting rotation, oh, three years ago, where he’d have been assured to work every fifth day, and could have been dominant for 7 innings, not one. That’s why the Reds signed him in the first place.

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2014 at 10:22 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: reds, sabermetrics

Sharp: Yankees chasing history down the stretch

This: “If the Yankees maintain their current season pace, they would become the first team in major-league history to post back-to-back winning seasons while being outscored by at least 20 runs in each year.”

The reasons for the Yankees outperforming their expected record in 2013 and 2014 are pretty clear.

The team has played extremely well in close games, going a combined 92-60 (.605) in games decided by two runs or fewer since last year, which is easily the best such record in MLB over the last two seasons. They led the majors in 2013 with a 50-30 record and are tied with the Orioles for the best record this season (42-30).

And they have been on the losing end of a lot of blowouts, going 29-38 in games decided by five or more runs, one of the worst marks in baseball since 2013. This disparity in their record in close/blowout games easily skews their run differential into the red.

Some people may argue that the Yankees have been “lucky” to win these close games. But the fact that they have done so in consecutive years probably means that more than simple luck is involved.

So what has been the Yankees’ “secret sauce” during this historical run of beating their expected record over the last two seasons?

...Simply put, the Yankees’ late-inning guys are not letting batters get on base in these close games, keeping enough runs off the board to either preserve the team’s slim lead or give the anemic offense a chance to win with a rare clutch hit or two.

So after the Yankees postseason odds inevitably reach zero this season and as you count down the days until Number Two tips his cap for the final time, remember that there will be one statistical record within reach for this Yankee team… albeit one that may be more forgettable than remarkable.

And, needless to say, while the Yankees’ current two-year stretch of defying their run differential at historic pace is quite a feat, it’s one that most fans would gladly replace with a couple postseason appearances and meaningful games to watch in October.

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2014 at 09:29 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: sabermetrics, yankees

BPP: Why do people still think Jack Morris pitched to the score?

When I was involved with the AMVETS for many years I saw a lot of Veterans Committee’s. They were usually drunk. So beware.

Every so often, I see tweets or articles from reputable sources repeating a long-since debunked myth. This one was posted about a week ago:

“Lyle Spencer: Games like Jered Weaver’s tonight, pitching to score, cost Jack Morris the Hall of Fame. Not good for ERA.”

Lyle Spencer, a writer for MLB.com, is no different than a lot of other veteran reporters or fans who keep repeating this idea that Jack Morris pitched to the score. Morris popularized the notion, I think, to bolster his Hall of Fame candidacy despite a lifetime 3.90 ERA. As far as Hall campaign strategies go, it’s probably been one of the more effective ones. Morris just missed induction through the writers ballot and may be a future Veterans Committee pick.

Never mind that Joe Sheehan picked apart the myth of Morris pitching to the score in a landmark 2003 piece for Baseball Prospectus. In the piece, which is long but worth a full read, Sheehan examined everyone of Morris’s 527 career starts and discovered that Morris put his team behind in roughly two-thirds of them. That Morris had 254 wins while allowing nearly four runs a game is largely a credit to pitching for one of the best teams of the 1980s, the Detroit Tigers and getting at least five runs of support in nearly half his starts.

Sheehan’s piece is easily found in Google, as are any number of related ones that have come since. It’s like the majority of people who follow baseball aren’t even reading them.

...People change, granted. Peter Gammons, among others, changed his mind on Morris pitching to the score after reading Sheehan’s piece. In time, maybe others will follow. But I suspect articles and tweets like the one above will keep coming and more people like me will keep writing pieces denouncing them until this issue, finally, is completely beaten to death. Trying to get people to see things differently seems like a fool’s errand sometimes. I know I often feel like I’m preaching to a choir of like-minded individuals.

The baseball world and the world in general remains so polarized. It’s a shame Jack Morris’s career has become a reminder of this. He was a fine pitcher, one of the best of his era and his work in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was masterful. I agree with people like Joe Posnanski who’ve written that all this debate about him pitching to the score detracts from this.

Repoz Posted: September 02, 2014 at 08:34 AM | 37 comment(s)
  Beats: hof

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-2-2014

Pittsburgh Press, September 2, 1914:

According to a letter received by Mrs. “Rebel” Oakes, from Mrs. Arnold Hauser, Hauser, the former shortstop of the St. Louis Cardinals, who has been ill for almost two years, has greatly improved and has great hopes of re-entering the game next season.

Hauser has been in a sanitarium near St. Louis for some time, not having played ball since 1912. The former Card weighed but 99 pounds when he went to the sanitarium but since that time his weight has increased to 137 pounds.

Hauser’s story is heartbreaking.

His father died in 1904, when Arnold was a teenager. In 1912, his mother committed suicide, and in 1913 Hauser’s infant daughter died. The deaths in his family, in addition to a severe knee injury, sent him over the edge. According to his SABR bio, Hauser arrived at Spring Training 1914 having lost 25 pounds, obviously severely depressed, and suffering from delusions. He was committed to a sanitarium and was diagnosed as “a victim of melancholia with a religious trend”.

Hauser had a cup of coffee with the 1915 Chicago Whales, but didn’t play particularly well and was out of baseball at the end of the year.

The Robby Hammock District (Dan Lee) Posted: September 02, 2014 at 06:31 AM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: arnold hauser, dugout, history

OMNICHATTER 9-2-2014

27 Game Days left! (including today)

Gamingboy Posted: September 02, 2014 at 12:09 AM | 82 comment(s)
  Beats: omnichatter

Monday, September 01, 2014

Trevor Hoffman’s Hall of Fame induction seems inevitable

Hoffman is eligible for the Class of 2016 and Yankees great Mariano Rivera, who saved a record 652 regular season games and 42 more in the postseason, will complete the cast in 2019.

“I think Mo is a slam dunk for sure,” Hoffman said. “We can say our careers paralleled each other a little bit, but when you’re talking about the greatest closer of all time, that sets him apart.”

Comparatively, though, Hoffman certainly is the greatest closer in NL history.

“I don’t know if that’s a ticket to Cooperstown. You and I both know that,” he said. “But I appreciate it. It’s something I didn’t allow myself to think about as a player. I remember Tony answering questions about it and him waiting nervously for that phone call. ‘Do you realize your place in the game and what you’ve accomplished?’ And still there was that ‘not sure’ attitude. I get that. I understand that. There are contemporaries I [compare] to as well. So, we’ll see. I hope things happen.”

Dennis Eclairskey, closer Posted: September 01, 2014 at 11:13 PM | 95 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, padres, trevor hoffman

HBT: Jorge Soler with an extra-base hit in each of his first five games

Middlebrooks could be a Hall of Famer too. You don’t know.

Jorge Soler made his Wrigley Field debut this afternoon and the Cubs faithful were happy with what they saw… Soler poked an opposite-field double and eventually came around to score on a bloop single from Welington Castillo. The 22-year-old was later credited with another double in the sixth, this time after hitting the ball off the right-center field wall. He managed to advance to third on the play due to an error by center fielder Gerardo Parra… With today’s performance, Soler became the third player in the last 100 years with an extra-base hit in each of his first five games in the majors. Enos Slaughter (1933) and Will Middlebrooks (2012) are the only others. A Hall of Famer and someone who has a .651 OPS since his rookie season. Interesting duo.

Soler is now hitting .526 (11-for-19) with three home runs, four doubles, seven RBI, and a 1.761 OPS over his first five games since his call-up from Triple-A.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 09:26 PM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, jorge soler

OT: Monthly NBA Thread - September 2014

I estimate only 10-12 Primates care about the NBA, but with our own thread, we won’t detract from what this site is really about: college football, hockey, soccer, and wrestling.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 05:03 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: basketball, nba, off-topic

No-hitter! Four Phillies pitchers combine to blank the Braves

Jesse Spector
@jessespector

Congratulations to the Phillies on filling 58 minutes of their hour-long season highlight video!

The Phillies have no-hit the Braves. It was a combined effort, with Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon combining on the effort. Hamels took the first six innings and each of the relievers handled an inning. They combined to strike out 12 Braves hitters… it was the 12th no-hitter in franchise history. And the first ever combined no-no for Philly…

Cole Hamels… wasn’t a study in efficiency. H threw 108 pitches and walked five guys, but no one managed a hit off of him.


Robothal: Changed [Manny] Ramirez enjoyed helping Cubs prospects grow

I mean, if Rasheed Wallace can be on a coaching staff…

[Manny] Ramirez, 42, certainly stunned [Cubs president Theo] Epstein, who grew as exasperated as anyone with the player’s fits of immaturity and selfishness during their years together with the Red Sox.

But Epstein believed Ramirez deserved another chance and that he could impart his vast knowledge of hitting to the Cubs’ prospects… By all accounts, Ramirez positively influenced top prospects such as infielder Javier Baez, outfielder Jorge Soler and third baseman Kris Bryant at Triple A Iowa… Ramirez spent less than three months with Iowa… But during that time, he instructed Baez to be more selective, adjusted Soler’s swing path and talked situational hitting with Bryant, all with impressive results…

Ramirez still wants to return to the majors – he intends to play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic this offseason with the goal of taking one more shot. But once he saw the talent at Iowa, he essentially told the Cubs, “Don’t worry. Play the kids. I’m good.” ...

about a month into Ramirez’s stint in Iowa… Ramirez, speaking on the phone to Epstein, broke down every player on the Iowa roster, giving detailed, sophisticated assessments of not only their skills but also their personalities.

Epstein found the conversation so impressive and surprising that he left his office immediately after getting off the phone with Ramirez and walked down the hall to visit with other Cubs executives.

He had to repeat the conversation verbatim to his colleagues to make sure that it had really happened.


Nitkowski: Wanted: Major League manager…sort of.

Right after Bo Porter was hired [as Astros manager] I was told he was the only candidate who answered “yes”€™ to the question, “€œare you OK with influence from the front office in every day decisions like setting the lineup?”€ There was a reason he was the only one who said yes, no one wants to manage a major league team where they are told what to do by someone who has never played the game or even done the job.

There is balance here. Influences from front offices are part of the new equation in baseball and the game is smarter because of it. Clint Hurdle told me the Pirates utilize a sort of hybrid theory and it is working well in Pittsburgh. He is open to advanced metrics, he listens, he gets it and he and the front office work well together to implement the new school of thought.

There is one essential caveat though, he makes the final in game decisions, including lineups and he is never second guessed on those decisions…

The Astros need two managers. One right now who is not competitive and will do whatever the front office tells him while they’€™re still losing. Then they’€™ll need one when they get good who is ultra competitive and has the track record to tell the front office to back off. Of course that guy will go through the interview process and immediately withdraw his name.

Something has to change or this will be the beginning of a cycle that never ends in Houston.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 03:10 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, clint hurdle, managers, pirates

Astros Fire Bo Porter

The Astros have fired manager Bo Porter, according to a team press release.  Bench coach Dave Trembley has also been relieved of his duties.  Tom Lawless will be the club’s interim manager for the rest of the 2014 season.

The District Attorney Posted: September 01, 2014 at 12:19 PM | 62 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, bo porter, dave trembley, managers, tom lawless

OT: Politics, September, 2014: ESPN honors Daily Worker sports editor Lester Rodney

Lester Rodney was a crusader for equality and instrumental in integrating baseball as sports editor with the Daily Worker in the 1930s, says ESPN in a recent video on its website. The Daily Worker is the predecessor to this news website, peoplesworld.org.

At the time African American players were banned from the major leagues, says the mini-documentary. It was Lester Rodney that had a “simple but seemingly impossible dream” - to end more than a half-century of segregation in the big leagues, says ESPN’s Outside The Lines program. For Black History Month, OTL reported on this white Communist sportswriter who “crusaded for baseball integration a decade before Jackie Robinson broke the color line.”

He was at the center in the fight for baseballs integration, said sports historian Larry Lester in the video.

“There was no one in the main stream press promoting the integration of baseball like Lester Rodney was,” he said. “He was a soldier and the press was his sword and he was able to galvanize masses of people.”

At age 25 Rodney was hired as the Daily Worker’s first sports editor. He immediately launched a relentless campaign to end the Jim Crow policy that kept baseball segregated….

Rodney, the Daily Worker and supporters led petition drives, rallies and demonstrations for baseball’s integration. Rodney reported about white players and managers who also admitted it was time to integrate. In the face of skepticism Rodney persisted and millions joined the cause….

Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 01, 2014 at 10:52 AM | 324 comment(s)
  Beats: politics

Heavy rain forces suspension of Royals-Indians game, which will resume Sept. 22 in Cleveland

less pressure on the Royals to perform.

The wind punished the flags hanging high above the outfield walls. A hail of plastic bags and paper napkins whipped through the sky. During a rain delay that postponed what would have been a crushing Royals loss, a sudden storm dispersed the remnants of a capacity crowd and provided imagery that was cruel but fitting.

The game will resume on Sept. 22 with the Royals trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning to the Cleveland Indians. The game will be played at Progressive Field in Cleveland, hours before the start of a three-game series there. The ending on Sunday marked an anticlimactic finish to a deflating night at Kauffman Stadium.

“It’s not over yet,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’ve still got half an inning to play.”

Indeed, but the moment was lost. The energy seeped from the ballpark in stages. As the Royals staggered toward their fourth consecutive loss of a similar vintage, the early optimistic vibes faded into desperation. The crowd appeared exultant when Alex Gordon’s ninth-inning homer tied the game. Yet they departed this park merely disconsolate and soggy, even if the final result is still in doubt.

 

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Maybe moving this game to Cleveland will put less pressure on the Royals to perform.

The wind punished the flags hanging high above the outfield walls. A hail of plastic bags and paper napkins whipped through the sky. During a rain delay that postponed what would have been a crushing Royals loss, a sudden storm dispersed the remnants of a capacity crowd and provided imagery that was cruel but fitting.

The game will resume on Sept. 22 with the Royals trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the 10th inning to the Cleveland Indians. The game will be played at Progressive Field in Cleveland, hours before the start of a three-game series there. The ending on Sunday marked an anticlimactic finish to a deflating night at Kauffman Stadium.

“It’s not over yet,” manager Ned Yost said. “We’ve still got half an inning to play.”

Indeed, but the moment was lost. The energy seeped from the ballpark in stages. As the Royals staggered toward their fourth consecutive loss of a similar vintage, the early optimistic vibes faded into desperation. The crowd appeared exultant when Alex Gordon’s ninth-inning homer tied the game. Yet they departed this park merely disconsolate and soggy, even if the final result is still in doubt.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 01, 2014 at 08:29 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: alex gordon, indians, rain, royals

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