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Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Newly Discovered Wasp Is Named After the True Hit King Ichiro

The newly crowned Diolcogaster ichiroi had been sitting in relative anonymity in the Canadian National Collection of Insects, which contains over 17 million specimens. The specimen was collected about 30 miles from Lake Okeechobee and 145 miles from Marlins Park where last Ichiro played.

From entomologist Jose Fernandez-Triana’s scientific paper officially naming the wasp: “At the time the research for this paper was being conducted, Ichiro was still playing for a Florida team and thus naming a species endemic from Florida after him made complete sense. Unfortunately, the new owners of the Miami Marlins did not keep Ichiro, an unpopular decision not liked by many Marlins fans.”

Fernandez-Triana said there are 3,000 undescribed species of wasps in the family he studies at the Canadian National Collection of Insects alone (though it should be noted this is smaller than Ichiro’s 4,358 hits playing professional baseball).


Ichiro could use his ovipositor to lay eggs on or in host arthropods that ultimately provide nutrition for his larvae if he wanted to.

Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 20, 2018 at 01:47 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ichiro suzuki

Inside Baseball | Scott Boras Weighs In On Slow Market

Boras has an expensive computer. OK, then, I’m convinced.

Boras doesn’t ever mention the “C” word but rather says there has to be some sort of “interference” that’s caused the market to halt. He speculates it’s about the analytically-driven, like-minded decision-makers who are using numbers to suggest that the longer deals for older players aren’t working. To that, Boras says, come see my computer. He has a very expensive one, and human computers on a near-100-person staff that suggest otherwise.

According to Boras, players who signed a six-year deal from 1998-2013 have averaged nearly 3.0 WAR per year (2.98), while players who signed three- or four-year deals from 2009-15 have averaged less than half that – 1.4 WAR. The players who signed the long deals also have averaged an .845 OPS while the position players on shorter-term deals have averaged a .750 OPS. Slightly different years were used, but you have to go back a little longer on six-year deals since you need longer lengths to get fair averages, and he’s including some non-free agents, which means a few long-term guys in his research were a bit younger (Joey Votto, for example). However, Boras has numbers that suggest over-30 players are still key contributors, as well.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 20, 2018 at 07:50 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: economics, scott boras

Friday, January 19, 2018

NBC Sports Philadelphia: Morphine found in Roy Halladay’s system before fatal plane crash

Not quite José Fernández-level impairment but…

Roy Halladay had morphine in his system when the plane he was piloting crashed and he tragically died in November, according to Halladay’s autopsy report, released Friday.

Zolpidem, the generic name for Ambien, and amphetamines were found in Halladay’s system.

As TMZ points out via the Food and Drug Administration, the amount of Zolpidem found in Halladay’s system (72 ng/ml) is more than enough to impair a driver and increase the risk of an accident.

Halladay had a blood alcohol content of 0.01, according to the autopsy report.


Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-19-2018

Chicago Eagle, January 19, 1918:

MATTY TO PITCH IN SEASON OF 1918

Christy Mathewson, manager of the Reds, is coming out of his retirement as a hurler. Big Six will take the mound next season, he announced the other day. As his club will have to get along with six pitchers, he will keep himself in condition and be ready to go on the slab when his services are needed. The veteran hardly can be expected to take his regular turn or pitch many games, but he plans to aid as a relief hurler and pitch full games if necessary.

Matty didn’t pitch in 1918. He managed the first 118 games of the season before enlisting in the army. Unfortunately, his time in the military went almost as poorly as it could have gone.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 19, 2018 at 10:08 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

BenFred: Everybody can find a story about Musial’s magic | Ben Frederickson | stltoday.com

On the five-year anniversary of the day we lost “Baseball’s Perfect Knight,” find a moment to remember what made him so much bigger than the game.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2018 at 09:34 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, history, stan musial

15 big league prospects to watch in 2018

Honeywell is a great prospect because of his command on most of his repertoire. The screwball is an option for him but it’s a pitch he throws less than a handful of times each game.

Honeywell’s fastball touches 95 mph at times, and he has four other big league-ready pitches. But it’s his changeup—a screwball—that generates a high number of swings and misses.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2018 at 09:17 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects

Why is J.D. Martinez’s big bat still available

Why should the Red Sox bid against themselves? If there was another team out there willing to bid higher, he would have signed already. Certainly a higher bid could eventually materialize but until that actually happens…

“If you’re Boras, J.D. and the Red Sox, there has to be some creativity involved to get a deal done,” the industry source said. “They’re a perfect match. They’re really the only match.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2018 at 09:11 AM | 39 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, j.d. martinez, red sox

The 2017-18 Offseason: Trend or Anomaly? - MLB Trade Rumors

There is a lot of misinformation and baseless conjecture out there from people trying to figure out the current market. This includes MLB personnel. Last night I was more than surprised to hear MLB Radio Network’s @CaseyStern saying MLB is blatantly colluding to keep free agent salaries down. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t completely surprised; he says a lot of stupid stuff. To hear an announcer, who is essentially employed by MLB, making the case for collusion so strongly did keep me listening to his show a few more minutes than I normally do. (I usually immediately change the channel when I hear his voice.)

Still, is there legitimacy to teams wanting to dip beneath the line? If so, what does that tell us? Passan says that limboing under the luxury tax for one year and then jumping back to a $246MM payroll would save the Yankees and Dodgers “only $12 million in luxury-tax penalties.” But his approach — simply comparing the hypothetical 2019 tax rate between scenarios in which these organizations do or do not end up over the luxury line in the prior year — seemingly ignores a few other factors. Since the tax rate rises with each consecutive year in which the line is passed, there’s more than one future season of payroll to consider. Plus, the new CBA includes a surcharge on exceeding the tax by more than $20MM (12%) and exceeding it by $40MM or more (a whopping 42.5% plus a loss of ten places in the first-round draft order; 45% on the second consecutive time). As ESPN.com’s Buster Olney notes on Twitter, the Dodgers and Yankees “might have a $100+ [million] incentive to get under” for one year, all things considered.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 19, 2018 at 06:39 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: economics

Thursday, January 18, 2018

MLB’s plan on how they can make baseball games at least 10 minutes shorter

From Jeff Passan:

Major League Baseball plans to implement a pitch clock and stricter rules on mound visits in the 2018 season, according to a memo obtained by Yahoo Sports that outlines the changes, with the MLB Players Association expected to reject an agreement the league offered.

After the MLBPA declined a similar proposal last year, the league threatened to unilaterally impose a timer between pitches, batters and innings, as well severely limit mound visits without the union’s consent, as is its right. The average time of game swelled to a record 3 hours, 8 minutes last season. Officials believe a pitch clock can shave at least 10 minutes off game time.

Lots of details in the article.

Greg Pope Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:06 PM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: time of game

Pitch clock likely coming to MLB in 2018 after union rejects latest pace-of-play plan

. A 20-second pitch clock has been used in the minors—pitchers who take too long to throw a pitch are charged with a ball, and hitters who are not in the box in time are charged with a strike—and it has cut down on the overall time of game dramatically.

Calling all Traditionalists and Innovators:  Fight!

Srul Itza Posted: January 18, 2018 at 06:58 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: commissioner, history, mlbpa

Bill James on Baseball, Facts, and the Rules of the Game

Russ Roberts is the John and Jean De Nault Research Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.  He hosts a podcast called Econtalk.  He had Bill James as a guest.

Dreadful Foie Gras Posted: January 18, 2018 at 12:28 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, podcast

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-18-2018

Tacoma Times, January 18, 1918:

That Bill Killifer, catcher of the famous Alexander-Killifer duo may retire from baseball was the statement [in Los Angeles] today of his brother, Wade Killifer, manager of the Los Angeles club.

Wade declared he believed it likely his brother would not report to the Cubs. “Bill has stock in a manufacturing concern here. With baseball in its uncertain condition he thinks it wise to stop,” Brother Wade said.

So, to recap: About a month ago, the Cubs sent Philadelphia a reported $55,000 and two players for Grover Cleveland Alexander and Bill Killefer. Two days ago, it was reported that Alexander had been drafted for military service. Today, we find out that Killefer might just retire instead of playing for the Cubs.

Things aren’t going terribly well for Charlie Weeghman.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 18, 2018 at 10:56 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

The Current MLB Free Agent Market - Perception vs Reality? | Jays From The Couch

A very interesting take on 2018 free agency.

Remember last year when the market for power bats collapsed and shocked many – including the Blue Jays front office? That was preceded by a couple of years where “lower quality” aging veterans had already been relegated to 1 year deals or even minor league contracts. Last winter it was more middle of the road players which were hit hard, and higher quality players like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista were impacted. The contract Jay Bruce just signed (3 years and $39 million) continues this trend. Remember in early November when Jay Bruce’s agent appeared to be “demanding” 5 years and $80-$90 million? Kind of like a real estate agent setting the price of a home based upon recent comps regardless of where the market has actually moved. The result of such a mis-judgement of a market? Inventories pile up until prices drop to the point where the market clears, and/or sellers begin to panic and start making the dreaded “bid wanted” calls.

In financial markets, there are times when liquidity literally evaporates. There are legendary stories from the crashes of 1906, 1929, 1987 and even the relatively recent global financial crisis in 2008. Owners of assets need to sell due to financial obligations and/or panic, and there is a rush of people in search for buyers and liquidity. By definition, by the end of a long bull market, most market participants are already similarly extended and not in positions of strength to offer the required liquidity. This is a particular problem when asset prices are driven to levels well above actual value, as the combination of overvalued assets and low liquidity, means that prices can drop rapidly – like from the 5 years and $150 million that Bautista reportedly demanded prior to the 2016 season, to the 1 year $19 million deal he ended up with. There have been times when an asset owner makes a call to get a price on their asset (think mortgage bonds in 2008) and the price quoted is 50% below the last trade, or literally no one picks up the phone on the other side!

Jim Furtado Posted: January 18, 2018 at 08:36 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: economics, free agents

Francisco Mejia leads top catching prospects

The Top 10
1. Francisco Mejia, Indians
2. Carson Kelly, Cardinals
3. Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers
4. Sean Murphy, Athletics
5. Jake Rogers, Tigers
6. Jorge Alfaro, Phillies
7. Chance Sisco, Orioles
8. Danny Jansen, Blue Jays
9. Zack Collins, White Sox
10. Victor Caratini, Cubs

Jim Furtado Posted: January 18, 2018 at 08:29 AM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Christian Yelich can only blame himself for Jeter entanglement | New York Post

And the money he’s getting is in the same currency. It’s not like Jeter converted payment into Monopoly money.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 03:33 PM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: christian yelich, marlins

Comparing a Player Outside His Era | Articles | Bill James Online

Very interesting stuff from two of the very best analysts ever.

I’ve always been marginally interested in the HOF debate. One of the biggest reasons is it’s pretty impossible to compare players across eras. I didn’t always believe this to be true. My feeling changed when I was working on my own WAR system, xWins, about 20 years ago. The differences in data and contexts are two HUGE problems which I do not believe can be sufficiently accounted for in the analysis.

On there other hand, if you ask me to evaluate current players or, as Tom describes them, “generational” groups I can an acceptable job (actually even better for today’s players) because I’m not forced to invent a time machine.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 03:07 PM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: evaluating players, history

Rubbing Mud: The Evidence of Price Fixing We Have So Far - Baseball Prospectus

Time to get out the Reynolds Wrap.

Now we’re getting into something more sinister, even if it’s not something actionable. If there’s a kind of slotting system developing (however implicit it might be), then the owners are distorting the salary structure of the game, using their advancements in analytic intelligence and the new Collective Bargaining Agreement as cover. If good players with widely disparate skill sets and likely aging profiles are taking their talent to the market and finding an eerily similar, lower-than-expected amount of money waiting for them, something bad is going on.

By the time spring training games begin, this could all be behind us. It’s possible (and perhaps this should be highlighted more often) that owners are anticipating the $50 million windfall each will receive sometime in the next 90 days (thanks to the league’s sale of MLB Advanced Media, to Disney) and would prefer not to make their major expenditures until that money pours in. Maybe the Scott Boras effect is stronger than we think. (I already think it’s quite strong, and a better explanation for the state of the market than is generally understood.) If we look around this summer and find that the market never heated up, though, and that the cost of a win on the free agent market has significantly sagged, remember these similar deals and offers and consider that the evidence of price fixing (even if it be passive price fixing) might be stronger than we think.

The longer this lasts doesn’t prove anything. If I’m Dave Dombrowski and J.D. Martinez hasn’t signed, why would I increase my offer? If it’s me, it just reinforces my belief that I don’t have to exceed my comfort level. This goes for every other team as well. It’s a new trend; it doesn’t have to be planned or coordinated.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:44 AM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: economics, free agents

2018 Top 10 left-handed pitching prospects

1. MacKenzie Gore, Padres
2. A.J. Puk, Athletics
3. Justus Sheffield, Yankees
4. Luiz Gohara, Braves
5. Brendan McKay, Rays
6. Adrian Morejon, Padres
7. Kolby Allard, Braves
8. Jesus Luzardo, Athletics
9. Stephen Gonsalves, Twins
10. Max Fried, Braves

Jim Furtado Posted: January 17, 2018 at 11:14 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: prospects

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 1-17-2018

Richmond (Indiana) Palladium, January 17, 1918:

The ball players of Cuba seem to have killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Headed by Mike Gonzales, the Cardinals’ Cuban catcher, they have made demands so exorbitant that baseball has been put on the shelf [in Cuba] for the present season at least.
...
Gonzales explained that [players would have to receive] seventy-five percent [of gate receipts] or no baseball. [Owner Charley] Brown replied that in that case there would be no baseball. And the players who might have been taking in very satisfactory wages are now idle.

Cuban baseball 100 years later: “You think your wages are low? Hold my beer and watch this.”

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: January 17, 2018 at 10:17 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bill James on Baseball, Facts, and the Rules

I expect this interview to go well beyond baseball. Econtalk tackles a lot of different topics but frequently dwells in the “meta” realm of those topics. Russ, the host, is a huge Red Sox fan as well as a great interviewer.

isaacc7 Posted: January 16, 2018 at 10:28 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: bill james, podcast

Padres won’t feature brown uniforms until 2020, at the earliest - The San Diego Union-Tribune

Executive Chairman Ron Fowler, asked Tuesday about serious alterations in the near future, said “it’ll probably be the 2020 season before we see anything.” The owner said the team has commissioned a “major firm” to conduct a research study of quantitative data.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:24 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: padres, uniforms

Jeter may get mayor’s help on Marlins home run sculpture | Miami Herald

Certainly a priority.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2018 at 08:04 PM | 26 comment(s)
  Beats: marlins

Christian Yelich’s relationship with Miami Marlins is ‘irretrievably broken,’ agent says

Players play.

“The relationship between player and team is irretrievably broken. It’s soured. He’s part of the old ownership regime. The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and he needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win. The big issue is him winning and winning now.

General manager builds the team.

“Should we feel like we need to make a trade involving any of our under-contract, controllable players, we will be the ones who initiate that conversation and always do what’s best for the organization,” Hill said at the time.

Of course, the Marlins encouraged this uprising by poorly managing the Stanton situation.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:23 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: christian yelich, marlins

Why Adrian Gonzalez can bother the Mets’ clubhouse | New York Post

“You don’t want somebody saying and talking the things he talks about if he’s not being productive, because he will have an opinion on most everything,” Valentine said. “That bugs some people, but it never bugged me. That’s what you’re getting into, and I think it’s well worth a half-a-million bucks. It’s a heck of a little gamble.”

Jim Furtado Posted: January 16, 2018 at 07:16 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: adrian gonzalez, dodgers, mets

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