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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Exclusive: Facebook in talks to live stream one MLB game per week - sources

Facebook Inc (FB.O) is in talks with Major League Baseball to live stream one game per week during the upcoming season, which could be a key win as the social media platform works to offer more live sports, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Facebook has pushed to sign deals with owners of sports rights to live stream their games, going after an audience that competitor Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) is also trying to capture, according to sports media consultants….

“Facebook is aggressively going after sports content and they are now one of a number of competitors to traditional media outlets that are going after sports programming,” said sports media consultant Lee Berke. “It makes perfect sense that they would be going after name brand properties like the MLB.”

The companies were in advanced talks, according to one source. It was unclear which games MLB would live stream on Facebook. A representative for Facebook and MLB declined to comment.

By partnering with Facebook, MLB would get access to a young audience at a massive scale, consultants said.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 07:45 PM | 5 comment(s)
  Beats: facebook, streaming

Goold and Hummel on the Cards | Derrick Goold: Bird Land | stltoday.com

Questions, in a weird format, about the Cardinals.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:23 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred angry union won’t agree to proposesd rule changes

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, angered and frustrated that the players union will not accept any of their rule changes for the 2017 season, threatened Tuesday to unilaterally impose new rules in 2018 if an agreement can’t be reached.

Manfred wants to implement a pitch clock, limit mound visits and change the strike zone in 2018, and if the union won’t agree to the changes next year, he said the new labor agreement empowers MLB to apply the changes without union approval.

The commissioner came out swinging like no other time since taking office two years ago.

“Unfortunately, it now appears there won’t be any meaningful change for the 2017 season,’’ Manfred said in a prepared statement, “due to a lack of cooperation from the MLBPA. I’ve tried to be clear that our game is fundamentally sound, and it does not need to be fixed. I think last season was a concrete demonstration of the potential of our game to captivate the nation and its unique place in American culture. …

“At the same time, I think it’s a mistake to stick our head in the sand and ignore the fact that our game has changed, and continues to change.’’

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:02 PM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: rob manfred

How baseball players are trying stem cells to avoid Tommy John

Today, Garrett Richards is darting 98-mph fastballs again. “I feel as good as I ever have throwing a baseball,” he said Monday from Tempe Diablo Stadium, where the Los Angeles Angels, perhaps the most Tommy John-addled team in baseball, expect to break camp with Richards as their opening day starter. The 28-year-old is the latest player to turn to orthobiologics, the class of treatments that includes stem cells and PRP, in hopes of healing an injury. While clinical studies have shown great success with those who use orthobiologics, they are not yet a panacea for the pervasive elbow injuries in baseball for two reasons: They work only on partial ligament tears, like Richards’, and medical studies have yet to validate their efficacy independent of other treatments run concurrently.

The lack of knowledge as to how orthobiologics work inside the body – while the proteins in stem cells and platelets are believed to regrow damaged tissue, doctors have yet to isolate best practices for particular injuries – speaks to the difficulties in true medical advances. Still, the desire of Richards and others to avoid surgery lends orthobiologics enough credence to warrant further studies.

“I truly think this kind of treatment has significant potential,” said Dr. Neal ElAttrache, a longtime orthopedic surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic in Los Angeles who introduced orthobiologics to Major League Baseball when he injected PRP into the elbow of Dodgers reliever Takashi Saito in 2008.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 04:48 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: garrett richards, science, stem cell

How to Rationalize an Eric Hosmer Mega-Contract | FanGraphs Baseball

Ten-year contracts are pretty crazy. Sure, individual teams have thrown out crazy contracts on whim before but, with smarter front-offices being the norm now, pulling a great contract with a flim-flam maneuver seems harder in today’s market. (See Matt Wieters for reference.)

Eric Hosmer, right now, is not a 10-year-contract kind of player. WAR is our best measure of value, and it’s no fan of Hosmer’s. Teams know that, and their own systems would mostly agree. At the same time, you can see how Hosmer could be close to being one of those cornerstones. He could definitely be a better defender than he’s given statistical credit for. It’s hard to ignore the offensive timing he’s had. And the offensive upside is also a selling point, even if Hosmer has been hitting ground balls for six years. There’s more power in there, and some hitters have managed to set theirs free. It could be a matter of making one tweak.

No team in baseball would give Hosmer a mega-contract today, even if they believe him to be a little underrated. What Boras might be taking for granted, publicly, is that Hosmer can consistently be his best self. Deep down, Boras knows there’s work to be done, but there is a legitimate chance here. Eric Hosmer’s best self is a star first baseman. Several months from now, that mega-contract idea might not seem so far-fetched.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 03:29 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: eric hosmer, royals

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before starts to ease anxiety

Former major leaguer Rick Ankiel said Monday that he drank vodka before his first two starts of the 2001 season for the St. Louis Cardinals, which came after his meltdown in the 2000 playoffs when he became the first major league pitcher to throw five wild pitches in one inning since 1890.

Ankiel made his comments to 590 The Fan while discussing his upcoming book, “The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch that Changed My Life,” co-written with sports writer Tim Brown. The book will be released on April 18.

On Monday, he discussed drinking vodka before his first start of the 2001 season, in which he was the winning pitcher against Randy Johnson and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

“Before that game ... I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Lo and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted,” he said in the radio interview.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:48 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: alcohol, cardinals, rick ankiel, social anxiety

Sammy Sosa compares himself to Jesus Christ, denies PED use

Former Chicago Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa emerged this week for an interview with former Cubs media relations employee Chuck Wasserstrom, who now writes a personal blog. In the interview, Sosa revealed one of the most head-scratching comparisons in the history of metaphors, equating himself to Jesus Christ.

“It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” he told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”

Sosa apparently agreed to an interview with Wasserstrom because he “trusts” the author. At least that’s what was written in the blog post. Sosa denied ever taking PEDs and claimed he didn’t care about being omitted for the Hall of Fame.

“First of all, I’m clean,” he said. “They don’t have a case on me. I never failed a drug test. Never in my life. But you know what – this is not my field anymore. I’d rather not be in the Hall of Fame and have a lot of money in my pocket than to be in the Hall of Fame and try to find money to pay my bills.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 02:32 PM | 21 comment(s)
  Beats: peds, sammy sosa

Ten Bold Predictions for the Coming Season

2. The Rockies will finally have the pitching to make the postseason.
At the top of the rotation, the Rockies may have one of their best pitchers ever this year. Jon Gray was already pretty good (15th in K-BB% last year), and then he learned how to throw his slider two ways, and then he started throwing the curveball more, and now he has a new changeup grip. He’s exciting as a young ace with velocity, an elite slider, and the makeup to continue striving for a better, more complete arsenal.

But this is more about the lesser-known names behind Gray. Tyler Anderson doesn’t have a ton of pitches, but his cutter/four-seam/change combo has proven itself to be major-league worthy at least. Chad Bettis only has average velocity, but his four-pitch combo has kept hitters off balance enough to call him a viable starter, as well. Tyler Chatwood may only have the two fastballs and a slider, but he throws the curve sometimes, and his sinker is all world. All three are adept at getting ground balls, and the rotation just put up their second-best rate since they started tracking that number.


Fangraphs: Nationals Sign Matt Wieters for Some Reason.

all winter, the team didn’t seem to show much interest. At the beginning of December, Washington traded for Derek Norris, who had a terrible 2016 but has plenty of signs pointing to a 2017 bounce-back. With Norris and Jose Lobaton in the fold, they had a perfectly capable pair of receivers, both of whom rated as well above average in Statcorner’s catcher framing metrics. Catching wasn’t the strength of the team, but neither was it some glaring weakness like their bench, and if ownership was going to allow for more spending, there seemed to be plenty of other places for the Nationals to upgrade.

But today, the winter of industry speculation proved prescient, as the Nationals have reportedly signed Wieters, giving him $21 million in guaranteed money over two years along with an opt-out after the first year. The lesson, as always; if you’re not sure where a Scott Boras client is going to sign, Washington is always a safe guess.

Matt Wieters signed a supercontract when he was in the womb.

Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 01:15 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: matt wieters, nationals

Dave Stieb on Hall of Fame: ‘I surely did not deserve to be just wiped off the map’ | MLB | Sporting News

In case anyone’s wondering, Stieb’s heard of WAR.

“Pat Hentgen told me years ago, he goes, ‘Man, you know how they’re using that WAR a lot, that stat?’ I go, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘They use that like crazy now to gauge how good someone really is.’ He goes, ‘If they looked at that when you were playing, you would have won four Cy Young Awards in a row,’” Stieb said, noting it would have been 1982 through 1985 when he led for WAR three consecutive years and finished second the fourth.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:51 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: blue jays, dave stieb, hall of fame

5 reasons Matt Wieters would make the Nationals the NL East favorites | FOX Sports

No, no he’s not. Whether he’s even an upgrade to Derek Norris is a very open question.

Matt Wieters is an impact star
Wieters was among the premier free agents on the market and fell into the Nationals’ lap in late February. A switch-hitting catcher with 20-homer power who still in his prime, was an All-Star in 2016, threw out 35 percent of would-be basestealers last season and has two Gold Gloves … wow. It’s a huge upgrade over Derek Norris.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:41 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: matt wieters, nationals

Peeking into the future if Maikil Franco doesn’t pan out

I know we Philly fans are impatient but this piece is ridiculous. He’s freaking 23!

Consistent performance from Franco would do a lot, now and over the seasons to come, to solidify the middle of the order.

But if Franco does fall short – if he does top out as a mediocre hitter with okay defense – what then?

eddieot Posted: February 21, 2017 at 12:04 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: maikel franco, phillies

A slimmed-down Chris Heisey finds stability in West Palm Beach - The Washington Post

How about the jeans test?

Dusty Baker jokes about his unorthodox methods for testing his players’ fitness when they arrive for spring training. He shakes their hands and pats them on the stomach, not merely as gestures of welcoming, but as informal assessments of their overall health. Bigger-than-they-used-to-be bellies or smaller-than-they-used-to-be biceps do not go unnoticed at such close range.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 11:46 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: chris heisey, dusty baker, nationals

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-21-2017

Washington Times, February 21, 1917:

A verdict in favor of the St. Louis American League Baseball Company was returned [in St. Louis] today in the suit of James C. Reach against the company for $15,000 damages. Reach alleged that while at a game last August he was led from his seat by an usher who charged him with having taken a baseball which was knocked into the stand.

To give this lawsuit some perspective, $15,000 was the amount that the greatest pitcher on Earth, Grover Cleveland Alexander, was struggling to pry from the Phillies as an annual salary.

That was always going to be an uphill battle for Mr. Reach. In fact, this lawsuit is where the term “reach” comes from, meaning “to attempt something ill-advised and unlikely to work”*.

* - This derivation is not in any way true.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:47 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history, lawsuits

Why is Salvador Perez a bad pitch framer?

In this month’s thread we wondered if maybe Perez’s height had something to do with his poor framing? Do tall catchers do worse? Generally the bottom of the zone is most exploited, and taller players may have issue with the bottom than their shorter stature peers.

At first glance, no, that’s not really the case. Taller catchers don’t appear to be worse pitch framers than shorter catchers, nor do shorter catchers appear to be particularly good just because of their height. Dioner Navarro is the shortest catcher on this list (almost a foot shorter than Matt Wieters) and yet is one of the worst pitch framers out there. Buster Posey and Yasmani Grandal are both average height on here yet both are the best pitcher framers on the board. Also you’ll notice the really small r-squared value of .002, which is effectively 0.000.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitch framing, salvador perez

Nationals near deal with Matt Wieters | MLB.com

Update:

Wieters may finally have a landing place. What’s the cash?

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: matt wieters, nationals

Advice from Pujols, Cano pushing Yasiel Puig in right direction - Los Angeles - Dodgers Report- ESPN

“It’s more of a mental thing,” Puig said through an interpreter about the advice he received. “Things that you have to fix yourself. Nobody can do it for you. You have to leave the bad things in the past and continue to work toward the future to get better. Continue to do your job.

“You just have to focus on what you have to do, and if you focus, things get easier,” Puig explained, his eyes wide open, his thinner faced relaxed. “That’s the reason great ballplayers have been successful, like Harper, Trout, Robinson Cano and Pujols. They have seen results because they focus, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.

“I think this year I’m going to play, not to put up stats, but rather to pay them back and to make sure that I follow their advice and make them feel like I was listening. I know that I can be a better person like they are, on and off the field. Not just batting, but being an overall good person.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:36 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, yasiel puig

In a world without stats, who would be the best baseball player?

This started with a crush on Starling Marte.

Marte is an outfielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates and my favorite baseball player to watch. He’s fast enough to have stolen 47 bases last year, third-most in the majors. His arm is one of the best in the game, capable of firing 101 mph bullets from the outfield. He is strong enough to have hit a baseball 460 feet, something only 48 other hitters have accomplished outside of Coors Field over the past two years. (Bryce Harper hasn’t. Mike Trout hasn’t.) He might be the most creative base slider in the game. He has demonstrated a talent for getting hit by pitches. Over the past three years, he has been the best defensive left fielder in the game, and this year, he will finally get to be a very good defensive center fielder.

I also know (or think I know) exactly how good Marte is: He was the 28th-best position player last year (by WAR) and the 53rd-best hitter (by OPS+). You might think those advanced stats are junk, but whatever stats you prefer, you have some idea how good he is: The 13th-best hitter (by batting average) or the 91st-best (by runs scored). We’ve all got stats. We all use our stats.

What if we had none? Not just no WAR but no nothin’. What if some ministry of information outlawed the collection of baseball statistics and we were all left to judge players exclusively by what we saw, what we perceived and what we remembered? Who would be perceived as the best player in baseball? Who would be the first player chosen in a franchise draft? Or, the more important question: With how much eye-rolling would actual major league general managers respond to a weird thought experiment on the subject?

Bourbon Samurai is disturbed by bagel developments Posted: February 21, 2017 at 10:23 AM | 61 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates, sabermetrics

Velocity drops in Spring Training can be red flags. | Sports on Earth

Pitching is hard.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 09:54 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pitching, sabermetrics

Marlins’ Michael Hill excited about new arms | MLB.com

It’s spring training!!

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 09:13 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: marlins

Pirates’ Cervelli on mend, team ‘refocused’ | MLB.com

“I think it’s going to be good for us. You need to have the step back before you take the step forward. I love that phrase,” Nutting said. “We certainly had a step back. We underperformed last year to the abilities of our club. I believe that’s been good for the organization. I believe it’s been good individually for some of the players, and it’s refocused us and improved our commitment. … We need to focus on how we move forward, how we push, how we deliver a level of excellence beyond what we’ve done in the past.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 09:13 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pirates

Twins pitcher Gibson tossing out traditional training methods - StarTribune.com

The drills are meant to retrain Gibson and alter his throwing motion, so he holds the ball more upright, at an angle of less than 90 degrees, which enables him to reach his release point more directly. That, combined with a de-emphasis on extending his arm after releasing the ball, has dramatically reduced the amount of stress on his pitching shoulder.

And so almost every morning before training camp workouts, Gibson goes through a series of unusual throwing exercises, using a balloon-sized rubber ball, an oversized glove that looks like a stocking cap covering his right hand, and a set of hardballs of varying weights. Keeping pressure on the large ball insures his arm doesn’t extend outward too far. The ball he releases into the giant glove acclimates his shoulder to a shorter post-release extension.

“I know how it looks. I hear about it from the guys,” Gibson said. “It’s not easy, because I’ve pitched the same way for 20 years. But I can feel a huge difference in my shoulder and my back.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:55 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: kyle gibson, pitching mechanics, twins

Giants’ Bruce Bochy says DL rule change could affect bullpen usage - SFGate

Under the old rules, teams agonized over players who had mild injuries, not wanting to lose them for 15 days when they needed seven or 10 to recover. That happened often with the Giants last year. They would keep Angel Pagan, for instance, off the DL hoping he would be able to play soon, leaving Bochy with a short bench.

“Where it can get a little more difficult is with bullpen guys,” Bochy said.

On any given night, one or two relievers might be off-limits because of minor aches or overwork. With the new rule changes, teams could be more inclined to place the injured pitchers on the DL, which could lead to less strain on the healthy ones.

Another change affects managers who are out of replay challenges. Previously, they were able to ask umpires to initiate reviews beginning in the sixth inning. Now, they cannot ask until the eighth, which should make managers more reluctant to risk their lone discretionary challenge in the early innings.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:54 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, rules of the game

Arizona Diamondbacks shift focus to defense behind plate

“The catching staff tries to throw out attempted base-stealers 80-120 times a year as opposed to receiving 20,000 to 25,000 pitches a year,” Hammock said. “What do you want to emphasize?”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:52 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: catching, diamondbacks

Phillies No. 1 prospect J.P. Crawford has something to prove

“I tried to do too much last year when I got moved up,” Crawford said. “I was trying way too much with the bat, and physically I was just trying to do too much. This year, I’m trying to go back to what I do best. Stick with a plan and produce offensively.”

“I think he needs to go back and prove he’s a better hitter than he showed,” manager Pete Mackanin said. “I really haven’t seen enough of him so far this spring. But I know one thing: He’s got a lot of potential, a lot of ability. ...

Jim Furtado Posted: February 21, 2017 at 06:49 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: j.p. crawford, phillies

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