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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Rio Ruiz has dropped 30 pounds in 16 months, boosted his stock

Baseball America says the Braves view him as a Bill Mueller-type of player. It will be interesting to see how his hard work pays off.

“I think that if they recall me — whenever that might be, whether it’s out of spring (training) this year or a couple of months, April or May, whenever it might be — I feel like I can be an asset to the team,” Ruiz said. “But then again that’s not my decision, that’s the front office’s decision. All I can do is handle everything between the lines, and if my game allows them to make the decision to keep me on, then that’s what will happen. …

“I’ve learned a lot already (this spring). I’ve been here almost a week and a half now and been able to work with Wash (new infield coach Ron Washington). I mean, if you’re not awake, he’ll wake you up, let’s put it that way. He has so much energy, so much passion and love for the game. He just helps you and makes you want to be better.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2017 at 01:44 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: braves, rio ruiz

Twins’ Byron Buxton remembers the fun part of baseball

I’m buying in.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2017 at 10:12 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: byron buxton, twins

Cardinals’ sign Jose Adolis Garcia to deal | MLB.com

Cuban outfielder Jose Adolis Garcia, the younger brother of Braves third baseman Adonis Garcia, agreed to a Minor League contract with the team on Friday. The deal includes an invite to Major League camp, and it will pay Garcia a $2.5 million bonus, according to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2017 at 09:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: cardinals, jose adolis garcia

Cubs Addison Russell ready for power breakout | MLB.com

Mike Petriello puts Addison Russell 2016 season under his analytical microscope.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2017 at 09:07 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: addison russell, cubs

GMs’ View: Picking a Direction and Staying the Course | FanGraphs Baseball

Some good quotes in this piece.

Jerry Dipoto, Seattle Mariners: “You always want a plan, and we’ve not varied. Our roster has varied, but the plan we instituted the day I took the job has… I don’t want to say it’s come to fruition, but this is about as close as we’ve been to that. We wanted to control the strike zone, we wanted to be more athletic, we wanted to be deeper on the pitcher’s mound, and we wanted to improve our overall organizational depth in our minor-league system. To some extent, we’ve accomplished all of those things. Now we have to see if it actually results in wins on the field.

“To me, the middle ground, say 80 wins, isn’t the place to be. But I will say this: having gone through rebuilds with two different franchises — once as a player, and then as an executive — it isn’t very comfortable. It’s an exciting time to be a scout, and sometimes it’s enjoyable to be in player development, but it’s hard to rebuild. It’s hard to put the fan base through that.

“With all the young players we have, we don’t feel we’re operating in a small window. We feel we’ve added enough sustainable young players that can add to that core, and help us win now, and help us open a window that can stay open.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 25, 2017 at 08:43 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: general managers

Friday, February 24, 2017

Posnanski | A Baseball Challenge!

Seems like this is the sort of thing that Primates would be all over.

Small challenge: Try to beat my lineup and starting pitcher — with this caveat. Every player in the lineup and the pitcher must be active and born in a different country. So you have 10 players — 9 in the lineup (including DH) and starting pitcher.

Bonus point: Add a closer from a different country.

Baldrick Posted: February 24, 2017 at 02:00 PM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: fun stuff, international, posnanski, world baseball classic

Are statheads “pro ownership?”

But, beyond that, something happens when statheads talk about transactions or rule changes in particular. Unwittingly, I think, we ally with ownership. When a player signs a free agent deal, and we talk about whether it’s a “good” or a “bad” deal, we’re framing that in terms of whether it helps the team that the player signs with….

But I don’t think that’s out of some sympathy with owners. Rather, I think that most analysts, whether they’re into analytics or not, are fans first and foremost. Or at least have trouble taking off their fan caps entirely when they do analysis. As fans of teams (or laundry, as Seinfeld once said), we want what’s best for the team or teams we support. We understand each club has a budget, and we want the clubs we root for to not be unduly hamstrung within that restriction by “bad” deals that limit their freedom and flexibility to make other moves. And we know that our readers do too. You are fans of the Cubs, the Giants, the Yankees, and the Rangers far more than you’re fans of Mike Dunn or Edwin Encarnacion. In this, the interests of the owners and the analysts selfishly align, at the expense of the players.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2017 at 12:25 PM | 33 comment(s)
  Beats: analytics, labor, ownership, rob neyer

Kate Upton: No sex with Justin Verlander before games

“There’s no sex before a game. Absolutely none,” said Upton. “And then, also what I just found out is, if he plays too well, there’s no sex after, either. He’s exhausted. Kind of a buzzkill for me.”

Upton also revealed Verlander’s reaction to her controversial tweets about him not receiving the AL Cy Young Award .

Jacob Posted: February 24, 2017 at 12:21 PM | 40 comment(s)
  Beats: justin verlander, kate upton

MLB views Las Vegas as ‘viable market,’ Rob Manfred says

So build that stadium, Oakland and St. Pete!

Major League Baseball’s softening stance on sports gambling may one day open the door to an untapped market long considered taboo: Las Vegas.

It’s all the rage lately, with the NHL’s 31st franchise set for a Sin City debut next season and the NFL on the brink of following suit. Might MLB join them? Commissioner Rob Manfred is at least open to the idea, a departure from baseball’s longstanding efforts to distance itself from the betting world.


“Las Vegas could be a viable market for us,” Manfred said during his Cactus League news conference Tuesday in Phoenix, via the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “I don’t think that the presence of legalized gambling in Las Vegas should necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2017 at 11:51 AM | 87 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, expansion, las vegas, rays

Inside Baseball with Jon Heyman: Final offseason grades

Lots to unpack here.

Jake Arrieta and the Cubs were supposed to speak about a potential contract in January, but if they did, there is no sign of optimism. Cubs management weighs age heavily in their calculations, and there’s no indication they were willing to go more than four years, if that. Arrieta is expected to be one of the biggest free agents in a strong market this winter, and he will undoubtedly cite the Max Scherzer $210-million deal as a comp…..


The Royals and Eric Hosmer are expected to have negotiations, and word is, he’s the top free agent on their “keep” list (Mike Moustakas and Lorenzo Cain also are free agents after the year). The team has conceded he’s worth more than Brandon Belt, who got a $75-million deal with the Giants, and the number would almost certainly hit nine figures. But it is believed he might at least look at something in the range of the Mark Teixeira deal ($180 million, eight years), or perhaps even more years considering his relative youth (Hosmer was quoted recently saying he never said anything about 10 years). Agent Scott Boras isn’t commenting on the coming talks or the asking price, but word he is he views Teixeira as “old money,” considering skyrocketing MLB revenues in the eight years since.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2017 at 11:23 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: eric hosmer, jake arrieta, jon heyman, michael brantley

Fangraphs: Here is what you think of our team projections

When I examined last year’s results, the community had its strongest response to the Royals projection. You all thought the Royals were being heavily underrated, which wasn’t too much of a surprise, given what had been the Royals’ recent history. Here, we see the Royals again to the left — collectively, you think their projection is low by about a win and a half. You still don’t see them as being good. And the magnitude of their community response has nothing on the Rockies, who you think are being underrated by about a win more than anyone else.

Our Rockies projection puts them at 78-84. Our community-adjusted Rockies projection would put them at 81-81. That’s still obviously not great, but it hints at the community seeing them as a wild-card contender. On the one hand, we have recently featured some pro-Rockies content. Dave talked about them as a potential contender at the end of January. I’ve discussed their chance at having their best-ever pitch-framing catchers. But then, we’ve also been critical of, say, the Ian Desmond contract. They’ve been fairly inefficient with their resources, which has to some degree held them back. But the Rockies think they can win in 2017. You are at least kind of on board.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 24, 2017 at 11:21 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: fangraphs, projections, zips

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-24-2017

El Paso Herald, February 24, 1917:

Gus Hoover, Stanford’s giant twirler, is against the presence of women at Stanford, against dances and all such affairs. The combined force of these is inducive to the weakening of his pitching arm, says Hoover.

This became known in campus baseball circles when Gus reported a sore arm to trainer Fritz Roth. He said he was in no condition to pitch, and when asked how he came about his arm, Gus explained thusly:

“You see, we had a dance last night and I had to support all those heavy girls on my right arm, and the strain was too great.”

C’mon, Gus, that just means you’ve gotta spend more time training with the ladies. Think of it as a muscle-building program.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 24, 2017 at 10:46 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2017 at 11:18 PM | 70 comment(s)
  Beats: don mattingly, pace of play, strikeouts

Pump The Brakes On Kyle Schwarber? Well, Actually…

This week, Bradford Doolittle of ESPN asked fans to pump the brakes on Schwarber, citing a few reasons why there should be concern surrounding the hulking catcher that the Cubs have moved defensively from behind the plate to out in left field. The last time Cubs fans were told to “pump the brakes” on a player was late June of 2016 with Kris Bryant, and well, we all remember how that turned out. But tempering expectations on Schwarber might be a good thing.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 23, 2017 at 09:06 PM | 24 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, kyle schwarber

Why Joe Maddon sees Kyle Schwarber as the leadoff guy in Cubs lineup | CSN Chicago

The Geek Department still needs to send more information to Maddon, but the Cubs are toying with the idea of again hitting the pitcher eighth, in front of the Jay/Albert Almora Jr. platoon.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 23, 2017 at 09:05 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs, joe maddon, kyle schwarber

In defense of Sammy Sosa

Doug Glanville’s take.

His loyal supporters see a Hall of Fame career, the best of fan-friendly examples and the top power hitter in Chicago Cubs history. His critics see stats that were allegedly inflated by performance-enhancing drug, corked bats and an ugly end.

But Sammy Sosa’s numbers don’t tell the whole story, for better or worse.

 

Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: February 23, 2017 at 02:52 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: doug glanville, sammy sosa

Heyman: Romneys, who bid on Marlins, in talks to buy piece of Yankees


Mitt and Tagg Romney and family are bidding to buy a small stake in the Yankees months after their try for the Marlins stalled.

They’re expected to pay $25 million to $30 million per point and thought to be interested in one or two points. The Yankees are valued around $3 billion or more.

The Romneys are said to have offered $1.4 billion many months back to buy the Miami Marlins. But that appears to be off the table now, as the Romneys are talking about buying a very small piece of the Yankees instead.

“No comment,” said Marlins president David Samson on the Romneys’ try for the Marlins.

If Romney completes the purchase of the Yankees piece, that would seem to take him out of the Marlins picture. There are multiple other groups showing interest in the Marlins, sources say.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2017 at 12:02 PM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: mitt romney, yankees

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-23-2017

Hartford Republican, February 23, 1917:

The Boston Braves were having a bad time one afternoon and George Stallings, their temperamental manager, was having one of his tantrums. At such times Stallings gives vent to language both caustic and picturesque. Motor cars were popular with the players that season but not with managers, who thought motoring and baseball did not mix
...
Maranville had booted a grounder; Red Smith had let fly with an errant throw; Hank Gowdy had misjudged a high foul.

“Look at that P——d blankety blank!” raved Stallings, seizing on the first automobile name that came into his head…“and you, you B—-k fathead!” anathemizing the second sinner, after which he turned his attention to the third. But by that time he had run out of names of automobiles and could only sputter, “And you, Gowdy, you—you—you bicycle blankety blank!”

Man, it’s a good thing there weren’t four errors. Rickshaws would have been in the crosshairs. (I assume the blanks are Packard and Buick, by the way.)

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 23, 2017 at 10:49 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

How Buccaneers’ Jameis Winston blew away Yankees prospects

Three years ago, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston said he dreamed of playing for the Yankees.

He had just gone hitless in two at-bats and played left field for Florida State against the Yankees in a spring exhibition game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. He had also just met Derek Jeter, one of his idols about to start his retirement tour.

Now, he’s motivating them—and telling them not to make the same mistakes that he did.

Winston surprised Yankees prospects last week. In a meeting room at the team’s minor league training facility, he walked in and sounded like a motivational speaker, immediately commanding the room.


He talked about determination to the attendees of Captain’s Camp, the team’s yearly top prospect program aimed at building character as much as on-field skills. Winston repeated “no limits” like it was his mantra.

And he told them to be careful about their actions.


He made a lasting impression, several Yankees said.

“It’s not everyday you can talk to an NFL quarterback,” left-hander Justus Sheffield said.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2017 at 10:12 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: jameis winston, nfl, yankees

For Jake Peavy, baseball must take a back seat

While still dealing with the fallout of an investment scandal that cost him millions, Peavy is sorting through turmoil in his personal life. Katie, his wife of 15 years filed for divorce in October, and he has spent the offseason tending to the needs of his four sons until the legal proceedings are finalized this spring.

So when teams contacted his agent, Jeff Berry, over the winter, Peavy asked for patience and a little more time. Baseball will be his priority soon enough, but there are too many disruptions to navigate and relationships to stabilize before he can jump back into the fray.

“It hurts not to be in spring training,’’ Peavy said by phone. “I know that day is coming, but right now being a dad is absolutely No. 1. There’s no way in a million years that I could leave my boys at this time.’‘...

Peavy had to take part in conference calls on days when he was pitching—sometimes hours before taking the mound—and leave the team between outings to give depositions and meet with lawyers, FBI agents and investigators from the Securities and Exchange Commission. Some of his most valued off-field relationships suffered greatly during the ordeal. “It turned my whole world upside-down,’’ Peavy said. “For the first time ever, it was hard to give my 150 percent focus, time and energy to baseball. It was such a tough year, because everything I have built and played for was jeopardized to some degree. When you’ve known people your whole life and career and they let you down and they’re not who you thought you were, it’s devastating.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 23, 2017 at 09:20 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: jake peavy

The Bizarre Ending to Pitching’s Greatest Winning Streak

Oddly enough, some people believed that Rube could have possibly followed the same path as the woman had his winning streak continued.  Players from Brooklyn’s squad commented after Marquard had made it nineteen wins in a row that a few more consecutive victories would have made him a prime candidate for the bughouse.

——

“Did you ever work at a given task until you felt it was ‘getting’ to you – that you couldn’t think of anything else when you were awake and that your sleep was troubled with dreams of it?” pondered Marquard. “It was getting on my nerves.  Why, several nights I went to bed and the moment I closed my eyes the air became full of baseballs, gloves, and bats. I could see players running to me as though they were going to annihilate me.  When I would finally get to sleep, I was pitching ball all night.  When I awoke in the morning I felt as if I hadn’t rested a bit.”

gehrig97 Posted: February 23, 2017 at 09:13 AM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: brooklyn, hall of fame, history, ny giants, rube marquard

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Texas A&M Wins on Wild Pitch During IBB

On the very day MLB announced its new intentional walk rule, Texas A&M scored on a wild pitch during an IBB to win a game against Stephen F Austin.

Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: February 22, 2017 at 11:33 AM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: college baseball, intentional walks, texas a&m, wild pitch

Is 300-wins club done adding members?

JoePos clearly underestimates the drive of Rick Porcello. Next 300-game winner right there.

No one in baseball now threatens that magic 300 number. The active leader in victories is Bartolo Colon with 233, and while we would be the last people to ever underestimate Colon, no, he won’t win 300. After him is CC Sabathia with 223 wins. He’s just 36, but he has been trending down for a while now. Sabathia has a combined 18 victories his past three seasons.

After that, you drop to John Lackey with 176. He doesn’t have nearly enough time left. Then there’s Justin Verlander with 173. We will get back to him.

Point is, once again people are saying that 300-game winner is a dodo bird. And this time, they could be right, but perhaps not for the reasons usually given. Yes, there are pitch counts and, yes, starters go fewer innings and, yes, fewer pitchers win 20-plus games in a season than they did in, say, the 1970s.

But pitchers still could win 300.

It comes down to desire. Ambition. Zeal. If you look at history, most of the pitchers who won 300 games had not done it by the time they turned 40. Some of them, like Niekro and Johnson, were not even close to 300 wins after their age 40 season. They were still effective and they would not stop.

 

ajnrules Posted: February 22, 2017 at 11:23 AM | 130 comment(s)
  Beats: 300 wins, joe posnanski, pitching, randy johnson

Restricted Free Agency, Anyone? | FanGraphs Baseball

Salary arbitration in conjunction with free agency has treated the players quite well over the years. With exploding revenues and smarter front offices, however, the players’ share of the pie has been getting smaller. No matter what changes get made to 4-6 year players, without a higher luxury cap, the players’ share will continue to get smaller. Nevertheless, it might be a good time to think about moving from the current arb system to a restricted free agency model for 4-6 year players. How? I like the solution proposed by Adam Dorhauer on HardballTimes.com last year. It’s relatively simple but gets rid of the funky current system with a market driven approach which seems to balance the needs of owners and players.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 22, 2017 at 11:17 AM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: cba, economics, salary arbitration

MLB replaces retiring umps Jim Joyce, John Hirschbeck, Tim Welke, Bob Davidson

Jim Joyce has joined John Hirschbeck, Tim Welke and Bob Davidson in retiring from Major League Baseball’s umpire staff.

The commissioner’s office said Tuesday that Adam Hamari, Pat Hoberg, Gabe Morales and Carlos Torres have been promoted to the full-time staff.

Hirschbeck, the crew chief in last year’s World Series and a big league umpire since 1984, had announced his planned retirement last year, as did Welke and Davidson. Hirschbeck and Welke—who was sidelined by knee injuries—were 33-year veterans. Davidson worked his first big league game in 1982.

Hirschbeck and Welke are part of the only brother big league umpire tandems. Mark Hirschbeck retired in 2003 and Bill Welke remains an active umpire.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 22, 2017 at 11:16 AM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: umpires

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