Why make the trade now instead of waiting, at least until the Winter Meetings, to drive up the price?
“Take a team like the Angels. They have needs at second base, third base, left field, bullpen. And we felt these were their two best prospects. If we wanted to wait until the Winter Meetings, there’s a good chance that they are gone and that we don’t get this sort of opportunity again. And that’s just one example. If there’s a good deal….
“We had a shot to trade a player this past season for a guy who’s now ranked as a top-50 prospect in the game, and that player (whom the Braves were going to trade) ended up getting hurt. And by the time we tried to make the trade, that prospect had shot up the charts and they wouldn’t even talk about the player.
“We made a strong run last year with the Yankees at (pitcher) Luis Severino, and we didn’t get the deal done last year, and now he’s off-limits this year. I mean, if you feel like you have a chance to get special talent, you can’t shy away from it. You’ve got to really jump at it and take that plunge. We were not sure that we could get these sorts of players, this was such a good opportunity for us that we wanted to seize it once it was available to us.”
On the current state of the club: “Here’s how it’s been: We did a very, very thorough analysis and where we were going to be if we stayed the course. We could not stay the course. We had to make dramatic and tough decisions. We had big contracts, we had talented players who weren’t going to be able to by themselves bring us a world championship opportunity again. We had a farm system where all the good players we had, had already matriculated in the major leagues. Our system was empty. And we knew that if we just continued to stay the course and tried to balance ourselves with both worlds, it wouldn’t work. Last season we couldn’t fix the big league part, although we did for the first half of the season until (reliever) Jason Grilli suffered the Achilles injury. It was difficult because we’ve been winners, and I keep reminding myself take a long-term view at what the Atlanta Braves have done. Since 1991 only the New York Yankees have won more games than us and the Cardinals are third. It’s hard to swallow for all of us, it’s hard to swallow for the fans, we understand all that.’’
On whether he is involved in player decisions: “Well yeah, I’m the president. I don’t make decisions, but they come to me and if I have a question or an uncertainty about it, I’ll voice it. I’ll listen to what they say, what’s the plan, what’s behind it, what about it makes sense to us. Those are the kind of things I ask them.’’
Before the documents were signed that made Cyril [Slapnicka] a Brewer, he thought his twirling services were worth so much per season. The club owners thought he valued the power of his arm about $400 too much, and they told him so.
“We will give you a contract calling for the figures we have mentioned. Into this contract we will insert a proviso to the effect that if you win one half of your games we will pay you the extra $400.”
[With a 14-15 record,] Cyril got ready [for the final road trip of the season, but] the manager, he says, spoke to him thusly:
“You ain’t goin’ along, old kid; you’re gonna linger behind. We don’t need you.”
Slapnicka sued for the $400 and won, successfully arguing that the team intentionally prevented him from having a chance to get the bonus. He threw 308.2 IP in 1915, but it was the innings he didn’t throw that won Slap the cash.
Slapnicka may have been a Quad-A pitcher, but he went on to become one of the most successful scouts of all time. He signed Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Roger Maris, Lou Boudreau, Mel Harder, Ken Keltner, Herb Score, Bobby Avila, and Hal Trosky.
The genius of the contact-based approach is that, if a pitcher is reliant on making hitters miss as part of his game plan, a contact-based team will have an antidote to his poison. Now it’s a negotiation between the pitcher and batter in terms of how good the pitcher is at inducing weak contact and how skilled the batter is at making good contact. If teams are selecting for swing-and-miss stuff and ignoring whether the pitcher is also skilled at inducing weak contact, then teams that emphasize a swing-and-hit approach and can find players who make decent contact will have plenty of guys to pick apart.
If fighting a battle under one set of rules isn’t working, change the rules. These effects aren’t the only reason that Royals fans can wear “Defending World Champions” shirts next year. I’m told by well-placed sources that they had a decent bullpen. It’s also not the case that the contact approach is the only way to win baseball games. But smart fans would do well to pay attention to the natural evolution of the game. For a few years, we have worried about the strikeout scourge and the drop in offense. Perhaps this is just the counter-move, and it was thrown into the limelight ... or perhaps the royal blue light by some gentlemen from Kansas City who are now holding a trophy.
Do the A’s really need to get rid of either Valencia or Lawrie?
Lowrie’s return all but ensures the A’s next will move either second baseman Brett Lawrie or third baseman Danny Valencia. Both are drawing interest from American League teams, according to big-league sources, but Lawrie, obtained in the Josh Donaldson deal with Toronto last winter, is considered the better bet to be traded: He can play second and third well, he has an enormous amount of natural ability and he turns 26 in January.
In either scenario, Lowrie is likely to begin next season at second base, with Marcus Semien remaining at shortstop. Semien made 35 errors in his first full season at shortstop, most in the majors and an Oakland record, but he improved significantly the final month of the season. When asked about Semien’s status at the moment, general manager David Forst responded: “He’s a shortstop.”
Gordon isn’t getting seven years. Five years at $90 million is a real possibility.
A seven-year contract for Gordon does not make a lot of sense, but if the FanGraphs crowd is correct and Gordon receives a five-year contract for $90 million or even Dave Cameron’s four year, $92 million prediction, that represent be a decent value. The Royals were in the middle-tier when it came to payroll last season and given attendance and another World Series run, Gordon might fit the team very well moving forward. There is risk in signing any player in his 30s to a long-term contract, and Gordon is no different. However, it is possible that either Gordon’s age or his injury this past season is keeping his price down. In free agency, Gordon looks to be a decent bet to fulfill the obligations of his contract in a manner with which his team will be quite pleased.
The Braves signed veteran right-hander Bud Norris to a one-year, $2.5 million contract on Wednesday, again following with their recent strategy of buying low on pitchers coming off injury or disappointing season.
In the case of Norris, it was a bad 2015 season in which he went 3-11 with a 6.72 ERA in 38 games (11 starts) for Baltimore and San Diego.
“I don’t know because we’re not operating really towards a number,” Luhnow said. “Obviously, I know I’m not going to spend $150, $200 million. But I’m not necessarily trying to hit a number. I’m trying to put together a team. I know it’s going to be in some range, but I’m focused way more on putting together a team that works for us rather than hitting a number.”
“Given that we had a lot of options at third and first, we (thought we) could take those resources and apply them to an area of our club we didn’t have as much depth (or where we) don’t have anybody penciled into that spot right now,” Luhnow said. “Whether it’s lefthanded relief, righthanded relief or even a starter, those resources will be reallocated to something we believe will help.”
“... Over 90% of our 900,000 plus customers who receive YES Network didn’t watch the equivalent of even one quarter of those (130) games (on YES) during the season,” Comcast said. “Even while the Yankees were in the hunt for a playoff berth.”
Free-agent catcher Geovany Soto and the Los Angeles Angels have agreed to a one-year, $2.8 million contract.
The team announced the move Tuesday night, one day after losing catcher Chris Iannetta to the Seattle Mariners in free agency.
Soto has played for four teams in 11 major league seasons. The former Chicago Cubs backstop spent last season on the other side of town with the White Sox, batting .219 with nine homers and 21 RBIs in 78 games.
Jed Lowrie? Brett Lawrie? Could Noah Lowry be next?
e Oakland Athletics have reacquired Jed Lowrie from the Houston Astros for right-handed relief pitcher Brendan McCurry, the club has announced. News that the A’s would acquire Lowrie was first reported by Jane Lee of MLB.com. The A’s have 41 players counting against their 40-man roster limit and have not yet announced a corresponding move.
Lowrie, turning 32 next season, has two years and $14 million remaining on the three-year deal he signed with the Astros after going to free agency in 2014, plus a club option in 2018 for $6 million with a $1 million buyout. In 69 games and 263 plate appearances, Lorie hit .222/.312/.400 with the Astros in 2015, a wRC+ of 91.
Jed Lowrie played shortstop with the A’s, but with the Astros he moved from shortstop to third base after a right thumb injury on a slide into home caused him to tear a ligament in his right thumb, putting him on the disabled list from late April to late July. Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa was promoted in June, prompting a permanent move to third base.
Suppose that a team used a three-man starting rotation, but limited each pitcher to 80 pitches a start or five innings. (This actually would work with 90 pitches a start, but 80 is more conservative, so I’m going to use 80 as a working premise.) Anyway, a starting pitcher always and absolutely comes out of the game as soon as
1) He has pitched five innings, or
2) He has thrown 80 pitches.
No exceptions. Eighty pitches, it’s the fifth inning, you’re ahead 9-0 and you have two outs and two strikes on the hitter ... tough luck, Sally, you should have thrown more strikes earlier in the game.
OK, I just bought my copy. Here’s a chance to get your copy for free.
Have you heard? The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2016 is now available for sale. You can check out the table of contents and read some excerpts from the book. When you finish that you can purchase it from our independent publishing platform, Createspace, in print form, or from Amazon in print form, and also digitally on Amazon for the Kindle.
But wait, there’s more! Because we’re giving folk, and since it’s the beginning of the holiday season and all, we want to give you a chance to win yourself a free copy of the book. So today and tomorrow (and yesterday), we’ll be running a trivia contest based on one of the articles in the book. The first person to post the correct answer in the comments will win a free physical copy of the book (sorry, no free Kindle version). It’s just that simple!
Today’s question comes to you from Peter Bonney’s article, “Who Watches the Watchers? Introducing Umpire Consistency Score,” where he, you know, introduces an umpire consistency score. You’ll have to read the article for the nuts and bolts of the metric, but it sets out to do just what it says. Bonney utilizes both raw UCS as well as UCS150, which is UCS (re-normalized) per 150 pitches (i.e. UCS per typical game). Toward the end of the piece, he busts out his whole leaderboard of umpires who worked from 2008-2015 and called at least 10,000 pitches. So the question before you today, dear reader, is this:
Can you name two of the top 10 umpires, as ranked by UCS150?
Note: If you name more than two umpires, your entry will be automatically discarded.
It’s still weird to see analysis like this in a newspaper.
Across the game, the correlation between outfield defense and runs shaved off a pitching staff’s predicted ERA was significantly higher than the correlation between infield and catcher defense and ERA.
In other words, while it’s possible to make an impact with either an elite infield or an elite outfield, the teams with elite outfields tended to help their pitchers more than teams with elite infields.
That’s where Bradley — along with Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo — could play a significant role for the Red Sox going forward. Whoever Dombrowski acquires to front his rotation stands to benefit greatly with that group patrolling the outfield behind him.
Not a ton of baseball in the newspapers of Thanksgiving Day 1915.
Topeka State Journal, November 25, 1915:
Arthur (Buck) Weaver, formerly catcher for the Denver and Wichita Western League baseball clubs, was probably fatally injured today in an explosion and fire that damaged the plant of the Mountain Motor Fuel company of which he was superintendent…An electric spark is believed to have caused the explosion.
This is not Black Sox Buck Weaver, but the Browns/Cardinals/Pirates/White Sox catcher who played in the majors from 1902-1908. I’m not sure whether he ever recovered from these injuries, but this Buck Weaver passed away in Denver in March 1917.
Durso had welcomed Muñoz on to the Homers for Hope baseball team, and into his home. He and his wife, Katie, had taught Muñoz some rudimentary English. He had done all of this under the tyranny of the calendar. Whatever hope Muñoz had of remaining in the United States, restarting his pitching career, and extricating his family from the pull of the Dominican Republic’s poverty would run out come Dec.31, when his visa expired, unless a major-league organization threw him a lifeline.
If one did, he had to be ready to catch it. So as the Philadelphia Fall Baseball League’s season wound down, Durso and two of his friends from Homers for Hope, David Olmo and Nick Massaro, volunteered themselves as Muñoz’s personal pitching coaches and catchers. During afternoons, Muñoz often called Olmo to ask if they could play catch for an hour or two, just so Muñoz could get some work in. When Muñoz needed to long-toss to keep his arm limber, Durso took him to the football field at Bonner-Prendergast High School. Muñoz stood in one end zone and heaved the ball to Durso in the opposite end zone, and the field’s artificial turf allowed Durso to skip his return throws, since he didn’t have the arm strength to reach Muñoz on the fly. That exercise was easy enough. There was another that proved more challenging, and dangerous….
November became December. Muñoz had less than a month before he would have to return to his home country, and return a failure. He would step off that plane and try to look his wife in the eye without shame, and his daughter… coming up on 6 months old… having spent not a second in her father’s arms… when she was old enough to understand, to ask her daddy about why he had gone to America and what he had done there, what would he tell her?
On the information beast: “I really don’t see a dichotomy between the analytics and scouting departments. I see them both as information sources where we need the absolute best of both. We’re going to build out both until we feel we have the best information we can possibly acquire. We’re always going to want more. That’s the nature of the beast. In this industry, the game is, ‘What is the next frontier in baseball and where can we get the next competitive advantage?’”
Looking for a job at the Winter Meetings is equal parts exhilarating and maddening, as hundreds of seekers vie to land a geographically and economically appropriate position. Some are content with securing an internship — anything to get that proverbial foot in the door — while others have already gone this route and are now intent on full-time employment. Some are just out of (or still in) college, while others are taking a leap of faith by trying to break into baseball after having started out within a different line of work.
Every story is unique and worth sharing. In 2015, as during the previous three Winter Meetings, I will run a series of Job Seeker Journal guest posts on this blog (these will also be compiled and featured daily on MiLB.com). Therefore:
Are YOU attending the Winter Meetings as a Job Seeker?
Do you want to write about it?
If so, please get in touch — firstname.lastname@example.org — with a photo of yourself and the following information:
You’d think Brits might be tired of the Royals by now.
MLB is in “advanced negotiations” with the operators of Olympic Stadium to play games in London, according to a report from Ben Rumsby of The Telegraph. It’s possible games could be played in Europe as soon as 2017.
Olympic Stadium, which was built as the centerpiece of the 2012 London Olympics, is currently undergoing renovations and will re-open in 2016. It will have a seating capacity of 54,000 when renovations are complete.
“That stadium, the way it’s built, actually is big enough for a baseball game,” said Clive Russell, managing director of MLB International, back in 2012. “It’s not perfect, but it has some real potential.”
Russell cautioned the stadium is “tight and there would be some struggles with sightlines,” though that was before the renovations.