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Monday, June 03, 2019

Inside the Astros’ cutting-edge approach to minor-league pitching development – The Athletic

As the Astros’ reliance on technology has increased, their number of scouts in the field has decreased. Their 2019 media guide lists only seven amateur area scouts, two cross-checkers and senior scouting advisor Charlie Gonzalez under domestic scouting supervisor Kris Gross. They have two Houston-based amateur scouting analysts plus one dedicated video technician tasked with collecting video of prospects around the country. Their international staff under department manager Eve Rosenbaum consists of an assistant director, two scouting supervisors, four traditional scouts and four video scouts.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 03, 2019 at 03:28 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, pay site, player development

MLB Mock Draft: The Athletic’s beat writers project the first round – The Athletic

The Athletic breaks out their crystal ball.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 03, 2019 at 08:18 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, rule 4 draft

Friday, May 31, 2019

Pretty as a picture: Ranking the best pitch framers among MLB catchers – The Athletic

Flowers is number one.

5. Jeff Mathis, Rangers
At the season’s end, SIS presents The Fielding Bible Awards to the top defender at each position. Mathis won the award at catcher despite catching only 63 games last season. But this was not a case of giving a Gold Glove to Rafael Palmeiro for barely playing first base.

Mathis won on the merits — for being an outstanding pitch blocker and pitch framer. Regarding the latter, Mathis is elite when it comes to getting strikes on low pitches, whether they are in or out of the strike zone. He frequently beats the ball to the spot and ensures he’s catching it with momentum going toward the zone. His hands are fast.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 31, 2019 at 09:46 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: analytics, catchers, pay site

Wednesday, May 22, 2019


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rosenthal: The lack of movement on Kimbrel and Keuchel; a Cubs revival; the Reds’ dangerous spot; more notes – The Athletic

I can’t see why any team would sign them this close to the draft. Later, maybe, but not before.

The Phillies, in theory, should be all over free-agent closer Craig Kimbrel. Four of their relievers — Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter, Edubray Ramos and David Robertson — are on the injured list. And Robertson, who is not a lockdown closer even when healthy, will be shut down at least three more weeks with a right flexor strain.

On a one-year deal in particular, finances should not be an issue for Team Stupid Money, even after its commitment of $403 million to Robertson and outfielders Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen in free agency. The sacrifice of a draft pick should not be an issue, either — the signing of Kimbrel would cost them only their third pick, No. 91 overall, after they forfeited their second choice for Harper.

...

Kimbrel, sources told The Athletic in mid-April, wants to be in the range of two recent free-agent relievers: Zack Britton (three years, $39 million) and Wade Davis (three years, $52 million). Keuchel, on the other hand, is believed to prefer a one-year deal, presumably above the $17.9 million qualifying offer he rejected from the Astros. The actual amount he receives, when prorated, would be considerably less (as would Kimbrel’s salary in year one). But at least he could re-enter the open market this offseason.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 16, 2019 at 06:28 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: notes, pay site

Sarris: MLB moving from Trackman to Hawk-Eye tracking system – The Athletic

Maybe now we’ll be able to get some infield defensive metrics.

Five years after it was installed in an effort to measure the previously unmeasurable, radar-based player- and ball-tracking system Trackman looks like it’s on its way out as the technology of choice for Major League Baseball. Multiple sources inside front offices across the league confirm that Hawk-Eye’s optical technology — known to tennis fans as the basis of the automated serve tracking system — is currently being installed in baseball stadiums across the country for a two-month run-up that should end in a full change in technology for the 2020 season.

MLB offered no comment on the scope of the upcoming deal with Hawk-Eye. Hawk-Eye and Trackman representatives had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.

Multiple sources cited an improvement in accuracy as the main reason for the change.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 16, 2019 at 06:18 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, technology

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Rosenthal: Derek Jeter’s right-hand man is tearing up a franchise and creating enemies along the way – The Athletic

He wanted the dogs out of the clubhouse. No, it was worse than that. Gary Denbo, the Marlins’ vice president of player development and scouting, could not tolerate the dogs, who had been a popular part of the Greensboro Grasshoppers’ scene since August 2006, fetching bats, carrying buckets of balls to the plate umpire, running the bases after every game.

The dogs are such a phenomenon that the bucket of the late Miss Babe Ruth, a Labrador Retriever who once worked 638 consecutive home games, is on display at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But Denbo, making an unannounced visit to the Marlins’ Low-A affiliate in June 2018, was not interested in upholding tradition. He took one look at the two dog kennels in the clubhouse and demanded that they be removed, berating a clubhouse attendant, a longtime employee of the team who is in his 50s.

The exchange was the breaking point in the Marlins’ 16-year relationship with Greensboro, according to the team’s president and general manager, Donald Moore, who said he simply could not work with Denbo. Moore subsequently made a deal with the Pirates’ organization, and the Marlins settled for a much less advantageous affiliation in Clinton, Iowa, where the ballpark is considered outdated and remote.

Jim Furtado Posted: May 07, 2019 at 07:57 AM | 54 comment(s)
  Beats: derek jeter, marlins, pay site

Thursday, April 18, 2019


Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Exclusive: Giants acknowledge it’s finally time to explore moving in the fences at Oracle Park – The Athletic

The problem isn’t the park; it’s the players the Giants are playing. .

One of the owners, making casual conversation, asked whether the time has come for the Giants to reconfigure their beauty of a ballpark on the shores of McCovey Cove. Should they remove the hazard of bullpens in foul territory? And if so, should they seize that moment as an opportunity to reassess whether their pitcher-friendly ballpark has shifted from charming and idiosyncratic to disadvantageous and extreme?

Jim Furtado Posted: April 17, 2019 at 08:42 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, pay site

Friday, March 22, 2019

Baseball’s new frontier: Inside the looming battle between players and teams over the new data – The Athletic

There are some serious issues involved with the new tech.

The most exciting aspect of new wearable technology — and there are quite a few, as our story outlined today — is that it can put a number on athletic movements that we used to describe generally, out of necessity. Now, thanks to new data, we can be specific. These vests, and sleeves, and monitors, they provide that data. Glorious data.

How that data can be used, and who has access to it, has quickly become the most contested aspect of this new technology in baseball.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2019 at 10:47 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, technology

Baseball’s new frontier: How wearable technology is reshaping the game – The Athletic

Johnson goes back to the printout he grabbed, of one of baseball’s best hitters. The kinematic sequences are hard to read at first, but after hours of going over examples, they get easier. This is why a good portion of these seminars with major league clubs is focused on getting them to understand how to read the data properly.

Right away, you notice a problem with this one. There is a drastic dropoff at the hips followed by an unusual uptick at the hands. There is an enviable amount of power generated at the end, but it’s akin to the fire hydrant and garden hose.

“We look at this and say, ‘Ok we have a big issue here.’ Maybe he’s only using 60 percent of his hips? How scary is that?” Johnson said.  “When you’re so talented and working at only 85 percent efficiency, that doesn’t mean he still can’t be better than anyone in the world. He has the natural ability to make up for that deficiency. But that doesn’t mean you have the ability to do it and stay healthy.”

The player above has been an MVP candidate in past seasons. He has had hundreds of hitting coaches. No one had ever said the problem was his hips. The day after getting his screening results, that hitter went out and bought his own K-Vest.
...
“Say I’m watching a guy and, as a coach, I’m not sure if he’s using his hips or not. Maybe it’s a good guess or a bad guess. But it’s a guess. If you get the sequencing, you can know,” Johnson said. “Now, I’m getting a whole exam on him, the doctor comes back and says yeah he’s got some issues (with the hips). Work on prehab, than they work on retraining his motor patterns. That’s Scenario A.

“Scenario B is, he never gets fixed. And here’s the rub with the players: If (he has a hip issue and it) gets brought to a coach and it’s, ‘Hey, can you coach around this?’ Yes? ‘Great, let’s do it.’ No? ‘OK let’s get rid of him. Release him. Trade him.’

“That’s what the players don’t want.”

Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2019 at 10:36 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, technology

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stark: Everybody’s out to get 30-something baseball players these days — even Alexa – The Athletic

Wonderful article by Jayson Stark.

So is that true, that no one really knows? Here’s the tricky part of this: No one knows for sure when any individual player will peak and decline, because, from Hank Aaron to Tom Brady to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the world of sports has always been filled with freaks of nature who defy their age and defy the averages.

But in an era in which front offices are consumed by the goal of minimizing risk, they know exactly when most players will peak and decline. And it’s those judgments that are wreaking havoc on the free-agent market – and ratcheting up the pressure on even star players, because sooner or later, that gong will be sounding for them.

“I think your leash is way shorter,” said Matt Carpenter. “Say you’re a 32- or 33-year-old who shows up and puts up zero WAR after being a 4-win or 3-win guy for many years. And then you throw up a zero. It can get hard to find a place to play. Adam Jones is a great example. That’s the tough part about this aging thing.”

No, the tough part about “this aging thing,” for players, is figuring out how they’re supposed to respond – to all of the above. But as with everything these days, it’s complicated.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 13, 2019 at 02:57 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: aging, free agency, pay site

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Gammons: The Red Sox look to new hitting philosophies — and what they can do for the next generation – The Athletic

Some very interesting Red Sox stuff from Peter Gammons.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 03, 2019 at 11:50 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, red sox

Rosenthal: Trout’s value? Far more than Harper or Machado; Nats pondering next move; A’s not giving up on Murray – The Athletic

What a coincidence. I considered offering Trout a $400 million extension to play for the Angels too. I’m also considering a sandwich for lunch.

In​ recent weeks, the Los Angeles​ Angels​ at​ least considered offering​ Mike Trout a 10-year,​ $350 million​ extension, though​​ it is unclear whether they followed through with an actual proposal, according to sources with knowledge of the club’s thinking.

A deal of that size would be the biggest in the history of North American sports and give Trout the highest average annual value ever for a baseball player.

And still, it would not be nearly enough.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 03, 2019 at 10:11 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, mike trout, pay site

Friday, March 01, 2019

Inside the Giants’ serious but unsuccessful pursuit of Bryce Harper, with Farhan Zaidi leading the way – The Athletic

Inside the Giants thought process.

That Harper signed for a smaller AAV than Manny Machado’s new deal with the Padres (10 years, $300 million) tells you how club officials valued him in the marketplace. Harper’s $25.384 million AAV came eerily close to his value as formulated earlier in the day in a Washington Post analysis piece that utilized prediction models and dollars per win added. That might not be how you and I value players. But it is how almost every major-league front office is valuing players.

Machine learning has come for us all, kids, and there is a reason why every team is pegging the same value and making the same offers to free agents. If all major-league front offices are leaning hard on their algorithms and their artificial intelligence to make decisions, then the resulting price convergence amounts to operational collusion. It’s de facto, if not by design.

The Giants made an offer in line with their valuation for Harper. They might have been willing to stretch that valuation a smidge. They weren’t going to offer beyond that. They viewed Harper as a great player, a franchise player, but perhaps not a generational talent.

Jim Furtado Posted: March 01, 2019 at 08:24 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bryce harper, giants, pay site

Friday, February 15, 2019

Giants add a ‘baseball guy’ to develop new data-driven pitching program – The Athletic

All you SABR nerds aren’t baseball people.

Maybe if the “internal civil war” doesn’t need to exist, we should stop classifying ourselves so much.

“I’m not a mathematician or a SABR nerd,” Daniels told The Athletic this week. “I’ve read all that stuff but at heart I’m a baseball guy that knows data, not the other way around.”

It’s an important distinction.

“There’s an internal civil war that exists and doesn’t need to exist,” Daniels admitted.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2019 at 07:56 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: giants, pay site

Mad Max: On what the Nationals ace believes is ‘poisoning’ the game – The Athletic

How many teams really aren’t trying to win? Serious question. Are the Padres trying to win? How about the Marlins?

I get the frustration by players. I’m not sure harping on this point is a productive path for players, however. Do the players really want fewer fans for the game?

“When there’s teams, when there’s too many teams that are not trying to win that poisons the game, poisons the fan experience and it creates bandwagon fans,” said Scherzer, who heaped praise on the Nationals and general manager Mike Rizzo for investing in the club this winter. “If you’re constantly just trying to go in this win-loss cycle that MLB is pushing you are creating bandwagon fans and that’s not the type of fans you want to create. You want to create the fans that are following the team, year-in, year-out. It’s put on the fans honestly, to demand that from the league.”

“There’s going to be some teams that aren’t in a position to necessarily win the World Series (this year), I understand that. When you have over a third of the league trying to do that, that’s a problem.”

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2019 at 07:49 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: max scherzer, nationals, pay site

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Introducing The Athletic Fantasy Baseball – The Athletic

I usually avoid linking to content from pay sites but, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, I regularly link to The Athletic content. The reason is simple, they have too many quality writers to ignore. Yesterday they added even more interesting writers. Who knows how long they will be able to sustain their business model but while they can they will be on my must read list.

One thing we stress at The Athletic Fantasy is making sure we are earning your subscription. We’re pretty normal people who know you can get free stuff anywhere. So, over the course of the last several months, Brandon Funston, Nando Di Fino, Jake Ciely, Eno Sarris and Dan Kaufman (our editorial director) made lists, had meetings, sat on calls, exchanged a lot of emails and ultimately came up with a list of people we thought would offer the absolute best fantasy baseball advice. Anywhere. Bar none. And forget about the fact you get the entire site when you join The Athletic. We wanted this group alone to be worth your subscription. And it is. And maybe even beyond that. This group we assembled will make you look at fantasy baseball and love the game more than ever.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 12, 2019 at 06:03 AM | 8 comment(s)
  Beats: fantasy, pay site

Friday, February 08, 2019

What types of players has Farhan Zaidi added to the Giants organization so far? – The Athletic

He’s looking for versatile low-risk value players with some demonstrated upside.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 08, 2019 at 06:25 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: farhan zaidi, giants, pay site

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Why Bryce Harper makes sense for the Giants – The Athletic

Concern #3: Harper is too expensive

This was a big part of my last article on him, so I won’t rehash it too much. But paying Harper something like $30 million a year is a team making a conscious gamble that he’ll be better than two veteran free agents asking for $15 million in the future. When you see what $15 million buys you on the open market — usually some dude in his 30s or close to it — it’s not a bad gamble.

Besides, while the Giants are absolutely hosed with that Posey-Belt-Crawford-Cueto-Samardzija money for the next two to three seasons, everything frees up sooner than you think. Evan Longoria is the only current Giants player with a contract after 2021, which means that while Harper would be a tight squeeze at first, he would still be under 30 when the Giants are ready to spend again.

And they would probably be ready to spend wildly at that point. The good news is that they would already have a youngish slugger already in place.

I’m not sure if any of the Giants’ projected starting outfielders would make the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster, which seems like a problem. Here, then, is an outfielder, one of the best. He’s young, on a Hall of Fame trajectory, and available for nothing more than a Scott Boras-negotiated amount of clams. I’m not saying it’s a move without risk. I’m not saying it’s as easy as going down to the Bryce Harper Store and filling up a basket.

What I’m saying is that it makes sense. A whole bunch of sense. Because when you have a chance to get a player this good, this young, you have to at least explore the idea.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 07, 2019 at 06:35 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bryce harper, giants, pay site

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dale Murphy: Four suggestions for baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement – The Athletic

Guaranteeing a certain percentage of income seems like a reasonable ask for the players. A spending floor on player contracts isn’t. though. Instead, set the floor on spending floor but let teams directly pay the MLBPA for any shortage. Teams won’t be forced into signing bad contracts. The MLBPA can then take responsibility for divvying up the balance.

The idea that spending more for free agents will increase attendance is silly. Signing players for more money doesn’t increase attendance. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper will eventually sign somewhere. The terms of their contracts won’t generate more ticket sales. It about getting the player, not how much you spend on him. (By signing so late this year, there is also a question of the impact for a team’s marketing for this year.)

Owners should be required to spend a certain percentage of revenue on players. I’ll leave the exact number to the financial gurus, but whether it’s 45 percent or 48 percent or something else entirely, players should be guaranteed a certain piece of the pie, not only to ensure equity but also to prevent the free-agency freeze we’ve felt the last couple of offseasons.

Another benefit: ticket sales would increase. As Jayson Stark illuminated in great detail, free agents put fans in seats. If you want to increase attendance — and you should — acquiring elite talent is one way to do it.

To put it in Field of Dreams terms, If you sign them … people will come.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 30, 2019 at 05:55 AM | 43 comment(s)
  Beats: cba, pay site

Wednesday, January 23, 2019


Monday, January 14, 2019

Bowden: Sizing up the rookies who are ready to make their mark in the majors in 2019 – The Athletic

Saw him pitch last year in Spring Training. He looked like he could pitch in the majors then.

6. Jesus Luzardo, LHP, Oakland Athletics

Age: 21 Height: 6-1 Weight: 205 B: L T: L
Scouting Grades
FB: 60 CB: 50 CH: 60 CTL: 65

The Athletics showed great discipline in not bringing up Luzardo last September, instead opting to make sure he was fully developed, but they’re prepared to let him compete for a rotation spot in spring training. Based on their lack of starter depth, it would be a surprise if he didn’t make their team out of camp. Luzardo made 23 starts last year at three different levels, finishing with a 2.88 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 30 walks in 109 1/3 innings pitched. I got to watch him in the Futures Game, and all I could think about is what a great trade Billy Beane made in acquiring both him and their closer, Blake Treinen, from the Nationals in the trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington in July 2017.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 14, 2019 at 09:37 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: pay site, prospects

Saturday, January 12, 2019


Friday, January 04, 2019

Posnanski: How the lack of Hall of Fame unanimity became A Thing, and why it should end with Mariano Rivera – The Athletic

The Hall of Fame voting process has far bigger problems than worrying whether isolated voters don’t vote for a guy with enough support to get voted in anyway.

One answer to that question is no, of course he shouldn’t be first. As stated: Ty Cobb should have been first. Joe DiMaggio should have been first. Ted Williams … Stan Musial … Willie Mays … Henry Aaron … Jackie Robinson … Tom Seaver … Cal Ripken … Greg Maddux … Ken Griffey … all of those guys and more should have been first. But they weren’t.

And there’s no going back to get any of that right.

Rivera did his job better than anyone in baseball history. He has the best ERA+ of any pitcher in baseball history. He has the most saves, if you care about saves. He’s fifth all-time in Win Probability added — right between Warren Spahn and Tom Seaver — and his postseason pitching record is an absurdity, 141 innings, a 0.759 WHIP, a 0.70 ERA, and so on.

Is his Hall of Fame case as good as Maddux’s? As Seaver’s? As Johnson’s? As Martinez’s? As Gibson’s? No, not to me.
But maybe it’s better to think of it this way: Nobody closed out a game better. Nobody. In that way, maybe nobody is better suited to close out this ridiculous streak of the greatest players not getting elected unanimously.

Jim Furtado Posted: January 04, 2019 at 06:21 AM | 133 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, pay site

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