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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bill James Mailbag - 1/4/15 - 1/6/15

But what does this have to do with… oh.

Bill, I saw an early return on a few (under 100) HOF ballots online, and Smoltz has over 75% needed to get in. Schilling has under 75%. Would it surprise you to see Smoltz get in ahead of Schilling?...

Well, I would certainly vote for Smoltz over Schilling. If you compare them as starting pitchers Schilling is ahead, but he wins by an NBA score. . . .98 to 93, or 102 to 97, something like that. If you put Smoltz’ three seasons of top-shelf relief pitching into the equation, I think he beats Schilling. In overtime.

What are the parameters in estimating improvement in MLB play over decades? For example, in sports that are measured quantitatively (track, swimming, weight-lifting, etc.) we know that runners have not improved their times in the 400 meter dash by 200% over the last few decades but that new records have been set, and we can eyeball what that improvement has been. Can we use a variety of comparative measures, not necessarily from these sports but including them, to estimate the ranges of improvement in MLB, or is it all just guesswork and BS and bias?

It’s not easy. The problem with the “parallel track” assumption is that the time line doesn’t match. The improvements that have taken place in track and field from 1960 to 2010 may have occurred in baseball from 1876 to 1920. (Certainly it is obvious that there was vast improvement in skills in baseball from 1876 to 1920. . .less obvious what the improvements have been since then.) Also, improvement in a complex set of skills is not parallel to improvement in a simple, direct skill such as runnin’ real fast or picking up something heavy. Baseball requires a mix of 100 or more highly refined skills. All of those improve at different speeds, and improvement in one waits on improvement in the others. One cannot learn to hit a 92 MPH breaking pitch until a significant number of people are around who can THROW a 92 MPH breaking pitch in the strike zone. We can work on the problem and gain some insight, but I’m not confident that we can measure improvement in baseball skills relative to other activities.

Bill, I dont remember if youve been asked this before? Do you support the pitch clock for pitchers? I think there should be a 30 second limit from when the pitcher receives the ball. And you?

I don’t know that a CLOCK is necessary. DIscipline is necessary. Stop calling timeout when there is no REASON to call time out. ALlow the umpire to call a “ball” when the pitcher dawdles. Skip the clock; it’s just discipline.

Hey Bill, It’s 1959 and you’re transported back to the Kansas City A’s owner’s office. You have one day to talk with him and the GM to try to impart as much as you can to them with the goal of trying to create a Kansas City A’s dynasty in the 1960s and beyond. Without naming names or saying stuff like “go trade for that young 1st baseman on the Giants”, that is, teaching them how to fish instead of giving them a fish, what are the things you would tell them to look at or to do? What are your priorities to get across to them to turn their club around?

The number one thing, certainly for THAT organization, is to get them to understand that player development is a process that takes time and requires patience. 1959 is a little bit too late to save that franchise. In 1959 they had no farm system to speak of. Connie Mack’s old farm system from Philadelphia, that moved to KC in ‘55, was way behind the time, and didn’t produce anything from 1955 to 1959. There is nothing you can do with nothing; you can’t trade your way to a pennant if you have nothing to start with, so the first thing you have to do is build a farm system. By 1959 that process was underway but slow. By 1963, with the hiring of Hank Peters, their development system started moving, and by 1967, when they left for Oakland, this was producing talent. So if you could move that process forward by 4 years, from 1963 to 1959, that would have helped, and if the organization had shown more patience with young players like Lou Klimchock, Nelson Mathews, Manny Jimenez, Bill Bryan, Fred Norman and others, that would have helped, and if you put those two things together, we could have moved the clock back to where the organization was rolling in 1964, rather than in 1968.

Hey Bill, did Brian Giles just become the best player ever to get zero Hall of Fame votes?

Frank Tanana. It was in the New York Times this morning. Same article mentioned my name. . ..thanks to whoever wrote that.


Sunday, January 04, 2015


Monday, December 22, 2014

Turner Situation Could Lead To Sea Change In Draft Pick Trades - BaseballAmerica.com

Get rid of this rule and the rule that keeps teams from trading draft picks.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 22, 2014 at 02:31 PM | 23 comment(s)
  Beats: nationals, padres, rules, trea turner

Friday, October 10, 2014

ESPN: MLB players want ‘voice’ in changes

In an offseason in which baseball has committed itself to speeding up the pace of games, several players told ESPN.com this week that players want “a voice” in this process and they’re concerned that, so far at least, no one except the players’ union has asked them what they thought.

“Players are very interested in being involved in these discussions,” veteran pitcher Kevin Slowey said. “We just want to be part of a collaborative effort to address these issues. And we want to have a voice. We don’t want to overpower any other voices. We’d just like to have our voice heard.”

kthejoker Posted: October 10, 2014 at 12:10 PM | 80 comment(s)
  Beats: rules

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Baseball Will Test Out Six New Rules To Speed Up The Game

1. Hitters must keep at least one foot inside the batter’s box at all times, barring exceptions like foul balls, wild pitches, or if the umpire grants him time out.
2. Pitchers must throw a pitch within 20 seconds of receiving the ball. Clocks posted in each dugout will count down the 20 seconds.
3. There will be a maximum break between innings of 2:05, with a clock keeping track. Hitters must be in the batter’s box by 1:45. If the hitter’s not ready, the umpire can call a strike. If the pitcher doesn’t throw a pitch by 2:05, the umpire can call a ball.
4. Teams will have a maximum of 2:30 to change pitchers, with the clock starting as soon as the reliever enters the playing field.
5. Teams are limited to a maximum of three mound visits per game, not including pitching changes. This applies to trips to the mound by managers, coaches, and catchers.
6. Pitchers no longer have to deliver four balls for an intentional walk. The manager can simply signal to the umpire.

Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: October 01, 2014 at 04:00 PM | 127 comment(s)
  Beats: rules

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One day in, the new “clarification” on the collision rule seems to have already been messed up

How that isn’t a plate block I have no idea. This was not one of those “the runner is out by 20 feet” plays the clarification is aimed at changing. This was going to be a close play if Drew had a chance to slide into the plate. But where was Stephen Drew supposed to go?

After the game, Joe Girardi said that, if the calls are going to be like that, his instructions to his base runners would be “Run him over. Bottom line: Run him over.”

I watched this a few times, I have no idea what the right call is anymore.  Hanigan is blocking the plate.  The throw beats him by a fair margin.  “Clearly beaten”?  Who knows.  I can’t wait for this rule to decide a playoff game.

Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 11, 2014 at 03:37 AM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: clusterf, rules

Monday, September 08, 2014

ESPN: Stark: Sides close on collision rule clarity

Major League Baseball and the Players Association are nearing an agreement designed to “clarify” confusion over the new home plate collision rules, sources told ESPN on Monday, with an announcement possible as soon as Tuesday. [...]

Primarily, the clarification of Rule 7:13 would remind umpires that while the intent of the rule was to protect catchers from violent collisions at the plate, the wording was not intended to be interpreted so strictly that it would allow runners to be called safe on a technicality if the throw had beaten them to the plate by a substantial margin.

 

bobm Posted: September 08, 2014 at 08:45 PM | 16 comment(s)
  Beats: catcher collisions, rules

Friday, August 29, 2014

Angels beat Athletics, Oakland protests game after obstruction call

The really weird play was the one where Gordon Beckham got a hit.

The Angels beat the Athletics 4-3 in 10 innings Thursday night on a walk-off sacrifice fly by Howie Kendrick, giving the Halos a two-game lead over Oakland in the American League West. But the A’s played the game under protest thanks to a controversial obstruction call in the ninth inning… Angels shortstop Erick Aybar led off the ninth inning of a 3-3 tie with a bouncer up the first base line, then collided with A’s pitcher Dan Otero.

The District Attorney Posted: August 29, 2014 at 11:39 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: angels, athletics, rules

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bill James Mailbag - 8/6/14 - 8/8/14

But Jeff Bagwell’s son won’t pass for a while…

... do you think that baseball is best served if Felix and Kershaw et al are there pitching the whole game, and if their bodies can’t handle it, then the structure of baseball should adapt to allow for it?...

... I think it would be desirable to have cleaner matchup. “Conceptual clarity” sounds like an esoteric concept, but it is fundamental to the success of any esthetic medium. You go to a movie, you want to know what the movie is about. If you the plot line is a mess, it diminishes the movie. If a work of music is all over the place, we regard it as a failed effort. A baseball game of constantly changing pitchers is like a movie with a convoluted plot line: you don’t know what it is ABOUT.

... I disagree slightly with your observation that “A baseball game of constantly changing pitchers is like a movie with a convoluted plot line: you don’t know what it is ABOUT.” Actually, I think we know what it is about—it’s about the cleverness of the two managers in trying to out-maneuver one another with pitching changes and pinch hitters. The problem is that this is a really boring thing to watch.

Thanks. I think I agree with that.

...what are your thoughts on George “High Pockets” Kelly being in the HOF?

Oh, I used to get regular hate mail from George Kelly’s son. No ####; I really did. Kelly’s selection to the Hall of Fame was absurd, farcical. Bob Watson would have been a better Hall of Fame selection that George Kelly. But after I wrote things like that a few times I used to get nasty letters from George Kelly’s son, who I think was named Walter. I assume that Walter has passed on, because I haven’t heard from him for ten years.

... What can you tell us about the decision to turn Papelbon into a starter? Was it just an experiment at first? Was there ever an announcement about it? Was it based on Boston’s needs or mainly just his skills? Was it something Jonathan was happy to do? Etc.

Jonathan kind of drove the train; Jonathan and need. We needed a closer, and he was pitching relief and doing really well, but the plans of the organization were to make him a starter. But it just got away from us; we had a good starting rotation, and Jon decided that he wanted to Close, and Terry wanted to keep him as the closer, so the front office would have had to use firearms to keep him in the rotation, more or less. And we just don’t operate that way.


 

 

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