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Sunday, March 16, 2014

NY Post: Davidoff: Plenty of hot seats to go around with Opening Day imminent

Nelson Cruz, Baltimore. He accepted a one-year, $8 million deal from the Orioles after rejecting a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Rangers. Oops. In a related note, he will be returning from a 50-game Biogenesis suspension. [...] Ruben Amaro Jr., Philadelphia. Clever critics for years have called the Phillies’ GM “Ruin Tomorrow, Jr.,” and tomorrow seems to have arrived. Cole Hamels’ sore left shoulder and the Rollins-Sandberg tension have made for an aggravating spring.

bobm Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:56 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 16, 2014 at 05:46 PM (#4672486)
I was trying to explain to my non-baseball fan wife the concept of Opening Day: "You see, it's the first day of the baseball season, although in recent years the first game has been played on a Sunday night so ESPN can carry it. This year, though, it's in Australia, two weeks before everybody else, with the games being played in the middle of the night, US time."

Her response: "Why don't they just start the season in America, during the day, when people can actually watch it?"

Me: "Well, they used to play the first game in Cincinnati, home of the first professional team. But I guess they weren't making enough money, or something."

Wife: "What, the six billion dollars they're making isn't enough?"

Me: "Apparently not."

Wife (after long pause): "That's dumb."
   2. Walt Davis Posted: March 16, 2014 at 06:10 PM (#4672496)
Well, from a "people can watch it" standpoint, Sunday night works. Given tradition went out the window long ago, I don't understand why they don't start on that Friday or at least Sat/Sun with a full slate.

The overseas starters aren't about the US market obviously. Whether they are effective in growing baseball interest in Oz, Japan, etc. I don't know -- the one here will certainly be a short-term money-maker though (for somebody).

Yeah, add Cruz to Morales on the list of guys who definitely made a mistake in turning down their QO. Elsewhere from the article:

Max Scherzer, Detroit. Can the impending free agent match Clayton Kershaw’s seven-year, $215-million contract?

No, of course not. However, when I looked at it, it did surprise me that his current going rate might be Felix money. (Scherzer's been a much better pitcher than I realized and Kershaw blew the market out of the water.)

I suspect Amaro is gone at the end of the season, barring good performance of course.
   3. Flynn Posted: March 16, 2014 at 06:13 PM (#4672497)
I'm sorry your wife doesn't understand how capitalism works. Also, the season never started in Cincinnati. Cincinnati always opens at home, but there have been several instances in the last 40 years where the regular season started somewhere else.
   4. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: March 16, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4672503)
I'm sorry your wife doesn't understand how capitalism works.


I'll send her a copy of Iceberg Slim's autobiography.
   5. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: March 16, 2014 at 06:50 PM (#4672508)
I'm sorry your wife doesn't understand how capitalism works.

It's more of a lack of understanding why baseball owners feel the need to be richer than Croesus.

Plus, this phrase:

Also, the season never started in Cincinnati.

is not quite compatible with:

there have been several instances in the last 40 years where the regular season started somewhere else.

   6. cardsfanboy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 07:24 PM (#4672520)
I don't get people who are "up in arms" about the opening day.

It's freaking great that they play an opening day in another country.. I don't get how people can be upset with that in the slightest...and of course if you are playing in another country, you have to have a pretty decent layoff between that and the rest of the schedule..not sure about 2 weeks, figure about 5 days is appropriate. Which means they could actually play about 3 days before the U.S. opening day, and the teams that are in the other country would not play those first series.
   7. Select Storage Device Posted: March 16, 2014 at 07:43 PM (#4672529)
I don't get people who are "up in arms" about the opening day.


Baseball (not just MLB) should view every opportunity to grow the game outside of their established talent veins as a positive one. MLB should do it more often -- treat it like the outdoor NHL games. Run a series in the Netherlands, and then one in South Africa a few months later. Brazil?

I'd watch a couple of teams I don't usually watch play baseball just because they were in a foreign market. It's good for the game all around.
   8. valuearbitrageur Posted: March 16, 2014 at 08:14 PM (#4672542)
Scherzer has always been a good pitcher but I wouldn't give him Felix money. He's never averaged more than 6 innings per start and sone times less, so his excellent stuff isn't usable for a lot of innings.

Until last year, where he averaged 7 IP/start, and it all came together for him and if that's the real Scherzer he is worth Felix money.

But given it was a career low BABIP year for him that made it easier to throw fewer pitches to go deep into games. I would expect regression so he's not worth Felix money.

Except that he had 24 starts with over 101 pitches, which says it's not BABIP keeping his pitch count down, it's probably a better, stronger, Scherzer so he is.

Is that clear?
   9. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 16, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4672544)
Baseball (not just MLB) should view every opportunity to grow the game outside of their established talent veins as a positive one. MLB should do it more often -- treat it like the outdoor NHL games. Run a series in the Netherlands, and then one in South Africa a few months later. Brazil?

There are plenty of ways to do this without moving regular-season games abroad, especially Opening Day games.
   10. cardsfanboy Posted: March 16, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4672547)
What harm does it do to move it abroad? The only choice is opening day games if you want them to be "for real" and not an exhibition.
   11. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 16, 2014 at 08:48 PM (#4672552)
What harm does it do to move it abroad? The only choice is opening day games if you want them to be "for real" and not an exhibition.

Aside from forcing those teams' loyal fans to stay up until 4:00 AM to watch their teams' first games?

The average person in Australia or The Netherlands or South Africa doesn't know or care much about baseball. Exhibition games would be just fine for purposes of exposing people to MLB.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: March 16, 2014 at 09:38 PM (#4672575)
Well, sure but I probably wouldn't have given Felix Felix money either ... or Free Agent X Free Agent X money. Everybody's overpaid!

The issue is Hamels signed for 7/153 before the 2012 season. Cain extended for 6/$128 before the 2012 season. Greinke signed for 6/$159 before 2013. Felix money is less than Greinke money (AAV).

If you look 2011-13, pitchers with at least 500 IP, Scherzer is #18 with a 115 OPS+ ... Greinke is at 116, Felix is at 117. Naturally they are all looking up at Kyle Lohse at 120. :-) Scherzer even has a few more IP than Greinke.

Of course there are problems with ERA+ but Scherzer actually moves up to #12 in WAR, more than 3 wins ahead of Greinke, about 1.5 wins behind Felix. He's just short of Anibal who got 5/$90 last year and he wasn't coming off a monster year. Of course Weaver, Kuroda and Fister are all ahead of him and Shields/Dickey just behind, all under $20 M.

If he survives this year and becomes an FA, he'll get at least $22 AAV (Hamels). Add inflation and we could easily be talking $24 M for 2015. And it is hard to argue he's worse than Greinke which brings $25-27 into the discussion. And Greinke's contract suggests that even if he's only pretty good not great this year (in terms of results), he'll still get that big payday.

I'm happy with the notion that every star pitcher contract of the last few years is totally nuts but, if that's the going price, it's the going price and Scherzer would seem to qualify.

Also, much like with Greinke, some of us are a little slow in noticing that Felix hasn't had great results since 2010. The peripherals are all the same and, like everybody, the K/BB is going through the roof and his defense was terrible last year ... but for results through age 27 he's ...

Hernandez: 1825 IP, 126 ERA+, 110-86, 39 WAR
Saberhagen: 1660 IP, 128 ERA+, 110-78, 41 WAR

which is totally awesome but ain't Clemens or Seaver ... or even Saberhagen if we pro-rated the IP. His big advantage in the young pitcher sweepstakes are all those IP -- the only pitcher of the last 20 years even close to those totals through 27 is Sabathia (1660). But in terms of quality (say WAR per 200 IP), he's well behind Pedro, Kershaw, Johan, Lincecum and (perhaps surprisingly) Hudson. He's a smidgen behind Zambrano, Zito, Greinke and Radke (go figure) and a bit ahead of Cain and CC.

Note it works about the same if you pro-rate the other way. Felix's first 6 seasons amount to 1150 IP and 25 WAR which includes his two biggest seasons. Or if we skip his age 20 season (not so awesome) and look 21-25, we get 1100 IP and 25 WAR. Zambrano had 31 in <1400, Zito had 26.5 in just over 1200, Hudson 27 in 1050 (those are all through age 27, I'm trying to roughly match IP, not ages ... quibbling understood).

That's all bWAR, fWAR might tell a different story.

   13. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 16, 2014 at 09:38 PM (#4672576)
The average person in Australia or The Netherlands or South Africa doesn't know or care much about baseball.

Not to mention all the Chinamen.
   14. Select Storage Device Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:05 PM (#4672588)
There are plenty of ways to do this without moving regular-season games abroad, especially Opening Day games.


I agree with a bit of that. It doesn't have to be openers, but to ask players to travel that far without the burden of it being a game that "matters" seems much more to ask than some boring match-up in mid-May or August.

The average person in Australia or The Netherlands or South Africa doesn't know or care much about baseball.


Good? So the only drawback is that loyal local fans might have to get up early three times out of 162 if they really want to watch? The unbearable stress of extended travel on the athletes?

They can have my Rays. We draw a nice TV audience.

Would have been cool to see the highlight of Grant Balfour taking the mound in AUS.
   15. JE (Jason) Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:23 PM (#4672595)
Yeah, add Cruz to Morales on the list of guys who definitely made a mistake in turning down their QO.

Although $6M is real money, Walt, the length of the contract matters far more. Rejecting a qualified offer only leads to ruin if no team signs the player before Opening Day. After all, one year is still one year, whether it be $14M or $8M.
   16. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4672596)
I agree with a bit of that. It doesn't have to be openers, but to ask players to travel that far without the burden of it being a game that "matters" seems much more to ask than some boring match-up in mid-May or August.


You'd have to pay them extra. A lot extra. Not going to happen.
   17. Select Storage Device Posted: March 16, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4672598)
A lot extra to play one series abroad? Split between a handful of teams? I don't believe it. And if so, that's a bit terrible. It benefits the players in the long run too.
   18. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 16, 2014 at 11:39 PM (#4672613)
It doesn't have to be openers, but to ask players to travel that far without the burden of it being a game that "matters" seems much more to ask than some boring match-up in mid-May or August.


But the travel is what means it has to be for season openers, unless you want to block off almost a full week's worth of games just to play a series in Australia, Japan, etc.

   19. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 17, 2014 at 05:54 AM (#4672637)
There are plenty of ways to do this without moving regular-season games abroad, especially Opening Day games.

Name them. Exposure to real games, with real atmosphere, real stakes, and a real ballpark experience is by far the best way to convert people.

The average person in Australia or The Netherlands or South Africa doesn't know or care much about baseball.

That's kinda the point. MLB is trying to grow the brand internationally. Real games are going to draw much more interest, much more media exposure, than an exhibition game, with a bunch of scrubs.
   20. Flynn Posted: March 17, 2014 at 06:41 AM (#4672639)
Also, the season never started in Cincinnati.

is not quite compatible with:

there have been several instances in the last 40 years where the regular season started somewhere else.


My point is that the only tradition on Opening Day is that Cincinnati opens at home so they can have their parade. Plenty of other teams open at home on the same day, at the same time, or even earlier. There was never any tradition where nobody else could play baseball before the Reds.

MLB is trying to grow the brand internationally. Real games are going to draw much more interest, much more media exposure, than an exhibition game, with a bunch of scrubs.


In Europe (as you probably know), the NHL, NFL and NBA all play regular season games on an annual or semi-annual basis. MLB coming with the Lite product wouldn't cut it.
   21. thetalkingmoose Posted: March 17, 2014 at 07:59 AM (#4672649)
I'm sorry your wife doesn't understand how capitalism works.


Well, thanks to its anti-trust exemption (a class of law that really isn't properly enforced anymore anyway), MLB isn't technically a capitalist enterprise now, is it?
   22. TerpNats Posted: March 17, 2014 at 08:41 AM (#4672656)
My point is that the only tradition on Opening Day is that Cincinnati opens at home so they can have their parade. Plenty of other teams open at home on the same day, at the same time, or even earlier. There was never any tradition where nobody else could play baseball before the Reds.
Until 1971, the Reds and Senators usually opened, at home, on the same day. The AL "presidential opener" was a big thing, a tradition the Orioles tried to steal during those lonely years that D.C. had no team.
   23. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 17, 2014 at 01:31 PM (#4672854)
Name them. Exposure to real games, with real atmosphere, real stakes, and a real ballpark experience is by far the best way to convert people.

I already did — exhibition games.

People who've never seen baseball before don't need "real stakes," but they'd get everything else on your list. Panamanians, who *do* know baseball, turned out en masse this weekend to see the Yankees and Marlins play two exhibition games in Panama City. There's no reason that it needs to be regular-season-or-bust for South Africa or The Netherlands.

That's kinda the point. MLB is trying to grow the brand internationally. Real games are going to draw much more interest, much more media exposure, than an exhibition game, with a bunch of scrubs.

Please. If two MLB teams show up in The Netherlands, they'll get media exposure.
   24. TDF, situational idiot Posted: March 17, 2014 at 03:48 PM (#4672985)
My point is that the only tradition on Opening Day is that Cincinnati opens at home so they can have their parade. Plenty of other teams open at home on the same day, at the same time, or even earlier. There was never any tradition where nobody else could play baseball before the Reds.
For 100 years, yes there was. From the Baseball Almanac:

Major League Baseball's first officially recognized franchise the Cincinnati Reds were historically awarded the privilege of "opening the Openers" and hosted the outings from 1876-1989. Only twice during this time (1877 and 1966) were they forced to debut on the road due to rain. Finally in 1990, the tradition was broken and the Reds were scheduled to appear as the visitors against the Houston Astros.

Or, from Wiki:

For generations, Opening Day has arrived amid pageantry. In Cincinnati, Ohio, home of the sport's first professional team, an annual parade marks an official "city holiday" with young and old alike taking the day off to cheer on the Reds. For decades, the first pitch of every major league season officially took place in Cincinnati.
   25. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: March 17, 2014 at 03:56 PM (#4672990)
For 100 years, yes there was. From the Baseball Almanac: Major League Baseball's first officially recognized franchise the Cincinnati Reds were historically awarded the privilege of "opening the Openers" and hosted the outings from 1876-1989. Only twice during this time (1877 and 1966) were they forced to debut on the road due to rain. Finally in 1990, the tradition was broken and the Reds were scheduled to appear as the visitors against the Houston Astros.


Yes, but even under that standard other teams could open on the same day, with the first pitch sometimes coming before the first one thrown in Cincinnati (Dwight Evans took Jack Morris deep on the very first pitch of the 1986 season, for instance).

The tradition was the Reds always opened at home, and they opened on the first day of baseball for all of MLB. But other teams could, and did, share that distinction in any given year, which is what Flynn is referring to.

   26. jmurph Posted: March 17, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4672997)
(Dwight Evans took Jack Morris deep on the very first pitch of the 1986 season, for instance)


This really clarifies how unimportant opening day is, therefore no one should be complaining about the season opening abroad. If Morris was willing to allow a home run, by definition it's not a big game.
   27. jmurph Posted: March 17, 2014 at 04:17 PM (#4672998)
People who've never seen baseball before don't need "real stakes," but they'd get everything else on your list. Panamanians, who *do* know baseball, turned out en masse this weekend to see the Yankees and Marlins play two exhibition games in Panama City. There's no reason that it needs to be regular-season-or-bust for South Africa or The Netherlands.


I think Joe is right, here. To point to the inverse of MLB going abroad, every summer most of the big European soccer teams play some exhibitions in the US with nothing at stake other than a made up cup or two that no one cares about. I don't think they always sell out, but they draw decent crowds to most of the NFL stadiums they play in and are nearly always on ESPN, ESPN2, or another national network.
   28. Select Storage Device Posted: March 17, 2014 at 11:04 PM (#4673151)
I already did — exhibition games.


Is not the trick to get US fans to give a bean over these games too? They are trying to sell the game abroad while simultaneously selling the game at home as a "global up-and-comer." Is that not the entire reason for the WBC? Baseball does their cadre of international exhibitions but it takes the Marlins no-hitting the Yankees on Mo Night in Panama to get any sort of real US coverage.

Baseball will pay the owners, the players will maybe get something from it, and I don't suggest they go to places that the other sports already have their hands in. Baseball isn't popular in those places, anyway (save Mexico).

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