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Monday, September 21, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-21-2020

Pittsburgh Press, September 21, 1920:

John A. Heydler and Ban B. Johnson, presidents of the National and American baseball leagues, are expected [in Chicago] tomorrow to testify before the county grand jury inquiring into alleged baseball gambling. Subpoenas for Rube Benton, New York Giants’ pitcher; Charles A. Comiskey, owner of the Chicago Whitesox; William Gleason, manager of the Sox; William L. Veek [sic], president of the Chicago Cubs, and Chicago baseball writers also were issued. Efforts to have Hal Chase, Heinie Zimmerman and Lee Magee, former players, testify will be made, it was said.

The world’s series of 1919 between the Whitesox and Cincinnati Nationals and the alleged “fixed” game of Aug. 31 between the Chicago Cubs and ...

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Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 21, 2020 at 10:07 AM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: black sox, dugout, history

The Cubs finished their worst offensive season ever at Wrigley Field. Can they just blame it on 2020?

But one glaring deficiency they’ve battled from the outset is a consistent inability to hit — particularly at Wrigley Field. The Cubs’ overall .226 batting average heading into Sunday night’s home finale against the Minnesota Twins was fourth-worst in the majors, and their .218 home average was better only than the Seattle Mariners’ .212 average at Safeco Field.

It’s an ongoing mystery that no one, including manager David Ross and President Theo Epstein, can explain.

This year’s group will finish with by far the lowest average in the ballpark’s 106-year history, a head-scratching problem that could doom the Cubs if it carries into the wild-card round.

For fans watching on TV, it’s almost incomprehensible. Even some ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 21, 2020 at 09:09 AM | 18 comment(s)
  Beats: cubs

Sunday, September 20, 2020

John Thorn: Lemons and Lovelies

With the introduction of the reserve clause in 1879 — at first enforced against only five players on each club, but soon enough against all — player contracts were agreements that revolved indefinitely. Accordingly, these pieces of paper were more valuable to team owners than the entirety of their municipal franchises. Indeed, even a disbanding club might sell off its reserved contracts as part of a liquidation move. John M. Ward’s 1887 article for Lippincott’s Magazine, “Is the Base-Ball Player a Chattel?” made the case for regarding the treatment of players with that of slaves (https://at.virginia.edu/32dXPAh).

In that year King Kelly of Chicago, the greatest star in the game, was sold by the Chicago White Stockings to ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:54 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: king kelly

How the O’s teach English as a second language to young Latin players

There were obstacles to overcome along the way.

“Some of our players have to go to a neighbor’s house just to get on their wifi and take their online class,” she said. “Many of our players prefer having a one-on-one interaction via Zoom and then studying on their own. The fact of trying to reach diverse learners with diverse learning skill sets and trying to bring that in through Zoom is difficult, but not impossible.

“As the weeks have passed, they feel much more comfortable. They are able to create their own Zoom calls and use online tools to create projects for their classes. We have to recognize those guys with their effort. At the end of the day they did it because they understood that it was good for their language ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:52 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: latino players, orioles

Rockies designate veteran reliever Wade Davis for assignment

The last member of the Rockies’ overpriced and underperforming relief pitching triumvirate signed before the 2018 season is out the door.

Veteran right-hander Wade Davis was designated for assignment Saturday, the team announced, in a move that signals the end of his time in Colorado. Davis began the season with a pair of saves at the Texas Rangers, but a strained right shoulder derailed his year and comeback attempt with the Rockies.

“He was a great presence on our team and a great mentor for a lot of our younger pitchers. He was one of our leaders,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “The shoulder woes started happening and he just really couldn’t recover totally.”

Davis, 35, was reinstated from the injured list in ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:49 PM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: rockies, wade davis

Theo Epstein would be perfect for Steve Cohen’s Mets

There usually is a new-owner syndrome to spend money immediately to make a mark, so do you — for example — think the agents for J.T. Realmuto, George Springer and other high-end players will wait to see what Cohen wants to do with his $14 billion even if a GM is not hired until, say, mid-November or not?

So the only question is: Does Cohen want Van Wagenen? If not, he could look into New York or New York-area-raised Mets fans like him, such as Indians GM Mike Chernoff (his first baseball job was as a $50-a-week Mets intern), Rangers GM Jon Daniels and Brewers GM David Stearns. All are qualified, with Stearns (who previously worked for the Mets) particularly intriguing and attractive.

Cohen’s hedge fund is facing a ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 10:46 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: mets, theo epstein

Why losing Justin Verlander marks beginning of the end of Astros’ sad legacy

In the big picture, I do wonder whether this is the end of the era, this run that started in 2015 and included the now-controversial 2017 World Series title and three straight 100-win seasons from 2017 to 2019. They will now be without Verlander for 2021, and George Springer, Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick are all free agents. Given the current stink hovering over the entire organization, what are the odds any of those players are wearing an Astros uniform in 2021? These guys are all 30-something, so the Astros would possibly go in another direction anyway.

Springer would be the one guy you would most want to bring back, but there’s a longstanding grudge between him and the organization after it tried to sign him to a ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 04:09 PM | 47 comment(s)
  Beats: astros

Verlander to undergo Tommy John surgery

Verlander, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, announced via his Instagram account on Saturday that he has decided to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery—the first time in his long and accomplished career that he has needed the procedure. Verlander, who has not pitched since Opening Day in July, said he consulted with several doctors before reaching his decision.

“I was hopeful that I would be able to return to competition in 2020,” wrote Verlander, “however, during my simulated game, unfortunately the injury worsened. Obviously, I’m extremely disappointed, but I will not let this slow down my aspirations for my career. I will approach this rehab the only way I know, attack and don’t look back.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 04:07 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: astros, justin verlander, tommy john surgery

Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire retires to immediately to focus on health

Ron Gardenhire mostly maintained his jovial demeanor this season. As recently as Friday night, he was needling a reporter while discussing a strategic decision from the late innings of a game.

Less than 24 hours later, Gardenhire announced his retirement. This year was taking more of a toll on the 62-year-old Detroit Tigers manager than he had let on.

As much as he enjoyed managing, Gardenhire said, he values his health more.

“It’s been wonderful here, but I also know I have to take care of myself,” said Gardenhire, who was nearing the end of his third season with the Tigers. “When you come to the ballpark and you’re stressed out all day and your hands are shaking, that’s not fun. I’ve got grandbabies. I’ve got kids that I need to take ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 20, 2020 at 04:07 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: ron gardenhire

Saturday, September 19, 2020


Friday, September 18, 2020

Expanded playoffs beyond 2020? Inside the MLB push — and the pushback

But, in a post-pandemic era, the prospect of additional MLB revenue from an expanded postseason has gone from “we’d like it” to “we need it.” As a high-profile example, the New York Yankees’ ticket revenue next year could be down 33% from last year, and ticket sales might not fully recover until 2024, according to Fitch, the credit rating agency, which this week evaluated a Yankee Stadium bond refinancing.

That provides the players with some rare clout in labor talks. The players union must approve any playoff expansion, and it is no secret how badly the owners want that money. The league included an expanded postseason in each of the four offers it made the union in return-to-play negotiations. After negotiations failed and ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 04:52 PM | 32 comment(s)
  Beats: expanded playoffs

White Sox Promote Garrett Crochet

In an eye-opening promotion, the White Sox have selected the contract of left-hander Garrett Crochet, general manager Rick Hahn announced to reporters today (Twitter link via Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times). Chicago drafted the 21-year-old lefty out of Tennessee with the 11th overall pick of the 2020 draft. Righty Evan Marshall is going on the 10-day injured list with shoulder inflammation, which opens an active roster spot. Right-hander Ian Hamilton was designated for assignment to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

It’s obviously of the utmost rarity for a prospect to skip the minor leagues entirely, which Crochet will be doing in the absence of a conventional minor league season.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:45 PM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: garrett crochet, white sox

Roger Angell Turns One Hundred

Above all, Roger Angell is best known as the bard of baseball; he was honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown, in 2014—alongside his pal and source, Joe Torre. He had a long career in the press box. Around the time the Beatles were still playing the Cavern Club, Roger set off for Florida to cover his first spring training. In those days, the players and managers were willing to spend hours explaining the intricacies of the game to a sympathetic listener. And that is what Roger did—at Fenway and Shea, in the Bronx and Chavez Ravine: he listened. And Roger, a person as complicated as any other, created a fan’s voice, a joyous voice, full of exclamation and wonder. He has always been an ace describer who could portray the ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:42 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: roger angell

Clint Frazier’s Patience Pays Off For the Yankees

As you can see, Frazier spread his hits around the field. Though his pull percentage through Wednesday (42.0%) is close to his career mark (40.3%), he’s doing a better job of taking advantage of Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch than ever. Three of this year’s seven homers have come that way, though all of them had estimated distances of at least 374 feet. He’s as likely if not more so to go deep to his pull side; three of this year’s homers have gone to left or left center in the Bronx, and from among his 23 career homers, the balance is 12 to the pull side and seven to the opposite side.

And lest you worry too much that Frazier is merely loading up in garbage time — as was admittedly the case on Tuesday given the ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:41 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: clint frazier, yankees

Minnesota Twins’ Josh Donaldson ejected for kicking dirt at plate after homer

The Minnesota Twins’ Josh Donaldson managed to get ejected while hitting a home run.

Donaldson barked at plate umpire Dan Bellino for the second time in the sixth inning of a 4-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Thursday. With Minnesota trailing 3-2, Bellino called a strike when the 2015 American League MVP checked his swing on a 2-0 pitch from Reynaldo Lopez.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli came out to speak with Bellino, and Donaldson homered down the left-field line on the next offering. After rounding the bases, Donaldson kicked dirt at home plate as he crossed it.

Bellino ejected him immediately, and Donaldson, realizing he had missed home plate, returned to the plate to touch it and then argued as he kicked more dirt on it.

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 03:39 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: josh donaldson


Pro Football Hall of Fame surprises Joe Buck at halftime with prestigious Rozelle Award

Joe Buck is headed for Canton.

The longtime Fox Sports announcer will receive the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s prestigious Pete Rozelle Award, given for “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.” Buck joins his father, Jack Buck, in receiving the award, the first father-son duo to ever do it….

“I don’t even know what to say,” Buck said after seeing the video announcement. “That’s unbelievable.”

Buck’s career with Fox goes all the way back to 1994, when he started calling NFL games at 25 years old. Soon after, he was calling MLB games and pulling double duty between two sports, just like his dad.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 10:24 AM | 22 comment(s)
  Beats: joe buck

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-18-2020

Pittsburgh Press, September 18, 1920:

Sammy Bohne, recent purchaser [sic] of the Reds, has a lot of nerve. He has tried to steal home seven times this season and made the play on six occasions.

I was unsurprised to learn that Sam Bohne led the National League in caught stealing in 1921.

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 18, 2020 at 10:22 AM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: crazy clown town, dugout, history, steals home

Thursday, September 17, 2020

White Sox’ Tim Anderson: A straight-up superstar — and the best player in Chicago?

Anderson is in his finest hour yet. Must we amend that to “quarter-hour”? Fine, but the fact stands: He’s a superstar. If you haven’t fully wrapped your head around that yet, don’t worry. You will soon.

His batting average is a tidy .377.  His output is a rare combo of high batting average with pop, lots of K’s, yet almost no BB’s.

Nasty Nate Posted: September 17, 2020 at 01:38 PM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: batting average, tim anderson

Rob Manfred says he hopes fans will be able to attend LCS, World Series games

Although MLB has yet to finalize reported plans for postseason bubbles in California and Texas, league commissioner Rob Manfred is already pondering the idea of fans back in the seats for most meaningful playoff games.

“I’m hopeful that the World Series and the LCS we will have limited fan capacity. I think it’s important for us to start back down the road. Obviously it’ll be limited numbers, socially distanced, protection provided for the fans in terms of temperature checks and the like. Kind of the pods like you saw in some of the NFL games. We’ll probably use that same theory. But I do think it’s important as we look forward to 2021 to get back to the idea that live sports, they’re generally outdoors, at least our games. And it’s ...

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Greg Pope Posted: September 17, 2020 at 01:38 PM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: bubbles, covid-19, manfred is thinking about it, playoffs

Jason Heyward is a Superstar Again

Heyward’s change in batted-ball events has resulted in his breakout this season. If there was a swing or approach change that has caused this to happen intentionally, then I believe there is good reason to expect Heyward to continue hitting at an above-average level. Another thing to note is that Heyward is pulling the ball more this season than he ever has in his career (47.3% vs. 41% career). He is also pulling the ball 10.7% more often than the MLB average (36.6%), and he has seen a dramatic drop in his opposite-field percent which has gone from a career 23% (25% is MLB average) down to 16.1%.

I believe there is a good chance Heyward has decided to try and pull the ball and focus less on hitting the ball the other way. This change ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 01:37 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: jason heyward


2020 World Series matchups we’d love (or hate) to see

1. White Sox vs. Padres
Doolittle Classic Score: 20.21
Odds: 3.4%

Here are 10 reasons this is the World Series we want in 2020:

10. Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Robert: Seeing the two most dynamic players in the majors on center stage would be the perfect finish to this bittersweet season. Colleague Sam Miller just ranked them as the first (Tatis) and third (Robert) most exciting players in the game (with Juan Soto squeezed in between).

9. New aces. Chicago’s Lucas Giolito has solidified himself as one of the best starters in the majors, averaging 12.2 K’s per nine innings and holding batters to a .187 average. Meanwhile, Dinelson Lamet has become perhaps San Diego’s No. 1 starter, relying on a fastball that averages 97 mph and maybe the ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 11:36 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: world series

Is 2020 finally the year for a DH to win MVP?

After driving in 130 runs and still finishing fourth in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting in 2018, Red Sox designated hitter J.D. Martinez felt understandably pessimistic about his position.

“For a DH to win MVP,” he told reporters the following spring, “they’re going to have to walk on water.”

Well, the Twins’ Nelson Cruz hasn’t quite done that in 2020. But he has arguably done enough to force the DH issue to the forefront. This is the “Year of the DH”—as in “doubleheaders” (lots of ‘em) and the DH finally arriving in the National League. But one DH has stood out from the rest—at age 40, no less.

Bottom line: One cannot concoct a short list of viable AL MVP candidates that doesn’t include ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:32 AM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: nelson cruz

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 9-17-2020

Montpelier [Idaho] Examiner, September 17, 1920:

PECULIAR PLAY PULLED IN SOUTHERN LEAGUE

Wingo was on first and Brazill at bat. The strike and steal was called for and Wingo went down with the pitch. Brazill failed to strike at the pitch, but after the ball had landed in the catcher’s hands and he had let loose of it on a throw to second, Brazill decided to swing. His bat hit the ball and it rolled foul.

Interference with the catcher’s throw, you say? Well, Umpire Bill Brennan ruled it an accident, according to the story, held that Wingo had stolen second and no penalty on Brazill.

If I were managing the team that was in the field, I would have absolutely lost my mind screaming at the umpire. I’d have been emphatically tossed. ...Read More...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: September 17, 2020 at 10:16 AM | 4 comment(s)
  Beats: bad calls, dugout, history

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

NL on pace to outscore AL for first time in nearly 50 years

DH production across the two leagues is very similar. AL DHs are hitting .231/.318/.413 this year while NL DHs are hitting .234/.315/.411. Considering NL teams did not have an offseason to tailor their roster for the universal DH—it was dropped on them during the shutdown—that’s impressive. NL pitchers hit .131/.161/.168 last season, remember. Now those at-bats go to real hitters.

The universal DH certainly contributes to the NL outscoring the AL this year but it alone does not explain it. NL teams are receiving significantly better production than AL teams at four of the nine positions:...

Weighted runs created plus, or wRC+, is a catch-all statistic that adjusts for era and ballpark, and presents offensive output relative to the league ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:38 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: designated hitters

MLB umpire Joe West has never missed a call. Just ask him

Mostly, players and managers will argue, West is a good umpire. No one can remember him losing control of an important game because the situation was too big. Still, the questions always linger when he works.

Is he too big for the game? Can his loud personality, his arrogance get in the way?

Managers and players will tell you that there’s a side of him that screams: How dare you question me! Who are you to speak in my presence? I’m Joe West!

One manager said, “Sometimes Joe likes the villain role a little too much.”

West says he has never missed a call.

“My fourth year, [then-Padres manager] Dick Williams came out of the dugout to argue a play and said, ‘Just tell me you missed it and I’ll go away,’” West said. “I said, ‘I’ve never ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 05:35 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: joe west


How San Diego Padres’ A.J. Preller, other MLB GMs decide when to go for it [INSIDER]

Eric Longenhagen and I created a grid with this traditional/progressive spectrum on the X axis in our book “Future Value” and, at first, we thought it would be hard to pin down. After consulting with people in the game, nobody quibbled more than a notch or two (on a eight-point scale) despite the subjective nature of the grades. The people who work in front offices know what information is driving decisions and which staffers have the most pull with management, so it’s not hard to then figure out which clubs are using what sort of information in making those decisions, while it’s almost impossible to prove it objectively by just looking at the transactions log.

I use that on the X axis for this exercise as well, while the Y axis ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:19 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: aj preller

Tank for Kumar? With the grand prize of Vanderbilt’s Rocker on the line, it’s bottom or bust for the Rangers

Tardius, Minus, Kumar!

Slower, Lower, Kumar!

That’s Kumar as in Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt’s man-mountain of a pitcher and the grand prize awaiting baseball’s most abysmal team in next year’s draft.

Before getting your holier-than-thou hackles up, simmer down. Now’s no time for the faint of heart or stomach. Don’t tell me tanking sets a bad example for the kids. Shame on you for letting your kids watch these Rangers in the first place.

Besides, it’s not like we thought of it first. Already hashtags are circulating nation-wide as fans realize there could actually be a pot of gold at the end of this pandemic. #TankforKumar is the politest of the campaigns. In the interests of keeping it kid-friendly, go with #KumarRanger. In ...

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RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 16, 2020 at 11:15 AM | 49 comment(s)
  Beats: kumar rocker, rangers, tanking

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