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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Getting the Marlins to 94 Wins

My girlfriend is a Marlins fan…sort of. She doesn’t really follow baseball, but she’s from Miami and has a custom Marlins jersey, so the trappings are there at least. And she knows I love baseball, so she calls herself the “Beisbol Girl in Training,” BBGIT for short.

I mention her because not long ago I was fumbling around for a Valentine’s gift, hopelessly looking for something original and special and affordable to no avail. And then, in my darkest hour, the Cupid of FanGraphs floated down to shoot me with an arrow of inspiration: Ben Clemens published his piece, Let’s Get the Rockies to 94 Wins.

That’s it! That’s the gift! Screw 94 wins, let’s just get the Marlins into the playoffs! That shouldn’t be too hard. I ...


Bregman becomes 7th Astros player hit by pitch in 5 games

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Houston’s Alex Bregman was hit on the back by a breaking ball from St. Louis reliever Ramon Santos on Wednesday, the seventh Astros player plunked in five spring training games.

“It was a splitter,” Bregman said. “It just got away from him.”

Some opposing players have called for retaliation against the Astros following Major League Baseball’s finding that Houston broke rules against electronic sign-stealing en route to its 2017 World Series title and again in 2018.

Dustin Garneau was hit Sunday against Washington, and José Altuve was grazed Monday against Detroit, when Osvaldo Duarte and Alex De Goti also were hit. Aledmys Díaz and Jake Meyers were hit Tuesday by Miami.

For those keeping ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 01:25 AM | 27 comment(s)
  Beats: alex bregman, hit by pitch

A Minny switch: Sano moves across diamond for Donaldson

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — For the Twins to land free agent Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano knew what would be asked of him. He didn’t hesitate.

Instead, Sano sent a video to Donaldson, lobbying the 2015 American League MVP to join the Twins. The key to Sano’s pitch: He would happily move across the infield to play first base with Donaldson taking over at third.

Understand, too, that Sano has appeared in just 31 games at first base since making his big league debut in 2015, spending the last five seasons working to improve at third.

“The first time I met him, I saw that he’s a really good guy and he’s got a lot of energy,” Sano said. “He’s the kind of player that I love to see. He’s positive and he loves the game. He likes ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 01:16 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: josh donaldson, miguel sano, trading places

MLS owners predict league will surpass MLB, Premier League

NEW YORK (AP) — Three days ahead of the Major League Soccer’s 25th season, owners, executives and players gathered for a day of unbridled optimism and hyperbole.

Los Angeles FC lead owner Larry Berg predicted MLS will surpass Major League Baseball in popularity during the next 10 years and Inter Miami managing owner Jorge Mas maintained it will be of higher quality than the Premier League and La Liga by 2045.

MLS anticipates soccer’s status in the U.S. will be boosted when the Americans co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and Canada.

“We definitely have the demographics in our favor, both in terms of youth and diversity. So I think we’ll pass baseball and hockey and be the No. 3 sport in the U.S. behind football and ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 01:10 AM | 65 comment(s)
  Beats: hype machine, mls, predictions, soccer

Worcester approves about $30M more for new ballpark

WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The Worcester City Council has approved a revised financing plan to address about $30 million in increased costs for a new baseball stadium being built in the city for the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.

The plan approved Tuesday addresses an additional $9.4 million in construction costs and about $20 million in increased costs associated with the redevelopment of the neighborhood where the park will be located.

The team, currently based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and known as the Pawtucket Red Sox, will play one more season in Rhode Island before relocating to Worcester in 2021.

Given what MLB has been threatening lately, I’m not sure that investing more in minor league stadiums makes sense at the current ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 01:04 AM | 7 comment(s)
  Beats: minor leagues, pawtucket red sox, stadiums, worcester

That Time Obama Pardoned a Guy Who Stole Charlie Sheen’s Honus Wagner Card

Jumping ahead slightly:

If you’re looking for a snapshot of American culture before the turn of the last century—when traffic was starting to thicken at the four-way intersection of sports, celebrity, media and commerce—you can’t do much better than the scene at 1540 Broadway in New York City on Dec. 18, 1995. The grand opening that night of the first Official All‑Star Café reflected the latest in a trend of gaudy, zeitgeist-capturing theme restaurants. In ’92 there had been six such chains in the U.S., doing $300 million in total revenue. Within six years there would be 30, doing $2 billion.

At the center of all this was Robert Earl, a British restaurateur (in the loosest sense) who started his crusade against fine dining ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:49 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: baseball cards, food, honus wagner, theft

Counterpoint: The Astros’ Sign-Stealing Scandal Is Actually Good for Baseball

For those of you curious to see a hot take in the wild:

Baseball is crumbling. The Houston Astros, arguably MLB’s most successful team of the past decade, have been exposed as rampant cheaters. Their punishment is next to nothing, as commissioner Rob Manfred suspended the manager (A.J. Hinch) and general manager (Jeff Luhnow) involved in their scheme while letting the players skate. His grand crisis-control strategy was to downplay the importance of the Astros’ World Series win by referring to the trophy as a “piece of metal.” The past is tarnished, as the Astros’ 2017 championship and 2017 and 2019 pennants will forever be considered unfairly won. The present is chaos, as the game’s biggest stars have united in revolt against ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:44 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: bad ideas, contrarians on parade, sign-stealing

Japanese baseball to play remainder of preseason without spectators due to virus fears

Nippon Professional Baseball announced Wednesday it will hold all 72 of its remaining preseason games behind closed doors, becoming the latest Japanese sporting body to take drastic steps to address the spiraling coronavirus crisis.

It follows an announcement by the Japan Rugby Football Union earlier in the day that it will postpone 16 games across two rounds of the 2020 Top League season.

Representatives from NPB’s 12 teams decided at an extraordinary meeting to hold the popular sport’s preseason in empty stadiums a day after the Yomiuri Giants said fans would be barred from two preseason games this weekend at Tokyo Dome. NPB’s regular season is slated to open on March 20.

“This was a bitter decision to make. Because we can’t ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:39 AM | 51 comment(s)
  Beats: coronavirus, japanese baseball

Ticket sellers tell Congress they’d support federal mandate to disclose all fees up front

Three of the country’s biggest ticket sellers told a congressional committee Wednesday that they would support a federal mandate to disclose “all-in” ticket prices, meaning ticketing fees would be revealed up front to fans, instead of only after a fan has entered personal information, the current industry-wide practice.

Amy Howe, Ticketmaster’s chief operating officer, told the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that the total ticket price “should be disclosed from the outset, not at the end of the purchase process” and that there should be “robust enforcement of this requirement.”

Her comments came as the committee opened hearings on practices among the nation’s largest ticketing companies that some in Congress have called ...

QLE Posted: February 27, 2020 at 12:31 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: tickets

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Giancarlo Stanton likely out for start of Yankees season with injury

When Giancarlo Stanton slid out of the machine Wednesday he was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain of the right calf. Stanton, who wasn’t included in the batting practice groups before the day’s Yankees-Nationals game at George M. Steinbrenner Field, suffered the injury near the end of Tuesday’s fielding practice.

“He basically has a Grade 1 calf strain,’’ manager Aaron Boone said following an 8-2 Yankees win in a game shortened to 4 ½ innings because of rain. “He will be down for a little bit.’’

And possibly in jeopardy of opening the season on the injured list, where he spent a big chunk of last year due to a left biceps strain, a left calf strain and a right knee sprain that limited him to 18 regular-season games.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 26, 2020 at 09:25 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: giancarlo stanton, injuries, yankees

Tim Tebow will play for the Philippines in World Baseball Classic qualifying

Former NFL quarterback and current Mets outfield prospect Tim Tebow will play for the Philippines in the upcoming World Baseball Classic qualifiers. WBC Baseball made the announcement on Wednesday. Tebow’s parents were Baptist missionaries in the Philippines at the time of his birth, and they moved back to the U.S. when Tebow was three years old.

Tebow, 32, is coming into his fourth minor league season with the Mets since deciding to pursue a baseball career. Across 287 games in the minors, he owns a slash line of .223/.299/.338 with 18 home runs and 85 walks against 327 strikeouts. This past season, Tebow put up an OPS of .495 in 77 games at the Triple-A level. He’s in camp with the Mets, and he recently hit his first spring training ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: tim tebow

Trevor Bauer Says ‘70 Percent’ of MLB Pitchers Illegally Use Pine Tar

On an appearance of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer, one of the most outspoken athletes in all of sports, said ’70 percent’ of MLB pitchers illegal use pine tar on their fingers while pitching in games.

Bauer famously called out Houston Astros pitchers during the 2018 season long before their sign-stealing scandal broke, when Bauer pointed that every Astros starter was having a career year. That itself wouldn’t have been the biggest anomaly ever, but Bauer also pointed to the fact that every Houston pitcher was also seeing absurdly career-highs in the spin rates of their pitches, which Bauer said was completely linked to pine tar usage.

Pine tar is illegal for pitchers to ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 19 comment(s)
  Beats: illegal substances

Braves’ revenue rose to franchise-record $476M in 2019; expenses up, too

The Braves’ revenue increased to a franchise-record $476 million last year, up 8% from $442 million the year before, according to financial results disclosed Wednesday by team owner Liberty Media. The company attributed the increase to higher attendance and growth in local and national broadcast rights fees. But Liberty Media also said the increased revenue “was more than offset by growth in operating expenses.” Thus, the Braves’ operating profit before depreciation and amortization — the most commonly used measure, along with revenue, of a pro sports franchise’s financial performance — was $54 million last year, down from $94 million in 2018. 

Liberty attributed that decline to “higher player salaries, increased ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: braves

On Marwin Gonzalez and voiding contracts

Let’s start with this prerequisite: the Twins can’t sue Marwin for anything. That’s because of something called labor law preemption, which is to say that the Collective Bargaining Agreement between MLB and the MLBPA provides the exclusive remedy for a team looking to get out from under a contract.

We’ve seen how this plays out with Yoenis Cespedes and Jacoby Ellsbury recently. The Mets didn’t want to pay Cespedes because of an incident involving a wild boar, and the Yankees didn’t want to pay Ellsbury because he received treatment from a purportedly unapproved doctor. So if the Twins wanted to get out from under Marwin’s contract, it would probably play out something like that; they’d refuse to pay him, and Marwin would ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 06:37 PM | 10 comment(s)
  Beats: sign stealing

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-26-2020

Pittsburgh Gazette Times, February 26, 1920:

Whitted Signs Pirate Contract; Lines Up a “Babe Ruth” for Bucs

George Whitted, a star member of the Pittsburgh Nationals, [yesterday] won a race with many major and minor league officials through the signing of Leo Mangum, a Durham [North Carolina] amateur who has attracted widespread comment in the baseball world. Whitted sent Mangum’s contract also with his own to the Pittsburgh management.

During the past few weeks Mangum has received contract offers from 10 major and minor league clubs. His phenomenal pitching last summer in amateur circles was probably responsible. Besides being a pitcher, the youngster can play infield or outfield and is a natural hitter. Whitted predicts that he will ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 26, 2020 at 10:09 AM | 28 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, enthusiasm, history, optimism

Yankees’ Luis Severino headed for Tommy John surgery

It looks like the worst-case scenario for Luis Severino and the Yankees.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that team doctors have recommended Tommy John surgery for the 26-year-old right-hander.

Severino was shut down last week after feeling soreness in his forearm when throwing changeups, with the issue dating back to his final postseason start last year against the Astros. He was sent back to New York for a battery of tests, which revealed the extent of the troubling issue.

Lance Reddick! Lance him! Posted: February 26, 2020 at 08:13 AM | 41 comment(s)
  Beats: injuries, yankees

Can Cleveland Afford Francisco Lindor?

I think it’s fair to say that the city of Cleveland has an image problem. I don’t know how far back this issue goes, but they’ve been late-night joke fodder for as long as I can remember. I suppose flyover country plus rust belt plus the depiction of the city and baseball team in the movie Major League adds up to a less-than-stellar perception of the city. That attitude often transfers over to the baseball club, particularly in terms of what the team can and cannot do when it comes to spending. This perception is central to the debate about whether the Cleveland baseball club can afford a massive contract extension for Francisco Lindor. However, perception isn’t always reality.

There are two principal arguments against Cleveland ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:18 AM | 42 comment(s)
  Beats: cleveland, francisco lindor

Boston lefty Brian Johnson knows about perseverance

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Brian Johnson knows about perseverance.

Selected by Boston with the 31st overall pick in the 2012 amateur draft, the left-hander was hit on the face by a line drive that Aug. 18 at Fenway Park in his fourth professional appearance, a Class A game. He sustained multiple orbital fractures.

Johnson recovered and made his big league debut for the Red Sox at Houston on July 21, 2015. He returned to Triple-A for two more starts but his season was cut short by elbow pain. That offseason, he was a passenger in a vehicle that was carjacked at gunpoint. He missed almost two months of the 2016 season due to anxiety and depression.

Johnson made five starts for the Red Sox in 2017 — all wins — and his first opening ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:14 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: brian johnson

Walker bundle of nerves after touring Hall of Fame

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (AP) — Larry Walker’s right hand was shaking ever-so-slightly as he reached to sign the space where his plaque will hang in baseball’s Hall of Fame. Reality was still sinking in, a month after his selection.

“It doesn’t seem legit. I feel like I just won a lottery ticket,” Walker said Tuesday after a tour of baseball’s shrine to prepare for his induction in the summer. “I’m kind of trembling inside right now. Nothing seems real about it. I’m still trying to absorb it all. It hasn’t happened yet. I don’t know when it’s going to happen. Maybe it’s going to be in July. Maybe it’s going to be later today. I just don’t know, but it’s crazy to think what I just did.”

Now 53, Walker earned ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:09 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, larry walker

‘The wall won’ _ Kemp tries to revive career with Marlins

MIAMI (AP) — Fans of The Clash, The Bobby Fuller Four and the Cincinnati Reds can agree Matt Kemp had the quote of the year after he broke a rib chasing a flyball last April.

“I fought the wall, and the wall won,” Kemp said.

He broke a rib and missed the final five months of the season. Now, at 35, the three-time All-Star outfielder is mounting a comeback with the Miami Marlins.

Kemp waves off the idea Miami is where great outfielder careers come to die. Three-time All-Star Curtis Granderson batted .183 with the Marlins in his final season last year. Seven-time major league hits leader Ichiro Suzuki hit .256 in his final three full seasons with Miami in 2015-17.

Pete Reiser scoffs at one encounter with a wall…..


QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:04 AM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: comebacks, hitting the wall, matt kemp

2021 World Baseball Classic semifinals, final in Miami

MIAMI (AP) — Next year’s World Baseball Classic will be played in Taiwan, Tokyo, Phoenix and Miami, with the Marlins hosting the semifinals and final along with half of the quarterfinals.

The fifth edition of the tournament will be played from March 9-23, 2021, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association said Tuesday.

There will be four groups of five teams: the 16 participants in the 2017 tournament plus four qualifiers to be determined during a 12-nation tournament this March 13-25 at Tucson, Arizona.

Group A will be in Taiwan at Taichung and Taoyuan from March 9-13, and Group B will be in Tokyo from March 11-15. The top two teams in both Group A and B will advance to quarterfinals at the Tokyo Dome on ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: miami, world baseball classic

Rob Manfred has a history of botching investigations

Back in 2012-13, long before the Houston Astros became known for banging garbage cans and avoiding significant punishment, Rob Manfred was in charge of a different, high-profile, baseball scandal.

That one centered on Biogenesis, a South Florida “health clinic” that turned out to be supplying performance enhancing drugs to star players, most notably Alex Rodriguez.

Manfred was just Major League Baseball’s Chief Operating Officer back then, not the lofty Commissioner job he currently holds.

The investigation, however, was every bit the train wreck of this Astros one, except it stemmed from MLB’s overaggressive techniques and a drive for “justice” that stand in stark contrast to the low-key, small-sanction controversy of ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 12:52 AM | 6 comment(s)
  Beats: biogenesis, incompetence, sheer incompetence, investigations, rob manfred

Freddie Freeman is having elbow problems again

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman dealt with some pretty serious elbow issues late in the 2019 season. He never hit the injured list — and he didn’t get the sort of time off a lot of people felt he should have in the runup to the playoffs — and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September and a non-factor in the Braves’ five-game NLDS loss to the Cardinals.

In October Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow, which involved the removal of fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spurs. He was given a clean bill of health after the surgery and, as you might expect, there were a lot of “Freddie Freeman is feeling better and ready to go for spring training” chatter in the past ...

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 12:41 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: elbow, freddie freeman

Derek Jeter’s game-worn jersey from Yankees debut breaks auction record

The love for New York Yankees legend Derek Jeter has not diminished at all among Yankees fans since the former captain’s retirement in 2014. It seems that now more than ever, as he is set to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, people want to get their hands on Jeter memorabilia—and they are willing to hand over a lot of money to do so.

On Monday, the jersey that Jeter wore in his first ever game sold at an auction and became the most expensive item purchased in the modern era, according to CBS New York.

Who can explain it, who can tell you why…..

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 12:38 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: auction, derek jeter, jerseys

Agent Scott Boras to honor Kobe Bryant’s wish with internship for Lexi, daughter of late John Altobe

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, during his eulogy Monday for longtime client and friend Kobe Bryant and goddaughter Gianna, said Kobe had texted him from the helicopter that ultimately crashed in a tragic accident that took nine lives.

Three of those victims were Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and daughter Alyssa Altobelli, who was a teammate and close friend of Gianna.

The purpose of those texts between Bryant and Pelinka that fateful Sunday morning actually revolved around securing an internship for the Altobellis’ other daughter – Lexi – at a baseball agency in southern California. Bryant vouched for her work ethic and character.


QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 12:36 AM | 13 comment(s)
  Beats: internships, john altobelli, scott boras

Red Sox put prospect in quarantine amid coronavirus fears

One Boston Red Sox prospect is getting a slow start on spring training, but he doesn’t have an injury to blame for that. Rather, it’s because of the worldwide fear surrounding the coronavirus.

Chih-Jung Liu, a right-handed pitcher from Taiwan, arrived in the U.S. for his first MLB spring training and instead of going to Red Sox camp, he was sent to a hotel room and told not to come out. For now, he’s being quarantined.

The Boston Globe reports that it’s only a temporary move and that Liu should be able to join the team by the weekend, but for now, they’re being extra cautious.

QLE Posted: February 26, 2020 at 12:27 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: chih-jung liu, coronavirus

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Primer Dugout (and link of the day) 2-25-2020

New York Tribune, February 25, 1920:

Ball players may storm and raise ructions on the ball field and they may disobey their managers at times; but in their own home they are like any other married citizen. Heinie Groh, it has been reported, is a hold-out. As a matter of fact, Heinie’s wife is the hold-out. As a matter of fact, Heinie’s wife is the hold-out and Heinie is only acting as the spokesman or middleman.

Groh recently returned his contract to President Garry Herrmann, of the Champion Cincinnati Reds, demanding more money. Herrmann figures that he can pay no more than the amount stipulated in little Heinie’s contract. Enter Mrs. Groh, manager of the Groh household.

A dispatch from Cincinnati last night had it that the directress ...

Jefferson Manship (Dan Lee) Posted: February 25, 2020 at 10:18 AM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: dugout, history

White Sox Extend Bummer’s Contract

Two months after extending Luis Robert, and less than a year after doing the same with Eloy Jiménez, the White Sox have locked in a contract for another young star, reportedly signing 26-year-old groundball specialist Aaron Bummer to a five-year extension worth a minimum of $16 million. The deal also includes options for Bummer’s 2025 and 2026 seasons, for $7.25 and $7.5 million, respectively, with $1.25 million buyouts in each year. If Bummer receives certain awards considerations, the final option year could be worth up to $10 million.

All told, the White Sox have guaranteed themselves a minimum of five and a maximum of seven years of Bummer’s services at a maximum cost of $32 million. Bummer has guaranteed himself $16 million. I ...

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 25, 2020 at 10:09 AM | 17 comment(s)
  Beats: aaron bummer

We Provide Leverage: A Thought Experiment

Last week, when giving our playoff odds a quick once-over, I stumbled across something interesting. In translating from player statistics to our projections, we strip out the impact of reliever leverage. That seems intuitively weird, so I wanted to delve into the thinking behind it and see if I could find a workaround.

First, a quick recap of the issue. When we calculate WAR for relievers, we include the impact of leverage. This makes sense — the last reliever off the bench is mostly pitching in blowouts, so their contribution, good or bad, is less important than the closer’s. If you used a dominant reliever in a mop-up role, they’d be far less valuable than if they got to pitch in games where the outcome was uncertain.

How do we ...

QLE Posted: February 25, 2020 at 01:14 AM | 52 comment(s)
  Beats: leverage, relievers, war

Maeda gives up leadoff HR in 1st start for Twins, settles in

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Kenta Maeda got off to a memorable start for the Minnesota Twins, that’s for sure.

The Twins newcomer gave up a home run to Boston’s Andrew Benintendi to begin the game Monday, prompting the Japanese pitcher to laugh later.

“First time facing hitters so I just wanted to get that feel back,” Maeda said through an interpreter. “And I wasn’t scheduled to give up a home run on the first hitter, just so you know.”

Maeda threw 37 pitches in two innings, allowing two hits with one walk and one strikeout. The Twins won 3-2.


QLE Posted: February 25, 2020 at 01:01 AM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: kenta maeda, twins

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