Step aside, losers, it's MY turn! - Stephen Dunn
With the 2012 MLB season behind us, and the Winter Meetings just over the horizon, baseball GM's everywhere are suddenly scrambling with roster moves positioning themselves for maximum flexibility to re-gear for 2013. Jerry Dipoto takes the first big swing.
Which do you prefer? A Bill Stoneman General Manager who rarely makes a move, advancing the team forward carefully, making few victories but avoiding many egregious mistakes? Or maybe a Tony Reagins, making bold moves in surprising ways and willing to live with the highs (Torii Hunter) and lows (Vernon Wells)? Or Jerry Dipoto, willing to make moves and take his chances, but highly calculating in his methodology? As you might tell from the way I phrased the choices, my preference is Dipoto. Do shit. Take chances. Make your own luck. But be as smart about it as possible, and minimize careless reactive pressure moments. And don't be afraid to tread on legends. Today's fans care about their history, but they care MORE about winning today than worshiping yesterday. And winning today is the only way to maintain one's participation in the salary continuation program.
So Dipoto is off and running again. Much like Mike Trout taking off for second base. Ervin Santana? Gone. Did that create a hole in our rotation? Yes. Still gone. Did that one move solve all our problems? No. Gone anyway. Gone in such a way that we had a net gain versus the alternative. Gone even though KC might have gotten Santana anyway just by waiting for him to hit the FA market. So...gone by taking a position of weakness, and leveraging it into a position of strength. Gone, but gone with purpose. Jerry Dipoto is dealing. GM's everywhere, how many cards do you want?
As we get dragged through the Weltschmerz of a national disregard for the treasure we have discovered in Mike Trout - which is far from over, I am afraid - I am left to wonder why there is such a dichotomy between The Reality Of Mike Trout and The Myth Of Tim Tebow? Both are young, burst-upon-the-scene, mega-athletes that hold the potential to change the game entirely as we know it to be played. Before either would take the professional field of play they were merely potentials. In Tebow's case, potential of mythical proportions. Both got playing time early on, and neither fared well.
Enter 2012. Trout takes the field again and explodes, which only leads to an ever enlarging gap between all that he is doing versus how those accomplishments are being received. Really, Jim Leyland? "Wonderboy"? Really, John Kruk? Just some hype "over one great catch"? Check the blog comments around the Internet. Trout is becoming some unworthy artifact of "stat nerds". Stat porn. People are rendering final conclusions on a 21 year old after never seeing him at all. "Experts" (managers and coaches) are discounting him after seeing him as few as 6 times in person. It may take three years or more to convince the nation that something special has been going on in Anaheim.
Meanwhile, Tebow still cannot get back on the field and his stock, still mythical versus factual, only grows and grows. And it has become some kind of feedback loop. Doug Gottlieb explains how ESPN instructed him, explicitly, to talk as much about Tebow as possible. ESPN creates interest, interest creates ratings, and ratings drive ESPN into creating more interest. Except that nothing is there to be interested in other than that which remains mythical.
The worst possible outcome would be that Mike Trout's 2012 becomes his version of Darin Erstad 2000, and he never plays as well again. But is that so bad? Hell no! We saw Ty Cobb! We saw Lou Gehrig! We saw Tris Speaker! We saw Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays!! It's only bad for the rest of the country, because they missed it. And, as I wrote earlier, they will eventually start to wonder about all those TV analysts saying "...not since Mike Trout in 2012 has any player blah blah blah blah blah...".
- Perhaps this a small consolation, but it is worthy nonetheless. Beyond The Boxscore just awarded THEIR American League Gold Glove Awards and, yes, Mike Trout was the only unanimous selection (for either league, by the way). Remember that BTB is staffed by dedicated people committed to the use of the same math and science that keeps airplanes in the air and Mars rovers roving Mars. They are decidedly NOT the people who use their eyeballs to explain how people walked with dinosaurs.
- Speaking of BTB, you may have missed their take a month ago defining the place in history of Mike Trout's 2012 season. To summarize: Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Barry Bonds On Juice, Mickey Mantle, George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski. No mention of anyone going by the name of Cabrera.
- Hurricane Sandy took out the primary hosts for Deadspin, greatly cutting back their content. But they are still at it with new posts and Barry Petchesky takes an angle on the Mike Trout GG snub by considering the impact of the corner outfielders he plays between. Now, I personally think Barry is thinking way too hard about this. There is absolutely no way that MLB managers and coaching staffs are this deep into RngR. But, if you read carefully, you will find that he links directly back to us here on HH. Um...that's pretty nice, folks. Deadspin is the 12th most popular sports web site in America. We continue to gain in reputation as the primary fan base location for the LA Angels. Give yourselves a pat on the back.
- You might have noticed quite a bit of flurry among SBN authors concerning the Ervin Santana trade, and all of their work product landing here on HH. One article that did NOT make it to the HH Front Page was penned by Rob Neyer. Essentially, our takeaways from Neyer's piece are (A) "thank God Dipoto is on our side!", and (B) the bar is pretty low in Kansas City.
- Men's Fitness posted an article listing their 10 Most Unforgettable MLB Postseason Choke Jobs, and we made the list. NOT, however, what you are thinking!!! We come in mentioned at #8: "2002 San Francisco Giants Blow 5-0 lead in 7th inning of Game 6 vs. Angels".
- You know those bullpen problems we had this past season? Do you also remember how the Angels let Darren Oliver go after the 2009 season and sought to replace him with Fernando Rodney? And how the narrative for that was that there was some form of gentlemen's agreement to allow Oliver to leave and be closer to his family for his final year of so before retirement? Even though it meant Oliver would be pitching on behalf of a divisional rival and tipping a divisional race in their favor? Well, you might NOT recall that Oliver got permission from his wife to keep playing and NOT retire, so the Rangers were making a push to re-sign him and keep him away from the Angels. That didn't work out quite as well as Nolan Ryan had hoped, and Darren signed with Toronto which, for those who still have World Geography ahead of them, is not so close to Texas after all. So after another year, again far away from his family, he was once more considering retirement. And, once more, he has uncommitted to retiring and the Blue Jays picked up his option for another season and there is the possibility of yet another year far away from Texas. And we just lost 4 years of critical bullpen setup success. Ouch. So much for being rewarded for being the nice guys.
- LaTroy Hawkins has a daughter. And, said daughter does a pretty good imitation of Kevin Youkilis.
eBay Auction Of The Week: 1971 Player Stamp Yearbook, including Jim Fregosi and Tony Conigliaro stamps, all unused. Note the schedule, which includes FIVE double-headers!
This Date In Baseball:1938 - Jimmie Foxx is named AL MVP, becoming the first player to win that award three times (1932 and 1933 were the two other times)..........1944 - Eiji Sawamura dies in battle during WWII. Sawamura had been a national superstar in Japan after striking out Babe Ruth in an exhibition game. FYI, according to the NationalPastime.com web site, baseball was banned during WWII "as an undesireable enemy influence"..........1964 - CBS buys 80% of the MFY, becoming the first corporate owner of a major pro sports franchise. And they will suck at it until George Steinbrenner buys them out in 1973.........1972 - Freddy Parent passes away. Parent was the last surviving player from the 1903 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Boston Red Sox..........1974 - The Atlanta Braves trade Hank Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers, sending Aaron back home to finish his career where he started..........1995 - the Tampa Bay Devil Rays unveil their expansion uniforms which, in typical Florida style, lasts only 10 years..........1999 - Ken Griffey Jr. requests of the Seattle Mariners to be traded closer to Orlando, where his mommy lives. He will land in Cincinnati, where his reputation for poor conditioning will meet even more seasons on turf and destroy his knees.............2000 - The Toronto Blue Jays announce that their TV color analyst, Buck Martinez, has been hired out of the broadcast booth to replace Jim Fregosi as skipper. Martinez will return to the Blue Jays booth for the 2010 season.........2004 - Chicago Cubs groundskeepers find a grenade in the outfield. It turns out to be empty, a dud, but nobody ever figures out how it got there. The Cubbie jokes that could be based on this episode are endless.
- Texas' Great Era of Despair has come to an end. We now know what it is that has kept the rings from the dusty fingers of the Texas Rangers. It was their base coaches. They were coaching from the wrong sides of the infield. That has now been corrected due to the tremendous analytical skills and insight of Ron Washington. By flip-flopping them. Release the Kracken!!
- Here is a fun one: The Baseball Hall Of Fame has this Special Committee, specifically tasked with reaching back to the era before integration and finding worthy Hall Of Famers. Think 1946 and prior. They have two other such Committees. The Golden Era Committee covers 1947 - 1972, and The Expansion Committee covers 1973 to present. Ok, are you still with me? Good. So who do you think would be most qualified to sit on a committee to find the very best people worthy of HOF consideration from 66 years ago and beyond? Check out the roster at the bottom of this link. There you will find brand-spanking HOF newbie Bert Blyleven. Born in 1951. In Zeist, Netherlands. And T.R. Sullivan, Texas Rangers hack whose brain trends to dreck such as this. And a guy named Whicker. Mark Whicker. Of the Orange County Register Whickers. Holy Balls. We still have so much work to do.
- Who are to believe about Alex Rodriguez? Jon Heyman, a guy firmly tucked up somewhere deep beyond Scott Boras' back pocket, who puts forth the notion that the Yankees are not interested in moving ARod? Or Bob Nightengale, who has been told by the Yankees that absolutely nobody, from not one single franchise, anywhere, has even bothered to call and inquire about ARod?
- Where did I put my glove? When the Top Free Agent Third Baseman in this off season is Kevin Youkilis, and Eric Chavez remains in the Top 5, you know that the value of Alberto Callaspo has gone through the roof. If Kaleb Cowart were only ready, we could get a lot of meat on the bones of Callaspo trade bait.
- So I did bring up the name Cabrera, above. And I have linked a couple of times to Beyond The Boxscore already. I got some momentum going here. Let's run with it. It turns out that Miguel Cabrera benefitted from more "lucky" home runs than anybody else in baseball in 2012. In fact, he got luckier than anybody since 2006, when Hit Tracker started monitoring home runs AND atmospheric conditions. What's a "lucky" home run? That is when a fly ball went over some fence when, in normal atmospheric conditions, it would not have. Think something that would be the opposite of our marine layer. Take away those 7 home runs, folks, and guess who doesn't fetch The Triple Crown?
- Sometime today the Houston Astros, our new best
doormatsfriends, will unveil their shiny new "identity". Normally, this is a big deal, and drives marketing for any franchise. You may have heard that, in typical fashion for such a distressing ballclub, various agents keep leaking their new look ahead of the formal unveiling. First it was leaked by Topps, on Twitter. Then it was leaked by Astros themselves. Then it was leaked by Academy Sporting Goods. Finally it was leaked by MLB, of all entities. And MLB turned around and blamed their idiocy on Hurricane Sandy. Sheesh. How did these guys ever keep the secret of who shot JR? Meanwhile, lots of folks are chiming in with positive reviews, so I guess it will all work out in the end. To me, it looks fairly derivative of the SF Giants patch, but with a different hue of orange.
- UPDATE: Speaking of the Giants, yesterday WiHalo linked to the Clint Eastwood styled hagiography in favor of old school eyeball scouting and team assembling for the 2012 World Champs, a clear effort to rebuke the modern science of baseball. (To refresh, that article is here.) Well, hat tip to Hard Ball Talk for locating an earlier profile of the very statistical analyst employed by those same SF Giants to drive the Front Office decisions in putting together that World Champion.
- Some of you might have missed the recent World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Detroit Tigers. Instead of dragging you through a week of Joe Buck, or Tim McCarver, or Samsung Galaxy commercials, and Miguel Cabrera striking out, the following 2 minutes summarizes it all perfectly:
(A roundup of this week's LA Angels-related rumors and transactions...)
- Today should be Dan Haren Day. Our Unfortunate Wheel Of Destiny is going to be taken out for one more spin, perhaps the last one. Dan, himself, expects to be traded.
- Add the Rangers to the long list of folks looking to drive up the price for Greinke. Which makes it less likely to afford Haren. Less likely to afford Torii Hunter. But Greinke remains priority #1.
- The Halos appear to be trying hard to shop Vernon Wells. Apparently very hard. Ditching Wells would open up money to retain Hunter.
- Today is also Torii Hunter Day, and the Halos are not expected to make a qualifying offer. Meanwhile, the Yankees are calling.
(Quick hits of interesting stuff that sit out on the fringe of our baseball emporium...)
R.I.P. Pasqual Perez, killed in a stabbing in his home in the Dominican Republic..........Out Of The Frying Pan: Franky Rodriguez settles his lawsuit with his former agent..........And Into The Fire: Franky Rodriguez arrested for domestic violence..........Department of It Couldn't Happen To A Nicer Guy: Curt Schilling just got sued by the entire state of Rhode Island (still probably not as large as his ego)...........
And now, being the full service weekend linkage institution that we are, here is the obligatory moment we take out of each Friday for beer:
An interesting weekend is in store for those curious enough to seek out satisfaction for their beer desideratum. But you may notice that this weekend is dominated by San Diego. Blame the awesome weather for the Beer Weekend Sweep! FRIDAY - we open with Johnny Brown's 4th Annual Barrel Aged Night at Downtown Johnny Brown's in San Diego...........By the time you read this, you will probably have missed a rather odd combination Rare Beer Breakfast at Stone Brewing Company in Escondido..........but tonight Stone Brewing is putting on their Cellar Night at Ciro's Pizzeria & Beerhouse in San Diego..........SATURDAY - opens with BeerNerdz/SDSU 20's and 30's Alumni Beer Tasting Challenge at The Beer Company in San Diego...........Ciro's Pizzeria comes back on the consecutive night with a Port Brewing / Lost Abbey Meet The Brewer event..........and over in Escondido Stone Brewing Co. shows back up with Sour Saturday at their place..........SUNDAY - closes out the weekend with the Firestone Walker 16th Anniversary Release Party (at Stone Brewing)..............the San Diego Beer Week Beer & Food Pairing at Cueva Bar..........a Sierra Nevada Pint Night back at Ciro's..........and we finish up with a deliciously interesting concept of Ultimate Beer & Chocolate beer and food event back at Stone Brewing. So, in summary, just learn to bounce back and forth between Ciro's and Stone Brewing Co. and you will catch the vast majority of all beer events in California this weekend!
Stay safe, everyone!
What Kind of GM Would You Make?
Defensive Mastermind (Stoneman)? (19 votes)
High Stakes Riverboat Gambler (Reagins)? (7 votes)
Aggressive Chess Grand Master (Dipoto)? (58 votes)
84 total votes