WeekEnd HaloLinks: Changes Edition

Hitting For Average - a fourth most valuable tool that defines the very best baseball players... - Tom Szczerbowski

Pretty soon now you're gonna get a little older..........Time may change me..........But I can't trace time...........I said that time may change me...........But I can't trace time.

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Life can be bittersweet, no? In a perfect world, the Angels succeed AND we keep our beloved players. Unfortunately, it's not a perfect world. Out here in the world that is real, we have decisions to make, and changes to deal with.

I love me some Mark Trumbo, but honesty compels me to admit that his destiny was in the hands of him and his teammates and his employers all along. In the opposite order of importance. It cannot be said that his employers put him in a position to succeed in 2013. That pitching staff situation was brutal, predictably AND in practice. Had that not been the case, there would not have been the need to deal Trumbo's particular skills for fixing the offseason mistakes of a year ago.

His teammates cannot sit idly by and lament how Trumbo's loss is the cold, business nature of baseball (you can be sure there are more reactions similar to this). Had they performed better on the field, the team's success would have precluded such drastic remodeling of the roster now.

And, in the end, Trumbo had a say in this. As fine of a producer as he is, it's an inarguable fact that he has had 2nd-half struggles and an ongoing OBP issue wrapped around his strikeout rates. Had he mastered the defense of third base at least to the brutally poor level of Miguel Cabrera, or overcome the holes in his own plate discipline sooner, he had the chance to make himself one of the teams Untouchables.

The accountability here runs from Arte, through Dipoto, then Eppard, then certain other players, and onto Trumbo's own shoulders. Only we fans are the ones without culpability. The loss of Trumbo is sad, but it was necessary. And only in a fantasy world of alternate events and outcomes was it avoidable. Here in the real world, avoidability was not to be had. All these dudes needed to do better.

Trum-bye, and good luck, Mark! Looking at the glass half-full, I see this as your chance to go it alone, and grow into your career as a pro ballplayer. Your childhood dream has ended, and now you have a real job. Go do it, and make the LAA farm system proud.

(P.S. - in keeping with last week's essay: #UPTHEHILL, Jerry!)

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On To Angels Baseball...

  • Trout Porn: I shall use it when I get it! Mikey was honored this week with another Gibby, this time for his Cycle last season. So that's fun...........Trout himself has completely checked out on the goings on of Hot Stove action. For safety's sake I hope he looks very good in extremely bright orange...........Let's do a thought experiment, shall we? What if you had to trade your Franchise Player? When would be the best time?? "Mike Trout is the single most significant asset in baseball right now," says one longtime agent without a vested interest in Trout or any of the others. "Ability, character, the likelihood of maintaining his level of play." But that's exactly the combination that makes Trout, 22, a franchise-changer beyond merely taking his talent to the field. And why the surveyed baseball folks almost unanimously slipped into debates about the merits of the players and the conundrum they create."..........And then, there is this zinger of a tweet from the Winter Meetings!

  • Jerry Dipoto: Bill Shaikin of the LAT, a guy who really struggled playing catch up on his own beat with his tweets during the Trumbo Trade Rumor Firestorm, doubles-down in his Pyrrhic fortune-telling. In this article, at the start of the Winter Meet, we see Shaikin's full-throttle bias in favor of the Scioscia camp: "[Dipoto's] contract guarantees him nothing beyond next season".........."the Angels...have two fail-safe mechanisms in place to guard against Dipoto making moves in the short-term interest of his job rather than the long-term interest of the club."..........And, he closes with a quote from Dipoto about needing to fix the starting rotation, responding with "And, perhaps, one last winter to try to do it."

    Then, AFTER the Trumbo trade, Shaikin whips out his bias once again in order to gratuitously brow-beat Dipoto. "Shipping the slugger to Arizona for two pitchers in a three-team deal could be a stroke of genius by General Manager Jerry Dipoto, or it could cost him his job."..........He takes the time to note that if Dipoto's hopes for the Trumbo trade don't work out, "the Angels' general manager just made 30 home runs disappear, and maybe his job with it."

    So Shaikin is going all in on firing Dipoto, and conjecture is his weapon of choice. We get it. He might not be the biggest fan of Dipoto. Could it be because Dipoto knows math and Shaikin (current head of the BBWAA, explaining much!) hates the stuff?

  • Mike Scioscia: Oh boy, THIS is sure fun. While beating the brush of the 'net I came across a repository of vintage scouting reports, a huge number of which are viewable to us peons. So I clipped out the particular image I was looking for (Ruben Amaro, Jr., below in the Slap Hitting department) and got curious about others. I found some Dipoto reports. ("really wants to sign", so he was still a long way off from learning how to negotiate!) But the Sosh reports were, um, intriguing. The 1976 Royal report includes this nugget: Weaknesses - "Needs help with catching mechanics: slow footed & ducks head occasionally receiving ball but does not drop ball." And also this prediction, which wasn't a bad forecast, at all: Summation and Signability – "Good makeup – likes to play. Good bat. Capable of .271 to .300 at ML level – 10-17 HR type power. Should be adequate catcher (receiving). Thrower. Intelligent. B student (free ride to ???) Only 17 yrs old. One of best bats I have seen this year. Could go ML or high AAA. Sosh's career season average was .259 with 8 HR's, a tad below the projection, and was a more than adequate receiver. And he was ntelligent enough to become a lengthy manager.

    The 1976 Brad Kohler report is even more fun. Among his listed Abilities - "Quick soft hands." versus Weaknesses -"Lacks running speed, also is a blinker on catching, but not to the point that it is totally hopeless to correct."


    Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:

    Man, I just cannot stop crossing paths with the weirdness of people hanging decorative baseballs from their Christmas trees. Apparently, it goes way back...well beyond my find of last week. I mean, the 1920's??? Although I would wish to point out that, despite the seller's claim in their description, the Victorian Era was well over by the time the 20's rolled around. Britain was then deep into the reign of George the 5th.

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    This Date In Baseball History: 1911 - The Boston Rustlers are are purchased by politician James E. Gaffney. Because Gaffney was a part of the Irish political machine of New England, Tammany Hall, named after Tamanend, a leader in the Native American Lenape tribe, Gaffney will eventually change the name of the franchise to the "Braves". And now you know where we got the roots for "The Tomahawk Chop". (And don't lose that link to SABR. Rogers Hornsby will be back in the history books next Friday.).........1954 - The Dodgers and the Orioles swing a 4-player trade, leaving the Dodgers with $50,000 in cash as part of the deal. The Dodgers will use a part of that cash to sign a freshman at the University of Cincinatti: Sandy Koufax..........1956 - The Dodgers trade Jackie Robinson to cross-town rival New York Giants. Robinson was already set to retire and join the business world, thus launching the myth that he would rather retire than accept the trade..........1969 - Curt Flood attends the Executive Board meeting of the Player's Association requesting financial support in his upcoming lawsuit against MLB and The Reserve Clause..........1994 - In the Some Things Never Change Department, the Angels sign closer Lee Smith. After 8 seasons and 19.1 WAR with Cincinnati the Cubs, 4 seasons and 4.4 WAR with St. Louis, and 3 years and 2.9 WAR with Boston, the Angels get Smith for 60.1 innings and 1.5 WAR over two seasons. Oh, and we also got this..........2007 - The Mitchell Report is released, curiously naming 89 players not associated with the then current Boston Red Sox, the team wherein Mitchell sits on the Board of Directors. Just sayin'.

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    Great Moments in Baseball Statistical History

    Henry Chadwick, Part 3

    (My primary source for this series is the excellent book The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz author, Thomas Dunne Books Publisher)

    Let's put some context here on ol' Henry and look at the game of "Base Ball" as it stood at the time. As I wrote previously, the game was far different back in the 1860's. The contest and strategy were more about the interface between batters and fielders. Pitchers were merely enablers, who allowed the action to occur. And the rules in force at the time mandated this. Pitchers were not allowed to put any action on their pitches, had to throw underhanded, were expected to place the ball over the meat of the plate, and took direction from each batter as to when the give the batter a high pitch or a low pitch, based on batters preference. Fielders, meanwhile, played barehanded and could make an out by catching the batted ball on a bounce. Based on this, the volumes of stats accumulated were skewed to categories seemingly odd by today's standards. What was recorded for batters were runs scored and outs made, of course, but also things like times made out on fly balls, on bouncing balls, and on foul balls, and times put out on each base. For fielder stats were outs made and all of the various ways that the outs were made. Pitching stats were, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. Pretty much just innings pitched.

    And yet, already, the public's thirst for those stats was tremendous. People who might never see an official game in person would be consumed by tracking games and teams and players via daily published stats. Annual stats volumes were sure sellers. And this phenomenon would broach the North-South divide of The Civil War.

    Into this world Chadwick stepped, and with a vengeance. As listed last week, Chadwick re-invented the world of baseball stats, pretty much single-handedly. Left On Base was another such stat, as was the entire notion of dividing counting stats by number of opportunities, to get ratios (although, in Chadwick's time, they did not measure ratios in decimal notation, which is weird to read today.) And it was Chadwick who first brought forth the notion of the Earned Run (but this was brought up when discussing fielding prowess, not pitching prowess!), and the Sacrifice.

    Not only was he a thought leader with the daily publication of his game stats, but with his own annual stats anthology seeing 50,000 copies sold, his influence grew to enormous levels. When H.A. Dobson popped up in 1870 with the idea of what would become Batting Average, it was Chadwick who immediately endorsed the idea and helped legitimize acceptance and standardization. Henry would, in his time, end up being close friends with league presidents, and could be found sitting on Rules Committees. Through rules changes it was Chadwick who would advocate fielders making outs on catches before the ball touched ground, and pitchers being allowed to throw overhand. The latter change, combined with the creep of pitches with movement being accepted, clobbered offenses. Chadwick was right in the middle of more rules changes to bring offenses back on par, including changes in balls and strikes counts.

    As with many people who enjoyed large amounts of power and influence, over time Chadwick would become a strong voice against future improvements to the sport and to his ownopinion of what constitutes important statistics. Oddly, Chadwick could end up even arguing later against a stat of his own creation, such as he would do with Slugging Percentage. And, for Billy Martin and Mike Scioscia fans everywhere, Henry Chadwick was the earliest authority arguing against player stats which might conflict with team goals and, instead, espoused hard for those stats which supported the style of play that we know today as "small ball". As Schwarz points outs, "...Chadwick supported moving the pitcher back to almost 66 feet and increasing the basepaths to 93 feet apiece; he thought those changes would foster more bunting."(1) Henry did not get his exact way, but his influence was felt enough to win the day for our modern distances.

    (1) The Numbers Game: Baseball's Lifelong Fascination With Statistics, Alan Schwarz (2004) Thomas Dunne Books, p.20

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    • Stats: So much for the theory that baseball players don't really care for stats and all, since Robinson Cano clearly does. "Robbie didn’t like batting second, he wanted to bat in the middle of the order,’’ one person said. "The Yankees wanted him second because that was best for the team. He wanted to hit in the middle of the order to drive in runs [to increase his value]."

    • Oakland: I guess this was predictable, what with the San Jose versus MLB lawsuit and all, but there in the shuffle of paperwork being filed in advance of that trial comes the nugget that Uncle Bud and Committee actually came to some kind of conclusion concerning the request by the A's to move to San Jose: MLB rejected the move. This, according to MLB lawyers, happened back in June. Pretty intriguing, since MLB had given the A's tentative guidelines for making such a move just 4 months prior. So it is safe to assume that Selig was stringing the A's along at some pace of his own convenience, dribbling out little cookies a couple of times a year to keep the rubes out West entertained. And that worked just fine until San Jose marched into court, prompting Bud to immediately take any kind of real action at all. Denied.

    • Torii Hunter: Put a fork in Torii. He done. "Veteran right fielder Torii Hunter of the Tigers was last in MLB with -21 RSAA. Hunter was bad on plays inside the zone (-10) and outside (-15). He also was rated well below average on other advanced measures including -13 on Baseball Prospectus' FRAA, -9 on Total Zone and -10 or DRS. This was not what Tigers fans expected from a right fielder who was +11 RSAA for the Angels in 2012. However, the results are probably not surprising to anyone who saw him play regularly this year."

    Video Of The Week

    (Sometimes you are pulling FOR the rope, rather than ON the rope...)


    (Having troubling viewing the video? Click here.)

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    Why am I doing a series on the history of stats? Because of stuff like this: "...but he spoke of traditional numbers..."...........Shades of Tom Hicks. Did the Mariners outbid...themselves?..........Over in Atlanta, some people choose to not just make a lot of noise, like everybody else on the subject of spending taxpayer dollars for the benefit of private wealth, but grab a wheelbarrow and carry a load..............Do teams mess with the market by exploiting the desperation of the MSM to post anything, in order to create disinformation campaigns? Nah...........I may hate the dude, but I have to give props to Jonathan Papelbon for accepting the role of dork, even if it was just to keep his hot wife happy..........Ruben Amaro, Jr., current GM, angling for a future HoF vote by sucking up to the modern Team BBWAA..........Speaking of RAJ, at one time he was a mere prospect. Not even a player yet. And his scouting report seemed to absolutely nail it..........Sports agents going all apeshit on each other. Kind of a modern take on Jerry McGuire, but now with MMA!.........And speaking of agents, Scot Boras is having a tough winter.............

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    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...

    (In this most festive time of year, Beer Holidays are few and far between. Still lots of boat parades and Nutcracker performances. Enjoy the bonuses!)

    Friday: San Francisco holds up their end with the Wise Sons/Schmaltz Beer Pairing Dinner at Wise Sons Jewish Deli.

    Saturday: Final Gravity in Roseville hosts their Second Annual Stouterday..........Over in Upland, Dale Brothers Brewery dons the cap for Hoppy Holidays Beer & Food event.

    Sunday: You might get lucky in Los Angeles. the 2013 Taste Of Tamales Food Festival might hold some spirits. It is being held from 10AM til 6PM at Main Street and Cesar Chavez ave, downtown.

    BEER BONUS: Last week Designerguy gave us all a link to a fun California breweries locator app, so let's all share in that fun! Well, except for all you HH'ers beyond the Cali borders. You folks have to go get yourselves your own...

    BEER PUZZLE OF THE WEEK: True or False? "Light" beer was introduced to the public in 1977?

    Stay safe, everyone!

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