Marvin Miller died this week and, to my surprise, none of us around here thought to write up a notice on the passing. I find that interesting, because it is my humble opinion that Marvin Miller easily represents the person with the greatest impact on the game since Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey.
The forces between employers and labor will battle until the end of ages, and there will only be rational justice at those times when the two are well balanced. I am not of a mind that the current balance is near enough to equilibrium so as to be called "balanced", mostly because I believe it has swung a bit too far towards labor. But as far as it might be on the labor side of the ledger today, that gap pales into insignificance compared to the gap that once existed between equilibrium and the ownership power position up to the 1970's. Marvin Miller single-handedly erased that huge gap. Sure, he was unapologetic. But he was the party who had the law on his side, and decades worth of easily documented power abuse on the part of ownership to use in the courts of public opinion.
There are many really thorough reviews throughout the Internet right now that were put to photons to mark Miller's passing. I encourage you to seek them out and read a few. My Friday post is already very long-winded (I am approaching 3400 words!) so I am not going to go into all of it here. But a few takeaways on Marvin Miller as we launch into Angel news:
- Competitive parity has steadily improved since Free Agency (link)
- In response to the potential of dominance by wealthy clubs, MLB opened up to Wild Card slots and post-season playoffs, expanding opportunity AND interest and massively helped improve the popularity of the game.
- The rising salaries for professional baseball players has created a global suction to attract better and better athletes to the sport, and into the league, thus improving the quality of the game.
- Player movement has created massive interest, and tangent industries, throughout the calendar year (notice your own interest in all the Free Agency traffic every day right now!) It's why we get to watch Albert Pujols every day and, partially, why we get to raise Mike Trout.
Some day, perhaps soon, MLB is going to step in and rectify the voting shame that keep Marvin Miller out of the Baseball Hall Of Fame. When that happens I, for one, will be able to set aside the snark I carry over the follies surrounding Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, half hte New York Yankees....etc., etc., etc.
- From the How Easily a Tiger Changes Stripes Department: No link here because it is beyond a pay wall for non subscribers, but my weekly edition of Sports Illustrated arrived Tuesday and right there on page 24 is this week's edition of Dan Patrick's interview "Just My Type", featuring Torii Hunter. Question #1: "Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers. I heard of a lot of teams you might be going to. Why Detroit?" Answer #1: "It's the perfect fit. They want me to hit second in front of [Miguel] Cabrera. You just can't beat that." Uh...Torii...yes....yes you can beat that. It's called hitting in front of THE BEST HITTER OF OUR GENERATION and directly behind THE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER IN ALL OF BASEBALL.
- So by now you all have learned of the passing of Angels' PA Announcer David Courtney. It's always tough to lose The Team Voice that emanates from on high in the ballpark. My thoughts and prayers truly reach out to his family and friends. On a personal note, my own appreciation for Courtney was rejuvenated every Sunday home game, when the Halos run their usual kid-behind-the-mic gig. I never paid attention to Courtney's name. Nor could I have picked him out in a crowd. But hearing a child's voice on the PA instead of Courtney always drove home how much I appreciated his calm and authoritative voice. Even in the face of complete chaos on the field, it made me feel that somebody was in control of the situation. R.I.P. David Courtney.
- Fangraphs is spitting out Bill James Projections for 2013, and Mike Trout and Albert Pujols are consistently 2 and 3, though not always in that same order. Miguel Cabrera is #1 in all three projections, so look to Detroit fans to (once again) have an epiphany over the value of advanced metrics. Personally, I think we might have a chance to see an even better Trout than 2012, but for reasons that are really pixie dust and dragon smoke instead of anything empirical. Which is a good thing, because Fangraphs also took a deeper look at Trout's late season tail off in 2012 and is not as enthusiastic as I am, or even they are!
- Beyond The Boxscore has seen the Future Of The MLB Leadoff Hitter. And his name is Mike Trout.
This Date In Baseball History: 1948 - "Sometimes the best trades are the ones you never make", spoken by Bill Veeck after the Cleveland owner backed off from trading away Lou Boudreau earlier in the season and then watching Boudreau earn the AL MVP on this date..........1952 - Jackie Robinson goes on New York television and accuses the New York Yankees of racism for failing to add black players to their roster..........1961 - Lovin' the RBI's and home runs, the BBWAA select 0.8 WAR Billy Williams as the NL Rookie of the Year over 3.2 WAR Joe Torre..........1977 - Dave Kingman signs a Free Agent contract withe the Chicago Cubs. In the previous year, Kingman was traded from the Mets to the Padres, placed on waiver by the Padres and claimed by the Angels, then traded to the Yankees before signing with the Cubs..........2001 - Both the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins are engaged in activities to stave off being eliminated via contraction. The Expos sign a new lease, but with the emergency cancellation clause, and the Minnesota Supreme Court refuses to expedite an injunction forcing them to play, thus delaying any resolution until too late to contract..........2005 - The Boston Red Sox go to court to force Dave Mientkiewicz to surrender the ball that ended the World Series and granted the Sox their first title in 84 years..........2007 - Troy Percival is pulled out of retirement by the Rays and signed to a two-year deal to upgrade their bullpen..........2009 - The Los Angeles Angels vote a full $138,039 playoff share to the estate of Nick Adenhart.
- Easy Money Department: Melky Cabrera made $377,003 to NOT play for a team HE NO LONGER plays for, anyway. It was announced that the San Francisco Giants received their playoff money out of a total pool of $65.36 million. The full share for the World Series winning Giants was $377K and, according to MLB Rule 45 and the Joint Drug Agreement, Cabrera gets a full share. He was on the Giants roster from June 1 forward, and his suspension ended in time to be on the active roster for the majority of Giants playoff games. But the Giants chose not to play him. Nor did they choose to keep him around afterwards as he signed with the Toronto Blue Jays 10 days prior to the playoff disbursements. So now, to conclude all things, the Giants now pay a Toronto Blue Jay player 377 grand for being the person that they did not want to have doing anything.
- The MLB Players Association held meetings this week, and were to include discussions surrounding tougher penalties for violators of drug policies. Chris Capuano of the Dodgers is quoted as saying "Just the notion that there's a small group of players who still think they can stay ahead of the curve and get away with stuff comes as a surprise to me -- and to the majority of the players." Now, this is just brain dead. Any rational thinking person who follows this stuff in the least should not be surprised at the potential for the underground pharma industry to stay ahead of any sanctioning body testing ability. From a personal perspective, I made a new acquaintance this past summer who has close ties throughout the MLB player community from a business perspective. The man is from Cuba himself, and is really connected to the Latin community of players, including many on the current Angels roster. He took the time to explain to me just how prevalent the problem is among Latin players AT ALL LEVELS - perhaps as high as 80% - and why. Then consider that we have had four players test positive recently (Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Yasmani Grandal, as listed in the link above AND NOW Carlos Ruiz) and all are Latin, and one has to wonder if the hearsay I gathered from my contact is not dead on. Capuano went to Duke University, so there is no excuse for this level of ignorance.
- Meanwhile, it looks like the MLPA is going to push for in-season HGH testing and more sophisticated testing in order to try and snag designer drugs.
- Are you people noticing all this traffic like I am?..........the Pirates hired Jay Bell as their new Hitting Coach.....and.....the Rangers hired Dave Magaden as their new Hitting Coach.....and......the Dodgers hired Mark McGwire as their new Hitting Coach, and John Valentin as their new Assistant Hitting Coach.....which.....forced the Cards to hire John Mabry as their new Hitting Coach.....and.....the Marlins went out and hired Tino Martinez as their new Hitting Coach.....but.....the Mariners hired Dave Hansen as their new Hitting Coach.....not to be left out.....the Rockies hired Dante Bichette as their new Hitting Coach.....and.....the Blue Jays hired Chad Mottola as their new Hitting Coach.....oh, and Chicago!.....the Cubs hired Rob Deer as their new Assistant Hitting Coach.....and.....the White Sox moved Harold Baines from First Base Coach to Assistant Hitting Coach.....but.....the Royals hired Jack Maloof as their new Hitting Coach, AND Andre David as the Assistant Hitting Coach.....and the Red Sox hired Greg Colbrunn as their new Hitting Coach......so (Finally? So far? Did I miss any??).....the Phillies hired Steve Henderson as their new Hitting Coach.
- So, the punchline, of course, is a list of the 13 Reasons Why Pro Baseball Can’t Teach Hitting.
- Andy Pettitte just signed another one year deal with the Yankees. Andy Pettite will turn 41 years of age during next season. Andy Pettitte was already looking past High School in his baseball career when the new Director Of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, Scott Harris, was being born. Andy Pettitte could be Scott Harris' dad.
- Baseball Crazy? Christmas season?? Look no further! Start your holiday gift shopping right here.
(A roundup of this week's LA Angels-related rumors and transactions...as if you just woke up, recovering from last weekend's Links.)
- The current MLB Executive scuttlebutt calls for Zack Greinke to get $25 million per season, for 6 seasons. Such is life when you hand a drunken sailor a book of blank checks.
- Today in Non-Tender Day. Are you sitting there wondering what exactly that means? Think you know already? Get some clarity here.
- Amidst the Florida Marlins fire sale is the nugget that they adore the idea of Peter Bourjos in center field. Did Dipoto miss an opportunity there? Or is he just completely committed to an outfield of Trout/Bourjos/Trumbo that he took a pass.
- Over in aisle 9, where Ryan Dempster sits on the store shelves, you might want to know that the Royals pitched him a two-year deal for $26 million and he did not take it, so the Royals dropped out. Dempster needs more than 2 years, and/or more than $13 million per. Take note.
(Quick hits of interesting stuff that sit out on the fringe of our baseball emporium...)
Nolan Ryan is writing a cookbook. Considering all the beef he holds towards the Angels, I doubt it will appeal to the vegetarians amongst us..........Wound, meet Salt: the Kansas City Royals are apparently willing to trade the probable "2012 Minor League Player of the Year", and possible "best hitting prospect in baseball", for a starting pitcher. You know, the same Royals who got Ervin Santana from us for a 27-year-old bullpen prospect...........Speaking of drunken sailors with blank check books, as I did above, it looks like the Dodgers' open season on spending has finally gotten the attention of their most deserving applicant..........All this talk about rebuilding the Halos bullpen, and Brian Wilson will be on the move. To the southland, possibly..........Ripley's Believe It Or Not! The blockbuster trade between the Blue Jays and the Marlins was initially called off, and almost scuttled completely, because of Jays' G.M Alex Anthopoulos's adoration for Jeff Mathis!
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:
Saturday and Sunday in Sherman Oaks the Boneyard Bistro is hosting the 2nd Annual Vintage & Epic Stout Festival..........Saturday at the Public Works up in San Francisco is The Bay Brewed Rock & Roll Beer Festival..........And down in San Diego is the 2nd Annual Strong Ale Challenge blind beer tasting event at The Beer Company, but we again point you all to Dono Romantico. His is the superior list.
Stay safe, everyone!