What do you think? How did we do? Did you miss it? The annual MLB General Managers meeting has officially concluded and...nothing happened to us. Nothing happened for us, either, but nothing happened with us...at all. In some respects, with no Kershaw-caliber player on the market (and yet, there ARE some Kershaw-caliber contract requests!), it might seem like a good time not to try and make any more Big Splash (which is good, because Arte had negated that option anyway). And, let's be honest, the full list of FA options looks a lot more like that list of baseball cards you used to covet.
So the upside of quiet is that being quiet while there is a lesser inventory of talent, and some high salary expectations, is safety. There are less chances of committing
Blantons mistakes. And it minimizes the possibility of that dreaded mistake: signing a player who rejected their Qualifying Offer and costing the Angels their 2014 #1 draft slot. (One thing to track, is that only 3 of the top 20 pitching FA's would cost the Angels there 2014 first round draft slot.) The downside is that we all saw in 2013 that there is some serious work to be done with our pitching roster. And, for those of you not counting, the pitching roster makes up 50% of the whole team.
So what do you think? Moving too slow? Being too timid? Missing windows of opportunity to be sneaky? Or...being cool and exercising great patience to an advantage? The next big window is now just weeks away, as the annual Winter Meetings will be held December 9 - 12.
- Trout Porn Block - By now you are aware that although Mike Trout is appreciated, he isn't valued very much. Actually, Trout was less valuable this year than last, as his vote count dropped. But, on the bright side, Trout joins some rare company by coming in 2nd in consecutive seasons. Guys like Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Sandy Koufax are on that list.
I am confident that Trout will be considered extremely valuable in the future. Once he is in a Phillies uniform, for one example. After all, nothing makes a player more credible than to play for some writer's favorite team, or within some writer's favorite time zone. I also predict that many years into the future, Miguel Cabrera is going to have his name added by somebody to a list like this. Notice how many of the guys in that list are one or two tool players, but their one or two tools are the glamorous ones. And note Cabrera-mirroring comments like this: "...led the league in RBIs for a first-place team, which always has been a sure way to get MVP votes...he didn't contribute anything defensively..." and "...put up big home run and RBI numbers for a playoff team...[but] was a slow, defensively challenged first baseman..." and "...Another player who won based largely on big homer/RBI totals...was an error-prone left fielder..."But, especially, note these two reviews:"Powell's Orioles dominated the AL in 1970, and he was rewarded because he led the team in home runs and RBIs. A big, slow first baseman, Powell was one of the league's top hitters, but his overall game wasn't as good as many other players."
and..."Huge Triple Crown numbers (especially home runs and RBIs) proved to be the difference once again. Howard certainly was one of the league's top hitters, but he wasn't the best overall player and his team didn't make the playoffs (which often is a deciding factor for voters)."
Remember, these are reviews of past mistakes. We can never take the award back. So we just deal with it. But, hey, at least we have the best arguments on our side. And the best logic. And the very best analysis and reasoning behind the stupidity of the opposing side (although, in the comments, Matt Sussman notices that the author may have overlooked a clear East Coast bias).
- Deal With This: Ok, our expectations of Trout coming in second in the 2013 AL MVP vote came true. And, really, what with Cabrera's offensive output while he was healthy, excuses are acceptable. For second place votes. And maaaybe, if you are a Baltimore scribe, excuses are acceptable for even for third place votes. But I really, really, really need to have somebody explain why it was not a personal attack on the whole Mike Trout narrative when one guy voted for Trout 4th, another for 5th, and one total yahoo voted Mike Trout 7th place. Yeah, Bill Ballou voted Trout behind Chris Davis, then Miguel Cabrera, then Josh Donaldson, then Robinson Cano, then Adrian Beltre and, finally, behind Dustin Pedroia.
- Rico Brogna: This I find intriguing. Brogna is joining the franchise as a Special Assistant to Dipoto. First off, I failed to notice in the original announcements last week that Dipoto and Brogna knew each other and worked together in the past. Hmm. Then, this tidbit: "Brogna's role with the Angels will be part scouting and part coaching, likely in the Minor Leagues." Having a guy who scouts and reports to the GM does not strike me as particularly novel. But having a guy coaching at levels below your MLB manager who has a direct line to the franchise GM seems like it should be an unusual arrangement.
- Righting The Ship: This past season didn't go so well. And most of us might have some silly knee-jerk reaction that would include serious overhauling in various areas (you know, like defense, where we ranked 27th out of 30 teams and are fixing that by hiring Don Baylor.). Well, that is why we are merely fans, and not in Major League Baseball Management, let me tell you! What we really need to do is just tweak things. Don’t do an over haul. But, especially, make sure you change the décor in the clubhouse. " 'We have one of the oldest stadiums and felt it needed a makeover, a different look, a different feeling,' said Dipoto."
Buy Stuff - Crazy-ass Baseball Finds On the Internet:
Do you know what's pretty rare? Game worn jersey from the 50's. They are even rarer if you are looking for such a flannel that represents your favorite team. Say, for example, the St. Louis Cardinals. Such a thing might sell for, well, $1750 on today's market, and there is no telling if it will even be your size! So imagine your excitement when you find one, and it is well worn, and it does carry #8, the same number as your favorite player: the, er, amazing Irv Noren! And, as a special bonus, this "rare relic" was run into the ground while occupied by none other than...the bat boy?
This Date In Baseball History: 1886 - The then Boston Red Stockings (Nope. You assume wrong. That franchise is the now Atlanta Braves!) send Jack Boyle and cash to the St. Louis Browns (today's Orioles), making for the very first trade in major league history..............1908 - The Cincinnati Reds are the first American pro club to go on a barnstorming tour of Cuba, and run headlong into one Jose Mendez. Cuban baseball is already so strong that Mendez one-hits the Reds. He will end up throwing 25 consecutive scoreless innings against the Cincy squad. Even more fascinating, Mendez would bounce back and forth pitching in both Cuba and America, and he will end up flourishing as a pro ballplayer playing shortstop and coaching - in Negro League Baseball. Mendez was, apparently, the Pedro Martinez of his day.........1951 - Willie Mays is named NL Rookie of the Year..........1968 - Jim Bouton signs with the expansion Seattle Pilots, thus priming Bouton for his chronicling of the 1969 season in Ball Four!..........2001 - Roger Clemens roids his way to the AL Cy Young award............2005 - Joe Maddon is stolen away from the LA Angels to become the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Note that Maddon was hired over then Rays bench coach John McLaren (now a scout for the Nationals) and Bobby Valentine (now the humiliated loser who watched the team he managed into the toilet win the WS simply by being left alone).........2006 - Unemployed Joe Girardi, recently fired by Jeffrey Loria, is named NL Manager of the Year for his work with the Florida Marlins..........2010 - Buster Posey is named NL Rookie of the Year.
MVP Day: 1961 - Roger Maris goes back-to-back as the AL MVP..........1967 - Carl Yastrzemski is named AL MVP, but is denied the unanimous vote because one voter cast his 1st place ballot for Cesar Tovar (.267 BA with a 2.4 WAR)..........1983 - Cal Ripken Jr. named AL MVP, becoming the first to do so after winning the RoY in the prior season. (Mostly because Willie Mays was drafted after HIS rookie season during the Korean War, forcing Mays to wait until his return in 1954 to win the MVP in his next full season.).........1988 - Kirk Gibson wins NL MVP, becoming the first MVP who failed to make that season's All-Star team. Which would seem odd in and of itself, but guess how many times Kirk Gibson was an All-Star in his entire career???..........2000 - Jason Giambi roids his way past Frank Thomas for the AL MVP..........2004 - Barry Bonds roids his way to his 7th MVP in the NL............2005 - Alex Rodriguez roids his way to the AL MVP..........[MVP Day BREAK in our timeline: 2005 - MLB owners and the Player's Association agree to stiffen penalties for roid abuse..........2007 - Barry Bonds is indicted on this date for lying to a Grand Jury concerning his roid abuse..........we now return you all to the MVP Day timeline]............2011 - Justin Verlander captures the Baseball Writer's coveted Pitching Triple Crown and is given the AL MVP award over Jacoby Ellsbury and Jose Bautista as Detroit supporters lean heavily in favor of WAR, which leans heavily in favor of pitchers..........2012 - Miguel Cabrera captures the Baseball Writers coveted Hitting Triple Crown and is given the AL MVP award over Mike Trout as Detroit supporters reject the new-fangled math stat known as WAR, which leans heavily in favor of complete greatness...........2012 - Buster Posey is named NL MVP (note the symmetry here?)
Rounding Up The Major League News
- The Atlanta Braves of Not Atlanta: The Braves shocked the baseball world earlier this week by announcing that they were moving from a stadium less than half as old as Angels Stadium, and leaving town altogether to pursue a new deal in the suburbs. The fallout continues to litter the State of Georgia. True to everyone's REAL expectations, the details reveal that this move requires the public to dip into their own near-empty pockets. Which is what the Braves were asking for all along. Two articles yesterday gave my head a good spin atop my shoulders. One article noted that Cobb County has a funding shortfall in education already. "...a sports team that doesn't need a new stadium is getting one, or even that a county that can’t afford to pay teachers is planning to spend $300 million subsidizing a $629 million professional baseball franchise." Redirecting tax dollars away from common services to subsidize private wealth is something even better torched by the likes of Matt Welch. But what made my head spin was the next sentence: "...a Major League team wants to move to the suburbs, which goes against pretty much everything we have learned since Camden Yards opened in downtown Baltimore in 1992, leading baseball back into the heart of America’s cities." And here I thought that the magic of Camden Yards was that it was designed as a single-purpose facility that integrated alternate revenue streams into the charm that is a baseball-only stadium. No, I was wrong. Baseball belongs to downtowns of major metropolitan cities.
The other article that made my head spin was this one. The Atlanta Braves' Move To Cobb County Is About Race, Not Transportation. It turns out that the new site in Cobb County has as many access issues as the current location of Turner Field, and that the politicians and residents of Cobb County are not inclined to rectify that as part of the investment of public funds to bring the franchise into their neighborhoods. " Cobb County’s new Republican Party chairman Joe Dendy makes it perfectly clear why the county refuses to allow convenient mass transportation options into the area (emphasis added): 'It is absolutely necessary the solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta,' ...Though he didn’t come right out and say it, it’s clear what Dendy means: he -- and a majority of Cobb County residents -- simply don’t want Atlanta’s urban black population to making its way up to Cobb County." Bejeebus, this is ugly stuff.
- Looking at BAPIP: One of the things I do recall witnessing in person was how David Eckstein would, at times, break from his standing position at SS towards the middle of the field once the pitcher release the ball. My assumption was that Eckstein was watching the catcher and reading the pitch and location, and was using that knowledge to "cheat" a little to make up the ground that his natural athletic ability lacked. And this would work, allowing him to snag balls hit up the middle and turn those into outs. Now, that’s a lot of projecting on my part, right there. It would be one of the main lines of questioning I would have for Eckstein over beers, trying to glean any truth out of my observations. I write this because I was inspired to think about that when reading this study by Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs. Jered Weaver is featured, since his 2013 rated the most base hits resulting from balls hit outside the strike zone, from all MLB qualifiers. In those hits, as Sullivan points out, Weaver suffered the highest Slugging Percentage against, making for an odd correlation that trended true up the chart. Samuel Deduno, who had the fewest hits on pitches outside the zone, had the best Slugging Percentage against. Note that Garrett Richards is pretty high up the list, too, and Weaver and Richards employed pretty much the same defenders and the same ballparks between them. So we can’t fall back on the David Eckstein tricks among the Halo defenders to explain Richards, and still be able to explain Weaver. Maybe the Ecksteins of the world have no say, after all…
- Robots: Note to self: the human eye cannot truly discern the complete path of a +90mph baseball, even when coming straight at it. So umpires allow their brains to trick them as to where the pitch was located. And a huge part of that trickery is what the pitcher and catcher and batter are all doing. And here is proof: The Season's Five Worst Called Balls. "There’s no excuse for missing a pitch down the middle. But, there kind of is. Let’s watch and learn and seethe." (Full disclosure: robots don't record the complete path of a pitched baseball, either. But they can make up the missing moments with simple math, which is something the human mind cannot do.)
- The Biz of Baseball: Just a reminder to all of us while Arte has laid down the law concerning his own salary cap, we do have additional resources starting to dig into team valuations. What once was the exclusive province of Forbes now has Bloomberg running around creating silly questions all over the place. Mostly because Bloomberg is finding more money out there than Forbes has. The Angels rank in the Top 10 in Forbes Franchise Value list, in Bloomberg's Franchise Value list, and in Bloomberg's TV Equity list. They also rank in the Top 10 in both Forbes and Bloomberg's Revenue trackers.
- Sayonara: You will never get to read it now, since I deleted it without saving, but I had this awesome essay written for this week's opening essay that I had to lose. I do believe that it was because I nailed it. In my essay, I laid out precisely how the negotiated posting system between MLB and NPB was, despite the explicit claim to the contrary, designed to screw the small market teams. Well, the reason I had to delete my essay and start all over was because the small market teams figured things out for themselves. And note that Bud Selig and your future Commissioner, Rob Manfred, flinched in favor of the small market contingent. Masahiro Tanaka may be staying in Japan for another couple of years. Which would be, by the way, after Wells' contract is off our books.
Video Of The Week
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Speaking of MVP voting, here is a guy who clearly did poorly in math whilst in grade school, and now gets to take his revenge on society..........I missed this when it came out. Do you want a job in baseball, right here in Anaheim?..........And here, while we have been focused on re-tooling our coaching staff, who would you rather have coaching our catchers? Mike Scioscia...or Bengie Molina? Baseball owners approve expanded replay, fail to learn how to negotiate. Because players and umpires get to vote, too, it might have been better to approve something higher than two challenges per game and be able to negotiate DOWN to two..........If Albert Pujols gets a demotion from "Best Hitter Of His Generation", does Arte get any refund?..........Here is why nobody is asking Bud Selig or the owners to name Scott Boras as the next commissioner..........Trout Porn: while you were staring at Trout's defeat over there, Trout took the Internet Baseball Award MVP for the American League over here. (If only this, and the SBNation Award, came with great big and glorious gold trophies!).........Braves closer Craig Kimbrel might be looking to switch teams...........How can it be that the 2013 LAA pitching staff did not dominate "the darker side of baseball statistics" for baseball? Sure, we all knew Joe Blanton would represent, but still...........We Mike Trout supporters are a proportionally small contingent within the baseball world, but we include some pretty familiar names...........
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...
Friday: Silence. In fact, this whole weekend is pretty weak in terms of ale understanding and celebrations. Who's to blame??
Saturday: Right here next to the stadium, Valiant Brewing in Orange is doing a Jericho Imperial IPA Inaugural Bottle Release Party. (Don't bother trying to get details on their own web site, however. They are a little behind their own party planning.) Finally. Something close enough for me to walk home from, and here I gotta spend the weekend in Palm Springs celebrating my anniversary.
Sunday: Steingarten LA ("California's Beer Garden") is hosting a Rare Beer & Bottle Share for their 2 year celebration.
BEER BONUS: For the next time you find yourself bivouacked on he slopes of K2, know that your beer choice can now match your parka, as Patagonia jumps into the Craft Brewing business.