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Thursday Halolinks: Wish for Masahiro Tanaka, Santa brings Volstad

Angels fans hope Masahiro Tanaka is in their winter dreams.

Koji Watanabe

Sorry, it's not even Thanksgiving and I'm talking about Christmas.  Instead, Halolinks:

  • Remember that one Christmas when you wanted a new bike?  The one with the banana seat, and sissy-bar?  You'd drop hints to your parents, such as, "I want a bike", or "Yeah, dad, I want a bike".  Then on Christmas morning you got a bike, but it wasn't "The Bike".  Not the bitchin Schwinn with red metallic paint, but the cheap, dingy green Huffy.  I have a feeling we're not getting the Schwinn: Masahiro Tanaka: The Market’s Best Starter - FanGraphs Baseball.  "Tanaka’s an extraordinarily talented pitcher. He throws multiple pitches, he’s established his own track record of durability, and he’s succeeded at one of the highest levels in the world. Tanaka’s a risk, just like every pitcher, but there’s no question he possesses stuff that can get big leaguers out. That’s why he’ll command a high posting fee, and that’s why he’ll subsequently command a big long-term deal."  But rather, the Huffy: Angels sign Volstad to Minor League deal - Gonzo and 'The Show'.  "Last year, he spent the vast majority of the season — minus six relief appearances — pitching for the Rockies’ Triple-A affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, posting a 4.58 ERA, a 1.57 WHIP and a 1.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 127 2/3 innings."
  • I think it's fun watching the Grant Balfour rage spiel, just as long as the Angels aren't the one's paying for it: Grant Balfour market update - MLB Daily Dish.  "As bad as the Tigers' bullpen was in 2013, the Angels' relief crew was even worse, with a dismal 4.12 ERA. While the Angels could certainly use Balfour's help, they have bigger, more immediate holes to fill, especially in the rotation."
  • The Angels should be proud.  Renteria is the first of their "grandchildren" to be hired as a manager.  You're asking, "What do you mean "grandchildren"?  Well, first there was Papa Scoscia, and he begat Bud Black, who then sired Rick Renteria.  See?  Rick Renteria to be named Chicago Cubs manager -  "Renteria has spent the past six seasons as a coach with the Padres and fits numerous qualifications that Cubs team President Theo Epstein sought after firing Sveum on Sept. 30."
  • Prepare to become unproductive today: Introducing the Interactive Spray Chart Tool - FanGraphs Baseball
    Do me a favor, if you create an interesting chart, post it below in the comment section.
  • And then, after you've wasted enough time with the spray charts, check out how rich the LA teams are!  Future Salary Obligations In Context -  "We'll start with a chart showing the entirety of every team's future guaranteed contract commitments. Deeming 2014 as present obligations, the year range is from 2015 to 2024. In total, MLB teams have signed deals promising players over $4.8 billion to play for them over the decade beginning in 2015. Total commitments* range from $513.82MM (the Dodgers) to $0 (the Marlins)." 
  • I don't get why MLB wants to use a challenge system for replays.  Why don't they just have a guy watching the game who'll review the close plays to ensure they calls on the field are correct?  Seems pretty simple to me.  Of course, the managers will always have the opportunity to question a call, but the review umpire will almost already have looked at the play.  Expanded replay nets first reversal and is tested with first double challenge  - Yahoo Sports. "Getting the call correct is the most important thing, but game flow and keeping the home viewer's attention isn't very far behind. Early returns there might not be as positive, but it's all in the testing phase right now. AFL managers have been given unlimited challenges to use this week and are encouraged to challenge as frequently as possible to iron these issues out. If the proposed system is implemented in MLB, managers would only get a single challenge for the first six innings and two for the final three innings"
  • I say take away the money he receives from all those luxury tax payments other teams are paying. Jeffrey Loria sells painting for $32.6 million — or $6.4 million less than Marlins 2013 payroll - Yahoo Sports.  "The significance here to baseball fans, specifically those few that remain in Miami, is the ultimate value of the painting was nearly equal to the Marlins 2013 payroll — roughly $39 million. Or as Chris Joseph of the Broward Palm Beach New Times put it: "The problem with all this is, of course, that one painting by an expressionist Swiss artist who's been dead since 1966 costs slightly less than the entire roster of his professional baseball team. The one he threatened to move to San Antonio unless Miami-Dade's taxpayers bought him a snazzy new ballpark. The one he keeps dismantling for "financial" reasons."  I don't begrudge Loria's ability to make money off of his business, but owning a baseball team is not like owning a "normal" mainstream business.  I once read an article that called a sports franchise is a "public trust", and thought that was an accurate label.  Owning and running a successful team that competes for championships should be the priority, the profits you generate is just a nice by-product.
  • And finally, before they turn out the lights on you and it's time for you to hit the freeway, watch this: Our latest 30 for 30 documentary short tells the story of how a husband and wife ended up creating the schedule for MLB - Grantland.  "Complaints aside, putting this together is a daunting task: 30 teams, 162 games a year, cross-country flights, night games, day games … you name it. So, who manages all of this? For almost a quarter-century it was the husband-and-wife duo of Henry and Holly Stephenson, two math and computer whizzes who did it all with nothing but a pencil and a piece of paper."