Pitchers and catchers go through their first workouts of Spring Training today. Thus, for many of you, as you stare at this screen and read these very words, the sounds of live Major league baseball is resounding through the Arizona desert air. It is our Christmas morning. Baseball...is....back!
So gather 'round all ye fellow fans and gaze ye upon thy links:
- Easy Street: Things continue to drift in the general direction of financial and strategic sanity over in Anaheim these days. Hanging onto Huston Street after (A) trading half our farm system to get him and (B) witnessing his effectiveness in his assigned role last season after years of Fraudney, Frieri, Fuentes and no Frankie. So it's comforting to find out that talks about a contract extension are going smoothly. As long as it's not for 5 years and $209,675 million, I can hold out hope for something rational, something good, here.
- Wilson, Shmilson: Alright, I'm done. I can't think about coming to the defense of any dude who constantly claims to be so cerebral, but constantly demonstrates only how to be the most dense. Jeff Fletcher chats up C.J. Wilson and C.J. decides that the best way to approach his job is, to quote Fletcher who is paraphrasing, "don't pitch hurt" and "don't try too hard to throw strikes". Like, duh. But, wait, it gets better. Remember when he complained about the fans in the stands yelling at Nibbles to stop nibbling and throw strikes?? And how he lampooned such a fan as Captain Obvious? Well, prepare yourself for his solution: even more nibbling. "Last season, especially when things started to go wrong, he listened too much to the advice to just throw more strikes. I was allowing the information to influence my decision-making process in that regard." That's an unnecessarily cerebral way of saying "The way to get guys out is to not throw strikes." I see no way that such an approach to Major League hitters could possibly go wrong.
- Bo Knows How to Roll: Here is a great back story. It's about the year when Bo Jackson and his gimpy hip were in a California Angels uniform, alongside The Wonderdog. Bo was known to roll into the stadium on game day on his Harley, right through the bullpen gate and down to the dugout. There he would dismount and take the quick stroll into the clubhouse. Yeah. That is by the dugout. On the field. Right there near the third base line. Really "Rex, I had a special clause in my contract that Gene Autry gave me. And it was that you needed to find the shortest distance from your vehicle to the clubhouse, so parking my motorcycle by the clubhouse, by the dugout, then walking in to the clubhouse, the walk, it only took about a minute. You’ve got to know a guy that knows a guy, to have those kind of perks, Rex."
- Trout Porn: Just throwing this out there. Baseball America named their Top 100 baseball prospects. Number 1 is Kris Bryant, in the Cubs' organization. Bryant, a "prospect", is a mere 7 months younger than Mike Trout................Also, Scioscia is stating that he plans to use Trout in the 2 hole this year. There were fears around here that he might start to drop him down in the order to let him focus more on power, but no. Safe for now. And for those that think this is something new, no again, that's where Trout batted in 99.9% of his games last season.
- Up and Coming: You scroll down this page and see all the great names in the game today and it's amazing to think that Trout tops them all. Each and every one. And that includes Kole Calhoun, who somehow got slotted at #68. That would be right behind Prince Fielder, and ahead of the likes of Evan Longoria, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Harvey, James Shields, Joey Votto, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Garrett Richards (#93), Howie Kendrick (#100), Michael Wacha, Yadier Molina...
This Date In Baseball History: 1929 - After MLB had allowed games to be scheduled for play on Sundays, the Red Sox announce that their home Sunday games will be played over at Braves Field, since Fenway Park was considered to be too close to a church............1963 - The Cubs announce that they will abandon their experiment of multiple managers and go with the more traditional single manager, naming Bob Kennedy to be the culprit for the upcoming season...............1980 - Bill Martin is hired to skipper the Oakland A's, giving birth to the era of "Billy Ball".............1992 - Homer SImpson pinch hits for Darryl Strawberry in the 9th inning, when Mr. Burns wants to set up "righty-lefty" matchup. Homer will bring in the winning run when he is knocked unconscious with the bases loaded. Mike Scioscia was recruited to play as well, but is waylaid by mishap..
Pacific Coast League History Nuggets
This final off-season installment of PCL history concludes with one last set of great anecdotes about the legendary Bill Schuster:
- EDDIE KRAUTT - Hollywood Stars
- MARION SCHUSTER - Bill's wife
The Grand Minor League: An Oral History of the Old Pacific Coast League, p. 237, 234 respectively
Woodford press, Publisher
- A Swing and a Miss: The Rangers' great hope to answer our prodigy that is Mike Trout. Jurickson Profar, needs more surgery and might miss a second straight season. I am not a medical expert, so the information strikes me as disconcerting. If they have been taking MRI's on his shoulder every 3 weeks, and he has been fine until they really start to stretch him out, isn't it possible that he really has not been fine after all? And, worse case, could this be chronic, potentially permanent? Seriously, although I wish no blessings upon the Rangers, I wish no ill will on any player. We would be better off for Profar to realize his promise and entertain us all.
- Let's Play Ball!: Finally. MLB wants to pick up the pace so, among other things, they are doing the obvious. Batters can no longer stroll out of the box for a little mini-vacation after every pitch. As long as it doesn't mess with Trout, I am a huge fan of this. Huge.
- Farm Quotas: Good farm systems matter. Good farm systems have good prospects. And the majority of the time, good prospects are the ones who become good players. "Just averaging the last three years, you get this breakdown: 52% had ranked No. 1 – 50, 15% had ranked No. 51 – 100, 33% had been unranked. So to answer the question, based on the method explained above, two-thirds of good players were at one time good prospects."
- Fielding Physics: This is good stuff. Something to bookmark, y'all. It's an intro to the growing study of fielding physics and how fielders can be measured. (NOTE for the uninitiated: baseball will ALWAYS have the extremely subjective 'metric' of errors, as assigned by one dude sitting in the press box. And that 'metric' will ALWAYS drive debate on this area of study.) Forget the focus on Lorenzo Cain and just look at the diagrams. MLBAM is starting to issue fielding data that it is now accumulating via the kind of technology as PITCHf/x, but applied to batted balls and fielder reactions. And here we get to step into this data and see how it all starts to make sense. Figure 3, which shows how long it takes for a batted ball to land in the various zones around the fielder is stellar. And when you overlay that info with the range factors in Figure 2, for example, you will find that the typical fielder will have about 5.6 seconds to range back about 80 feet in order to catch a ball hit over their head with a 30 degree launch angle. And that assumes that he reacts in 0 seconds and takes a perfect path. I need to go back and look harder at that Jim Edmonds catch in 1997.
- Baseball Biz: Joining the top tier of MLB teams participating in the revenue gold rush of mega TV deals - before that particular balloon bursts in the wake of future unbundling - are the Diamondbacks. That's $1 billion, for what amounts to be only the 12th largest market in the couintry.
The list of most expensive players this season, and not a single Yankee. Hell freezes over..............Some teams have awesome promotional ideas. But, hey, we got fugly hats.............Hell, even a dress made out of baseball hides is more fashionable than our fugly hats............Holy shit. This was a very real thing. Kinda viral in the baseball world this past week, comes this actual Houston Astros game program from the 60's. You have to see it to believe it. All kinds of wrong in this thing, and I am not especially fond of political correctness myself. But still..........Pablo Sandoval, following in the heavy, deep, footsteps of Prince Fielder..............Excellent. Just too rich. Danny Almonte, proven Little League Baseball Cheater, is accusing Little League of racism because an inner-city black LL District called bullshit on an inner-city blackk LL District................Design your own baseball bat, here...........Neck beards, and lumbersexual, are so yesterday. Here comes the Fu Manchu.
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: Deschutes Brewery Tap Takeover at The Republic in Covina..............Innovation Brew Works hosts their Grand Opening in Pomona............and the San Diego Winter Brew Fest runs at the Hall of Champions.
Saturday: The San Diego Winter Brew Fest concludes at the Hall of Champions...........
Sunday: Paints & Pints Social Gathering at New Helvetia Brewing Company in Sacramento............Stone Brewing Beer Festival at their World Bistro And Gardens, Liberty Station, San Diego.
LAST WEEK'S BEER QUIZ ANSWER: Last week's question was to identify which is the oldest still-operating brewery in the U.S: (A) Yuengling, (B) Brooklyn Brewery, (C) Boston Beer Company, or (D) McSorleys? The answer is D.G. Yuengling & Son, active since 1829. McSorley's would have been a good guess, since they claim 1851.
THIS WEEK'S BEER QUIZ QUESTION: The Pilgrims decided to stop and park the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock because they had run out of beer. True or False?