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HumpLinks: 16 Days to go!

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Winter Hot Stove has run out of gas. Our relationship with Left Field is confirmed platoonic, and only a resurgent Tyler Skaggs has the power to boost our hopes.

Harry How/Getty Images

It's less than appealing. In reading a review of 5 pitchers who could be big factors in the AL west (Yu Darvish...remember HIM??) we see the name of Tyler Skaggs. Why? Because if he pitches well he creates a logjom of starting pitchers and that means one of them gets to go. As in, away. Because of how we did not get things done in December. Damn. Even the silver linings come with their own clouds. Link away, people:

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Everywhere In Baseball

Warding off the Prodigy: Taylor Ward will get a chance to show off in Tempe this spring. You have no idea how hard I am praying this kid proves so many of us wrong last year. There is just too much pressure by a lot of us on this prospect, and it's not his fault where he was chosen in the draft..........

Bits and Pieces: Like Hobo Kelly, Billy Eppler dumped a few more items into the clown machine in the hope of shiny new toys come sliding out for us all to enjoy (only people over 55 who grew up here in SoCal will get that reference, sorry). Andrew Brown and Yunesky Mara, fresh from Korean Baseball, were both signed to minor league deals...........

The Raul Deal: Ibanez has made it into the front office here in Southern California. But not in Anaheim. In Los Angeles, off of Vin Scully Avenue..........

Tanks: A battle is underway for the hearts and minds of baseball fans concerning the concept of tanking. That is, the idea of teams dumping players (and their salaries) in an effort to accelerate a rebuild by losing a lot of games fast in order to maximize their draft positions and slot money and snag the better amateur talent. Some folks (Ok, Dave Cameron over at Fangraphs) think this is nonsense. Other folks (Buster Olney at ESPN) think this is one of the biggest stories of the year. I fall somewhere in the middle. I think Cameron errs when he ignores how trading away established talent to bulk up on prospects also results in the casualty of competitiveness. And, therefore, the overall improved draft position and slot funds can be combined to the return haul of prospects and give a team a more complete package of accelerated turnaround. I also think that Cameron fails to acknowledge the possibility that the teams he uses to showcase his point were, indeed, actually tanking but were just very bad at it. Their trades sucked, or their trade attempts over-reached, or they outright missed their optimal trade windows. That said, at the end of the day the entire draft, and the whole slot system, are merely methods for owners to minimize the amount of money the spend for player talent. These are people who hide behind a Federal anti-trust exemption, line up first at the public trough for taxpayer subsidies to fund their playgrounds, and negotiate heavily for any ability to cap the amount of money they pay to the product that actually creates the revenue that is exploding on a global scale. So, yeah, if they can leverage one salary cap aspect of the system and put forth a poor product short-term in order to reap the rewards of happier times with their toys a couple of years down the road then you bet they will tank. And only rules changes will stop the trend..........

Stupefying Stewart: Ok, while we are on the topic of Dave Cameron, watch him gloriously pick apart the idiocy of Arizona Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart. You know, the Dave Stewart who thinks analytical thinking is for fools. Stewart backed himself into a corner when he went big on Zack Greinke, and then he panicked and got pillaged by the Brewers in his trade for Jean Segura. Cameron totally schools Stewart by doing the work that the DBacks Front Office should have done before this past weekend...........

Final Cameron: The other day I linked to this.  In response, Cameron composed this, kind of agreeing with the notion that fans are emotionally vested and, as such, not all decisions can be strictly economical. But there in the middle of Cameron's piece is this little jewel: "After all, perhaps no single free agent in recent years had a more human connection to his team than Albert Pujols with the St. Louis Cardinals, and their willingness to let one of the best hitters in baseball history leave town has proven to be the best decision the franchise has made in years." Player movement is a zero sum game. The more stellar a move event is for one team, the more tragic that same event is for the other team. This is why I have always told the Cards fans to STFU when it came to us "signing away" Pujols. We are paying the money that St. Louis refused to pay him for the time he was incredibly productive. They should be kissing the ground we walk upon. Only now are they coming around..........

Doyer Dragons: There are more than a few people blogging to rank the new MLB Spring Training caps, and often among their ranking is that the Dodgers design is quite favored. Too bad it's a total ripoff of the Chunichi Dragons. It's only fair, I suppose, since as the link points out the Dragons once totally ripped off the Dodgers..........

Harper's Fairy Tale: We got our Mike Trout, so I have no problems with other people enjoying their phenom. The idea of a 17-year old Bryce Harper hitting a batting practice home run into the third deck is pretty awesome..........

Groundscrew-ups: Now I know where the Anaheim grounds crew team gets their training in rolling out the tarps during a weather emergency. Watch this Australian crew struggle with a hailstorm. And lose...........

Lawyers and Doctors: Thou shalt have no fun. I need to know. Have any of you ever heard of any player ever suffering an injury while participating in a home run derby? This is important, because the MLBPA banned players from participating in the Carribean Series HRD out of fear of that particular possibility. Now pay attention, because we are entering the annual season of bizarre personal injuries to players as they do all sorts of normal, non-home-run-derby, things..........

Sports Biz: Get used to this. When markets start to collapse, the desperate left holding the pillars start scrambling for revenue and end up thinking they can charge their way out of failure. Here we have about half of all television viewers in the greater Las Vegas are on the verge of being blacked out of the Super Bowl...........

Check, Mate: It has been written that the American league style of baseball, with the DH, is like checkers and the Natioanl League style is like chess. Clayton Kershaw seems to think this was, certainly. I would respond with the notion that Natioanl League baseball is like chess, where you have to throw away your most powerful remaining piece after you move it twice.............

Framed: Do you have a headache this morning? If not, do you want one? You can certainly get a headache by clicking over and reading hard through this study on pitch framing, and how it might not have all the positive benfits we think. There appears to be a dark side, where pitchers throwing to a good pitch framer are giving up more home runs than otherwise, and batted balls in play are faling in safely more than otherwise. (Hint: you can skip the headache and just read the summary and have enough to mull over.)

Futurama: This brief stretch in history where NFL gets more love from MLB is coming to an end. The NFL is walking dead...........

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