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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Say goodbye to the offseason!

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So here it is. No joke. The final Links event of the offseason. It's only Friday. Monday is coming!

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

No April Fool's jokes here, people. Winter, as in the season, ended 10 days ago. Winter, as in the baseball offseason, ends in about 48 hours. As such, this is the final Daily Links entry for the 2016 off-season. We made it!

Rest up this weekend, because the next 6 months are what we all live for.

Have some Sayonara-Winter-Links:

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MIKE TROUT WATCH

Things to watch out for with Mike Trout in 2016

Final WAR observation:

In 1967 Carl Yastrzemski had a glorious season. He was the near-unanimous AL MVP (Cesar Tovar and .267 BA with 6 HR's got the home town courtesy #1 vote, denying Yaz of a perfect score). Yaz led the league in Runs, Hits, Home Runs, RBI's, Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (of course), OPS+ and Total Bases. Like I said, it was a monster year.

That season Yaz pulled down a bWAR of 12.4. No position player not named Babe Ruth has done that since the year 1900. Only the great Barry Bonds riding the jet-fuel of PEDs to earn 11.8 bWAR in 2001 & 2002, and Cal Ripkin with 11.5 in 1991, have come close enough to even talk about it.

Trout, entering his year 24 season, is on the ascendancy. His athletic peak as a baseball player should be the 27 & 28 year old seasons. He has already achieved 10.8, 9.3, 7.9 and 9.4 bWAR seasons. 2016 should be the first of 4 consecutive shots to eclipse the mark set by Yastrzemski 49 years ago.

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Everywhere In Baseball

Halo Stuff: Some quick hits. Shane Robinson, easily confused with Shane Victorino, failed to make the Cleveland outfield this Spring and was picked up to a minor league deal by Billy Eppler. And, with Mike Trout dealing with bad Tempe tacos or something, Shane 2.0 will be in the outfield this weekend before reporting to SLC..........This past week MLB did a social media promo for the upcoming season with 30 celebrities wearing a team cap. For the record, we got the most of Nina Agdal. Yeah. We won...........The Orioles are offering up Miguel Gonzalez (originally drafted by the Angels but lost as a Rule 5 to the Red Sox) and the Angels are among those sniffing around. Gonzalez had a poor Spring but a very good recent start, but keeping him in Baltimore would guarantee some money............

MLB Promo Time: If you took the very best promo giveaway planned for 2016 from each MLB team, and then ranked those, you might come up with a list that looks like this one. It's highly subjective, of course, and there are a lot of things to be curious about. For example, that beer stein ranked tops from the Cards is not even close, in my book. I would rank an adult replica batting helmet, a light up stadium miniature, and an Eddie Gaedel bobblehead all much higher than a stein with a blurry photo on it. For the GA out there, the chosen top giveaway in Anaheim was the figuring to celebrate the Mike Trout leaping home run robbery, and that barely made the Top 20..........

Contesting: Imagine, if you will, that you would like to possess this New Era cap (I know I would!). Throwback logo, nice bold colors, curved bill (as it should be!). Cool. Now let's suppose that you want to win the cap rather than pay for it. Ok, Cool again. Free is always better, right? So what goes in to the giving out of a simple baseball cap worth about 20 bucks? How about 3,936 words of lawyerese???. Really. Nearly 4,000 words and 7 pages of rules and regulations, after copying and pasting into the default Word document template. At the rate I earn a living for my employer, the time needed to read those rules is not worth the 20 bucks I would save in the rare chance I would win that cap. Looks like I will just need to buy my own...........

Lucky Break: Tuesday was a great day for Munenori Kawasaki. And working his way through the Toronto Blue Jays organization and going nowhere, he signed a deal with the Cubs this past offseason. Spring saw him on the fringes, and on Tuesday the Cubs included the cutting of Kawasaki in a set of roster moves. So there, suddenly, Kawasaki was unemployed. That lasted only a couple of hours. The Cubs did manage to re-sign Kawasaki that same day, and Munenori was back in uniform and back out onto the field for a Spring game against the A's.  And whaddaya know? Kawasaki homers, chaos ensues..........

Drone Defense: Do you have some dude who likes to buzz his drone over the skies of your neighborhood at weird hours? Do you need some non-lethal form of defense to put a stop to that? Just hire Kevin Pillar...........

Upping the Game: Strat-o-Matic Baseball has come a long way since the initial dice, cards and paper sheets board game. The latest iteration, ready for you to play this season, will be Baseball Daily, allowing you to play the game online and in near-real time using the most currently available stats for all the players. It would be your chance, for example, to match wits with Mike Scioscia in real in-game scenarios, and observe the statistical outcomes..........

Player Data: While we are still in the early years of the Sabremetric takeover of our sport, baseball players themselves have always been ravenous consumers of information. It's just that some forms of information are highly trusted, while others are not (or, at least, not yet). Take, for example, this story from Bill James about how the Red Sox used information to secure a recent playoff win. Somebody was incredibly observant to notice the tiniest of little details which led to a major advantage while batting, and led to a playoff series success. Just spend some time thinking about how attentive people have to be with everything going on in the game to pick up on something like that. That's some serious information gathering and collating and sorting and filtering going on, right there. And then wonder whether or not that catcher in question was a Halo. In 2004 it was the Molina Brothers. In 2007 it was Napoli and Mathis. In 2008 it was mostly Napoli, with a little Mathis.............

Food Porn: This entry is two-fold. First we have some more ballpark food reviews and surveys for 2016. It's pretty much what I have already brought to these pages, but it's a short highlight reel of the very worst. And a slightly better review showing some of the more odd...........And, second, we have an interactive map for ballpark foods & the dining options surrounding the parks. This latter map is really weak sauce. (I mean, really, they show Crab Cooker all the way over in Tustin but not King's Fish House, the superior seafood chain with a better bar and beer selection just a couple of blocks away? And if you are going all the way to Enderle Center for Crab Cooker, once there that would be the last food choice you would make. And they show Taco Maria way down in Costa Mesa but not Tacos Jalisco just minutes away in Orange? They give us Anepalco's but send us all the way to Min Street in Orange rather than to their other location around the block at State College and Chapman?) And if I can easily see that for the Angels, I have to have doubts about all the other teams, too. A couple of days ago I tasked you all with coming up with your ideas for stadium foods and the response was extremely scant. So as much as I would like to blame the respondents that Hardball Times surveyed, it's not like I have any experience with getting better results myself............

Science: A few of you are, or at one point have been, in the business of serious physics. For you, and for the rest of us who are just extremely curious and interested, what would happen if a pitcher pitched a baseball at 90% of the speed of light?..........

Science, Squared: Why do baseball bats shatter? Because science...........

Baseball Biz: Craig Calcaterra at Hardball Talk (NBC Baseball Blog) embeds an interview clip with Astros President Reid Ryan that focuses on future baseball streaming. Craig gives an excellent summary of the situation: "...the game must change. Why? Because young people don’t consume media the same way older people do and Major League Baseball risks losing not only the current wave of cord-cutters but also the next generation of people who simply do not care about networks and rights deals. They watch media on their laptops and mobile devices and they don’t differentiate between native web programming, network affiliations or whatever. The combination of that dynamic and the unassailable fact that baseball loyalty and patronage is a primarily local thing makes the ability to for people to watch local games, on their devices, without having to shell out $150 for a cable bundle absolutely essential to the long term health of Major League Baseball. The youth aren’t seeing baseball as easily and freely as they used to. If they don’t see it, they’ll just watch something else."............That is the deal right there, even if you ignore the minor nit that this is not limited to a younger generation now, in a decade the younger generation will be the only generation driving MLB revenues. Therefore the thrust is correct. He also asks some important questions that cord-cutting advocates need to understand, as they will impact any person's concept of Nirvana: "How does MLB continue to make those crazy cable dollars while serving people who either don’t want cable or for whom cable is becoming obsolete? How does it make money without alienating business partners? Heck, how does it make money like this in an absolute sense given how much harder it is to make money off of content on the Internet than it is on TV in the first place?" ..........MLB is not going to go out of business simply to serve the desire for somebody to do anything they want for 99 cents. So the somebody who wants do do something for that 99 cents needs to be accepting of some collateral impact on their experience. At least, that is, until MLB gets enough people and their 99 cents to return the sport the current economic trajectory..........

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