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Thor’sLinks: A Holiday Blitz

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We race to the Christmas weekend with a rush of important news, none of which involve Billy Eppler.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Introduce Shohei Ohtani
It’s LAA Big Dog week, and today it’s Dennis Kuhl, Chairman.
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

A lot of things are happening in Baseball right now. The way I figure it, things are trying to get closed out before everybody takes a few days worth of break to enjoy the holiday weekend (and the family demands that occur between Christmas and New Years). Also, a lot of teams are dashing about trying to catch up to those teams such as the Angels which made large strides already. And, finally, the media is trying to get back out in front of any news swing towards Anaheim now that they have some distance since the Upton to Ohtani to Kinsler to Cozart shock wave.

(P.S. - I am somewhat disappointed in you people missing the pun in my Links title yesterday. I put that movie paragraph in my pre-amble for a reason!)

Let’s try to keep pace with a mass of Countdown-to-Christmas-Offseason-Links:


A Little Bit of Angels News

Here is an expanded article on how Shohei Ohtani is breaking Fantasy League Baseball systems. It’s something we have already been alerted to, but it is also something that is going to get more and more juice as Ohtani starts to actually produce...........Speaking of producing, that article links to a Yahoo! rotisserie alert on how they are going to split Ohtani into two separately draftable players. In that Yahoo article is a little bit of trivia: the total number of times that any player has won 10 or more games as a pitcher and also hit 10 or more home runs in the same season is exactly once. Babe Ruth in 1918..........

Ohtani is also breaking baseball card records...........

Speaking of Ohtani, CBS will feature him on a 60 minutes segment this Sunday...........

Final Ohtani: his sore ankle, the one he had surgery on recently, is healing fast..........

Yep. Something I hinted at last week. This brilliant new shiny defense will only be as valuable if LAA pitchers can sustain keeping batted balls on the ground...........By the way, I did see JeffMays’ article while I was away on the best defenses in LAA history. I had worked up something similar, but I used FanGraphs Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) and those results are far different. I am trying to figure out how to put up the entire history, where I also include the best in MLB of that year and where LAA ranks across all of MLB. It’s a lot of data. Using DEF, the results are nowhere close to those of WAR used by JeffMays. TL;DR = 1970 was the best LAA defense at 96.1 DEF, 2nd in MLB behind only the Orioles at 102.8. And the worst was 1998 at -85.9, 29th place, when the Braves were first with 124.6. The highest DEF ever while LAA has existed were the 1969 Orioles, at 150.9. You might have heard of them.........

Have some fun with LAA players trying to show off how current they are with social media emoji. Clearly it’s been too long since they were teenagers, and not long enough to parent any.........


Everywhere In Baseball

Dan LeBatard goes into it with Rob Manfred yesterday, and LeBatard goes directly for the jugular, revealing Manfred to be a guy who - as you should never forget - works for the owners and not for you. Here is a taste. And let’s be clear here, even as Manfred is laying out what appears to be a credible rationale for how a small-market teams goes through cycles to be competitive, what he is REALLY saying is that small market fans can eat shit for 4 out of every 5 years while MLB takes their money all 5 of every 5 years............You can listen to the whole show here with these links..........And then, later, The Miami Herald jumps in and points out that Manfred was, indeed, a liar. As the SBN article notes, this now has an impact on the credibility of Major League Baseball itself...........

Zach Britton has blown out his Achilles while doing Winter workouts. This will be surgery, and cost him at least all of Spring Training, which should delay his effectiveness during the early parts of 2018...........This could have a cascading impact on a lot of other plans, for the Orioles and for Britton (Free Agent after next season) and for other teams in the FA reliever market..........

Late Tuesday night reports came in of the death of Mamie ‘Peanut’ Johnson. At 82, she was the oldest living player of Negro League Baseball. Because of segregation, she was refused entrance to the All-American Girls Pro league back then, so she played for the Indianapolis Clowns. Now here is the part that triggers my real interest. Over her 3-season career Johnson batted .270, and had a record as a pitcher of 33-8. We always make the caveat that pre-segregation MLB numbers are somewhat tainted as they lack the competitive flavor of all the black athletes playing in a segregated league. While recognizing the obvious brilliance of the most notable players (Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson, Oscar Charleston, Cool Papa Bell, etc.), the reality that a female ballplayer could go 33-8 and outhit what Albert Pujols did over his past 3 seasons makes me wonder just how formidable those teams actually were.........

The best questions that those with access can present to Front Office types are those which reveal how relevant is the public’s comprehension of the ongoing forces within Baseball. We have what data we have, and we have what analysis we have, and we formulate our understanding based on those things. When a FanGraphs gets to ask Front office personnel about the changes ongoing in the game, it’s rewarding to have a baseline against which we can compare what it is that we think we know. In this case my takeaway is that, on the whole, the more rigorous fan community is on par with a lot of the FO thought processes...........

The worst questions one with access can ask is the one where they can use the answer to find a way to pimp their personal fanboy bias. So when a David Schoenfield wants to find a way to show how the DH hurts the National League because it sucks away star power by offering more career flexibility, you will notice that he cannot help himself and interject: “My conclusion for the AL’s dominance: The success of the Yankees and Red Sox in the early part of the last decade pushed the rest of the league to perform better. The NL didn’t have the same level of consistently dominant franchises, so the bar for making the playoffs was essentially lower.“ And there you have it, everyone. Everybody in the American league can thank the Yankees and Red Sox for whatever success they enjoy, while everyone in the National League can blame them for what failures they suffer. Because Center Of The universe and all that.........

We have a new tax plan. It was supposed to stop favoring cities from creating tax-exempt bonds when they went to gift billionaire franchise owners with stadium construction subsidies. But those billionaire owners objected to any such denial of welfare. And the result is that this provision was removed in favor of the status quo..........

The Chicago Cubs, worth $2.6 billion, aligns with the other ChiTown sports franchises and donates one fifth of $1 million to help their host city make the streets safer for their fans. Something going the wrong way in Chicago this year.........

You knew this was coming. You probably just didn’t think that you would have to worry about it until the world was far more cord-cutting saturated, didn’t you? ESPN - now heavily vested in getting back out in front of your efforts to avoid having to subsidize them in order to watch your video content - is immediately looking into turning off your ability to share passwords..........

Duh, the 2017 pivot-to-video boom for sports information content has already gone bust..........


Hot Stove

Evan Longoria has been plucked away from the Rays. The Giants got him for far more than anything we could afford. Losing Longoria has got to rip the hearts out of Rays fans, but I’m not so sure it fixes much up in San Francisco. If anything, it might signal a bigger problem for the Angels. The more wins the AL East gift to the Yankees and Red Sox, the harder it becomes to snag a playoff spot for the balance of the American League...........

Yu Darvish is our headliner these days. He met with the Rangers, but it had nothing to do with Free Agency business. Just kind of a friendly holiday dinner scheduled long ago..........On the business side, Darvish is being linked to a lot of teams, including the Angels. Of course, all that it takes to be in the rumor mill on any player is to simply inquire where the asking price might be...........

Normally this would be too small of a transaction for me to bother you with, but when the Nationals sign a Tommy Milone, and take away from the Angels a pitcher that they have feasted upon during his career so far, well, it’s a bummer..........

When ranking all the activity so far this offseason, it’s no surprise that the media loves the Yankees acquiring Giancarlo Stanton more than anything anybody else did. Chicks dig the long ball, so it’s easy to overlook how Stanton doesn’t do much with his bat when he is not hitting home runs. The real surprise is how the Mariners getting a second baseman to try and play center field (when they already had a 2.6 bWAR guy playing there) is far more important that the Angels plugging their holes in LF AND 2B AND 3B..........

Next year’s Free Agent market is going to be killer. It could lead to a very major shift in the competitive landscape. It could also see a sharp acceleration towards a long-term elite class of franchises. And there will be a lot of money spent. Thankfully, Billy Eppler just did a very good job of indemnifying the Angels against needing to feast on that future market in order to survive...........

The Red Sox are struggling to figure out how to get away from large debt for under-productive big names, Hanley Ramirez being the current focus. But the Mitch Moreland signing that helps them stop chase an Eric Hosmer? I’m thinking that they still don’t quite grasp what decade they are now in...........


The Duffle Bag

David Ortiz is a soon-to-be reality star, in Big Papi Needs a Job. I doubt MLB random tester will be one of the career choices..........Have you ever noticed how some baseball franchises hold off on retiring jersey numbers as though it’s going to cost an owner some money or something?.............So Winter Meetings are not all business! I’m totally down!!..........Barry Bonds cooks bread. Or, more accurately, bathes bread.........Need a job? Have a degree in Quantitative Analysis? Want to move to Missouri? The Royals are hiring...........