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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Stone Cole Shutdown

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Gerrit Cole proves the ancient adage: “Good pitching beats good analytics, every time.”

Divisional Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Houston Astros - Game Five Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

PLAYOFFS

Boom! Just like that we see power, skill and craftiness totally shut down brains, tactics and techniques. Having a Gerrit Cole to mow down the Tampa Bay Rays 6-1 (and it wasn’t that close) was sure a nice ‘get’ for the Houston Astros. Having to use a Gerrit Cole to get past the Rays in a Game 5 was an even nicer ‘get’ for the New York Yankees.

Game 1 of the ALCS is Saturday. Cole could come back again for Game 3 next Tuesday, which lines him up for a Game 7 on the 20th. That would be sweet for Houston, but only if it gets that far. I could see Houston now forced to open with Wade Miley in Game 1 on Saturday to give the whupped Justin Verlander his full rest cycle. If they do that, Verlander is Sunday but then not available until Game 6. So unless A.J. Hinch compresses Verlander (again) or Cole, there is a possibility the Yankees see Miley + Verlander + Cole + Peacock + Miley + Verlander + Cole. The Yankees getting Miley and Peacock in 3 of the first 5 games sounds like a godsend.

Anyway, the Astros rolled out to a very fast 4-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st inning after the first 6 Houston batters, and not a single home run was necessary. Tyler Glasnow picked a bad time to be tipping his pitches. And with Cole on the mound and no Dave Roberts around to mess things up, the Rays were doomed. Yeah, final score was 6-1 and almost all of America is now a Howie Kendrick fan.

Huzzah! More conspiracy points of data for our winter musings. It was noticed by many just the evening before. We have a new study that compares the home run rates and flight mechanics of the regular season - where we ALL knew that MLB was using a juiced ball and MLB even admitted it - versus that of the current playoffs. At the onset of these playoffs, it had been observed that the juiced ball might warp outcomes in obvious and unfortunate ways, so we had eyeballs paying close attention. Now comes this from Robert Arthur over at BaseballAmerica ($$). Yeah, few of you do pay for that content and can’t read it, but the money shot can be seen over here on his twitter advert. Those two tiny black dots to the right of that red line of post-season demarcation are the ones to shock you......But if you want to read some smart guy who DOES have paywall access, AND pull out the concepts from behind the BaseballAmerica paywall so that you get the meat of the study, head on over to FanGraphs and read this article from Jay Jaffe......And if you want to have your eyes opened to some amazing potential shenanigans, drop down on the FG article and read the comments. Like, yeah, what if MLB was supplying different balls to Yankee playoff games than to Milwaukee playoff games? If this change of baseballs is true, if this is possible, we should all be very afraid. These people are running a business and their primary interest is in making money. The notion that they are stewards of a national treasure that is historically bigger than their P&L comes in second place to financials.


ANGELS

Nearing the end of the playoffs as we are, some get to turn their attention to matters of contracts and payroll. Within that would be the arbitration candidates. What to offer, what to expect back, and what is an expected outcome. MLB Trade Rumors lines up the Halos..............

Jo Adell, AFL Hitter of the Week, was also named to the USA Olympic Qualifying team..........

And don’t forget Brandon Marsh also tearing things up in the AFL. Marsh is on the verge of making the Top 100 MLB Prospect lists..........

Mike Trout “and the Others” (That’s not my phrase. It’s thiers.) and another year of not being in the playoffs. Marsh and Adell are coming (and Canning is here), but Billy Eppler’s challenges remain immense. The part about “If the Angels aren’t at least a finalist in the bidding for Anthony Rendon and Gerrit Cole (and arguably both)...” makes me barf, though. It’s not about the actual names. In fact, both of those guys would be great in my mind. It’s the “finalists” notion. “Finalist” is first loser. If you have a specific target to repair a specific need, you already know from these past seasons what happens when you fail. So shit, or get off the damned pot...............

Albert and his wife Deirdre getting recognized for doing their good deeds. Their dedication to community service cannot go over-recognized............

($$) - Astute observation: Joe Maddon or not, it seems the Angels want experience from their new manager. You notice that we are not hearing rumors of names being interviewed for the LAA manager position that are of the Eric Chavez, Scott Servais, Alex Cora/Aaron Boone prototypes? What happened to the “need to relate to the younger generation” thing that has been permeating MLB over the past 24 months?..........


MANAGERIAL MUSICAL CHAIRS

Down goes Gabe Kapler and now the Phillies have a managerial job opening, bringing the MLB grand total to 8. And (for us this is the important part) this Phillies gig is yet another one that is a better option than what Arte is offering in Anaheim. Philadelphia may not have Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but they are A LOT closer to being a WS contender than the Angels......Now every guy who has ever managed but has some kind of history of residency within 100 miles of Philadelphia is a natural fit for the next Philly manager. It’s the Mike Trout story...........Oh wait, here is that very angle used for Joe Maddon! Take that, Arte and your interviewing other guys to try and make Maddon nervous and come down in price...........

Gabe Kapler did such a fine job in his two seasons in Philadelphia that he is already seeing his name thrown into the ring as a candidate for the Giants gig..........

The Padres are officially interviewing Skipper Brad...........

Joe Girardi did an interview with the Cubs...but 8 total hours?!?...........

I’ll put this here because a General Manager is also a manager. With the Dodgers loss their GM Andrew Freidman’s contract is done. Bostonians are already getting in line to hire him away and solve the puzzle that Dave Dombrowski built. I mean, it’s so tempting, right? Dombrowski sold away the Red Sox future to snag another World Series ring. Now the BoSux are stuck on a corner where the only ways out look to be lose their talent (and their World Series chances) or dump their roster and rebuild their prospect pipeline (and lose their World Series chances). But the Friedman story in LA, keep fielding a competitive team while rebuilding the pipeline AND lowering salary just seems like a tasty bite out of that cake which you get to eat while you get to keep it, too.........

The White Sox are already refilling their coaching positions. You pay attention to stuff like this because the last team to name a manager is the last team that gets to shop at the coaching store and you don’t want to get there and find all the good items are gone.........


BASEBALL

It turns out that not all AFL players are star quality. Jason Nix of the Padres has been pitching in the AFL, and tried to be productive between starts by breaking and entering through somebody’s doggie door. He got kicked in the face, he got tased, he got arrested, he got some serious MLB career challenges in his future..............

Brian McCann retires, and we now seek a replacement for The Keeper Of The Unwritten Rules..............

It’s a good day to round up fun stuff pertaining to Dave Roberts. He might be a great guy, but he sure made himself into a juicy target the other night. Scott Miller brings us some literary education..........($$) It ain’t just me who was baffled. Smart people were baffled, too. (And in that article, players were baffled: “Jansen shrugged when asked how it felt to watch the late innings take place without him. ‘Doc, he had his game plan.’ “).........People who may or may not be smarter than me are baffled..........Jeff Passan is dogpiling, but he has one line worthy of a raspberry: “The only rigor in Roberts’ decisions was of the mortis variety, because it turned the Dodgers’ season into a corpse.”..........( |> ) Clayton Kershaw was not put into a position to succeed, He was put into a position to fail............Will Dave Roberts become the 9th MLB manager victim?.....No, no he will not. He has already be told he will be back............

Bryce Harper spent the entire season playing for the Phillies. The Nationals have gotten all the way to the NLCS without a single bit of contribution from Harper. So why is Harper still part of the Washington narrative? Addition through subtraction?..........

($$) - The very best reason I can give you to subscribe (No, I do not get paid by TheAthletic. I just feel bad sending you to a place that you might not be able to read.) . It’s a pretty good look into fan behavior and how that applies to the future health of the sport of baseball. The strong facts and data come not from MLB and Rob Manfred, but from a social psychologist named Rick Luker, who has been polling sports fan behavior for 25 years now. There is a ton of good meat there. Here is one key data point that shows a hidden, but incredibly important, value for MiLB: “Someone who attends their first baseball game, major league or minor league, before the age of five will attend 58 percent more games in their life compared to someone whose first game waits until age 14, Luker and co. found....’I can’t overemphasize how important minor league baseball is to the whole of the (history) of baseball and the future,’ Luker said. ‘That is what makes it approachable, and allows people to have access in ways that are affordable, and then, in fact, makes it aspirational to attend games later on in life.’ “..........The Big Idea here is that Gen Z, born after 2000, is dropping off as sports fans, period. MLB is going down with that ship. Not because there is something wrong with sports, or with the sport of baseball specifically (which is an important idea because it means we don’t need to fiddle with the rules and change the sport), but because the way that we engage in sports today is not integrated in a way that aligns with the preference that Gen Z has for being online...........


STUFF

Brutal Clayton Kershaw catch...........Here it comes, Padres fans...brown...........Torii Hunter draws his hoped-for Andre Dawson, but he also draws Garret Anderson “The Silent Assassin”, named so by his teammates because he always looked like he was falling asleep. In other words, GA! The dude is still a crack up.............The moment that Howie Kendrick became the David Freese of Washington DC............Walgreens finally chooses to get in on the joke............