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WeekEnd HaloLinks: Let’s Get To Some Awards

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I don’t know about you, but I need a distraction.

CHUCK FINLEY ANGELS

THE HOT CORNER

The next 4 months are liable to be equally contentious as the 4-month winter seasons between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019. Everybody is all excited and bandying about names and numbers and landing spots as if none of that happened at all. Which means if it does repeat, the frustrations of the media and players will be three times as intense. IMHO, because all of the mechanics and principals of the past couple FA seasons are still in play and because the analytics reformation is still going full throttle, it’s gonna happen. That’s why I think this Alex Anthopoulos thing is a serious deal. His faux pas is the match that landed on the dry tinder. At this point he can’t really take it back. The best he can do is to put out the current fire but we are still gonna be smelling the smoke for weeks, wondering if the damned thing is gonna spark back up again.

Alex Anthopoulos was quick to come back to the media and reword his statement about the preparations he has been doing going into the offseason. “In advance of the General Managers meetings, I called around to Clubs to explore the possibility of potential off-season trades. At no time during any of these calls was there discussion of individual free agents or the Braves’ intentions with respect to the free agent market. To the extent I indicated otherwise during my media availability on Monday, I misspoke and apologize for any confusion.” Writer Tim Brown admits that on the surface a GM would never do something that might cost them some advantage in the trade or signing markets “...and ultimately his job”, but his mistake is assuming that it “...requires a good amount of cynicism” to assume that a GM would. Because that’s the deal with actual collusion. It’s something driven by owners, not GM’s. A GM is not going to lose brownie points with their owner for following their owner’s secret edicts to work in concert with the secret edicts of all owners and MLB pertaining to contract negotiations..........

From the MLBPA’s point of view, there is a solid reason to be raising shields at even the slightest hint of the “C” word. MLB owners long ago lost all benefit of doubt. Some current owners were even ones who directly participated in past indiscretions..........In fact, active collusion has been found even pretty recently..........And we continue to read public facing comments coming from franchises that find creative ways to spin the news that they plan to stop spending as much money on player salaries. The Players’ Union is naturally going to wonder what the owners are doing with all the money (an average revenue of about $350 million per team in 2018).

Tyler Skaggs OD ties into the LA Front Office...Brandon Taubman/Houston Astros/Roberto Osuna domestic violence debacle...and now Anthopoulos’ slip up on the verge of Free Agent market activity. Sheesh. I’m thrilled that MLB Awards Week starts Monday.


ANGELS

Trout Porn Time! (We haven’t had the chance to do that lately.) We begin with Mike Trout winning his 7th Silver Slugger Award in only his 8th full season of MLB ball. How is such a thing even possible? Well, 5 consecutive seasons of leading the American League in OPS+ certainly helps. By the way, he has led the AL in OPS 3 straight years and OBP for 4 straight years.....Remember that no other Halo in history ever won more than 4 Silver Sluggers............And as the Angels themselves reveal, only Alex Rodriguez ever won as many SS Awards by age-27 season...........

($$) - Some serious Jo Adell love. ‘He’s a rockstar’: The waiting game starts now for the Angels and prospect Jo Adell. One fun note from the article: “It took two pitches for Adell to see Whitley’s velocity, as he took a 1-0 fastball that caught way too much plate. Adell shook his head at the missed opportunity before grounding out on a breaking ball two pitches later. In his next at-bat, Adell laid off a pair of pitches off the plate and hunted fastball....He got one, and as Adell’s foot rested on the ground, his bat whipped around and made contact, sending the baseball soaring halfway up the berm in left-center field. These are the swings that separate Adell, the ability to harness his immense raw power and be a game-changer against elite talent.”..........

Nick Castellanos played for both the Tigers and Cubs this past season. He had a pretty good year. Overall he was .289/.337/.525 with an OPS of .863 and an OPS+ of 121, bWAR of 2.7. He is now a Free Agent. The White Sox would look good to him. He is rumored to be on Billy Eppler’s radar. I am assuming that would be as the RF stop-gap until Jo Adell arrives, however long that takes? Calhoun was going to cost $16 million for that duty and his 2019 was slightly lesser...BUT...MLBTR forecasts Castellanos for a 4-year deal worth ~$58 million. That’s $14.5 million AAV and a 4-year anchor in our outfield butt. Somebody needs to ‘splain this rumor to me............

You looking for a Cole or Strasburg, right? “The number to shoot for here is $34.42 million, the record average inked by Zack Greinke with the Diamondbacks before the 2016 season. The largest pitcher contract in total value is $217 million, signed by David Price with the Red Sox that same offseason.”..........


HOT STOVE ACTION AND OTHER RUMORS

The Cubs and Astros, tanking pioneers, are both at crossroads. Their competitive windows are feeling the constraints of compressed payroll escalations. Both are fine for the moment, but the near future now contains serious roster considerations. For the Cubs, they are eager to pivot to a model of “consistency”, which is euphemistic for “let’s avoid the looming roster financial crunch and figure out a way to shed some talent and be happy with 90 win seasons year over year, and hope that every now and then some magic happens and we get into the playoffs.”......For the Astros, they have been riding their window hard as it has been working for them (9 outs from their 2nd WS title in 3 seasons), but that wait has run them up into the top end of the payroll scale and they might have to go over the tax threshold to stay afloat..........

This is interesting. Free Agent Cole Hamels might accept a series of one-year deals? “I’m not there to handcuff somebody or an organization. That’s what the younger guys can do. I can do one year here and there and just play as long as I can play. I think that’s what will help give me an opportunity to play on teams that are trying to go to the postseason. If you need one guy, I can just kind of bounce around...But I think I want the opportunity to have as many opportunities to get to the postseason and try to win....I’ll go every year. I’ll prove myself. I don’t mind having my back against the wall. I think I perform better like that anyway. It just keeps me more accountable.” So, OK, that “opportunities to get to the postseason“ thing excludes us. But how would a series of one-year deals work? Each one with mutual opt-outs?..........

What the..? There is this guy going by the name of Matt Blake. He is all of 33-years old. As recently as June 2015 he was a high school pitching coach. In December of 2015 he became Lower Level Pitching Coordinator for the Cleveland Indians. Less than a year later he is Cleveland’s Assistant Director for Player Development. This is a kid on the move, right? That ain’t nuthin’. On November 5th - 3 days ago - he was found in this review (dig deep) having been promoted to Director of Pitching Development. Yesterday, which was just 2 days later, the Yankees hired young Master Blake to be their new MLB-level pitching coach...........

The Pirates are looking at Ben Cherington to take on the roll of new GM. Cherington was the Red Sox GM before Dave Dombrowski took over, and has been working within the Toronto organization since. It would seem like a good idea for the Pirates to get busy and build their front office now that we are in the offseason. So either hire Cherington or name interim GM Kevan Graves ASAP............

Meanwhile, maybe the Giants are going to settle on Joe Espada for new skipper after all. Giants President of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi (he of the Dodgers) has been rumored to be a big fan of Gabe Kapler. Yeah, THAT Gabe Kapler. The Gabe Kapler who is so fond of making slide rule moves that he ran himself into an in-game debacle. Hiring Espada would gave the Giants from Zaidi having his personal toy in the dugout and possibly not on the same page as his yet-to-be-hired GM. AND it also removes Espada from the Houston brain trust............

Migrating the series of MLB’s Most Problematic Contracts over to the AL Central (any episodes published over the weekend will get linked on Monday), the fun part is the Tigers owing Miguel Cabrera yet another $124 million over the next 4 years. That would 2019 bWAR 0.0 Miguel Cabrera..........


BASEBALL THINGS IN GENERAL

The 2019 MLBPA Heart & Hustle Award winner is...Howie Kendrick! This is voted on by the MLBPA Alumni Association AND all active MLB players............

On their way into the 2020 season, the Astros are demoting Nolan Ryan’s son and owner Jim Crane is on-boarding a son of his own. Well, Nolan Ryan is a man of integrity and he is not going to still while one man’s nepotism trumps the nepotism of his own clan. In spite, Nolan has decided to egress from any/all Astros affiliation. “I will not be back with the club and will leave it at that.”..........

Here is a nice piece on the 2019 season of Astros reliever Will Harris. You don’t have to read the thing. It’s about how a guy can have a great season and then lose one moment, but if that is the wrong moment it overwhelms his entire season. Hey, baseball happens. It’s interesting at that level, sure, but it gives me reason to ask you all (since I was not around at the time): how many others watched that magical and well-timed Howie Kendrick game changing moment with a home run down the right field corner and immediately think to themselves “Spiezio”?...........

I say “Bill James” and you immediately know who and what I am talking about. I say “Allan Roth” and you do not. Why not? Because you did not memorize my offseason series on baseball stat pioneers a few years back. So here, go spend a fall night reading about the remarkable Roth...........

When you hear some phlegm coming from any fan base that declares itself the best baseball town in the world, direct them to this piece focusing on Opening Night for the Venezuelan Winter Leagues in Caracas. Their national economy has collapsed, their star players from MLB aren’t allowed to compete, and their season has contracted by 1/3.....“Massive street protests erupted behind opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who vowed to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó appealed in vain for a military uprising, leading to clashes between protesters and security forces. A massive electrical failure in March left most of the nation without lights and water for days. Venezuela’s crisis has no end in sight.”.....And still some folks manage to plow forward. “The luxury of a night of fun for a couple at the stadium buying tickets, beer and hotdogs easily costs $15 — or about double the minimum wage that most Venezuelans earn each month.”..........

The Giants may be remodeling their field dimensions?..........

The Cubs are - gulp! - actually lowering ticket prices for 2020?..........

When science goes amok. Determining that drag co-efficiency of the baseball does not by itself account for the home run surge does NOT mean that the home run surge was not because of the baseball. It only moves one factor over closer to a corner............

Welcome to the conversation, SportingNews. Baseball Musings: Marcus Semien is someone we should talk more about. I’ve been pimping him from our corner of MLB for months, and if Semien were playing in most any other market that dude would have been an All-Star last year. Thank gawd he is an MVP finalist...........

Free pizza? Who knew??..........


STUFF

Rare color film of Satchel Paige pitching in an exhibition baseball game at Wrigley Field, Los Angeles..........Let’s all start following Yu Darvish’s twitter account. He has become the funniest guy in baseball............Jobs! Chicago Cubs Scouting, and Cubs R&D...and Padres R&D...Tampa Bay Rays want a software engineer...Again, you might notice a hiring trend among MLB franchises. These people are not loading up on lawyers or doctors or accountants or architects or chemists or mechanical engineers...........This would never happen with Victor Rojas, which is why Victor and Gubi rank at the top of MLB broadcasters and F.P. Santangelo of the Nats ranks at the other end. We remain blessed..........

Who cares if this ain’t baseball related. It’s the very best way to send y’all off into your weekend. Enjoy, and see you Monday!