Saturday Morning Links: Oppenheimer, Strasburg, Heart

Open Thread: All business
Spring Training Game Thread: Surprise!

As few links to check out before you start your day…

Oppenheimer among the game’s future GM’s

For nearly a decade, GM Brian Cashman was smart enough to make sure that no one in the organization was in a position to replace him, though now that’s unavoidable. Not only was pro scouting director Billy Eppler in the running for the Padres’ GM job this offseason, but scouting director Damon Oppenheimer is also considered a future GM candidate. He’s been on the radar as a future GM since before he took his current gig with the Yanks, and it’s only a matter of time before some team hires away and gives him the keys to the future of their franchise.

The last few Next Big Things

Before Stephen Strasburg captured the title of best college pitcher ever, the moniker had belonged to quite a few others throughout the years. As it turns out, none of the more recent Next Big Things were able to really deliver on their promise, with the exception of Mark Prior’s staggering 2003 season (211.1 IP, 2.47 FIP, 7.6 WAR) before his arm turned into a worn down rubber band. Strasburg is better than all those guys ever were, but a reality check is always nice.

There’s no stat yet that measures heart

Surely you’ve heard about Nomar Garciaparra’s mini-rant on Baseball Tonight the other day about how stats don’t measure heart (oh yeah, what’s this?), which of course is the classic argument against advanced stats. You just can’t measure intangibles is how it generally goes, but as Joe Posnanski points out, if that kind of stuff impacts the game, shouldn’t there be tangible evidence of it in the stats? If you only click on one link in this post, make it this one.

Open Thread: All business
Spring Training Game Thread: Surprise!
  • AJ

    Ah Strasburg, let the frenzy begin, I think he gets shellacked at the major league level at first.

    Fantasy Question if I may: Who will get more saves/ have a better K to 9 rate this year: Octavio Dotel or Jason Frasor (Jays are leaning towards him for the closer role)?

  • Matt Imbrogno

    Awesome JoePos article.

  • Pablo Zevallos

    JoePos couldn’t be farther off. I think heart is overrated in the present baseball discourse, but just because one can’t quantify something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    • Fletch

      Actually, I thought he acknowledged that fact pretty well. Just by virtue of the fact that they’re playing at the level they are, all major league players have a lot of “heart.” What I don’t like is the implication that certain players give it all they have, as opposed to all the other players who don’t. It’s as if any player who hasn’t had an article written about their work ethic or grittiness doesn’t do any practicing or conditioning at all, and I don’t believe that for a second to be true. As a result, I think the heart factor between players comes out as a wash.

      The article basically could have quoted Inigo Montoya: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

      • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        I can refute your argument in two words: Yuni Betancourt.

        (But seriously, I agree with your point.)

      • mustang

        “What I don’t like is the implication that certain players give it all they have, as opposed to all the other players who don’t. It’s as if any player who hasn’t had an article written about their work ethic or grittiness doesn’t do any practicing or conditioning at all, and I don’t believe that for a second to be true.”

        So you mean to tell me that at your job everyone works 100% full out? No one walks in and tries to “skate” by looking at clock waiting for quitting time? So you think that there are no MLB players who are arrogant enough to think that they can just make it by on talent alone? I guess then everyone runs full out to first on every fly ball out.

      • Pete C.

        In ’78 when the Yanks caught Boston, Leo Durrocher was on Johnny Carson, Carson asked Leo if he thought Boston was choking. The Lips’ basically said, if you can get to the majors, the question of heart gets answered along the way, for every level gained, players had to overcome the pressure of performing, because if he didn’t he wouldn’t be promoted.
        So in conclusion, if your playing major league baseball you’ve been clutch your whole life. There’s a quote I saw at the HOF that I believe comes from Honus Wagner “playing ball ain’t hard, if you’re a ballplayer”. To me, that says it all. Now if we can only quantify that elusive ballplayerness.

    • mustang


  • Kyle

    Man, I would have loved to have seen what a healthy Prior could do with his career. He should’ve signed with the Yanks out of high school! Haha

    • Zack

      He would have had a great career as a dominant 8th inning man

      • Kyle

        Haha, I didn’t want to make a comment about our pitcher developing skills (or lack there of I should say), as it is a sore subject around here.

  • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    The Posnaski article is one of the best pieces I’ve read in a while.

    Question for you RABers: is there a better baseball writer than him?


    • Benjamin Kabak

      In terms of writing, probably not. But Joe and I were talking about his stuff the other day, and we both agreed that length can also be a hindrance for him. I generally don’t read his pieces until someone shares them on Google Reader, and then I usually like it.

      His way with words is masterful though. Make no mistake about it.

      • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

        Hmm…I like that his posts are “curiously long.” Certainly it would be an obstacle, especially nowadays where people seem to have little inclination to read a very lengthy article. Do you have any other favorites you’d put near him?

    • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      BTW, funny comment on the Pos article.

      Romulo said at 6:34 pm on March 25th, 2010:

      “I find the arguments that proponents of statistics have with the anti-stats crowd bears many similarities to the disagreements between those that believe in evolution and creationists.”

  • JackISBACK

    Prior is probably the biggest “what if” since I started watching baseball hardcore. All the talent in the world, and his starts were amazing. They used to cover a good amount of his games on ESPN (because a bunch of them were day games, and ESPN had nothing better to show at the time) and I found myself watching almost every time. The stuff, the control. If you could make a legit pitching prospect, he was it. A shame what happened to his career.

  • pat

    Re: Nomah! This from a man who disgraced Red Sox nation in an infamous nationally televised game by sitting in the dugout while the Yankees kicked their butts. Sorry, I’ll pass on accepting him as an authority on the subject of “heart” and its measure. Jeter going into the stands was the only picture I needed

    • donttradecano


      was thinking the same thing

    • mustang



  • miketotheg

    there’s a stat for everything in baseball and nowadays even the stats have stats partnered with graphs and historical rankings. but none of those things explain an eleven pitch at bat in the play offs, a bottom of the ninth two out-one on game tying home run in the world series or a ridiculously intuitive relay catch and flip that changed a game then a whole series.

    stats can be fun and insightful but you learn them to forget them because its about that feeling you get at a certain match up. we are not accountants we are overgrown kids cheering for our teams. i respect journos/bloggers who can step out of that and get objective but in the end you can take all that objectivity and flush it.

    2010 repeat!! GO YANKS!!!

    • Matt Imbrogno

      We don’t learn stats to forget them; we learn them because, to us, they’re another meaningful way to enjoy baseball.

    • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

      Not even going to touch this one.

    • mustang

      Thank you, Thank you so much.

      I’m not a machine I’m a baseball fan !!!!

    • bexarama

      ummmm excuse you I am in fact an accountant. Also, I actually hate baseball. I just like numbers. It’s totally true. (note: may not be actually true.)

      • Matt Imbrogno

        Did you even know that baseball players are actual people and not just names on a spread sheet? I doubt it.

        • bexarama

          I think I went to a baseball game once and like… there were all these people on the field. It was so confusing. Where were the numbers???

  • tbord

    As part of any future deal involving Oppenheimer moving as a GM, could he please take Chris Smith with him?

    • Mike Axisa

      Chris Smith was released last year. And what does it matter, he wasn’t hurting anybody.

      • Accent Shallow

        Besides buffets, apparently.

        (Seriously, I was rooting for him. So it goes.)

      • Slugger27

        should i be embarassed i dont know who chris smith is?

      • tbord

        Not a knock on Smith – Perhaps, however, Oppenheimer is a bit overrated.

  • don’t_bring_in_the_lefty

    Heart rate monitor FTW

  • Andy (different one) in chilly NYC

    I love this comment from the Joe P. article:

    The only people who tout their intangibles are those who can’t tout anything tangible.

    • pete


  • FL Yank

    RE: Oppenheimer. This is where the addition of Towers really makes its impact. I am not saying that he was brought on board to replace Oppey whenever he leaves for a GM position but having Towers in the FO just further reinforces our already strong scouting department. Regardless of their respective titles, having both of them work for the team we love should bring a smile to any fan’s face.

  • pete

    “Heart” in baseball will show up in the stats. If “heart” is how hard you work, then it’ll show up. Because nobody would be working hard if it didn’t make them better, which shows up in the stats. And if isn’t showing up in the stats, well then you’re just not very good. Deal with it.

  • JMK the Overshare’s Mystique and Aura

    So what else is new: a Dominican stole something!

  • dkidd

    great great great article by joe!

    his central insight is so important to remember: converting any type of human achievement into a statistic, regardless of intention (love of the subject, quest for objective truth etc), makes the “achiever” feel diminished

    imagine you’ve dedicated your entire life to becoming the best high school chemistry teacher on the planet. you’ve lost time with your family because of your dedication to your students. how would you feel if someone summed up your career by saying you were overrated because your CTa+ was only .745? would it matter that the person developed the statistic out of a love for chemistry instruction?

    like a lot of people on this site, i love baseball statistics and joe morgan makes me want to kill myself. but is it really surprising that nomar garciaparra resists the notion that everything he brought to the game of baseball can be expressed in numbers?

    kudos to joe for helping me endure future espn sunday night broadcasts

  • Shaun Sullivan

    Just some food for thought.. On Brian Cashman being smart enough to not have anyone replace him…coincidentally Jeter saying he’d like to own a team or ” be the one calling the shots”… Jeter a future yankee GM?? Maybe cashman has had someone on the team all along.Just noone… Even Cashman knew it.

    It’s just a thought not reality…what’s your take??