Weekend Open Thread

Five weeks from today, pitchers and catchers are due to report to Tampa for Spring Training. That’s the best non-news day of the year. Nothing really happens that day, no real workouts or anything, but it marks the start of a new season and I can’t wait. A fun Mike Mussina video is above and the weekend links are below:

  • The Blue Jays are planning to install natural grass in Rogers Centre by 2018, and John Lott wrote about all the challenges of trying to grow grass indoors. There are a ton of logistical issues — they have to change the roof panels and rip up the concrete under the field to install irrigation and drainage — and consultants haven’t even determined the best species of grass for the job yet. Other than that, everything’s going just swell.
  • The Yankees acquired Chris Martin from the Rockies in a minor trade earlier this week, and it turns out he has one heck of a back story. As Scott Miller explained in an article last April, Martin blew out his shoulder in college and quit going to school and playing baseball. He worked at Lowe’s, UPS and an appliance store before a friend convinced him to try out for an independent team, which eventually got him signed.
  • Anthony Castrovince wrote about the non-stop tragedies veteran umpire John Hirschbeck has faced. Hirschbeck lost two sons to a rare disease and also dealt with two bouts of cancer himself, among other things. It’s a real heartbreaking story. No fans like umpires, but they’re people too and Hirschbeck has been through an awful lot.
  • Jeff Zimmerman argues that baseball needs to expand and relatively soon to avoid falling into a third Dead Ball era. He doesn’t want the league to add two teams though, he wants the league to add six teams — not all at once, of course, two at a time over a period of several years — to increase offense and add excitement.
  • And finally, Erik Malinowski wrote about the incredible story of the Dirty Dozen Rowing Club. Long story short — I’m not joking, it’s a very long read — a bunch of rugby players from the Bay Area decided to get into rowing with the goal of qualifying in the 1984 Olympics even though they only had two years to prepare.

Friday: This is your open thread for the night. The Nets, Rangers, Islanders, and Devils are all in action, and there’s the usual slate of college basketball as well. Use this thread to talk about anything on your mind. Have at it.

Saturday: Use this as your open thread again. The Nets and Islanders are both playing, and there’s college basketball on as well. Talk about whatever.

Sunday: For one last time, use this as your open thread. The Seahawks and Packers are playing right now (on FOX) and later tonight the Patriots and Colts will be in action (6:40pm ET on CBS). The winners of each game advance to the Super Bowl. Go nuts.

Weekend Open Thread

Six weeks from today, pitchers and catchers will officially report to Spring Training for the 2015 season. It seems so close and yet so far at the same time. Here are the weekend links:

  • My pal Carson Cistulli put together a post looking for the next Garrett Richards, meaning a prospect with big time velocity, very good control, and no changeup. This is actually a follow-up to Carson’s work in 2012 looking for the next Michael Pineda — another big velocity, very good control, no changeup guy — which cranked out Richards as the next Pineda. There are no Yankees prospects in his year’s results but it’s still a fun study.
  • In a two-part series (part one, part two), Noah Baron looked at ways to try to improve fWAR, specifically by using FIP-based park factors and what amount to division factors. His work shows fWAR is overvaluing AL pitchers and undervaluing NL pitchers, by as much as 5%.
  • Jeff Wiser wrote about players only elite skill is base-running, like Eric Young Jr. and Emilio Bonifacio. Those types of players tend to be overvalued and given more playing time than they deserve, but there is a place for them on some rosters.

Friday: This is your open thread for the night. The Devils, Islanders, and Nets are all playing, plus there’s the usual slate of college basketball as well. Talk about anything and everything right here.

Saturday: Use this as your open thread again. The NFL playoffs are in full swing — the Ravens and Patriots are playing right now (on NBC), and later tonight the Panthers and Seahawks play (8pm ET on FOX). The Knicks already lost but tonight the Nets, Rangers, and Islanders are all playing. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Sunday: This is the open thread one last time. The Colts and Broncos are playing right now (on CBS) and there’s also some college basketball, but that’s it. Have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

The holidays this year were so perfectly timed with Christmas and New Year’s right smack in the middle of the week, and as much as I enjoyed the little two-week break, I think I’m ready for things to go back to normal Monday. I must be getting old. Anyway, the video above features the 20 longest homers of 2014, and here are the weekend links:

  • A new year means Jayson Stark’s annual Strange But True column. It’s a must read each and every year. Here’s part one, here’s part two. The Yankees earn a mention because, well, they “lost three games in three days at Yankee Stadium — to three different teams.” They lost to the Twins on June 1, the Mariners on June 2 (makeup of the April 30 rainout), and the Athletics on June 3. Sigh.
  • Keeping with the end of the year theme, David Laurila posted a collection of 2014’s best quotes from his conversations with players, coaches, and executives. There are some real gems in there. Some insightful, some funny, all worth reading.
  • I’m passing this one along even though I haven’t had a chance to read it yet: Chris Mitchell is working on a system to forecast the future MLB value of hitting prospects, a system he named KATOH after Yankees prospect 2B Gosuke Katoh. According to KATOH, one of the best hitting prospects in the minors is Yankees OF Alex Palma, who was in rookie ball last year. OF Ramon Flores and OF Leonardo Molina both rate highly as well.
  • Tony Blengino wrote two really great pieces on players with favorable (and not so favorable) batted ball profiles heading into season. Here’s the AL, here’s the NL. The Yankees aren’t featured prominently or anything, but I find this batted ball stuff so interesting. Wish there was more (and better) data available.
  • Here’s a good piece from James Wagner about Carlos Alvarez, a former Nationals shortstop prospect who went by Esmailyn “Smiley” Gonzalez before it was discovered he lied about his identity. Washington gave him a $1.4M bonus thinking he was 16 when he was really 20. Alvarez, who said Nationals advisor Jose Rijo took a $300,000 kickback from his bonus, is still playing in Mexico and other countries. His case led to the team firing GM Jim Bowden and to MLB overhauling their operations in Latin America.

Friday: This is your open thread for the evening. The Knicks, Nets, Islanders, and Devils are all playing, plus there’s some college football and basketball on as well. Yuo folks have been doing this long enough by now, so you know how this works. Have at it.

Saturday: Use as your open thread again. Go nuts.

Sunday: For the last time, this is your open thread.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday everyone. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) continued looking at the top ten players at each position today with shortstop. Andrelton Simmons, not Troy Tulowitzki, claimed the top spot. That’s weird. A hundred games of Tulo is still more valuable than 162 games of any other shortstop these days. Current Yankees starting shortstop Brendan Ryan did not make the list. Here are some other links for the weekend:

  • If you’re only going to click only one link this week, make it this one: Ben Lindbergh researched the transaction tree for every 40-man roster player in baseball and figured out which one dates back the longest for each team. So, as an example, the Yankees got Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, got Betemit for Scott Proctor, got Proctor for Robin Ventura, got Ventura for David Justice, got Justice for Jake Westbrook, got Westbrook for Hideki Irabu, and got Irabu for Ruben Rivera. Make sure you check it out.
  • Brian MacPherson spoke to several executives about the importance of makeup, particularly for young players who may initially struggle in MLB. “How they handle it, truly, is how they handle adversity. If you’re good, it’s hard. If, mentally, you can’t handle the failure, that speaks volumes about you needing more time. If you struggle mentally, it’s going to carry over to some part of your game and you’re not going to produce,” said Marlins GM Dan Jennings. “You hope you can see that failure down below, and see how they handle it at Double-A or Triple-A. But at the big-league level, it’s a production league, and you’re always gauging and trying to read that, your time to allow that to allow that to go is really predicated on, No. 1, are you willing to commit for ‘X’ number of at-bats or ‘X’ number of games, and No. 2, is it affecting you in the standings?”
  • In a related piece, Kiley McDaniel mused about the importance of failure in the minor leagues for top prospects. Learning how to cope with failure for the first time at the MLB level ain’t easy. It’s a positive thing in a player’s development for them to hit the skids at some point in the minors so they can learn how to adjust — physically and mentally — and get back on track.
  • Russell Carlton wrote about three people who explain where baseball is right now. One is Hank Conger, who represents the emphasis teams are placing on pitch-framing. Another is Michael Cuddyer, who represents the wonkiness of the qualifying offer system. And the last is Gabe Kapler, who represents what may be market inefficiencies in the front office.
  • And finally, Kevin Ruprecht attempted to use PitchFX data to measure the quality of a hitter’s contact. There’s some scary math in there, but it’s interesting stuff. There’s a significant increase in production when a fly ball is hit more than 310 feet — balls hit 310 feet went for a .151 AVG and a .398 SLG from 2012-14 while balls hit 311 feet went for a .197 AVG and a .505 SLG.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Islanders, Nets, and Devils are all playing — the Rangers were postponed because of the snow in Buffalo — plus there’s college basketball happening somewhere. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Saturday: This is your open thread once again. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except the Rangers, and there’s college basketball and football on as well. Anything goes here. Talk about whatever.

Sunday: Here’s your open thread one final time. The (hockey) Rangers are playing and the late NFL game is the Cowboys and Giants. You know what to do by now, so keep doing it here.

Weekend Open Thread

In honor of Giancarlo Stanton’s new record contract with the Marlins, I figure I’d liven up this weekend’s open thread with a video of every homer he hit from his rookie year through 2013, because why not? (Here are his 2014 homers.) The Yankees aren’t featured in the video — Stanton has homered against 21 of the 29 non-Marlins teams but not the Yankees! — though some of their current and former pitchers are. Anyway, enjoy. Here are some links for this weekend:

  • Jorge Arangure managed to sit down and interview free agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, who is expected to sign very soon. Tomas has been working out in the Dominican Republic and he’s already a legend there.
  • At the GM Meetings this week, David Laurila spoke to several GMs about baseball’s decline in offense. Specifically, he asked them it they believe this is the new norm or just part of a cycle, and how it impacts their roster-building strategy.
  • My pal Eno Sarris wrote about Giants swingman Yusmeiro Petit and what has made him so successful despite pedestrian stuff. The key is the deception in his delivery, which Eno breaks down with some GIFs and images. The piece is two weeks old now but it’s still interesting stuff.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Knicks, Devils, and Islanders are all playing tonight, plus the college basketball season is getting underway. Talk about those games or anything else on your mind right here.

Saturday: This is your open thread once again. All three local hockey teams plus the Nets are in action. There’s also a ton of college football and basketball on as well. You folks know how these things work by now, so have it.

Sunday: Once again, here is the nightly open thread. None of the local basketball or hockey teams are playing and the late NFL game is the Patriots and Colts. Talk about whatever here.

Weekend Open Thread

As promised, the weekly link dump returns this weekend. I had been putting it off the last few weeks because of the postseason and a bunch of other reasons. Anywho, here’s a bunch of random stuff I read these last few days. Hopefully you enjoy one or two of ‘em:

  • Here’s a really great post from Ken Arneson about ten baseball things he believes without any evidence. It’s very (very) science-y, so it’s not for everyone. I really enjoyed it though, because I am a giant nerd.
  • In wake of the death of Oscar Taveras, Jorge Arangure wrote about the dangers young players face in Latin American countries. Driving is a big part of it due to poor road conditions and the general stupidity of young, inexperienced drivers.
  • Ken Doctor examined the development and economics of MLB and MLB.com’s mobile experience. The MLB At-Bat app towers above similar apps for other sports. It’s $150 total for At-Bat and MLB.tv for the year, and if they doubled the price, I’d still buy it. It’s that good.
  • My pal Jack Moore says the Wall Street mentality of front offices has sucked the joy and innovation out of what amounts to “public sabermetics,” namely fans coming up with cool stuff. I don’t necessarily agree, but it’s an interesting read. Neil Weinberg wrote a response.
  • And finally, Alex Pavlovic spoke to basically the entire Giants pitching staff and asked them what Buster Posey’s best trait is as a catcher. All of them cite an intangible, not a physical skill like blocking pitches in the dirt or framing borderline strikes.

Friday: Here is your open thread for the night. The Devils are in action and the Knicks and Nets are playing (each other). Talk about anything and everything right here. Except politics and religion. This ain’t the place for that.

Saturday: Once again, this is your open thread. The (hockey) Rangers, Islanders, and Knicks are all playing, plus there’s a bunch of college football on as well. Talk about whatever here.

Sunday: Here is the open thread one more time. The late NFL game is the Bears and Packers, plus the Nets and Rangers are playing. You folks know the deal already, so have at it.

Weekend Open Thread

TGIF, am I right? This was a long and busy week for me. I’ll be glad to kick back for a few days this weekend. The Friday chats are coming back soon — probably not next week, but they’ll definitely be back soon. My schedule’s been pretty hectic of late. Here are some random links I have lying around for the weekend. Some of them are a few weeks old. I’m finally getting around to reading all this stuff I have bookmarked now that the season’s over.

  • Some stuff on Andrew Friedman leaving the Rays for the Dodgers: Chad Moriyama wrote about how Friedman moves the Rays forward and R.J. Anderson wondered where the Rays go from here.
  • Erik Malinowski profiled former commissioner Fay Vincent, who led MLB through the 1989 World Series earthquake. The piece is worth reading for the George Steinbrenner quotes alone. The Boss really was something else.
  • Jon Roegele re-examined the strike zone and found that yes, it continued to grow this past season. Down, specifically. There are more called strikes at (and below) the knees than ever before, and it’s dragging offense down.
  • Ben Lindbergh looked at the shift and situational hitting over the years. It turns out that hitters actually hit more balls in the direction of the shift when it’s on than when it’s not, which may result from some kind of psychological effect.
  • I really enjoyed David Laurila’s interview with C.J. Wilson. They discussed things like using the spin on the ball as deception, varying arm angles, and using PitchFX as a scouting tool. It’s pretty interesting.
  • And finally, check out Eno Sarris’ chat with John Jaso about dealing with concussions. Jaso took a foul tip to the face mask in August and been dealing with concussion symptoms since. He didn’t say anything to the team until he literally couldn’t see the ball from behind the plate.

Friday: Here is your open thread for Friday night and the rest of the weekend. There is no baseball until Tuesday, which is both terrible and liberating at the same time. There’s also no football and none of the local hockey or basketball teams are playing. Nothing. Good night to get the hell out of the house and forget about sports. Talk about whatever you like right here.

Saturday: Once again, this is your open thread for the night. Both the Devils and Islanders are playing, plus there’s a bunch of college football on as well. Talk about any of those games or anything else right here.

Sunday: This is your open thread for the night for one last time. The late NFL game is the 49ers and Broncos, plus the (hockey) Rangers and Nets (preseason) are playing. You folks know how this whole thing works by now, so have at it.