Weekend Open Thread

The Winter Meetings begin next week and my hunch right now is the Yankees will indeed do something in Nashville. Not necessarily anything major, but something. There’s been too much talk about not doing anything from Brian Cashman & Co. for me to think it’ll actually happen. Anyway, here are the weekend links:

  • I enjoyed David Laurila’s interview with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich, who discussed the challenges of building a team in baseball’s most extreme park environment. It’s been more than 20 years now and still no one seems particularly close to figuring out what kind of pitcher can consistently succeed in Coors Field. Pitches don’t move the same way they do at sea level because they react to the thin air differently.
  • Here’s a neat little article by Ryan McKenna on Jim Stevenson, the scout who drafted both Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, the 2015 Cy Young award winners. Stevenson was with the Astros when they took Keuchel in the seventh round of the 2009 draft, and he was with the Brewers when they drafted Arrieta out of junior college in the 26th round of the 2005 draft. (Arrieta didn’t sign and instead transferred to TCU.)
  • This is a few months old but it’s totally worth reading: Susan Dominus wrote about two sets of identical twins raised in Colombia. Due to a hospital error, two of the babies were switched at birth, and they were raised separately as sets of fraternal twins. They all found each other as adults, basically by chance. It’s an insane story. No other way to describe it.

Friday: This is your open thread for the evening. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are in action except the Rangers, plus there’s some college hoops on as well. Discuss those games, the links, or anything else here.

Saturday: Here’s the open thread again. The Islanders and Knicks are playing, plus you’ve got a ton of college football and basketball as well. Have at it.

Sunday: This is your open thread for the final time. You’ve got all the afternoon NFL action plus the late game (Colts at Steelers) later tonight. The Rangers, Devils, and Nets are playing as well, and there’s some college basketball on as well. Talk about any and all of that here.

Weekend Open Thread

Happy Friday, everyone. I am very much looking forward to this weekend. Been a long and busy week here. Anyway, I didn’t read much interesting stuff this week, so I only have two links for the weekend.

  • Todd Schneider posted a really interesting look at New York City taxi data from 2009-15. It includes yellow and green cabs as well as Uber, and it covers over a billion trips. He looks at pickup and drop-off data, airport travel, the bridges and tunnels, and whether John McClane really could have made it from 72nd and Broadway to Wall Street in 30 minutes during rush hour before a bomb went off in Die Hard: With a Vengeance, among other stuff.
  • Here is a touching Scott Fowler article about a 16-year-old boy named Chancellor Lee Adams. Adams was born ten weeks early because his mother┬áCherica was killed by the hit man hired by former NFL player Rae Carruth, who is now in prison. Chancellor has cerebral palsy due to his traumatic birth but is now thriving after being raised by his grandmother. Really great work.

Friday: Here is tonight’s open thread. The Devils, Islanders, Knicks, and Nets are all playing, plus there’s a bunch of college hoops on as well. Talk about those games or whatever else right here.

Saturday: Once again, this is your open thread. The three local hockey teams are in action and there’s a bunch of college footballs and hoops on as well. Enjoy.

Sunday: This is your open thread for one last time. You’ve got a full afternoon of football plus the Bengals and Cardinals as the late game tonight. The Islanders, Devils, and Nets are all playing as well, and there’s also the usual slate of college basketball.

Saturday Notes: In-Market Streaming, Netting, Martone, Murtaugh


Here are some stray links and notes related mostly to league-wide matters that affect the Yankees and their fans.

MLB announces in-market streaming deal with FOX

Yesterday afternoon commissioner Rob Manfred announced MLB has agreed to a three-year deal with FOX to provide in-market streaming. It is only available for teams whose games are broadcast by FOX Sports — that’s 15 teams, so half the league — and that does include the Yankees thanks to the YES deal with News Corp. a few years back. This is NOT a cable alternative. You have to subscribe to YES through your cable provider for in-market streaming. It’s better than nothing, I guess. MLB is still working with the other networks on in-market streaming deals.

MLB to recommend new stadium netting regulations

Manfred also announced yesterday that MLB will recommend new stadium netting regulations for the 2016 season. (That’s the netting behind home plate. Duh.) It’s unclear how far the league will ask the netting to be extended but to the dugouts seems reasonable. There were several incidents of foul balls and broken bats injuring fans last year. Not everyone is as lucky as this guy:

“In addition to a recommendation on the physical location of nets, there will be a broad fan education component to the program,” said Manfred to the Associated Press. “A lot of things seem easy and are not always so easy. We want our fans to be safe in the ballpark, but we also have lots of fans who are very vocal about the fact that they don’t like to sit behind nets.”

Martone leaves, Murtaugh joins front office

The front office shuffling continues. Manager of pro scouting Steve Martone, who had been with the Yankees the last nine years, has left the organization to become Billy Eppler’s assistant GM with the Angels, reports Mike DiGiovanna. Martone, 35, was responsible for identifying trade and waiver targets on other clubs. He’ll do something similar with the Angels. No word on how the Yankees will replace Martone.

Meanwhile, Nick Piecoro reports veteran scout Pat Murtaugh recently left the Diamondbacks to join the Yankees’ pro scouting staff. Murtaugh, 56, has been in the scouting game a very long time, and, as Piecoro wrote two years ago, he was the scout who recommended Didi Gregorius to then D’Backs GM Kevin Towers back in the day. The Yankees lost Eric Chavez to the Angels a few weeks ago. Chavez had been working in the pro scouting department.

CBA negotiations to begin early next year

Last week, MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem told Mark Feinsand Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA are likely to begin early next year, in February or March. The current CBA is set to expire on December 1st, 2016. The qualifying offer and international free agent spending systems figure to get an overhaul, among other things. (We could see an international draft.) MLB has had labor piece for over two decades now. The game is flush with money and I doubt either side wants to mess things up with a work stoppage. I’m hopeful MLB and the union will get a new deal worked out without much of a headache.

MLB minimum salary will not rise in 2016

According to the Associated Press, the Major League minimum salary will remain $507,500 next season due to a lack of inflation. The CBA includes a modified cost-of-living adjustment. The methodology used actually said the minimum salary should be reduced next year, but lol no. The CBA says the minimum salary can only go up, not down. Minimum minor league salaries for players on split contracts are $41,400 for first year players and $82,700 thereafter. Baseball’s good work if you can get it.

Weekend Open Thread

The GM Meetings were pretty fun this week. The Yankees made some moves and there were a surprisingly large amount of rumors, at least by Yankees standards. They tend to keep things quiet. Three weeks and a few days until all hell breaks loose at the Winter Meetings. Anyway, here are the links for the weekend:

  • Here’s a really fun Owen Watson post looking at the most extreme home runs of the 2015 season. The longest homer, the hardest hit homer, the fastest pitch homer, the most inside pitch to a right-handed hitter homer … all sorts of fun stuff like that. Brian McCann makes an appearance, as does Nathan Eovaldi on the wrong end of an extreme homer.
  • Fresh off their World Series win, the Royals are facing a difficult decision with Alex Gordon, one of the best and most popular players. Do they break the bank to re-sign him, or let him walk and spare payroll? In this piece, Andy McCullough spoke to several GMs who faced similar decisions in recent years, and they all said a lot more goes into it than on-field production.
  • If you’re looking for an ultra-nerdy article with lots of math, this Alan Nathan post on optimizing swings is for you. It starts with the question “can a curveball be hit farther than a fastball?” and then dives into things like swing angles and all sorts of other neat stuff. You are forewarned, it is indeed very nerdy with gory math. It’s as much a physics experiment as it is baseball analysis.
  • And finally, a non-baseball link: I enjoyed this Tyler Rogoway article on the family who owns a big piece of land adjacent to Area 51. The land, which has been in the family long before the government showed up next door, had been mined for copper and other metals for generations. The family has refused many seven-figure offers even though no one lives at the mine site these days and the government makes it all but impossible to access. Crazy stuff.

Friday: Here is your open thread for tonight and the rest of the weekend. The college basketball season begins tonight, plus the Knicks, Nets, and Islanders are all playing. Talk about those games, the links, or anything other than politics or religion here. Thanks.

Saturday: This is the open thread again. The Devils and Nets are playing in addition to a nice full slate of college football and hoops. Have at it.

Sunday: This is the open thread for the final time. The Patriots and Giants are playing right now, and the late NFL game is the Cardinals and Seahawks. The (hockey) Rangers are playing tonight as well and I’m guessing there’s some college hoops going on somewhere. Enjoy.

Friday Links: Braves, Upton, Severino, Chen, Marlins, Cuba

Upton and Simmons a few years back. (Presswire)
Upton and Simmons a few years back. (Presswire)

Hang in there, the weekend is only a few hours away. Here are a handful of stray links and notes to check out and help pass the time.

Yankees, Braves talked Upton and Severino last year

Last offseason the Yankees and Braves discussed a potential blockbuster trade that would have brought Jason Heyward and Andrelton Simmons to New York. Obviously things didn’t work out. Heyward was traded to the Cardinals last November and Simmons was traded to the Angels last night. The Yankees ended up acquiring Didi Gregorius to play shortstop and that worked out pretty well.

According to Jeff Passan and Mark Bowman, other iterations of the Heyward/Simmons blockbuster included Justin Upton — presumably instead of Heyward — and also Luis Severino. You’ve got to give something to get something, right? Last offseason Severino was still a Double-A pitching prospect who was ranked a top 35-ish prospect in baseball. Heyward fetched Shelby Miller, an established big leaguer, and Simmons by himself landed Sean Newcomb, a top 35-ish prospect.

A Heyward or Upton plus Simmons trade would have been mighty fun, though I’m happy with the way things turned out. Gregorius looks like a keeper at shortstop and Severino dazzled in his MLB debut this summer. Plus the Yankees can still sign Heyward or Upton this winter. That really would have been a fun trade though. Blockbusters are cool.

Yankees planning run at Chen

Last week we heard ex-Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen is a “possible target” for the Yankees this offseason, and now Mark Feinsand has corroborated the story, hearing the team will indeed make a serious run at Chen. The southpaw is said to be seeking at least a five-year contract. The O’s made Chen a qualifying offer as well, so the Yankees or whoever signs him will have to surrender a high draft pick.

I don’t doubt the reporting, but I’m not sure this one passes the sniff test. The Yankees seem disinclined to both spend big and give up their first round draft pick. And if they are going to spend big and give up a pick, there are better pitchers available in free agency, right? No knock on Chen, but you know what I mean. I can’t help but wonder if the Yankees are being used to create leverage. Them going after an AL East proven pitcher is believable, and hey, getting the Yankees involved is never bad for business. I dunno. We’ll see.

Donnie Baseball's new home. (Presswire)
Donnie Baseball’s new home. (Presswire)

Big market teams upset with Marlins

According to Jon Heyman, several big market clubs are upset with the Marlins and their financial situation. Miami generates the lowest revenue in baseball and thus receives the most revenue sharing money despite having a four-year-old ballpark. The big market clubs that pay into revenue sharing aren’t happy. “They’re a joke,” said one executive to Heyman.

The Yankees have paid more money into revenue sharing than any other club since the system was implemented, so it’s fair to wonder if they’re one of the teams upset with the Marlins. The Marlins receive roughly $50M in revenue sharing each year, according to Heyman. I’m not sure what MLB and the MLBPA can do about the Marlins — the union complained the team wasn’t spending enough money a few years ago, then poof, Josh Johnson got a nice extension — but getting rid of Jeffrey Loria is a good start. No reason to think that’s happening anytime soon though.

Yankees a candidate to play spring games in Cuba

At the GM Meetings earlier this week, commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB is looking into playing Spring Training games in Cuba next year. League officials visited different parks in Cuba recently and I guess gave the thumbs up, which is why Manfred is still talking about it. According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are one of ten teams being considered for potential spring games in Cuba.

This makes a lot of sense, right? The Yankees are the most popular and most recognizable brand in baseball, if not all of sports. I don’t think selling out exhibition games in Cuba would be a problem no matter who plays, but getting the Yankees involved would create a lot more interest. Also, from a logistical standpoint, it’s a nice quick flight from Tampa. I don’t think MLB would drag teams from Arizona to Cuba in the middle of Spring Training. Either way, nothing is final yet. There are still hurdles to clear before exhibition games are played in Cuba next year.

Weekend Open Thread

Earlier today, CC Sabathia appeared on Good Morning America to talk about his alcoholism, which he says dates back to 2012. The video is embedded above. (Here’s the direct link in case the embed doesn’t work. It was giving me problems on the back end.) I also recommend reading this great Mark Feinsand piece on Sabathia’s addiction and recovery. Make sure you check it out. We’re all pulling for CC.

As I did last offseason, I’m going to dump a bunch of links in the weekly Weekend Open Thread this winter. These are things I come across each week that I enjoyed but aren’t necessarily Yankees related. They’re worth sharing but aren’t worth an RAB post. So I’ll dump them here each weekend. Enjoy.

  • We often hear pitchers have to change a hitter’s eye level by mixing high and low pitches, and they do, because MLB hitters are good and you have to keep them off balance. Jonah Pemstein had a fascinating analysis of what changing eye levels does to the umpire. Jonah found that in situations where pitchers threw two pitches at one height and the third at a different height, the strike zone does indeed shrink. It’s possible to change the umpire’s eye level too.
  • The Nationals named Dusty Baker their new manager this week, but only after contract talks fell apart with Bud Black. They wanted Black, lowballed him during negotiations, and he walked away feeling disrespected. Barry Svrluga has a pretty scathing look at team ownership and their frugal, meddling ways. The Nationals have so much talent and potential yet keep falling shorting of expectations, and it starts at the top.
  • Although the embargo is still in place, MLB is currently working with the two governments to bring Cuban players to the United States, write Michael Schmidt and Julie Hirschfeld Davis. League officials recently visited Cuba to inspect fields to determine whether they’re suitable for Spring Training games next year. MLB also wants visas for players and their families so they can travel between the U.S. and Cuba. Still lots of work to be done and a long way to go, but MLB is trying to get Cuban players stateside.

Friday: Here is your open thread for tonight and every other night this weekend. The Rangers, Devils, Knicks, and Nets are all in action tonight. Talk about those games, Sabathia, the other links, or anything else here.

Saturday: Once again, this is your open thread for the night. There’s a bunch of college football on and both the (hockey) Rangers and Nets are in action. Have at it.

Sunday: Here is your open thread for the last time. You’ve got a bunch of afternoon football plus the Eagles and Cowboys as the late game tonight. The Devils, Islanders, and Knicks are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here tonight.

Friday Links: Offseason Outlook, 2015 Draft, Park, Platoons


Looking to kill some time before the start of the weekend? I have some stray links to pass along that might help you out. Enjoy.

MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook

Last week the gang at MLBTR covered the Yankees as part of their annual Offseason Outlook series. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a look ahead to the offseason. It’s a really great overview of the team’s situation in general — the big obstacle this offseason: getting younger and better despite limited flexibility — and touches on all the major points. We’ll dissect everything from every possible angle this winter here at RAB, but MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook post is a good primer as we wait for the offseason to really get underway. Check it out.

Baseball America’s Draft Report Card

Baseball America just wrapped up their 2015 Draft Report Card series, in which they break down each team’s draft class. They aren’t grading anything, just looking at the top tools. OF Jhalan Jackson (7th round) is said to have the most power potential among 2015 Yankees draftees, for example. The position player section is free but the pitchers and odds and ends are behind the paywall.

Interestingly, the write-up says RHP James Kaprielian (1st) was working at 92-94 and touching 96 this summer, which is a bit higher than the college scouting reports. Also, both his slider and changeup received 65 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale, which is pretty damn awesome. RHP Chance Adams (5th), who had a 1.78 ERA (1.75 FIP) with a 31.7% strikeout rate in 35.1 relief innings at three levels after signing, touched 99 mph this summer. He could start next season at Double-A and reach MLB soon.

Park. (Yonhap)
Park. (Yonhap)

Nexen Heroes to post Byung-Ho Park

The Nexen Heroes of the Korea Baseball Organization will post power hitting first baseman Byung-Ho Park this coming Monday, according to a Yonhap report. The Yankees were reportedly one of 20 teams to scout Park this season. The right-handed hitting first baseman hit .343/.436/.714 with 53 homers in 140 games this year. Daniel Kim, a former scout and current Korean baseball analyst, told Travis Sawchik Park is the “best pure hitter in the history of KBO.”

The posting process starts Monday, which means teams then have until 5pm ET next Friday to submit a blind bid. The Heroes then have until the following Monday to accept or reject the bid. If they accept, the high bidder and Park have 30 days to negotiate a contract. The team only pays the posting fee if they manage to sign Park. Kim told Sawchik he expects Park to double the $5M posting fee the Pirates paid for Jung-Ho Kang last year.

Park is a first baseman and first baseman only, apparently, so I’m not sure what the Yankees would do with him. Another first baseman/DH is pretty much the last thing they need. They have Mark Teixeira for one more season, a bonafide first baseman of the future in Greg Bird, plus other potential first base candidates in Gary Sanchez, Eric Jagielo, and the aging Brian McCann. I dunno. We’ll see what happens.

Yankees dominated platoons in 2015

According to Baseball Reference, the Yankees led baseball by having the platoon advantage in 73% of their plate appearances this past season. The Indians were second at 71%. The Tigers, Nationals, and Diamondbacks were tied for last at a mere 43%. The Yankees have rated highly in the percentage of at-bats with the platoon advantage for the last few seasons now. Joe Girardi is really meticulous with his platoons, after all. There is definitely an advantage to be gained with platoon matchups, but, of course, it all comes down to the hitters. You have to have good hitters to platoon in the first place.